32. The ranks of royal and governmental authority
and the titles that go with those ranks.
It 433 should be known that, by himself, the ruler is weak, and he carries a heavy load. He must look for help from his fellow men. He needs their help for the necessities of life and for all his other requirements. How much more, then, does he need it to exercise political leadership over his own species, over the creatures and servants of God whom God entrusted to him as subjects. He must defend and protect the community from its enemies. He must enforce restraining laws among the people, in order to prevent mutual hostility and attacks upon property. This includes improving the safety of the roads 434 He must cause the people to act in their own best interests, and he must supervise such general matters involving their livelihood and mutual dealings as foodstuffs and weights and measures, in order to prevent cheating. 435 He must look after the mint, in order to protect the currency used by the people in their mutual dealings, against fraud. 436 He must exercise political leadership and get people to submit to him to the degree he desires and be satisfied, both with his intentions regarding them and with the fact that he alone has all the glory and they have none. This requires an extraordinary measure of psychology. 437 A noble sage has said: "Moving mountains from their places is easier for me than to influence people psychologically. 437a
It is better that such help be sought from persons close to the ruler through common descent, common upbringing, or old attachment to the dynasty. This makes such persons and the ruler work together in the same spirit. God said: "Give me my brother Aaron as helper (wazir) from my family. Give me strength through him and let him participate in my business." 438
The person from whom the ruler seeks help may help him with the sword, or with the pen, or with advice and knowledge, or by keeping the people from crowding upon him and diverting him from the supervision of their affairs. (The ruler may) also entrust the supervision of the whole realm to him and rely upon his competence and ability for the task. Therefore, the help the ruler seeks may be given by one man, or it may be distributed among several individuals.
Each of the different (instruments) through which help may be given has many different subdivisions. "The pen" has such subdivisions, for instance, as "the pen of letters and correspondence," "the pen of diplomas 439 and fiefs," and "the pen of bookkeeping," which means the offices of chief of tax collections and allowances and of minister of the army. "The sword" includes such subdivisions, for instance, as the offices of chief of military operations, chief of police, chief of the postal service, 440 and administration of the border regions.
It should further be known that governmental positions in Islam fell under the caliphate, because the institution of the caliphate was both religious and worldly, as we have mentioned before.441 The religious laws govern all (governmental positions) and apply to each one of them in all its aspects, because the religious law governs all the actions of human beings. Jurists 442 therefore, are concerned with the rank of ruler or sultan and with the conditions under which it is assumed, whether by gaining control over the caliphate 443-this is what is meant by sultan-444 or by the caliph delegating (power) -that is what they mean by wazir, as will be mentioned. (They are also concerned with) the extent of (the ruler's) jurisdiction over legal, financial, and other political matters, which may be either absolute or circumscribed. Furthermore, (they are concerned with the causes) that necessitate (the ruler's) removal, should (such causes) present themselves, and with other things connected with the ruler or sultan. Jurists are likewise concerned with all the positions under the ruler and sultan, such as the wazirate, the tax collector's office, and the administrative functions. 445 Jurists must concern themselves with all these things, because, as we have mentioned before, in Islam the caliphate is an institution of the Muslim religious law, and as such determines the position of the ruler or sultan.
However, when we discuss royal and governmental positions, it will be as something required by the nature of civilization and human existence. It will not be under the aspect of particular religious laws. This, one knows, is not our intention in this book. There is no need to go into details with regard to the religious laws governing these positions. The subject is fully treated in the books on administration (al-Ahkam as-sultaniyah), such as the work (of that title) by Judge Abul-Hasan al-Mawardi and the works of other distinguished jurists. Those who want to know the details should look them up there. If we discuss the caliphal positions and treat them individually, it is only in order to make the distinction between them and the governmental (sultan) positions clear, and not in order to make a thorough study of their legal status. This is not the purpose of our book. Thus, we shall discuss those matters only as the necessary result of the nature of civilization in human existence.
God gives success.
The wazirate is the mother of governmental functions and royal ranks. The name itself simply means "help." Wizarah (wazirate) is derived either from mu'azarah "help," or from wizr "load," as if the wazir were helping the person whom he supports to carry his burdens and charges. Thus, the meaning comes down to no more than "help." 446
We mentioned before, at the beginning of this section,447 that the conditions and activities of the ruler are restricted to four fields:
(1) (His activities) may concern ways and means of protecting the community, such as the supervision of soldiers, armaments,. war operations, and other matters concerned with military protection and aggression. The person in charge is the wazir, as the term was customarily used in the old dynasties in the East, and as it is still used at this time in the West.
(2) Or, they may concern correspondence with persons far away from the ruler in place or in time,448 and the execution of orders concerning persons with whom the ruler has no direct contact. The man in charge is the secretary (katib).
(3) Or, they may concern matters of tax collection and expenditures, and the safe handling of these things in all their aspects. The man in charge is the chief of tax and financial matters. In the contemporary East, he is called the wazir.
(4) Or, they may concern ways to keep petitioners away from the ruler, so that they do not crowd upon him and divert him from his affairs. This task reverts to the doorkeeper (hajib), who guards the door.
The (ruler's) activities do not extend beyond these four fields. Each royal and governmental function belongs to one of them. However, the most important field is the one that requires giving general assistance in connection with everything under the ruler's direct control. This means constant contact with the ruler and participation in all his governmental activities. (All the activities) that concern some particular group of people or some particular department are of lower rank. (Among such activities are) the (military) leadership of a border region, the administration of some special tax, or the supervision of some particular matter, such as surveillance (hisbah) of foodstuffs, or supervision of the mint.449 All these activities are concerned with particular conditions. The persons in charge are, therefore, subordinate to those in general supervision, and the latter outrank them.
It was this way throughout the whole pre-Islamic period. When Islam appeared on the scene and power was vested in the caliph, the forms of royal authority no longer existed, and all its functions disappeared, except for some advisory and consultative ones that were natural and continued to exist because they were unavoidable. The Prophet used to ask the men around him for advice and to consult them on both general and special (private) matters. In addition, he discussed other very special affairs with Abu Bakr. Certain Arabs familiar with the situation in the Persian, Byzantine, and Abyssinian dynasties, called Abu Bakr, therefore, Muhammad's "wazir." The word wazir was not known (originally) among the Muslims, because the simplicity of Islam had done away with royal ranks. The same relationship (as that between Muhammad and Abu Bakr) existed between 'Umar and Abu Bakr, and between 'Ali and 'Umar, and 'Uthmin and 'Umar.
No specific ranks existed among the (early Muslims) in the fields of tax collection, expenditures, and bookkeeping. The Muslims were illiterate Arabs who did not know how to write and keep books. For bookkeeping they employed Jews, Christians, or certain non-Arab clients versed in it. (Bookkeeping) was little known among them. Their nobles did not know it well, because illiteracy was their distinctive characteristic.
Likewise, no specific rank existed among (the early Muslims) in the field of (official) correspondence and (the transmission in writing) of orders to be executed. They were illiterate, and everyone could be trusted to keep a statement secret and to forward it safely (to its destination). Also, there were no political matters that would have required the use of (confidential secretaries), because the caliphate was a religious matter and had nothing to do with power politics. Furthermore, secretarial skill had not yet become a craft, its best (products or representatives) recommended to the caliph. Every individual was capable of explaining what he wanted in the most eloquent manner. The only thing lacking was the (technical ability to) write. (For this,) the caliph always appointed someone who knew how to write well, to do such writing as there was occasion for.
