List of Abbasid caliphs

The Abbasid caliphs were the holders of the Islamic title of caliph who were members of the Abbasid dynasty, a branch of the Quraysh tribe descended from the uncle of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, Al-Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib.

The family came to power in the Abbasid Revolution in 748–750, supplanting the Umayyad Caliphate. They were the rulers of the Abbasid Caliphate, as well as the generally recognized ecumenical heads of Islam, until the 10th century, when the Shi'a Fatimid Caliphate (established in 909) and the Caliphate of Córdoba (established in 929) challenged their primacy. The political decline of the Abbasids had begun earlier, during the Anarchy at Samarra (861–870), which accelerated the fragmentation of the Muslim world into autonomous dynasties. The caliphs lost their temporal power in 936–946, first to a series of military strongmen, and then to the Shi'a Buyid Emirs that seized control of Baghdad; the Buyids were in turn replaced by the Sunni Seljuk Turks in the mid-11th century, and Turkish rulers assumed the title of "Sultan" to denote their temporal authority. The Abbasid caliphs remained the generally recognized suzerains of Sunni Islam, however. In the mid-12th century, the Abbasids regained their independence from the Seljuks, but the revival of Abbasid power ended with the Sack of Baghdad by the Mongols in 1258.

Most Abbasid caliphs were born to a concubine mother, known as umm al-walad (Arabic: أم الولد, lit.'mother of the child'). The term refers to a slave woman who had a child from her owner; those women were renowned for their beauty and intelligence, in that the owner might recognize the legitimacy of his children from them to be legally free and with full rights of inheritance, and refrain from trading the mothers afterwards.[1] Those concubines mostly were Abyssinians, Armenians, Berbers, Byzantine Greeks, Turkish or even from Sicily.[2][3][4]

Abbasid Caliphs (750–1258)


This is the list of Abbasid Caliphs.[5][6]

