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The Mamluk Sultanate and the Mamluks seen by Ibn Taymiyya: between Praise and Criticism

Mehdi Berriah

Résumés

Indubitablement, Ibn Taymiyya est l'un des théologiens musulmans médiévaux qui a suscité le plus l'intérêt de la recherche contemporaine occidentale et arabe. Cet intérêt pour Ibn Taymiyya a conduit à une production considérable de travaux. Alors que ses fatwas et ses positions sur des questions dogmatiques, juridiques, philosophiques et politiques commencent à être mieux connues, sa position et sa vision concernant le pouvoir mamelouk ont été moins étudiées. Paradoxalement, l’analyse des sources mameloukes montre que les auteurs de la période fournissent bon nombre d’informations au sujet des relations ambivalentes qu’entretenait Ibn Taymiyya avec certaines grandes figures du sultanat. Cependant, ses considérations sur le pouvoir mamelouk restent encore assez mal connues. À partir de l’analyse des écrits d’Ibn Taymiyya et de ses contemporains, cet article tente de faire la lumière sur les positions du célèbre théologien hanbalite vis‑à‑vis du sultanat mamelouk et des Mamelouks concernant la religion et la gouvernance.

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Introduction

1A polemicist as well as a prolific author, Ibn Taymiyya wrote about many and varied topics, from questions of dogma and Islamic sciences to philosophical concepts and politics. The prolixity of his words constitutes a difficulty in the analysis as well as a consequent advantage for the researcher. The digressions are numerous in the writings of Ibn Taymiyya, which requires any interested researcher to examine his written production comprising thousands of pages, nearly all of which seem to be published.

  • 1 Non-exhaustive list: Michot, 2006; id., 2012b; Hoover, 2007; id., 2010, p. 55–77; id., 2013, p. 37 (...)
  • 2 Laoust, 1960, p. 2.
  • 3 “As far as patronage is concerned, the common idea that Ibn Taymīyah was at odds with the Mamluk a (...)

2Although Ibn Taymiyya’s positions on philosophy, certain practices of Sufi brotherhoods and doctrinal points, especially those relating to divine names and attributes, have been the subject of several works,1 those concerned with Mamluk power are less known. As Henri Laoust pointed out, Ibn Taymiyya’s action “is so closely linked to the story of the first Mamluks that one cannot fully understand one without the other […].”2 The Muslim writers of the Mamluk period offer us precious information on the relations between Ibn Taymiyya and the Mamluk authorities. Nevertheless, Ibn Taymiyya’s perception and consideration of the Mamluk Sultanate remain not well known and sometimes misunderstood. Indeed, Ibn Taymiyya rarely delivers opinions on the Mamluk sultanate, and is often seen as being against it and presented as a fierce opponent.3

3This situation, therefore, raises several questions, beginning with those about Ibn Taymiyya’s view of Mamluk power and the Mamluks: how did Ibn Taymiyya perceive the Mamluk ruling class? Was his perception uniform, plural, mixed? How was it expressed in his writings? What reasons can explain it? What does it show? By proposing to answer to these questions, I argue in this article that Ibn Taymiyya’s position vis‑à‑vis the Mamluks and the Mamluk Sultanate in relation to religion and governance was ambivalent.

  • 4 A locality situated forty kilometers south of Damascus, close to the Ghabāghib mountain. Yāqūt, 19 (...)
  • 5 Berriah, 2018, p. 431–469.

4In view of the superabundance of Mamluk sources, I will limit myself to a selection. I first rely on the authors of Mamluk narrative sources, giving priority to those who were contemporaries of Ibn Taymiyya and provide biographical elements about him. Example of these are al‑Yūnīnī (d. 726/1326) and al‑Nuwayrī (d. 732/1333), who, like Ibn Taymiyya, were in Syria both at the moment of the Mongol threat of the year 701/1301 and at Shaqḥab,4 in 702/1303, in the last great battle against the Ilkhanids, who suffered a crushing defeat.5 Al‑Nuwayrī was also a witness to the beginning of the dispute that occurred in Egypt during the years from 705/1305 to 709/1309 between Ibn Taymiyya and other ʿulamā’, especially the qāḍī al‑quḍā of the Mālikis ʿAli b. Makhlūf (d. 718/1318). The chronicles of al‑Birzālī (d. 739/1339), al‑Dhahabī (d. 748/1348) and Ibn Kathīr (d. 774/1373) are important since these three authors were students of Ibn Taymiyya. Biographies such as ʿUqūd al‑durriyya by Ibn ʿAbd al‑Hādī (d. 743/1344) as well as the biographical dictionary entries devoted to Ibn Taymiyya have been carefully examined, and the works of these authors occupy a place in my corpus. I also examine authors such as Badr al‑Dīn al‑ʿAynī (d. 855/1451), who may provide supplementary information. Finally, I rely on the texts of Ibn Taymiyya that directly or indirectly refer to the Mamluk power. Although it is impossible systematically to exploit such references that are rare, scattered, and diluted in the considerable mass of his writings, these data nevertheless can be found and are valuable to this study.