Keeping petitioners away from the gates (of the caliph's court) was something that the religious law forbade (the caliphs) to do, and they did not do it. However, when the caliphate changed to royal authority and when royal forms and titles made their appearance, the first thing the dynasty did was to bar the masses from access (to the ruler). The rulers feared that their lives were in danger from attacks by rebels and others, such as had happened to 'Umar, to 'Ali, to Mu'awiyah, to 'Amr b. al-'As, and to others. Furthermore, were the people given free access (to the ruler), they would crowd upon him and divert him from state affairs. Therefore, the ruler appointed some person to take care of this for him and called him "doorkeeper" ((utjib). It has already been mentioned that 'Abd-al-Malik said to a doorkeeper whom he was appointing: "I have given you the office of keeper of my door, (and you are entitled to turn away anyone) save these three persons: the muezzin, because he is the missionary of God; the person in charge of the mails, for it (always) is something (important) that he brings; and the person in charge of food, lest it spoil." 450
Afterwards, royal authority flourished. The (official) councilor and assistant for tribal and group affairs and good relations (with the various tribes and groups) made his appearance. For him, the name of wazir was used. Bookkeeping remained in the hands of clients, Jews, and Christians. For (official) documents, a special secretary was appointed, as a precaution against possible publication of the ruler's secrets, something that would be disastrous to his role as political leader. This secretary was not as important as the wazir, because he was needed only for written matters, and not for matters that could be discussed orally. At that time, speech still preserved its old position and was uncorrupted.451 Therefore, the wazirate was the highest rank throughout the Umayyad dynasty. The wazir had general supervision of all matters delegated to him 452 and in which he acted in a consultative capacity, as well as all other matters of a defensive or offensive nature. This also entailed the supervision of the ministry (diwan) of the army,453 the assignment of military allowances at the beginning of each month, and other matters.
Then the 'Abbasid dynasty made its appearance. Royal authority flourished. The royal ranks were many and high ones. At that time, the position of wazir assumed an added importance. He became the delegate (of the caliph) as executive authority. His rank in the dynasty became conspicuous. Everyone looked toward the wazirate and submitted to it. Supervision of the bookkeeping office was entrusted to (the wazir), because his function required him to distribute the military allowances. Thus, he had to supervise the collection and distribution of (the money), and the supervision of (that task) was added to his (duties). Furthermore, supervision of "the pen" and (official) correspondence was entrusted to him, in order to protect the ruler's secrets and to preserve good style, since the language of the great mass had (by that time) become corrupt. A seal was made to be placed upon the documents of the ruler, in order to preserve them from becoming public. (That seal) was entrusted to (the wazir).
Thus, the name of wazir came to include the functions of both "the sword" and "the pen," in addition to all the other things for which the wazirate stood and in addition to its function of giving assistance (to the ruler). In the days of ar-Rashid, Jafar b. Yahya was actually called "sultan," an indication of the general extent of his supervising power and control of the dynasty. The only governmental rank that he did not hold was the office of doorkeeper, and he did not hold it because he disdained to accept such an office.
Then the 'Abbasid dynasty entered the period when control over the caliphs 454 was exercised (by others). That control was at times in the hands of the wazir. At other times, it was in the hands of the ruler. When the wazir gained control, it was necessary for him to be appointed the caliph's delegate to comply fully with the religious laws, as mentioned before. 455 At that time, the wazirate was divided into an "executive wazirate"-this happened when the ruler was in control of his affairs and the wazir executed his decisionsand a "delegated wazirate" -which happened when the wazir controlled the ruler and the caliph 456 delegated all the affairs of the caliphate, leaving them to his supervision and independent judgment. This has caused a difference of opinion as to whether two wazirs could be appointed at the same time to the "delegated wazirate." The same difference of opinion has existed with regard to the appointment of two imams at the same time, as was mentioned before in connection with the laws governing the caliphate.
(The ruler) continued to be controlled in this way. NonArab rulers seized power. The identity of the caliphate was lost. The usurpers were not interested in adopting the caliphal titles, 457 and they disdained to share the same title with the wazirs, because the wazirs were their servants. Therefore, they used the names "amir" and "sultan." Those in control of the dynasty were called amir al-umara' or sultan, in addition to the ornamental titles which the caliph used to give them, as can be seen in their surnames.458 They left the name wazir to those who held the office (of wazir) in the private retinue of the caliph. So remained the case down to the end of the ('Abbasid) dynasty.
In the course of this long period, language had become corrupt 459 It became a craft practiced by certain people. Thus, it came to occupy an inferior position, and the wazirs were too proud to bother with it. Also, the wazirs were non-Arab, and neither eloquence (nor good style) could be expected of their language. People from other classes were chosen for (matters requiring Arabic eloquence and a good style). It was their specialty, and it came to be something that was at the service of (and subordinate to) the wazir.
The name amir was restricted to the men in charge of war operations and the army and related matters, although (the amir) had power over the other ranks and exercised control over everything, either as (the ruler's) delegate or through being in control (of the government). This remained the situation.
Very recently, the Turkish dynasty has made its appearance in Egypt. (The Turkish rulers) noticed that the wazirate had lost its identity, because the (amirs) had been too proud to accept it and had left it to men who were inclined to hold it in the service of the secluded (and powerless) caliph. The authority of the wazir had become secondary to that of the amir. (The wazirate) had become a subordinate, ineffectual office. Consequently, the persons who held high rank in the (Turkish) dynasty (as, for example, the amirs), disdained to use the name of wazir. The person in charge of legal decisions and supervision of the army at the present time, they call "deputy" (na'ib).460 They used the name wazir to designate (the person in charge of) tax collection.
The Umayyads in Spain at first continued to use the name wazir in its original meaning. Later, they subdivided the functions of the wazir into several parts. For each function, they appointed a special wazir. They appointed a wazir to furnish an accounting of (government) finances; another to for (official) correspondence; another to take care of the needs of those who had suffered wrongs; and another to supervise the situation of people in the border regions. A (special) house was prepared for (all these wazirs). There, they sat upon carpets spread out for them and executed the orders of the ruler, each in the field entrusted to him. One of the wazirs was appointed liaison officer between the wazirs and the caliph. He had a higher position than the others, because he had constant contact with the ruler. His seat was higher than that of the other wazirs. He was distinguished by the title of "doorkeeper" (hajib). So it continued down to the end of the (Umayyad) dynasty. The function and rank of hajib took precedence over the other ranks. Eventually, the reyes de taifas came to adopt the title. The most important among them at that time was called "doorkeeper" (hajib), as we shall mention.461
Then, the Shi'ah dynasty (the 'Ubaydid-Fatimids) made its appearance in Ifriqiyah and al-Qayrawan. The people who supported it were firmly rooted in desert life. Therefore, they at first neglected such functions and did not use the proper names for them. Eventually, however, the dynasty reached the stage of sedentary culture, and (people) came to follow the tradition of the two preceding dynasties (the Umayyads and the 'Abbasids) with regard to the use of titles, as the history of the ('Ubaydid-Fatimid dynasty) reveals.
When, later on, the Almohad dynasty made its appearance, it at first neglected the matter because of its desert attitude, but eventually it, too, adopted names and titles. The name wazir was used in its original meaning. Later the tradition of the (Spanish) Umayyad dynasty was followed with regard to government matters and the name wazir was used for the person who guarded the ruler in his court and saw to it that embassies and visitors to the ruler used the proper forms of greeting and address, and that the requisite manners were observed in his presence. The office of doorkeeper was considered by (the later Almohads) a much higher one. 462 It has continued to be this way down to the present time.
In the Turkish dynasty in the East, the (official) who sees to it that people use the proper modes of address and greeting at court and when embassies are presented to the ruler, is called the dawadar.463 His office includes control of the "private secretary" (katib as-sirr) and of the postmasters (intelligence agents) who are active in the ruler's interest both far and near. Such is the condition of the Turkish dynasty at this time.
God takes charge of affairs.
