Accomplishments of the Abbassids
The Abbasid Khilafah lasted from 750-1258 CE. Khalifah
Abu Jafar Al-Mansur, the second Abbasid Khalifah, moved the capital of the Islamic Empire
from Damascus in Syria to Baghdad in Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia was the richest province in
the empire in tax and agricultural productions. Baghdad was between the Tigris and
Euphrates River so it became the center of trade, learning, and government.
Baghdad's economy relied on taxes, and wealth generated
by trade and manufacturing. The empire was rich in gold, silver, copper, and iron and used
them in trade. Farmers grew dates, rice, and other grains. In addition, the Abbasids
introduced new breeds of livestock. They also spread cotton. Traders from Scandinavia to
Africa came to Baghdad for the products of its industries too. Leather goods, textiles,
paper, metalwork, and perfumes were sold in the city. The Abbasids developed something
very similar to the banking system. They did not have bank buildings but business people
invested in long distance trade and goods were bought on credit. They also had a postal
system. Muslim rule unified the eastern world. They introduced a uniform coinage system
that made commerce easier. The Abbasids treated non-Muslims well. In their time, there
were 11000 Christian churches, and hundreds of synagogues and fire temples.
The great wealth made the Abbasids able to support
learning and arts. Muslims believed long before Columbus's time that the earth was round.
They invented algebra. They wrote the first accurate descriptions of measles and smallpox.
They had clean hospitals. They built the Bayt-al-Hikmah (House of Wisdom) in which
scholars from different lands came and studied. It served as a museum, library,
translation office, school, and meeting center. Books about mathematics, meteorology,
optics, mechanics, astronomy, philosophy, medicine, etc. were translated into Arabic from
Hebrew, Greek, Persian, Syriac, and other languages. Al-Razi, Ibn Sina, Al-Biruni, and
Al-Khwarizmi were some of the famous scholars of that time. Muslims collected writings of
the schools of Alexandria and the best philosophical works of ancient Greek. There were
special departments under qualified professors for promotion and prosecution of special
branches of study. Astronomical observations were made in Mamun's reign. Among these
equinoxes, eclipses, the apparitions of comets and other celestial bodies was most
important. The size of the earth was calculated from the measurement of a degree on the
shores of the Red Sea. At this time, Europe was asserting the flatness of the earth. Abul
Hassan invented the telescope. The telescope was improved and used in the observatories of
Maragha and Cairo with great success. The first observatory of Islam was made in Mamun's
reign at Shamassia on the plains of Tadmur. Afterwards several more were created.
Timeline of the Abbasid Khilafah