A Greater Dar al-Islam and an Ever Shrinking Dar al-Harb / a resurgent Islam TL

Minor nitpick here, OTL Azerbaijan was called al-Ran by the arabs, derived from Arran (Middle Persian). Otherwise, i'm enjoying greatly TTL, keep it up!
You are right of course. This is a problem of me trying to write the chapters from within the ATL universe in the twenty-first century and failing, mostly because I don't know what the world will look like in 2020 (though I have a rough idea of how I would like it to look).
 
No problem with that, better use OTL name in parenthesis them, the rest was a nice update how islam expand in the caucasus and transoxania.

Next update back to Europa (
 
Roman Resurgence in the West
Roman Resurgence in the West

After the war with the Abbasids, Roman Emperor Nikephoros I had successfully stymied discontent against his rule. He was however wary of further plots against himself and so decided upon the re-conquest of Hellas [Greece] in order to consolidate his legitimacy in the eyes of his subjects and detractors. Before he embarked on the campaign however, he needed a wife to provide him with an heir; this was also another opportunity to build relations with the military nobility. During a bride-show the emperor decided upon the daughter of Michael Lachanodrakon, the strategos of the Thrakesion Theme and fierce enforcer of iconoclasm. Once the marriage was officiated and consummated, Nikephoros raised an army from the themes of the Thrakesioi, Opsikiou, Optimatoi, and the Thrakes. Under his personal command, the army marched west along the Makedonian coast defeating the Slavic tribes who ruled there; many were driven out while some accepted Roman rule. Subsequent to these victories, Nikephoros’ army pushed south into Thessalia where they defeated and subjugated more Slavic tribes. The Roman territories in Boiotia, Attike and the eastern Peloponnisos thus regained their land border with the rest of the empire. Following the reunification of the coast, the Roman army conquered the rest of the Peloponnisos. The Romans then marched back through the Isthmus of Korinthos and west into Epeiros; the Vayunite tribe that inhabited the region proved to more of a challenge than the previous Slavs though. While Nikephoros was victorious his army had suffered substantial casualties and so was forced to rest. Fortunately the cities of Dyrrhakhion to the north had remained loyal to Roman rule, though somewhat isolated. Thus by 782 CE Roman authority over Hellas had been restored.[1]

Emperor Nikephoros returned to Konstantinoupolis and rewarded himself with a triumph; the loot and captives from the campaign were paraded through the city, and the ceremony ended with the Roman commanders and the new Slavic vassal arkhontes[2] prostrating themselves before the emperor. To further solidify Roman rule in Hellas, Nikephoros engaged in a program of re-Hellenisation. Even though Greeks were still the overall majority population of Hellas, the Slavic migrations (and the dislocation caused by them) had resulted in Slavs becoming a majority in some parts of the region. Furthermore, there was a clear divide between the cities and the rural hinterlands. To remedy this Nikephoros organised a series of population exchanges: tribes of Slavs were transported to the frontiers of Mikra Asia [Asia Minor/Anatolia], while rural Greeks and Armenians were brought back to the countryside of Hellas. There were more than a few revolts by the Slavs but they were easily repressed by local Roman armies. Afterwards new themes were established and strategoi appointed: in Makedonia, the new themes (from east to west) of Makedonia, Strymon, and Thessalonika; Thessalia was added to the pre-existing Thema Hellados while the Peloponnisos, Dyrrhakhion, and Epeiros were granted their own themes (the latter was renamed Nikopolis). During this period of reorganisation, Nikephoros’ wife Eudokia gave birth to twin boys; they were christened as Constantine and Leo.

