The seven years' reign of ar-Radi, son of caliph al-Muqtadir, was but a succession of misfortune. Praised for his piety, he became the mere tool of the chief minister of the day. The authority of the Caliph extended hardly beyond the region of the capital city. After one Vazir had been imprisoned by his enemies, and another had defected in disgrace, ar-Radi, being without resources, fell into the hands of an able but cruel, de facto ruling Minister, Ibn Raik, for whom he created the post of amir al-umara 'Amir of the Amirs', who held so absolutely the reins of government that his name was conjoined with the Caliph's in the public prayers.
Around this period, the Hanbalis, supported by popular sentiment, carried things with a high hand. Forcing their way into private dwellings, they overthrew everything not in strict conformity with their tenets, emptied vessels of wine wherever found, broke in pieces musical instruments, pried into the details of trade and commerce and set up in fact a kind of 'Sunni inquisition'. Thus a professor of the Shi'a creed was killed for performing pilgrimage. A famous doctor also was badly handled for affirming some various readings of the Qur'an, of no apparent moment in themselves; and, notwithstanding that he submitted written recantation, had to flee Baghdad for fear of death.
Ar-Radi is commonly spoken of as the last of the real Caliphs: the last to deliver orations at the Friday service, to hold assemblies to discuss with philosophers and discuss the questions of the day, or to take counsel on the affairs of State; the last to distribute largess among the needy, or to interpose to temper the severity of cruel officers.
And yet, with all this he was the mere dependent of another. Beyond the Wasir's shadow, there was little left at home. And abroad, even less: the rich East was gone, Berber Africa and Egypt also, with great part of Syria and Mesopotamia; Mosul independent; peninsular Arabia held by Carmathians and native chieftains; even Basra and Wasit rose in revolt. The advance of the 'Greeks' (Byzantine Empire) was stayed only by the brave Hamdanid prince who was deservedly styled Sayf al-Daula 'Sword of the Nation'.