All in the Family? Al-Mutaims Succession to the Caliphate as Denouement to the Lifelong Feud between al-Mamūn and his Abbasid Family

in Oriens
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Abstract

This article contends that the caliph al-Mutaim came to power as the result of Abbasid opposition to his predecessor al-Mamūn whose rule is generally considered the ‘Golden Age’ of the caliphate. This opposition had already started during the Civil War between al-Amīn and al-Mamūn and it continued during the latter’s reign after winning the Civil War. In the end, al-Mamūn was able to quell the opposition by accepting al-Mutaim, at a later stage, as a member of his own inner circle. Nevertheless, ultimately al-Mamūn’s reign ended in a victory for the anti-Mamūn wing of his family. With this change, the Mamūnite vision of a strong caliphal institution passed away and henceforth the Abbasid caliphate commenced its slow decline — confirmed later by the lack of an efficient central authority and the ensuing chaos. Thus, the collapse of the Abbasid dynasty-caliphate started much earlier — after the first three decades of the ninth century CE and not during the second half of that century, contrary to what most textbooks on Islamic history state.

All in the Family? Al-Mutaims Succession to the Caliphate as Denouement to the Lifelong Feud between al-Mamūn and his Abbasid Family

in Oriens

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