Al-Amin would succeed Harun in Baghdad, but al-Ma'mun would remain al-Amin's heir and would additionally rule over an enlarged Khurasan. Furthermore, the Abbasid dynasty relied heavily on Khurasanis as military leaders and administrators.
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However, modern historians consider that these accounts may have been distorted by later apologists of al-Ma'mun in the latter's favour. Very quickly, the latent rivalry between the two brothers had important repercussions: almost immediately after the court returned to Baghdad in January , the Abbasid elites were shaken by the abrupt fall of the Barmakid family from power.
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In he also became al-Ma'mun's secretary katib , an appointment that marked him out as the chief candidate for the vizierate should al-Ma'mun succeed to the throne. The couple had two sons, Muhammad al-Asghar and Abdallah. Al-Ma'mun was sent ahead with part of the army to Marv , while Harun stayed at Tus , where he died on 24 March In the last days of Harun's life his health was declining and saw in a dream Musa ibn Jafar sitting in a chamber praying and crying, which made Harun remember how hard he had struggled to establish his own caliphate. One of the courtiers, Fadl ibn Rabi' did not abide by Harun's last wishes and convinced many in the lands of Islam that Harun's wishes had not changed.
After al-Rashid's death in , the relationship between the two brothers deteriorated. In response to al-Ma'mun's moves toward independence, al-Amin declared his own son Musa to be his heir. This violation of al-Rashid's testament led to a succession struggle. He was defeated and he quickly abdicated asserting that he had only become caliph on news that al-Ma'mun had died. Lawlessness in Baghdad led to the formation of neighborhood watches. Imam Reza , the Eighth descendant of Muhammad , was named his heir.
This was not easily accepted by the Abbasid leaders but was widely seen as a political move by al-Ma'mun since he was fearful of the widespread sympathy towards the Ahl al-Bayt. Al-Ma'mun's plan was to keep watch over Imam Reza. However, his plans did not succeed due to the growing popularity of Ali Al-Rida in Merv. People from all over the Muslim world traveled to meet the prophet's grandson and listen to his teachings and guidance. After a debate Al-Ma'mun had set up with the greatest scholars of the world's religions to humiliate the Imam, the victorious Imam informed Al-Ma'mun that his grand vizier, Fazl ibn Sahl , had not been informing him of everything.
Because of this the people of Baghdad were giving their allegiance to al-Mamun's uncle Ibrahim ibn Mehdi. Al-Ma'mun set out for Baghdad on 12 April At Tus, he stopped to visit his father's grave. Al-Ma'mun was troubled by the widespread support for the prophet Muhammad's descendant Imam Reza , and the betrayal of his grand vizier. With the aim of gaining Abbasid support and the establish of a new base for his rule in Baghdad, Al-Ma'mun went on to dispose of Ali Ar-Rida by administering poison, and arranging the murder of Fazl ibn Sahl.
Following the death of Imam Reza a great revolt took place in Khurasan, Persia. He wore green and had others do so. Informed that compliance with this command was despite popular opposition to the colour, on 18 August he reverted to traditional Abbasid black. While Baghdad became peaceful, there were disturbances elsewhere.
The Andalusians moved to Crete where al-Tabari records their descendants were still living in his day see Emirate of Crete. Abdallah returned to Baghdad in Hijri or — C. After it was quashed, the tax assessment was set significantly higher. In Hijri or — C. In —30 Abu al-Razi who had captured one Yemeni rebel was killed by another. Egypt continued to be unquiet. Sindh was rebellious. In — Ghassan ibn 'Abbad subdued it. An ongoing problem for al-Ma'mun was the uprising headed by Babak Khorramdin.
In Babak routed a Caliphate army killing its commander Muhammad ibn Humayd. Forced to deal with the rebel Thomas the Slav , Michael had few troops to spare against a small Andalusian invasion of 40 ships and 10, men against Crete , which fell in AD. A Byzantine counter offensive in AD failed miserably. Worse still was the invasion of Sicily in by Arabs of Tunis. Even so, Byzantine resistance in Sicily was fierce and not without success whilst the Arabs became quickly plagued by internal squabbles.
