Ahmad Ibn Tulun, the founder of the Tulunid Dynasty
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On 23rd of the Islamic month of Ramadhan in 220 AH, the founder of the short-lived Tulunid Dynasty of Egypt and later Syria, Ahmad Ibn Tulun, was born in Baghdad. His father, Tulun, was a Turkic slave, sent as part of tribute from the governor of Bukhara to the Abbasid caliph, Ma'mun. The Abbasids used to recruit Turkic slaves to serve as military officers. Ahmad Ibn Tulun received his military training in Samarra, the new Abbasid capital, where he was appointed commander of the special forces of the tyrannical caliph, Mutawakkil.
After serving in military campaigns against the Byzantine Empire in Tarsus, he gained the favour of the caliph, Musta'in, and in the reign of the next caliph, Mu'taz, he was sent as governor to Egypt. Since, the existing capital of Egypt, al-Fustat, was too small to accommodate his armies, he founded a new city nearby called Madinat-al-Qatta'i (Quartered City), to serve as his capital.
It was laid out in the style of grand cities of Iran, including a large public square, a palace, and a large ceremonial mosque, which was named after Ibn Tulun. This city was razed in 905 AD on the fall of the Tulunid Dynasty, and only the mosque has survived. Ibn Tulun soon asserted his independence from the Baghdad caliphate by minting coins in his name and seizing control of large parts of Syria. He defeated an Abbasid army sent to Egypt against him. He died after 17 years in power, but two decades later, the inefficient rule of his son and grandsons brought about the collapse of the dynasty and re-imposition of Abbasid rule on Egypt.