34. The characteristic emblems of royal and government authority.



It should be known that the ruler has emblems and arrangements that are the necessary result of pomp and ostentation. They are restricted to him, and by their use he is distinguished from his subjects, his intimates, and all other leaders in his dynasty.

We shall mention the best-known emblems as well as (our) knowledge permits. "And He knows more than any scholar." 545


The "outt" (alah)

One of the emblems of royal authority is the "outfit" (alah), that is, the display of banners and flags and the beating of drums and the blowing of trumpets and horns. In the Book on Politics ascribed to Aristotle, Aristotle mentioned that its real significance is to frighten the enemy in war.546 Frightful sounds do have the psychological effect of causing terror. Indeed, as everyone knows from his own (experience), this is an emotional 547 element that plays a role on battlefields. The explanation given by Aristotle - if it was he who gave it - is correct in some respects. But the truth is that listening to music and sounds no doubt causes pleasure and emotion in the soul. The spiritual temper of man is thereby affected by a kind of drunkenness, which causes him to make light of difficulties and to be willing to die in the very condition in which he finds himself. This (state of affairs) exists even in dumb animals. Camels are influenced by the driver's call, and horses are influenced by whistling and shouting, as everyone knows. The effect is greater when the sounds are harmonious ones, as in the instance of music.548 It is known what happens to people who listen to music. The non-Arabs, therefore, take musical instruments, drums or trumpets, onto the battlefield with them. Singers with instruments surround the cavalcade of the ruler and sing. Thus, they move the souls of brave men emotionally and cause them to be willing to die.

In the wars of the Arabs (in northwestern Africa), we have seen persons in front of the cavalcade sing poetical songs and make music. The minds of heroes were stirred by the contents of the songs. They hurried to the battleground, and everybody went forth eagerly to meet his rival. The same was the case with the Zanatah, one of the nations of the Maghrib. A poet went in advance of the battle lines and sang. His music was such as to move firmly anchored mountains and to cause men who would otherwise not think of it, to seek death. That music is called tazugait 549 by (the Zanatah).

The origin of it all is the cheerfulness created in the soul (through music). It leads to bravery, just as drunkenness leads to (bravery), as the result of the cheerfulness which it produces. And God knows better.

The great number of flags, their manifold colors, and their length, are intended to cause fright, nothing more. (Fright) produces greater aggressiveness in the soul. Psychological conditions and reactions are strange. God is "the Creator, the Knowing One." 550

The various rulers and dynasties differ in their use of such emblems. Some of them use a great many, others few, according to the extent and importance of the given dynasty.

Flags have been the insignia of war since the creation of the world.551 The nations have always displayed them on battlefields and during raids. This was also the case in the time of the Prophet and that of the caliphs who succeeded him.

The Muslims, however, refrained from beating drums and blowing trumpets at the beginning of Islam. They wanted to avoid the coarseness of royal authority and do without royal customs. They also despised pomp, which has nothing whatever to do with the truth. The caliphate then came to be royal authority, and the Muslims learned to esteem the splendor and luxury of this world. Persian and Byzantine clients, subjects of the preceding (pre-Islamic) dynasties, mixed with them and showed them their ways of ostentation and luxury. Among the things the Muslims came to like was the "outfit" (alah). Therefore, they used it and permitted their officials to use it, to increase the prestige of royal authority and its representatives. 'Abbasid or 'Ubaydid(-Fatimid) caliphs would often grant permission to display their flags to officials such as the master of a border region or the commander of an army. Such officials then, setting out on a mission or going from the house of the caliph or from their own houses to their offices, were accompanied by a cavalcade of people carrying flags and the attributes of the "outfit" (alah). The only distinction between the cavalcade of an official and that of the caliph was the number of flags, or the use of particular colors for the caliph's flag. Thus, black was used for the flags of the 'Abbasids. Their flags were black as a sign of mourning for the martyrs of their family, the



I. Muslim Coins

1. Arab-Sassanian dirham issued by al-Hajjaj, struck at Bishapur in the year 78 [697/981]

2. Umayyad dirham of the reformed type, dated 79 [698/991], struck at Damascus

3. Dinar of the Almohad Abu Ya'qub Yusuf I, without date or name of mint

4. Anonymous Almohad dirham, without date or name of mint

5. Triple dinar of Sultan Barquq, struck at Cairo


Hashimites, and as a sign of reproach directed against the Umayyads who had killed them. Therefore, the 'Abbasids were called "the black ones" (al-musawwidah).

