📘 Book Title When Baghdad Ruled The Muslim World
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🖨️ Total Pages439
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🌐 LanguageEnglish
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When Baghdad ruled the Muslim world: the rise and fall of Islam’s greatest dynasty


From the revolution of 750 that brought the dynasty to power until its collapse in the 930s and 940s the Abbasid caliphate was by far the greatest political power in the Islamic world.

But it was more than that; it was the continuation of that universal caliphate that had been established by Abu Bakr and his supporters immediately after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632, which was to continue in different guises and different places down to the abdication of the last Ottoman caliph in 1925.

 In later centuries the caliphs were often purely ornamental figures with no power and little status, but in the three hundred years after 632 caliphs, first, the four `Rightly Guided’ caliphs, then from 661 the Umayyads and finally from 750 the Abbasids, exercised real power and leadership over the Muslim people.

 They embodied the unity of the Muslim community or umma. The court of the caliph established the style for all Muslim rulers, and the administrative systems they set up served as a model for all successor regimes.

This book is intended to tell the story of the Abbasid caliphs and their court in the two centuries that constituted their golden age.

I use the word `story’ deliberately.

 I have written a determinedly narrative history that concentrates on people and events.

 This is not because longer-term changes and social and economic factors are unimportant; they are, and I have written about them elsewhere.

But in the concern to make the history of the Islamic Middle East scientific and academically respectable we, and I mean here the small community of scholars who work on these subjects, have distrusted and avoided narrative, mere storytelling. In doing so, we have done ourselves and our subject no favors.

For people coming from outside our specialized world we have made our field difficult, problematic, and, yes, rather dull.

We have also in a sense betrayed our sources, for the Arabic chronicles on which our reconstructions of the past depend use of narrative and anecdote throughout to make points and illuminate personalities.

The Abbasid bureaucracy certainly produced large quantities of documents, first on papyrus and then, from the end of the eighth century onward, on paper. However, virtually all of these are lost beyond the hope of recovery.

We must rely largely on on

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