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Abbasid Caliphate

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Abbasid Caliphate
اَلْخِلَافَةُ ٱلْعَبَّاسِيَّةُ
  • 750–1258
  • 1261–1517
Flag of Abbasids
Abbasid Caliphate at its greatest extent, c. 850
Abbasid Caliphate at its greatest extent, c. 850
  • Early Abbasid era
  • Middle Abbasid era
  • Later Abbasid era
Common languagesClassical Arabic (central administration); various regional languages
Sunni Islam
• 750–754
As-Saffah (first)
• 1242–1258
Al-Musta'sim (last Caliph in Baghdad)
• 1508–1517
al-Mutawakkil III (last Caliph in Cairo)
• Established
• Disestablished
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Umayyad Caliphate
Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo)
Ottoman Empire
Ghurid Sultanate
Fatimid Caliphate
Seljuk Empire
Saffarid dynasty
Ziyadid dynasty
Tulunid dynasty
Mongol Empire
Amir al-Mu'minin (أمير المؤمنين), Caliph (خليفة)

The Abbasid Caliphate[2] was the third of the four greatest Islamic caliphates of the Arab Empire. It overthrew the Umayyad caliphs from all but Al-Andalus. It was built by the descendant of Muhammad's youngest uncle, Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib. It was created in Harran in 750 of the Christian era and shifted its capital in AD 762 from Harran to Baghdad. It flourished for two centuries, surviving the Zanj Rebellion (869-883). Abbasid rule was ended in 1258, when Hulagu Khan, the Mongol conqueror, sacked Baghdad. But they continued to claim authority in religious matters from their base in Egypt.

During the period of the Abassid dynasty, Abassid claims to the caliphate did not go unchallenged. The Shiˤa Ubayd Allah al-Mahdi Billah of the Fatimid dynasty, which claimed descendency of Muhammad through his daughter, claimed the title of Caliph in 909 and created a separate line of caliphs in North Africa. Initially it covered only Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya, but then the Fatimid caliphs extended their rule for the next 150 years, taking Egypt and Palestine and even ancient Pakistan, before the Abbassid dynasty was able to turn the tide, limiting Fatimid rule to Egypt. The Fatimid dynasty finally ended in 1171. The Umayyad dynasty, which had survived and come to rule over the Muslim provinces of Spain, reclaimed the title of Caliph in 929, lasting until it was overthrown in 1031.

The tenth caliph, Al-Mutawakkil, is the person who oversaw the introduction of hadiths.[3]

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  1. The Abbasid Revolution against the Umayyad Caliphate adopted black for its rāyaʾ for which their partisans were called the musawwids. Tabari (1995), Jane McAuliffe (ed.), Abbāsid Authority Affirmed, vol. 28, SUNY, p. 124 Their rivals chose other colours in reaction; among these, forces loyal to Marwan II adopted red. Patricia Crone (2012). The Nativist Prophets of Early Islam. p. 122. ISBN 9781107018792.. The choice of black as the colour of the Abbasid Revolution was already motivated by the "black standards out of Khorasan" tradition associated with the Mahdi. The contrast of white vs. black as the Umayyad vs. Abbasid dynastic colour over time developed in white as the colour of Shia Islam and black as the colour of Sunni Islam: "The proselytes of the ʿAbbasid revolution took full advantage of the eschatological expectations raised by black banners in their campaign to undermine the Umayyad dynasty from within. Even after the ʿAbbasids had triumphed over the Umayyads in 750, they continued to deploy black as their dynastic colour; not only the banners but the headdresses and garments of the ʿAbbasid caliphs were black ... The ubiquitous black created a striking contrast with the banners and dynastic color of the Umayyads, which had been white ... The Ismaili Shiʿite counter-caliphate founded by the Fatimids took white as its dynastic color, creating a visual contrast to the ʿAbbasid enemy ... white became the Shiʿite color, in deliberate opposition to the black of the ʿAbbasid 'establishment'." Jane Hathaway, A Tale of Two Factions: Myth, Memory, and Identity in Ottoman Egypt and Yemen, 2012, p. 97f. After the revolution, Islamic apocalyptic circles admitted that the Abbasid banners would be black but asserted that the Mahdi's standard would be black and larger. David Cook (2002). Studies in Muslim Apocalyptic, p. 153. Anti-Abbasid circles cursed "the black banners from the East", "first and last". Patricia Crone (2012). The Nativist Prophets of Early Islam. p. 243. ISBN 9781107018792.
  2. Abbasid (Arabic: لعبّاسيّون, transcription al-‘Abbāsīyūn) is the dynastic name generally given to the caliph of Baghdad
  3. History of al-Tabari Vol. 34, The: Incipient Decline, page 149

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