Chapter One – The catastrophe of Baghdad and the collapse of the caliphate

August 19, 2022
Chapter Two – Nasir al Din al Tusi and Ibn al ‘Alqami
August 19, 2022

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Chapter One

The catastrophe of Baghdad and the collapse of the caliphate

The collapse of Baghdad into the hands of the Moguls was not just the collapse of a great city or the collapse of a capital of a country, rather it was the collapse of that symbolic sign which as long as it remained acted as a means of honour for Muslims and a sanctuary for the exiled and the displaced. It was the centre of diplomatic, intellectual, and cultural exposure so its collapse was the collapse of the authority from which many religious leaders of the Islamic world would take their decisions from even in its times of weakness. And that was due to its religious and spiritual status. Even though the ‘Abbasid caliphate had for some time lost control over the regions under its dominion, the name of the khalifah would still be taken before that of the governor in the Friday sermon, in those regions that did not openly distance themselves from their rule.

The collapse of Baghdad became an influencing factor in the diplomatic, intellectual, and religious aspects in the life of Muslims, especially the collapse of caliphate despite its frail form, which gave the Muslims a sense of unity in thinking and religion.

The collapse of Baghdad lists amongst the most catastrophic events that one can read about, and history fails in presenting examples similar to it. Historians and scholars who waded painfully through these tragic events, give us the clearest explanation of the tragedy that unfolded.

Taqi al Din al Subki mentions:


سنة ست وخمسين وستمائة وهي السنة المصيبة بأعظم المصائب المحيطة بما فعلت من المعائب المقتحمة أعظم الجرائم الواثبة على أقبح العظائم الفاعلة بالمسلمين كل قبيح وعار النازلة عليهم بالكفار المسمين بالتتار ولا بأس بشرح واقعة التتار على الاختصارو حكاية كائنة بغداد لتعتبر بها البصائر وتشخص عندها الأبصار ويُجري المسلمين على ممر الزمان دموعهم دما و ليدري  المؤرخين بأنهم ما سمعوا بمثلها واقعة جعلت السماء أ ضا و الأ ض سماء

… the year 656 was a year afflicted with the greatest tribulations, filled with vice and the worst of crimes being perpetrated upon the most infamous of the powerful, treating of Muslims in every evil and disgraceful manner, and the decent of disbelievers upon them called the Tartars. There is no harm in a briefly touching upon the Tartars incident, and the report of what Baghdad used to be, so that a deep understanding be achieved and a picture be portrayed. Muslims have shed tears of blood over the passing of time and historians know for a fact that they have not come across anything of a similar nature which caused such anarchy as if the world was turned upside down.[1]


He also mentioned:


ثم دخلت سنة ست وخمسين وستما ة ذات الداهية الدهياء و المصيبة الصماء

Then dawned the year 656, the year of the severe catastrophe and the huge trial.[2]


Ibn Kathir mentioned:


ما وقع من الأمر الفظيع الذي لم يؤرخ أبشع منه منذ بنيت بغداد

There has not been a more heinous crime documented more dreadful than it since the establishment of Baghdad.[3]


Al Yunini mentions:


وما دهى الإسلام بداهية اعظم من هذه الداهية ولا أفضع

Islam has not been afflicted with a catastrophe greater and more repulsive than it.[4]


Poets have also competed in depicting the disaster, and why should they not when they were the most affected, to the extent that Muhammad al Tunji says:


فلا عجب إذا رأينا الشعراء و الأدباء يولون بغداد بعظيم عواطفهم وتقديرهم اكثر من غيرها بل كانت عاطفة الشعراء في رثائها أعمق من عاطفتهم حين انتصر المسلمين في عين جالوت بعد سنتين

It is not strange to witness extreme attachment and reverence being expressed for Baghdad by poets and intellectuals . In fact, the attachment of the poets in their poetic renditions is more profound than their attachment when the Muslims were victorious in ‘Ain Jalut 2 years later.[5]


A few examples of such poetry

Ibn Futi has mentioned in al Hawadith al Jamiah:

ولقد قال الشعراء في واقعة بغداد أشعاراً كثيرة منها ما قاله شمس الدين محمد بن عبيد الله الكوفي الواعظ

بانو ولي أدمع في الخد تشتبك

ولوعة في مجال الصد تعترك
يا نكبةما نجا من صرفها أحد

من الورى فاستوى المملوك و الملك

تمكنت بعدعز من أحبتنا

أيدي الأعادي فما أبقوا ولا تركوا
لو أن ما نالهم يفدى فديتهم

بمهجتي وبما أصبحت امتلك

ربع الهداية أضحى بعد بُعدهم

معطلاً ودم الإسلام منسفك
أين الذين على كل الورى حكموا

أين الذين اقتنوا أين الأُولى ملكوا

وقفت من بعدهم في الدار أسألها

عنهم وعمّا حووا فيها وما ملكوا
أجابني الطلل البالي وربعهم ال

خالي نعم هاهنا كانوا وقد هلكوا

لا تحسبوا الدمع ماء في الخدود جرى

وإنما هي روح الصَّب تنسكب


Poets have certainly composed much regarding the incident of Baghdad, from among them are the words of the orator Muhammad ibn ‘Ubaidullah al Kufi.