The office of doorkeeper (hijibah)464
We have already mentioned465 that in the Umayyad and 'Abbasid dynasties the title of doorkeeper (hajib) was restricted to the person who guarded the ruler from the common people and would not give them access to him, or only in such ways, and at such times, as he determined. (The office of doorkeeper) was lower in rank at that time than the other functions and subordinate to them, because the wazir could intervene whenever he saw fit. This was the situation during the whole 'Abbasid period, and the situation still persists at this time. In Egypt, (the office of doorkeeper) is subordinate to the person in charge of the highest function there, who is called "deputy" (na'ib).
In the Umayyad dynasty in Spain, the office of doorkeeper was that of the person who guarded the ruler from his entourage and from the common people. He was the liaison officer between the ruler and the wazirs and lower (officials). In the (Umayyad) dynasty, the office of doorkeeper was an extremely high position, as (Umayyad) history shows. Men like Ibn Hudayr 466 and others held the office of doorkeeper in (the Umayyad dynasty).
Later, when the (Umayyad) dynasty came under the control of others, the person in control was called doorkeeper (hajib), because the office of doorkeeper had been such a distinguished one. Al-Mansilr b. Abi 'Amir, as well as his two sons, 467 were hajibs. After they had openly adopted the external forms of royal authority, they were succeeded by the reyes de taifas. The latter, also, did not fail to use the title of . jib. It was considered an honor to possess it. The most powerful of (the reyes de taifas) used the royal style and titles, and then inevitably mentioned the titles hajib and dul l-wizaratayn (Holder of the Two Wazirates), meaning the wazirates of "the sword" and "the pen." The title of hajib referred to the office that guarded the ruler from the common people and from his entourage. Dhu l-wizaratayn referred to the fact that (the holder of the title) combined the functions of "the sword" and "the pen."
In the dynasties of the Maghrib and Ifrigiyah, no mention was made of the title of (doorkeeper), on account of their Bedouin attitude. Occasionally, but rarely, it is found in the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimid) dynasty in Egypt. That was at the time when (the 'Ubaydid-Fatimids) had become powerful and used to sedentary culture.
In the Almohad dynasty which made its appearance (subsequently), sedentary culture, which calls for the use of titles and the separation of government functions with distinctive names, only became firmly established late (in the dynasty). The only rank they had at first was that of wazir, which they used for the secretary who participated with the ruler in the administration of his special (private) affairs. Men such as
Ibn 'Atiyah 468 and 'Abd-as-Salam al-Kumi 469 held the position. (Such a wazir) had, in addition to his main duty, to take care of bookkeeping and all the financial business. Later on, the name of wazir was given to relatives of the (Almohad) dynasty, such as Ibn Jami' 470 and others. The name of doorkeeper (hajib) was not known at that time in the (Almohad) dynasty.
In the Hafsid dynasty of Ifriqiyah, the top position was at first in the hands of a wazir who gave advice and counsel. He was called "Shaykh of the Almohads." He had to take care of appointments and dismissals, the leadership of the army, and war operations. Bookkeeping and the ministry (diwan of tax collection) were another, separate rank. The person in charge of it was called Sahib al-ashghal (Manager of Financial Affairs) 471 He had complete charge of income and expenditures. He audited the finances, collected payments, and punished defaulters. One condition was that he be an Almohad. "The pen" was also a separate office under (the Almohads). It was only entrusted to a person with good knowledge of (official) correspondence and who could be trusted with secrets. Since people (of consequence in the dynasty) had no professional knowledge of writing and the proper use of their language for (official) correspondence, a particular descent was not a condition of appointment to that office.
The royal authority of the (Hafsid) ruler was very farflung, and a great number of dependents lived in his house. Therefore, he needed a steward to be in charge of his house. (That steward had the duty) properly to apportion and fix the salaries, allowances, garments, kitchen and stable expenditures, and other things. He was in control of the stores (in the treasuries) and had the duty of telling the tax collectors to provide for (the quantities and amounts of money) needed. He was called doorkeeper (hajib). Occasionally, the function of signing (official) documents 472 was added to his duties, if he happened to have a good knowledge of writing. However, that function was occasionally given to somebody else. It continued to be this way. The ruler stayed in seclusion,473 and the doorkeeper (hajib) became the liaison officer between the people and all the officials. In the later (years) of the dynasty, the offices of "the sword" and of war operations were added to his duties. At this time it also became his duty to give advice and counsel. Thus, his office became the highest in rank and included all government functions. For some time after (the reign of) the twelfth ruler 474 of the (Hafsids), the government was controlled by others, and the ruler kept in seclusion. Afterwards, his grandson Sultan Abul-'Abbas, regained control of his affairs. He removed the vestiges of seclusion and (outside) control by abolishing the office of doorkeeper (hajib), which had been the stepping stone toward (control of the government)475 He handled all his affairs himself without asking anyone else for help. This is the situation at the present time.
There is no trace of the title of doorkeeper (hajib) among the Zanatah dynasties in the Maghrib, of which the most important is the dynasty of the Merinids. Leadership of war operations and of the army belongs to the wazir. The rank of "the pen," as far as it is concerned with bookkeeping and (official) correspondence, goes to the person who knows these things well, even though it may be in the private possession of certain houses among followers of the dynasty. Sometimes, (the office) is kept in (the same family), sometimes it is shared with others.
They have a separate rank for the office (whose function it is to) guard the ruler's door and to protect the ruler himself from the common people. The person who holds that office is called by them mizwar,476 that is, commandant of the elite troops (jindar) who are employed at the court of the ruler and responsible for executing his orders, enforcing the punishments he metes out, executing the severe measures he takes, and guarding the inmates of his prisons. Their chief (the mixwar) has charge of the court. He has to see to it that people behave properly in the (reception) hall where the common people (are received). His office is something like a minor wazirate.
The dynasty of the 'Abd-al-Wadids shows no trace of any of these titles, nor does it have separate (government) functions, because of its Bedouin character and insufficient (power). (The 'Abd-al-Wadids) occasionally use the name doorkeeper (hajib) for the person in charge of the ruler's personal household affairs, as was also the case in the Hafsid dynasty. He is given combined charge of bookkeeping and (official) documents, as also was the case among (the Hafsids). The reason for this is that (the 'Abd-al-Wadids) simply followed the tradition of the dynasty to which they had been subservient and whose propaganda they had been supporting when they started their career.
Present-day Spaniards call the person in charge of bookkeeping and of the ruler's activities and of all the other financial matters, wakil (manager). The wazir (there) has the same duties as the wazir (usually has), but he is also in charge of (official) correspondence. The ruler (himself) puts his signature to all documents. Thus, the Spaniards do not have a separate office of signer of documents ('alamah) as other dynasties have.
In the Turkish dynasty in Egypt, the name of doorkeeper (hajib) is used for persons of authority (hakim) among the men who hold power, that is, the Turks. These persons have to enforce the law among the people in the town. There are numerous (hajibs). The office of (hajib) among (the Turks) is lower than that of na'ib, which has general jurisdiction over both the ruling class and the common people. The na'ib has the authority to appoint and remove certain officials at the proper times. He may grant and fix small salaries. His orders and decrees are executed as those of the ruler. He is the ruler's delegate in every respect. The doorkeepers (hajib), on the other hand, have jurisdiction over the various classes of common people and over the soldiers only when a complaint (against them) is lodged with them. They can use force against those who do not want to submit to (their) judgment. They rank below the na'ib.
In the Turkish dynasty, the wazir is the person in charge of collecting all the different kinds of taxes: the land tax, customs duties, and the poll tax. He also (is in charge of) the disposition of (the tax revenue) for government expenditures and the fixed stipends (for soldiers and government employees). In addition, he can appoint or remove all officials, whatever their rank and description, who are concerned with tax collection and disbursement.477 It is a custom of (the Turks) that the wazir be appointed from among the Copts in charge of the office of bookkeeping and tax collection, because in Egypt they have been familiar with these matters since ancient times. Occasionally, the ruler appoints to that office a member of the ruling group, one of the Turkish grandees or one of their descendants, as occasion may arise.