When the Hashimites divided into factions and the 'Alids (descendants of Abu Talib) went against the 'Abbasids on every possible occasion, they wanted to differ from them in the color of their flag, and so they used white flags. Therefore, they were called "the white ones" (al-mubayyidah). White was used by the 'Alids throughout the reign of the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimids). It was also used by the 'Alids who seceded at that time in the East, such as the (Zaydi) missionaries in Tabaristan and in Sa'dah (in the Yemen), and those other ('Alids) who made propaganda for the extremist (Shi'ah), such as the Qarmatians. When al-Ma'mun gave up wearing black and using the (black) insignia of his dynasty, he turned to green and used green flags.

(The details of the "outfit") could be increased ad infinitum. When al-'Aziz Nizar set out to conquer Syria, 552 the "outfit" (alah) of the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimids) was composed of five hundred banners and five hundred trumpets. The Sinhajah and the other Berber rulers in the Maghrib did not affect special colors, but they embroidered their flags in gold and made them of pure colored silk. They always permitted their officials to use these flags. But when the Almohads and, later on, the Zanatah (Merinids) made their appearance, they restricted the use of the "outfit" (alah) of drums and banners to the ruler, and forbade all other officials to use it. It formed a special cavalcade in the procession which followed immediately behind the ruler. It was called the "rear guard" (sagah). They used a larger or smaller number (of instruments), according to the different customs of the various dynasties. Some of them restricted themselves to seven, as a lucky number. This was the case in the dynasties. of the Almohads and the Banu al-Ahmar (Nasrids) in Spain. Others went up to ten or twenty, as was the case with the Zanatah. In the days of Sultan Abul-Hasan, as we learned personally,553 it went up to one hundred drums and one hundred banners of colored silk interwoven with gold, both large and small. They permit their governors, officials, and generals to use one small flag of white linen and a small drum in wartime. They do not permit them any more.

The contemporary Turkish dynasty in the East uses, in the first place, one large flag, surmounted by a big tuft of hair. It is called the chalish or chatr.554 (It 555 is used) with the army in general. Then, there is another flag (carried) over the ruler and called the 'isabah or shatfah.556 It is the ruler's insignia. There are many other flags which they call sanjaq,557 which means "flag" in (Turkish). They use an excessively large number of drums, which they call. k6s They permit any amir or general to use whatever (insignia) he desires, with the exception of the 'isabah,558 which is reserved to the ruler.

The contemporary Galicians, a European Christian nation in Spain, use only a few flags, which fly high in the air. In addition, they make a kind of music with string and wind instruments on the battlefields. This is (all) the information we have about them and the non-Arab rulers who live beyond them.

"In the creation of the heavens and the earth and in the difference of your tongues and colors, there are, indeed, signs for those who know." 559

Throne, dais, couch, chair-(they all mean) pieces of wood or ottomans set up for the ruler, so that he may have a higher seat than the other people at court and so that he will not be on the same level with them. This has always been a royal custom, even before Islam and in the non-Arab dynasties. (The pre-Islamic rulers) sat upon thrones of gold. Solomon, the son of David, had a throne of ivory overlaid with gold. However, dynasties use a throne only after they have become flourishing and luxurious, as is the case with all pomp, as we have stated.560 Dynasties that are in the beginning stage and still keep the Bedouin attitude do not desire it.

The first to use a throne in Islam was Mu'awiyah. He asked the people for permission to use one, saying that he had become corpulent.560a So they permitted him to use one, and he did. His example was followed by (all the later) Muslim rulers. (The use of an ornate throne) came to indicate a tendency toward pomp.

One day 'Amr b. al-'As was in his castle in Egypt, sitting on the ground with the Arabs. The Muqawqis 561 came to the castle. He had men carry out a throne of gold, so that he could sit upon it like a king. He sat on it in front of the Arabs. They were not jealous of him, because they felt that they had to give him the protection upon which they had agreed, and because they rejected royal pomp. Later on, the 'Abbasids, the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimids), and all the other Muslim rulers in both the East and the West, had thrones, daises, and couches that eclipsed (in splendor those of) the Persian and Roman Emperors.

God causes the change of night and day.562


The mint 563

(The mint) is concerned with the stamping of the dinars and dirhams used in (commercial) transactions. This is done with a die of iron, upon which pictures or words are engraved in reverse. The stamp is pressed upon the dinar or the dirham, and the designs (legends) of those engravings appear on the coin clearly and correctly. Before this is done, the standard of purity of the particular coin, the result of repeated refinings, is taken into consideration, and the individual dinars and dirhams are given the proper, fixed weight that has been agreed upon. Then, the number of coins (and not their weight only) can be made use of in transactions. If the individual pieces have not been given the weight fixed upon, then the weight of the coins must be taken into consideration.

