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Abu 'l-Fadl Ja'far ibn Ahmad al-Mu'tadid
أبو الفضل جعفر بن أحمد المعتضد
Gold dinar of al-Muqtadir with the names of his heir Abu 'l-Abbas and vizier Amid al-Dawla
18th Caliph of the Abbasid Caliphate
Reign 908 to 932 CE
Predecessor Al-Muktafi
Successor Al-Qahir
Born 895
Died 31 October 932 CE
consort Khamrah
Regnal name
al-Muqtadir bi-Allah (المقتدر بالله)
Father Al-Mu'tadid
Religion Sunni Islam
The execution of Mansur Al-Hallaj at the behest of Al-Muqtadir (Baghdad, 26 March 922) as represented in a 17th-century Mughal Indian painting.

Abu 'l-Fadl Ja'far ibn Ahmad al-Mu'tadid (Arabic: أبو الفضل جعفر بن أحمد المعتضد‎) (895 – 31 October 932 CE), better known by his regnal name al-Muqtadir bi-Allah (Arabic: المقتدر بالله‎, "Mighty in God"[1]), was the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad from 908 to 932 CE (295-320 AH).


The death of al-Muktafi in 908 after a long illness left the issue of the succession open, and the vizier al-Abbas ibn al-Hasan al-Jarjara'i sought the advice of the most important bureaucrats on the choice of a successor. One suggestion, from Mahmud ibn Dawud, was for the experienced Abdallah ibn al-Mu'tazz, but eventually, following the advice of Ali ibn al-Furat, the vizier chose instead to confer the throne on the 13-year-old Ja'far, who was now acclaimed caliph as al-Muqtadir. The choice fell on al-Muqtadir because he was seen as weak, pliable, and easy to be manipulated by the senior officials. This was, in the words of historian Hugh N. Kennedy, "a sinister development" and inaugurated one "of the most disastrous reigns in the whole of Abbasid history [...] a quarter of a century in which all of the work of [al-Muqtadir's] predecessors would be undone".[2][3]

The stand that had been made during the last three reigns to stay the decline of the Abbasid power at last came to an end. From al-Muqtadir's reign on, the Abbasids would decline. Yet, at the same time, many names that would become famous in the world of literature and science lived during this and the following reigns. Among the best known are: Ishaq ibn Hunayn (d. 911) (son of Hunayn ibn Ishaq), a physician and translator of Greek philosophical works into Arabic; ibn Fadlan, explorer; al Battani (d. 923), astronomer; Tabari (d. 923), historian and theologian; al-Razi (d. 930), a philosopher who made fundamental and lasting contributions to the fields of medicine and chemistry; al-Farabi (d. 950), chemist and philosopher; Abu Nasr Mansur (d. 1036), mathematician; Alhazen (d. 1040), mathematician; al-Biruni (d. 1048), mathematician, astronomer, physicist; Omar Khayyám (d. 1123), poet, mathematician, and astronomer; and Mansur Al-Hallaj, a mystic, writer and teacher of Sufism most famous for his self-proclaimed but disputed divinity, his poetry and for his execution for heresy by Caliph Al-Muqtadir.

By the time of al-Muqtadir's reign, there had been war for some years between the Muslims and the Greeks in Asia, with heavy losses for the most part on the side of the Muslims, with a great number taken as prisoners. The Byzantine frontier, however, began to be threatened by Bulgarian hordes. So the Byzantine Empress Zoe Karbonopsina sent two ambassadors to Baghdad with the view of securing an armistice and arranging for the ransom of the Muslim prisoners. The embassy was graciously received and peace restored. A sum of 120,000 golden pieces was paid for the freedom of the captives. All this only added to the disorder of the city. The people, angry at the success of the "Infidels" in Asia Minor and at similar losses in Persia, complained that the Caliph cared for none of these things and, instead of seeking to restore the prestige of Islam, passed his days and nights with slave-girls and musicians. Uttering such reproaches, they threw stones at the Imam, as in the Friday service he named the Caliph in the public prayers.

Some twelve years later, al-Muqtadir was subjected to the indignity of deposition. The leading courtiers having conspired against him, he was forced to abdicate in favour of his brother al-Qahir, but, after scenes of rioting and plunder, and loss of thousands of lives, the conspirators found that they were not supported by the troops. Al-Muqtadir, who had been kept in safety, was again placed upon the throne. The state's finances fell after this event into so wretched a state that nothing was left with which to pay the city guards. Al-Muqtadir was eventually slain outside the city gate in 320 AH (932 CE).

Al-Muqtadir's long reign had brought the Abbasids to the lowest ebb. Northern Africa was lost and Egypt nearly. Mosul had thrown off its dependence and the Greeks could make raids at pleasure along the poorly protected borders. Yet in the East formal recognition of the Caliphate remained in place, even by those who virtually claimed their independence; and nearer home, the terrible Carmathians had been for the time put down. In Baghdad, al-Muqtadir, the mere tool of a venal court, was at the mercy of foreign guards, who, commanded for the most part by Turkish and other officers of foreign descent, were frequently breaking out into rebellion. Thanks to Al-Muqtadir's ineffective rule, the prestige which his immediate predecessors had regained was lost, and the Abbasid throne became again the object of contempt at home and a tempting prize for attack from abroad.


  1. ^ Bowen, Harold (1928). The Life and Times of ʿAlí Ibn ʿÍsà: The Good Vizier. Cambridge University Press. p. 88. 
  2. ^ Kennedy 2004, pp. 185–186.
  3. ^ Bonner 2010, p. 349.


Born: 895 AD Died: 932 AD
Sunni Islam titles
Preceded by
Caliph of Islam
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Caliph of Islam
Succeeded by
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