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

History On the Khwajah's Role

In respect of affirmation or rejection of the alleged involvement of Khwajah Nasir al-Din al-Tusi in the fall of Baghdad, we can divide the historical records into three kinds:

(a) Sources Which are Silent Concerning the Khwajah:

Writings in this regard pertain to a period of within a hundred years after the fall of Baghdad. Most of the writers either witnessed the conquests of tile Mongols or lived in the decades immediately thereafter. The absence of any mention of the Khwajah in these writings can be taken to mean negation of the alleged role, since the question had been rather a sensitive one.

Among the writers of the period, Minhaj Siraj in his book ,Tabaqat e Nasiri (or Tarikh-e Iran wa Islam), which seems to be written in 658/ 1260 (pp. 497), refers to the Mongol siege of Baghdad. He mentions some imaginary victories of the caliph, as well as the purported treachery of Ibn Alqami (to be discussed later on). He does not make any mention of the Khwajah. [^33]

Ibn al-Ibn (d. 685/1286) is another writer who describes the Mongol conquest of Baghdad in relatively greater detail. However, he does not mention anything about the Khwajah in this regard. [^34] In the subsequent pages he refers to the death of the Khwajah, mentions the latter's deep knowledge of several sciences, but says nothing about any role of the Khwiijah in political matters. [^35]

According to Dr. Ha'iri, Ibn al-Fawti in his book written in the year 657/1259 writes about the fall of Baghdad, but mentions nothing about the Khwajah. [^36]

In the few pages written by Khwajah Nasir al-Din appended to Juwayni's Tarikh-e jahangushai, where some details pertaining to the conquest of Baghdad are given, nothing whatever is mentioned concerning any role of the Khwajah in the events. [^37]

Hamd Allah Mustawfi, a famous historian and geographer of the 8th/14th century (d. 730/1329), was among those who wrote about the Mongol conquest of Baghdad. But he does not mention anything about the Khwajah in the few lines he writes about the event. [^38]

Ibn Taba Taba (Ibn al-Tiqtaqa, d. 709/1309) is a critical historian who wrote his book in 701/1301, wherein the fall of Baghdad is described in the account of al-Musta'sim's life. However, he does not write anything about the Khwajah having played any role in it. [^39] The only time' he mentions the Khwajah's name is when Ibn Alqami came to Hulagu Khan and was introduced by the Khwajah. [^40] In another instance he cites a remark ascribed to the Khwajah - without however mentioning his name - regarding the prophesy of some unnamed person. The prophesy was to the effect that in the event of the caliph's being killed there would occur certain natural disasters. [^41] We will return to this remark later on.

Rashid al-Din Fadl Allah is another noted historian of the Mongol period who also mentions the above-mentioned remark. He too has nothing to say concerning any role of the Khwajah in relation to the Mongol conqueror's attack on Baghdad or in the context of the caliph's execution. Abu al-Fida' is another Arab historian and author of al Mukhtasar fi akhbar al-bashar. He writes that the circumstances of the killing of the caliph were not known, and he does not indicate anything by way of suggesting any role of the Khwajah in this regard. This is despite the fact that he mentions some points concerning the life of the Khwajah. [^42]

Muhammad ibn Shakir al-Kutubi (d. 764/1362), author of Fawat al-Wafayat, wrote a relatively elaborate biographical account of the Khwajah (6 pages). However, in writing about the Khwajah's services for Hulagu Khan and the Khwajah's standing with the latter, he makes not even the smallest hint about any role of the Khwajah in the episode of Baghdad. [^43]

Another historian of the 8th/14th century, Ibn al-Wardi (d. 749/ 1348), in his book of history wrote about the fall of Baghdad. He affirms the role of Ibn Alqami without referring to the Khwajah in any way. [^44] However, he mentions the Khwajah's year of death (672 H.), his birthplace, his services in Alamut and under Halagu, and his building of an observatory. But nowhere does he write about any role of the Khwajah in the events of the fall of Baghdad and the killing of the caliph. [^45]