It has become evident that I have tears rolling down my cheek,

And the anguish is growing in the wounds of the heart.

O the catastrophe from whose adversities none was spared,

From the human race, which rendered the slave and master equal.

They seized control after the glory of our beloved ones,

The hands of the enemies so they did not spare nor did they desist.

If whatever they obtained could be of any ransom to them.

Then by my soul and that which it awakens, they have gained victory.

After their departure the guided ones set out,

Disbelieving, whilst the blood of Islam is being shed.

Where are those who were just to every soul,

Where are those who procured, where are the former ones who ruled.

I paused after them in the vicinity asking it,

Regarding them, that which they accumulated in it and what they owned.

Abandoned remains and their empty vicinity answered me.

Yes, they existed here and this is where they were destroyed.

Don’t regard tears to be just water that streamed down the cheeks.

For it is actually the spirit of the lover pouring out.[6]


Taqi al Din Ismail ibn Abi al Yusr mentioned:

فما وقوفك و الأحباب قد ساروا

لسائل الدمع عن بغداد أخبار

فما بذاك الحمى والدار ديار

يا زائرين إلى الزوراء لا تغدوا

به العالم قد عفاه اقفار

تاج الخلافة والربع الذي شرفت

وللدموع على الآثار آثار

أضحى يعصف البلى في ربعه أثر

شبت عليه ووافى الربع إعصار

يا نار قلبي نار الحرب و غى

وقام بالأمر من يحويه زنار

علا الصليب على أعلى منابرها

وكان من دون ذاك الستر   نار

وكم حريم سبته الترك غاصبة

ولم يعدلوا لبدور منه أبدار

وكم بدور على البدرية انخسفت

من النهاب وقد حازته كفار

وكم ذخائر أضحت وهي شائعت

على الرقاب وحطت فيه أوزار

وكم حدود أقيمت من سيوفهم

إلى السفاح من الأعداء دعار

ناديت والسبي هتوك تجزلهم


There is news about Baghdad for the one who asked of the tears.

So, why are you stopping whereas the people have moved on.

O visitors, do not come here.

For there is not any place of sanctuary or a shelter amongt the homes.

The crown of the Caliphate and its inhabitants,

Have been completely obliterated by the Earth.

The region began violently deteriorating right after,

And the tradition of tears followed thereafter.

O the burning desire of my soul, the burning desire to fight,

Has been rekindled whilst a tornado afflicted the people.

The cross has been elevated to the highest platform,

And the one who raised it wears it as a girdle.

Many sanctums were dishonoured by the Turks upon being usurped,

And there was excluding this pretext… a fire.

Many full moons eclipsed while shining,

And will never return to shine ever again.

Many treasures appear radiant,

From the plunderer whereas the disbelievers seized it.

Many borders were established by their swords,

Around their necks where the burden has been placed.

I called out whilst the prisoners were taken to be cut down,

By the immoral executioner of the enemy.[7]


The Ummah suffered many calamities due to the Collapse of Baghdad

A few are as follows:


1. Attack on Din

The greatest attack a person, country, or nation can be afflicted with is an attack on their religion and its fundamentals. Baghdad suffered a defeat prior to this phenomenon; however, it was a diplomatic military defeat, so it did not affect them from a religious perspective. This time around, Baghdad was overpowered by a group of idolaters.

Al Subki mentions regarding it:


هذه بغداد لم تكن دار كفر قط جرى عليها هذا الذي لم يقع منذ قامت الدنيا مثله وقتل الخليفة وكان وقع في الدنيا أعظم منه إلا أنه أضيفت له هوان الدين والبلاء الذي يختص بل عم سائر المسلمين

Baghdad was never a place of disbelief, never has anything occurred of a similar nature to what occurred there since the creation of the world. As for the murder of the Khalifah, though in the world worse things occurred, it became the means of the degradation of din and the calamities which affected Muslims on the whole.[8]


2. Execution of the Khalifah (and the disgrace that came with it)

As previously mentioned, the Khalifah acted as a symbolic figure of religious and diplomatic unity, therefore the Berbers gaining dominance over him shook this lofty position in the Islamic civilization. However, even though the true authority of the Khalifah had been lost for a while, it was not lost to an enemy from the outside. An outsider gaining authority over the Caliphate was a defeat for all of the Muslims. Previously, it was a group of Muslims gaining victory over other Muslims but now, the Caliphate was destroyed entirely, leaving the Muslims without any ruler.

