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Abul Abbas Saffah, (born 721 C.E - died 754 C.E) was the first Abbasid caliph (750 - 754). Saffah chose to focus on Khurasan, an important military region in eastern Iran. In 743, the death of the Umayyad Caliph Hisham provoked a civil war in the Islamic Empire. Abu al-`Abbas, supported by Shi'as and the residents of Khurasan, led his forces to victory over the Umayyads and ultimately deposed the last Umayyad caliph, Marwan II, in 750. After the victory over the Umayyads, Abul Abbas's short reign was marked with efforts to consolidate and rebuild the Caliphate. His ####supporters were represented in the new government, but apart from his policy toward the Umayyad family, Saffah is widely viewed by historians as having been a mild victor. Jews, Nestorian Christians, and Persians were well-represented in Saffah's government and in succeeding Abbasid administrations. Education was also encouraged, and the first paper mills, staffed by skilled Chinese prisoners captured at the Battle of Talas, were set up in Samarkand. Equally revolutionary was Abu Abbas's reform of the army, which came to include non-Muslims and non-Arabs in sharp contrast to the Umayyads who refused any soldiers of either type. Saffah selected the gifted Abu Muslim as his military commander, an officer who would serve until 755 in the Abbasid army. Saffah died four years after deposing the Umayyads. He appointed his brother Abu Ja'far Mansur and then Isa Ibn Musa as his successors.
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