5We must remember the importance of modern studies on Ibn Taymiyya, in particular those of Yahya Michot, Jon Hoover and Caterina Bori, which made it possible, on the one hand, to understand better the complexity of Ibn Taymiyya's thought and the environment in which it evolved and on the other hand, to give new research perspectives within which this article wants to be inscribed. To summarize, this article does not aim to draw a definitive picture but is rather an invitation to further research on the subject. In this article, I highlight some aspects of Ibn Taymiyya’s perception of the sultanate and the Mamluks through analyzing sources, mainly those of contemporary authors of Ibn Taymiyya, examining the juxtaposition and the overlapping of their stories.

History of Ibn Taymiyya’s Relations with the Mamluk Power

6Before proceeding, we must consider the history of relations between Ibn Taymiyya and the Mamluk authorities, on which the works of Henri Laoust, Donald P. Little, Yahya Michot and Caterina Bori constitute a major contribution. The starting point of these relations is the jihad in which Ibn Taymiyya participated and which represents one of the themes on which he wrote the most. It should, moreover, be noted that the period of his life (661/1263–728/1328) corresponds to that of the conflict between the Mamluk Sultanate and the Ilkhanate (658–723/1260–1323) and during which jihad ideology was fundamental.

  • 6 Al-Birzālī, 2006, vol. 1, t. 2, p. 554; Ibn Kathīr, 1998, vol. 17, p. 704.

7The first action of Ibn Taymiyya in the name of the sultanate seems to date from the reign of Lājīn (696–698/1296–1299) when the latter, wanting to take advantage of the troubles that divided the Mongols in 697/1298, sent an expeditionary force to attack the kingdom of Armenia, which was the indefectible ally of the Ilkhanids. The Mamluk troops, commanded by amir ʿAlam al‑Dīn al‑Dawādārī, encountered difficulties and it became necessary to send reinforcements. According to Ibn Kathīr (d. 774/1373), it was at this time that Ibn Taymiyya intervened as the official legist and propagandist of the sultanate, when Sultan Lājīn commissioned him to preach jihad at the Umayyad Mosque in shawwāl 697/July 1298.6 The choice of the Umayyad Mosque, the largest and most prestigious in Syria, with its history and symbolism, shows that this preached jihad was important for the Mamluk authorities, probably because the situation was difficult for the troops of the Mamluk army in Armenia and it was thus necessary to act quickly.

  • 7 Al-Yūnīnī, 2013, vol. 4, p. 98–99, 109–110, 120; Al-Dhahabī, 1990–2000, vol. 52, p. 90, 93, 95; Ib (...)
  • 8 Ibn Kathīr, 1998, vol. 17, p. 735–736, 737–739; Al-Dhahabī, 1990–2000, vol. 52, p. 104.
  • 9 Ibn Kathīr, 1998, vol. 18, p. 23–28; Al-Yūnīnī, 2013, vol. 7, p. 11; Berriah, 2018, p. 431–469.
  • 10 Ibn Kathīr, 1998, vol. 17, p. 730.
  • 11 Ibid., vol. 18, p. 49. For more information see Laoust, 1940, p. 93–115; Salbi, 1957, p. 294–299; (...)
  • 12 Berriah, 2019, vol. 2, p. 794–806.

8Later, Ibn Taymiyya acted as interlocutor and even as a diplomat to Ghāzān (d. 703/1304) during the Mongol occupation of Syria in the first months of 700/1300, following the Mamluk defeat at Wādī al‑Khāzindār the 27 rabīʿ I 699/23 December 1299.7 At the same time, Ibn Taymiyya also played a leading role in the propaganda of jihad until 702/1302 in the face of the threat of a joint Ilkhanid attack by the kingdoms of Armenia and Cyprus to attempt to seize Syria.8 As stated above, in ramaḍān 702/April 1303, Ibn Taymiyya was with the Mamluk army which defeated Ghāzān’s troops at Shaqḥab.9 Finally, Ibn Taymiyya was in the expeditionary forces sent against the mountaineers of Kisrawān, the first time in shawwāl 699/June 1300 when he addressed the rebel leaders who, following their defeat at Wādī al‑Khāzindār, decided to return looted goods to the Mamluk army,10 and on the second occasion in 705/1305.11 The fact that Ibn Taymiyya actively participated in jihad and wrote on the subject makes him a unique and experienced ʿālim (scholar) on the doctrine of Mamluk jihad.12

  • 13 Berriah, 2021.
  • 14 Fons, 2010, p. 31–73; Morel, 2015, p. 368–397; Michot, 2017. Emmanuel Fons’ edition of the letter (...)
  • 15 Ibn Kathīr, 1998, vol. 17, p. 720.
  • 16 Al-Birzālī, vol. 2, t. 3, p. 445; Ibn Kathīr, 1998, vol. 18, p. 88–93.
  • 17 Berriah, 2021.
  • 18 Shams and Al-ʿImrān, 1422H (2001–2002), p. 198; Michot, 2020a.
  • 19 Shams and Al-ʿImrān, 1422H (2001–2002), p. 199; MichoT, 2020a.

