Tuesday 14 December 2010


"In the first half of the ninth century, Baghdad enjoyed its high noon as the greatest and richest city in the world. In 861 however, the reigning Khalif, Mutawakkil, was murdered by Turkish mercenaries, who set up a military dictatorship, which lasted for some 30 years. During this period the empire fell apart, the various dominions and provinces each assuming virtual independence and pursuing its own interests. Baghdad, lately the capital of a vast empire, found its authority limited to Iraq alone.

The works of the contemporary historians of Baghdad are still available. They deeply deplored the degeneracy of the times in which they lived, emphasising particularly the indifference to religion, the increasing materialism, and the laxity of sexual morals. They lamented also the corruption of the officials of the government, and the fact that politicians always seemed to amass large fortunes while they were in office.

The historians commented bitterly on the extraordinary influence of popular singers over young people, resulting in a decline in sexual morality. The ‘pop’ singers of Baghdad accompanied their erotic songs on the lute, an instrument resembling the modern guitar. In the second half of the tenth century, as a result, much obscene sexual language came increasingly into use, such as would not have been tolerated in an earlier age. Several Khalifs issued orders banning ‘pop’ singers from the capital, but within a few years they always returned."

Sir John Glubb, "The Fate Of Empires"

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