A major survival from the Roman Near East that endured within the caliphate was the episcopal and monastic networks making up the different Christian denominations. This article draws on the Chronicle of Michael the Syrian to illustrate how the caliphate became an increasingly hostile environment for Christian landed lay elites, incentivizing powerful families to take roles in the state’s administration or within the church. Using examples from the Jacobite church, I argue that the state became increasingly involved in church governance, by publicly endorsing the patriarch and his ability to raise revenues from Christians, and by supporting him with state troops against rival clerics.
This paper examines the participation of the civilian elite of the Ikhshīdid period during the succession crises of 946 and 961. The discussion of these events is preceded by a review of terminology referring to the elite and its composition.
At first sight, North African Ibāḍism emerged during the Berber uprisings against Umayyad and ʿAbbāsid rule and stayed at the margins of the empire. The imamate of Tāhart even stood, in the posthumous memory of the school, as an ideal counter-model of the caliphate. In fact, during the 8th and 9th centuries western Ibāḍism remained under the influence of its eastern strongholds, in particular Baṣra where the sectarian elite was well integrated into ʿAbbāsid culture. Intense scholarly exchange linked west and east thanks to intermediary meeting points like Mecca and Fusṭāṭ. The Ibāḍī political opposition of ‘Berber’ and ‘Arab’ ethnicity certainly worked against the imperial discourse, but the Persian shuʿūbiyya shaped it. The Rustamid imamate came to be the symbol of a Persian state in a Berber milieu and its capital and state apparatus underwent a gradual orientalization. Trade also played a key role in connecting the Ibāḍī network with the empire. Baṣra was a notorious emporium and Ibāḍī merchants circulated widely between the ʿAbbāsid realm and its western fringes. The Maghribīs owned stores in Fusṭāṭ and traveled as far as Baghdad and Sāmarrāʾ. Trans-Saharan trade, including slaves and gold, also presumably saw its first development thanks to imperial demand.
This study uses prosopographies pertaining to political elites from Khurāsān in order to examine patterns of social mobility, professional circulation, and structures of imperial rule in the ʿAbbāsid Empire during the 8th-9th centuries. It suggests that the early ʿAbbāsid Empire was dominated by informal patterns of rule that depended disproportionately on personal retainers and elite gubernatorial and military families to maintain structures of an otherwise bureaucratic centralized empire.
Using evidence from Arabic, Coptic and Greek papyri, this paper examines the role and organization of and individuals involved in mediation in the four centuries following the mid-7th-century Muslim conquest of Egypt. Conflict resolution, the actors involved therein and whether the process took place in an institutional framework or in a more informal environment all inform us regarding changing power relations in the province. The effect of shifting power dynamics between members of the local Egyptian elite and the incoming Muslim rulers as well as the effect this had on social organization, the position of local elites and their relations with their indigenous constituencies and the authorities will be discussed. The paper also considers what this says about modifications in Egyptian elite composition and how these modifications relate to developments at the caliphal center. Finally, the question of how the role of local elites as arbitrators can be connected to their position vis-à-vis the Egyptian population on the one hand and the empire’s political center on the other is examined.
This paper compares patterns of gubernatorial appointments in early Islamic al-Shām and Fārs until the reign of al-Muʿtamid. The provincial, subprovincial and super-provincial governors it identifies are listed in the attached appendix. By examining their backgrounds, the paper locates appointment patterns. Finally, the patterns in both provinces are compared and their divergence interpreted as an indication of an imperial strategy adapted to local circumstances.