9Besides his support and active participation in the Mamluk jihad, Ibn Taymiyya maintained relations with the Mamluk authorities. I will content myself with mentioning only a few instances, highlighting the place and the importance of Ibn Taymiyya’s influence on some of these authorities.13 Particularly well‑known are the letters he sent to Sultan al‑Nāṣir Muḥammad (d. 741/1341) encouraging him and his amīrs to come to Syria to fight the Mongols at the beginning of the 8th/14th century, when the Mongol threat was strongest. These letters have been the subject of many academic works.14 We know that during the Mongol occupation of Damascus in 699/1300, there was proximity between Ibn Taymiyya and Arjawāsh, the Mamluk commander of the citadel, the former encouraging the latter to continue to resist the Mongols.15 As has been said, Ibn Taymiyya attended the battle of Shaqhab in 702/1303, notably being present in the entourage of Sultan al‑Nāṣir, who showed him much respect. He was personally involved in rivalries between emirs during the usurpation of the sultanate by Baybars al‑Jāshankīr (d. 709/1310), before being imprisoned. Sultan al‑Nāṣir, once back in power in Cairo in shawwāl 709/March 1310, received Ibn Taymiyya with honor at the end of his detention in Alexandria the same month, proof of his high esteem for the Ḥanbalī theologian.16 Far from being just an outside observer, Ibn Taymiyya was a privileged witness because he had mobility even within the upper layers of the Mamluk hierarchy and gravitated for a time around the sphere of power.17 Ibn Taymiyya's influence on some emirs was such that Ibn al‑Jazarī (d. 738/1338) reports that, at his funeral, some amirs carried his coffin on their heads seeking his baraka.18 Still according to Ibn al‑Jazarī, a large tent was set up over the tomb of Ibn Taymiyya and the food of the readers of the Quran was at the expense of some amirs.19

  • 20 Taqī Al-Dīn Al-Subkī, 1347H, p. 6–42; id., 1347h, p. 43–53; id., 1347H, p. 55–58. See also Rapopor (...)
  • 21 Taqī Al-Dīn Al-Subkī, 1991. See also Olesen, 1991; Taylor, 1999, p. 185–195; Munt, 2014, p. 129–13 (...)
  • 22 Taqī Al-Dīn Al-Subkī, 1347H, p. 59–79. For more information see Hoover, 2009, p. 181–201; id., 201 (...)

10Although he enjoyed a reputation as a great scholar and pious Muslim during his time, Ibn Taymiyya was repeatedly accused of disturbing public order and promoting deviant belief, accusations which led to several stays in prison, where he died in 728/1328. Several ʿulamā’ cast him in an unfavorable light, such as, among others, the shāfi’īs Imām al‑Dīn ʿUmar al‑Qazwīnī (d. 699/1299), Badr al‑Dīn b. al‑Jamāʿa (d. 733/1333) and Taqī al‑Dīn al‑Subkī (d. 756/1355). The latter criticized certain of Ibn Taymiyya’s positions and ideas through rigorous argumentation on several issues such as divorce,20 visiting the tomb of Prophet Muḥammad, prophets, and awliyā’ (saints)21 and the temporality of Paradise and Hell.22 Ibn Taymiyya’s relations with the Mamluk power seem to have been ambivalent, much like what he wrote about the sultanate, which we observe in the following section.

A Pro‑Mamluk Sultanate activist

The Mamluk Sultanate: Symbol of the Power of Islam

  • 23 Berriah, 2019, vol. 2, p. 455–508.

11The 7th–8th/13th–14th century, in which Ibn Taymiyya lived, was probably the most difficult for the territories of Dār al‑Islām, that stretched from Spain in the west to Palestine in the east and were more than ever under threat. In the West, the Christian powers inexorably pursued the conquest of Andalusia, while in the East the Mongols conquered almost all Muslim territories and, driven by their goal of obtaining universal submission, aimed to seize Syria and Egypt. To make matters worse, the rest of the Crusader states along the Syrian coast, with their large network of strongholds, constituted a potential bridgehead for any new crusade from the Christian West.23

12The Mamluk Sultanate was the sole power to have succeeded in repelling all these threats, and ended the existence of the Crusader states by expelling the Franks from the coast in less than thirty years (1263–1291). It first contained the threat from the kingdom of Armenia‑Cilicia, ally of the Ilkhanids, before initiating the total conquest of its territory, finally forcing the Ilkhanids to recognize their inability to conquer Syria and forcing them to launch peace initiatives. In the end, the Mamluk Sultanate became the most powerful state of the Middle East and remained so until the beginning of the 8th/14thcentury.

  • 24 Ibn Taymiyya, 2005, p. 35, 240.
  • 25 "[…] على أصول فاسدة مخالفة للشريعة" Ibn Taymiyya, 2005, p. 40.
  • 26 Hassan, 2016, p. 117. But like his shaykh, al-Dhahabī was also critical vis-à-vis the political au (...)
  • 27 Haarmann, 1988, p. 61–77.

13Having participated in the Mamluks’ war effort against their enemies, it is logical that Ibn Taymiyya was a supporter of the Mamluk Sultanate and a pro‑sultanate activist on jihad affairs. This even though he generally viewed politics and governance at the time as being bad innovations not in accordance with Islamic law muḥdathāt24 and built “on a corrupt basis in contradiction with the sharīʿa”.25 Many other ʿulamā’ were supporters of the Mamluk Sultanate, such as Badr al‑Dīn b. Jamāʿa, al‑Dhahabī26 or, later, Abū Ḥamīd al‑Qudsī.27 An initial reading of Ibn Taymiyya’s writings highlights his perception of the Mamluk Sultanate as the Muslim power par excellence of the time. In a letter written to Sultan Muḥammad al‑Nāṣir (d. 741/1341) and in his Risāla al‑qubruṣiyya (The Cypriot Letter), Ibn Taymiyya believes that the sultanate represents a sign of the revivification and renewal of Islam (tajdīd al‑dīn) which, after being threatened for a long time, knows new power and prosperity:

  • 28 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011b, vol. 14, t. 28, p. 220.

