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date: 20 May 2018

Summary and Keywords

Governance in Islamic history has taken many different forms. The formative period saw most innovative deployment of the Arab tribal norms under the guidance of Islamic norms and the pressure of the rapid expansion. After the conquests, the ruling elite augmented their Arab tribal form of governance with numerous institutions and practices from the surrounding empires, particularly the Persian empire. The Umayyads ruled as Arab chiefs, whereas the Abbasids ruled as Persian emperors. Local influences further asserted themselves in governance after the Abbasids weakened and as Islamization took root. After the fragmentation of the Abbasid empire by the ah 4th century/10th century ce, a distinctively Islamic society emerged whose regional rulers upheld its law and institutions such as land-grants (iqṭāʿ), taxation (kharāj and jizya), education (legal madhhab, jāmiʿ and madrasah), and judiciary (qaḍāh). A triangle of governmental authority was established, with the caliph as the source of legitimacy, symbol of community unity, and leader of religious rites; the sultan as the territorial king who maintained the army and monopoly over violence; and the scholars (ulama’) as socioreligious leaders of their respective communities. The caliph or the sultan appointed the local qāḍīs from among the ulama’, who served not only as judges and mediators but also as moral guides and administers of endowments and jurisconsults and counselors, and thus played a key role in the self-governance of classical Islamic societies.

Keywords: Islam, political thought, government, caliphate, jizya

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