The word sikkah (mint) refers to the stamp, that is, the piece of iron used for the purpose (of stamping the coins). The word was then used to designate the result of (the application of the stamp), that is, the engravings that appear upon dinars and dirhams. The word was further used to designate control of (the process of engraving) and supervision of the whole operation, of everything dealing with coinage and all the conditions that govern it. Such (control and supervision) is (exercised by) the office (of the mint). The word has thus come to designate (that office), and is customarily so used in governmental usage. It is an office that is necessary to the royal authority, for it enables people to distinguish between good and bad coins in their transactions. That (the coins) are not bad is guaranteed by the engravings known to have been stamped upon them by the ruler.

The non-Arabs used (coins) and engraved special pictures on them, for example, a picture of the ruler at the time of issue, a fortress,564 some animal or product, or something else. This remained the practice of the non-Arabs down to the end of their power. When Islam appeared, the practice was discontinued, because of the simplicity of Islam and the Bedouin attitude of the Arabs. In their transactions, they used gold and silver according to weight. They also had Persian dinars and dirhams. They used them, too, according to weight and employed them as their medium of exchange. The government paid no attention to the matter. As a result, the frauds practiced with dinars and dirhams eventually became very serious. According to the reports of Sa'id b. al-Musayyab and Abu z-Zinad,565 Abd-al-Malik ordered al-Hajjaj to coin dirhams, and bad coins (began to) be distinguished from good ones. This took place in 74 [699/94], or, according to al-Mada'ini,566 in 75 [694/95]. In the year 76 [695/96], ('Abd-al-Malik) ordered that dirhams be coined in all the other regions. The legend upon them was: "God is one, God is the samad." 567

Later on, in the days of Yazid b. 'Abd-al-Malik, Ibn Hubayrah became governor of the 'Iraq and improved the mint. Then Khalid al-Qasrt, and after him Yusuf b. 'Umar, made great efforts to improve it.

It is also said that the first to coin dinars and dirhams (in Islam) was Mus'ab b. az-Zubayr.568 He did it in the year 70 [689/90] in the 'Iraq, upon the order of his brother 'Abdallah, who was then in charge in the Hijaz. The legend on his coins was, on the one side, "blessing," and on the other (there was) the name of God. A year later, al-Hajjaj changed the legend, and the new legend was: "In the name of God-al-Hajjaj." 569

The weight of the dirhams was fixed at what it had been in the days of 'Umar. At the beginning of Islam, the weight of the dirham had been six danaqs. The weight of the mithqal was one dirham and three-sevenths of a dirham, so that ten dirhams made seven mithqals. The reason for this was that the weight of the dirham had varied in the days of the Persians. A dirham corresponding to the weight of a mithqal might weigh twenty, or twelve, or ten carats. When it was necessary to determine the weight (of the dirham) for the charity tax, the average of the three values was taken, that is fourteen carats. Thus, the mithqal (of twenty carats) was one dirham and three-sevenths of a dirham (of fourteen carats). It is said that the baghli (dirham) had eight danaqs, the tabari (dirham) four, the maghribi (dirham) three, and the yaman (dirham) one.570 'Umar gave orders to investigate and determine which dirham was most commonly used in transactions. It turned out to be the baghli" and the tabari (dirhams). Together they weighed twelve danaqs. Thus, the (weight of the) dirham was (fixed at) six danaqs. When three-sevenths of that weight was added, it was a mithqal, and when three­tenths of a mithqal were taken away, it was a dirham.

When 'Abd-al-Malik saw fit to use the mint to protect against fraud the two coins (the gold dinar and the silver dirham) that were current in Muslim transactions, he determined their values as what they had been in the time of 'Umar. He used the iron stamp, but engraved words on it, rather than pictures, because eloquent words were obviously more congenial to the Arabs. Moreover, the religious law forbids pictures.

After ('Abd-al-Malik), the coinage remained the same for the whole Muslim period. Both the dinar and the dirham were round. The inscription on them was written in concentric circles. On one side, the legend included the names of God with the formulas: "There is no God but God" and "Praised be God," and the prayer for the Prophet and his family; on the other side, it included the date and the name of the caliph. (Coins were of) this type during the period of the 'Abbasids, the 'Ubaydid(-Fatimids), and the (Spanish) Umayyads. The Sinhajah had no mint except at the end of their rule when al-Mansur, the master of Bougie, used one. This has been mentioned by Ibn Hammad in his History.571

For the Almohads, al-Mahdi set the precedent of coining square dirhams and engraving a square on the round dinar. 572 He covered one side of the coins with the formulas: "There is no God but God" and "Praised be God," and the other with a legend of several lines containing his name, (which was replaced by) his successors with their names. This became the practice of the Almohads. Their coinage has kept that shape down to this time. It has been reported that before al-Mahdi came forth, he was described as "master of the square dirham" by the practitioners of magic who predicted the coming of his dynasty.