With the reclamation of Hellas and the restoration of stable Roman governance in the region, Emperor Nikephoros turned his attention to Italia. His peace with the Muslims prevented him from reasserting control over the north where the Exarchate of Ravenna formerly existed, but the empire still retained control over other regions of Italia: Thema Sikelias which comprised the island of Sikelia and the territories on the southern mainland; the Duchy of Rome; and Venetia, which was undergoing drastic changes in its governing structure due to its isolation from the empire. Nikephoros focused his attention on the Duchy of Rome; the duchy was ruled jointly by Duke Theodore and Patriarch Adrian I. Relations between the imperial authorities, represented by the dukes, and the clerical patriarchs had suffered a long decline. This was caused by the iconoclastic tendencies of the imperial Isaurian dynasty, which the patriarchs opposed, and the imperial refusal to aid the duchy against Lombard expansion. Previous patriarchs had attempted to solicit aid from the Franks and Aquitanians in defending against the Lombards, but Islamic successes in Gaul and Italia had ended those hopes. Therefore a reconciliation between the patriarchs and the emperors was becoming increasingly possible. Despite Emperor Nikephoros’ desire for reconciliation he was however just as supportive of iconoclasm as his predecessors. As such before Patriarch Adrian would discuss any further reconciliation he demanded the convening of an ecumenical council to resolve the issue of icons. With great reluctance the emperor agreed.

The Second Council of Nicaea was held in 783 CE. The convention of an ecumenical council was deemed necessary because the Council of Hieria in 754 CE was considered to be ecumenical even though none of the five patriarchs were represented; this council had passed strict injunctions against the veneration of icons under the direction of Emperor Constantine V and thus was condemned by the patriarchs of Rome. The council in Nicaea was presided over by Patriarch Paul IV of Konstantinoupolis while Patriarch Adrian of Rome was represented by two legates. On the other hand, the patriarchs of Antiokheia, Hierosolyma [Jerusalem], and Aleksandreia were unable to send legates, though eastern monks acted as unofficial representatives. Paul had previously supported imperial iconoclasm but had apparently grown remorseful over his actions and so was supportive of attempts to reconcile with Rome. Besides the major issue of icons and their veneration, Adrian of Rome also raised the issue of the ecclesiastical sees of Sicilia, Calabria, and Illyricum and their transferral from the authority of Rome to that of Konstantinoupolis. Whatever happened with regards to iconoclasm, Emperor Nikephoros was determined to use the return of the ecclesiastical sees to leverage Rome’s support. Nikephoros himself chose not to attend the council sessions for fear of inciting the anger of the iconophiles. The first successful injunction of the council anathematised the Council of Hieria as a robber council and refuted its ecumenical claim, but its stance on icon veneration was ignored. The delegates, who were evenly divided between iconoclasts and iconophiles, argued vociferously over the permissibility of icon veneration. As the debate had stalled, the iconoclasts requested that the emperor attend the sessions, hoping that he would support their arguments. Nikephoros surprised all present by proposing a compromise: the status of icons would be determined by each bishop within their see only. The extremists of both parties were resolutely opposed but the moderates and careerists supported the proposal, and so were able to carry the compromise through with a slim majority. The final decision of the council was the return of the sees of Sicilia, Calabria, and Illyricum to Rome.

Patriarch Adrian I of Rome would have preferred the outright condemnation of iconoclasm, but the return of his old sees and the promise of imperial protection against the Muslims and the southern Lombards was enough to induce him to support the Second Council of Nicaea. Following his proclamation of assent, Roman soldiers from the Thema Sikelias were transferred to the Duchy of Rome. Emperor Nikephoros had over the previous years achieved his goal of reasserting Roman rule in the west. However this had resulted in increased tensions in the imperial centre. The debate over iconoclasm still had not been resolved and would continue to plague the administrations of future emperors and their nominally subservient clergy. This was partly due to the compromise Nikephoros had instituted tacitly giving permission to extremist iconoclasts, like his father-in-law Michael Lachanodrakon, to continue persecution of iconophiles in their territories. With regards to the re-Hellenisation of Hellas, the Slavic tribes who were deported to Mikra Asia proved to be inconsistent in their loyalty and efficacy in defending against future Islamic incursions.

[1] This campaign pretty much follows the OTL campaign of Irene’s eunuch Staurakios.
[2] Archons: governors with some autonomy, and outside of the theme system.
 
