'Ujayf ibn 'Anbasa

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ʾUjayf ibn ʾAnbasa (died 838) was one of the senior-most military leaders of the Abbasid Caliphate under the caliphs al-Ma'mun and al-Mu'tasim.


Nothing is known of his family, but he was probably of native Khurasani or Transoxianan origin. He appears in the early 9th century as a follower of the rebel governor Rafi ibn al-Layth, but quickly abandoned him along with most of the people of Fergana and Tashkent when Caliph Harun al-Rashid himself campaigned to Khurasan in 808.[1][2] 'Ujayf probably belonged to the same social group as the other eastern Iranian generals who were later employed by al-Mu'tasim in his "Turkish" guard, and who were minor princes or drawn from the landed gentry (dihqans).[3][4]

Under al-Ma'mun (r. 813–833), Ujayf became a distinguished general, campaigning in northern Persia and suppressing the Kharijite revolt of Bilal al-Dibabi in 829.[1] 'Ujayf maintained his position under Mu'tasim, Ma'mun's half-brother and successor, campaigning against the Zutt in southern Iraq in 834, and leading a number of expeditions against the Byzantines in Asia Minor.[1] 'Ujayf was one of the military leaders to receive cantonments for themselves and their troops at Mu'tasim's new capital at Samarra,[5] and he was granted the revenue from the market of the town of Ishtikhan (near Samarkand) as a reward.[1]

In 838, however, during Mu'tasim's great campaign against the Byzantine city of Amorium, 'Ujayf fell out with the caliph over the provisioning of the army;[1] to this were added other perceived slights, and 'Ujayf and his followers began to conspire against the caliph. 'Ujayf was probably a leading member of a powerful group within the Abbasid military establishment that already back in 833 had opposed Mu'tasim's accession, and had favoured his nephew, Ma'mun's son al-Abbas. The agitation then had only subsided after Abbas himself swore allegiance to his uncle, but now a conspiracy was formed to kill Mu'tasim as well as his top Turkish commanders, al-Afshin and Ashinas. The plot was uncovered, however, and the ringleaders were arrested, with 'Ujayf being executed.[1][6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Bosworth (2000), p. 778
  2. ^ Kennedy (1986), p. 183
  3. ^ Gordon (2001), p. 33
  4. ^ Kennedy (1986), p. 182
  5. ^ Gordon (2001), pp. 49, 64
  6. ^ Gordon (2001), pp. 47–50