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ʿAmr b. Masʿada

(374 words)

Author(s): Sourdel, Dominique | revised by, ¨ | Gordon, Matthew S.
ʿAmr b. Masʿada b. Saʿīd b. Ṣūl (d. probably 217/832) was a secretary and man of letters under the caliph al-Maʾmūn (r. 198–218/813–33). Probably of Turkish origin, he was a cousin of Ibrāhīm b. al-ʿAbbās al-Ṣūlī (d. 243/857), a prominent ʿAbbāsid kātib. His father, said by al-Jahshiyārī (d. 331/942) to have been a client (mawlā) of Khālid b. ʿAbdallāh al-Qasrī (d. 126/743), a major Umayyad figure, had been secretary of the chancellery under the caliph al-Manṣūr (r. 136–58/754–75). ʿAmr himself served the Barmakids and was later, for many years, on…
Date: 2021-07-19

Aḥdāth

(1,727 words)

Author(s): Gordon, Matthew S.
Aḥdāth (lit., “young men”) is usually understood to refer to urban militias of post-third/ninth century Syria and the Jazīra. The term's etymology (from ḥ-d-th, “to occur, come to pass”) remains obscure.The earliest Arabic references, for Kufa and Basra exclusively, are to an office of aḥdāth in the later Umayyad and early ʿAbbāsid periods (von Sievers, 214–216). The largest number of references occurs in al-Ṭabarī's Taʾrīkh (ed. de Goeje; in the English translation, direct references are 14:16; 15:136, 189; 26:244; 29:76, 77, 169, 175, 176, 180, 195, 204, 216, 219, 222, 235, 237, 239; 30:40; 31:10). The appointments of the aḥdāth were typically combined variously with the shurṭa (pl. shuraṭ, “police”) and qaḍāʾ (“judiciary”), and with offices superintending ṣalāt (“organised prayer”), fiscal management, and local administration. Several references combine shurṭa and aḥdāth; others, particularly for al-Mahdī's reign (158–69/775–85), combine ṣalāt and aḥdāth. It is thus probable that the latter post involved public sec…
Date: 2021-07-19

Bughā al-Kabīr

(477 words)

Author(s): Gordon, Matthew S.
Bughā al-Kabīr (d. 248/862), to be distinguished from Bughā al-Saghīr, a contemporary but of no relation, was an ʿAbbāsid commander who rose from the ranks of the Sāmarrāʾ-based Turkish–Central Asian slave corps. He is reported to have been acquired by al-Muʿtaṣim (r. 218–27/833–42) in 204/819–820 (al-Ṣūlī, 457). A passage in al-Ṣūlī refers to Bughā's well-established martial reputation and the simultaneous purchase of his sons
Date: 2021-07-19

Bughā al-Saghīr

(409 words)

Author(s): Gordon, Matthew S.
Bughā al-Saghīr (d. 254/868), to be distinguished from Bughā al-Kabīr, a contemporary but of no relation, was an ʿAbbāsid commander, known also as al-Sharābī (“the cup-bearer”). Although he was certainly a member of the Sāmarrāʾ-based Turkish–Central Asian slave corps, the sources provide no direct evidence about his acquisition by the ʿAbbāsid state (see Gordon, Ph.D. diss., 226). He spent little time in the field; one report has him leading forces, on behalf of the caliph al-Mutawakkil (r. 232–…
Date: 2021-07-19

al-ʿAbbās b. ʿAmr al-Ghanawī

(574 words)

Author(s): Canard, Marius | revised by, ¨ | Gordon, Matthew S.
Al-ʿAbbās b. ʿAmr al-Ghanawī (fl. end of the third century/ninth century) was an ʿAbbāsid commander and governor. The sources say nothing directly about his origins, although Yāqūt describes a “Qaṣr al-ʿAbbās b. ʿAmr al-Ghanawī” (4:359–60), located between Naṣībīn and Sinjār, which lie in Diyār Rabīʿa. He first appears in historical accounts on campaign in 286/899, against tribesmen of the Banū Shaybān in al-Anbār, during the reign of the caliph al-Muʿtaḍid (r. 279–89/892–902), then later against other Arab tribal forces in southern Iraq. The sources know al-ʿAbbās best in re…
Date: 2021-07-19

Aḥmad b. Ṭūlūn

(1,443 words)

Author(s): Gordon, Matthew S.
Aḥmad b. Ṭūlūn (220–70/835–84) was governor of ʿAbbāsid Egypt and founder of the short-lived Ṭūlūnid state (c. 254–92/868–905). The biographies of Ibn al-Dāya (d. 340/951) and al-Balawī (fl. late fourth/tenth century) date his birth to 220/834–5. Little is known about Ibn Ṭūlūn's mother, Qāsim, a slave woman (jāriya). His father, Ṭūlūn (d. 240/854–5)—whose name is likewise probably a slave name—is reported to have been sent by Nūḥ b. Asad (Sāmānid governor of Bukhara) to the caliph al-Maʾmūn in about 200/815. Ṭūlūn is identified as belonging…
Date: 2021-07-19