Looks like the Byzantines are being set up for a period of extensive sectarian conflict that could potentially throw the empire into chaos and ruin (so a normal Tuesday night in Byzantine history) whilst they are filling up their Eastern border, which recently had all of it's main border fortifications taken, with restless foreigners of dubious loyalty who don't really like them all that much. I can't see this going badly for them at all.
 
Looks like the Byzantines are being set up for a period of extensive sectarian conflict that could potentially throw the empire into chaos and ruin (so a normal Tuesday night in Byzantine history) whilst they are filling up their Eastern border, which recently had all of it's main border fortifications taken, with restless foreigners of dubious loyalty who don't really like them all that much. I can't see this going badly for them at all.
If Anything the ERE(NOT Byzantine yet) give too much to rome...and that is what come next, still ERE is not on good shape at all(plus i never liked them anyway) so stormy times are coming anyway.
 
So would shiism also expand to other parts of the Indian Ocean, East Africa, Indonesia, and South East Asia?

It could be cool to have some battle grounds between the Sunni and Shia schools.
OTL it appears that Islam in the Indian Ocean region was transmitted from Yemen/southern Arabia rather than India, so the upsurge of Shi'ism in India likely won't have much of an affect.
If Anything the ERE(NOT Byzantine yet) give too much to rome...and that is what come next, still ERE is not on good shape at all(plus i never liked them anyway) so stormy times are coming anyway.
I disagree that the Byzantines gave too much away at the council; Nikephoros could have coerced his clergy into outright condemning iconoclasm and thus giving in to the Pope. This would have alienated the military however, including his father-in-law Michael Lachanodrakon who allegedly delighted in exterminating monasticism and iconophilia in his theme.
 
I disagree that the Byzantines gave too much away at the council; Nikephoros could have coerced his clergy into outright condemning iconoclasm and thus giving in to the Pope. This would have alienated the military however, including his father-in-law Michael Lachanodrakon who allegedly delighted in exterminating monasticism and iconophilia in his theme.
Yeah ERE were such a minefield of politics. Still nice update buddy, waiting too see what come next
 
What's the Abbasid Navy looking like? Given their larger holdings in Western Europe they are probably investing in a strong Naval arm to keep it supplied and connected. I also imagine that the Caliphate may have designs on taking Sicily at some point (as well as the rest of Italy) and should they seek to press a large-scale invasion of the ERE they may have learned from the failure of the Umayyad sieges of Constantinople about the importance of naval superiority in fighting the Romans.
 
What's the Abbasid Navy looking like? Given their larger holdings in Western Europe they are probably investing in a strong Naval arm to keep it supplied and connected. I also imagine that the Caliphate may have designs on taking Sicily at some point (as well as the rest of Italy) and should they seek to press a large-scale invasion of the ERE they may have learned from the failure of the Umayyad sieges of Constantinople about the importance of naval superiority in fighting the Romans.
Naval history isn't really my strong suit, but suffice to say the Abbasid navy is powerful enough to protect its trade and transport network throughout the Mediterranean. Though on the other hand, a direct confrontation with the Byzantine navy would be very risky still, which is partly why Harthama ibn A'yan's expedition took the long way round to Italy rather than going through the Adriatic (plus there's Slavic pirates along the Dalmatian coast).
The Abbasids do want Sicily but whether they'll get it depends on their relations with the Byzantines; as of 783 they're still at peace after the war.
 
The Abbasids do want Sicily but whether they'll get it depends on their relations with the Byzantines; as of 783 they're still at peace after the war.
That Might Come later, and with part of North Italy/Rum in Muslim Hands..that could be the begin a two front pincer attack could put all the hedges vs the ERE in the future, but that is too far ahead in the future, if anything, muslim expansion into italy will come from the North, into the old Lombardy/Rum now
 
Relevant to the discussion on Abbasid naval capacity, I've just found this snippet from an article:
But the Fatimids were quite capable of handling these needs [timber and other resources] themselves, nor was Egypt so denuded of trees as today. The Fatimids maintained significant woodland, with its own bureaucratic apparatus, and financed afforestation to maintain their shipbuilding capacity.
Romney David Smith, 'The business of human trafficking: slaves and money between Western Italy and the House of Islam before the crusades (c.900-c.1100)', Journal of Medieval History, Vol. 45, No. 5.
I imagine the Abbasids had their own similar system.
 
