AL-MUTTAKI AND AL-MASTAKFI
329-334 A.H. / 941-946 A.D.
BAJKAM, Amir al-Umara, was at the time of Ar-Radi's death engaged in a campaign against Al-Baridi, a Persian chieftain who had already held the office of Wazir, but, like others had since set himself up as independent ruler of an adjacent province and was now even threatening Al-Medain. Of such little moment had the Caliphate become, that Bajkam, on receiving tidings of Ar-Radi's death, contented himself with despatching to Bagdad his secretary, who assembled the chief men as well of 'Alid as of 'Abbassid descent, to elect a successor. The choice fell on the deceased Caliph's brother Al-Muttaki, who assumed the office after it had been some days vacant; and whose first act was to send a banner and dress of honour to Bajkam, a needless confirmation of his rank.
Bajkam routed Al-Baridi, but before returning to Wasit, where he now held his court, went out on a hunting party, and met his death at the hands of a band of marauding Kurds. The wretched Capital became the scene of renewed anarchy. The Deilem troops fell out with the Turks, and going over to Al-Baridi, enabled him to retake Wasit and enter Bagdad as Amir al-Umara. Fresh disturbances breaking out, he was obliged after ruling for a few weeks to fly, and was succeeded by Kurtekin, a Deilemi chief. His tyranny, however, was so intolerable that Ibn Raik, then governor of Syria, at the Caliph's call, hastened to the Capital, and expelling Kurtekin, assumed supreme control. But Al-Baridi had meanwhile repossessed himself of Wasit, and gaining over
the Turkish mercenaries again attacked Bagdad, on which Ibn Raik persuaded the Caliph to fly with him to Mosul.
Al-Muttaki was handsomely welcomed there by the Hamdanid princes, who organised a campaign to restore him to the Capital. But their ends were purely selfish; and so, regarding Ibn Raik as in their way, they assassinated him, and having added his Syrian government to their own, turned their ambition towards Bagdad. And thus it came to pass that before the close of the year, the Hamdanid chief, with the title of Nasir ad-Daula, advanced on Bagdad with the Caliph in his train, and after driving out Al-Baridi, entered it in state.
But however powerful the Hamdanid chiefs were at home amongst their Arab brethren, and splendid their victories over the Greeks, they found it a different thing to rule at Bagdad. Arabs were no longer able to contend with the wild elements that dominated there. The foreign mercenaries, rank and file as well as leaders, had for long years cast off subservience and respect for Arabian chiefs; and even in the field, the Arab soldiery, discountenanced and cast aside, could nowhere hold their own against the well-organised Turkish forces.
And so in less than a year, the Hamdanid chieftains had to return to Mosul; for a Turkish general called Tuzin,1 having beaten Al-Baridi at Al-Basra, entered Bagdad in triumph, and was saluted Amir al-Umara. But fresh proceedings against his enemy obliged Tuzun to quit the Capital; and during his absence a conspiracy broke out which placed the Caliph in danger, and obliged him again to appeal to the Hamdanid prince for help. Troops sent in response enabled him to escape; he fled to Mosul and thence to Nasibin.
Shortly after, peace being restored between Tuzun and the Hamdanid chiefs, Al-Muttaki took up his residence at Ar-Rakka, a wretched fugitive in the city which had so often been the proud Court of his illustrious ancestors.
There, under the surveillance of a Hamdanid prince, Al-Muttaki, who had now been many months a refugee from his Capital, bethought him of the Iklishidid, his former governor of Egypt, and now its ruler. Appealed to, the Ikhshidid hastened to the Caliph, and offering splendid
1 By Weil, Turun.
1 By Weil, Turun.
presents with humble homage, besought him to return with him to Egypt, warning him at the same time to beware of Tuzun. But neither he nor the Hamdanid princes had other object in offering the Caliph an asylum, than by possession of his person to gain a title to the contested province of Syria.
And so Al-Muttaki, distrusting both, threw himself, the warning notwithstanding, into the hands of Tuzun, who swore with the most sacred oaths that he would render true and faithful service. Spite of it all, he soon after deposed him from the Caliphate, and had his sight destroyed.
