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The Separation of State and Religion in the Development of Early Islamic Society

  • Ira M. Lapidus (a1)

Islamic studies progress. In recent years a great deal of work has been done on the Umayyad period, on the early history of Shi‘ism, and on the origins of the Muslim schools of law. A broader current of research has yielded numerous studies of the ‘ulamâ’ and their place in Muslim religious and communal life. New historical information and new points of view are gradually modifying received perspectives on Muslim religious movements and on the nature of Muslim religious elites.

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page 363 note 1 This paper has gone through several stages of preparation, in the course of which it has been much improved by the generous help of friends and colleagues. Professors Michael Dols and Franz Rosenthal have read the paper with great care, correcting points of detail and commenting on the larger implications and problems of the essay. Professor Wilfred Madelung has been especially helpful in correcting errors of fact and interpretation, and has offered me an important correction of perspective, putting the Hanbalî movement in the context of several parallel developments. Conversations with Dr Hava Lazarus-Yafeh, Richard Bulliet, and Emmanuel Sivan have also helped refine my thinking on this point. Preliminary presentations at Princeton University and at the International Congress of Orientalists have elicited other helpful comments too numerous to mention in detail. I am grateful for this generous assistance, and gratified to be part of a community of scholars willing to share so generously of their time and knowledge. I would also like to thank Lisa Gerrard for her tasteful editorial assistance.

page 364 note 1 For new studies on the period of the early Caliphate, see Shaban, M.A., The ‘Abbâsid Revolution (Cambridge, 1970), and Islamic History A.D. 600–750 (Cambridge, 1971);Omar, F., The Abbasid Caliphate (Baghdad, 1969). For the early history of Shi'ism, see also Cahen, C., ‘Points de vue sux la Révolution ‘Abbâside’, Revue Historique, 230 (1963), 295338;Hodgson, M., ‘How did the Early Shî'a become Sectarian?Journal of the American Oriental Society, 75 113. For the place of the ‘ulamâ’ in the post-'Abbâsid period and the schools of laws, see Bulliet, R., The Patricians of Nishapur (Cambridge, 1973) and my essays, ‘The Early Evolution of Muslim Urban Institutions’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 15 (1973), 2150, and ‘Muslim Cities and Islamic Societies’, Middle Eastern Cities (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1970), pp. 47–76.More general works on the ‘ulamâ’ in Muslim societies now include Keddie, N. (ed.), Scholars, Saints and Sufis (Berkeley and Los Angeles,1972);Baer, G. (ed.), The ‘Ulamâ’ in Modern History (Jerusalem, 1971).

page 365 note 1 Gibb, H. A. R., ‘Constitutional Organization’, in Law in the Middle East, Khadduri, M. and Liebesney, H. (eds.) (Washington, 1955), pp. 327.

page 367 note 1 Wellhausen, J., The Arab Kingdom and Its Fall (Calcutta, 1927), pp. 397. ff, and Shaban, M. A., The ‘Abbâsid Revolution (Cambridge, 1970).

page 368 note 1 In the long run, however, ithnâ 'asharî Shi'ites would, by accepting the doctrine of the hidden Imâm, rupture the traditional conception by allowing a new religious community to develop without real concern for the union of religious and political authority.

page 369 note 1 See Schacht, J., Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence (Oxford, 1953).

page 370 note 1 Gabrieli, , Al-Ma'mûn e gli 'Alîdi (Leipzig, 1929);Sourdel, D., ‘La politique religieuse du Calife ‘Abbâside al Ma'mûn’, Revue d'Études Islamiques, 30 (1962), 2748.