Muslim Military Adventurism in Europe
Muslim Military Adventurism in Europe

Following the wars with Aquitaine and Neustria, and the subsequent Abbasid intervention which led to the creation of the wilaya of Ruma al-Gharbiya, the government of al-Andalus was in no position to do anything apart from waiting for their province to recover. This did not suit wali al-Qasim ibn Yusuf al-Fihri however, who was ever restless and on the search for his next great conquest. With the resources of his province denied to him, the governor handed temporary control of government to his brothers, gathered his personal retinue and, along with Muhammad Qarulamun ibn Baban al-Qarula and his retinue, travelled east to Ruma al-Gharbiya. When word of al-Qasim’s arrival in late 776 CE reached wali Harthama ibn A’yan, he immediately dispatched a moderately-sized force to intercept the intruders. Al-Qasim reluctantly submitted to questioning and answered that he and his companions intended to engage in a ghazwa (raid) against the Slavs and Avars to the east. Harthama ibn A’yan’s soldiers accepted the explanation but insisted on accompanying the ghuzat (plural of ghazi) to the frontier territory governed by Abdallah Butrus ibn Muniq al-Rumi. A messenger rode ahead to inform the governor in Rabina of the situation; Harthama ibn A’yan was still concerned, but the story was plausible given what he knew of al-Qasim ibn Yusuf al-Fihri. After all, back when Butrus ibn Muniq was still Duke Peter of Friuli, he was responsible for prosecuting raids against the Slavs and Avars and otherwise guarding the frontier.

The Slavs immediately bordering Ruma al-Gharbiya were the Carantanians. Even though the majority of their population were still polytheistic, their rulers had converted to Christianity under the direction of the Bavarians in exchange for protection from Avar raids. Duke Tassilo of Bavaria had since proclaimed himself a king, and was eager to establish his suzerainty over the Carantanians. Further to the east were the Avars. Originally a nomadic power of diverse ethnic origins on the western Eurasian steppe, the Avars migrated west into the Pannonian basin where they subjugated the resident Slavs, Germans, Romans, and Bulgars. Their authority in the southern Balkans was eventually contested and overtaken by a new Bulgar migration. The Avars remained mostly nomadic and decentralised into a loose confederation of tribes, though still under the authority of their khagan. The Slavs, and the Germans to a lesser extent, occupied a peculiar place in the Avar Khaganate’s social structure: officially they were subject to the nomadic Avars. Over time however, partly due to their greater population size, the Slavs and Germans integrated more into the elite culture of the state, so much so that the elite became multi-ethnic and multi-lingual to the point that it was unclear just who the Avars were. This was the society that al-Qasim ibn Yusuf al-Fihri and his compatriots encountered during their excursions.

Al-Qasim ibn Yusuf al-Fihri arrived in al-Thughur al-Sharqiya [Friuli] and informed wali Abdallah Butrus ibn Muniq al-Rumi of his intent to go on a ghazwa. Butrus ibn Muniq expressed his desire to join the ghuzat on their expedition, to which the Andalusian governor gladly agreed. The marcher lord raised an army, of whom many were still Christian, and they all marched off to the east. Harthama ibn A’yan was angered by the news; though it was their right, and some would argue their duty, to engage in jihad, al-Qasim ibn Yusuf was interfering in the affairs of another wilaya by distracting Harthama’s subordinates from their duties. He ordered Butrus ibn Muniq’s brother Abd al-Rahman Dubb,[1] who had recently converted to Islam, to replenish the garrisons of the frontier forts with men from Badwa [Padua] and the surrounding areas. The ghuzat encountered no serious resistance to their initial incursion and many villages and towns had poor defences; as such the loot they gained was considerable. Though there wasn’t much in the way of material wealth, the number of captives acquired was impressive. The region neighbouring al-Thughur al-Sharqiya was ravaged and the populace who weren’t captured, mostly fled further east. The adventurers returned to Qaysariyya [Cividale del Friuli][2] to partition the loot; many Christian soldiers converted to Islam in order to secure a larger share for themselves. Al-Qasim ibn Yusuf al-Fihri and his retinue escorted their share of the loot back to al-Andalus.