فقد صدق الله وعده، ونصر عبده، وأعز جنده، وهزم الأحزاب وحده. وأنعم الله على السلطان، وعلى المؤمنين في دولته نعماً لم تعهد في القرون الخالية. وجدد الإسلام في أيامه تجديداً بانت فضيلته على الدول الماضيّة. وتحقق في ولايته خبر الصادق المصدوق، أفضل الأولين والآخرين، الذي أخبر فيه عن تجديد الدين في رؤوس المئين. والله تعالى يوزعه والمسلمين شكر هذه النعم العظيمة في الدنيا والدين، ويتمها بتمام النصر على سائر الأعداء المارقين.28

God fulfilled his promise, made victorious his servant, fortified his armies, and defeated the allied ones alone. And God has filled the sultan and the believers with his generosity, which has not happened in past ages. God has renewed Islam under his rule [Muḥammad al‑Nāṣir], evidence of his merit over earlier Muslim states. The word of the Truthful (the Prophet), the best of the first and last, about the renewal of religion (tajdīd al‑dīn) every century, was realized under his reign. And God the Most High inspires the sultan and the Muslims with their gratitude and thanks to these enormous benefits in the life of this world and for religion. God will complete these blessings with complete victory over all enemies of religion.

  • 29 Ibn Taymiyya, 1974, p. 26–27.

[…] جنود الله المؤيدة وعساكره المنصورة المستقرة بالديار الشامية والمصرية مازالت منصورة على من ناوأها، مظفرة على من عاداها […] والإسلام في عز متزايد، وخير مترافد، فإن النبي – صلى الله عليه وسلم – قد قال: "إن الله يبعث لهذه الأمة في رأس كل مائة سنة من يجدد لها أمر دينها." وهذا الدين في إقبال وتجديد […].29

[…] the soldiers of God strengthened, his armies made victorious [by God] and implanted solidly in Syria and Egypt are still victorious against those who fight against them, triumphing against those who attack them […] and Islam knows a growing glory and a good which helps and strengthens it. The Prophet ‑ may God's prayer and salvation be upon him ‑ said: “Certainly God sends someone to the community at the beginning of every century to renew the affairs of his religion.” And this religion is doing well, growing and renewing itself.

  • 30 Winter, 2016, p. 58–60.
  • 31 Friedman, 2005, p. 349–363; id., 2010, p. 188–199. On the concept of Mamluk inquisition see Straus (...)

14For Ibn Taymiyya, God revived and renewed Islam through the military power of the Mamluks and their exploits against the enemies of religion. Although Ibn Taymiyya’s anti‑Mongol religious considerations and those of the Mamluks, which were also political, converged, this was not always the case. As Stefan Winter demonstrated, the Mamluk expeditions against the Nuṣayrī and other Kisrawān populations in 705/1305 and 718/1318 seem to have been motivated more by economic than religious reasons.30 Ibn Taymiyya’s anti‑Nuṣayrī position, expressed in his fatwa, cannot, therefore, be considered as an indicator of an inquisitorial Mamluk policy against these minorities whom Ibn Taymiyya considered to be heretical.31 Ibn Taymiyya and the Mamluks seem to have had different reasons for attacking religious minorities in this region.

15In his Risāla al‑qubruṣiyya, Ibn Taymiyya highlights the Mamluk conquest of the Crusader strongholds and the final expulsion of the Franks from the Syrian coast:

  • 32 Ibn Taymiyya, 1974, p. 31.

لاسيما في هذه الأوقات والأمة قد امتدت للجهاد. واستعدت للجهاد. ورغب الصالحون وأولياء الرحمن في طاعته. وقد تولى الثغور الساحلية أمراء ذوو بأس شديد وقد ظهر بعض أثرهم وهم في ازدياد.32

[…] especially in these times, the community of believers has decided to lead and to prepare the jihad, and the virtuous and allies of the Merciful are willing to obey Him. Powerful amirs have conquered the [Frankish] fortresses of the coast, their influence is apparent and their strength is growing.

  • 33 On this topic see Ayalon, 1977, p. 1–12; Pryor, 1992, p. 131–134; Fuess, 2001, p. 45–71; Christide (...)
  • 34 Al-Nuwayrī, 2004, vol. 32, p. 10; Baybars Al-Manṣūrī, 1998, p. 366.
  • 35 Ibn Taymiyya, 1974, p. 32–33.
  • 36 Fuess, 2005, p. 11–28; Moukarzel, 2007, p. 177–198.