The present day inhabitants of the East have no coinage of fixed value. For their transactions, they use dinars and dirhams by weight, and their value is determined through standard weights corresponding to so-and-so many (dirhams, or dinars). The mint engraves 573 on them the formula "There is no God but God" and the prayer for the Prophet, as well as the ruler's name, as is also the practice of the Maghribis.

"This is the decision of the Mighty, the Knowing One." 574

Note: 575 We shall conclude our discussion of the mint by explaining the meaning of "the legal dirham" and "the legal dinar" and their value.

The dirham and the dinar differ in value and weight in different regions, cities, and provinces. The religious law has had occasion to refer to these (coins) and has mentioned them in connection with many laws concerning the charity tax, marriage (fees), fixed legal fines, and other things. Therefore, the religious law must have its own (dirham and dinar) with a specific value given to them by (the religious law itself) and agreeing with the intention of (the religious law). These coins are then the ones to which the laws refer. They are different from the non-legal (coins).

It should be known that since the beginning of Islam and the time of the men around. Muhammad and the men of the second generation, the legal dirham is by general consensus the one, ten of which are equal to seven mithqal of gold, and an ounce of gold is forty dirhams. Thus, the legal dirham is seven-tenths of a dinar. A gold mithqal weighs seventy-two average-sized grains of wheat. Consequently, the dirham, which is seven-tenths of a mithqal, has a weight of fifty and two-fifths grains. All these values are accepted by general consensus. The pre-Islamic dirham was of several kinds. The best was the tabari, a dirham of eight danaqs, and the baghli, a dirham of four danags.576 For the legal dirham, they took the mean, that is, six danaqs. The charity tax on one hundred baghli dirhams or one hundred tabari dirhams was fixed at five such "mean" dirhams.

People do not agree, however, that (the value of legal dirhams) was established (only) by 'Abd-al-Malik and by general consensus later on, as we have reported and as was mentioned by al-Khattabi 577 in the Kitab Ma'alim as-sunan and by al-Mawardi in the Kitab al-Ahkam as-sultaniyah.578 Thorough scholars of recent times do not think so, because it would imply that legal dirhams and dinars were not known in the time of the man around Muhammad and subsequently, even though legal tariffs such as the charity tax, marriage (fees), fixed legal fines, and other such things are based on them, as we have (just) mentioned. The truth is that the value of (legal dirhams and dinars) was known at the (earliest) times (of Islam) for the implementation of laws involving tariffs based on (legal dirhams and dinars), but their value was not individually specified outside. It was an internal custom of the Muslims, which had become accepted under the influence of the religious law, and which used a fixed value and weight for (dirhams and dinars).

The Muslim dynasty thereafter became great and flourishing. Conditions called for individual specification of the value and the weight of dirhams and dinars, in accordance with the religious law, in order to obviate the (constant) obligation to determine their value. This (situation) developed in the days of 'Abd-al-Malik. He specified the individual value of (the dinar and the dirham) outside (in real money), as it had been in theory.579 On the coins, he engraved his name and date after the two confessions of faith: ("I confess there is no God but God" and "I confess that Muhammad is the Messenger of God"). 'Abd-al-Malik withdrew the pre-Islamic coins altogether. They were eventually purified (melted down) and (re-)engraved with a legend, so that (in their original form) they became non-existent. This is the inescapable truth.

Later on, officials of the mint in the various dynasties deliberately disregarded the legal value of dinar and dirham. Their value became different in the different regions. The people reverted to a theoretical knowledge of (the legal dinar and dirham), as had been the case at the beginning of Islam. The inhabitants of every region calculated the legal tariffs in their own coinage, according to the relationship that they knew existed between the (actual) value of (dirhams and dinars in their coinage) and the legal value.

The weight (in gold) of the dinar is seventy-two average­sized grains of wheat. This is reported by thorough scholars and is the general consensus from which only Ibn Hazm deviates. Ibn Hazm thought that the weight of the dinar is eighty-four grains. This was reported as Ibn Hazm's opinion by Judge 'Abd-al-Haqq.580 Thorough scholars have refuted (Ibn Hazm's opinion). They considered it an unfounded assumption or an error, and rightly so. "God causes the truth to come true in His words." 581

It is also known that the legal ounce is not the one which is commonly used among the people, because the commonly used (ounce) differs according to the various regions, while the legal ounce is a theoretical unit which admits of no differences.

