Al-Muqtadir (Zaragoza)

Al-Muqtadir

Al-Muqtadir (المقتدر ) (died 932) was the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad from 908 to 932.

After the previous Caliph, al-Muktafi, was confined for several months to his sick-bed, intrigue was made for some time as to his successor. The choice was between al-Muktafi's minor brother whom the Caliph himself favored, and a descendant of al-Mu'tazz who was only thirteen at the time. The Vazir, hoping for more power, chose the minor. The boy assumed the title of al-Muqtadir, Mighty by the help of the Lord, a sad misnomer; for even in manhood he was but a weak hedonist in the hands of women of the Court, and of their favorites. His twenty-five years reign is the constant record of his thirteen Vazirs, one rising on the fall, or on the assassination, of another.

The stand made during the last three reigns to stay downward progress at last came to an end. From now on, the Abbasid continued it's decline. At the same time many names famous in the world of literature and science fall under this and the following reigns. Among the best known are: Ishaq ibn Hunain (d. 911) (son of Hunain ibn Ishaq), the physician and translator of Greek philosophical works into Arabic; ibn Fadlan, the explorer; al Battani (d. 923), astronomer; Tabari (d. 923), historian and theologian; al-Razi (d. 930), philosopher who made fundamental and lasting contributions to the fields of medicine, chemistry; al-Farabi (d. 950), chemist and philosopher; Abu Nasr Mansur (d. 1036), mathematician; Alhazen (d. 1040), mathematician; al-Biruni (d. 1048), mathematician, astronomer, physicist; Omar Khayyám (d. 1123), poet, mathematician, and astronomer.

There had been war now for some years between the Muslims and the Greeks in Asia, with heavy loss for the most part on the side of the Muslims, of whom great numbers were taken prisoners. The Byzantine frontier, however, began to be threatened by Bulgarian hordes; and so the Empress Zoe Karbonopsina sent two ambassadors to Baghdad with the view of securing an armistice, and arranging for the ransom of the Muslim prisoners. The embassy was graciously received and peace restored. A sum of 120,000 golden pieces was paid for the freedom of the captives. All this only added to the disorder of the city. The people, angry at the success of the "Infidels" in Asia Minor and at similar losses in Persia, cast it in the Caliph's teeth that he cared for none of these things, but, instead of seeking to restore the prestige of Islam, passed his days and nights with slave-girls and musicians. Uttering such reproaches, they threw stones at the Imam, as in the Friday service he named the Caliph in the public prayers.

Some twelve years later, al-Muqtadir was a second time subjected to the indignity of deposition. The leading courtiers having conspired against him, he was forced to abdicate in favor of his brother al-Qahir, but, after a scene of rioting and plunder, and loss of thousands of lives, the conspirators found that they were not supported by the troops; and so al-Muqtadir, who had been kept in safety, was again placed upon the throne. The finances fell after this outbreak into so wretched a state that nothing was left with which to pay the city guards. Al-Muqtadir was eventually slain outside the city gate in 320 AH (932 CE).

The long reign of this Caliph had brought the Empire to the lowest ebb. External losses were of secondary moment; though even so, Africa was lost, and Egypt nearly. Mosul had thrown off its dependence, and the Greeks could make raids at pleasure on the helpless border. Yet in the East there still was kept up a formal recognition of the Caliphate, even by those who virtually claimed their independence; and nearer home, the terrible Carmathians had been for the time put down. In Baghdad, al-Muqtadir, the mere tool of a venal court, was at the mercy of foreign guards, which, commanded for the most part by Turkish and other officers of foreign descent, were frequently breaking out into rebellion. Thus, abject and reduced, twice dethroned, and at last slain in opposing a loyal officer whom he had called to his support, the prestige which his immediate predecessors had regained was lost, and that the throne became again the object of contempt at home, and a tempting prize for attack from abroad.

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