God administers and governs all affairs in His wisdom. There is no God but Him.
The ministry (diwan) of (financial) operations and taxation
The ministry of taxation is an office that is necessary to the royal authority. It is concerned with tax operations. It guards the rights of the dynasty in the matters of income and expenditures. It takes a census of the names of all soldiers, fixes their salaries, and pays out their allowances at the proper times. In this connection recourse is had to rules set up by the chiefs of (tax) operations and the stewards of the dynasty. They are all written down in a book which gives all the details concerning income and expenditures. It is based upon a good deal of accounting, which is mastered only by those who have considerable skill in (tax) operations. The book is called the diwan. At the same time, (the word diwan) designates the place where the officials who are concerned with these matters have their offices.
The name is said to have had the following origin. One day, Khosraw looked at the secretaries in his ministry (diwan). They were all engaged in their separate calculations, and it looked as if they were talking to themselves. The king exclaimed: "Dewaneh"-which is Persian for "crazy." 478 As a result, the place where they were working was called by that name. The ending -eh was dropped, because the word was so much used, and dropping the -eh made it easier to pronounce. The word thus became diwan. Later, it came to signify the (tax) book which contained the rules and computations.
Another story is that diwan is the Persian name for the devils. The secretaries were called "devils" because of their quick comprehension, their understanding of both the obvious and the difficult, and their ability to combine random and disparate facts. The name was then extended to designate the offices where they worked. In this sense, the name diwan was taken over by the secretaries in charge of (official) correspondence and used to designate the place where their offices were located in the ruler's court, as will be mentioned later on. 479
One person is in charge of this office. He supervises all the operations of this kind. Each branch has its own supervisor. In some dynasties supervision of the army, of military fiefs, of keeping count of allowances, and of other (such) things, is constituted as separate offices. (Whether this is done or not) depends on the organization of a given dynasty and the arrangements made by its first rulers.
It should be known that the office of (tax collections) originates in dynasties only when their power and superiority and their interest in the different aspects of royal authority and in the ways of efficient administration have become firmly established. The first to set up the diwan in the Muslim dynasty was 'Umar.480 The reason is said to have been the arrival of Abu Hurayrah with money from al-Bahrayn. (The Muslims) thought that it was a very large sum, and they had trouble with its distribution. They tried to count the money and to establish how it should be paid out for allowances and claims. On that occasion, Khalid b. al-Walid advised the use of the diwan. He said: "I have seen the rulers of Syria keeping a diwan." 'Umar accepted the idea from Khalid.
It has also been said that the person who advised 'Umar to introduce the diwan was al-Hurmuzan.481 He noticed that (military) missions were dispatched without a diwan (a muster roll). He asked ('Umar): "Who would know if some of (the soldiers) disappeared? Those who remain behind might leave their places and abscond with the money that had been given to them for their services (if they could assume that their desertion would not be noticed). Such things should be noted down exactly in a book. Therefore, establish a diwdn for them." 'Umar asked what the word diwdn meant, and it was explained to him. When he agreed to (have a diwdn), he ordered 'Aqil b. Abi Talib,482 Makhramah b. Nawfal,483 and Jubayr b. Mut'im,484 all of them secretaries of the Quraysh, to write down the diwan of the Muslim army.
(The diwan was arranged) according to family relationships and began with the relatives of the Prophet and continued according to the degree of relationship. This was the beginning of the ministry (diwan) of the army.
After the advent of Islam, the ministry (diwan) of the land tax and tax collections remained as it had been. The 487 (diwan) of the 'Iraq used Persian, and that of Syria Byzantine Greek. The secretaries of the diwans were Muslim subjects of the two groups. Then, with the appearance of 'Abd-alMalik b. Marwan, the form of the state became that of royal authority. People turned from the low standard of desert life to the splendor of sedentary culture and from the simplicity of illiteracy to the sophistication of literacy. Experts in writing and bookkeeping made their appearance among the Arabs and their clients. Thus, 'Abd-al-Malik ordered Sulayman b. Sa'd, then governor of the Jordan (province), to introduce the use of Arabic in the diwan of Syria. Sulayman completed the task in exactly one year to the day. Sarhitn, 488 'Abd-al-Malik's secretary, looked at (the situation) and said to the Byzantine secretaries: "Seek you a living in another craft, because God has taken this one from you."
Al-Hajjaj ordered his secretary Salih b. 'Abd-ar-Rahman to introduce the use of Arabic, instead of Persian, in the diwan of the 'Iraq. Salih knew how to write both Arabic and Persian. He had learned it from Zadanfarrfikh, his predecessor as secretary to al-Hajjaj. When Zadan was killed in the war against 'Abd-ar-Rahman b. al-Ash'ath,489 al-Hajjaj appointed Salih as his successor. (Salih now carried out alHajjaj's order and introduced the use of Arabic in the diwan). He succeeded in doing that and in overcoming the reluctance of the Persian secretaries. 'Abd-al-Hamid b. Yahya 490 used to say: "Salih was an excellent man. He was a great boon to the secretaries."
Later on, in the 'Abbasid dynasty, the office was added to the duties of (the wazir) who supervised the man in charge of it. This was the case under the Barmecides and the Banu Sahl b. Nawbakht and other 'Abbasid wazirs.
Certain religious laws attach to the office. They concern the army, the income and expenditures of the treasury, and it, is the differing tax situations of the different regions, which depend on whether they had surrendered (peacefully) to the Muslim conquerors or had been conquered by force. Then, there is the question as to who makes appointment to the office. There are also the conditions governing the person in charge and the secretaries, as well as the rules according to which the accounts are to be kept. All (these legal problems) belong to the books on administration (al-Ahkam as-sultaniyah) and are written down in them. It is not the purpose of this book to deal with them. We discuss the subject only as it has to do with the nature of royal authority, in the discussion of which we are presently engaged.
This office constitutes a large part of all royal authority. In fact, it is the third of its basic pillars. Royal authority requires soldiers, money, and the means to communicate with those who are absent. The ruler, therefore, needs persons to help him in the matters concerned with "the sword," "the pen," and finances. Thus, the person who holds the office (of tax collections) has (a good) part of the royal authority for himself.
This was the case under the Umayyad dynasty in Spain and under its successors, the reyes de ta'ifas. In the Almohad dynasty, the man in charge of (the office) was an Almohad.
He had complete freedom to levy, collect, and handle money, to control the activities of officials and agents in this connection, and then to make disbursements in the proper amounts and at the proper times. He was known as Sahib al-ashghal (financial affairs manager). Occasionally, in some places, the office was held by persons who had a good understanding of it, but were not Almohads. 491
The Hafsids gained control over Ifrigiyah at the time when the exodus from Spain took place. Exiled (Spanish) notables came to (the Hafsids).492 Among them, there were some who had been employed in this (type of work) in Spain, such as the Banu Sa'id, 493 the lords of Alcala near Granada, who were known as the Banu Abi l-Husayn. (The Hafsids) liked to have them for this (type of work). They entrusted them with the supervision of (tax) affairs, which was what they had been doing in Spain. They employed them and the Almohads alternately for this purpose. Later on, the accountants and secretaries took the office over for themselves, and the Almohads lost it. As the position of doorkeeper (hajib) became more and more important, and as his executive power came to extend over all government affairs, the institution of the Sahib al-ashghal ceased to be influential 494 The person in charge of it was dominated by the doorkeeper (hajib) and became (no more than) a mere tax collector. He lost the authority he had formerly had in the dynasty.