God "created everything. Then, He determined it." 582


The seal 583

(Use of) the seal is one of the government functions and a royal office. The sealing of letters and diplomas was known to rulers before and after Islam. It has been established in the two Sahihs that when the Prophet wanted to write to the Byzantine Emperor, he was told that the non-Arabs accepted only sealed letters. Thus, he took a silver seal (ring) and had the following legend engraved upon it: "Muhammad, the Messenger of God." Al-Bukhari said that he had the three words 584 written in three lines and that he used that ring for sealing. (Muhammad) said: "No one else should use a similar legend." He continued: "Abu Bakr, 'Umar, and 'Uthman used that ring for sealing. Then, it fell from 'Uthman's hand into the well of Arts. There was much 585 water in it, and its bottom could never be reached later on. 'Uthman was worried about the happening and considered it a (bad) omen. He had another ring made like it." 586

The way of engraving the seal, as well as its use for sealing, have different aspects. This is because the word "seal" is used for the instrument that is placed on the finger. From it, (the verbal form) takhattama "He puts the seal on" is derived. (Or, the word) is used to designate "end" or "completion." In this meaning, one says khatamtu al-amra "I reached the end of the matter," or khatamtu al-Qur'ana "I finished reading the Qur'an"; also khatam an-nabiyin "the last of the prophets," 587 and khatimat al-amr "the end of the matter." The word is also used for the stopper with which bottles or barrels are closed. In this sense, one uses (the form) khitam. Thus it is said in the Qur'an: wa-khitamuhu miskun "its stopper is musk." 588 Those who interpret the word here to mean "end" or "completion" are wrong. (Their interpretation is based on the assumption) that the last impression they have of their drink is the smell of musk. However, this is not the intended meaning. It is derived here from khitam in the meaning of "stopper." A stopper of clay or pitch is put upon the wine in the barrel. This preserves (the wine) and gives it a good smell and taste. In an exaggerated manner, the wine of paradise was thus described (in the Qur'an) as being closed with a stopper of musk, which is better smelling and tasting than clay or pitch, which are customarily used (for the purpose) in this world.

If (the word) "seal" is correctly used in all these meanings, it is (also) correctly used for designating the result that comes from (the application of sealing in all these meanings). This is as follows: When words or shapes are engraved upon (a seal) and it is then put into a paste of clay or an ink solution and placed upon a paper surface, those words (or shapes) will be reproduced on that surface. The same is the case if (the seal) is impressed on some soft material such as wax. The engraved legend remains impressed on it. If the legend consists of words, they are to be read from the left, if the engraving started correctly from the right, and from the right if the engraving started from the left, because the process of sealing reverses the direction of the writing on the (paper) surface and appears on it as the opposite of what it had been on the engraving, with right and left transposed. It is (also) possible to use the seal by putting it in ink and clay and placing it upon the (paper) surface. The words then appear engraved on it. This (process of sealing) expresses the idea of "end" or "completion," in the sense that a writing thus (sealed) is correct and valid. A particular letter somehow becomes effective through the use of such a signature ('alamah) 589 Without it, it would be invalid and imperfect. The sealing may (also) be (effected) through something written by hand at the end or the beginning of a letter, some well-chosen words of praise and glory (the formulas "Praised be God" and "Glory to God"), or the name of the ruler or amir, or of the writer of the letter, whoever he may have been, or through terms descriptive of the writer. Such (formulas) written by hand indicate the correctness and validity of the letter. They are commonly known under the name of "signature" ('alamah), but are also called "seal" because they are compared to the impression of the seal ring.

The "seal" the judge sends to litigants is connected with this usage. That "seal" is his signature and hand, validating his decisions. The "seal" of the ruler or caliph, that is, his signature, is also connected with the usage referred to. When ar-Rashid wanted to make Jafar wazir in the place of his brother al-Fadl, he said to their father Yahya b. Khilid: "Father, I want to change my 'seal' from my right hand to my left hand." He thus used the word "seal" for the wazirate, since it was one of the duties of the wazir in ('Abbasid) times to put his signature on letters and diplomas. The correctness of the use (of "seal") in this meaning is confirmed by at­Tabari's report on Mu'awiyah's negotiations with al-Hasan. When Mu'awiyah wanted to persuade al-Hasan to enter into an armistice, he sent him a blank sheet of paper, which he "sealed" at the bottom, and he wrote to him: "(Write down) on this sheet of paper, which I have sealed at the bottom, whatever conditions you want to make. They are granted." 590 "Sealing" here means a handwritten or other signature at the end of a sheet of paper.

It is also possible to impress a seal upon some soft substance, so that the letters of the legend appear on that substance, and to place the substance (with the seal impression) on the knots of the strings with) which letters are tied,590a and upon places for deposits (such as storehouses, strong boxes, etc.). This (use of the root khtm) is derived from the meaning of "stopper" mentioned before. In both cases, (we are dealing with) the result of (the application of) the seal, and, therefore, (the word) "seal" can be used in this sense.