16The first major military feat of the Mamluk Sultanate involved the disappearance in barely thirty years of the Crusader states and the final expulsion of the Franks after almost two centuries of presence on the Syrian coast. Nevertheless, the Frankish threat lingered due to sporadic sea raids from Cyprus along the coasts especially in Syria, which repeatedly harmed the Mamluks, whose maritime warfare skills were significantly lower compared to their terrestrial ones.33 There is no doubt about the clear superiority of Christians over the Mamluks in the maritime domain, although it is true that the latter garnered some notable successes such as the capture, in 702/1303, of the island of Arwād, situated three kilometers from the Syrian coast in front of Tarsūs.34 In the face of maritime attacks launched from Cyprus, Ibn Taymiyya warned Christians against possible revenge by God and Muslims.35 Later, in 829/1426 under the reign of sultan Barsbay (d. 841/1437), the Mamluks did indeed conquer Cyprus.36

The Mamluks: al‑Ṭā’ifa al‑Manṣūra (the victorious group)

  • 37 Raff, 1973; Michot, 2011; id., 2012a; id., 2013; Aigle, 2016a, p. 283–305; id., 2016b, p. 255–282.

17For Ibn Taymiyya, if the Mamluks represented the cause of the renewal of the power of Islam, it was because God had charged and chosen them to strengthen the religion. He expressed this idea in many of his writings on jihad, especially in his fatwas against the Mongols.37 In a prose passage, Ibn Taymiyya praised the Mamluks, albeit without citing them directly:

  • 38 Correction :"سماواته"
  • 39 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011b, vol. 14, t. 28, p. 256.

وظهر لكل ذي عقل من تأييد الله لهذا الدين، وعنايته بهذه الأمة، وحفظه للأرض التي بارك فيها للعالمين بعد أن كاد الإسلام أن ينثلم […]. وأهطعت الأحزاب القاهرة، وانصرفت الفئة الناصرة، وتخاذلت القلوب المتناصرة، وثبتت الفئة الناصرة، وأيقنت بالنصر القلوب الطاهرة، واستنجزت من الله وعده العصابة المنصورة الظاهرة، ففتح الله أبواب سمواته38 لجنوده القاهرة، وأظهر على الحق آياته الباهرة، وأقام عمود الكتاب بعد ميله، وثبت لواء الدين بقوته وحوله، وأغم معاطس أهل الكفر والنفاق، وجعل ذلك آية للمؤمنين إلى يوم التلاق.39

And the support of God for that religion is apparent to every gifted person, the care he brings to that community, his protection of the lands in which he blessed the worlds after Islam nearly disappeared […]. The triumphant coalition went forward, the victorious group left, the hearts of solidarity were abandoned, the victorious group held firm, and the pure hearts were certain of victory, the troop victorious and apparent asked God to complete his promise, he then opened the gates of His heavens to these triumphant armies, and His clear signs appeared to the truth, the pillar of the Book (the Quran) stood up after leaning, and the standard of religion is firmly fixed with His strength and power, and He covers the nostrils of disbelief and hypocrisy, making it a sign to believers until the Day of Judgment.

18The words al‑qāhira (triumphant) and al‑nāṣira (victorious), each repeated twice, are used in the text as adjectives and concern Cairo (al‑Qāhira), the capital of the sultanate, and Muḥammad al‑Nāṣir (al‑nāṣira), the Mamluk sultan of the time. The use of prose for praise contrasts with Ibn Taymiyya’s generally drier writing style, as he is usually not loquacious in his praise except for the Companions, the Pious Predecessors, and some great scholars such as the founders of the four madhhab‑s.

  • 40 Ibid., vol. 14, t. 28, p. 289, 301.
  • 41 Ibn Faḍl Allāh Al-ʿUmarī, 2001–2004, vol. 3, p. 120–121.
  • 42 "[…] فنسأل الله أن يجعلنا منهم وأن لا يزيغ قلوبنا بعد إذا هدانا"Ibn Taymiyya, 1997, p. 168.

19In his second and longest anti‑Mongol fatwa, Ibn Taymiyya repeatedly used the expression al‑ṭā’ifa al‑manṣūra (the victorious group), which suggests the Mamluks.40 In his Masālik, Ibn Faḍl Allāh al‑ʿUmarī (d. 749/1349), a student of Ibn Taymiyya, also used al‑ṭā’ifa al‑manṣūra to refer to the Mamluks.41 In his ʿAqīda al‑wāsiṭiyya, Ibn Taymiyya identified this ṭā’ifa al‑manṣūra with al‑sunna wa‑l‑jamāʿa (Sunna and Community) and implored God to grant him the privilege of being a part of it.42 The origin of the expression is in a prophetic hadith of which there are different variants, among them:

  • 43 Related by Muʿawiyya.
  • 44 Related by ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb.
  • 45 Related by al-Mughīra b. Shuʿba.
  • 46 Related by ʿImrān b. Ḥaṣīn.

سمعت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: لا يزال من أمتي أمة قائمة بأمر الله لا يضرهم من خذلهم ولا من خالفهم، حتى يأتيهم أمر الله وهم على ذلك.43

لا تزال طائفة من أمتي ظاهرين على الحق حتى تقوم الساعة.44

لا يزال من أمتي قوم ظاهرين على الناس حتى يأتيهم أمر الله.45

لا تزال طائفة من أمتي يقاتلون على الحق، ظاهرين على من ناوأهم، حتى يقاتل آخـرهم المسيح الدجال.46

  • 47 Michot, 2017.