In the contemporary Merinid dynasty, the accounting of the land tax and (military) allowances is in the hands of one man. He audits all accounts. Recourse is had to his diwan, and his authority is second (only) to the authority of the ruler or wazir. His signature attests to the correctness of the accounts dealing with the land tax and (military) allowances.
These are the principal governmental ranks and functions. They are high ranks, involving the exercise of general authority and (requiring) direct contact with the ruler.
In the Turkish dynasty, the functions (under discussion) are divided. The person in charge of the diwan of (military) allowances is known as inspector of the army (nazir aljaysh). The person in charge of finances is called the wazir. He has supervision over the dynasty's diwan of general tax collection. This is the highest rank among the men who are in charge of financial matters. Among (the Turks), supervision of financial matters is spread over many ranks, because the dynasty rules a large (territory) and exercises great powers, and its finances and taxes are too vast to be handled by one man all by himself, however competent. Therefore, for the general supervision of (financial affairs), the man known as wazir is appointed. In spite of his (important position), he is second to one of the clients of the ruler who shares in the ruler's group feeling and belongs to the military (caste) and who is called Ustadh-ad-dar. 495 This official outranks the wazir, who does all he can to do his bidding. He is one of the great amirs of the dynasty and belongs to the army and the military (caste).
Other functions are subordinate to that of (the wazir) among (the Turks). All of them have reference to financial matters and bookkeeping, and are restricted in their authority to particular matters. There is, for instance, the inspector of the privy purse (nazir al-khass)-that is, the person who handles the ruler's private finances, such as concern his fiefs or his shares in the land tax and taxable lands that are not part of the general Muslim fist 496 He is under the control of the amir, the Ustadh-ad-dar, but if the wazir is an army man, the Ustadh-ad-dar has no authority over him. The inspector of the privy purse also is under the control of the treasurer of the finances of the ruler, one of the latter's mamelukes, who is called Khazindar (treasurer), because his office is concerned with the private property of the ruler. Such is the nomenclature 497 used in connection with the function of (financial administration) in the Turkish dynasty in the East. We have mentioned how it was handled in the Maghrib.
God governs all affairs. There is no Lord except Him.
The ministry (diwan) of (official) correspondence and writing
This office is not required by the nature of royal authority. Many dynasties were able to dispense with it completely, as, for example, the dynasties rooted in the desert and which were not affected by the refinements of sedentary culture and high development of the crafts.
In the Muslim dynasty, the Arabic language situation and (the custom of) expressing what one wanted to express in good form intensified the need for the office. Thus, writing came to convey, as a rule, the essence of a matter in better stylistic form than was possible in oral expression. The secretary to an (Arab) amir was customarily a relative and one of the great of his tribe. This was the case with the caliphs and leading personalities among the men around Muhammad in Syria and the 'Iraq, because of the great reliability and genuine discretion (of relatives and tribesmen).
When the language became corrupt and a craft (that had to be learned),498 (the office) was entrusted to those who knew (Arabic) well. Under the 'Abbasids, it was a high office. The secretary issued documents freely, and signed his own name to them at the end. He sealed them with the seal of the ruler, which was a signet upon which the name of the ruler or his emblem was engraved. It was impressed on a red clay mixed with water and called sealing clay. The document was folded and glued, and then both sides was sealed with (the seal). Later on, the documents were issued in the name of the ruler, and the secretary (merely) affixed his signature ('alamah) 499 to them at the beginning or end. He could choose where he wanted to put it as well as its wording.
The office then lost standing through the fact that officials of other government ranks gained in the ruler's esteem or because the wazir gained control over (the ruler). The signature of a secretary became ineffective (as a sign of authority) and was replaced by the signature of his superior, and this was now considered decisive. (The secretary) affixed his official signature, but the signature of his superior made the document valid. This happened in the later (years) of the Hafsid dynasty, when the office of doorkeeper (hajib) gained in esteem and the doorkeeper became the delegate of the ruler and then came to control him. The signature of the secretary became ineffective (as a sign of authority) but was still affixed to documents, in acknowledgment of its former importance. The doorkeeper (hajib) made it the rule for the secretary to sign letters of his by affixing a handwritten (note) for which he 500 could choose any formula of ratification he wished. The secretary obeyed him and affixed the usual mark. So long as the ruler was in control of his own affairs, he saw to the matter himself (and made it the rule for the secretary) to affix the signature.
One of the functions of the secretary's office is the tawqi. It means that the secretary sits in front of the ruler during his public audiences and notes down (yuwaqqi'), in the most concise and stylistically most perfect manner, the decisions he receives from the ruler concerning the petitions presented to him. These decisions are then issued as they are, or they are copied in a document which must be in the possession of the petitioner. The person who formulates a tawqi' needs a great deal of stylistic skill, so that the tawqi' has the correct form. Ja'far b. Yahya used to write tawqi's on petitions for arRashid and to hand the petition (with the tawqi') back to the petitioner. Stylists vied with each other to obtain his tawqi's, in order to learn the different devices and kinds of good style from them. It has even been said that such petitions (with Ja'far's tawqi' on them) were sold for a dinar.501 Things were handled in this manner in (various) dynasties.
It should be known that the person in charge of this function must be selected from among the upper classes and be a refined gentleman of great knowledge and with a good deal of stylistic ability. He will have to concern himself with the principal branches of scholarship, because such things may come up in the gatherings and audiences of the ruler. In addition, to be a companion of kings calls for good manners and the possession of good qualities of character. And he must know all the secrets of good style, to be able to write letters and find the words that conform to the meaning intended.
In some dynasties, the rank (of secretary) is entrusted to military men, since (some) dynasties, by their very nature, have no regard for scholarship, on account of the simplicity of group feeling (prevailing in them). The ruler gives his government offices and ranks to men who share in his group feeling. Appointments to the financial administration, to "the sword," and to the office of secretary, are made from among them. "The sword" requires no learning. But the financial administration and the secretaryship need it, for the latter requires a good style and the former requires accounting skill. Therefore, (rulers) select people from the (learned) class for the office of secretary, when there is need for it, and entrust it to them. However, the secretary is subordinate to the higher authority exercised by the men who share in the ruler's group feeling, and his authority derives from that of his superior. This is the case with the Turkish dynasty in the East at this time. The office of chief secretary belongs to the "secretary of state" (Sahib al-insha'). However, the secretary of state is under the control of an amir from among the men who share in the group feeling of the ruler. This man is known as the Dawidar.502 The ruler usually relies upon him, trusts him, and confides in him, whereas he relies upon the (secretary) for matters that have to do with good style and the conformity (of the expression) to what one wants to express,503 and other, related matters.
The ruler who selects and picks a (secretary) from the rank and file has many conditions to consider. (These conditions governing the secretary) are best and most completely presented in the Epistle that the secretary 'Abd-al-Hamid addressed to his fellow secretaries. It runs as follows; 504
And now: May God guard you who practice the craft of secretaryship, and may He keep you and give you success and guidance. There are prophets and messengers and highly honored kings. After them come different kinds of men, all of them made by God. They are of different kinds, even if they are all alike in fact. God occupied them with different kinds of crafts and various sorts of businesses, so that they might be able to make a living and earn their sustenance. He gave to you, assembled secretaries, the great opportunity to be men of education and gentlemen, to have knowledge and (good) judgment.505 You bring out whatever is good in the caliphate and straighten out its affairs. Through your advice, God improves the government for the benefit of human beings and makes their countries civilized. The ruler cannot dispense with you. You alone make him a competent ruler. Your position with regard to rulers is that (you are) the ears through which they hear, the eyes through which they see, the tongues through which they speak, and the hands through which they touch. May God give you, therefore, enjoyment of the excellent craft with which He has distinguished you, and may He not deprive you of the great favors that He has shown unto you.