The first to introduce the sealing of letters, that is, the use of the signature, was Mu'awiyah. He ordered 'Amr b. az-Zubayr to be given 100,000 (dirhams) by Ziyad (b. Abthi) in al-Kufah. The letter (containing the order) was opened, and the figure was changed from 100,000 to 200,000. When Ziyad presented his account (and the excess payment was noticed), Mu'awiyah disavowed it. He held 'Amr responsible for the money and kept him in prison until ('Amr's) brother 'Abdallah paid (the sum) for him. On that occasion, Mu'awiyah introduced the ministry (diwan) of the seal. This was mentioned by at-Tabari 591 who finished his statement by saying that "he tied the letters with strings. Formerly, they had not been tied:" It means, he closed them.

The ministry (diwan) of the seal is composed of the secretaries who see to it that the letters of the ruler are expedited and sealed, either by means of a signature, or by tying them. The word diwan is used for the place where these secretaries had their office, as we mentioned in connection with the ministry (diwan) of taxation.592

Letters are tied either by piercing the paper and tacking (the letter) together (with a string), as is the custom of the secretaries of the Maghrib, or by gluing the top of the sheet to the part of the letter over which the top is folded, as is the custom of the people in the East. Over the place where the letter is pierced and tacked, or where it is glued, a signature is placed. It guarantees that the letter has not been opened and that its contents have not been read. The people of the Maghrib place a piece of wax where the letter is pierced and tacked, and seal it with a seal upon which some signature is engraved for use in sealing, and the engraving is impressed upon the wax. In the old dynasties of the East, the place where the letter was glued was also sealed with an engraved seal that was put into a red paste of clay prepared for that (purpose). The engraving of the seal was impressed upon the clay. Under the 'Abbasid dynasty, this clay was called "sealing clay." It was imported from Siraf.593 It seems that this clay was restricted to the purpose of sealing.

(The use of) the seal, which is the (hand)written signature or engraving used for closing and tying letters, was peculiar to the ministry of correspondence (diwan ar-rasa'il). In the 'Abbasid dynasty, it belonged to the wazir. Later on, custom differed. It went to those who were in charge of (official) correspondence and the office of the secretaries in the (various) dynasties. In the dynasties of the Maghrib, people came to consider the seal ring as one of the royal marks and emblems. They made artistic seal rings of gold inlaid with gems of hyacinth (ruby), turquoise, and emerald. The ruler according to their custom wore the seal ring as an insignia, exactly as the Prophet's cloak and stick 594 were used in the 'Abbasid dynasty and an umbrella in the 'Ubaydid (-Fatimid) dynasty.

God governs all affairs in His wisdom.


The tiraz 595

It is part of royal and governmental pomp and dynastic custom to have the names of rulers or their peculiar marks embroidered on the silk, brocade, or pure silk garments that are prepared for their wearing. The writing is brought out by weaving a gold thread or some other colored thread of a color different from that of the fabric itself into it. (Its execution) depends upon the skill of the weavers in designing and weaving it. Royal garments are embroidered with such a tiraz, in order to increase the prestige of the ruler or the person of lower rank who wears such a garment, or in order to increase the prestige of those whom the ruler distinguishes by bestowing upon them his own garment when he wants to honor them or appoint them to one of the offices of the dynasty.

The pre-Islamic non-Arab rulers used to make a tiraz of pictures and figures of kings, or (other) figures and pictures specifically (designed) for it. The Muslim rulers later on changed that and had their own names embroidered together with other words of good omen or prayer. In the Umayyad and 'Abbasid dynasties, the tiraz was one of the most splendid things and honors. The houses within the palaces in which such garments were woven were called "tiraz houses." The person who supervised them was called "tiraz master." He was in charge of the craftsmen, the implements, and the weavers in (the tiraz houses), the payment of their wages, the care of their implements, and the control of their work. (The office of tiraz master) was entrusted by the `Abbasids to their intimates and their most trusted clients. The same was the case with the Umayyads in Spain and their successors, the reyes de taifas, as well as with the 'Ubaydid (-Fatimids) in Egypt and the eastern non-Arab rulers contemporary with them. When luxury and cultural diversity receded with the receding power of the (great) dynasties, and when the number of (small) dynasties grew, the office and its administration completely ceased to exist in most dynasties. When, at the beginning of the sixth [twelfth] century, the Almohads succeeded the Umayyads, they did not have the tiraz at the beginning of their dynasty, because they had been taught by their imam Muhammad b. Tumart al-Mahdi the ways of religion and simplicity. They were too austere to wear garments of silk and gold. The office (of the tiraz), therefore, had no place in their dynasty. Their descendants in the later (years) of the dynasty, however, re-established it in part, but it was not nearly as splendid (as before).

