Soul Brotherhood…

Did not intercede Arab’s “Harun” to Persian’s “Jafar”

Any reader of Abbasid history stops at the disaster of the Persian Barmakids, which occurred during the reign of the Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid. Al-Rashid was aware of matters of politics and governance with his pivotal personality, which some history books wronged by linking his reign to sultan’s glory and the life of palaces and maidservants, disregarding the civilized aspects that occurred during his reign.

Barmakids influence began to expand with Abu Jaafar “Al-Mansur” solely seizing the Abbasid rule, upon which he began empowering them in the joints of the state until they were able to rule directly. Rather, “The era of those ministers was the beginning of a golden era of slavery for the Abbasid caliphs, as they enjoyed only the shadow of the throne except and scepter and crown of the power, till until Harun Al-Rashid took over and put an end to the wide authority of the ministers”.

The importance of studying the issue of the Baramkids is in its being a basic introduction to monitoring the seriousness of all political organizations that strive to control the joints of the state and direct the political decision making in a direction that serves the agendas of empowerment, especially among those with different ideologies. Barmakids’ disaster is an important sign for the use of elements that owe allegiance first and foremost to the state, away from intolerance to a race, tribe or sect.

Above all, honesty entails acknowledging that the Barmakids, at the beginning of their reign in the ministry, managed well and mastered the expression. They were able to obtain the approval of the Abbasid rulers since Khaled Al-Barmaki penetrated the joints of the Abbasid state, given his ability to patience, flattery and good management. Yahya Al-Barmaki followed his path and was able to reach a higher rank than that reached by his father Khaled, which allowed him to plot and conspire until he was able, with the support of Khayzaran, Harun’s mother, to bring Harun to power as the legitimate crown prince.

Jaafar ibn Yahya Al-Barmaki did not deviate from the path of the Barmakids, which enabled him to become the closest person to Harun Al-Rashid. He combined “eloquence of written and oral words, morals and humility. That is why he was of great standing and rank with al-Rashid; in a position that no Arab or non-Arab person could share therewith”.

However, examining the personality of Jaafar al-Barmaki, we are facing a complex and contradictory situation. Almost all writings unanimously mention his love for Harun al-Rashid and his dedication to his service. However, those same writings differ about the reasons for Al-Rashid’s discontent with him although he was his companion and brother of his soul. Some writing expaling that mainly by the struggle for power, while others deal with the complex relationship that linked Jaafar with Al-Abbasa, sister of Al-Rashid. These are the details about which the narrators of history differed; e.g., Al-Tabari and Ibn Khaldun.

In this regard, there is difficulty in monitoring the estrangement between the Barmakids and Harun al-Rashid. “Therefore, despite the enormity of the Barmakids’ disaster, opinions have greatly varied about its causes till it is not possible for any researcher to actually depict what was the real cause”.

Regardless the dispute over the direct causes of the Barmakids’ disaster, Jaafar in particular, intersections unanimously agree that the Barmakids felt that they the state owes them a lot of favor and that building it would not have been possible without them, especially since they combined the authority of the owner of the state (Yahya al-Barmaki) and the backbone of the army that was monopolized by Al-Fadl ibn Yahya, Harun’s milk brother. If we accept that Barmakids’ ambition reached the level of thinking of subjugating the head of the political authority, yet aafar ibn Yahya’s coup against his friend, companion and successor cannot be explained only by self-identification with the Barmakids’ aspirations, but also by the complications of Jaafar’s desire to marry the sister of the caliph, Al-Abbasa”.

We might believe that Jaafar Al-Barmaki’s fanaticism towards his family and Harun Al-Rashid’s refusal to mix the blood of the Arab caliphs with the blood of the Persian Barmakids prompted the first to plan to get rid of this existential obstacle represented by the caliph. “His (Jaafar’s) ambitions were mixed with amorous considerations” and “he tried to overthrow the throne of Caliph Harun in order to seize it”.

In sum, Jaafar considered the Barmakids’ opinion in terms of their favor made to the Abbasid state and the empowerment of Harun al-Rashid against the will of his brother al-Hadi, which is the adventure resulted in cutting Jaafar’s head and mutilating his body, as historians agreed that Harun “sent his corpse and his head to Baghdad, the city of peace, and ordered his head to be hanged on a bridge and the body to be cut into two pieces”.

The complicated relationship with Al-Abbasa prompted "Al-Barmaki" to attempt a coup against "Al-Rashid".

In conclusion, we find that the Persian ideological and ethnic dimension is inconsistent with the case of Al-Rasheed and Jaafar; as Persian racism triumphed over the meanings of brotherhood between an Arab and a Persian and it was stronger than sincere psychological serenity. If Al-Rashid has not discovered Jaafar’s betrayal, he would not have ordered to kill him, his soulmate, before he arrested his brother Al-Fadl and cause the Barmakids’ disaster.

These historical accumulations have produced for us an extended political reality in Persian’s dealings with the Arabs; their lack of purity and their political intrigue favor the victory for their racism. This explains the facts of today’s environment in the Iranian plot against the Arabs, as rooted in historical contexts.

  1. Amira Bitar, History of the Abbasid Era, 4th edition (Damascus: Damascus University, 1997).
  2. Sayyid Salem, First Abbasid Era (Alexandria: University Youth Foundation, 1993).
  3. Ragai Attia, Blood on the Wall of Power (Cairo: Dar Al Shorouk, 2017).
  4. Muhammad Barang, Baramkids in the Shadows of the Caliphs (Cairo: Dar Al-Maarif, n.d).
  5. Muhammad Al-Khudari, Lectures on the History of Islamic Nations: The Abbasid State, edited by Muhammad Al-Othmani (Beirut: Dar Al-Qalam, 1986).
  6. Nabila Hassan, History of the Abbasid State (Alexandria: Dar Al-Maaref Al-Jami’eya, 1993).