Priest of the House of Fire Baramkids
Barmakids are affiliated with Barmak, who was the priest of the House of Fire in the city of Balkh. The state of Balkh is one of the (34) states in Afghanistan, located in the north of the country, and its capital is Mazar-i-Sharif. He was a Persian with a long lineage, as it was not possible for anyone to assume these religious positions unless he was of lineage. The conditions of the call made a room for the establishment of the Abbasid state and the successive events of the revolution allowed one of the sons of that priest to float on the surface, similar to others of his kind. Al-Tabari mentioned those events in his book Nations and Kings and others.
Khalid Al-Barmaki began his history in the camp of Qahtaba bin Shabib Al-Ta’i, who marched to Iraq and was responsible for receiving taxes and spoils. He demonstrated adequacy and ability that attracted the attention of the Abbasid leader, who appreciated him even more. Then he attended the entry into Iraq and the pledge of allegiance to Abi Al-Abbas, before he was appointed in-charge for taxes and soldiers. He took over the Ministry of Implementation after Abi Maslamah Al-Khalal was murdered; these were positions that were deemed the backbone of the state. He remained in that position during the era of Abi Jaafar Al-Mansur, continuing his influence towards centralization and administrative work, eliminating any movement that aimed at demolishing the emerging state.
Harun al-Rashid entrusted Yahya al-Barmaki with the Ministry of Delegation and freed his hand in every matter to achieve the theory of full participation by non-Arabs, which is one of the reasons behind the fall of the Umayyads. This theory harmed the Abbasids as both the Persians and the Turks took charge thereof. Al-Fadl bin Yahya took over the entire East in the year 178 AH., which is a position that only princes could hold. He has full authority in the caliph’s battalions, according to the sources, while Jaafar ibn Yahya took over the mail and coinage houses, before he took over all of Morocco in the year 186 AH. Hence, the East and Morocco became under Barmaki control and administration.
Historical sources tackle Bermaki influence, the wealth they gathered and the life they lived, which was closer to competing with the sultans, not the ministers, in addition to praising the poets and documenting those conditions in their poems to describe their lives and their fun.
Baramki House was no less splendid than the House of the Caliphate itself. It is said that Jaafar bin Yahya Al-Barmaki spent twenty million dirhams on building his house, which is not surprising giving the economic level of the state at that time and the prosperity enjoyed by those who controlled the joints of the state and their followers. Those conditions aroused several contradictory factors between those who held positions in the state and the ruling family, not to mention Enemies and exploiting events to undermine the state and its stability.
Baramkids’ catastrophe is depicted by contemporary historians depict it, such as Al-Tabari, who says: “On the last night of Muharram in the year 187 AH, after Al-Rashid returned from Hajj and arrived in Anbar (an ancient Iraqi city located within the lands of the city of Saqlawiya on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River), he entered his bed earlier than usual. Upon Jaafar leaving him that night, he sent his chief servant to cut his neck. Before that night was over, Al-Rashid issued an order to arrest and imprison Yahya Al-Barmaki and his two sons, in addition to confiscating Barmakids’ money. He sent the same to governors in the regions to arrest Barmakids’ supporters and loyalists and warned the people against sheltering any of them”.
Some historians suggest that one of the reasons for Al-Rashid taking these actions against the Barmakids was their inclination towards the Alawites, their dominance in the state and the emergence of their authority over the authority of the Caliph Harun Al-Rashid, as well as their authority over the state’s money, as they had no limits in using that money until what they owned exceeded what the caliph owned. They were extravagant in giving gifts and endowments to themselves and to those they favored. Enemies of the state took advantage of that difference in controlling the running of the state and draining its resources. This is in addition to the personal reasons that contemporary sources do not mention. Hence, those events against the Barmakids were not surprising.
The Arab element in those events was a force through which absolute power was restored in the hands of the Persians, to recover balance in the state’s policy and its administration. Several factors intertwined and created events against the state that were indispensable.
It was a disaster that Islam was struck by Islam in order to attain leadership positions.