The Andalusian governor, along with Muhammad Qarulamun ibn Baban al-Qarula, returned to Qaysariyya in the spring of 778 CE and once again joined with Abdallah Butrus ibn Muniq al-Rumi on a ghazwa to the east. This time they marched north to the Carantanian capital of Krnski Grad [Maria Saal], plundering villages along the way. The Carantanians, under their ruler Prince Valhun, put up more of a fight than they had during the last raid but the Muslims were once again victorious. Prince Valhun and his family fled north to request the aid of the Bavarians, while the ghuzat sacked Krnski Grad. The church of the local Christian missionaries, many of whom were Irish, was sacked while a three-headed pagan idol was destroyed.[3] King Tassilo of Bavaria was at that time at war with the Alemannians over Thuringia, but he spared some manpower to protect the southern border of his realm against Islamic raids. The Muslim army returned to Qaysariyya to deposit their substantial spoils and then marched off again. This time they ventured further east, into territory that was subject to the rule of the Avars though still populated by Slavs. Even though plundering the villages of the region was a simple enough endeavour, the Avar armies the ghuzat faced were comprised entirely of cavalry. The Muslims however were few in cavalry and so had trouble fighting the Avars; rather than engage in pitched battles, the Avars would retreat after ambushes and skirmishes. Consequently the ghuzat returned to Qaysariyya with their loot.

The Andalusian contingent returned to al-Andalus and offloaded their loot. After a period of rest, al-Qasim ibn Yusuf and Qarulamun ibn Baban mustered an army mostly of Berber cavalry and marched north from Nur al-Faranj [Lyon][4]. They refrained from raiding for the time being however as their ultimate destination was Alemannia; additionally the Andalusian wali had been advised to maintain the tenuous peace with Neustria, who ruled over the territory around the Saone River. The ghuzat informed intervening Neustrian forces of their peaceful intentions; it is doubtful that the Muslims were believed, but miraculously conflict was avoided. Once the ghuzat reached the vicinity of Stratisburgum [Strasbourg] they began their plunder; the town of Colmar was stormed by Berber horsemen before its garrison could react, while the villages around Stratisburgum were razed. The city itself was left untouched, as the adventurers aimed to avoid any lengthy sieges. From there the ghuzat marched eastward to the region north of Lake Potamicus [Lake Constance] where they continued their pillaging. Even though the city of Constantia [Constance] and its enticing cathedral were protected by old Roman fortifications, the Muslims spotted an island in the lake and learned from their captives that it was home to a famous monastery [Reichenau Abbey]. Ironically the monastery was founded by a monk named Pirmin who had fled Arbuna before its Islamic conquest. Al-Qasim ibn Yusuf ordered his men to commandeer boats from the nearby villages so they could traverse along the eastern spur of the island. A group of soldiers remained with the horses and the previously captured loot, while the rest sacked the monastery and enslaved most of the monks and local villagers. Laden with their plunder, the ghuzat travelled back to Nur al-Faranj.

While it may initially appear that al-Qasim ibn Yusuf al-Fihri shirked his responsibilities in governing while he embarked on his military adventures, the captured loot was a much-needed boost to al-Andalus’ economy. After the partition among the ghuzat, the wali’s portion of the stolen material wealth was sent straight to the Andalusian treasury, either directly or after being exchanged for currency. Many of the captives were transferred to what can be called palatine slavery: eunuchs, concubines, scribes and bureaucrats, bodyguards and soldiers, and other palace servants directly in the service of the varying tiers of government. Other captives were utilised as labour in public works projects or, less commonly in al-Andalus, agricultural labour. The rest of the slaves were sold to private owners. From there they entered either into similar roles as those in palatine slavery or into domestic servitude. Alternatively they were exported to other regions of the Dar al-Islam; provinces such as Iraq and Misr had high demand for slaves and therefore the sale value was considerably higher. Economic growth in coastal cities such as Balansiyya, Arbuna, and the constituents of the Nicaean League was driven by participation in this increased slave trade. Similarly in Ruma al-Gharbiya, where slavery was less prevalent in the province itself, the slave trade was also being embraced by the mercantile classes in cities such as Anquna [Ancona], Bayza [Pisa], and Babiyya [Pavia].

