Rafed English

The Prevailing of the Turks on the Rule

Adapted from: "The Life of Imam ‘Ali al-Hadi, Study and Analysis" by: "Baqir Shareef al-Qurashi"

The Turks controlled the reins of power and prevailed on all the bodies of the state to a degree that the Abbasid caliph had no authority or influence. The decisions were in the hands of the Turks. They appointed and deposed whoever they liked of caliphs, viziers, and officials. One of poets described the state of al-Musta’een by saying,

“A caliph in a cage between Waseef and Bugha,
he repeated what they both said to him as a parrot does.”

The Abbasid caliphs in that period were like parrots. They had nothing from the caliphate. The Turks did everything whereas the caliph was in name only with no will or option.

The caliphate declined and lost its solemnity and superiority, and the caliphs had no significance. It was mentioned that when al-Mu’tazz assumed the caliphate, some of his companions sent for a diviner and asked him how long the caliph would sit on the throne and how long he would live. A humorous man from among the attendants said, ‘I know that.’ They asked him to tell them and he said, ‘The matter is in the hands of the Turks. They decide how long he rules and how long he lives.’ The all burst into laughter.1

Al-Mu’tasim, the Abbasid caliph, appointed Ashnas the Turk as the wali and gave him the right to appoint walis. It was prayed for Ashnas on the minbars 2 whereas praying was limited to the caliphs before.

During his reign, al-Wathiq appointed Ashnas as the wali on Baghdad and expanded his authority until over Morocco. He gave him the right to run the affairs of all those countries and to appoint whoever he liked without referring to the caliph. The caliph entrusted Ashnas with all the affairs of the state and dressed him with two sashes of jewels.3


1. Al-Fakhri, p.181
2. An-Nujum az-Zahirah, vol.2 p.229
3. Tareekh al-Ya’qubi, vol.3 p.205


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