No. Reign Regnal Name Personal Name Parents Notable Events
1 750 – 8 June 754 al-Saffāḥ Abū’l-ʿAbbās ʿAbd Allāh
2 10 June 754 – 775 al-Manṣūr Abū Jaʿfar ʿAbd Allāh
  • Nominated heir by his brother caliph Al-Saffah (the founder of Abbasid dynasty) in 754.
  • Al-Mansur was proclaimed Caliph on his way to Mecca in the year 753 CE (136 AH) and was inaugurated the following year.[7]
  • Founder of Baghdad. He was one of the famous Abbasid caliphs.
  • During his reign, a Fugitive Umayyad prince Abd al-Rahman I founds the Emirate of Córdoba in al-Andalus (756).
3 775 – 4 August 785 al-Mahdī bi-'llāh Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad
  • Nominated heir by his father After the death of his father, he succeeded him.
  • Al-Mahdi commenced his rule by releasing several political prisoners, expanding and decorating the holy places of Mecca and Medina, and building fountains and lofts for Hajj pilgrims. He expanded the mail service, increased his secret service, fortified cities, and increased judicial appointments. His charitable giving was also impressive.[8]
4 August 785 – 14 September 786 al-Hādī Abū Muḥammad Mūsā
  • Nominated first heir by his father Al-Mahdi after the death of his father, he succeeded him
5 14 September 786 – 24 March 809 Hārūn al-Rashīd Hārūn
  • Nominated second heir by his father al-Mahdi, after the death of his brother Caliph al-Hadi, he succeeded him in 786.
  • Abbasids ruled over present-day Morocco until 788, when secessionist Idrisid dynasty established in Morocco (788).
6 March 809 – 24/25 September 813 al-Amīn Abū Mūsā Muḥammad
  • Nominated first heir by his father Harun al-Rashid, after the death of his father in 809, he succeeded him.
  • He tried to remove his half-brother Abdallah al-Ma'mun from line of succession. In 811, a Civil war of the Fourth Fitna began. Al-Amin was deposed and killed at the Siege of Baghdad.
7 September 813 – 9 August 833 al-Maʾmūn Abū'l-ʿAbbās ʿAbd Allāh
  • Nominated second heir by his father. His half-brother al-Amin tried to remove him as heir. He overthrow al-Amin and succeeded his half-brother al-Amin after a civil war in 813. Victor of the civil war.
  • Launch of the Translation Movement, major revamp of the House of Wisdom, and systematic support of scholars for the gathering and translation of knowledge from various civilizations.
  • During his reign, Caliphate expanded its rule in Mediterranean Islands especially with Establishment of the Emirate of Crete (824/827) and Start of the Muslim conquest of Sicily (827)
  • By the end of al-Ma'mun's reign in 833, Ibn Abi Du'ad had become a close associate of the caliph, and on his deathbed al-Ma'mun recommended to his brother and successor al-Mu'tasim that he admit Ibn Abi Du'ad to his circle of advisors.[9]
8 9 August 833 – 5 January 842 al-Muʿtaṣim bi-’llāh Abū Isḥāq Muḥammad
  • His brother, Al-Ma'mun had made no official provisions for his succession. According to the account of al-Tabari, on his deathbed al-Ma'mun dictated a letter nominating his brother, rather than his son al-Abbas, as his successor.[10]
  • Establishment of the Turkish ghilman in positions of power. Militarization and centralization of the administration.
  • The start of official support for Mu'tazilism, institution of the mihna from in 833. under Abbasid official Ahmad ibn Abi Du'ad.
  • Founder of Samarra city. He moved the capital to Samarra in 836.
9 5 January 842 – 10 August 847 al-Wāthiq bi-'llāh Abū Jaʿfar Hārūn
  • When his father, al-Mu'tasim took care for his son and heir to acquire experience in governance.
  • Nominated heir by his father. Al-Wathiq succeeded his father and ruled as Caliph for six years.
