Posted on September 9, 2021 by Mehdi Berriah
By Mehdi Berriah
This is part one in a series of four posts on the financing of jihād during the Mamlūk period.
While the spirit and laws of jihād have often attracted the attention of researchers, this is not the case for its economic aspect, which remains poorly known. It must be kept in mind that, apart from its religious and spiritual dimension, jihād is an undertaking that requires considerable resources, both human and material. In this series of posts, I will deal with the issue of financing jihād in Islamic law through three case studies from the Mamlūk period, in particular from the second half of the 7th/13th century.
On several occasions, the Mamlūks encountered significant difficulties in financing the jihād effort: in 658/1260, before the battle of ʿAyn Jālūt; from 669/1271 to 672/1273-1274; and in 699/1299, before the battle of Wādī al-Khāzindār. Citing insufficient resources from the bayt al-māl (public treasury), the Mamlūk sultans consulted the ʿulamāʾ to find a solution for replenishing the sultanate’s coffers in order to finance the costs of the jihād effort against the Mongols. The sultans sought the approval of the ʿulamāʾ for an increase in taxes or the use of waqf (pious endowment) revenues. Contemporary sources describe four episodes in which different sultans consulted the ʿulamāʾ regarding the financing of jihād. In each instance, the solutions proposed by the Mamlūk authorities were rejected by the ʿulamāʾ because they were not in conformity with the sharīʿa.
This attitude of the ʿulamāʾ, which represented a kind of counter-power, calls into question Emmanuel Sivan’s claim that the ʿulamāʾ were subject to, and forced to comply with, the demands of the Mamlūk ruling class. According to Sivan, the decisive Mamlūk victories over the Mongols, Crusaders, and Armenians, in addition to the essential financial and material support that they provided to the madrasas, meant that the ʿulamāʾ were obliged to overlook Mamlūk practices and behaviors that were against the sharīʿa.
Sivan minimizes the role of the ʿulamāʾ and ignores the complexity of the “symbiotic relations” between the Mamlūk military elite and the ʿulamāʾ. Both the Mamlūk military elite and the ʿulamāʾ exercised authority in society; the former had political power, whereas the latter were holders of religious knowledge and guarantors of orthodoxy. These two groups, although ethnically distinct, (the military elite being, mostly, Turkish and the ulamāʾ, mostly, Arabs or Arabized) cooperated and maintained close relations. The Mamlūks needed the ʿulamāʾ who contributed to the legitimacy of their rule. This explains why the Mamlūk sultanate was the Muslim political power that was the closest to the ʿulamāʾ class and that included them, more than any other Muslim state, in political affairs.
Given the severity of the Mongol threat, the opposition of some ʿulamāʾ to the imposition of new taxes to support the Mamlūk struggle against the Mongols may seem surprising. On what religious grounds did these ʿulamāʾ base their position? In what way(s) did Islamic law constrain Mamlūk authorities in their attempts to impose an additional tax to fund a critical war effort in the face of a major threat? Was the prohibition on imposing this additional tax final, or could it be lifted under certain circumstances?
To answer these questions, we must turn to chronicles and dictionaries that mention episodes related to the funding of jihād and the various means used by the Mamlūk authorities to achieve this end. The bulk of the analysis will be done in subsequent posts focusing on fiqh and political-religious treatises written by the ʿulamāʾ of the Mamlūk period. Many of the political-religious treatises were based in part on earlier treatises such as the Aḥkām al-sulṭāniyya of al-Māwardī (d. 450/1058) or the Sirāj al-mulūk of the Mālikī Andalusian Abū Bakr Muḥammad al-Turtūshī (d. 1059/520).
Our corpus includes three political-religious treatises written by contemporary Syrian ʿulamāʾ of the Mamlūk Bahri era, each belonging to a different madhhab: (1) Taḥrīr al-aḥkām fī tadbīr ahl al-Islām by the Shāfi’ī qāḍī-l-quḍāt Abū ʿAbd Allāh Badr al-Dīn Muḥammad b. Jamāʿa (733/1333); (2) the Siyāsa al-sharʿiyya fī iṣlāḥ al-rāʿī wa-l-rāʿiyya by the Ḥanbalī Abū al-ʿAbbās Taqī al-Dīn Aḥmad Ibn Taymiyya (728/1328); and (3) the Tuḥfat al-Turk fī-mā yajibu an yuʿmal fī-l-mulk, dedicated by the Ḥanafī qāḍī-l-quḍāt Najm al-Dīn Ibrāhīm b. ʿAlī al-Ṭarsūsī (758/1357) to the Sultan al-Nāṣir Ḥasan, which promotes the Ḥanafī madhhab to the detriment of the Shāfiʿī. In order to have all the madhāhib represented, we have also included into our corpus the fiqh treaty al-Dhakhīra by the Mālikī Shihāb al-Dīn Aḥmad b. Idrīs al-Qarāfī (684/1285). Each of these four authors discusses taxes in greater or lesser detail; it is, therefore, essential to analyze and compare these sources, to which I will turn in the next posts in the series.
