Sunday, 27 August 2017


Abbasid Caliphate was the third Muslim caliphate after Rashidun Caliphate and Umayyad Caliphate while it was also the second Muslim dynasty after Umayyad Dynasty as the rulers during this dynasty belonged only to the Abbasid family. The Abbasids took the throne in 750 AD after the fall of the Umayyad Dynasty while they ruled almost the whole Muslim world for more than 500 years till 1258 AD. In 1258, Mongols occupied Baghdad and killed the last Abbasid caliph Mustasim which ended the Abbasid Caliphate.

Though, Abbasids remained caliphs for over 500 years but the gradual decline of their empire started almost from the beginning. Reasons for the fall of Abbasid Caliphate are given below.

Reasons for fall of the Abbasid Caliphate

Differences with Shia

Abbasids and Shia were together during Hashemite movement which brought the end of Umayyad Caliphate. But differences between two parties started few years after the start of Abbasid Caliphate. Shia were expecting to become rulers after fall of the Umayyads but instead Abbasids themselves took the throne. It prompted Shia to organize several rebellions against Abbasids during their caliphate and weakened the caliphate due to their revolts and conspiracies. Fatimid (Ismaili Shia) controlled North Africa and Hejaz and the Buyid Dynasty controlled areas of Persia, Iraq and Oman in the 10th Century while Qaramites and Assassins (lead by Hasan bin Sabah) were also such Shia groups who created problems in various parts of Islamic world. Shia were also behind Hulagu Khan during his successful invasion of Baghdad.

Autonomous Dynasties

The Umayyads strictly kept the central rule in the whole caliphate but different areas of caliphate started to disintegrate during Abbasid Caliphate and several autonomous and near-autonomous dynasties appeared in the areas away from center during Abbasid Caliphate. The first such autonomous state was the Emirate of Cordoba where Umayyads became sovereign rulers in 756 AD. Later, several other rulers in different parts of the caliphate parted their ways from Abbasids and several dynasties formed in the later centuries. Though, most of these dynasties accepted the suzerainty of Abbasids but they remained independent in their affairs. Losing central control over large areas of empire proved to be an important reason for fall and decline of Abbasid Caliphate.

Role of Turkish Generals

People from Persia and Khurasan were the initial backers of Abbasid Dynasty. But soon differences occurred between the ruling dynasty and their supporters due to religious and political reasons. It forced the Abbasids to eliminate the influence of Persians. In contrast to Umayyad dynasty, Abbasids were not welcomed by many Arabs and they trusted the newly-converted Turks as their supporters.

Initially, Turkish forces assisted the Abbasids to regain control of several areas (especially Iraq) from other dynasties but later the Turks became king makers who destabilized the caliphate internally and they established their own autonomous states in several parts of Caliphate where rule of Abbasids was minimal. Rise of Turks on political stage also proved to be an important reason for fall of Abbasid Caliphate.

Mongol Invasion

In the start of 13th Century, Mongol tribes united under the leadership of Genghiz Khan and then started to invade and capture areas around Mongolia. Soon, they occupied China, Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Mongols started their invasions against Abbasids in 1236 but most of their invasions failed against the strong military of Abbasids.

The final invasion of Mongols started in 1257 while several Christian kingdoms were also assisting Mongols. After capturing nearby areas from various factions, the Mongols reached near Baghdad in 1258. Last Abbasid caliph was too afraid to fight against the invaders and he surrendered to Mongols after a successful siege. Later, caliph Mustasim was assassinated and the Mongols plundered and destroyed the whole city of Baghdad which marked the end of Abbasid Caliphate. 

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