RELIGION AND POLITICS UNDER THE EARLY 'ABBASIDS

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1 RELIGION AND POLITICS UNDER THE EARLY 'ABBASIDS

2 ISLAMIC HISTORY AND CIVILIZATION STUDIES AND TEXTS RELIGION AND POLITICS UNDER THE EARLY 'ABBASIDS 7he Emergence qf the Proto-Sunni Elite EDITED BY ULRICH HAARMANN AND WADADKADI BY MUHAMMAD QASIM ZAMAN VOLUME 16 BRILL LEIDEN NEW YORK KOLN 1997

3 The paper in this book meets the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the Council on Library Resources. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Zaman, Muhammad Qasim Religion and politics under the early 'Abbasids : the emergence of the proto-sunni elite I by Muhammad Qasim Zaman. p. em. - (Islamic history and civilization. Studies and texts, ISSN ; v. 16) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN (cloth : alk. paper) I. Islam and politics-islamic Empire. 2. Ulama-lslamic Empire. 3. Islamic Empire-Politics and government. I. Title. II. Series. BP55.Z '.1 ' dc CIP Die Det1tsche Bibliothek - CIP-Einheitsaufnahme Zaman, Muh~mmad Qasim: Religion and politics under the early 'Abbasids : the emergence of the Proto-Sunni elite /by,muhammad Qasim Zaman - Leiden ; New York; Koln: Brill,;1997 (IslamwStory and civilization ; Vol. 16) ISBN ~: NE:GT To My Parents ISSN ISBN 9Q Copyright by E.]. Brill, Leiden, The Netherlands All rights reserved. No part qf this publication may be reproduced, translated, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or othenvise, without prior written permission from the publisher. Authorization to photocopy items for internal or personal use is granted by EJ. Brill provided that the appropriate.foes are paid directly to The Copyright Clearance Center, Rosewood Drive, Suite 910 Danvers MA 01923, USA. Fees are sul!)ect to change. PRINTED IN THE NETHERLANDS

4 CONTENTS Preface... Abbreviations... ix xi 1. Historiographical Introduction... ~ Religious Trends in Early <Abbasid Society The Caliphs and the <Ulama': Defining a Relationship Early <Abbasid Patronage of Religious Life t 5. The Rhetoric of Religious Policies ~- "6. Conclusion 208 Bibliography Index I J

5 PREFACE I have been assisted in the writing of this book by the help and encouragement of several people. Professor Donald P. Little has provided wide ranging guidance on all matters academic, and it is his continuing support that has made- this work possible. Dr. Patricia Crone and Professor Wael B. Hallaq were kind enough to read, with their customary thoroughness, what now seem to me antediluvian versions of some of the chapters. I am grateful to them for much help, and hope in particular that my disagreements in this book with some of Dr. Crone's work will not obscure the debt that I owe to her writings. Others who have commented on various aspects of this work and helped improve it in sundry ways include Professors Charles J. Adams, Arthur F. Buehler, R. Stephen Humphreys, Abdulaziz Sachedina, and, in particular, the anonymous reader for E.J. Brill. But if even their advice did not always save me from errors of judgement or infelicities of style, the responsibility must evidently be mine alone. I wish also to thank Professors Adams and Sajida S. Alvi for much encouragement. Several fellowships from McGill University, Montreal, between 1990 and 1994 made it possible for me to work on this book. The libraries where the research for it was carried out include those of the Institute of Islamic Studies, McGill University, the British Library and the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Duke University, Durham. I am grateful to all these institutions for their assistance. Without the encouragement and support of my mother, and of Rabia, Fakiha and Hamid, I should not have been able to begin, much less to complete this book. To my late father, Professor Waheed-uz-Zaman, I ani grateful for a host of things, not the least of which is his contribution towards making me a historian. As for Shaista' s companionship, which I have been privileged to enjoy from the very inception of this work (as well as much help with preparing my manuscript for the publishers), I wish only to say that I cannot think of this book without thinking of her.

6 X PREFACE Some of the conventions employed in this book may, finally, be noted. Most of the Arabic words which occur in the following pages are transliterated and italicized. Those not italicized are certain terms of very frequent occurrence, such as 'ulama' and imam. Place names, such as Baghdad, Kufa, Basra, are not transliterated, and where Anglicized forms are common (for example, Damascus, Mecca, Medina), these have been adopted. The system of transliteration used here conforms to that of the Encyclopaedia of Islam, new edition (Leiden, 1960-); fim is transliterated as j rather than dj, however, and qiif as q rather than ~- - BSOAS CH!r E/(2) Elr GAS IJMES los JAL laos JESHO JNES JRAS JSAI ISS MW REI RSO, Sf TB Th&G ABBREVIATIONS Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, Cambridge History of Iran, III(2), ed. E. Yarshater, Cambridge, Encyclopaedia of Islam, new edition, Leiden, Encyclopaedia Iranica, London, Fuat Sezgin, Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums, I, Leiden, International Journal of Middle East Studies, New York, Israel Oriental Studies, Tel Aviv, Journal of Arabic Literature, Leiden, Journal of the American Oriental Society, New Haven, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Leiden, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Chicago, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, London, Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam, Jerusalem, Journal of Semitic Studies, Oxford, Muslim World, Hartford, Revue des etudes islamiques, Paris, Rivista degli studi orientali, Rome, Studia Islamica, Paris, al-kha!ib al-baghdadi, Ta'rlklf Baghdad, Cairo, Josef van Ess, Theologie und Gesellschaft im 2. und 3. Jahrhundert Hidschra: Eine Geschichte des religiosen Denken im fruhen Islam, Berlin and New York,

7 CHAPTER ONE HISTORIOGRAPHICAL INTRODUCTION I.1 This book studies the religious policies of the early cabbasid caliphs in relation to proto-sunni religious trends and the emergence of a religious elite associated with those trends. "Early cabbasid" is understood here as the period from the inception of <Abbasid rule in 132/ 749 to approximately the death of al-ma'mun in 218/833, though certain developments during the reigns of his three immediate successors will also be noted. That such actions and initiatives of the caliphs as had some bearing on religious trends have been broadly characterized here as "religious policies" is not to suggest that caliphal initiatives were necessarily well-conceived or systematically executed. :Nor does the reference to "religious policies" cover the entire spectrum of religious life in relation to -the early <Abbasids; it is essentially limited to those trends, and the people associated with them, which I have characterized in this study as "proto-sunni". "Proto-Sunni" designates those groups of the late 2nd/8th and 3rd/ 9th centuries which defined their identity in terms of what they saw as their adherence to the Prophet's sunna. The rhetoric of such adherence consisted not only in their increasingly unrelenting advocacy of the authority of J:tadUh, but also in a firm (but evolving and therefore not always consistent) commitment to the righteousness of the early Muslim community and the rectitude of the Prophet's first successors. One of the most characteristic of their attitudes was reverence for the memory of Abu Bakr and cumar, the first two successors of the Prophet Mu~ammad. The status of <Uthman and <Ali as righteous caliphs after cumar continued to be much debated in the second and early third centuries of Islam; many of those designated here as proto-sunnis counted Abu Bakr, cumar, and cuthman as legitimate caliphs, whereas many others included <Ali as one of them. There also were questions and many disagreements about the order, in terms ofreligious merit, in which these caliphs ought to be properly ranked. Gradually, it came to be.recognized that all four of the Prophet's

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