Al Hamdhani mentions what happened to the Khalifah at their hands:


وبعد خراب البصرة خرج ومعه أبناؤه الثلاثة وكان ذلك يوم الأحد الرابع من صفر سنة ٦٥٦ وكان معه ثلاثة آلاف من السادات و الأ ئمة والقضاة والأكابر و أعيان المدينة

After the destruction of Basrah, he set out with his 3 sons, on Sunday, 4 Safar 656, and accompanying him were chieftains, leaders, judges, notables, and prominent people of the city totalling 3000.[9]


Ibn Kathir mentions:


وأحضر الخليفة بين يدي هولاكو فسأله عن أشياء كثيرة فيقال إنه اضطرب كلام الخليفة من هول ما رأى من الإهانة والجبروت

The Khalifah stood before Halaku, who asked him about many things. It is narrated that the Khalifah began to stutter as he saw the disgrace and tyranny he was being subjected to.[10]


Al Subki mentioned:


فأنزل الخليفة في خيمة

And the Khalifah was kept in a tent.[11]


Al Hamdhani mentioned:


وفي يوم الجمعة التاسع من صفر دخل هولاكو خان المدينة لمشاهدة قصر الخليفة وجلس في الميمنة واحتفل بالأمراء ثم أشار بإحضار الخليفة —ذكر السبكي أنه قيل طلبه ليلا— وقال له إنك مضيف ونحن ضيوف فهيا أحضر ما يليق بنا فظن الخليفة أن هذا الكلام على سبيل الحقيقة وكان يرتعد من الخوف وبلغ من دهشته أنه لم يعد يعرف مكان مفاتيح الخزائن فأمر بكسر عدة أقفال وأحضر لهولاكو ألفي ثوب وعشرة آلاف دينار ونفائس مرصعات وعدداً من الجواهر فلم يلتفت هولاكو خان إليها ومنحها كلها للأمراء و الحاضرين ثم قال للخليفة إن الأموال التي تملكها على وجه الأ ض ظاهرة هي ملك عبيدنا لكن أذكر ما تملكه من الذخائر و ما هي وأين توجد فاعترف الخليفة بوجود حوض مملؤ بالذهب في ساحة القصر فحفروا الأرض حتى وجودوه كان مليئاً بالذهب الأحمر

And on Friday, 9 Safar, Halaku Khan entered the city to view the palace of the Khalifah, he happily sat down and welcomed the leaders. Then he commanded that the Khalifah be brought—according to al Subki, he summoned him at night—and said, “You are the host and we are the guest so why do you not present us with something appropriate?”

Trembling with fear, the Khalifah was of the impression that he meant what he said, but to his amazement he could not remember where the keys for treasury was, so he commanded that many locks be broken. He then presented to Halaku 2000 sets of clothing, 10 000 gold coins, studded gems, and a number of jewels, but Halaku Khan was not impressed and handed all of it to the leaders and those present.

He then addressed the Khalifah saying, “The apparent wealth of the world that you possess is wealth fit for our slaves; however, I am referring to the hidden treasure you own, what is it and where is it hidden?”

The Khalifah then pointed out the well full of gold in the courtyard of the palace, so they dug the ground, and found it filled with red gold.[12]


Hindushah al Nakhjawani mentions:


ثم وضع أمام المستعصم طبقاً من الذهب وقال ولاكو له كل فأجابه لا يؤكل فقال فلم لم تدفع للجند لم تأت لحربي إلى شاطئ جيحون أولم لم تسع إلى كسب ودي … ثم قال له وأين خزائنك الدفينة فأراه حوضاً

Halaku then placed a plate filled with gold in front of Mu’tasim and said, “Eat!”

Mu’tasim replied, “It cannot be eaten!”

He then said, “So, why did you not give it to the army? Why did you not bring it before the soldiers on the banks of the Amu Darya (river in Asia)? Or why didn’t you send it as a friendly tribute?”

He then said to him, “And where is your hidden treasure?”

So, he showed him the pond…[13]


Al Hamdhani mentions:


وقصارى القول أن كل ما كان الخلفاء قد جمعوه خلال خمسة قرون وضعه المغول بعضه على بعض فكان كجبل على جبل

In brief, the Moguls piled up whatever the Khalifas had gathered in the last 5 centuries, and it resembled a gigantic mountain.[14]


Al Hamdhani mentions:


وبعد ذلك صدر الأمر بإحصاء نساء الخليفة فعدوا سبعمائة زوجة وسرية وألف خادمة فلما أطلع الخليفة على تعداد نسائه تضرع وقال مُنَّ عليَّ بأهل حرمي اللائى لم تطلع عليهن الشمس و القمر فقال هولاكو أختر مائة من هذه النساء السبعمائة واترك الباقي فأخرج الخليفة معه مائة امرأة من أقاربه والمحببات إليه…

Thereafter, they proceeded to count the womenfolk of the Khalifah and they amounted to 700 wives and slaves, and 1000 servants. When the Khalifah was informed about the number of his women, he pleaded that the honour of the women of his family be upheld. Halaku commanded, “Choose 100 from your women and leave the rest,” so the Khalifah excluded 100 of his closest family members and loved ones.[15]


Al Hamdhani also mentions:

في يوم الأ ربعاء الرابع عشر من صفر… ثم استدعى الخليفة فأدرك هذا أن أمارات النحس تبدوا على مصيره وخاف خوفاً شديداً وقال للوزير ابن العلقمي ما حيلتنا فأجاب الوزير لحيتنا طويلة … ويئس الخليفة من إنقاذ حياته واستأذن في أن يذهب إلى الحمام ليجدد اغتساله فأمر هولاكو خان بأن يذهب مع خمسة من المغول ولكن الخليفة قال أنا لا أن أذهب بصحبة خمسة من المغول من الزبانية وكان ينشد بيتين أو ثلاثة من قصيدة هذا مطلعها

و أصبحنا لنا دار كجنات وفردوس      وأمسينا بلا دار كأن لم تغن بالأمس

On Wednesday, 14 Safar… the Khalifah was summoned. Realising that his end was near, he apprehensively said to his Wazir, Ibn al ‘Alqami, “What is the way out?”

