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CORDOBA, CALIPHATE OF. In AH 138/756 CE, after the fall of the Umayyad dynasty inDamascus, `Abd al-Rahman I ibn Mu’awiyah, an Umayyad prince, established himself inCordobaas ruler of theIberian Peninsula(al-Andalus). The country thus achieved independence from the `Abbasid caliphate ofBaghdad, although the name of the `Abbasid caliph, al-Mansur, continued for a time to be mentioned in the Friday prayer; when the name of the Umayyad leader was substituted, the `Abbasid caliph was cursed. The Umayyad rulers in al-Andalus styled themselves as umard’ (“princes”) until 316/929, and although a number of rebels arose in the name of the `Abbasid caliphs, none presented any real threat, nor did the `Abbasid themselves ever attempt to restore al-Andalus to their sovereignty.

`Abd al-Rahman III ibn Muhammad, who had ruled as a prince for sixteen years, proclaimed himself caliph in 316/929 and took the honorific title al-Nasir li-din Allah. Several reasons lay behind the decision of `Abd al-Rahman III to proclaim himself caliph. He struggled initially to reunite and restore peace to the country, which had been prey to various rebels during the reign of his grandfather and predecessor, `Abd Allah. This task accomplished, a new danger emerged-the Fatimid caliphate inNorth Africa. When `Abd al-Rahman III adopted the title of caliph, he was also posing as defender of the Sunni community against the Shi`i Fatimids, a role that the weakened `Abbasid caliphate was no longer able to fulfill. Moreover, the Umayyads considered themselves to be the rightful heirs of the caliphate, being descendants of the third “Rightly Guided” caliph, `Uthman ibn `Affan (d. 656). In his propaganda in North Africa, `Abd al-Rahman III stated his intention to recover and protect the Muslim holy places, sinceMeccahad been sacked by sectarian Qarmatians in 317/929.

The C6rdoba caliphate, during the tenth century, witnessed the peak of the cultural and artistic flowering of al-Andalus. Following the practice of his forerunners inSyria, `Abd al-Rahman III built a magnificent palatine city near C6rdoba (Madinat al-Zahra’), and his son alHakam II al-Mustansir (r. 350-366/961-976), who enlarged the Friday Mosque, was also a well-known bibliophile and patron of the sciences and arts.

The Ummayad caliphate in C6rdoba did not last long, however. With the accession of al-Hakam’s son, Hisham II al-Mu’ayyad, in 366/976, the caliph lost all real power, which now lay in the hands of the capable chamberlain al-Mansur ibn Abi `Amir. The only mark of the authority of Hisham II was the appearance of his name on coins and textiles and in the Friday prayer. AlMansur was succeeded as chamberlain by his son alMuzaffar, who maintained the fiction of Hisham II as actual ruler. It was only after al-Muzaffar’s death in 398/ 1007 that his brother `Abd al-Rahman attempted to usurp the caliphate, forcing the caliph to appoint him his heir. Subsequent events proved fatal for the Umayyad caliphate. Hisham II fell under the control of the `Amirids, following a similar political pattern in the Muslim East where the Buyids ruled under the nominal authority of the `Abbasid caliph. This led to a succession of ineffectual caliphs reigning amid the political disintegration of the country. The Umayyad caliphate finally collapsed in 407/1016, and several puppet caliphs appeared throughout the tumultuous eleventh century. [See also `Abbasid Caliphate; Umayyad Caliphate.]


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Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/caliphate-of-cordoba/

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