  • Al-Wathiq died as the result of dropsy, while being seated in an oven in an attempt to cure it.[11]
10 10 August 847 – 11 December 861 al-Mutawakkil ʿalā 'llāh Jaʿfar
  • As a young prince, he was appointed as Amir al-hajj by his brother Al-Wathiq in 842 and he remained a Courtier under his brother's reign.
  • End of official support for Mu'tazilism, abolition of the miḥnah (848/851). Return to traditional orthodoxy.
  • Al-Mutawakkil was the last great Abbasid caliph; after his death the dynasty would fall into a decline. He was Assassinated by his guards with support of his son al-Muntasir.
11 861 – 7 or 8 June 862 al-Muntaṣir bi-'llāh Abū Jaʿfar Muḥammad
  • Reigned during the Anarchy at Samarra
  • Caliph al-Mutawakkil (847–861) had created a plan of succession that would allow his sons to inherit the caliphate after his death; he would be succeeded first by his eldest son, al-Muntasir, then by al-Mu'tazz and third by al-Mu'ayyad.[12] However, Al-Muntasir tried to change it and he almost succeeded in it.
  • Decline of the Abbasid Caliphate
  • Just like most Abbasid caliphs, He provided endowments to his kins Banu Hashim.
12 862 – 866 al-Mustaʿīn bi-ʾllāh Aḥmad
13 866 – 869 al-Muʿtazz bi-ʾllāh Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad
  • Reigned during the Anarchy at Samarra.
  • Al-Mu'tazz's reign (866–869) marks the apogee of the decline of the Caliphate's central authority, and the climax of centrifugal tendencies, expressed through the emergence of the autonomous dynasties.
  • Deposed by the Turkic military officers.
14 869 – 21 June 870 al-Muhtadī bi-'llāh Abū Isḥāq Muḥammad
  • Reigned during the Anarchy at Samarra.
  • As a ruler, al-Muhtadi sought to emulate the Umayyad caliph Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz,[13] widely considered a model Islamic ruler.[14]
  • Assassinated by the Turkish military. End of Anarchy at Samarra.
15 21 June 870 – 15 October 892 al-Muʿtamid ʿalā ’llāh Abū'l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad
  • Al-Mu'tamid's reign marks the end of the "Anarchy at Samarra" and the start of the Abbasid restoration. His brother was Commander-in-chief al-Muwaffaq, who held the loyalty of the military and had great influence over him.
  • Start of the "Abbasid revival". Repulse of the Saffarids rebellion and subjugation of the Zanj Revolt.
  • Establishment of the autonomous Tulunid dynasty in Egypt, Gradual decline of Abbasid rule in Transoxiana, Persia, Sind and Punjab, North Africa, Middle East and Arabia.
16 October 892 – 5 April 902 al-Muʿtaḍid bi-'llāh Abū'l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad
  • Al-Muwaffaq, Abbasid prince and Commander-in-chief
  • Dirar (Hariz), Greek concubine
  • He was the nephew of Al-Mu'tamid, He added his name in line of succession and removed his cousin as heir. After his uncle death his succeeded him.
  • Al-Mu'tadid had inherited his father's gifts as a ruler and was distinguished alike for his economy and his military ability, becoming "one of the greatest of the Abbasids in spite of his strictness.[15]
  • Height of the "Abbasid revival". Recovery of Jazira, Thughur, Jibal.
  • Return of the capital to Baghdad and start of the Qarmatian missionary activity and raids.
17 5 April 902 – 13 August 908 al-Muktafī bi-'llāh Abū Muḥammad ʿAlī
  • Nominated heir by his father, Caliph Al-Mu'tadid.
  • Al-Mu'tadid took care to prepare Ali al-Muktafi, his oldest son and heir, for the succession by appointing him as a provincial governor: first in Rayy, Qazvin, Qum and Hamadan.
  • During his reign Abbasids completely recovered Egypt and Syria from the Tulunids. End of the "Abbasid revival".
