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44
CALIPHATE

tribute of 90,000 denarii, and supplying the Moslems with guides and markets on their way home. This brilliant success so increased Mahdi’s affection for Hārūn that he appointed him successor-designate after Mūsā and named him al-Rashīd (“the follower of the right cause”). Three years later, he resolved even to give to him the precedence in the succession instead of Mūsā, yielding to the importunity of Khaizorān, the mother of the two princes, and to his own predilection. It was necessary first to obtain from Mūsā a renunciation of his rights; and for that purpose he was recalled from Jorjān, where he was engaged on an expedition against the rebels of Tabaristān. Mūsā, informed of his father’s intentions, refused to obey this order, and Mahdi determined to march in person against him. But, after his arrival at Māsabadhān, a place in Jabal (Media, the later Persian Irak), he died suddenly, at the age of only forty-three. Some attribute his death to an accident met with in hunting; others believe him to have been poisoned. Some European scholars have suspected Mūsā of having been concerned in it, but of this we have no proof whatever.

The reign of Mahdi was a time of great prosperity. Much was done for the organization of the huge empire; agriculture and commerce flourished; the revenues were increasing, whilst the people fared well. The power of the state was acknowledged even in the far east: the emperor of China, the king of Tibet, and many Indian princes concluded treaties with the caliph. He was an ardent champion of the orthodox faith, repudiating all the extravagant doctrine preached by the Abbasid missionaries and formerly professed by his father. In particular he persecuted mercilessly the Manichaeans and all kinds of freethinkers.

4. Reign of Hādī.—On the death of Mahdi, Hārūn, following the advice of Yahyā. b. Khālid, sent the insignia of the Caliphate, with letters of condolence and congratulation, to Mūsā in Jorjān, and brought the army which had accompanied Mahdi peacefully back from Media to Bagdad. Mūsā returned in all haste to the capital, and assumed the title of al-Hādī (“he who directs”). The accession of a new caliph doubtless appeared to the partisans of the house of Ali a favourable opportunity for a rising. Hosain b. Ali b. Hasan III. raised an insurrection at Medina with the support of numerous adherents, and proclaimed himself caliph. Thence he went to Mecca, where on the promise of freedom many slaves flocked to him, and many pilgrims also acknowledged him. Suleimān b. Mansur, the caliph’s representative in the pilgrimage of that year, was entrusted with the command against him. Hosain was attacked at Fakh, 3 m. from Mecca, and perished in the combat with many other Alids. His maternal uncle, Idrīs b. Abdallah, a brother of Mahommed and Ibrāhīm, the rivals of Mansur, succeeded in escaping, and fled to Egypt, whence by the help of the postmaster, himself a secret partisan of the Shi‛ites, he passed into West Africa, where at a later period his son founded the Idrisite dynasty in Fez (see Morocco).

Hādī, who had never been able to forget that he had narrowly escaped being supplanted by his brother, formed a plan for excluding him from the Caliphate and transmitting the succession to his own son Ja‛far. To this he obtained the assent of his ministers and the principal chiefs of his army, with the exception of Yahyā b. Khālid, Hārūn’s former tutor, who showed such firmness and boldness that Hādī cast him into prison and resolved on his death. Some historians say that he had already given orders for his execution, when he himself was killed (September 14th, 786) by his mother Khaizorān, who had systematically and successfully intrigued against him with the object of gaining the real power for herself. Hādī, indignant at the fact that she was generally regarded as the real source of authority, had attempted to poison her, and Khaizorān, hoping to find a more submissive instrument of her will in her second and favourite son, caused Hādī to be smothered with cushions by two young slaves whom she had presented to him. She herself died three years later.

5. Reign of Hārūn al-Rashīd.—We have now reached the most celebrated name among the Arabian caliphs, celebrated not only in the East, but in the West as well, where the stories of the Thousand and One Nights have made us familiar with that world which the narrators represent in such brilliant colours. Hārūn ascended the throne without opposition. His first act was to choose as prime minister his former tutor, the faithful Yahyā b. Khālid, and to confide important posts to the two sons of Yahyā, Faḍl and Ja‛far, of whom the former was his own foster-brother, the latter his intimate friend. The Barmecide family were endowed in the highest degree with those qualities of generosity and liberality which the Arabs prized so highly, and the chronicles never weary in their praises. Loaded with all the burdens of government, Yahyā brought the most distinguished abilities to the exercise of his office. He put the frontiers in a good state of defence; he filled the public treasury, and carried the splendour of the throne to the highest point. His sons, especially Faḍl, were worthy of their father.

Although the administration of Hãrūn’s states was committed to skilful hands, yet the first years of his long reign were not free from troubles. Towards the year 176 (A.D. 792-793) a man of the house of Ali, named Yahyā b. Abdallah, another brother of Mahommed and Ibrāhīm, who had taken refuge in the land of Dailam on the south-western shores of the Caspian Sea, succeeded in forming a powerful party, and publicly claimed the Caliphate. Hãrūn immediately sent against him an army of 50,000 men, under the command of Faḍl, whom he made governor of all the Caspian provinces. Reluctant, however, to fight against a descendant of the Prophet, Faḍl first attempted to induce him to submit by promising him safety and a brilliant position at the court of Bagdad. Yahyāaccepted the proposal, but required that the caliph should send him letters of pardon countersigned by the highest legal authorities and the principal personages of the empire. Hārūn consented and Yahyā went to Bagdad, where he met with a splendid reception. At the end of some months, however, he was calumniously accused of conspiracy, and the caliph, seizing the opportunity of ridding himself of a possible rival, threw him into prison, where he died, according to the majority of the historians, of starvation. Others say that Ja‛far b. Yahyā b. Khālid, to whose care he had been entrusted, suffered him to escape, and that this was the real cause of Hārūn’s anger against the Barmecides (q.v.). Dreading fresh insurrections of the Alids, Hārūn secured the person of another descendant of Ali, Mūsā b. Ja‛far, surnamed al-Kāzim, who enjoyed great consideration at Medina, and had already been arrested and released again by Mahdi. The unfortunate man was brought by the caliph himself to Bagdad, and there died, apparently by poison.

Meanwhile Hārūn did not forget the hereditary enemy of Islam. In the first year of his reign all the strong places of Kinnesrin and Mesopotamia were formed into a special province, which received the name of al-‛Awāṣim (“the defending fortresses”), with Manbij (Hierapolis) as its capital. The building of the fortress of Hadath having been completed, Hārūn committed to Faraj the Turk the task of rebuilding and fortifying the city of Tarsus. Thanks to these and similar measures, the Moslem armies were able to advance boldly into Asia Minor. Almost every year successful raids were made, in the year 797 under the command of the caliph himself, so that Irene was compelled to sue for peace. An attack by the Khazars called the caliph’s attention from his successes in Asia Minor. This people had made an irruption into Armenia, and their attack had been so sudden that the Moslems and Christians were unable to defend themselves, and 100,000 had been reduced to captivity. Two valiant generals, Khozaima b. Khāzīm and Yazīd b. Mazyad, marched against the Khazars and drove them out of Armenia.

In the midst of the cares of war, Hārūn was assiduous in his religious duties, and few years passed without his making the pilgrimage. Having determined to fix the order of succession in so formal a manner as to take away all pretext for future contentions, he executed a deed by which he appointed his eldest son Mahommed his immediate heir, and after him the second, Abdallah, and after Abdallah the third, Qāsim. Mahommed received the surname of al-Amīn (“the Sure”), Abdallah that of al-Ma‛mūn (“he in whom men trust”), and Qāsim that of al-Mo’tamin billāh (“he who trusts in God”). Hārūn further