The Wazir replied, “Our beards are long.”

The Khalifah lost hope in his life being spared and requested to visit the bath to renew his Ghusl. Halaku Khan acceded to his request but commanded 5 Moguls to accompany him.

“I cannot go with 5 Moguls from Hell accompanying me,” objected the Khalifah whilst mentioning a few verses from a poem the opening verses of which are:

We spent the morning in a dwelling of paradisiacal gardens,

And we spent the night homeless as if it never existed.


On Wednesday evening, 14 Safar 656, the Khalifah was executed.[16]


Halaku was fearful of shedding the Khalifah’s blood, the reason for which is mentioned by Burtold Spuler:


من خوف موروث مصدره خرافي من إراقة الدماء الملكية

He feared inheriting the blame of initiating bloodshed of legendary rulers.[17]


It appears in Tabaqat al Shafi’iyyah:


فقيل لهولاكو إن هذا إن أهريق دمه تظلم الدنيا ويكون سبب خراب ديارك فإنه ابن عم سول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وخليفة الله في أرضه فقام الشيطان المبين الحكيم نصر الدين الطوسي وقال يقتل ولا يراق دمه … فقيل أن الخليفة غم في بساط وقيل رفسوه حتى مات ولما جاءوا ليقتلوه صاح صيحة عظيمة

It was said to Halaku, “By spilling the blood of this man, you will be oppressing the world, and it will become the means of the destruction of your empire as he is from the descendants of the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and the vicegerent of Allah in the earth.”

Then the evil and wretched Nasr al Din al Tusi stood up and said, “He should be killed without his blood being spilled…”

It is mentioned that the Khalifah was wrapped in a sack, and was kicked to death. When they were about to kill him, he let out a loud cry…[18]


Ibn Kathir mentioned:


فقتلوه رفساُ وهو في جوالق لئلا يقع على الأرض شيء من دمه خافوا أن يؤخذ بثأره فيما قيل لهم وقيل بل خنق وقيل بل أغرق والله أعلم

They kicked him to death whilst he was in a sack so that his blood would not spill onto the ground. They feared being afflicted by the retaliation they were warned of. He was suffocated according to one narration and drowned according to another. Allah knows best.[19]


Al Dhahabi mentioned:


توفي الخليفة في أواخر المحرم سنة ٦٥٦ ه وما أظنه دفن وكان الأمر أعظم من يوجد من يؤرخ موته أو يواري جسده

The Khalifah was massacred towards the end of Muharram 656, and I believe he was not buried as it is difficult to find someone who dated his death or buried his corpse.


Ibn al Futi mentioned:


فقتل يوم الأربعاء رابع عشر صفر ولم يهرق دمه بل جعل في غرارة ورفس حتى مات ودفن وعفي أثر قبره

He was murdered on Wednesday, 14 Safar, in a manner that his blood was not spilled. He was placed in sacks and kicked to his death. The location of his grave is unknown.[20]


3. The wife and children of the Khalifah

Ibn al Futi mentions:


ثم قتل ولده أبو العباس احمد… ثم قتل ابن الخليفة الأوسط أبو الفضل عبد الرحمن … وأما ولد الخليفة الأصغر مبارك وأخواته فاطمة و خديجة ومريم فإنهم لم يقتلوا بل أسروا􀄔

Then, his son Abu al ‘Abbas Ahmed was killed… Thereafter his middle son, Abu al Fadl ‘Abdur Rahman was killed. The daughters of the Khalifah, Fatimah, Khadijah, Maryam, and his youngest son, Mubarak were taken as captives.[21]


Al Hamdhani mentions:


وفى مساء الأربعاء الرابع عشر من صفر سنه ٦٥٦ ه قضوا على الخليفة وعلى ابنه الأكبر وخمسة من الخدم… وقد سُلِّم الابن الأصغر للخليفة إلى أولجى خاتون فأرسلته إلى مراغة ليكون مع الخواجه نصير الدين ثم زوجوه من امرأة مغولية فأنجب منها ولدين وفي يوم الجمعة سادس عشر من صفر ألحقوا الابن الثاني للخليفة بوالده وأخيه…

On the eve of Wednesday, 14 Safar 656, they massacred the Khalifah together with his eldest son and 5 servants. The Khalifah’s youngest son was handed over to Ulja Khatun, she then sent him to Maragheh (city in Iran) so he could be with al Khawajah Nasir al Din. They then got him married to a Mogul woman who bore him 2 children. On Friday, 16 Safar, they killed the Khalifah’s second son joining him with his father and brothers…[22]


It is mentioned regarding the Khalifah’s wife, when Halaku planned on having relations with her, she got one of her slave girls to kill her. Her story is mentioned in Tabaqat al Shafi’iyyah of al Subki.[23]