18 13 August 908 – 929 al-Muqtadir bi-'llāh Abū'l-Faḍl Jaʿfar
19 929 al-Qāhir bi-'llāh Abū al-Manṣūr Muḥammad
(18) 929 – 31 October 932 al-Muqtadir bi-'llāh Abū'l-Faḍl Jaʿfar
(19) 31 October 932 – 934 al-Qāhir bi-'llāh Abū al-Manṣūr Muḥammad
  • Second reign
  • After his brother was killed, he succeeded him as Caliph.
  • In 31 October 932 he was deposed.
20 934 – 23 December 940 al-Rāḍī bi-'llāh Abū'l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad/Muḥammad
  • Originally nominated heir by his father Al-Muqtadir. After the death of his uncle Al-Qahir he succeeded him.
  • Al-Radi is commonly spoken of as the last of the real Caliphs: the last to deliver orations at the Friday service, to hold assemblies with philosophers to discuss the questions of the day, or to take counsel on the affairs of State; the last to distribute largess among the needy, or to interpose to temper the severity of cruel officers.
21 940 – 944 al-Muttaqī li-'llāh Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm
  • Beginning of the later Abbasid period.
  • He was chosen by Military officers after the death of his brother Caliph Al-Radi.
  • Overthrown and blinded by the amīr al-umarāʾ Tuzun.
22 September 944 – 29 January 946 al-Mustakfī bi-ʾllāh ʿAbd Allāh
23 29 January 946 – 974 al-Muṭīʿ li-ʾllāh Abū'l-Qāsim al-Faḍl
  • He succeeded his cousin Al-Mustakfi, during his reign Buyids influence grew.
  • Installed by the Buyid Amir Mu'izz al-Dawla.
  • During the last years of his reign, Abbasids completely lost Egypt, Palestine and Hejaz.
  • Increasingly incapacitated by a partial paralysis that had begun following a stroke in 970, al-Muti was now induced to abdicate with his health as a pretext, and was replaced by his son Abd al-Karim, as al-Ta'i (r. 974–991), on 5 August.
24 974 – 991 al-Ṭāʾiʿ li-amri ʿllāh Abd al-Karīm
  • He was nominated heir by his father Al-Muti and his father Abdicated for his son became of partial paralysis that had begun following a stroke in 970.
  • During his reign, Syria was torn by contending factions — Fatimid and Carmathian; while the Buyīds was split up into parties that were fighting among themselves. To top this all off, the Byzantine Emperor John Tzimisces stormed the east in a victorious campaign in 975. After holding the office for seventeen years, aṭ-Ṭaʼiʻ was deposed in 991.
  • Deposed by the Buyid Amir Baha' al-Dawla.
25 1 November 991 – 29 November 1031 al-Qādir bi-'llāh Aḥmad
  • He succeeded his cousin, Caliph Al-Ta'i.
  • Installed by the Buyid Amir Baha' al-Dawla.
  • During his reign, he granted the title Sultan to Muslim rulers. The sultans were religious deputy of the all later Abbasid Caliphs.
  • Upholding of Sunni orthodoxy; publication of the Baghdad Manifesto.
26 29 November 1031 – 2 April 1075 al-Qāʾim bi-amri 'llāh Abu Ja'far Abdallah
27 2 April 1075 – February 1094 al-Muqtadī bi-amri ’llāh Abū'l-Qāsim ʿAbd Allāh
  • He was born to Abbasid prince Muhammad Dhakirat and an Armenian Umm walad.[16]
  • He was honored by the Seljuk sultan Malik-Shah I, during whose reign the Caliphate was recognized throughout the extending range of Seljuk Sultanate. Hejaz, with the Holy Cities, now recovered from the Fatimids, acknowledged again the spiritual jurisdiction of the Abbasids.
28 February 1094 – 6 August 1118 al-Mustaẓhir bi-'llāh Abū l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad
  • He succeeded his father as Caliph. He was the notable Caliph of the later Abbasid Era.
  • The appearance of the First Crusade in Syria. He his known for contributing to Mawdud's struggling against crusades to reconquer Muslim lands of Levant coastline.
29 6 August 1118 – 29 August 1135 al-Mustarshid bi-'llāh Abū'l-Manṣūr al-Faḍl