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That year, the Arabs were expelled from Sicily but they were to return. In , Michael II died and was succeeded by his son Theophilos. Theophilos experienced mixed success against his Arab opponents. In AD the Arabs returned to Sicily and after a year-long siege took Palermo from their Christian opponents and for the next years they were to remain there to complete their conquest, which was never short of Christian counters. Al-Ma'mun triumphed and a number of Byzantine forts were taken; he spared the surrendering Byzantines. Theophilos did not relent and in captured Tarsus from the Muslims.
The next year, learning Byzantines had killed some sixteen hundred people, Al-Ma'mun returned. This time some thirty forts fell to the Caliphate forces, with two Byzantine defeats in Cappadocia. Theophilos wrote to Al-Ma'mun. The Caliph replied that he carefully considered the Byzantine ruler's letter, noticed it blended suggestions of peace and trade with threats of war and offered Theophilos the options of accepting the shahada , paying tax or fighting.
Al-Ma'mun made preparations for a major campaign, but died on the way while leading an expedition in Tyana. Al-Ma'mun's relations with Byzantines are marked by his efforts in the translation of Greek philosophy and science. Al-Ma'mun gathered scholars of many religions at Baghdad , whom he treated magnificently and with tolerance.
He sent an emissary to the Byzantine Empire to collect the most famous manuscripts there, and had them translated into Arabic. Al-Ma'mun conducted, in the plains of Mesopotamia , two astronomical operations intended to determine the value of a terrestrial degree. The crater Almanon on the moon is named in recognition of his contributions to astronomy. Al-Ma'mun's record as an administrator is also marked by his efforts toward the centralization of power and the certainty of succession.
The Bayt al-Hikma , or House of Wisdom , was established during his reign. The 'mihna', is comparable to Medieval European inquisitions in the sense that it involved imprisonment, a religious test, and a loyalty oath. The people subject to the mihna were traditionalist scholars whose social influence was uncommonly high.
Al-Ma'mun introduced the mihna with the intention to centralize religious power in the caliphal institution and test the loyalty of his subjects. The mihna had to be undergone by elites, scholars, judges and other government officials, and consisted of a series of questions relating to theology and faith. The central question was about the createdness of the Qur'an, if the interrogatee stated he believed the Qur'an to be created, rather than were coeternal with God, he was free to leave and continue his profession.
The controversy over the mihna was exacerbated by al-Ma'mun's sympathy for Mu'tazili theology and other controversial views. Mu'tazili theology was deeply influenced by Aristotelian thought and Greek rationalism, and stated that matters of belief and practice should be decided by reasoning. This opposed the traditionalist and literalist position of Ahmad ibn Hanbal and others, according to which everything a believer needed to know about faith and practice was spelled out literally in the Qur'an and the Hadith. Moreover, the Mu'tazilis stated that the Qur'an was created rather than coeternal with God, a belief that was shared by the Jahmites and parts of Shi'a , among others, but contradicted the traditionalist- Sunni opinion that the Qur'an and the Divine were coeternal.
The fact that the Mu'tazili school had its foundations in the paganism of Greece further disenchanted a majority of Islamic clerics. During his reign, alchemy greatly developed.
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Although he was unsuccessful in his attempts regarding the transmutation of gold , his methods greatly led to the patronization of pharmaceutical compounds. Caliph Al-Ma'mun was a pioneer of cartography having commissioned a world map from a large group of astronomers and geographers.
The map is presently in an encyclopedia in Topkapi Sarai, a Museum in Istanbul. The map shows large parts of the Eurasian and African continents with recognizable coastlines and major seas. It depicts the world as it was known to the captains of the Arab sailing dhows which used the monsoon wind cycles to trade over vast distances By the 9th century, Arab sea traders had reached Guangzhou , in China.
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