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Modern Baghdad, as in the past, is divided into two parts by the Tigris River; the eastern part is called al-Risafa and the western part is called alKarkh. Al-Risafa is more historic and contains many of the historical monuments, popular markets, and al-Thawra City. Al-Karkh is more modern, with wealthy districts such as al-Mansur and alYarmuk, modern hotels, the international airport, government buildings, and many palaces housing high-ranking government officials. Baghdad and its environs are home to a number of Jewish shrines, notably the reputed tomb of Joshua and those of Ezra and Ezekiel.

In the s, and until it fell to the invading U. The United States and the Allied Forces bombed Iraq, including Baghdad, relentlessly for forty-three days in the aftermath of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in The bombing, in the words of a United Nations report, pushed Iraq into a preindustrial age. The Iraqi government repaired and restored some of the destroyed and damaged facilities, but it was unable to restore them to prewar levels due to the sanctions that limited Iraq's ability to sell its oil and import spare parts.

Electricity, clean water, medicine, and food were in short supply, and many children, women, and elderly people died. United Nations documents reported that more than one million Iraqis including Baghdadis died as a result of the sanctions. On 9 April Baghdad surrendered to the U. During the invasion, Baghdad was relentlessly attacked by the U. Extensive looting and some burning took place in the aftermath of the fall of Baghdad, which lasted for more than a week. The looting took place in front of the occupying American forces, which did not intervene until later. Baghdad suffered from shortages in electricity, clean water, and other essential supplies.

The city also lacked security and became a major center for the resistance against the occupying U. Ellis, William. Hitti, Philip K. Capital Cities of Arab Islam. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, Mackey, Sandra. New York : W. Norton, Al-qazzaz, Ayad " Baghdad. Al-qazzaz, Ayad "Baghdad.

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Indeed it is paradise on earth. However, this metropolis is not to be confused erroneously with the ancient towns of Babylon, Seleucia, and Ctesiphon. Following the turbulence and social upheavals of the Abbasid assumption of power from the Umayyads, al-Mansur sought to move his capital to a more secure location in the East. The Rawandiyya uprising of c. In accordance with the information gathered from scouts, local inhabitants, and personal observation, the minor village of Baghdad was selected as an ideal location for the future Abbasid capital.

The area had much to recommend itself in terms of its central location, fertile lands, temperate climate , ease of receiving provisions via the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the convening of caravan routes nearby, and the natural defenses provided by the surrounding canals. Construction of the imperial capital began in the year c. Over one hundred thousand architects, artisans, and laborers from across the empire were employed in the creation of this city, at tremendous financial expense, over a period of four years.

An alternative name for Baghdad, al-Madina al-Mudawwara, or the Round City, reflects the circular layout of al-Mansur's initial foundation. Baghdad was designed as a series of concentric rings, with the caliphal palace, known as Bab al-Dhahab, or the Golden Gate , and the attached grand congregational mosque located in the center, along with separate structures for the commander of the guard and the chief of police.

The caliph was thereby equidistant from all points within the city, as well as surrounded by its considerable fortifications. Only the residences of his younger children, those of his servants and slaves, and various government offices shared access onto this inner circle.

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Four walkways radiated outward from the central courtyard in the directions of northeast, southeast, southwest, and northwest, passing through the inner circle of surrounding structures; then an enclosure wall followed by an interval of space; then a residential area followed by another interval; then a large wall of outer defense, a third interval, a second smaller wall; and finally a deep, wide moat surrounding the entire complex. The Round City initially retained an austere administrative and military character.

On the city's outskirts, large land grants at varying distances from the capital were given to members of the Abbasid family, the army, and chiefs of the government agencies. In addition to the initial settlers, comprised of those loyal to the caliph and his new regime, large numbers of laborers, artisans, and merchants migrated to Baghdad in pursuit of the largesse showered upon those necessary to sustain the new imperial capital. What quickly grew to be a thriving market within the walls of the Round City was ultimately perceived to be a security threat and, in c.

There, the commercial activities of the Abbasid capital flourished, and Baghdad rapidly developed into an economically vibrant metropolis. The main markets of Baghdad were subdivided according to their various specialties which included food, fruit, flowers, textiles, clothes, booksellers, goldsmiths, cobblers, reedweavers, soapmakers, and moneychangers that served the populace and government officials.

Baghdad exported textiles and items made of cotton and silk, glazed-ware, oils, swords, leather, and paper, to mention only a few, through both local and international trade. The muhtasib, a government-appointed regulator, ensured the fair practices of the marketplace as well as supervised the public works of proliferating mosques and bathhouses. The opulence and luxury of court life in Baghdad were legendary, and reflected the vast political and economic power of the Abbasid Empire.

The magnanimity of the Abbasid caliphs and the well-placed inhabitants of Baghdad also extended into encouraging intellectual pursuits, thereby establishing the Abbasid capital as one of the world's most sophisticated and prestigious centers of learning.