  • He succeeded his father as Caliph. He was a notable Caliph of Later Abbasid Era and he was also an Arabic poet.
  • Al-Mustarshid deposed and imprisoned his vizier Amid al-dawla Jalal al-Din Hasan ibn Ali. One year later he also deposed Ahmad ibn Nizam al-Mulk as his vizier.
  • Foundation of the Almohad Empire in the Maghreb (1121). The Almohads were anti-Abbasids.
30 29 August 1135 – 1136 al-Rāshid bi-'llāh Abu Jaʿfar al-Manṣūr
  • Nominated heir by his father, After the assassination of his father he succeeded him.
  • Deposed by the Seljuk Sultan Ghiyath ad-Din Mas'ud.
  • Al-Rashid Billah was deposed by seljuks and he fled to Isfahan where he was assassinated by a team of four Shia Nizari Ismailis (Assassins) in June 1138. This was celebrated in Alamut for a week.[17]
31 1136 – 12 March 1160 al-Muqtafī li-ʾamri ’llāh Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad
  • He was the brother of caliph Al-Mustarshid and uncle of Al-Rashid Billah.
  • Al-Muqtafi successfully established an army during the later Abbasid era. (Previously Caliphs were militarily dependent on Seljuks.
  • Siege of Baghdad (1157) by the Seljuks fails. Restoration of the Caliph's political and military influence of Later Abbasids.
32 12 March 1160 – 20 December 1170 al-Mustanjid bi-'llāh Abū'l-Muẓaffar Yūsuf
  • He succeeded his father Al-Muqtafi.
33 20 December 1170 – 30 March 1180 al-Mustaḍīʾ bi-amri ʾllāh al-Ḥasan
  • Al-Mustadi succeeded his father Caliph Al-Mustanjid.
  • He enjoys nothing but what he earns by the labor of his own hands, and therefore manufactures coverlets, which he stamps with his seal, and which his officers sell in the public market.
  • His political and religious authority was recognized throughout Middle East especially by Saladin ruler of Egypt. Caliph Al-Mustadi granted Saladin the title Sultan. Also gave him authority over holy cities; Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem.
  • End of the Fatimid Caliphate in 1171, restoration of Abbasid authority in Egypt under Saladin.
34 2 March 1180 – 4 October 1225 al-Nāṣir li-Dīn Allāh Abu'l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad
  • Recovery of Jerusalem from the Crusaders (1187) by Saladin.
  • Al-Nasir was the influential Caliph of the Later Abbasid era.
  • According to historian Angelika Hartmann, Al-Nasir was the last effective Abbasid caliph[18] of Later Abbasid Caliphate.
  • His political and religious authority was recognized throughout Middle East especially in territory of Ayyubid dynasty of Saladin.
35 5 October 1225 – 11 July 1226 al-Ẓāhir bi-amri’llāh Abu Nasr Muḥammad
  • He was nominated as heir in 1189. He succeeded his father.
  • In his short reign, he lowered the taxes, and built a strong army to resist invasions. He died on 10 July 1226, nine months after his accession.
  • During his short reign he saw disastrous Mongol Invasion in parts of Eastern Islamic World.
36 11 July 1226 – 2 December 1242 al-Mustanṣir bi-'llāh Abū Jaʿfar al-Manṣūr
  • He succeeded his father caliph Al-Zahir.
  • Al-Mustansir was the penultimate Caliph of the later Abbasid era.
  • During his reign Eastern Islamic World was invaded by Mongols. The great cities like Bukhara, Samarkand were destroyed and millions of Muslims were killed.
37 2 December 1242 – 20 February 1258 al-Mustaʿṣim bi-'llāh ʿAbd Allāh
  • Last Abbasid caliph of Later Abbasid Era
  • End of the Abbasid dynasty. Al-Musta'sim was the last known recognised Muslim caliph. His death marked the complete end of the Caliphate as a political and religious entity in the Middle East.
  • Executed after the Mongol sack of Baghdad, he ruled for a period of 15 years 2 months and 15 days.