Afshīn

(791 words)

Author(s): Barthold, W. | Gibb, H. A. R. | updated by, ¨ | Gordon, Matthew S.
Afshīn was a title borne by a family of Central Asian rulers, dating from pre-Islamic times; one of these rulers, known in Arabic sources as al-Afshīn (d. 226/841), became a military leader under the caliphs al-Maʾmūn (r. 198–218/813–833) and al-Muʿtaṣim (r. 218–27/833–42). The rulers of Ushrūsana, the mountainous district between Samarqand and Khujanda (Barthold, 165–9), bore this title, and al-Yaʿqūbī ( Taʾrīkh, 2:479) lists the Afshīn of “Usrūshana” among the chiefs of Transoxania and Central Asia that pledged nominal loyalty to the caliph al-Mahdī. Th…
Date: 2021-07-19

Faḍl al-Shāʿira

(716 words)

Author(s): Gordon, Matthew S.
Faḍl (d. c. 257/871) was an ʿAbbāsid-era poet and courtesan. Typically referred to as Faḍl al-Shāʿira (“the Poetess”), she belonged to a select group of elite female performers—poets, singers, musicians, and dancers—of slave background, trained in the appropriate social and literary arts and linked closely to the highest circles of imperial court society. The key source on the early ʿAbbāsid courtesans is Abū l-Faraj al-Iṣfahānī’s Kitāb al-aghānī; it contains a section on Faḍl’s repertoire and career and another on her relationships with Saʿīd b. Ḥumayd (d. af…
Date: 2021-07-19

al-Fatḥ b. Khāqān

(609 words)

Author(s): Gordon, Matthew S.
Al-Fatḥ b. Khāqān (b. c. 200/817–8, d. 247/861–2) was an ʿAbbāsid courtier, diplomat, and scholar. His father, Khāqān ʿUrṭūj, was probably of Turkic/Inner Asian noble origin, as the (reconstructed) name suggests. There are no indications of ties to the Farghāna (Fergana) valley (pace Pinto, “Favorito,” 134) nor of enslavement of any family members, as was the case with many of the so-called Atrāk (Inner Asian soldiers, lit., Turks) of ʿAbbāsid Sāmarrāʾ. The family probably represented the presence…
Date: 2021-07-19

al-Faḍl b. Marwān

(615 words)

Author(s): Gordon, Matthew S.
Al-Faḍl b. Marwān (b. c. 160/777, d. 250/864) was an ʿAbbāsid courtier and diplomat. Dominique Sourdel has assessed the information available in the Arabic sources: the central references are found in al-Ṭabarī’s Taʾrīkh, with further details provided by the Taʾrīkh of al-Yaʿqūbī and other historiographic works and by select adab texts, notably al-Tanūkhī’s Nishwār al-muḥādara, the source of key remarks. Al-Faḍl’s career is to be set against the backdrop of two interrelated developments: the expansion of the ʿAbbāsid imperial state, in which the employme…
Date: 2021-07-19

al-Balawī

(731 words)

Author(s): Gordon, Matthew S.
Abū Muḥammad ʿAbdallāh b. Muḥammad al-Madīnī al-Balawī was an Egyptian historian and minor traditionist, possibly of Imāmī affiliation. His dates are unknown. Citing internal evidence in Sīrat Aḥmad b. Ṭūlūn, the text for which al-Balawī is best known, Shayyal argues plausibly that he flourished in the late fourth/tenth century, suggesting that he wrote for a member of the short-lived Ikhshīdid dynasty of Egypt (r. 323–58/935–69). The Fihrist of Ibn al-Nadīm (d. 385/995) is the chief source of later biographical entries (1/2:681); the Tanqīḥ al-maqāl of al-Mamāqānī (d. 1933) p…
Date: 2021-07-19

ʿAskar Mukram

(418 words)

Author(s): Gordon, Matthew S.
ʿAskar Mukram (lit., Mukram’s camp) was a town in Khūzistān (in present-day southwestern Iran, on the head of the Persian Gulf), north of Ahwāz, approximately at the junction of the Dujayl River (today the Kārūn) and the Masruqān Canal (the present-day Āb-i Gargar). The site, probably a late first/seventh-century cantonment, stood adjacent to a Sāsānid town, Rustam Kuwādh, which was destroyed during the Arab/Muslim conquests. Questions surround ʿAskar Mukram’s earliest history. Two conflicting accounts in al-Balādhurī (382–3) associate the eponym Mukram with …
Date: 2021-07-19