page 374 note 1 The fullest account of the movements of Khâlid and Sahl is found in al-Tabarî, Ta'rîkh al-rûsul wal-mulûk, Husayniyya edition, X, 241–3, 248–9.Abbreviated accounts with occasional supplementary detail may be found in Athîr, Ibn al, al-Kâmil fîl- Ta'rîkh Cairo, 1357 A.H.), V, 182–3, 191;Uyûn al-Hadâ'iq fî Akhbâr al-Haqâ'iq, de Goeje, M. J. and de Jong, P., eds. (Leiden, 1869), pp. 352–3 – an account that stresses the connections between the ayyârûn and the army;Miskawayh, Tajârib al-Umum, de Goeje, M. J. and de Jong, P., eds. (Leiden, 1869), pp. 433–5, 440–1;Kathîr, Ibn, al-Bidâya wal-nihâya (Cairo), x, 248;al-Mas'ûdî, , Murûj al-Dhahab (Cairo, 1958), IV, 29, points out that the volunteers, the mutawwi'a, were the chiefs of the common people and of their followers. Al-Ya'qûdî says that al-Ma'mûn ‘also gave amnesty to Sahl b. Salâma al-Mutawwi'î who used to clothe himself in a woollen garment, drape a copy of the Qur'ân about his neck, and urge the people to depose al-Ma'mûn; but no one ever paid any attention to him’. Or so al-Ya'qûbî might have wished. See Millward, W., ‘The Adaptation of Men to Their Time: An Historical Essay by al-Ya'qûbî’, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 84 (1964), 329–44.For events in general, the main source is al-Tabarî, Ta'rîkh, years 198–204; Miskawayh gives valuable details about the ‘Alid—'Abbâsid feud, pp. 424–5. See also Ibn al Athîr and ‘Uyiûn al-Hadâ'iq for the same years. Muttalib had a long history of changes of political heart. He was, as al-Ma'mûn is reputed to have remarked, the first and the last to be involved in every political dispute. As governor of Mosul in 809–10 Muttalib supported al-Ma'mûn rather than al-Amîn, who had appointed him. Between 813 and 816 he held two short terms as governor of Egypt, during the second of which he was driven from the country by the outbreak of civil war. In Baghdad he declared support for Sahl although this proved to be only a holding action for al-Ma'mûn, but he would soon oppose al-Ma'mûn by temporarily supporting the anti-Caliph Ibrâhîm ibn al-Mahdî before returning once again to his original allegiance. See al-Kindî, , al-Wulât wal-Qudât (Leiden, 1912), pp. 152–61;al-Azdî, , Ta'rîkh Mawsil (Cairo, 1967), pp. 325, 342;Tayfûr, Ibn, Ta'rîkh Baghdâd (Baghdad, 1968), p. 32;Gabrieli, Al-Ma'mûn e gli 'Alîdi, p.49;Taghrîbirdî, Ibn, al-Nujûm at-Zâhira (Cairo), II, 157, 162–3.

page 375 note 1 al-Baghdâdî, Al-khatîb, Ta'rîkh Baghdâd (Beirut, 1966), XII, 350–1.

page 376 note 1 For Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Ahmad ibn Nasr, see below.

page 376 note 2 See the Encyclopaedia of Islam, new edition, III, 487. The Hanbalî school holds that al-amr bil-ma'rûf is a religious duty, but counsels against the use of violence.Batta, Ibn, La Profession de Foi, Laoust, H., ed. (Damascus, 1958), pp. 53–4. Later authors such as al-Mâwardî, al-Ahkham al-Sultâniyya, treat the injunction to command the good as the responsibility of the muhtasib. Al-Ghaza1î gives the religious basis of the obligation in Qur'ân and hadîth. See Bercher, L., ‘L'obligation d'ordonner le bien et d'interdire le mal selon al-Ghazali’, Institut de Belles Lettres Arabes, 18 (1955), 5391, 313–21

page 377 note 1 al-Muqaffa, Ibn’, ‘Risâla fî al-sahâba’, Athâr Ibn al-Muqaffa’ (Beirut, 1966), pp. 348–9. The phrase lâ tâ'a lil-makhlûq fî ma'siyat al-khâliq is often translated ‘No obedience to the creature who disobeys God’, but Ibn al-Muqaffa's discussion makes it clear that the moderates interpreted the issue as whether commands contrary to God's law are to be obeyed.

page 377 note 2 For the use of the slogan ‘amal bil-kitâb wal-sunna, see Omar, F., The Abbasid Caliphate (Baghdad, 1969), pp. 86, 87, 95, 137, 159. Omar derives most of his materials from the Akhbâ al-'Abbâs. See also al-Tabarî, de Goeje edition, II, 1931–1989. For Abû Sarâyâ, see al-Athîr, Ibn, Kâmil, 5, 273–4;Uyûn al-Hadâiq, p. 345;Miskawayh, Tajârib, p. 419;van Arendonk, C., Les Débuts de l'Imâmat Zaidite (Leiden, 1960), pp. 96–7. With this tradition in mind, al-Ma'mûn also promised to deal with his subjects according to the Qur'ân and sunna. See al-Jashiyârî, , Kitâb al-wuzarâ' wal-kuttâb (Cairo 1938), p. 279.