Caliphs of Cairo (1261–1517)


In 1261, the Abbasid dynasty was re-established by a cadet branch of the dynasty at Cairo, under the auspices of the local Mamluk sultans but these caliphs were purely religious and symbolic figures, while temporal power rested with the Mamluks. The revived caliphate in Cairo lasted until the Ottoman conquest of Egypt in 1517, after which the caliphal title passed to the Ottoman dynasty.

The Cairo Abbasids were largely ceremonial caliphs under the patronage of the Mamluk Sultanate that existed after the takeover of the Ayyubid dynasty.[19][20]

No. Reign Regnal Name Personal Name Parents Notable Events
1 13 June 1261 – 28 November 1261 al-Mustanṣir bi-llāh Abū'l-Qāsim Aḥmad
  • Founder of Mamluk Caliphate of Cairo under the auspices of Mamluk ruler Baybars.
  • In 1261, The Later Abbasids was succeeded by Caliphs of the Mamluk Sultanate in Cairo.
  • Installed as Caliph in Cairo, Egypt by the Mamluk Sultan Baybars in 1261. Title also claimed by al-Hakim I, installed as caliph by the ruler of Aleppo, Aqqush al-Burli
2 16 November 1262 – 19 January 1302 al-Ḥākim bi-Amri'llāh I Abū'l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad
  • Abu Ali Hasan ibn Abu Bakr ibn Hasan
3 20 January 1302 – February 1340 al-Mustakfī bi-llāh I Abū ar-Rabīʾ Sulaymān
4 February 1340 – 17 June 1341 al-Wāthiq bi-'llāh I Abū ʾIsḥāq ʾIbrāhīm
5 1341 – 1352 al-Ḥākim bi-Amri'llāh II Abū'l-ʿAbbas ʾAḥmad
6 1352 – 1362 al-Muʿtaḍid bi-'llāh I Abū al-Fatḥ Abū Bakr
  • He succeeded his brother as the sixth caliph for the Mamluk Sultanate.
7 1362 – 1377 al-Mutawakkil ʿalā'llāh I Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad
  • First reign
  • He succeeded his father as the seventh caliph for the Mamluk Sultanate
  • In 1377 he was deposed.
8 1377 al-Mustaʿṣim bi-'llāh Abū Yaḥya Zakarīyāʾ
  • First reign
  • He succeeded as the eighth caliph for the Mamluk Sultanate of Cairo.
(7) 1377 – 1383 al-Mutawakkil ʿalā'llāh I Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad
  • Second reign
9 September 1383 – 13 November 1386 al-Wāthiq bi-'llāh II Abū Ḥafṣ ʿUmar
(8) 1386 – 1389 al-Mustaʿṣim bi-'llāh Abū Yaḥya Zakarīyāʾ
  • Second reign
(7) 1389 – 9 January 1406 al-Mutawakkil ʿalā'llāh I Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad
  • Third reign
10 22 January 1406 – 9 March 1414 al-Mustaʿīn bi-'llāh Abū al-Faḍl al-ʿAbbas
  • He succeeded as the tenth Caliph for the Mamluk Sultanate in Cairo.
  • Became Sultan of Egypt from 7 May – 6 November 1412, as a titular figurehead for Shaykh al-Mahmudi.
11 1414 – 1441 al-Muʿtaḍid bi-'llāh II Abū al-Fatḥ Dāwud
  • He succeeded as the eleventh caliph for the Mamluk Sultanate
12 1441 – 29 January 1451 al-Mustakfī bi-llāh II Abū al-Rabīʿ Sulaymān
  • He succeeded his brother as the twelfth caliph for the Mamluk Sultanate of Cairo.
13 1451 – 1455 al-Qāʾim bi-ʾamr Allāh Abū al-Baqāʾ Ḥamza
  • He succeeded his brother as the thirteenth caliph of the Mamluk Sultanate
14 1455 – 7 April 1479 al-Mustanjid bi-'llāh Abū al-Maḥāsin Yūsuf
  • He succeeded his brother as the fourteenth caliph for the Mamluk Sultanate
15 5 April 1479 – 27 September 1497 al-Mutawakkil ʿalā'llāh II Abū al-ʿIzz ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz
  • He was the son of Ya'qub and Grandson of Al-Mutawakkil I
  • He succeeded his uncle as the fifteenth caliph for the Mamluk Sultanate
16 1497 – 1508 al-Mustamsik bi-'llāh Abū al-Ṣabr Yaqūb
  • First reign
  • He succeeded his father as the sixteenth caliph for the Mamluk Sultanate
17 1508 – 1516 al-Mutawakkil ʿalā'llāh III Muḥammad
  • First reign
  • He succeeded his father as the seventeenth caliph for the Mamluk Sultanate
(16) 1516 – 1517 al-Mustamsik bi-'llāh Abū al-Ṣabr Yaqūb
  • Second reign of al-Mustamsik
  • He served as caliph twice, his first term from 1497 to 1508 and his second term from 1516 to 1517, when he abdicated the position to his son, Al-Mutawakkil III
(17) 1517 al-Mutawakkil ʿalā'llāh III Muḥammad


Genealogical tree of the Abbasid family. In green, the Abbasid caliphs of Baghdad. In yellow, the Caliphs of Cairo. Muhammad is included (in caps) to show the kinship of the Abbasids with him.


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  20. ^ Houtsma & Wensinck 1993, p. 3