[1] His Christian name is Ursus, which is Latin for bear, which in Arabic is dubb.
[2] Cividale del Friuli’s name at the time was Forum Iulii (forum of Julius Caesar) so arguably the Arabs would rename it to Qaysariyya like they did with many other overtly Roman-sounding settlements.
[3] The three-headed stone of Magdalensberg.
[4] The new Islamic/Arabic name derives from Lugdunum and a popular belief at the time that “Lug” was a corruption of lux (light). The city’s name therefore is “light of the Franks”.
 
] The new Islamic/Arabic name derives from Lugdunum and a popular belief at the time that “Lug” was a corruption of lux (light). The city’s name therefore is “light of the Franks”.
That is a very unique name too, nice one, maybe other TL would name it after the Lions... maybe.

Still amazing update, seems Muslim adventures in the alps will be the start something big later on
 
You are right of course. This is a problem of me trying to write the chapters from within the ATL universe in the twenty-first century and failing, mostly because I don't know what the world will look like in 2020 (though I have a rough idea of how I would like it to look).
This is a problem I've been encountering as well. I'm trying to use as many contemporary names as possible, but sometimes I just have to use modern descriptors for certain events. I think it is fine if you made an earnest yet failed effort to come up with something for the specified place, but it oftentimes feels just very weird.

I mean, if you are writing a timeline from this very timeline's present, it's not too unlikely that OTL English is a very wrong choice for that. But well, I don't think I (or anyone) can study linguistics and come up with a language which should have undergone more than a millennia of different linguistic and cultural developments.
 
This is a problem I've been encountering as well. I'm trying to use as many contemporary names as possible, but sometimes I just have to use modern descriptors for certain events. I think it is fine if you made an earnest yet failed effort to come up with something for the specified place, but it oftentimes feels just very weird.

I mean, if you are writing a timeline from this very timeline's present, it's not too unlikely that OTL English is a very wrong choice for that. But well, I don't think I (or anyone) can study linguistics and come up with a language which should have undergone more than a millennia of different linguistic and cultural developments.
Yeah, if I was writing it properly from within the universe I'd likely be writing in Anglish or something similar, but obviously that's not feasible so I'll stick to the current writing scheme.
If anyone needs reminding where places are/what they used to be called, feel free to ask.
 
Yeah, if I was writing it properly from within the universe I'd likely be writing in Anglish or something similar, but obviously that's not feasible so I'll stick to the current writing scheme.
If anyone needs reminding where places are/what they used to be called, feel free to ask.
Better Use otl Term alongside ITTL ones, allow some people(ie me) to get the details quickly, specially places
 
The Death of Caliph al-Rashid and the Early Reign of Caliph al-Qadir
The Death of Caliph al-Rashid and the Early Reign of Caliph al-Qadir