Renowned Islamic scholars of diverse geographical and ethnic origins held sessions in the mosques and colleges of cosmopolitan Baghdad, attracting innumerable seekers of legal, philological, and spiritual knowledge. Bookshops and the private homes of individual scholars and high government officials, such as the wazir, also served as venues for intellectual discussion and debate. Inns located near the mosques provided lodging to those who had devoted themselves to scholarly pursuits, and accommodations were later made available within the institutions of the madrasa legal college and ribat Sufi establishment , both of which also offered stipends to affiliated students.

Scientific research in the fields of astronomy, mathematics, medicine, optics, engineering, botany, and pharmacology also prospered within the Abbasid capital. Alongside experimentation and exploration, translation of Hellenic, Indic, and Persian texts received patronage from dignitaries, physicians, and scientists in response to the professional and intellectual demands of an expanding Islamic society.

Public libraries, both attached to mosques and as separate institutions, contributed further to the dissemination of knowledge among the populace, while the establishment of hospitals as charitable endowments throughout the city ensured the provision of free medical care to anyone who so required it. Mobile clinics were even dispatched to remote villages on a regular basis, with the aims of offering comprehensive health coverage. The political fragmentation of the sprawling Abbasid Empire ultimately contributed to a decline in the revenues and hence in the general fortunes of the capital in Baghdad.

Nevertheless, Baghdad retained its prestige as the center of the Islamic caliphate and a symbol of Muslim cultural, material, and scholarly achievement. It was therefore with great consternation that news was received of the Mongols's savage invasion and ravaging of the city in c. Hundreds of thousands of Baghdad's inhabitants, including the caliph and his family, leading personalities, and scholars were mercilessly put to death, and the great scientific and literary treasures of Baghdad were burned or drowned in the waters of the Tigris.

Thereafter, Baghdad was transformed into a provincial center within the Mongol Empire, under the control of the Ilkhanids until c. The Karakoyunlu Turkomans and the Akkoyunlu Turkomans ruled Baghdad successively, until the city was conquered by Shah Ismail in c. A subsequent Perso-Ottoman struggle for Baghdad and its symbolic sites resulted in Sultan Sulayman the Magnificent's conquest of the city in c. Baghdad remained the capital of the region's Ottoman province for nearly three centuries, and was occupied by the British in March , during the course of World War I.


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In , it became the seat of Faysal b. Husayn's kingdom under British Mandate and remained the capital of Iraq throughout its successive developments into an independent constitutional monarchy , federated Hashimite monarchy , and then republic Lassner, Jacob. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, Lunde, Paul.

Islam: Faith, Culture, History. New York : DK Publishing, Makdisi, George.

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Religion, Law and Learning in Classical Islam. Brookfield, Vt. Edited by Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu. Sayyad, Nezar, al-. New York : Greenwood Press, Tabari, Muhammad al-. Abbasid Authority Affirmed. Translated by Jane Dammen McAuliffe. Wheatley, Paul. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, The city's principal economic activity is oil refining. Most of Iraq's other industries are in Baghdad, such as the making of carpets, leather, textiles, cement, and tobacco products and the distilling of arrack, a liquor.

Military industries are also located there. Baghdad has several museums, numerous archaeological sites, and three universities, the largest of which is the Univ. Baghdad was founded on the west bank of the Tigris by the Abbasid caliph Mansur , who made it his capital. Its commercial position became generally unrivaled and under the caliph Harun ar-Rashid , Baghdad rose to become one of the greatest cities of Islam. It was the home of many eminent scholars, artists, and poets, who enjoyed the city's wealth and culture.

The period of its utmost glory is reflected in the Thousand and One Nights , in which many of the tales are set in Baghdad.

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After the death of Harun the seat of the caliph was moved to Samarra; when the caliphate was returned later in the century, Baghdad had already been weakened by internal struggles. In the Mongols sacked the city and destroyed nearly all of its splendor.


It revived but was captured again by Timur and by the Persians Baghdad was repeatedly contested by Persians and Turks until , when it became part of the Ottoman Empire. By that time the city's population had dwindled from a peak of c. Baghdad was captured by the British in , and in it became the capital of the newly constituted kingdom of Iraq.

In the early s the majority of Baghdad's large Jewish population, who were present there since the city's founding, left on organized flights to Israel.

The city was the scene of a coup in that overthrew the monarchy and established the Iraqi republic. As a result of the growing Iraqi oil industry, Baghdad experienced rapid economic and population growth.

Baghdad: Historical Sketch and Monuments by Baqir, Taha: - GreatBookPrices

With the onset of the Iran-Iraq War —88 , however, Baghdad became a target for Iranian attacks; its economic development stagnated as the oil industry was affected by the war. In Aug. A large portion of the city's infrastructure and military industrial capacity was destroyed, and residents lost homes, electrical power, and water services. Great amounts of foreign aid , specifically food and medical supplies, were needed to sustain the population.

In the wake of the U. Sectarian fighting between Shiites and Sunnis also scarred the city, leading to more religiously homogeneous neighborhoods. Although the U. See works by F.

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See also R. Levy, A Baghdad Chronicle , repr. Owles, Salad Days in Baghdad Center of the ancient Baghdad Caliphate, Baghdad is the capital of modern Iraq, and the city of residence for the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch.