MOḤAMMADb. ʿABD-ALLAH b. ṬĀHER, Abu’l -ʿAbbās (b. 209/824-25, d. 253/ 867), high official in Iraq and the central lands of the caliphate. He was one of several sons of ʿAbd-Allāh b. Ṭāher Ḏ¨u’l-Yaminayn, governor of Khorasan for the ʿAbbasids 213-30/828-45 (see ʿABD-ALLṟĀH B. ṬĀHER Ḏ¨U’L-YAMÚINAYN), and spent his early years in Khorasan as one of his father’s aides. Then he was summoned westwards by the caliph al-Motwakkel to take over the governorship and šorṭa (command of the guard) in Baghdad, together with the governorships of the Sawād of Iraq and the Persian province of Fārs. In this way he succeeded to the positions of power already held by the Taherids in Iraq and the west; since his predecessor for over 20 years in the governorship of Baghdad had been his kinsman, Esḥāq b. Ebrāhim b. al-Ḥosayn (d. 235/849-50). At the accession of al-Mostaʿin in 248/862, he was given the further office of the governorship of the Ḥaramayn, Mecca and Medina. In Iraq, Moḥammad b. ʿAbd-Allāh was active in military and political events. In 251/865 he sent an army against Kufa to suppress the revolt there of the al-HÂosayn b. Moḥammad b. Ḥamza (a descendant of HÂosayn, the 3rd Shiʿite Emām). In this same year he organized the defense of Baghdad for al-Mostaʿin against the Turkish soldiery supporting the cause of his cousin al-Moʿtazz; but he later made peace with Abu Aḥmad al-Movaffaq and allowed the abdication of al-Mostaʿin and succession of al-Moʿtazz. In the latter’s reign he continued to be influential until his death.
Moḥammad b. ʿAbd-Allāh was further notable as a great patron of scholarship and, like many other members of the Taherid family, a considerable littérateur and scholar himself. One of his many offices Baghdad was that of ḥājeb or chamberlain at the caliphal court, and it was there that he gathered around himself a circle of talented authors and poets. One of his protégés was the famous singer Aḥmad b. Yaḥyā al-Makki, called Ẓonayn or Zonayn (d. 250/864), who wrote for Moḥammad b. ʿAbd-Allāh a Ketāb mojarrad fi’l-aḡāni (“Choice book of songs”). There are at least two accounts of disputations in his presence on grammar and philology, in which the protagonists were Ṯòaʿlab, representing the Kufan school, and al-Mobarrad, representing the Basran one. He was himself a poet of talent, whose verses are quoted by such authorities as Šābušti, Ṣafadi, and Ebn Šāker al-Kotobi. He related ḥadiṯ, and he considered himself as an authority on correct style and elegant language.
Primary sources: Ṣafadi, al-Wāfi bi’l-wafāyat III, ed. S. Dedering, Damascus, 1953, pp. 304-05, no. 1346.
Kotobi, Fawāt al-wafayāt, ed. M.M. ʿAbd-al-Ḥamid, Cairo, 1951, II, pp. 449-50, no. 425.
Ebn Ṭāher’s political activities must largely be pieced together from scattered references: Yaʿqubi, Ta’riḵ II, pp. 596, 602, 608-609.
ʿArib, Ṣelat Tāriḵ al-Ṭabari, Leiden, 1897, p. 38. Masʿudi, Moruj VII, pp. 347-49, 384ff.
Ebn al-Aṯ¨ir VII, p. 43. Šābušti, Ketāb al-deyārāt, ed. G. ʿAwwād, Baghdad, 1386/1966, pp. 38, 122, 126.
Secondary sources: C.E. Bosworth, “The Ṭāhirids and Arabic culture,” Journal of Semitic Studies, 14, 1969, pp. 46, 68-69.
G. Rothstein, “Zu aš-Šābušti’s Bericht über die Ṭāhiriden,” Orientalische Studien zu Theodor Nöldeke gewidmet, Giessen, 1906, I, pp. 165-68.
G. Le Strange, Baghdad during the Abbasid Caliphate, Oxford, 1924, pp. 311-13.
(C. Edmund Bosworth)
Originally Published: July 20, 2002
Last Updated: July 20, 2002