Caliph al-Rashid finally fell victim to old age in 784 CE. Besides the naval campaign against the Shia community in Sind, and intermittent raiding on the frontiers, the Dar al-Islam was relatively peaceful at the time of his death. Isa ibn Musa ibn Muhammad, as he was known before he was raised to the khilafah, would continue to be remembered as one of the triumvirs who returned the caliphate to the ideal of rightly-guided succession through the shura. Furthermore, even before the death of his uncle, Caliph al-Mansur, the Abbasid prince had been the de facto regent of the caliphate since the triumvirate’s ultimatum of 757 CE. As such al-Rashid had arguably been the master of the Dar al-Islam for nearly thirty years. An appraisal of his rule is therefore necessary. The Dar al-Islam had been expanded: conquests in Rum and the regions formerly known as Gaul and Italia. Meanwhile Arab-centric policies and attitudes, especially with regards to taxation, were diminished. Linked to these developments were the establishment of a proper imperial bureaucracy to streamline and increase the efficiency of ruling the caliphate. On the other hand, there were issues which al-Rashid had ignored or failed to resolve. Due to the nature of the unofficial power of the triumvirate, power bases of governors and their extended networks had been allowed to grow. The obvious example was the Banu Fihr in the west but even the centre of the Dar al-Islam was riven with factions. The withdrawal of Caliph al-Mansur from governance combined with the triumvirs’ desire to maintain balance resulted in many governors holding their positions for long tenures. In al-Sham and Misr the family of Salih ibn Ali remained dominant, while the east was firmly under the control of the Khurasanis.

This was the situation inherited by al-Fadl ibn Salih ibn Ali ibn Abdallah ibn al-Abbas when he succeeded to the khilafah as al-Qadir. Fortunately however the various powerful factions were at least united by their support for the ideal of an Arab-ruled Abbasid Caliphate. There were those who were violently opposed to this reality though; the Shia success in Sind had inspired the underground Shia communities within the caliphate and the death of the Abbasid Caliph was an opportune time for their rebellions. The Shia rebels had learned from the failure of the uprising of Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya and so cooperated to organise a series of co-ordinated rebellions. Soon after the death of Caliph al-Rashid, the Shia rose up simultaneously in Madinah, Basra, and Kufa; the rebellion was under the nominal command of Muhammad ibn Ismail ibn Ja’far al-Sadiq in Madinah. This was arguably the greatest threat the Abbasid Caliphate had yet faced. Al-Rashid raised an army from Baghdad, mostly comprising Khurasanis, and retreated west to al-Sham. The reason for this was because the family of Salih ibn Ali had successfully appropriated the political support base of the Umayyad dynasty in al-Sham for themselves. In the context of a pro-Alid rebellion the troops of al-Sham were a natural choice for the khalifah to make use of.

Once again southern Iraq and Madinah had fallen easily to Shia forces, and Baghdad had been abandoned with only a token garrison to protect it, an act which the city’s bureaucrats would not soon forget. After Caliph al-Qadir reached Dimashq and expanded his army with recruitment from Qays and Qahtan Arabs, he faced a choice: to march on Madinah, or to reinforce Baghdad. Madinah, Makkah [Mecca], and the Hejaz were of course the religious centre of the Dar al-Islam, and from a military perspective would be easier to retake. Baghdad however was the caliphate’s administrative centre and had eclipsed the Hejaz in terms of political importance. A delay in retaking either would be a severe blow not only to his legitimacy but also that of the Abbasid dynasty as a whole. Al-Qadir decided to march to Baghdad and ordered his brother, wali Ibrahim of Misr, to retake the Hejaz. Al-Qadir stopped in al-Jazira on his way to Baghdad, where he was reinforced by troops from Arminiya [Armenia] and Jibal; the soldiers of al-Jazira were ordered to stay in their province and defend against any Shia incursions. Meanwhile the Shia army in Iraq, commanded by Idris ibn Abdallah al-Kamil (a brother of Muhammad al-Nafs al-Zakiyya)[1], was engaged in urban warfare through the southern suburbs of Baghdad. Upon hearing the news that a much larger Abbasid army was bearing down on them, the Shia army retreated to their traditional stronghold of Kufa and fortified there.