No craftsman needs more than you to combine all praiseworthy good traits and all memorable and highly regarded excellent qualities, O secretaries, if you aspire to fit the description given of you in this letter. The secretary needs on his own account, and his master, who trusts him with his important affairs, expects him, to be mild where mildness is needed, to be understanding where judgment is needed, to be enterprising where enterprise is needed, to be hesitant where hesitation is needed. He must prefer modesty, justice, and fairness. He must keep secrets. He must be faithful in difficult circumstances. He must know (beforehand) about the calamities that may come. He must be able to put things in their proper places and misfortunes into their proper categories. He must have studied every branch of learning and know it well, and if he does not know it well, he must at least have acquired an adequate amount of it. By virtue of his natural intelligence, good education, and outstanding experience, he must know what is going to happen to him before it happens, and he must know the result of his actions before action starts. He must make the proper preparations for everything, and he must set up everything in its proper, customary form.
Therefore, assembled secretaries, vie with each other to acquire the different kinds of education and to gain an understanding of religious matters. Start with knowledge of the Book of God and religious duties. Then, study the Arabic language, as that will give you a cultivated form of speech. Then, learn to write well, as that will be an ornament to your letters. Transmit poetry and acquaint yourselves with the rare expressions and ideas that poems contain. Acquaint yourselves also with both Arab and nonArab political events, and with the tales of (both groups) and the biographies describing them, as that will be helpful to you in your endeavors. Do not neglect to study accounting, for it is the mainstay of the land tax register. 506 Detest prejudices with all your heart, lofty ones as well as low ones, and all idle and contemptible things, for they bring humility and are the ruin of secretaryship. Do not let your craft be a low one. Guard against backbiting and calumny and the actions of stupid people. Beware of haughtiness, foolishness, and pride, for they mean acquiring hostility without (even the excuse of) hatred. Love each other in God in your craft. Advise your colleagues to practice it in a way befitting your virtuous, fair, and gifted predecessors.
If times go hard for one of you, be kind to him and console him, until everything be well with him again. Should old age make one of you unable to get around and pursue his livelihood and meet his friends, visit him and honor him and consult him, and profit from his outstanding experience and mature knowledge. Every one of you should be more concerned for his assistants, who may be useful when needed, than for his own children or brothers. Should some praise come (to one of you) in the course of his work, he should ascribe the merit to his colleague; any blame he should bear all by himself. He should beware of mistakes and slips and of being annoyed when conditions change. For you, assembled secretaries, are more prompt to be blamed than Qur'an readers,507 and blame is more detrimental to you than to them. You know that everyone of you has a master, one who gives from his own as much as can be expected, and (every one of you) has the obligation to repay him, since he deserves it, with fidelity, gratefulness, tolerance, patience, good counsel, discretion, and active interest in his affairs, and to show (his good intentions) by his actions whenever his master needs him and his resources. Be conscious of (your obligations) - God give you success - in good and bad circumstances, in privation as in munificence and kindness, in happiness as in misfortune. Any member of this noble craft who has all these qualities has good qualities indeed.
If any one of you be appointed to an office, or if some matter that concerns God's children be turned over to one of you, he should think of God and choose obedience to Him. He should be kind to the weak and fair to those who have been wronged. All creatures are God's children. He loves most those who are kindest to His children. Furthermore, he should judge with justice, he should honor the noble (descendants of Muhammad), augment the booty (gained in wars against infidels), and bring civilization to the country. He should be friendly to the subjects, and refrain from harming them. He should be humble and mild in his office. He should be kind in handling the land tax registers 508 and in calling in outstanding claims.
You should explore the character of him with whom you associate. When his good and bad sides are known, you will be able to help him to do the good things that agree with him, and be able to contrive to keep him from the bad things he desires. You must be able to do that in the subtlest and best manner. You know that a person who is in charge of an animal and understands his job, endeavors to know the character of the animal. If it is inclined to gallop,509 he does not goad it when he is riding it. If it is inclined to kick, he takes precautions with its forelegs. If he fears that it will shy, he takes precautions with its head. If it is restive, he gently subdues its desire to go where it wants to go. If it still continues, he pulls it slightly to the side, then has its halter loosened. This description of how to take care of an animal contains good points for those who want to lead human beings and deal with them, serve them, and have intimate contact with them. The secretary, with his excellent education, his noble craft, his subtlety, his frequent dealings with people who confer with him and discuss things with him and learn from him or fear his severity, needs to be kind to his associates,509a to flatter them, and to supply their wants, even more than the person in charge of an animal which cannot answer, does not know what is right, does not understand what is said to it, and goes only where its master who rides upon it makes it go. Be kind - God show mercy unto you-when you look after things. Use as much reflection and thought as possible. God permitting, you will thus escape harshness, annoyance, and rudeness on the part of your associates. They will be in agreement with you, and you will have their friendship and protection, if God wills.
None of you should have too sumptuous an office or go beyond the proper limits in his dress, his mount, his food, his drink, his house, his servants, or in the other things pertaining to his station, for, despite the nobility of the craft by which God has distinguished you, you are servants who are not permitted to fall short in their service. You are caretakers whom one does not permit to be wasteful or spendthrift. Try to preserve your modesty by planned moderation in all the things I have mentioned and told you. Beware of the wastefulness of prodigality and the bad results of luxury. They engender poverty and bring about humiliation. People who (are prodigal and live in luxury) are put to shame, especially if they be secretaries and men of education.
Things repeat themselves. One thing contains the clue to another. Let yourselves be guided in your future undertakings-by your previous experience. Then, choose the method of doing things that is most definite, most accurate, and that promises the best result. You should know that there is something that defeats accomplishment, namely, talking about things. The person who does it is prevented from using his knowledge and his ability to think. Therefore, everyone of you, while he is in his office, should endeavor to talk no more than is sufficient; he should be concise in the matters he brings up and in the answers he gives; and he should give thought to all the arguments he advances. His work will profit from that. It will prevent too much preoccupation with other things. He should implore God to grant him success and to support him with His guidance, for he must fear making mistakes that might hurt his body and (cast doubt upon) his intelligence and education. When any one of you says or thinks that the high quality and efficiency of his work is obviously the result of his own cleverness and knowledge of how to do things, he provokes God. God will let him depend upon himself alone, and then he will find that he is not adequate to his task. This is no secret to those who reflect.
None of you should say that he has a better understanding of affairs, or knows better how to handle difficult matters, than other members of his craft, than those who serve together with him. Of two persons, discerning people consider him the more intelligent who throws off conceit and thinks his colleagues more intelligent and more skillful than he. But at any rate, both parties should acknowledge the excellence of God's favors. No one should let himself be deceived by his own opinions and consider himself free from mistakes. Nor should he strive to outdo his friends, equals, colleagues, or his family. Everybody must give praise to God, in humility in the face of His greatness, in meekness in the face of His might, and in fulfillment of the command to speak of God's favors.510
In this letter of mine, let me refer to the old proverb: "He who accepts good advice 511 all is successful." This is the essence of this letter and the best that is said in it, after the references to God it contains. Therefore, I have placed it at the end, and I close the letter with it. May God take care of us and of you, assembled students and secretaries, in the same way He takes care of those whom, as He knows in His prescience, He will make happy and guide aright. He can do it. It is in His hand.
Farewell, and God's mercy and blessings upon you.
The police 512
In Ifriqiyah, the holder (of the office of chief of police) is at this time called the "magistrate" (hakim). In Spain, he is called the "town chief" (sahib al-madinah). In the Turkish dynasty (in Egypt), he is called the "governor" (wali). It is an office that is subordinate to the person in charge of "the sword" in the dynasty, who at times uses the (chief of police) to execute his orders.