20The group (al‑ṭā’ifa) referred to in these hadiths is made victorious (manṣūra) by God, hence the expression of al‑ṭā’ifa al‑manṣūra (the victorious group) used by ʿulamā’. Ibn Taymiyya also used this expression in a letter addressed to Sultan Muḥammad al‑Nāṣir that seems to have been written between the end of the summer and the beginning of autumn 700/130047 at a delicate moment for the Mamluk Sultanate, when the Mongol army was advancing towards Aleppo while Egypt’s had turned back, thus leaving the people and garrisons of Syria to their fate:

  • 48 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011b, vol. 14, t. 28, p. 229.

فهذه الفتنة قد تفرق الناس ثلاث فرق: الطائفة المنصورة، وهم المجاهدون لهؤلاء القوم المفسدين.48

This fitna caused people to be formed into three groups: al‑ṭā’ifa al‑manṣūra (the victorious group) who are the jihad fighters who were waging war against this corrupt people.

  • 49 Amitai, 2004, p. 21–41.

21The fitna (disorder, strife, conflict, ordeal) discussed here concerns the episode of the first invasion by Ghāzān and his Armenian allies who, after their victory over the Mamluks at the battle of Wādī al‑Khāzindār in 27 rabīʿ I 699/23 December 1299, managed to occupy Syria temporarily before the Mamluks returned to the region. During this occupation, the Mongols and their Armenian allies committed several massacres and exactions on the civilian population of the region as well as dealt destruction.49 However, the Mongol threat was far from being averted and the Mamluk Sultanate had not fully recovered from its defeat. Ghāzān was anxious to give the coup de grace to the sultanate and launched a second campaign, and the announcement of the arrival of the Mongols caused great panic in the population.

  • 50 On this issue see Raff, 1973; Michot, 2011; id., 2012a; id., 2013; Aigle, 2016a, p. 283–305; id., (...)

22Of the three groups mentioned in the passage quoted above, the first is al‑ṭā’ifa al‑manṣūra (the victorious group), which refers to the Mamluks and those fighting alongside them against the “corrupt people” (al‑qawm al‑mufsidīn) meaning the Mongols and their allies. As an anti‑Mongolian activist aware of the danger of the suspicious conversion of Ghāzān and the deviant Islam of the "pseudo‑converted" Mongols,50 Ibn Taymiyya was convinced that the Mamluks could only be supported by God. In his fatwa against the Mongols, he reused the same expression of al‑ṭā’ifa al‑manṣūra to designate the Mamluk Sultanate to establish its moral superiority, its status in relation to doing God’s work and its right to conduct jihad:

  • 51 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011b, vol. 14, t. 28, p. 289.

أما الطائفة بالشام ومصر ونحوهما، فهم في هذا الوقت المقاتلون عن دين الإسلام، وهم من أحق الناس دخولًا في الطائفة المنصورة التي ذكرها النبيّ بقوله في الأحاديث الصحيحة المستفيضة عنه: لا تزال طائفة من أمتي ظاهرين على الحق، لا يضرهم من خالفهم، ولا من خذلهم، حتى تقوم الساعة.51

As for the group present in Syria, in Egypt and in their environs, they are at the moment the fighters of Islam and are the people who have the most right to be considered to be part of the ṭā'ifa al‑manṣūra that the Prophet mentioned and as reported in the authentic and widespread hadiths: “He will never cease to have a group of my community who will be apparent on the truth [and victorious], those who will oppose them will not be able to harm them until the Hour is established.”

  • 52 Ibid., vol. 14, t. 28, p. 290.
  • 53 Antrim, 2014–2015, p. 91.

23The place‑names “Shām” and “Miṣr” clearly refer to the Mamluk Sultanate. Ibn Taymiyya also quotes a prophetic hadīth reported by Imam Aḥmad in his Musnad, after Abū Umāma, that one of the characteristics of the members of al‑ṭā’ifa al‑manṣūra is that they are close to Jerusalem,52 which at the time was under Mamluk control and not far from the fighting against the Ilkhanid Mongols. To reinforce the position of the Mamluks and the defense of Syria, Ibn Taymiyya used what Zayde Antrim called “discourse of place”:53

  • 54 Ibid., p. 97–98.

In other words, his willingness to ascribe virtues directly to Syria is due to his historical context and his commitment to activism. The key to this agenda can be found at the opening of his essay on the manāqib of Syria where he states outright that “these [virtues] are among the things I depend on in my inciting the Muslims to fight the Mongols and commanding them to stay in Damascus and prohibiting them from fleeing to Egypt and calling upon the Egyptian army to come to Syria and to strengthen Syrians in this. Thus, Ibn Taymīyah celebrates Syria as a territory because it was Syrian territory that needed defending from a military assault by the Mongols. If it was simply the Syrian people who were virtuous, then they could flee to Egypt and remain virtuous, ceding the land to the Mongols. However, Ibn Taymīyah was calling for the defense of the territory itself, as well as the people in it, and he does so by representing it as a privileged destination for immigration and a divinely favored battlefield for the struggle against disbelief, past, present, and future.54

The Mamluk Sultanate: First Power of Dār al‑Islām

24As ṭā’ifa al‑manṣūra (the victorious group), for Ibn Taymiyya the Mamluk Sultanate was the first Muslim power of the time:

  • 55 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011b, vol. 14, t. 28, p. 290.

