The Alleged Role of Nasir Al Din Al Tusi in the Fall of Baghdad

The Points Which Shall Be Brought Out in This Study Are At Fellows

First, the Mongols themselves were already expanding their conquests in Iran and Iraq. They hardly needed any incitement in this regard. Secondly, the presence of Khwajah Nasir al-Din al-Tusi in the court of Halagu Khan and the related reports cannot prove that he prompted Halagu Khan to put an end to the Abbasid caliphate. Thirdly, the presence and conduct of Khwajah Nasir al-Din al-Tusi had been for the sake of reducing the losses and preventing the destruction of Islam, the truth of which is evidenced in history.

Fourthly, Ibn al-'Alqami too had done nothing but express his genuine convictions in taking a stand which appeared to him the correct position in those conditions, with a view to protecting innocent lives which were put in serious danger by the caliphate for the sake of protecting itself. Fifthly, according to Ibn al-'Athir it was the Baghdad caliphs who allured and encouraged the Mongols to conquer the Islamic lands. It may be affirmed that on the whole the Shiis, like many of the Sunnis, not only delivered themselves from the catastrophe through their correct stand, but made use of the situation for spreading Islam in general and Shiism in particular.

Before proceeding further in our study of the issues mentioned above, it is necessary to examine the nature and content of the accusation against the Shiis and Khwajah Nasir al-Din. Among the historians who lived somewhat after the tame of the events was Ahmad ibn Mubammad ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728/1327). He blamed Khwajah Nasir al-Din al Tusi for the fall of Baghdad. Ibn Taymiyyah is the originator of a new school of thought, whose background is traceable to Ahmad ibn Hanbal and the Ahl al-hadith. His writings are noted for attach against Shiism, which are severer than those of other groups. In many of his books, his anti-Shi'i prejudice finds vehement expression.

In this regard too, with his characteristic bitterness which might have been provoked by the increasing power of Shi'is in his times - he sits for judgment and, in opposition to authentic historical accounts pertaining to Mongol conquests written before him, holds the Khwajah responsible for the fall of Baghdad. At one place, while mentioning the fame of the Khwajah among the Sunnis and the Shiis, Ibn Taymiyyah writes: "It was he who incited the Mongol Khan to kill the Caliph and the ulama ......" Thereafter, he accuses the Khwajah of not paying heed to Islamic precepts, of flouting the prohibitions of the Shari'ah, of not performing the prayers, of commission of indecencies, of indulgence in intoxicants, and of commission of adultery. [^8]

In another place Ibn Taymiyyah says about the Khwajah, "It was he who ordered the Caliph to be killed and the Abbasid caliphate to be brought to an end." [^9]

Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, one of his famous pupils, following him accuses the Khwajah of participating in the killing of the Caliph and ulama', while calling him such names as "Nasir al shirk wa al-kufr wa al-ilhad" (an ally of polytheism, unbelief and apostasy). He condemns not only the Khwajah's philosophical convictions, but accuses him of denying the Hereafter,. rejecting Divine attributes, and of learning sorcery, and worshipping idols at the end of his life. [^10]

The foregoing shows that neither Ibn Taymiyyah nor Ibn Qayyim recognized any restraint in defaming him and went to the extent of accusing the Khwajah of violating the prohibitions of the Shari'ah and committing idolatry. Others like al Subki [^11]

and Khwand Mir

[^12] have followed suit with Ibn Taymiyyah in blaming the Khwajah of having brought about the conquest of Baghdad. In modern times, some orientalists, like the authors of the Cambridge History of Iran, have mentioned the allegations about the role of the Khwajah. [^13]

Edward Browne and Arberry have accepted the alleged role of the Khwajah, as mentioned by Dr. Hairi. [^14]

Among the Shi'is, too, from the 10th/16th century onwards, some writers have applauded the Khwajah's alleged action against the Abbasids and regarded the same as a strong point for the Khwajah. One of them is al Khwansari in Rawdat al janat, who uses strong language in mentioning the matter. [^15]

Likewise, Qadi Nur Allah al-Shushtari lauded the alleged role of the Khwajah. [^16]

Aside from the approval or disapproval of the Khwajah's alleged action, his involvement in the events is something doubtful. Laudatory remarks, like that of al-Khwansari, surely arose from the writers' prejudice against the 'Abbasid caliphs. Such writings do not constitute proper evidence, because the earlier and original sources have not referred to the Khwajah's role. Moreover, they belong to several centuries after the period of the events in question. Yet, we may mention another writer whose lack of care and susceptibility to influence by the background of Sunni-Shii differences has led him a step further than Ibn Taymiyyah in laying the blame on the Shiah in general, although he defends the Khwajah against the charge of irreligion. He refers to the Shi'i role as one of the primary causes of the downfall of the caliphate. [^17]

He writes: "...And eventually during the period, the hand of Shi'ism came out of the sleeve of the Mongols and finished the matter once for all." [^18]

He cites Khwand Mir (9th/15th century) in Habib al-siyar, Qadi Nur Allah al-Shushtari, Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, and al Subki with regard to the alleged role of the Khwajah in the overthrowal of the Caliph, and writes: "...Almost all the sources agree in the matter."' [^19]

No such consensus existed among the historians who lived close to the time of the downfall of Baghdad, as will be made clear later on? [^20]

The reliability of the afore-mentioned writings is doubtful, since they reflect the writers' prejudice. Even if it is assumed that Khwajah Nasir al-Din had a hand in the event, any statement to the effect that "the hand of Shi'ism came out of the Mongol sleeve" is a regrettable lapse for anyone while making a serious historical judgement, and especially when made by a researcher.