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Challenges Faced by the Abbasid Caliphate

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: History
Wordcount: 1218 words Published: 27th Sep 2021

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The Abbasid Caliphate ruled over the Islamic world, making it one of the influential and longest Islamic dynasties. During the rule of Umayyad, the Abbasids came in a rebellion with the help of coalition of various forces which were unhappy with the rule of Umayyad. Once the Abbasids were in power they continued with many policies that were built by Umayyad. One thing that made unique the Abbasids than the Umayyads was that the Abbasids embrace Persian culture and moved the capital to the new city to the Baghdad while the Abbasid had grown and faced rise as well as fall in the caliphate that are linked to diversity in terms of ethnicities and culture as their openness to Non Muslims also. This period is considered as the most successful and golden age for the Islamic culture.

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Challenges Faced

In context of fall or challenges faced by Abbasid, author Nigel D. Furlong states that “With Kharijite tensions in the government, the rise of the Saffarids, Shiite enemies, and the emerging Qarmatiyyuns, the Abbasid state could not devote the resources necessary to deal with the Zanj revolt until ten years after the Zanj began their military and economic campaign” (Rise and Fall, 2008).

Under the influence of Abbasids, Baghdad was developed and became the most cultured and the leading city in the world. The literature, art and science were developed under the sponsorship of Caliph Harun al- Rashid and his son, Al-Ma’mun that created the House of Wisdom. The House of Wisdom was accountable for the translation of knowledge in Arabic from all around the world. With the implementation of such policies, the Abbasids oversaw an Islamic golden age where the learning of many civilizations was expanded and preserved upon. A number of practical innovations took place in different fields such as art, culture, and technical but major improvement was noticed in the field of agriculture. Many new techniques and methods were implemented in order to reduce the labor needs. At the same time, import and export trade process was enhanced and such Islamic innovation continued even as the government of Abbasid fell into the confusion. Gradually, under the governorship of Emirs and of military that controlled the caliphs, Abbasid power became weakened and began to face several challenges (The Abbasid Dynasty: The Golden Age of Islamic Civilization).

During the period of early ninth century, by the time of Caliph Al-Radi, the Abbasid Caliphate was succeeded and thrived despite of having multiethnic and massive empire because of several capable advisors and caliphs. So, the major challenge the Abbasid faced was the multiethnic and massive empire. At the same time, Abbasid faced challenges of revolts from the North Africa and Persia and Harun Al- Rashid was removed from power by the Persian Barmakid family which was supposed to be source of many great advisors. After this event his son Al- Ma’mun continued with the caliphate (The Abbasid Dynasty: The Golden Age of Islamic Civilization).

Al- Ma’mun tested and adopted mihna and Mu’tazili technology in their caliphate which was influenced by the Greek philosophy. It was compulsory to follow the theory or else they could be imprisoned or killed. It leads to the divisions between the Islamic people and Islamic sovereign that was exacerbate by his creation of his army only. The Persian governor ruled as a king and set up his own dynasty however he continued to identify the Abbasid. This continuation of trend of impendent governors as well as the cost of running massive empire and maintaining a large bureaucracy became major challenges for the Abbasid caliphate (The Abbasid Dynasty: The Golden Age of Islamic Civilization).

To overcome with all such challenges, the caliphs granted tax-farms to military commanders and governors and Al-Mu’tasim expanded its own army called Ghilman. These slaves tried to rule over the people of Baghdad that resulted in the riots and anger of the citizens. Instead of trying to solve the situation, the caliphate moved capital from Baghdad to Samarra. This step was not accurate and the capital moved back to Baghdad by Caliph Al-Muwaffaq who guided the caliphate to new prosperity and hence, Abbasid power gained a new lease on life (The Abbasid Dynasty: The Golden Age of Islamic Civilization).

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Impact Of Their Rise To Power

The rise of Abbasid was very impactful not only to Muslims but also to neighboring Non-Muslim states. The major important factor in their caliphate was its openness to the people; previously which was subject to the rejection by the Umayyad Caliphate. The rise of the Abbasid Caliphate greatly enriched every field such as agriculture, trade, natural science, literature, astronomy, chemistry as well as mathematics (Rise and Fall, 2008). In context of the cultural values Amira K. Bennison states in his book “The Golden Age of the Abbasid Empire” that the rulers of Abbasids nurtured the civilized values in their caliphate which western civilizations so often claim to represent and inculcated (Bennison, 2009).

During that period, Abbasids were trying to advance all sectors of the economy mostly due to the efforts of Muslim Persians working in those respective fields. In the beginning of their rule many different aspects of Qur’an were also flourished because of the new idea proposed by the Muslims as well as Non Muslims of the state. The openness strategy of their community lead to the innovation in technology with the implementation of new methods and ideas so that they overcome with their Arabian and Non Arabian counterparts and it reshaped industries into more effective and wealth producing industries (Rise and Fall, 2008).

Under the rule of Harun al- Rashid, Baghdad became the most important centre for philosophy, science, education, medicine and the literature. It share contacts and borders with many distant empires to collect, migrate, expand and translate knowledge of other civilizations like Indians, Persians, Greeks, Chinese and Romans. The Indian numerals which have become standard in the western world and in the Islamic were aided in the scientific discoveries and mathematics. Other Scholars such as Al- Biruni and Abu Nasar Mansur made contribution in the development of the astronomy and geometry while Al-Kindi synthesized Greek philosophy and revolutionized mathematics with Islamic thought. Many important innovations were taken place in the region which was important reason for the growth and development and hence, today this period is known as the “Islamic Golden Age”. This impacted innovation and development in the Muslim as well as in the Non Muslim states. The process of imports and exports were enhanced with new ideas, rules, laws and policies. Literatures were developed with the contribution of many scholars and writers in all subjects such as mathematics, astronomy, economics or science. Similarly, improved method of agriculture, advanced farming and crop techniques was implemented that reduced the need for labor and increased the productivity that ultimately enhanced economic situation of the region and also of the neighboring region (The Abbasid Dynasty: The Golden Age of Islamic Civilization).


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