ومن يدبر أحوال العالم في هذا الوقت يعلم أن هذه الطائفة هي أقوم الطوائف بدين الإسلام: علماً، وعملاً، وجهاداً عن شرق الأرض وغربها […].55

And whoever meditates on the situation in the world today knows that this group is the worthiest of the religion of Islam at the level of science, deeds and jihad, both in the West and in the East […].

25But it was the Mamluk Sultanate’s ability to fight and defeat the enemies of religion, both from outside and from within, which made it the first Muslim power of all Dār al‑Islām:

  • 56 Ibid., vol. 14, t. 28, p. 290.

[…] فإنّهم هم الذين يقاتلون أهل الشوكة العظيمة من المشركين وأهل الكتاب، ومغازيهم مع النصارى، ومع المشركين من الترك، ومع الزنادقة المنافقين من الداخلين في الرافضة وغيرهم، كالإسماعيلية ونحوهم من القرامطة […]. والعز الذي للمسلمين بمشارق الأرض ومغاربها وهو بعزمهم، ولهذا لما هزموا سنة تسع وتسعين وستمائة دخل على أهل الإسلام من الذل والمصيبة بمشارق الأرض ومغاربها ما لا يعلمه إلاّ الله.56

[…] and they are the ones who fight the powerful among the associators and the people of the book by raiding against the Christians and the polytheists among the Turks but also by fighting the enemies of the interior like the zanādiqa, the munāfiqūn, rawāfiḍ and others like the Ismailis and their follows among the Qarmatians […]. And the glory of the Muslims of East and West is the fruit of their firm resolution. That is why when they were defeated in 699 (1399), all Muslims, from the East and the West, were touched by humiliation and misery to a degree that only God knows.

26In a passage from his second and longest fatwa against the Mongols, Ibn Taymiyya shares his opinion on the precarious situation of the territories of Dār al‑Islām:

  • 57 Ibid., vol. 14, t. 28, p. 290.

[…] سكان اليمن في هذا الوقت ضعاف، عاجزون عن الجهاد أو مضيعون له؛ وهم مطيعون لمن ملك هذه البلاد، حتى ذكروا أنّهم أرسلوا بالسمع والطاعة لهؤلاء، وملك المشركين لما جاء إلى حلب جرى بها من القتل ما جرى. وأما سكان الحجاز فأكثرهم أو كثير منهم خارجون عن الشريعة، وفيهم من البدع والضلال والفجور ما لا يعلمه إلاّ الله، وأهل الإيمان والدين فيهم مستضعفون عاجزون؛ وإنما تكون القوة والعزة في هذا الوقت لغير أهل الإسلام بهذه البلاد، فلو ذلت هذه الطائفة – والعياذ بالله تعالى‑ لكان المؤمنون من الحجاز من أذل الناس؛ لا سيما وقد غلب فيهم الرفض، وملك هؤلاء التتار المحاربون الله ورسوله الآن مرفوض، فلو غلبوا لفسد الحجاز بالكليّة. وأما بلاد أفريقية فأعرابها غالبون عليها، وهم من شر الخلق؛ بل هم مستحقون للجهاد والغزو. وأما المغرب الأقصى فمع استلاء الإفرنج على أكثر بلادهم، لا يقومون بجهاد النصارى هناك؛ بل في عسكرهم من النصارى يحملون الصلبان خلق عظيم. لو استولى التتار على هذا البلاد لكان أهل المغرب معهم من أذل الناس، لا سيما والنصارى تدخل مع التتار فيصيرون حزباً على أهل المغرب.57

[…] the inhabitants of Yemen in our time are weak, unable to carry out jihad or are not interested in it. They obey the sovereign of these territories and it is even reported that they sent a messenger to act of obedience and submission to those (the Mongols), whereas when the king of the associates (Ghāzān?) came to Aleppo happened what happened in terms of killings. As for the inhabitants of Hijaz, most of them, or a large number of them, have abandoned the precepts of Islamic law and left the religion. There are innovations, misguidance and debauchery among them, which God knows. And people of faith and religion are weak and helpless and certainly in these countries, strength and glory are clearly, in our time, among those not belonging to Islam. If this group falters ‑ God Almighty forbid ‑ the believers in the Hijaz will be among the most humiliated people, especially as Shīʿism has taken over and the ruler of these Mongols who were warring against God and his Prophet are, right now, Shīʿī. If they falter, all the Hijaz will be corrupted. As for Ifrīqiyya, the Bedouins have taken over, they are the worst creatures and deserve jihad and raids against them. In the Maghreb al‑Aqṣā, most of the territories are under the domination of the Franks and they do not make jihad against the Christians there but on the contrary, in their armies fight many Christians who carry the Cross. If the Mongols seize these countries (Egypt and Syria), the people of the Maghreb will be among the most degraded people, especially if the Christians are allied with the Mongols, and are one against the people of the Maghreb.

27This passage reveals two important things about Ibn Taymiyya: his significant knowledge of the Muslim world at the beginning of the 8th/14th century and the great objectivity with which he analyzes the difficult situation of the territories of Dār al‑Islam. Ibn Taymiyya was aware that the threats they faced were considerable and had never been greater, especially the Mongols. Neither Yemen nor the Hijaz nor even the Maghreb were powerful enough to defend Islam. Only the Mamluks that Ibn Taymiyya called brigades of Islam (katība plural katā’ib) were capable of defending the religion. But Ibn Taymiyya goes further by stating that if the Mamluks decline, the Muslim world in its entirety is condemned as well as Islam itself:

  • 58 Ibid., vol. 14, t. 28, p. 290.