page 379 note 1 The fullest treatment and interpretation of al-Ma'mûn's religious policy is Sourdel, ‘La politique religieuse…’ See also Watt, W. M., ‘The Political Attitudes of the Mu'tazilah’, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, n.5. (1963), 3857;van Ess, J., ‘Ibn Kullâb und die Miha’, Oriens, 18–XIX (1967), 92142;Patton, W. M., Ahmad Ibn Hanbal and the Mihna (Leiden, 1897), pp. 52–5;Tayfûr, Ibn, Ta'rikh, Baghdad, pp. 30, 42, 50;Taghrîbirdî, Ibn, al-Nujum, II, 187, 201, 203, 213;al-Tabarî, Ta'rîkh, Husayniyya edition, X, 278–9, 281;al-Mas'ûdî, al-Murûj, IV, 40–1;al-Bayhaqî, , Kitâb al-Mahâsin wal-mâsawî, Schwally, F., ed. (Giessen, 1902), p. 151;al-Murtadâ, Ibn,Die Classen der Mu'taziliten, Diwald-Wilzer, S., ed. (Weisbaden, 1961), pp. 64–5;Miskawayh, Tajârib, p. 463;Uyun al-Hadâ'iq, p. 370.

page 379 note 2 For the mihna in the reign of al-Ma'mûn, see Patton, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, al-Tabarî, Ta'rîkh, Husayniyya edition, X, 284. ff;al-Athîr, Ibn, Kâmil, v, 222–6;Miskawayh,Tajârib, pp. 465. ff,Uyûn al-Hadâ'iq, pp. 376. ff;al-Kindî, p. 451. See also al-khatîb, , Ta'rîkh Baghdâd (Beirut, 1966), V, 177; XII, 349, for a few additional comments about people involved in the mihna.

page 380 note 1 al-Murtadâ, Ibn, Die Klassen der Mu'taziliten, Diwald-Wilzer, S., ed. (Wiesbaden, 1961), p. 124. Al-Jahîz reports that the mobs that fought for al-Amîn against al-Ma'mûn in 813 were anti-Mu'tazilite. This may be an anachronism.See Sourdel, ‘La politique religieuse… ’, p. 32.

page 381 note 1 The biographical sources for people involved in the mihna include al-Dhahabi, , TaDhkirat al-Huffâz (Hyderabad, 1955);al-‘Asqalanî, Ibn Hajar, TaDhhîb al-TaDhhîb, 12 vols. (Hyderabad, 1328 A.H.).al-khatîb, Ta'rîkh Baghdâd, 14 vols.;al-‘Imâd, Ibn, shadhart al-Dhahab (Jerusalem, 1350 A.H.), II, 44, 46–8, 56, 64, 68–72, 8, 94–8.Sa'd, Ibn, al-Tabaqât, Sachau, E., ed., 9 vols. (Leiden, 19051921);Taghrîbirdî, Ibn, al-Nujum al-Zâhira, II, 222, 229, 252, 254, 260, 272, 276–7, 303, 306;al-Subkî, , Tabaqât-Shâfi'iyya (Cairo, 1964), II, 162–5;al-Sam'ânî, , al-Ansâb (Hyderabad, 1966), II, 366–7; III, 73–4; v, 392–393;al-Waki', , Akhbâr al-Qudat (Cairo, 19471950), III, 191, 291–2, 272–3, 326. Whenever page numbers have not been listed, the sources maybe consulted alphabetically or by convenient tables of contents.

page 382 note 1 Al-Tabarî, Ta'rîkh, Husayniyya edition, XI, 15–17;de Goeje ed., III, 1343;Ibn Kathîr, al-Biâcya, XI, 303–6;Miskawayh, Tajârib, p. 529;al-Azdî, Ta'rîkh Mawsil, p. 341;Ibn al-Athîr, Kâmil, V, 273–4;Ibn Taghrîdî, al-Nujum II, 259;al-khatîb, Ta'rîkh Baghdâd, v, 173.ff.;Ibn Hajar, TaDhhîb, I, 87.

page 383 note 1 Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed., article Ahmad ibn Hanbal.

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