The office of (chief of) police was originally created by the 'Abbasid dynasty. The person who held it had (a twofold duty. He had,) firstly, to concern himself with crimes in the investigating stage, and, secondly, to execute the legal punishments. The religious law cannot concern itself with suspicions of possible criminal acts. It can concern itself only with executing the legal punishments. Political leadership, on the other hand, has to concern itself with the investigating stage, in which is (ascertained the commission of crimes) necessitating (legal punishments). It does this through the magistrate, who, being in the possession of all the circumstantial evidence, forces (the criminal) to confess, as is required by the general (public) interest. The person in charge of the investigating stage and of executing afterwards the legal punishments due, when the judge has no (longer) anything to do with (the case), was called "chief of police." Occasionally, he was given sole jurisdiction over capital crimes and legal punishments, and those matters were taken away from the judge's jurisdiction. This rank was considered one of great reputation, and was entrusted to high military leaders and important clients of the court entourage. It implied no general executive power over all classes, its jurisdiction extending only over low and suspect elements and (involving) the restraining of turbulent and criminal people.
Among the Spanish Umayyads, the (office of chief of police) acquired great celebrity. It was divided into a "great police" and a "small police." The jurisdiction of the "great police" was made to extend over both the upper and the lower classes. It had jurisdiction over government dignitaries, and, in cases of wrongdoing, could restrain them, their relatives, and other persons of rank who were connected with them as clients. The chief of the "small police" was concerned only with the common people. The chief of the "great police" had his seat at the gate of the palace of the ruler. He had footmen (raji) who occupied places near him,513 which they did not leave except to go about his business. (The office) was entrusted only to great personalities of the dynasty. It even became a stepping stone to the wazirate and to the office of doorkeeper (hajib).
In the Almohad dynasty in the Maghrib, (the office) enjoyed a certain reputation, even though it did not have general (jurisdiction). It was entrusted only to important Almohad personalities. It did not have authority over government dignitaries. Nowadays, its importance has greatly decreased. It no longer is the preserve of Almohad personalities, and may be entrusted to any follower (of the dynasty) who (is able to) take charge of it.
In the Merinid dynasty at this time in the West, (the office) is vested in the houses of Merinid clients and followers.
In the Turkish dynasty in the East, (the office is entrusted) to Turkish personalities or to descendants of the people of the preceding Kurdish dynasty. (Incumbents) are chosen for (the office) in both regions 514 according to the energy and resolution they show in enforcing the law. The purpose is to cut down corruption, to stamp out criminality, to destroy and dissolve the homes and centers of criminal activity, and to enforce the punishments imposed by the religious law and by the political authorities, as concern for the general (public) interests in a town requires.
God causes the change of night and day.515
(The admiralty) is one of the ranks and functions of the dynasty in the realm of the Maghrib and Ifriqiyah. It is subordinate to the person in charge of "the sword" and comes under his authority in many respects. In customary usage, the person in charge of the admiralty is called Almiland,516 with an emphatic l. (The word) is derived from the language of the European Christians. It is the technical term for the office in their language.
The rank (of admiral) is restricted to the realm of Ifriqiyah and the Maghrib, because both Ifriqiyah and the Maghrib are on the southern shore of the Mediterranean. Along its southern shore the lands of the Berbers extend from Ceuta to Alexandria and on to Syria. Along its northern shore are the countries of Spain and of the European Christians (Franks), the Slavs, and the Byzantines, also extending to Syria. It is called the Byzantine Sea or the Syrian Sea,517 according to the people who inhabit its shores. Those who live along the coast and on the shores of both sides of the Mediterranean are more concerned with (maritime) conditions than any other maritime nation.
The Byzantines, the European Christians, and the Goths lived on the northern shore of the Mediterranean. Most of their wars and most of their commerce was by sea. They were skilled in navigating (the Mediterranean) and in naval war. When these people coveted the possession of the southern shore, as the Byzantines (coveted) Ifriqiyah and as the Goths (coveted) the Maghrib, they crossed over in their fleets and took possession of it. Thus, they achieved superiority over the Berbers and deprived them of their power. They had populous cities there, such as Carthage, Sbeitla, Jalula,518 Murnaq,519 Cherchel, and Tangier. The ancient master of Carthage used to fight the master of Rome and to send fleets loaded with armies and equipment to wage war against him. Thus, (seafaring) is a custom of the inhabitants of both shores of the Mediterranean, which was known in ancient as in modern times.
When the Muslims took possession of Egypt, `Umar b. al-Khattab wrote to 'Amr b. al-'As and asked him to describe the sea to him. 'Amr replied: "The sea is a great creature upon which weak creatures ride -like worms upon a piece of wood." 520 Thus, he recommended at that time that the Muslims be kept away from seafaring. No Arab traveled by sea save those who did so without 'Umar's knowledge and were punished by him for it. 'Umar thus punished 'Arfajah b. Harthamah al-Azdi, the chief of the Bajilah.521 He sent him on a raid against Oman, and he learned (later that he had raided it by sea). 522 He disapproved of his having made the raid by sea, and told him so in no uncertain terms. Thus it remained until Mu'awiyah's reign. He permitted the Muslims to go by sea and to wage the holy war in ships. The reason for this was that on account of their Bedouin attitude, the Arabs were at first not skilled in navigation and seafaring, whereas the Byzantines and the European Christians, on account of their experience of the sea and the fact that they had grown up traveling in ships, were used to the sea and well trained in navigation.
The royal and governmental authority of the Arabs became firmly established and powerful at that time. The nonArab nations became servants of the Arabs and were under their control. Every craftsman offered them his best services. They employed seagoing nations for their maritime needs. Their own experience of the sea and of navigation grew, and they turned out to be very expert. They wished to wage the holy war by sea. They constructed ships and galleys and loaded the fleet with men and weapons. They embarked the army and fighters to fight against the unbelievers across the sea. This was the special concern of the provinces and border regions closest to the shores of the Mediterranean, such as Syria, Ifriqiyah, the Maghrib, and Spain. The caliph 'Abdal-Malik recommended to Hassan b. an-Nu'man,523 the governor of Ifriqiyah, that a shipyard 524 be set up in Tunis for the production of maritime implements, as he was desirous of waging the holy war. From there, the conquest of Sicily was achieved in the days of Ziyadat-Allah I b. Ibrahim b. al-Aghlab under the leadership of the chief mufti, Asad b. al-Furat 525 Pantelleria 526 also was conquered in his day. Mu'awiyah b. IIudayj 527 had been sent on a raid against Sicily in the days of Mu'awiyah b. Abi Sufyan, but God had not enabled him to conquer it. It was conquered by the Aghlabid ruler and his general, Asad b. al-Furat.
Thereafter, under the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimids) and the (Spanish) Umayyads, the fleets of Ifriqiyah and Spain constantly attacked each other's countries in civil war operations, and they thoroughly devastated the coastal regions. In the days of 'Abd-ar-Rahman an-Nasir, the Spanish fleet had grown to about two hundred vessels, and the African fleet to the same number, or close to it. The fleet admiral in Spain was Ibn Rumahis. The port used by (the Spanish fleet) for docking and hoisting sail was Pechina and Almeria. The fleet was assembled from all the provinces. Each region where ships were used contributed one fleet (unit) under the supervision of a commander in charge of everything connected with fighting, weapons and combatants alike. There also was a captain who directed the movement of the fleet, using either the wind or oars. He also directed its anchoring in port. When the whole fleet was assembled for a large-scale raid or for important government business, it was manned in its home port. The ruler loaded it with men (drawn from) his best troops and clients, and placed them under the supervision of one commander, who belonged to the highest class of the people of his realm and to whom all were responsible. He then sent them off, and awaited their victorious return with booty.