At the present time, we have personally seen quite a lot of (tiraz manufacture) in the flourishing and proud Merinid dynasty in the Maghrib. The Merinids had learned it from the contempory dynasty of the Ibn al-Ahmar (Nasrids) in Spain. They (in turn) followed the tiraz customs of the reyes





II. Tiraz

a. Probably from Northwestern Africa

b. Hispano-Moresque (Granada?), 15th century

de taifas and achieved in this respect something that speaks for itself.

In the contemporary Turkish dynasty of Egypt and Syria, the tiraz is very much cultivated in accordance with the importance of the realm (of that dynasty) and the civilization of its country. However, the tiraz is not produced within the houses and palaces of the dynasty, and it is not an office of the dynasty. (The tiraz) which is required by the dynasty is woven by craftsmen familiar with the craft, from silk and pure gold. They call it zarkash, a Persian word. The name of the ruler or amir is embroidered on it. It is made by craftsmen for the dynasty, together with other fine products, such as are fitting for (the dynasty) and are produced for it.

God determines night and day. He is the best heir.596


Large tents and tent walls

It should be known that one of the emblems of royal authority and luxury is small and large tents and canopies of linen, wool, and cotton, with linen and cotton ropes. They are used for display on journeys. They are of different kinds, large or small, according to the wealth and affluence of the dynasty. At the beginning of the dynasty, the same type of housing used by the people of the dynasty before they have achieved royal authority, continues to be used. At the time of the first Umayyad caliphs, the Arabs continued to use the dwellings they had, tents of leather and wool. Only a very few of the Arabs had at that date ceased to live in the Bedouin manner. When they went on raids or went to war, they traveled with all their camels, their nomad households (hilal), and their dependent women and children, as is still the case with the Arabs at this time. Their armies, therefore, consisted of many nomad households, and the distance between the encampments was great. The groups were widely separated, and each group was too far away to see the other, as is still the case with the Arabs.

That was why 'Abd-al-Malik used to need "drivers" (saqah "rear guard") to keep the people together and make them follow him, in the event they did not move after he had started to move. It is reported that 'Abd-al-Malik employed al-Hajjaj for that purpose upon Rawh b. Zinba's 597 recommendation. The story of how al-Hajjaj, as soon as he was appointed to that office, had the large and ordinary tents of Rawh burned when he discovered they were not on the move the day 'Abd-al-Malik had begun to move, is well known. The fact that al-Hajjaj was entrusted with the office shows what rank he held among the Arabs.598 The task of getting them to move was entrusted only to a person in no danger of being attacked by stupid Arab groups, one who possessed a group feeling sufficient to forestall such attacks. Therefore, 'Abd-al-Malik singled out al-Hajjaj for the rank, because he was confident that al-Hajjaj possessed enough group feeling and energy for it.

The Arab dynasty then adopted diverse ways of sedentary culture and ostentation. People settled in towns and cities. They were transformed from tent dwellers into palace dwellers. They exchanged the camel for the horse and the donkey as riding animals. Now, they used linen fabrics for their dwellings on their journeys, fashioning them into houses (tents) of various shapes and sizes, round,599 oblong, or square. In this connection, they displayed the greatest possible pomp and art.

Amirs and army leaders surrounded their large tents and canopies with a tent wall of linen. In the language of the Berbers of the Maghrib, the tent wall is called afrag.600 It is restricted to the ruler there. No one else has it. In the East, it is used by every amir, whether he is the ruler or not.

(The habits of) luxurious living then caused women and children to stay behind in their palaces and mansions. People, therefore, traveled light. The spaces between the encampments of the army became less far apart. Army and ruler encamped in one and the same camp, which was completely within the field of vision (of a single observer). It was a pretty sight because of the various colors. This remained the way dynasties displayed their luxury.

It has also been this way in the Almohad and Zanatah dynasties whose shadow extends over us. At the beginning of their power, when they traveled they used the ordinary sleeping tents they had used before they achieved royal authority. However, eventually, the dynasty adopted the ways of luxury, and people began to dwell in palaces. Then, they turned to using tents both large and small to a greater extent than they had intended (when they started using them).

It is a great luxury. However, armies become more vul­nerable to night attacks when they are assembled in one place, where a sudden attack may involve them all. Furthermore, they do not have their families and children with them, and it is for their families and children they would be willing to die. Therefore, other protective measures are needed in this connection, as we shall mention.601

God "is strong and mighty." 602


The prayer enclosure (magsurah) and the

prayer during the (Friday) sermon

These two things are caliphal prerogatives and royal emblems in Islam. They are not known in non-Muslim dynasties.

The enclosure for the ruler to pray in is a latticed screen around the prayer niche (mihrab), and the space immediately adjacent. The first to use one was Mu'awiyah b. Abi Sufyan, after a Kharijite had stabbed him. The story is well known.