Al-Dhahabi (d. 746/1345), a well-known Sunni traditionist and scholar of rijal, wrote about the Baghdad episode under the account of the events of the year 656/1258. He mentions Ibn Alqami's position but does not write anything about the Khwajah. [^46] Al-Safadi (d. 797/ 1394), author of al-Wafi bi al-Wafayat, also does not mention any role in the fall of Baghdad on the Khwajah's part. [^47]

Al-Nakhjawani who wrote his book in 724/1324 says nothing of the Khwajah in the context of the Baghdad episode. [^48] Al-Ghassani (d. 761/1359) is another historian of the period who repeatedly hurls insults at Ibn 'Alqami in a rather elaborate account of the fall of Baghdad. However, he does not make even the slightest mention of the Khwajah. [^49]

Ibn al-Kazeruni (611-697/1214-1297), who lived at the time of the events, mentions nothing in his book about the Khwajah. [^50] Likewise, al-'Atabaki (d. 874/1469) [^51] and al-Suyuti (d. 911/1505) do not refer to the Khwajah. [^52]

The above-mentioned writers, mast of whom are famous historians of the 7th/13th and 8th/14th centuries, despite their sensitivity concerning the Mongols and the downfall of the caliphate - especially with the particular bias of some of them like Ibn al-Wardi and al-Dhahabi - do not mention anything about the Khwajah. Had there been anything at all to say in this context, they would have emphasized it, especially in view of their unfavourable opinion of the Shiah. The fact that they did not mention anything about the Khwajah cannot be viewed as irrelevant to the non-existence of any role of the Khwajah in this important episode. Furthermore, it may also indicate that before and during the fall of Baghdad, the Khwajah did not have the personal influence with Hulagu Khan as he did have after the event.

(b) Books Which Mention the Khwajah's Role:

Above we have cited the remarks of Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, al-Subki, Khwand Mir, and al-Subki. It is necessary to point out the following in their regard:

  1. An examination of the original sources concerning the fall of Baghdad revealed that despite the anti shii bias of some and the general hostility towards the Mongols, none of the historians mentions anything about the Khwajah's role. This itself is the best indicator of the baselessness of the allegations of Ibn Taymiyyah, his likes and followers.

  2. The sectarian bias of Ibn Taymiyyah and his pupil Ibn Qayyim as well as others like al-Subki and Ibn al Imad al-Hanbali who followed suit with them, to the extent that even their expressions are altogether similar - precludes any acceptance of their criticism of Khwajah Nasir al-Din al-Tusi. Ibn Taymiyyah, in many of his works, takes an antagonistic attitude toward the Shiah and makes many baseless accusations against them, which mainly reflect his confusion between the Ghulat and the Imami Shiis. The charge levelled by him against the Khwajah in his book al-Radd 'ala al-Nusayriyyah, against the Ghali sect, bears this out. The same allegation is also mentioned in Minhaj al-sunnah, a refutation of al-Allaamah al-Hilli's Minhaj al-karamah. It shows that he had been bent on levelling accusations, and like his other accusations this one too was baseless. When al-Allamah al-Hilli heard about Ibn Taymiyyah's refutation of his work, he remarked: "Had he understood what I said, I would have replied to him" [^53]

  3. When the accusation of Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Qayyim that the Khwajah had been instrumental in the Mongol sack of Baghdad is examined in the light of their allegations that the Khwajah (a) did not observe the precepts of the Shari'ah, (b) violated the prohibitions of the Shariah, (c) did not perform salat, (d) committed indecencies, (e) used intoxicants, (f) was guilty of adultery, (g) did not believe in Resurrection, (h) denied the Divine attributes, (i) was guilty of idolatry, and so on, it will be found that it was merely their unreasonable bias which made them level such charges. Such slanders do not deserve notice, and of course do not constitute grounds for any noteworthy historical judgement.

  4. An apt witness who can be cited as evidence against the credibi lity of the remarks of Ibn Taymiyyah and his followers against the Khwajah is Ibn Kathir (d. 864/1459). He was a Hanbali and is regarded as a follower of Ibn Taymiyyah. [^54] Ibn Kathir was definitely aware of Ibn Taymiyyah's allegations from at least three of the latter's writing. Yet, he did not accept Ibn Taymiyyah's statements.