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

Referring To the Khwajah's Term As Hulagu's Minister, Ibn Kathir Wrote

The Khwajah was in his company during the episode of Baghdad. Some people imagine that the Khwajah had induced Hulagu to kill the caliph. How ever, my own belief is that such an act is not committed by an intellectual and a learned man. [^55]

Ibn Kathir's use of the phrase "some people", and then his pro ceding to reject the allegation means that he did not accept what Ibn Taymiyyah had written, for he had not come across any historical basis for the allegation. Moreover, he viewed it as something far from the dignity of the Khwajah.

(c) Sources which don't mention any role of the Khwajah in the Baghdad episode, but which mention a remark of his which led to such accusations: Even without it, the very presence of the Khwajah in the Mongol conqueror's retinue was sufficient evidence to some for making the accusation. As pointed out by Dr. Shaybi, "In the episode of the sack of Baghdad, although it was a consequence of the general assault of the Mongols that overthrew the regimes that came in their way from Turkistan to Iraq, the Shiis came to be blamed for it due to an age-old Sunni-Shi'i hostility." [^56]

The above-mentioned remark of the Khwajah is reported by Rashid al-Din in connection with Husam al-Din, the astrologer, and Khwajah Nasir al-Din al-Tusi. Ibn al-Tiqtaqa cites it without mentioning the names of the two. Some others, too, took it from Rashid al-Din and reported it with modifications in its content.

Before quoting Rashid al-Din, it is worthwhile to mention that since the Abbasids had been favourably treated by the times, the idea had become popular - and they themselves also propagated it - that they were invincible, that no one was capable of bringing about their downfall. Five hundred and twenty-five years of standing, together with this propaganda, had given an impression of invincibility to the general public. Some time earlier, when Sultan Muhammad Khwarazm Shah wanted to attack Baghdad and overthrow the Abbasid caliphate, many of his soldiers were stricken by severe cold at Asadabid, near Hamadin, and the invasion had failed.

This event, too, was interpreted as something of a miracle to the advantage of the Abbasids. According to al-Juwayni, "When weakness and enervation affected his state and the miracle of the Muhammadan creed twisted his arm .... of necessity, he had to renounce the idea." [^57] No doubt, an event involving a natural disaster had made its impact on the minds of people, including the learned, some of whom were protagonists of the Abbasid caliphate.

Husam al-Din, the astrologer, who was himself a close associate of Hulagu Khan - and probably closer to him than the Khwajah - also had a similar belief. The discussion that took place between him, Hulagu Khan and the Khwajah was one which dragged the Khwajah's foot into the matter. This anecdote subsequently led to accusing the Khwajah of inciting the execution of the caliph. Rashid al Din writes:

"Hulagu Khan consulted about his intended march (to Baghdad) with the courtiers and high officials. Everyone said something according to his opinion. Husim al-Din, the astrologer, who had accompanied him at the behest of the Great Khan to determine the times of mounting and dismounting was called. Hulagu asked him to report whatever the stars revealed, without any deceit.

Since proximity had afforded him temerity, he said right away to the king that it would not be auspicious to make a move against the Abbasids and to make an armed expedition into Baghdad. To date every ruler that had moved against the Abbasids and Baghdad had been denied the boon of life and kingdom. If the king would not listen and carry out his intention, six evils would manifest themselves: first, all his horses will die and the soldiers taken ill; second, the sun will not rise; third, there will be no rain; fourth, sandstorms will appear and the world will be devastated by an earthquake; fifth, vegetation will not sprout up from the ground; and Effects of the Khwajah's Presence Among the Mongols:

sixth, the great king will die in, that year. Halagu Khan wanted proof for what he had predicted. The poor man made an unconvincing effort. The courtiers and the nobles present said that going to Baghdad was quite opportune and expedient.

Then Hulagu asked Khwajah Nasir al-Din to be brought and spoke with him. With a misgiving that he was being tested, the Khwajah opined that none of these predictions would come true. Asked further about the proposed undertaking, the Khwajah said that Hulagu Khan will take the place of the caliph. Husim al-Din was called to debate with the Khwajah.

The Khwajah said that according to the consensus of adherents of Islam many of the major Companions attained martyrdom and it did not cause any evil consequence. If it is claimed that the Abbasids' is a special case, one may recall Tahir who came from Khorasan under orders of al-Ma'mun and killed his brother, Muhammad al Amin. Also al-Mutawakkil was killed by his son in league with the commanders. Likewise al-Muntasir and al-Mu'tazz were murdered by their commanders and slaves. In the same way several other caliphs had been killed by someone or oilier and yet no evil consequence had resulted." [^58]

Another narration similar to the above has come down from Ibn al-Tiqtaqa, although in it the precedents cited by the Khwajah are those of Ali ibn Abi Talib (A) and al-Husayn ibn Ali (A). [^59]

Minhaj Siraj, too, has reported the incident without mentioning any answer to the astrologer's threats to Hulagu Khan in the event of his killing the caliph. He merely cites the statements of Badr al-Din Lu' Lu', king of Mosul, who with other unbelievers told Hulagu that if the caliph remained alive, all the Muslims amongst the soldiers as well as other people would set out to rescue the caliph and kill Hulagu Khan. [^60] Actually, such a consultation - even if it had occurred, with the Khwajah giving his opinion - came at a time when Hulagu Khan had already made up his mind, to the extent that he was not prepared to pay heed to Husam al-Din, who was appointed by his brother as his aid-decamp to determine the propitious times of mounting and dismounting.'

Even if it is assumed to be true, it cannot be taken as any evidence that the Khwajah incited Hulagu Khan to attack Baghdad. This is so especially because the Khwajah had a misgiving of being tested in the process, which in itself represented a great risk for himself. After all, subsequently, Husam al-Din was executed for his voicing ominous predictions which turned out to be untrue. [^61] Hulagu Khan, however, evidenced a measure of caution when he ordered that "the caliph be wrapped up in a cloth and his blessed body be kicked until he died."

[^62] Dr. Ha'iri has commented on the foregoing report. Apart from the points already mentioned, he points out that: (1) the Mongol khan had been assigned the execution of this task by his brother; (2) a philosopher like the Khwajah could not have confirmed such superstitious beliefs;(3) according to Rashid al-Din's report Hulagu did not want to hear any words of opposition; and (4) the Khwajah's opinion that nothing other than Hulagu's succeeding the caliph would be the outcome' of the latter's move was an undeniable reality.

Dr. Hairi further remarks that the aforementioned anecdote subsequently became a basis for the accusation against the Khwajah. Yet,the real reason for it was the prevalence of sectarian bias. He cites Wassaf, which after quoting Rashid al-Din's report adds that after the Khwajah's reply, Hulagu proceeded with a strengthened determination and a calm heart' with the conquest of Baghdad. [^63] This additional assessment provided Ibn Taymiyyah and others with a ground for making an unwarranted inference and accusation, such as had not been made by any historian of insight from among those whose names have been mentioned above.