During the Ummayad Caliphate, only the Arabs ruled over the totality of vast Islamic territory and took power in their own hands. But in the time of Abbasside Caliphate, the Iranian took hold of power and laid hands upon all the official positions.
Although the Abbasside Caliphs were Arabs, they were not pleased with the Arabs. Their policy was based on pushing Arabs aside and making the Iranians accede to power. They opposed even the spread of the Arabic language in certain Iranian cities. This policy continued till the era of Ma'mun.1 After Ma'mun's death, his brother, Mu’tasim, succeeded him.
Ma'mun and Mu’tasim were not born from one mother. They were step-brothers. Ma'mun's mother was an Iranian and that of Mu’tasim, a Turkish. That was the reason the Iranians who held the important positions were not pleased with Mu’tasim's Caliphate, and they were desirous to make Abbas, the son of Ma'mun, ascend the throne.
Mu’tasim was fully aware of this case and always feared that his nephew, Abbas Ibn Ma'mun, would rise in rebellion with the support of Iranians and put an end to his rule. That's why he planned to kill Abbas and check the infiltration of the Iranians, Abbas partisans. He imprisoned Abbas where he died.
To prevent the infiltration of the Iranians, he planned to pave the way for the others so as to succeed the Iranians. To this end, he made a large number of people from Turkistan and Transoxiana, his mother's compatriots, to Emigrate to Baghdad, the capital of the Caliphate and entrusted them the direction of affairs. It did not take long that the Turks took the reins of government, and their power exceeded the Iranians' and Arabs' as well.
Having confidence in the Turks, he paved the way for them day by day, therefore in a short time they became the only applicants for the positions in the Islamic government. The Turks were all Muslims. They had learnt the Arabic language and were faithful to Islam.
Since it did not take a long time from their adherence to the Islamic civilization up to their acquisition of power, they were not familiar with the principles, rules and regulations of the Islamic civilization, contrary to Iranians who had possessed a cultural background, well versed in the Islamic principles, rules and morals, the Islamic habits, and were counted as the precursors of the supporters of Islam.
When Iranians had the reign of the affairs, all the Muslims were pleased with them. But the Turks behaved so savagely from the very day of their infiltration and access to the power that they made all the people angry and displeased.
While mounted on their horses, the Turkish soldiers strutted and paraded in the streets and alleys of Baghdad without paying any attention that there might be someone in the passages. Therefore, it happened frequently that they trod on the pedestrians, women, children, the old and infirm with the hooves of their horses.
People were so harassed that they demanded Mu’tasim to change the capital from Baghdad to the other city. They pointed out if he did not transfer the capital, they would wage a war against him.
Mu’tasim said in reply: "By which forces are you going to fight against me while I have eighty thousand armoured soldiers at my disposal."
They said: “With the arrows of midnight, that is to say, we will fight against you with imprecation of midnight.”
After the exchange of these words between them, Mu’tasim acquiesced in their demand and transferred the capital from Baghdad to Samarrah.
After Mu’tasim, in the era of Wasiq, Mutawakil, Muntasir and some other Caliphs, the Turks had practically control over the affairs, and the Caliphs were their subordinate, a few Abbasside Caliphs tried to make an end of their power, but they did not succeed.
One of the Abbasside Caliphs, al-Mu'atazid, put the affairs in good order and reduced their influence as far as possible. During the period of Mu'atazid, an old merchant to whom one of the chiefs of army owed a large amount of money did not manage to receive his due. He was compelled to resort to the Caliph, but whenever he went to the court, he had no access to the Caliph, for the gatekeepers and the servants prevented him from entering.
Disappointed, the poor merchant did not manage to think expedient till a day when a person guided him to a tailor in the Tuesday-market and told him that that tailor could solve his problem. The old merchant went to the tailor. The tailor ordered the military man to pay back his due, he paid the due without any hesitation.
This incident made the merchant wondered and surprised. He asked the tailor with much importunity: 'What makes these people who do not pay attention to anyone obey your order?'
The tailor said: "I have a story to tell you. One day while I was crossing the street, a beautiful woman passed through there at the same time. One of the Turkish officers, who was drunk came out of his house and viewed the passers-by, by chance he saw this woman, and he madly hugged her in front of the people and dragged her into his house.
The poor woman began shouting imploringly: "O people! Help! Help me! Come to my rescue! I am not of those women who do the specified work. I am a woman of honour. My husband has taken an oath that if I spend a night outside the house, he will divorce me. I will be ruined!" But no one dared to come forward.
