Ikhshidid dynasty

The Ikhshidid dynasty (Arabic: الإخشيديون‎, romanizedal-Ikhshīdīyyūn) was a mamluk dynasty who ruled Egypt from 935 to 969.[1] Muhammad ibn Tughj al-Ikhshid, a Turkic[2][3][4] mamluk soldier, was appointed governor by the Abbasid Caliph.[5] The dynasty carried the Arabic title "Wāli" reflecting their position as governors on behalf of the Abbasids. The Ikhshidids came to an end when the Fatimid army conquered Fustat in 969.[6]

The creation of the Ikhshidid state was part of the wider disintegration and decentralisation of the Abbasids after the Anarchy at Samarra, whereupon government became more decentralised. The founder, Muhammad ibn Tughj al-Ikhshid, possessed some form of military power[7] and was on friendly relations with Mu'nis al-Muzaffar, a powerful military leader. Before he was appointed to Fustat he held the post of governor of Damascus. He was first appointed to the post of Governor of Egypt in 933 but did not enter it during the first stint.[8] In 935 he was appointed a second time to the governorship whilst the country was in a state of war with multiple factions. He launched a campaign to conquer Egypt by land and sea, the naval forces taking Tinnis and able to outflank Ahmad ibn Kayghalagh, the main opponent, forcing his retreat and facilitating ibn Tughj's subsequent entry to Fustat in August.[9] The Fatimids were a major threat at the time and considerable effort was put into repelling them, culminating in their defeat by Ubayd Allah, ibn Tughj's brother, by November 936.[10] There was remarkable stability in the early years, with an absence of economic chaos and Bedouin raids, coupled with prohibition of looting, which helped pacify Egypt. Ibn Tughj sought the honorific title (laqab) of Al-Ikhshīd, which means "King of the Farghanians", from the Abbasids and official designation arrived in July 939.[11]

Muhammad ibn Ra'iq took over Syria in 939, which threatened Egypt. Enraged, ibn Tughj threatened to recognise the Fatimids, the Abbasids' enemy as the Abbasid caliph did not formally declare for ibn Tughj, the de jure governor. Nonetheless, his simple goals resulted in mainly defensive actions and eventually came to terms with ibn Ra'iq where ibn Tughj would continue to have Egypt and the same for ibn Ra'iq in Syria, partitioned along Ramla-Tiberias.[12] In 944 ibn Tughj was awarded the governorships of Egypt, Syria and Hijaz for 30 years to his family, and these posts would past to his son, Abu'l-Qasim.[13] Earlier in 942 he began striking coins in his own name, and the changes of power in Baghdad meant less central authority. In 945 he defeated Sayf al-Dawla, another adversary who took over Damascus,[14] which resulted in a truce until his death in 946. Abu'l-Qasim inherited the conflict with Sayf al-Dawla and fought him at Damascus, and al-Dawla soon occupied Aleppo in 947. There was a simultaneous revolt by Ghabun, governor of Middle Egypt who managed to occupy Fustat before his death in the same year. Nonetheless, Kafur's continuation of the appeasement policy managed to negotiate a settlement between the Ikhshidids and the Hamdanids where Damascus became Egyptian again and the tribute to the Hamdanids stopped, with borders largely in line with status quo ante bellum.[15] This peace practically settled the Ikhshidid borders and left the Fatimids, again as the main threat, with the Byzantines now Hamdanid responsibility. Kafur wielded real authority following ibn Tughj's death in 946 and was highly regarded among contemporaries.[16]

Nubian incursions occurred in 950 and a more serious invasion took place in 965, when Aswan was pillaged. This coincided with the famine of 963-968 while Berbers, Bedouins and Qarmatians all took advantage of the weakened state.[17] In 966 Kafur took over after Abu'l-Hasan's death, which furthered increased uncertainty due to his status as a eunuch. Nonetheless he received the title 'Ustādh,' meaning "master," from Baghdad, which gave him some legitimacy. Ibn Killis, Kafur's vizier, was arrested following Kafur's death in 968 and following his release traveled to Fatimid Ifriqiya and provided vital information to them.[18] In 934 a Fatimid invasion led by the eunuch Raydan managed to capture Alexandria but was repulsed.[19] Only a later attempt by the Fatimid general Jawhar al-Siqillimanaged to conquer Egypt in 969. Ubayd Allah, brother of Muhammad ibn Tughj, held out in Syria until March 970, when he was defeated and taken prisoner by Ja'far ibn Fallah, signalling the end of the Ikhshidid dynasty as a ruling power.

Like the Fatimids after them, the Ikhshidids made use of Black slave troops.[20] The practice began with the Tulunids in 870 AD where the Africans were used as infantrymen, which was continued by the Ikhshidids due to financial reasons, as they were cheaper than Turkish military slaves which were used as cavalry.[21]

Only gold coins are common, with coppers being extremely rare. Dinars were mainly struck at Misr (Fustat) and Filastin (al-Ramla), and dirhams were usually struck at Filastin, and less often at Tabariya, Dimashq, and Hims. Other mints for dirhams are quite rare. Dinars from Misr are often well struck, while the Filastin dinars are more crude. Dirhams are usually crudely struck and often are illegible on half of the coin.[22]