The Once Wealthy Baghdad & Its Tragic History -Zanjabil Mashkura


The city of Baghdad is a unique and exceptional architectural monument in the history of Islam. Its innovative architecture bears witness to the wealth, power and architectural knowledge of the Muslims at that time. Baghdad was the richest city in the world for five hundred years from the eighth to the middle of the thirteenth century. In this half-millennium, no other city can be found equal to Baghdad in wealth, abundance or knowledge.
Caliph Mansur built this historic city in 62 AD. It took about four years to complete. According to the historian Jacob, the tireless work of one million people made it possible to build such a huge city during this period.

Due to its connection with the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, Baghdad was more prosperous than other parts of Arabia. Weather the limpid & lucid, people from all regions could take Health benefits. There were four important provinces around. As a result, Baghdad was an important place between Arabs and non-Arabs, East and West.

Baghdad is the only circular city in the world. In this door-surrounded city, the distance from one door to another is kept one mile. Within the city, Shahi Palace, Jame Mosque, magnificent architecture as well as monuments were built. The next caliph of Mansur expanded al-Baghdad, who rebuilt it on the east bank of the Tigris River. As a result, the city became more attractive and eye-catching than before.

As time went on, Baghdad began to make wonderful progress. At that time, the city has become one of the best centers of learning in the world. Since the founding of Baghdad, it has been the capital of all the Abbasid caliphs except Khalifa Mamunur Rashid. In the reign of Harun-ur-Rashid, Baghdad’s Baitul Hikmah was a gathering place for scholars from all over the world, regardless of religion, caste or creed.

With this global rise and development in Baghdad, the caliphs, viziers and rulers became consumerist and instinctive. In the life and character of Baghdad, pleasure and play became the mainstay.

Towards the end, the Abbasid Caliphate became very weak not only militarily but also morally. On the one hand, Amir and the ruling class were intoxicated with extreme luxury, on the other hand, the then muslim scolars were busy blaming each other. When the rumors of the Halaku’s Baghdad attack reached cowardly Mustasim Billah, he Mustasim sought advice from his courtiers. At that time the chief vizier of Mustasim, Ibn al-Kami, advised him to reduce the number of the army. The reason was that since it would be impossible to defeat Halaku by fighting, there is no point in casting such a large force in Halaku. Rather, the caliph should reduce the number of troops to gain Halaqu’s confidence and try to make peace agreement. The terrible thing is that this alchemy was actually a Mongol spy. Before invading any empire,one of the abominable aspects of the Mongol diplomacy at that time was to seize some important people of the empire by showing greed for power . They did the same in Baghdad with Ibn al-Kami. In his dream of becoming caliph, the foolish Mustasim got entangled & completely failed to save his empire.

One day, before people realized anything, Halaqur’s forces suddenly had surrounded Baghdad like a cyclone. They imposed blockade. In a situation of either surrendering or starving to death, without shield or sword caliph Mutasim went out of the city for treaty. The crooked Halaku did not agree to make any treaty with Mustasim, but ordered the caliph to open the city gates. After opening the gate, Halaqur’s troops began to enter Baghdad like floodwaters.

The beginning was indiscriminate killing and their hellishness of that massacre is not possible to express in writing. The Mongols killed everyone inside, outside, wherever they found women, children and the elderly. Not only did they stop killing people, they also destroyed the famous Dar al-Hikmah in Baghdad, where almost all the knowledge gained in human history over the past 500 years was stored. It is a matter of great regret that even those precious books could not escape the wrath of the Mongols. It is estimated that one million books were collected at the Dar al-Hikma Library in Baghdad. The whole collection was thrown into the river Tigris by the tyrant Halaku forces.

It is estimated that between two and one million people were killed in Baghdad, with the main target being Muslims. In fact the hellishness of the situation was so horrible that there were no safe man living to properly record that history. Due to the huge amount of human blood and books’ ink, the color of the water in the Tigris and Euphrates changed for a while. At that time there was not any weapon of mass destruction like now. So, the fact that so many people were killed by the sword reminds us of the horrors of the massacre.

The fall of Baghdad should not be tied to the history of Islam or the Muslim world. In Baghdad, there was extensive research on a variety of subjects, including science and philosophy, which transcended religious boundaries. So the destruction of Baghdad is an irreparable loss to the whole of human civilization. To recover from that loss, human civilization had to wait a few more centuries, until the rise of the Ottomans and the Renaissance in Europe.

The Abbasids are said to have hidden under the royal palace in Baghdad a large amount of gold and other treasures stored over the past 500 years. Before crushing Mustasim, Halaku wanted to find out those treasures. After taking away that wealth, Halaku further said that it is quite foolish to accumulate them without building a strong armed force. These words of Halakur clearly explain the condition of the then Abbasid rulers who were intoxicated with luxury.Even before the fall of Baghdad to Halaku Khan, the leadership, state management and military-financial capabilities of the Abbasid Caliphs were weakened.

What a great defeat the short-sightedness of the Abbasid rulers brought. The most surprising thing is that the traitor Ibn al-Kami got the reward he deserved. Since he had betrayed his caliph, the Mongols killed him mercilessly. Thus, like Mir Jafar, Alchemy also got his punishment.

Yet the Abbasid caliphate is a symbol of unity, trust and love in the Muslim world. After the fall of the caliphate, the Muslim Ummah faced a multi-faceted crisis. Unimaginable grief and suffering descended on the people of Baghdad. On the one hand, they faced genocide, on the other hand, the lighthouses of education, culture and civilization were destroyed. Halaku Khan wreaked havoc in Baghdad for 40 long days. At this time, the streets of Baghdad were filled with piles of rotten corpses. They turned the historic city engulfed in a terrible silence. There was no sound except the laughter of the Mongol crew or the cries of helpless women and children.

For the Muslim nation, Baghdad was a symbol of strength, power and glory.The greatest loss to the Muslim nation since the fall of Baghdad was that their morale was shattered. Hence, a dark age began in the entire Muslim world after the fall of Baghdad.

Civilization might be destroyed at one point in time. But there is much to learn from the history of that destruction, which is very important for the generations to come. Hence, the feature ends today with food for thought.

The writer is a student of University of Dhaka