 Sylvie Denoix, “Construction normale et rapport à la norme d’un groupe minoritaire dominant: les Mamlouks (1250-1517),” in Minorités et régulations sociales en Méditerranée médiévale: actes du colloque réuni du 7 au 9 juin 2007 en l’Abbaye royale de Fontevraud (Maine-et-Loire). Préface de Monique Bourin, eds. Stéphane Boisselier, François Clément, John Victor Tolan and Monique Bourin (Rennes: Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2010), 140; Sylvie Denoix, “Introduction: Les sultanats. Des pouvoirs absolus en interaction avec les sociétés qu’ils gouvernent,” Annales islamologiques 46 (2012): 8.
 Emmanuel Sivan, Interpretations of Islam. Past and Present (Princeton: Darwin Press:, 1985), 110-11.
 Yaacov Lev, “Symbiotic Relations: Ulama and the Mamluk Sultans,” Mamluk Studies Review 13, no. 1 (2009): 2, 10-26. See also Jonathan P. Berkey, “Mamluk Religious Policy,” Mamluk Studies Review 13, no. 2 (2009): 8, 19.
 Ulrich Haarmann, “Arabic in Speech, Turkish in Lineage: Mamluks and their Sons in the Intellectual Life of Fourteenth-Century Egypt and Syria,” Journal of Semitic Studies 33, no. 1 (1988) : 174-76; Sylvie Denoix, “Construction normale et rapport à la norme d’un groupe minoritaire dominant: les Mamlouks (1250-1517),” in Minorités et régulations sociales en Méditerranée médiévale: actes du colloque réuni du 7 au 9 juin 2007 en l’Abbaye royale de Fontevraud (Maine-et-Loire). Préface de Monique Bourin, eds. Stéphane Boisselier, François Clément, John Victor Tolan and Monique Bourin (Rennes : Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2010), 128.
 Ulrich Haarmann, “Arabic in Speech, Turkish in Lineage,” 81-114; Ulrich Haarmann, “Ideology and History, Identity and Alterity: the Arab Image of the Turks from the Abbassid to Modern Egypt,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 20, no. 2 (1988): 175-96; Ulrich Haarmann, “Rather the Injustice of the Turks than the Righteousness of the Arabs-Changing Attitudes towards Mamluk Rule in the Late Fifteenth Century,” Studia Islamica 68 (1988): 61-77; Sylvie Denoix, “Introduction: Les sultanats. Des pouvoirs absolus en interaction avec les sociétés qu’ils gouvernent,” Annales Islamologiques 46 (2012): 5.
 Mathieu Eychenne, Liens personnels, clientélisme et réseaux de pouvoir dans le sultanat mamelouk (milieu XIIIe-fin XIVe siècle) (Damascus: Presses de l’Ifpo, 2013); Éric Geoffroy, Le soufisme en Égypte et en Syrie sous les derniers mamelouks et les premiers Ottomans. Orientation spirituelles et enjeux culturels (Damascus: Presses de l’Ifpo, 1996), 54-61.
 Anne Broadbridge, Kingship and Ideology in the Islamic and Mongol Worlds (Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2008), 14; Jean-Claude Garcin, “Le sultan et Pharaon (le politique et le religieux dans l’Égypte mamluke),” in Espaces, pouvoirs et idéologies de l’Égypte médiévale, ed. J.-C. Garcin (London: Routledge, 1987), 269.
 Antony Black, The History of Islamic Political Thought from the Prophet to the Present (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011), 146.
 It exists in two different edited versions. See Caterina Bori, “One or Two Versions of al-Siyāsa al-Sharʿiyya of Ibn Taymiyya? And What Do They Tell Us?” ASK Working Paper 26 (2016): 1-27.
 For more information on the Tuḥfa see Baki Tezcan, “Ḥanafīsm and the Turks in Al-Ṭarsūsī’s Gift for the Turks (1352),” Mamluk Studies Review 15 (2011): 67-86; Michael Winter, “Inter-Madhhab Competition in Mamlūk Damascus: Al-Ṭarsūsī’s Counsel for the Turkish Sultans,” Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 25 (2011): 195-211; Mohamad El-Merheb, “‘There is no just ruler at this time!’” Political Censure in Pre-Modern Islamic Juristic Discourses,” in Kritik am Herrscher in vormodernen monarchischen Gesellschaften – Criticizing the Ruler in Pre-Modern Monarchical Societies, eds. Karina Kellermann, Alheydis Plassmann, Christian Schwermann (Göttingen: Bonn University Press, 2019), 367-68.
(Suggested Bluebook citation: Mehdi Berriah, The Issue of Financing Jihād in Islamic Law: Three Case Studies from the Mamlūk Period, Islamic Law Blog (Sept. 9, 2021), https://islamiclaw.blog/2021/09/09/mehdi-berriah-guest-editor/)
(Suggested Chicago citation: Mehdi Berriah, “The Issue of Financing Jihād in Islamic Law: Three Case Studies from the Mamlūk Period,” Islamic Law Blog, September 9, 2021, https://islamiclaw.blog/2021/09/09/mehdi-berriah-guest-editor/)