It is also said that the first to use one was Marwan b. al­Hakam, after a Yemenite had stabbed him.603 Afterwards, all the caliphs used it. It became a custom distinguishing the ruler from the rest of the people during prayer. It arises only when dynasties are luxurious and flourishing, as is the case with all pomp.

It remained this way in all Muslim dynasties when the 'Abbasid dynasty dissolved and the number of different dynasties in the East grew. It also remained so in Spain when the Umayyad dynasty was destroyed and the reyes de ta'ifas became numerous. As for the Maghrib, the Aghlabids used it in al-Qayrawan. It was used later on by the'Ubaydid(-Fatimid) caliphs and by their Sinhajah governors of the Maghrib, by the Banu Badis in al-Qayrawan and by the Banu Hammad in al-Qal'ah.604 When the Almohads then took possession of all the Maghrib and Spain, they abolished the institution of (the prayer enclosure) in accordance with the desert attitude that characterized them. But then the dynasty flourished and acquired its share of luxury. When the third Almohad ruler, Ya'qub al-Mansur, appeared, he used a prayer enclosure. Afterwards, its use remained a custom of the rulers of the Maghrib and of Spain. The same was the case with all other dynasties. This is how God proceeds with His servants.

As to the prayer from the pulpit (minbar) during the (Friday) sermon, it should be said that the caliphs at first directed the prayers themselves. Therefore, they used to say a prayer (for themselves), after the obligatory prayer for the Prophet and the blessings for the men around him had been spoken.

The first to use a pulpit was 'Amr b. al-'As when he built his mosque in Egypt. 'Umar (b. al-Khattab) wrote to him: "And now: I have heard that you use a pulpit and thus raise yourself above the necks of the Muslims. Is it not sufficient for you that you are standing while the Muslims are at your heels? Therefore, I urge you to smash it to bits." 605

When pomp came into being and the caliphs came to be prevented from (personally delivering) the sermon and leading the prayer, they appointed delegates for both (tasks). The preacher mentioned the caliph from the pulpit. He mentioned his name in praise and prayed for him, because God had appointed him in the interest of the world, and because a prayer at such an hour was thought likely to be heard. Also, the ancients had said: "He who has a good prayer shall say it for the ruler."

The first to pray for the caliph during the sermon was Ibn 'Abbas. As 'Ali's governor in al-Basrah, he prayed for 'Ali during his sermon. He said: "O God, help 'Ali, (who represents) the truth." 606 This practice was continued afterwards. 607

Only the caliph was (mentioned). But when the time came that the caliphs were secluded and under the control of others, the men who were in control of the (various) dynasties often shared the (prayer) with the caliph, and their names were mentioned after his.

When these dynasties disappeared, (the custom) also disappeared. Only the ruler was privileged to be mentioned in the prayer from the pulpit, and no one else. No one was permitted to share that privilege with the ruler or to aspire to do so.

The founders of dynasties often neglected this institution when the dynasty still had a low standard of living and preserved the negligent and coarse Bedouin attitude. They were satisfied with a summary, anonymous reference to the one entrusted with the affairs of the Muslims. Such a sermon was called an "Abbasid sermon." This meant that the summary prayer could refer only to the 'Abbasid caliph, following the ancient tradition. They did not think of going beyond that, of clearly indicating the ruler and pronouncing his name.

The story goes that the amir Abu Zakariya' Yahya b. Abi Hafs took Tlemcen away from the founder of the 'Abd­al-Wadid dynasty, Yaghamrasin b. Zayyan.608 He then decided upon returning him to power under certain conditions, which he stipulated. Among them was the condition that his (Abu Zakariya"s) name should be mentioned from the pulpits of (Yaghamrasin's) province. On that occasion, Yaghamrasin said: "They (the pulpits) are those pieces of wood 609 of theirs from which they mention whomever they like."

Also, the ambassador of al-Mustansir, the third 610 Hafsid caliph in Tunis, was at the court of the founder of the Merinid dynasty, Ya'qub b. 'Abd-al-Haqq. One day, he was late in attending the Friday service. Ya'qub was informed that the ambassador did not attend the service because the sermon did not include mention of his ruler. Thereupon, Ya'qub gave permission to pray for him. This was one of the reasons why the Merinids took up the (Hafsid) propaganda.

Such was the attitude of dynasties at the beginning, when they still had a low standard of living and preserved the Bedouin outlook. But when their political eyes were opened and they looked toward (all) the aspects of royal authority and perfected the details 611 of sedentary culture and the ideas of ostentation and pomp, they adopted all the external attributes (of royal authority) and exhausted all the possibilities in this respect. They disliked the idea that anyone else might share in them, and they were afraid that they might lose them and that their dynasty would be deprived of the effect of them.

The world is a garden, 612 and God watches over everything.613