4. What happened to the Abbasids in Baghdad?

Al Hamdhani mentions:


كذلك قضوا على كل شخص وجدوه حيا من العباسيين اللهم إلا أفرادا قلائل لم يأبهو بهم

They killed every single one of the Abbasids with the exception of the very few insignificant ones.[24]


Similarly, Ibn al Futi explains what occurred:


وجاءوا إلى أعمام الخليفة و أنسابه الذين كانوا في الصخرة ودار الشجرة وكانوا يطلبون واحداً بعد واحد فيخرج بأولاده وجواريه فيحمل إلى مقبرة الخلال التي تجاه المنظرة فيقتل جميعهم عن أخرهم

They came to the relatives of the Khalifah in Sakhra and Dar al Shajarah. They called them out one by one with their children and servants. They were then taken to the al Khilal graveyard which was facing the watch tower, where every last one of them was killed.[25]


In reality, even the dead were not safe from them, as Ibn al Futi mentioned regarding the poet, Shams al Din Muhammad ibn ‘Ubaidullah al Kufi:

ولما شهد ترب الرصافة وقد نبشت قبور الخلفاء وأحرقت تلك الأماكن وأبرزت العظام والرؤوس كتب على بعض الحيطان

إن ترد عبرة فتلك بنوالعباس   حلت عليهم الآفات

استبيح الحريم إذ قتل الأحياء    منهم وحرق الأموات

When he visited the graveyard of Rusafa (district in Baghdad), the graves of the Khalifas were dug up, the area was burnt and bones and skulls were in sight, he wrote on some stones:

If you desire a lesson then these are the Abbasids,

Upon whom catastrophes descended.

Their sanctum was dishonoured by their living ones being killed,

And their dead ones being burnt.[26]


And Ibn Kathir mentions:


وكان الرجل يستدعى به من دار الخلافة من بني العباس فيخرج باولاده ونسائه فيذﻫﺐ بهم إلى مقبرة الخلال تجاه المنظرة فيذبح كما تذبح الشاة ويؤسر من يختارون من بناته وجواريه

Men of the Banu al ‘Abbas would be called out from the house of the Khalifah together with their children and womenfolk. They would take them to the al Khilal graveyard which was facing the watch tower where they would be slaughtered like sheep. They would also take girls and slaves captive as they wished.[27]


5. What happened to the Elders of Baghdad?

Al Hamdhani mentions:


وكان معه لما خرج الخليفة إلى هولاكو ثلاثة آلاف من السادات والأ مة والقضاة والأكابر وأعيان المدينة

A group of 3000 which were made up of leaders, Imams, judges, elders, and important people accompanied the Khalifah to Halaku.[28]


Ibn al Futi mentions:


فخرج الخليفة و الوزير… ومعه جمع كثير فلما صاروا ظاهر السور منعوا أصحابه من الوصول معه

The Khalifah and Wazir set out… accompanied by a large number of people. As they got to the gate, his companions were stopped and the Khalifah proceeded alone.[29]


Al Yunini mentions:


فحينئذ أشار ابن العلقمي الوزير على الخليفة بمصانعة ملك التتار ومصالحته وسأله أن يخرج إليه الوزير في تقرير ذلك فخرج وتوثق منه لنفسه ثم رجع الى الخليفة وقال له انه قد رغب أن يزوج ابنته من ابنك الأمير أبى بكر ويبقيك في منصب الخلافة … فتجيبه إلى هذا فإن فيه حقن دماء المسلمين … فخرج في جمع من أكابر أصحابه فأنزل في خيمه ثم دخل الوزير فاستدعى الفقهاء و الأماثل ليحضروا عقد النكاح فيما أظهره فقتلوا وكذلك صار يخرج طا ئفة بعد طا ئفة

At this point the Wazir Ibn al ‘Alqami advised the Khalifah to initiate peace with the King of the Tartars and requested to play an active role in it. He set out confident in himself and soon returned to the Khalifah saying, “The King plans on getting his daughter married to the son of the Amir, Abu Bakr, thus keeping you as the Khalifah. You should consent to his plan so that the lives of the Muslims may be spared.”

Hearing this, the Khalifah set out taking a group of his senior associates and entered his tent. The Wazir then came after inviting the Jurists and their likenesses to attend what seemed to be a marriage ceremony, but turned out to be the place where their blood was shed. Similarly, group after group were made to come out.[30]


Al Subki also mentions this in al Tabaqat[31] and similar is mentioned in al Bidayah wa al Nihayah.[32]

Ibn al Futi makes mention of more than 15 ministers who were killed by the Moguls.[33]

Whereas Ibn Kathir mentioned:


وقتل الخطباء و الأئمة وحملة القرآن

Lecturers, Imams, and Huffaz were put to death.[34]


Among the many incidents narrated by historians regarding the killing of the scholars, is the incident of Jamal al Din Abu Zakariyya al Sarsari al Hanbali. Ibn Kathir mentions:


