45. How disintegration befalls dynasties.
It should be known that any royal authority must be built upon two foundations. The first is might and group feeling, which finds its expression in soldiers. The second is money, which supports the soldiers and provides the whole structure needed by royal authority. Disintegration befalls the dynasty at these two foundations.
We shall mention first the disintegration that comes about through might and group feeling, and then, we shall come back and discuss the one that comes about through money and taxation.
It should be known that, as we have stated, the dynasty can be founded and established only with the help of group feeling.699 There must be a major group feeling uniting all the group feelings subordinate to it. This (major group feeling) is the family and tribal group feeling peculiar to the ruler.
When the natural luxury of royal authority makes its appearance in the dynasty, and when the people who share in the group feeling of the dynasty are humiliated, the first to be humiliated are the members of the ruler's family and his relatives who share with him in the royal name. They are much more humiliated than anyone else. Moreover, luxury has a greater hold on them than on anyone else, because they have a share in royal authority, power, and superiority. Thus, two agents of destruction surround them,
luxury and force. (The use of) force eventually leads to their being killed. They become sick at heart 700 when they see the ruler firmly established in royal authority. His envy of them then changes to fear for his royal authority. Therefore, he starts to kill and humiliate them and to deprive them of the prosperity and luxury to which they had become in large measure accustomed. They perish, and become few in number 701 The group feeling that the ruler had through them is destroyed. (That group feeling) was the major group feeling, which united all the other groups and subordinated them to itself. It dissolves and its grip weakens. Its place is taken by the inner circle of clients and followers who enjoy the favors and benefactions of the ruler. A (new) group feeling is derived from them. However, (this new group feeling) does not have anything like the powerful grip (of the other group feeling), because it lacks direct and close blood relationships. We have mentioned before that the importance and strength of a group feeling results from close and direct blood relationships,702 because God made it that way.
The ruler thus isolates himself from his family and helpers, those who have natural affection (for him). This (in turn) is sensed by the people of other groups. Very naturally, they become audacious vis-a-vis the ruler and his inner circle. Therefore, the ruler destroys them and persecutes and kills them, one after the other. The later people of the dynasty follow the tradition of the former in that respect. In addition, they are exposed to the detrimental effect of luxury that we have mentioned before. Thus, destruction comes upon them through luxury and through being killed. Eventually, they no longer have the coloring of (their) group feeling. They forget the affection and strength that (used to) go with it. They become hirelings for the military protection (of the dynasty). They thus become few in number. As a consequence, the militia settled in the remote and frontier regions becomes numerically weak. This, then, emboldens the subjects in the remote regions to abandon the cause (of the dynasty) there. Rebels who are members of the ruling family and other (types of rebels) go out to these remote regions. They hope that under these circumstances, they will be able to reach their goal by obtaining a following among the inhabitants of the remote regions of the realm. (They hope that) they will be secure from capture by the (government) militia. This (process) keeps on and the authority of the ruling dynasty continues gradually to shrink until the rebels reach places extremely close to the center of the dynasty. The dynasty then often splits into two or three dynasties, depending on its original strength, as we have stated.703 People who do not share in the group feeling of (the dynasty) take charge of its affairs, though they obey the people who do share in the group feeling of (the dynasty) and accept their acknowledged superiority.
This may be exemplified by the Arab Muslim dynasty. At the beginning it reached as far as Spain, India, and China. The Umayyads had complete control of all the Arabs through the group feeling of 'Abd-Manaf. It was even possible for Sulayman b. 'Abd-al-Malik in Damascus to order the killing of 'Abd-al-'Aziz b. Musa b. Nusayr in Cordoba. He was killed, and (Sulayman's) order was not disobeyed. 704 Then, luxury came to the Umayyads, and their group feeling was wiped out. (The Umayyads) were destroyed, and the 'Abbasids made their appearance. They curbed 705 the Hashimites. They killed all the 'Alids (descendants of Abu Talib) and exiled them. In consequence, the group feeling of 'AbdManaf dissolved and was wiped out. The Arabs grew audacious vis-a-vis (the 'Abbasids). People in the remote regions of the realm, such as the Aghlabids in Ifriqiyah and the inhabitants of Spain and others, gained control over them, and the dynasty split. Then, the Idrisids seceded in the Maghrib. The Berbers supported them, in obedience to their group feeling. Also, they were secure from capture by the soldiers or militiamen of the dynasty.
