Abu Mansur Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Mu'tadid (Arabic: أبو المنصور محمد بن أحمد المعتضد‎, romanizedAbū al-Manṣūr Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-Muʿtaḍid), usually known simply by his regnal title al-Qahir bi'llah (Arabic: القاهر بالله‎, romanizedal-Qāhir bi-'llāh, lit. 'Victorious by the will of God'), was the 19th Caliph of the Abbasid Caliphate from 932 to 934. He was born 286 AH (899 C.E.) and died 339 AH (950 C.E.).

Abu Mansur Muhammad al-Qahir bi'llah
أبو منصور محمد القاهر بالله
Amir al-Mu'minin
Gold dinar of al-Qahir, AH 320-322.jpg
Gold dinar of Al-Qahir
19th Caliph of the Abbasid Caliphate
Reign1 March 929 - 2 March 929(1st reign)
(2nd reign)
Reign31 October 932 – 24 April 934
Baghdad, Abbasid Caliphate now Iraq
Died950 (aged 50–51)
Baghdad, Abbasid Caliphate now Iraq
ConsortUmm al-Mansur
IssueMansur ibn al-Qahir
Regnal name
Al-Qahir bi'llah (Arabic: القاهر بالله)
MotherQabul (Qatul)
ReligionSunni Islam

Rise to the throneEdit

He was a son of the 16th Abbasid caliph, al-Mu'tadid (r. 892–902), and brother of the 18th Caliph, al-Muqtadir (r. 908–932).[1]

Al-Qahir came to the throne as part of his brother's conflict with the increasingly powerful commander-in-chief, Mu'nis al-Muzaffar.[2] He was first chosen as Caliph in March 929,[1] when Mu'nis launched a coup and deposed al-Muqtadir. Although al-Muqtadir was restored after a few days, Mu'nis now possessed virtually dictatorial authority over the Abbasid government.[3][2]

In 932, after another breach with al-Muqtadir, Mu'nis marched on Baghdad. Al-Muqtadir tried to confront him, and was killed in the ensuing battle.[3][2] However, in the subsequent assembly of dignitaries, Mu'nis' candidacy of al-Muqtadir's son Ahmad (the future ar-Radi) was rejected in favour of al-Qahir (31 October 932).[1][4] He was then 35 years old.[4]


The new caliph had a pronounced "headstrong and vindictive personality", according to Dominique Sourdel, which made itself felt soon after his accession, when he tortured his brother's sons and officials, as well as al-Muqtadir's mother Shaghab, to extract their fortune.[1][4] He was more energetic than his predecessor and cultivated an image of austerity and puritanism at his court, in deliberate contrast to the extravagantly dissolute life led by al-Muqtadir, but behind the scenes he too indulged in drunkenness.[5]

Trying to counteract the influence of Mu'nis and of the vizier Ibn Muqla, who controlled government, and re-assert the power of his office,[1] al-Qahir resumed contacts with the defeated court faction through Muhammad ibn Yaqut.[6] This alarmed Mu'nis and his supporters, but they were too late. In July 933, al-Qahir struck: the plans of the chamberlain Ibn Yalbaq to depose him were thwarted, and he and Mu'nis were arrested and executed, while Ibn Muqla was forced to flee the capital.[7][8]

Al-Qahir appointed Muhammad ibn al-Qasim ibn Ubayd Allah as vizier. Al-Qahir embarked on a firmly anti-Shi'a policy, declaring himself the "Avenger of the enemies of the Faith" (al-muntaqim min aʿdāʾ dīn Allāh), a slogan which he even put on his coins.[9] Despite his support of the Caliph's anti-Shi'a policies, Muhammad ibn al-Qasim was soon dismissed in favour of Ahmad al-Khasibi. Like his predecessor, however, al-Khasibi was unable to overcome the mounting financial crisis of the state.[9]

The contemporary Baghdadi historian al-Mas'udi, in his Meadows of Gold, reports that "His fits of violence made him the fear and terror of his subjects". He went about armed with a lance, striking down those who displeased him. However, the very "inconstancy of his behaviour and the horror inspired by his rages" alienated the populace and the court alike, and prepared the ground for his downfall.[10] The exiled vizier Ibn Muqla continued plotting against al-Qahir; he won over the caliphal guard, which on 24 April 934 staged a coup and took the Caliph prisoner while the latter was drunk.[8][9]

Refusing to abdicate in favour of ar-Radi (r. 932–940), he was blinded and cast into prison.[4][9] According to al-Mas'udi, ar-Radi "kept news of him hidden", so that he vanished from common knowledge.[10] He was not freed until eleven years later, when al-Mustakfi (r. 944–946) came to the throne and discovered him locked away in a remote room in the palace.[9][10] He lived the remainder of his life as a beggar, dying in October 950.[4][9]


  1. ^ a b c d e Sourdel 1978, p. 423.
  2. ^ a b c Bonner 2010, p. 351.
  3. ^ a b Bowen 1993, p. 575.
  4. ^ a b c d e Zetterstéen 1987, p. 627.
  5. ^ Kennedy 2004, p. 193.
  6. ^ Kennedy 2004, pp. 193–194.
  7. ^ Sourdel 1978, pp. 423–424.
  8. ^ a b Kennedy 2004, p. 194.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Sourdel 1978, p. 424.
  10. ^ a b c Masudi 2010, p. 386.


  • Bonner, Michael (2010). "The waning of empire, 861–945". In Robinson, Chase F. (ed.). The New Cambridge History of Islam, Volume 1: The Formation of the Islamic World, Sixth to Eleventh Centuries. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 305–359. ISBN 978-0-521-83823-8.
Born: 899 Died: 950
Sunni Islam titles
Preceded by
Abbasid Caliph
March 929
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Abbasid Caliph
31 October 932 – 24 April 934
Succeeded by