ولما دخل التتار إلى بغداد دعي إلى دار بها كرمون بن هولاكو فأبى أن يجيب إليه وأعد في داره حجارة فحين دخل عليه التتار رماهم بتلك الأحجار فهشم منهم جماعة فلما خلصوا إليه قتل بعكازه أحدهم ثم قتلوه شهيداً رحمه الله تعالى

When the Tartars entered Baghdad, he was summoned to the house where Karmun ibn Halaku was, but he refused to comply. Rather, he collected stones in his home and when the Tartars tried to enter, he pelted them with it thereby killing some of them. As they got closer to him, he killed one of them with his staff. Only after this did they kill him, may Allah shower his mercy upon him.[35]


6. What happened to the general masses of Baghdad?

The general masses did not surrender but persistently continued to deplorably fight the Tartars, until Halaku commanded the Khalifah saying, “Get the inhabitants of the city to put down their weapons and go out so that we can count them.” The Khalifah thereby sent an announcer into the city commanding the people to act accordingly. The people dropped their weapons and began setting out in groups. Nevertheless the Moguls killed every one of them.[36]

It has also been mentioned that the Moguls granted Sulaiman Shah and al Dawadar immunity to come out with their armies. As they set out, they divided them into groups of thousands, hundreds, and tens thereby killing them. This happened before the Khalifah set out.[37]

Ibn al Futi mentions regarding the fate of the general masses:


ووضع السيف في أهل بغداد يوم الاثنين خامس صفر وما زالوا في قتل ونهب وأسر وتعذيب الناس بأنواع العذاب واستخراج الأموال منهم بأليم العقاب مدة أربعين يوماً فقتلوا الرجال والنساء و الصبيان والأطفال فلم يبق من أهل البلد ومن التجأ إليهم من أهل السواد إلا القليل … وأحرق معظم البلد وجامع الخليفة وما يجاوه واستولى الخراب على البلد وكانت القتلى في الدروب و الأسواق كالتلول ووقعت الأمطار عليهم ووطئتهم الخيول فاستحالت صورهم وصاروا عبرة لمن يرى ثم نودي بالأمان فخرج من تخلف وتغيرت ألوانهم وذهلت عقولهم لما شاهدوا من الأهوال التي لا يعبر عنها بلسان وهم كالموتى إذا خرجوا من القبور يوم النشور من الخوف والجوع والبرد … قيل أن عدة القتلى ببغداد زادت على ثمان مئة ألف نفس عدا من ألقي من الأطفال في الوحول ومن هلك في القنى و الآبار وسراديب الموتى جوعاً و خوفاً ووقع الوباء فيمن تخلف بعد القتل من شم روائح القتلى و شرب الماء الممتزج بالجيف وكان الناس يكثرون من شم البصل لقوة الجيفة وكثرة الذباب فإنه ملأ الفضاء وكان يسقط على المطعومات فيفسدها

The massacre began on Monday, 5 Safar. They killed, plundered, captured, punished people multifariously and looted their wealth with agonizing punishments for a duration of 40 days. They killed men, women, and children. Only a handful of people survived from the city’s inhabitants and adjoining areas. Most part of the city, the Masjid of the Khalifah and its surroundings were burnt as the city was overwhelmingly ravaged. There were heaps of corpses in the pathways and market places. Rain fell on them and horses trotted over them making their forms inconceivable. It was a lesson for those who were present. The call of peace was then made, and those who remained came out in panic and utter disbelief of the atrocities they witnessed which cannot be explained with words. They resembled the dead coming out of their graves on the Day of Resurrection due to the fear, hunger, and cold they experienced. It is narrated that the fatalities of Baghdad exceeded 800 000, with the exception of children who were thrown into mires, those who were drowned in canals and wells, and those who died in catacombs due to fear and hunger. As for those who survived, they had to bear the smell of dead corpses and drinking water contaminated by dead bodies. They used onions to repel the rancid smell of the dead corpses and the swarms of flies that filled the air. The swarms of flies were substantial enough to ruin food by merely sitting on it.[38]


Al Subki mentions:


و قيل إن هولاكو أمر بعد ذلك بعدّ القتلى فكانوا ألف ألف وثمانمائة ألف النصف من ذلك تسعما ئة ألف غير من لم يعد و من غرق ثم نودي بعد ذلك بالأمان فخرج من كان مختبئ وقد مات الكثير منهم تحت الأرض بأنواع من البلايا والذين خرجوا ذاقوا أنواع الهوان والذل ثم حفرت الدور وأخذت الدفائن والأموال التي لا تعد ولا تحصى وكانوا يدخلون الدار فيجدون الخبيئة فيها وصاحب الدار يحلف أن له السنين العديدة فيها ما علم ان بها خبيئة ثم طلبت النصارى أن يقع الجهر بشرب الخمر و أكل لحم الخنزير و أن يفعل معهم المسلمون ذلك في شهر رمضان فألزم المسلمون بالفطر في رمضان و أكل الخنزير و شرب الخمر…و أعطى دار الخليفة لشخص من النصارى و أريقت الخمور في المساجد و الجوامع و منع المسلمون من الإعلان بالأذان فلا حول و لا قوة إلا بالله العلي العظيم هذه بغداد لم تكن دار كفر قط و جرى عليها هذا الذي لم يقع قط من منذ قامت الدنيا مثله

Halaku then commanded that the slain be counted and it amounted to 1 800 000. Whilst 900 000 were physically counted, the other 900 000 was an estimate of those who were missed out and those who drowned. The announcement of peace was then made and those who were in hiding came out. Many lost their lives underground due to various misfortunes, whereas those who survived had to face disgrace and humiliation on many levels. The ground was then dug up, and innumerable treasures and wealth was taken out. Hidden treasures were also found in common homes whilst its occupants for years had absolutely no clue of it being there. In the month of Ramadan, the Christians were ordered to openly drink wine and eat pork, and the Muslims were commanded to join them. So, the Muslims abandoned fasting and began eating pork and drinking wine.

