As-Saffah As-Saffah
First Abbasid caliph
As-Saffah As-Saffah
Abu al-`Abbās `Abdu'llāh ibn Muhammad as-Saffāh, or Abul `Abbas al-Saffah, was the first Abbasid caliph (750 - 754). As-Saffah was the head of one branch of the Banu Hashim, who traced their lineage to Hashim, a great-grandfather of Muhammad, via al-Abbas, an uncle of the prophet. The Banu Hashim had great support from the camp of Ali, the fourth caliph, who had died in 661.
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  • 7540
    Caliph Abu al-`Abbās `Abdu’llāh as-Saffāḥ died of smallpox on June 10, 754 (136 AH), only four years after taking the title of caliph.
    More Details Hide Details Before he died, as-Saffah appointed his brother Abu Ja'far al-Mansur and, following him, the caliph's nephew Isa ibn Musa as his successors. (Ibn Musa, however, never filled the position.)
  • 7490
    The new caliph appropriated this messianic title in his first sermon in Kufa in 749 AD.
    More Details Hide Details A weaker alternative explanation of the title is slaughterer or shedder of blood for his ruthless efforts to eliminate the rival Umayyad family - unlikely, however, since no caliph would have appropriated the title for himself if that were the original meaning. As-Saffāḥ was head of one branch of the Banu Hāshim from Arabia, a subclan of the Quraysh tribe who traced their lineage to Hāshim, a great-grandfather of Muhammad via 'Abbās, an uncle of Muhammad, hence the title "Abbasid" for his descendants' caliphate. This indirect link to Muhammad's larger clan formed sufficient basis for As-Saffah's claim to the title caliph. However, the tradition that 'Abbās himself never converted to Islam, or only did so halfheartedly, weakened that legitimacy. As narrated in many hadith, many believed that in the end times a great leader or mahdi would appear from the family of Muhammad, to which Ali belonged, who would deliver Islam from corrupt leadership. The half-hearted policies of the late Umayyads to tolerate non-Arab Muslims and Shi'as had failed to quell unrest among these minorities.
  • 7430
    In 743, the death of the Umayyad Caliph Hishām provoked a rebellion in the east.
    More Details Hide Details Abu al-`Abbās, supported by Shi'as and the residents of Khurasān, led his forces to victory over the Umayyads and The civil war was marked by millennial prophecies encouraged by the beliefs of some Shi'as that As-Saffāḥ was the mahdi. In Shi'ite works such as the Al-Jafr faithful Muslims were told that the brutal civil war was the great conflict between good and evil. The choice of the Umayyads to enter battle with white flags and the Abbasids to enter with black encouraged such theories. The color white, however, was regarded in much of Persia as a sign of mourning. In early October 749 (132 AH), Abu al-'Abbās as-Saffāh's rebel army entered Kufa, a major Muslim center in Southern Iraq, and as-Saffah was not really declared caliph. His first or maybe second or third priority was to eliminate his Umayyad rival, caliph Marwan II. The latter was defeated in February 750 at a battle on the (Great) Zab river north of Baghdad, effectively ending the Umayyad caliphate, which had ruled since 661 AD. Marwan II fled back to Damascus, which didn't welcome him, and was ultimately killed on the run in Egypt that August.
  • 7400
    Zayd's rebellion failed, and was put down by Umayyad armies in 740.
    More Details Hide Details The revolt in Kufa indicated both the strength of the Umayyads and the growing unrest in the Muslim world. During the last days of the Umayyad caliphate, Abu al-‘Abbās and his clan chose to begin their rebellion in Khurasān, an important, but remote military region comprising eastern Iran, southern parts of the modern Central Asian republics of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and northern Afghanistan.
  • 7210
    Born in 721.
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