However, I went forward and implored the officer to let the woman go away, but he beat violently on my head with a cudgel in his hand which broke my skull and took the woman in.
I gathered some people, and we went together to the door of that officer, asking him to let the woman be free. Suddenly, he came out along with a group of servants, fell upon us and started beating us.
The crowd was dispersed, and I also went back home, without stopping thinking an instant about the poor woman. I thought if that woman remained in the officer's house till morning, her matrimonial life would be ruined forever, and she could never be back home. I kept awake reflecting till midnight when a plan took shape in my mind. I thought: "This night, since the man is drunk, he has no idea of the time, if he hears the prayer-call "Adhan" at present, he will think that the day is just dawning and will let the woman go away. Therefore, she can reach her home before the midnight."
Immediately I headed towards the Mosque and from the minaret started the prayer-call "Adhan". Meanwhile, I was keeping a watch on the streets and alleys to see whether that woman would be rescued or not. Suddenly, I saw a regiment of soldiers, on horseback and on foot, rushed to the street and all inquired about the person who was calling the "Adhan" prayer-call.
Although I was bitterly frightened, I introduced myself to them, saying that it was I who called the "Adhan" prayer-call. They asked me to come down from the minaret because the Caliph has summoned me.
I was taken to the Caliph's palace. I saw the Caliph anxiously waiting for me. He asked me: "Why did you call the "Adhan" Prayer-call at this hour of night?"
I began narrating the incident from the beginning to end. Immediately, he ordered that that officer along with the woman be brought to his presence. After a brief investigation, he ordered the execution of the officer. He sent the woman back home to her husband, insisting that her husband should not reprimand her and take care of her too, for the Caliph was sure of her innocence."
Then Mu'atazid ordered me to implement this initiative whenever I encountered such injustices, assuring that he would attend to that. Thus, this news diffused widely among the people. Since then, they feared and respected me. That is why when I ordered this officer to repay his due, he obeyed my order immediately.2
- 1. One of the trials and tribulations provoked by the Umayyad and Abbasside statesmen as well as the other governors of the Islamic countries for the world of Islam was to stir up the tribal and racial fanatism.
As we know, Islam declared war against this kind of fanatism contrived to suppress it, and managed to unite miraculously the different nations, tribes and races of Arabs, Iranians, Turks, Romans, Indians etc, under the standard of one thought and belief.
Islam crystalized the highest and noblest hope of human beings by applying the following Qur'anic principle:
يَا أيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَاُنثَی وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
“O people! We have created you from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most honourable of you with Allah is that [one] who fears Allah. Indeed, Allah is Omniscient, All-Aware.” (Surah Al-Hujurat, 49:13).
But the Umayyad, Abbasside and the other ambitious governors rekindled this fire and put “nationalism” in circulation. It is remarkable to mention that the same statesmen and governors who are the prime movers of these stupid sentiments take no interest in it and laugh at the feeble-minded caught in their trap.
In the history of Islam, there are two lines keeping close together: the light and the dark, the ugly and the fair; from one hand, the gloomy fanatism and racism set ablaze by the political machinery and the relevant centers, and from the other hand, the fraternal and friendly sentiments among the diverse people of different tribes, nations, races, colour, languages prevailed in the scientifical, cultural centers as well as in the theological centers, religious places, Mosques, the prayer places and the common centers of the Muslims.
However, despite all the stratagems made by the political machineries in order to create discord and diversity among the Muslims, the clergymen and spirituality of Islam predominated over them. The white and black, Arabs and Iranians, Turks and Indians kept close together in the theological centers, the lines of the prayers and religious mobilization and the other assemblies turned the face towards each other’s as brothers.
Recently, during two or three centuries, the occidental colonizers put in execution the means of vast plans and excessive financial investment to implement their program of racial fanatism and nationalism in the Islamic countries. Unfortunately, they have succeeded in their plot in a great extent and have engaged the Islamic nations in commercial matters while having pillaged their spiritual and material capitals without any apprehension.
How many books have been written in this regard by the incompetent or treacherous hands of individuals, and how many positions and posts have been offered to the people in compensation of their services.
Nowadays, it is incumbent on every Muslim to open his eyes, endeavour on his past to annihilate the factors of discord created by the present and the past mal-intentioned politicians and must not follow these kinds of superstitions and delusions. A Muslim must know that the nationalism and tribalism is neither the source of dignity and honour nor of the shame and disgrace.
- 2. Zahrul Islam, v. 1, p. 32.