The Khalifah’s house was given to a person from the Christians, wine was spilled in the Masajid and Muslims were prohibited from calling out the Adhan loudly. And there is no Might nor Power except by Allah. The Baghdad that was never a disbelieving state is the same Baghdad in which such incidents took place, similar to which the earth has never witnessed.[39]


Ibn Kathir mentions:


ومالوا على البلد فقتلوا جميع من قدروا عليه من الرجال والنساء والولدان والمشايخ والكهول والشبان ودخل كثير من الناس في الآبار وأماكن الحشوش وقني الوسخ وكمنوا كذلك أياما لا يظهرون وكان الجماعة من الناس يجتمعون إلى الخانات ويغلقون عليهم الأبواب فتفتحها التتار إما بالكسر وإما بالنار ثم يدخلون عليهم فيهربون منهم إلى أعالي الأمكنة فيقتلونهم في الأسطحة حتى تجري الميازيب من الدماء في الأزقة فإنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون وكذلك في المساجد والجوامع والربط ولم ينج منهم أحد سوى أهل الذمة من اليهود والنصارى ومن التجأ إليهم وإلى دار الوزير ابن العلقمي الرافضي وطا ئفة من التجار أخذوا لهم أمانا بذلوا عليه أموالا جزيلة حتى سلموا وسلمت أموا لهم وعادت بغداد بعدما كانت آنس المدن كلها كأنها خراب ليس فيها إلا القليل من الناس وهم في خوف وجوع وذلة وقلة…وقد اختلف الناس في كمية من قتل ببغداد من المسلمين فقيل ثمانمائة ألف وقيل ألف ألف وثمانما ئة ألف وقيل بلغت القتلى ألفي ألف نفس فإنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون ولا حول ولا قوة إلا بالله العلي العظيم.

وكان دخولهم إلى بغداد في أواخر المحرم وما زال السيف يقتل أهلها أربعين صباحا…وتعطلت المساجد والجماعات والجمعات مدة شهور ببغداد… ولما انقضى أمد الأمر المقدر وانقضت الاربعون يوما بقيت بغداد خاوية على عروشها ليس بها أحد إلا الشاذ من الناس والقتلى في الطرقات كأنها التلول وقد سقط عليهم المطر فتغيرت صورهم وأنتنت من جيفهم البلد وتغير الهواء فحصل بسببه الوباء الشديد حتى تعدى وسرى في الهواء إلى بلاد الشام فمات خلق كثير من تغير الجو وفساد الريح فاجتمع على الناس الغلاء والوباء والفناء والطعن والطاعون فإنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون.

ولما نودى ببغداد بالأمان خرج من تحت الأرض من كان بالمطامير والقني والمغاير كأنهم الموتى إذا نبشوا من قبورهم وقد أنكر بعضهم بعضا فلا يعرف الوالد ولده ولا الأخ أخاه وأخذهم الوباء الشديد فتفانوا ولحقوا بمن سبقهم من القتلى واجتمعوا في البلى تحت الثرى بأمر الذي يعلم السر وأخفى الله لا إله إلا هو له الأسماء الحسنى

They stormed the city, killing every person they laid hands on; men, women, children, the elderly, middle aged, and even adolescent ones.

Many people hid for days in wells, grassy places and dirt pipes. Similarly some groups would hide in hostelries. They would secure the doors but the Tartars would manage to open them by either breaking them down or burning them. They would then flee to the roofs but the Tartars would manage to kill them there, so much so that the gutters along the streets would flow with blood. Certainly, to Allah do we belong and to Him shall we return. The situation was similar in the Masajid and the borders, and the only people saved were the Jews and Christians from the Ahl al Dhimmah (people living under the protection of the Islamic state), those who they granted asylum to, those who sought refuge in the house of the Wazir, Ibn ‘Alqami al Rafidi, and a group of traders who promised to pay a large amount on condition that they and wealth remain unharmed. After all this, the Baghdad that used to be entertaining became desolate with very few inhabitants who were living with humiliation, fear, and poverty.

There are different opinions regarding the number of Muslims slain in Baghdad. There is an opinion of 800 000, 1 800 000, and 2 000 000. Certainly, to Allah do we belong and to Him shall we return, there is no might or power except from Allah, the Most high, the Great.

They entered Baghdad towards the end of Muharram and the massacre continued for 40 days…

Masajid were closed and congregational Salah and Jumu’ah were not performed for months….

