By Patricia Crone
Slave squaddies are a distinctively Muslim phenomenon. notwithstanding almost unknown within the non-Muslim international, they've been a relentless and pervasive characteristic of the Muslim center East from the 9th century advert into smooth instances. Why did Muslim rulers decide to position army and political energy within the arms of imported slaves? it's this question which Dr Crone seeks to respond to. focusing on the interval from the increase of the Umayyads to the dissolution of the 'Abbasid empire (roughly advert 650-850), she files the implications of the fusion among faith and politics in Islam, which she sees as an important forging attribute of the Muslim social constitution and kingdom. basically addressed to experts and complex scholars of Arabic and Islamic heritage, the e-book also will entice comparative historians and social anthropologists.
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Extra info for Slaves on Horses: The Evolution of the Islamic Polity
It was in the nature of provincial power that competition for office was highly centripetal: all the competitors were, so to speak, trying to crash the same gate. And it was in the nature of metropolitan rule that the caliphs could not regulate the competition. There are of course always many more competitors than there are spoils, but usually the authorities see to it that hurdles of one kind or another eliminate a sufficient number of candidates on the way. The unwritten rules of kinship and sharaf had had precisely this function under the Sufyanids, but these were now obsolete.
163 In the sparsely inhabited and uniformly impoverished desert social stratification remained trivial. Tribal nobility, sharafi conferred a prestige as elusive as that of the 'good family' among the bourgeoisie; an acquired status,164 it entailed no formal privileges or bans on intermarriage, and its occupants collected no taxes, transmitted no orders and had no tribal units to command. 166 It is true, of course, that warfare might increase their authority dramatically ; l6? but just as there were few endogenous resources for the chief to work on, so also there was no erosion of kinship ties:168 it is precisely because there were so few resources to fight for that warfare in Arabia never came near the ferocity of the wars between the tribes in Chingiz's Mongolia.
197 But in return the Arabs found it extremely hard to organize themselves. Their religious aegis could provide them with a rationale for a continuing political authority when the days of the messiah were over, just as the tribal armies furnished the material for a continuing Arab state when the days of the conquests were over; but for the shape of the conquest society neither the Judaic nor the Arab tradition had much to offer. 198 But the Arabs had to fight one civil war to devise an organization, another to maintain it, and a third to prove it obsolete, all within some eighty years.
Slaves on Horses: The Evolution of the Islamic Polity by Patricia Crone