Men with a cause, for which they make propaganda, eventually secede. They gain control over border areas and remote regions. There, they are able to make propaganda for their cause and achieve royal authority. As a result, the dynasty splits. As the dynasty shrinks more and more, this process often continues until the center is reached. The inner circle, thereafter, weakens, because luxury undermines it. It perishes and dissolves. The whole divided dynasty weakens. Occasionally, it lingers on long after that. (The dynasty) can dispense with group feeling now, because it has colored the souls of its subject people with the habit of subservience and submission for so many long years that no one alive can think back to its beginning and origin. They cannot think of anything except being submissive to the ruler. Therefore, he can dispense with group strength. In order to establish his power, hired soldiers and mercenaries are sufficient. The submissiveness generally found in the human soul helps in this respect. Should anyone think of disobedience or secession - which hardly ever happens - the great mass would disapprove of him and oppose him. Thus, he would not be able to attempt such a thing, even if he should try very hard. In this situation, the dynasty is often more secure (than ever), as far as rebels and rivals are concerned, because the coloring of submissiveness and subservience is firmly established. Individuals would scarcely admit to themselves the least thought of opposition, and the idea of straying from obedience would not enter anybody's mind. (The dynasty,) therefore, is safer (than ever) so far as the trouble and destruction that comes from groups and tribes are concerned. The dynasty may continue in this condition, but its substance dwindles, like natural heat in a body that lacks nourishment. Eventually, (the dynasty) reaches its destined time. "Each term has a book," 706 and each dynasty has an end. God determines night and day.707
As for the disintegration that comes through money, it should be known that at the beginning the dynasty has a desert attitude, as was mentioned before708 It has the qualities of kindness to subjects, planned moderation in expenditures, and respect for other people's property. It avoids onerous taxation and the display of cunning or shrewdness in the collection of money and the accounting (required) from officials. Nothing at this time calls for extravagant expenditures. Therefore, the dynasty does not need much money.
Later comes domination and expansion. Royal authority flourishes. This calls for luxury. (Luxury) causes increased spending. The expenditures of the ruler, and of the people of the dynasty in general, grow. This (tendency) spreads to the urban population. It calls for increases in soldiers' allowances and in the salaries of the people of the dynasty 709 Extravagant expenditures mount. It spreads to the subjects, because people follow the religion (ways) and customs of the dynasty.710
The ruler, then, must impose duties on articles sold in the markets, in order to improve his revenues. (He does so,) because he sees the luxury of the urban population testifying to their prosperity, and because he needs the money for the expenditures of his government and the salaries of his soldiers. Habits of luxury, then, further increase. The customs duties no longer pay for them. The dynasty, by this time, is flourishing in its power and its forceful hold over the subjects under its control. Its hand reaches out to seize some of the property of the subjects, either through customs duties, or through commercial transactions, or, in some cases, merely by hostile acts directed against (property holdings), on some pretext or even with none.
At this stage, the soldiers have already grown bold against the dynasty, because it has become weak and senile it, as far as its group feeling is concerned. (The dynasty) expects that from them, and attempts to remedy and smooth over the situation through generous allowances and much spending for (the soldiers). It cannot get around that.
At this stage, the tax collectors in the dynasty have acquired much wealth, because vast revenues are in their hands and their position has widened in importance for this reason. Suspicions of having appropriated tax money, therefore, attach to them. It becomes common for one tax collector to denounce another, because of their mutual jealousy and envy. One after another is deprived of his money by confiscation and torture.711 Eventually, their wealth is gone, and they are ruined. The dynasty loses the pomp and magnificence it had possessed through them.
After their prosperity is destroyed, the dynasty goes farther afield and approaches its other wealthy subjects. At this stage, feebleness has already afflicted its (former) might. (The dynasty) has become too weak to retain its power and forceful hold. The policy of the ruler, at this time, is to handle matters diplomatically by spending money. He considers this more advantageous than the sword, which is of little use. His need for money grows beyond what is needed for expenditures and soldiers' salaries. He never gets enough. Senility affects the dynasty more and more. The people of (other) regions grow bold against it.
At each of these stages, the strength of the dynasty crumbles. Eventually, it reaches complete ruin. It is open to domination by (any) aggressor. Anyone who wants to attack it can take it away from those who support it. If this does not occur, it will continue to dwindle and finally disappear 712-like the wick of a lamp when the oil is exhausted, and it goes out.
God owns all things and governs the whole creation. There is no God but Him.