International Journal of Middle East Studies


A Reexamination of Three Current Explanations for al-Maʾmun's Introduction of the Mina

John A. Nawasa1

a1 Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of History, University of Utrecht, Kromme Nieuwegracht 66, 3512 HL Utrecht, The Netherlands.

The seventh Abbasid caliph Abd Allah al-Maʾmun (r. 813–833) was noted for the breadth of his intellectual horizons, and historians often associate him with the Golden Age of Islam. This image of glory is tarnished, however, by two particular actions that the caliph took: his declaration (in 827) of a doctrine asserting that the Qurʾan was created and his ordering of a mina an inquisition, that was designed to ensure acquiescence in this doctrine. The mina, an unprecedented event in the history of Islam, was begun by al-Maʾmun just four months before his sudden death in 833 and continued by his two immediate successors, al-Muʾtasim and al-Wathiq. It lasted some sixteen years until it was finally abolished by the tenth Abbasid caliph, al-Mutawakkil.