When the duration of the destined matter ended and the 40 days passed, Baghdad was in utter ruins inhabited by just a handful. There were heaps of corpses lying in pathways. Rainfall caused them to become disfigured whilst their rancid odour filled the air. A severe plague broke out on account of it which reached Syria travelling through the air. Many creatures died from the change in atmosphere and the pollution in the air. Inflation, defamation, evanescence, epidemics, and plagues became the order of the day. Certainly, to Allah do we belong and to Him shall we return.

When the call of peace was made in Baghdad, those who were hiding in the underground pipelines, dirt pipes, and water pipes came out as if they were resurrected from their graves as they did not recognise one another. The father did not recognise his son and the brother did not recognise his sibling. A severe plague afflicted them which consumed them and joined them with their deceased ones. Ultimately, they all began decaying together underneath the earth with the command of the One Who has knowledge of the apparent and hidden. Allah, there is no deity but He, The best names belong to Him.[40]


7. Elimination of Books

From a diplomatic and cultural perspective, one of the catastrophes brought by this destructive invasion, was the elimination of books from the greatest libraries on the planet. It resulted in the human race losing a great deal of knowledge and skills.

‘Ali al Tabataba’i mentions:


وأما ما حل بخزائن العلم من المكاتب والمدارس في بغداد فحدث و لا حرج فقد كانت بغداد مركز من أعظم مراكز الإشعاع الفكري في العالم… وقد حرق التتار كل ما وجدوا في بغداد من علم ومن مراكز للعلم كما قتلوا كل من عثروا عليه من العلماء أو كل من كان في بغداد من العلماء… يقول قطب الدين الحنفي تراكمت الكتب التي ألقاها التتار في دجلة حتى صارت معبراً يعبر عليه الناس والدواب واسودت مياه دجلة بما ألقي فيها من الكتب

Without a doubt, what happened to the treasures of knowledge in the libraries and schools of Baghdad has to be a matter of concern. Baghdad was amongst the greatest centres of intellectual dissemination in the world. The Tartars set fire to everything they came across knowledge related, including the centres of knowledge just as they killed every scholar they came across present in Baghdad.

Qutb al Din al Hanafi mentions, “The books were dumped into the Tigris River. Due to the large amount, it piled up and became a bridge for people and animals to cross. The water of the Tigris also turned black.”[41]


To end this heinous incident, I will mention the words of Abu Shamah al Maqdisi rahimahu Llah:


وجاء كتاب من بعض من سلم منهم ببغداد يقول والأمر أعظم مما بلغكم من الأخبار اللهم عافنا وبلادنا من كل سوء

A letter arrived from one of the survivors in Baghdad stating, “The situation is worse than the news you have received.” May Allah protect us and our countries from all harm.[42]


NEXT⇒ Chapter Two – Nasir al Din al Tusi and Ibn al ‘Alqami

[1] Al Tabaqat al Kubra, 8/261.

[2] Ibid., 8/269.

[3] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 13/214.

[4] Dhayl Mir’at al Zaman, 1/85.

[5] Bilad al Sham Iban al Ghazw al Mughuli, pg. 112.

[6] Al Hawadith al Jami’ah, pg. 363.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Al Tabaqat al Kubra, 8/262.

[9] Jam’ al Tawarikh, pg. 290. And he was a man from the Monghols.

[10] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 13/214.

[11] Al Tabaqat al Kubra, 8/270.

[12] Jam’ al Tawarikh, pg. 291.

[13] Tajarib al Salaf, pg. 357, quoting from Bilad al Sham, pg. 109.

[14] Jami’ al Tawarikh, pg. 292.

[15] Jami’ al Tawarikh, pg. 292.

[16] Jami’ al Tawarikh, pg. 293.

[17] Kitab al ‘Alam al Islami, pg. 48.

[18] Tabaqat al Shafi’iyyah, 8/217

[19] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 19/214.

[20] Al Hawadith al Jami’ah, pg. 357.

[21] Al Hawadith al Jami’ah, pg. 357.

[22] Jami’ al Tawarikh, pg. 294.

[23] Tabaqat al Shafi’iyyah, 8/272.

[24] Jami’ al Tawarikh, pg. 294.

[25] Al Hawadith al Jami’ah, pg. 359.

[26] Al Hawadith al Jami’ah, pg. 364.

[27] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 13/216.

[28] Jami’ al Tawarikh, pg. 290.

[29] Al Hawadith al Jami’ah, pg. 357.

[30] Dhayl Mirat al Zaman, 1/88.

[31] Tabaqat al Shafi’iyyah, 8/270.

[32] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 13/214.

[33] Al Hawadith al Jami’ah, pg. 358.

[34] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 13/216.

[35] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 13/224.

[36] Jami’ al Tawarikh, pg. 291.

[37] Jami’ al Tawarikh, pg. 289.

[38] Al Hawadith al Jami’ah, pg. 357.

[39] Al Tabaqat al Kubra, 8/271.

[40] Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah, 13/215.

[41] Riyad al Masa’il, 2/7.

[42] Al Zayl ‘ala al Rawdatayn, pg.199.