21. The true character and different kinds of royal authority.



Royal 186 authority is an institution that is natural to mankind. We have explained before 187 that human beings cannot live and exist except through social organization and co­operation for the purpose of obtaining their food and (other) necessities of life. When they have organized, necessity requires that they deal with each other and (thus) satisfy (their) needs. Each one will stretch out his hand for whatever he needs and (try simply to) take it,188 since injustice and aggressiveness are in the animal nature. The others, in turn, will try to prevent him from taking it, motivated by wrathfulness 189 and spite and the strong human reaction when (one's own property is menaced). This causes dissension. (Dissension) leads to hostilities, and hostilities lead to trouble and bloodshed and loss of life, which (in turn) lead to the destruction of the (human) species. Now, (the human species) is one of the things the Creator has especially (told us) too preserve.

People, thus, cannot persist in a state of anarchy and without a ruler who keeps them apart. Therefore, they need a person to restrain them. He is their ruler. As is required by human nature, he must be a forceful ruler, one who (actually) exercises authority. In this connection, group feeling is absolutely necessary, for as we have stated before,190 aggressive and defensive enterprises can succeed only with the help of group feeling. As one can see, royal authority of this kind is a noble institution, toward which all claims are directed, and (one) that needs to be defended. Nothing of the sort can materialize except with the help of group feelings, as has been mentioned before.

Group feelings differ. Each group feeling exercises its own authority and superiority over the people and family adhering to it. Not every group feeling has royal authority. Royal authority, in reality, belongs only to those who dominate subjects, collect taxes, send out (military) expeditions,191 protect the frontier regions, and have no one over them who is stronger than they. This is generally accepted as the real meaning of royal authority.

There are people whose group feeling falls short of accomplishing (one or another of these things which constitute) part of (real royal authority), such as protecting the frontier regions, or collecting taxes, or sending out (military) expeditions. Such royal authority is defective and not royal authority in the real meaning of the term. This was the case with many of the Berber rulers of the Aghlabid dynasty in al-Qayrawan, and with the non-Arab (Persian) rulers at the beginning of the 'Abbasid dynasty.

Then, there are people whose group feeling is not strong enough to gain control over all the other group feelings or to stop everyone, so that there exists an authority superior to theirs. Their royal authority is also defective, and not royal authority in the real meaning of the term. It is exercised, for instance, by provincial amirs and regional chieftains who are all under one dynasty. This situation is often found in far­flung dynasties. I mean that there are rulers of provincial and remote regions who rule their own people but also obey the central power of the dynasty. Such was the relationship of the Sinhajah with the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimids); of the Zanatah with the (Spanish) Umayyads at one time and with the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimids) at another; of the non-Arab (Persian) rulers with the 'Abbasids; of the Berber amirs and rulers with the European Christians (in the Maghrib) prior to Islam; and of the rulers of the (old) Persian successor states with Alexander and his Greeks.

There are many such (examples), as, upon examination, will be found to be so. God "exercises forceful domination over His servants." 192