The same day, Tuzun installed the blinded Caliph's brother as his successor, with the title of Al-Mustakfi, For whom the Lord sufficeth.
The Buweihid columns beginning now to hover about the Capital as vultures over their prey, Tuzun, with the Caliph in his train, marched out to Wasit and discomfited them. The tribute due from Mosul being withheld, and the treasury in straits, Tuzun, again carrying the Caliph with him, marched against the Hamdanids; but, friendly relations re-established, he returned.
Soon after, Tuzun died, and was succeeded by Abu Ja'far, one of his generals. Bagdad now fell into a fearful state of distress. Supplies, stayed by the enemies all round, no longer reached the markets, and people were reduced to eat dogs and cats and even offal. Pillage and rapine rife, the mob were driven by starvation to plunder the shops of their remaining stores. Multitudes fled the city for Al-Basra or elsewhere, dying in great numbers from want and weakness by the way. Abu Ja'far at last, finding himself unable to control affairs, besought the aid of Nasir ad-Daula from Mosul; even offering, if he would come, to vacate in his favour the supreme command. But the Hamdanid arms were at the moment engaged on one hand with the Russians in Azerbijan, and on the other with the Ikhshidids in Syria. Just then the governor of Wasit surrendered that citadel to the chief of the Buweihids, and joining him marched on Bagdad. Terror reigned in the city. Abu Ja'far and the Caliph fled into hiding; but relieved of the Turkish garrison, which to escape the approaching conqueror evacuated the city and marched off to Mosul, both reappeared. The Caliph then received,
with outward expressions of satisfaction, the secretary whom the Buweihid chief sent on before him to make terms of peace. He also expressed himself ready to embrace the conqueror, and confirm his title to all the surrounding districts which he had overrun.
Invited thus, Mo'izz ad-Daula entered Bagdad, and under the title of Amir al-Umara1 assumed the supreme command. The Caliph tendered, as how could he else? an abject submission to the Amir, whose name, in addition to Al-Mustakfi's, was now by his command stamped upon the coinage, and recited as that of sovereign in the public prayers. In fact he gave in all round. It was all in vain. Mo'izz ad-Daula feared the Caliph as a creature of the Turks, whose return from Mosul he might at any time invite. There may have been cause. At anyrate, he took offence at an entertainment given by the chief lady of the Caliph's harim to the leaders of the Deilemis and Turks still remaining in the city, as if meant to gain them over to the Caliph's cause.
Al-Mustakfi in vain excused himself as unconcerned with the feast. Three weeks followed without warning, when the Amir, having arranged for the reception of an embassy from the East at the Caliph's palace, seated himself by his side, with his retinue in waiting. Suddenly two Deilemi chiefs rushed forward and offered to shake the Caliph's hand, who gave it, suspecting nothing. Catching hold, and throwing his turban round his neck, they dragged him by it to the Amir's palace where (common fate now of the dethroned Caliphs, for Al-Muttaki and Al-Kahir still survived in darkness) he was deprived of sight. He had been Caliph for little over a year. The city rose in tumult, and the Caliph's palace was plundered till but the bare walls remained. The tyrant had the lady's tongue cut out who had organised the hateful entertainment.
The fallen state of the Caliphate has made it no longer needful to notice passing events elsewhere, in the shaping of which the Caliph could have but little or no hand now. A solitary instance we find in which the authority of Al-Muttaki was invoked in a matter which, spiritual in itself, led to an important result. In the year 332 A.H.,
1 It is said they were the first to be called
Sultan, but on their coins they style themselves Amir or Melik only.
1 It is said they were the first to be called Sultan, but on their coins they style themselves Amir or Melik only.
the Greeks carried their inroads so far as to beleaguer Edessa. The only hope of saving it was to surrender the precious relic, called our Saviour's napkin, treasured in the Edessa cathedral; which obtained, the Greeks would then retire. The lawfulness of its surrender was debated; and at last referred for decision to the Caliph, who summoned a court of jurists and doctors of the law. Permission was given, and the cession of the relic not only saved Edessa but purchased liberty to a great multitude of Muslim prisoners.
The Caliphate: Its Rise, Decline, and Fall [Table of Contents]
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