Ibrahim ibn Salih ibn Ali and his Misri army marched into the Hejaz and encountered a substantial Shia army. The Abbasids emerged victorious, but only just and so halted outside of Madinah. Ibrahim sent forth messengers to the city demanding Muhammad ibn Ismail’s surrender; unsurprisingly the Imam refused and countered with his own demand for Ibrahim’s surrender. After a short pause, the Shia army sallied forth from Madinah and attacked the Abbasid forces. The ensuing battle justifiably took on epic proportions in the works of later chroniclers; the Abbasids won but both sides suffered heavy losses. Muhammad ibn Ismail was wounded during the course of the battle and was evacuated by his most loyal followers. Survivors from the Shia army fled to other parts of Arabiyya, where they remained in hiding from the caliphal authorities. Caliph al-Qadir meanwhile returned to Baghdad, left a contingent of men to bolster the city’s garrison, and left immediately to pursue the rebels. During the early stages of the revolt, the Shia had managed to capture the fortress of al-Ukhaydir to the west of Karbala. As it was one of Caliph al-Rashid’s most prized constructions, its loss was a severe blow to al-Qadir’s prestige. Consequently he dispatched part of his army to besiege al-Ukhaydir while the rest besieged Kufa; both locations proved to be tough to break. In the meantime al-Qadir ordered sections of his army to break off from the siege and retake Wasit and Basra; the latter surrendered shortly after the Abbasid arrival, but Wasit remained firm. The army besieging Kufa eventually breached the gates resulting in a harsh sacking of the city by the troops from al-Sham; al-Qadir did nothing to rein them in, for which he was castigated by later historians. All of the defenders, including Idris ibn Abdallah al-Kamil, were slaughtered as were many of the civilian population. Wasit surrendered when it heard the grave news, but al-Ukhaydir held out for most of 785 CE.

Caliph al-Qadir’s policies after the revolt took a draconian turn. The survivors of the siege of Kufa were deported and the city repopulated by Arabs from al-Sham, Misr, and Iran. The refugees spread east and west; the former spread throughout Iran or went to Sind, while the latter made their way to al-Andalus and the Maghreb. Persecution of the Shia was increased everywhere within the centre of the Dar al-Islam. On the other hand, al-Qadir’s standing had increased dramatically among the Abbasid dynasty and those who were strongly opposed to the Alids. Taking advantage of this upsurge in personal support al-Qadir swiftly convened a shura to appoint a new second heir. At the shura Mukhallad ibn Yazid al-Fazari, a prominent governor in al-Sham, suggested the candidacy of the khalifah’s brother Abd al-Malik ibn Salih ibn Ali. Other princes of the Banu Salih branch of the family immediately voiced their support as did their partisans. Once it was clear that they were in the majority Caliph al-Qadir, with apparent reluctance, supported his brother’s candidacy. The opponents realised that they had been outmanoeuvred and so reluctantly acquiesced to Abd al-Malik’s appointment. The whole affair had been stage-managed: al-Qadir knew that there would be greater opposition to his choice if he proposed it himself, but having it come from a family with a pro-Umayyad history gave him sufficient plausible deniability.

The caliph’s strengthening of his family continued in his gubernatorial appointments. Harthama ibn A’yan, the long-time ally of Caliph al-Rashid, was recalled from his position as wali of Ruma al-Gharbiya and was not reassigned to a new post. He was replaced by the new second heir Abd al-Malik, officially to give the prince more experience in ruling, but it was more likely that the khalifah had ulterior motives. The elderly Abu Awn Abd al-Malik ibn Yazid, wali of Ifriqiya and another veteran Khurasani, was replaced by Abu Abdallah Muhammad ibn al-Mansur who had ingratiated himself with the Banu Salih during his time in Misr. To maintain an appearance of balance however, al-Qadir appointed Yahya ibn Khalid al-Baramika, who had previously succeeded his father as wali of Fars, to the newly-created position of wazir [vizier], officially making him head of the caliphal bureaucracy. This would eventually prove to be a major mistake on al-Qadir’s part, as it led to an alliance between the hostile bureaucracy and the Khurasanis. In Yahya ibn Khalid’s place as governor of Fars was appointed Musa, one of Caliph al-Rashid’s sons. Al-Qadir hoped that the new governor would be grateful for the prestigious position, but instead he was drawn towards the Khurasanis and the newer converts in Fars. Factional politics in the Abbasid Caliphate had thus only been worsened in the opening years of Caliph al-Qadir’s reign.

[1] OTL Idris fled to the Maghreb after a failed Shia revolt in 786 CE, where he founded the Idrisid dynasty.
 
Last edited:
Top