The Abbasid Caliphate: Golden Age of Islamic Civilization


Abbasid Dynasty:

The Abbasids ruled from 750 to 1258. In the initial 200 years of their rule they reached to the pinnacle of power and wealth. Their realm extended from Morocco to India and the Abbasid caliphs earned high regard of the whole world. Their revenue originated from a wide range of sources. With strong armed force and naval force, the caliphs controlled the trade routes that crisscrossed the empire.

The realm produced enormous amounts of agricultural products and generated income through tax collection, allowing the early Abbasids to live comfortably in great splendor.

To run their administration, the Abbasids built up a huge bureaucratic government in capital city of Baghdad. Before long this new capital turned into main metropolitan center—the hub of political and economic activity for the whole empire. To safeguard themselves and the dynasty they built up a capable standing armed force based in garrisons throughout the Islamic lands. An impressive intelligence network backed the army with informants who worked in every corner of the empire. A special regiment of armed force was kept in Baghdad, where it could protect the ruling family and the state.

Development of Law and Fiqh:

Among the achievements of this period was the advancement of the Islamic legal system. The premise of this new code was, obviously, the Quran and the Hadith of the prophet. Utilizing these two sources as their guide the jurists developed a fiqh of laws and regulations that came to be known as the sharia. As they saw it this was to be the foundation of Islamic society. To enforce these laws and regulations the scholars also worked with the government to establish an Islamic court system. At the head of this new system were the chief judges, the qadis.

Development of Arts and Science under Abbasids:

The Abbasids commissioned architects and builders to construct palaces and magnificent homes in the capital and other regions. For a brief period the capital was moved to the city of Samarra, similar to Baghdad on the Tigris River, where the ruins of the many palaces built by this dynasty are still visible.

The Abbasids additionally gave a lot of help to intellectuals and philosophers. Science, medicine and Arts flourished during the times of Abbasids. Baghdad and other cities did brilliant work in preserving and transmitting the Greek Classics onto world. Muslim thinkers set out to translate and study the works of other great cultures, including Greece and India. Many works of mathematics, medicine, theology, and philosophy were translated into the Arabic language. Using these works the Muslims created their own bodies of original ideas, which they laid out in the many books written during this period.

By the middle of the 10th century the Islamic Empire had given birth to a new and great civilization. The Arabic language and the religion of Islam had flourished all through the Middle East, North Africa, Spain, and Central Asia. In law, religion, education, art, science, and business the Islamic world was living through Golden age, at a time when Europe was going through Dark Ages. It was in fact, through Muslim who preserved the Greek Classics and transmitted onto Europeans.

Weakening of Empire:

Although the cultural accomplishments of the Abbasid would live on, the tenth century brought new political issues that the caliphs proved unable to solve. Protecting the solidarity of the empire was particularly troublesome. For over a century, through strategy and the quality of the armed force, the Abbasid caliphs had controlled the realm. By the ninth century this control started to slip. In North Africa and different areas, other regions local leaders began to go their own way. Often they continued to recognize the leadership of the caliph while establishing their own rule over a particular region.

By the middle of the tenth century the caliphs lost real power. In 945 a solid armed force drove by a Persian family named the Buwayhids swept into Iraq and captured Baghdad. In spite of the fact that they allowed the caliph to hold his official title, they ran the realm. Another event additionally partitioned the Islamic world in the late tenth century. Earlier in the century a group of Shias had succeeded in establishing a small state in North Africa. From this center of power they launched attacks on the west, against Egypt. In 969 these leaders, called the Fatimid captured Egypt and set up new city, Cairo, which turned into their capital. This dynasty would run Egypt for a long time, amid which it would be in practically steady clash with the Sunni areas, which were still under the ostensible rule of the Abbasid caliphs.

Fatimid dynasty reached an end in 1171 when Cairo was overwhelmed by the armed force of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi. His triumph conveyed a conclusion to Shiai control in Egypt and was warmly invited by the occupants of Egypt. While happy to receive their praises, Salah al-Din had to turn his energies to Jerusalem, then under the rule of the Christian Crusade forces.

Fall of Baghdad:

During the early part of the 13th century Mongol armies had been annexing the huge terrains of China and Russia, moving west into Central Asia. By the 1250s the Mongols, under their leader Hulagu moved quickly through Persia and to the gates of Baghdad. Baghdad was overrun by the Mongol troops. The caliph and his family were later taken to a little town and executed, bringing a tragic end to the once powerful Abbasid caliphate.

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