(redirected from Abbasid Empire)
Also found in: Dictionary.
Related to Abbasid Empire: Ottoman Empire, Umayyad Empire


Abbasid (əbăˈsĭd, ăˈbəsĭd) or Abbaside (–sīd, –sĭd), Arab family descended from Abbas, the uncle of Muhammad. The Abbasids held the caliphate from 749 to 1258, but they were recognized neither in Spain nor (after 787) W of Egypt. Under the Umayyad caliphs the Abbasids lived quietly until they became involved in numerous disputes, beginning early in the 8th cent. The family then joined with the Shiite faction in opposing the Umayyads, and in 747 the gifted Abu Muslim united most of the empire in revolt against the Umayyads. The head of the Abbasid family became caliph as Abu al-Abbas as-Saffah late in 749. The last Umayyad caliph, Marwan II, was defeated and killed and the Umayyad family nearly exterminated; one surviving member fled to Spain, where the Umayyads came to rule. Under the second Abbasid caliph, called al-Mansur (see Mansur, al-, d. 775), the capital was moved from Damascus to Baghdad, and Persian influence grew strong in the empire. The early years of Abbasid rule were brilliant, rising to true splendor under Harun ar-Rashid, the fifth caliph, and to intellectual brilliance under his son al-Mamun (see Mamun, al-), the seventh caliph. After less than a hundred years of rule, however, the slow decline of the Abbasids began. Long periods of disorder were marked by assassinations, depositions, control by Turkish soldiers, and other disturbances, and from the beginning of their reign there were rival caliphs (see caliphate). In 836 the capital was transferred to Samarra, remaining there until 892. Under the later Abbasids, the power of the caliphate became chiefly spiritual. Many independent kingdoms sprang up, and the empire split into autonomous units. The Seljuk Turks came to hold the real power at Baghdad. The conquests of Jenghiz Khan further lowered the prestige of the Abbasids, and in 1258 his grandson Hulagu Khan sacked Baghdad and overthrew the Abbasid caliphate. The 37th caliph died in the disaster, but a member of the family escaped to Cairo, where he was recognized as caliph (see Mamluks). The Cairo line of the Abbasid caliphate, completely subordinated to the Mamluks, survived until after the Ottoman conquest (1517) of Egypt.


See M. A. Shaban, The Abbāsid Revolution (1970); H. Kennedy, The Early Abbasid Caliphate (1981).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
To allied empires they sent delegations of scholars who were directed to bring home manuscripts as gifts; and to enemy empires they sent officers with orders to capture manuscript collections as valuable booty, as in wars between Byzantine and Abbasid empires. (20) Scholars too were booty--kidnapped or conquered and thereafter choosing or forced to serve new masters.
And their rapacious activities forms one of the causes of the down fall of Abbasid Empire. Like them the Talban also rant for nothing less than their own brand of Sharia.
When Byzantine forces attacked the Abbasid empire, the first response of the caliph's forces and angry Sunnis was to intensify their persecution of Shiites.
Botticini and Eckstein note that "almost all the Jews in Mesopotamia and Persia--nearly 75 percent of world Jewry--left agriculture and moved to the cities and towns of the newly established Abbasid Empire to engage in myriad skilled occupations." There, they manufactured and traded wares, changed and lent money, and worked as physicians.
The Fatimids founded the city known in Arabic as "Al-Qahira," or Cairo in English, and ruled until 1171 when Saladin restored Egypt to the Abbasid Empire. Like his predecessors, he relocated the seat of government, on the Muqattam hills, situated to the east of Fustat and Al-Qahira where he built the Citadel, one of the most striking monuments in today's Cairo.
The topics include slavery in private households toward the end of the third millennium BC, domestic female slaves during the Old Babylonian period, slaves and slave labor in the third/ninth century 'Abbasid Empire, and the status of the dependents of Babylonian temple households.
She gave the example of Haroun al-Rashid, the third caliph or head of state of the Islamic Abbasid Empire, is rumored to have had some 2,000 concubines.
While the 'Abbasid Empire is normally considered a positive era for Christians under Islam, this was not the case in Egypt.
Much like the Turkic warrior castes that swept down from Central Asia from the tenth century on, first to defend the Abbasid Empire as mercenaries but eventually amassing power and spawning a dynasty, so may the supreme leadership become as irrelevant as the caliph.
Bennison for The Great Caliphs: The Golden Age of the Abbasid Empire (I.B.