During the time of the Muslim dynasty, the Muslims gained control over the whole Mediterranean. Their power and domination over it was vast. The Christian nations could do nothing against the Muslim fleets, anywhere in the Mediterranean. All the time, the Muslims rode its wave for conquest. There occurred then many well-known episodes of conquest and plunder. The Muslims took possession of all the islands that lie off its shores, such as Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza, Sardinia, Sicily, Pantelleria, Malta, Crete, Cyprus, and of all the other provinces of the Byzantines and the European Christians (on its shores). Abu 1-Qasim ash-Shi'i 528 and his descendants sent their fleets on raids against the island of Genoa from al-Mahdtyah. They returned victorious with booty. Mujahid al-'Amiri, the master of Denia, one of the reyes de taifas, conquered the island of Sardinia with his fleet in the year 405 [1014/15].529 The Christians reconquered it in due course.
During all that (time), the Muslims were gaining control over the largest part of the high sea. Their fleets kept coming and going, and the Muslim armies crossed the sea in ships from Sicily to the great mainland opposite Sicily, on the northern shore. They fell upon the European Christian rulers and made massacres in their realms. This happened in the days of the Banu Abul-Husayn,530 the rulers of Sicily, who supported the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimid) propaganda there. The Christian nations withdrew with their fleets to the northeastern side of the Mediterranean, to the coastal regions inhabited by the European Christians and the Slavs, and to the Aegean islands, 531 and did not go beyond them. The Muslim fleet had pounced upon them as eagerly as lions upon their prey. They covered most of the surface of the Mediterranean with their equipment and numbers and traveled its lanes (on missions both) peaceful and warlike. Not a single Christian board floated on it.
Eventually, however, the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimid) and Umayyad dynasties weakened and softened and were affected by infirmity. Then, the Christians reached out for the eastern islands of the Mediterranean, such as Sicily, Crete, and Malta, and took possession of them. They pressed on against the shores of Syria during this interval, and took possession of Tripoli, Ascalon, Tyre, and Acco. They gained control over all the seaports of Syria. They conquered Jerusalem and built there a church as an outward manifestation of their religion and worship. They deprived the Banu Khazrun of Tripolitania 532 and (they conquered) Gabes and Sfax, and imposed a poll tax upon their inhabitants. Then they took possession of al-Mahdtyah, the (original) seat of the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimids), and took it away from the descendants of Buluggtn b. Zirt. In the fifth [eleventh] century, they had the lead in the Mediterranean. In Egypt and Syria, interest in the fleet weakened and eventually ceased to exist. Since then, they have shown no concern for the naval matters with which they had been so exceedingly concerned under the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimid) dynasty, as is known from 'Ubaydid(-Fatimid) history. In consequence, the identity of the office of the admiralty was lost in those countries. It remained in Ifriqiyah and the Maghrib, but only there. At the present time, the western Mediterranean has large fleets and is very powerful. No enemy has trespassed on it or been able to do anything there.
In Lamtunah (Almoravid) times, the admirals of the fleet in (the West) were the Banu Maymun, chieftains from the peninsula of Cadiz,533 which they (later on) handed over to (the Almohad) 'Abd-al-Mu'min, to whom they paid obedience. Their fleets, (assembled) from the countries on both shores, reached the number of one hundred.
In the sixth [twelfth] century, the Almohad dynasty flourished and had possession of both shores. The Almohads organized their fleet in the most perfect manner ever known and on the largest scale ever observed. Their admiral was Ahmad as-Siqilli, who belonged to the Sadghiyan, a branch of the Sadwikish,534 who lived on the island of Jerba. The Christians had captured him there, and he had grown up among them. The ruler of Sicily (Roger II) selected him for his service and employed him in it, but he died and was succeeded by his son, whose anger (Ahmad) somehow aroused. He feared for his life and went to Tunis, where he stayed with the chief of Tunis, one of the Banu 'Abd-al-Mu'min. He went on to Marrakech, and was received there by the caliph Yusuf al-'Ashrt b. 'Abd-al-Mu'min 535 with great kindness and honor. (The caliph) gave him many presents and entrusted him with command of his fleet. (As commander of the fleet) he went to wage the holy war against the Christian nations. He did noteworthy and memorable deeds during the Almohad dynasty.
In his period, the Muslim fleet was of a size and quality never, to our knowledge, attained before or since. When Salah-ad-din Yusuf b. Ayyub, the ruler of Egypt and Syria at this time, set out to recover the border cities (ports) of Syria from the Christian nations and to cleanse Jerusalem of the abomination of unbelief and to rebuild it, one fleet of unbelievers after another came to the relief of the border cities (ports), from all the regions near Jerusalem which they controlled. They supported them with equipment and food. The fleet of Alexandria could not stand up against them. (The Christians) had had the upper hand in the eastern Mediterranean for so long, and they had numerous fleets there. The Muslims, on the other hand, had for a long time been too weak to offer them any resistance there, as we have mentioned. In this situation, Salah-ad-din sent 'Abd-alKarim b. Munqidh, a member of the family of the Banu Munqidh, the rulers of Shayzar, as his ambassador to Ya'qub al-Mansur, the Almohad ruler of the Maghrib at that time.536 Salahaddin had taken Shayzar away from the Banu Munqidh but had spared them to use them in his government. Now, he sent 'Abd-al-Karim, a member of that (family), to the ruler of the Maghrib to ask for the support of his fleets, to prevent the fleets of the unbelievers from achieving their desire of bringing relief to the Christians in the Syrian border cities (ports). ('Abd-al-Karim) carried a letter from (Salah-addin) to that effect. The letter had been composed by (alQadi) al-Fadil al-Baysani.537 It began with these words: "May God open to our Lord the gates of success and good fortune." The letter is quoted by the 'Imad al-Isfahani in the Fath alQudsi.538 Al-Mansur was greatly annoyed with the (members of the embassy),539 because they did not address him as Commander of the Faithful; but he concealed his annoyance and treated them with great kindness and honor. He sent them back to (Salah-ad-din) who had sent them, and did not comply with his request.
This (story) is evidence (for the facts that) the ruler of the Maghrib alone possessed a fleet, that the Christians controlled the eastern Mediterranean, and that the dynasties in Egypt and Syria at that time and later were not interested in naval matters or in building up government fleets.
Ya'qub al-Mansur then died, and the Almohad dynasty became infirm. The Galician nations seized control of most of Spain. The Muslims took refuge in the coastal region and took possession of the islands of the western Mediterranean. They regained their former strength, and their power on the surface of the Mediterranean grew. Their fleets increased, and the strength of the Muslims became again equal to that of (the Christians). This happened in the time of (the Merinid) Sultan, Abul-Hasan,540 the Zanatah ruler in the Maghrib. When he desired to wage the holy war, his fleet was as well equipped and numerous as that of the Christians.
Then, the naval strength of the Muslims declined once more, because of the weakness of the ruling dynasty. Maritime habits were forgotten under the impact of the strong Bedouin attitude prevailing in the Maghrib, and as the result of the discontinuance of Spanish habits. The Christians resumed their former, famous maritime training, and (renewed) their constant activity in (the Mediterranean) and their experience with conditions there. (They again showed) their former superiority over others on the high seas of (the Mediterranean) and in (Mediterranean) shipping. The Muslims came to be strangers to the Mediterranean. The only exceptions are a few inhabitants of the coastal regions, who are active on (the sea). They ought to have many assistants and supporters, or they ought to have support from the dynasties to enable them to recruit help and to work toward the goal of (increased seafaring activities).
The rank (of admiral) has been preserved to this day in the dynasties of the Maghrib. There, the identity (of the admiralty is still preserved), and how to take care of a fleet, how to build ships and navigate them, is known. Perhaps some political opportunity will arise in the coastal countries, and the Muslims will (once again) ask the wind to blow against unbelief and unbelievers. The inhabitants of the Maghrib have it on the authority of the books of predictions that the Muslims will yet have to make a successful attack against the Christians and conquer the lands of the European Christians beyond the sea. This, it is said, will take place by sea.
"God is the friend of the believers." 541