A Succession Crisis in the Early ‘Abbāsid Caliphate: The Designation of ‘Alid Imām ‘Alī al-Riḍā as Heir Apparent and the Baghdād Opposition
Keywords: ‘Abbāsid Caliphate, ‘Abbāsids, Ma’mūn, ‘Alī b. Mūsā, ‘Alī alRiḍā, Shi‘ism
'Abbāsid caliph Ma'mūn (198-218/813-833), several years after defeating his brother Amīn (193-198/809-813) with whom he had been fighting for some time due to being dismissed by him, brought 'Alī b. Mūsā, the eighth imam of Twelver Shi'a Islām to Marw where he was residing at that time and assigned him as the heir apparent with the title of al-Riḍā and caused a new conflict with this decision. This study is about the process which prompted Ma'mūn to take such a decision and the reaction of 'Abbāsid family and people of Baghdād who were on Amīn's side during the civil war, to this decision. In the article, the comments made about the question why Ma'mūn made such an attempt were reviewed and the most possible motives were discussed. In the light of reports and narratives in Sunnī and Shi'î sources, it was concluded that this event should be considered as the part of a political project which has specific purposes, instead of seeking for a religious motivation in the designation of 'Alī al-Riḍā as heir apparent by Ma'mūn.