[…] فهذا وغيره مما يبين أن هذه العصابة التي بالشام ومصر في هذا الوقت هم كتيبة الإسلام، وعزهم عز الإسلام، وذلهم ذل الإسلام. فلو استولى عليهم التتار لم يبق للإسلام عز، ولا كلمة عالية، ولا طائفة ظاهرة عالية يخافها أهل الأرض تقاتل عنه.58

[…] This, and other signs, clearly shows that these people who are in Syria and Egypt at this time are the brigades of Islam. Their glory is the glory of Islam and their belittling is the belittling of Islam. If it happens that the Mongols would defeat and subjugate them, then there would remain no glory in Islam […]

  • 59 Ibid., vol. 14, t. 28, p. 289.

[…] لو استولى هؤلاء المحاربون للّه ورسوله، المحادّون الله ورسوله المعادون للّه ورسوله، على أرض الشام ومصر في مثل هذا الوقت، لأفضى ذلك إلى زوال دين الإسلام ودروس شرائعه.59

[…] If these enemies of God and his Prophet (the Mongols), seized the land of Syria and Egypt as at that time, this would lead to the disappearance of the religion of Islam and the study of his precepts.

28In the eyes of Ibn Taymiyya, the Mamluk Sultanate was the most powerful Muslim state and the only one able to lead the jihad against the enemies of Islam since it was supported by God. Even though the Mamluks were the “victorious group,” they were not free from faults. Indeed, while he praised the Mamluks, Ibn Taymiyya also denounced and criticized, sometimes virulently, some of their acts and practices that he considered heterodox.

Criticism against the Mamluks

Heterodox Beliefs and Practices

  • 60 Michot, 2016, p. 8–10. According to Ibn Taymiyya, the origin of the military music came from Persi (...)
  • 61 Badr Al-Dīn Al-ʿAynī, 2014, vol. 1, p. 452–453. For Ibn Taymiyya, the Prophetic tradition at war i (...)

29If the army represented the spearhead of the sultanate and a machine of the jihad, certain habits were distasteful to Ibn Taymiyya, as shown by Yahya Michot, such as military music played with the drums and the terminology of Persian and Turkish origin used to designate the posts of the military hierarchy.60 It should be noted that for some ʿulamā’, music could be a psychological weapon in the service of Muslims. For the Ḥanafī Badr al‑Dīn al‑ʿAynī (d. 855/1451), banging the drum was allowed in the context of war to gather the fighters and as a signal for combat readiness. Although it is detestable (makrūh) to use bells (al‑ajrās) in the territory of Dār al‑ḥarb to avoid detection by the enemy, there is no harm in hanging them on a horse’s harness for frightening the enemy before the fight.61

30Ibn Taymiyya strongly denounced the heterodox beliefs and deviant practices widespread in the army. In his Qāʿida fī al‑maḥabbā, he criticizes those, including soldiers and amirs, who pretend to follow their forefathers and, in reality, practice turpitudes (fawāḥish) forbidden by God and his Prophet:

  • 62 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011c, p. 156.

وهذا الوصف فيه بسط كثير لكثير من المنتسبين إلى القبلة من الصوفية والعبّاد، والأمراء والأجناد […].62

And this characteristic is found in many people claiming Islam, whether among Sufis, worshipers, amirs and soldiers […].

  • 63 Ibid., 182–183.
  • 64 There is no consensus on the author’s identity. Fārūq Aslīm identifies him as Badr al-Dīn Baktūt a (...)
  • 65 Muḥammad B. ʿĪ Al-Aqsarā’ī Al-Ḥanafī, 2009, p. 488–494.
  • 66 Ibn Mankalī, 1988, p. 202–209. For more information on the science of letters see Lory, 2004 and C(...)
  • 67 Coulon, 2013, p. 398–497.
  • 68 Aḥmad B. ʿA Al-Būnī, 2007. For a full analysis of the Shams al-maʿārif see Coulon, 2013, p. 477– (...)
  • 69 Ibn Mankalī, 1988, p. 228–229.
  • 70 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011c, p. 156. See also Ibn Taymiyya, 2005, p. 225.

31In another passage, Ibn Taymiyya explains that many fighters of the Mamluk army ignorantly consider certain prohibited practices such as listening to music as being a form of worship (ʿibāda).63 These practices, which Ibn Taymiyya denounces, are mentioned by authors of the war and furūsiyya treaties. The author of the Nihāyat al‑su’l (d. 8th–9th/14th–15th),64 a furūsiyya book, devotes part of his last chapter to superstitious practices and beliefs.65 An experienced rank‑and‑file fighter of the Mamluk army, Ibn Mankalī (d. 8th–9th/14th–15th) mentions formulas and practices related to al‑sīmiyā (the science of letters).66 He cites them from Shams al‑maʿārif wa laṭā’if al‑ʿawārif by Maghrebī Abū al‑ ʿAbbās Aḥmad b. ʿAlī al‑Būnī (d. 622/1225),67 a book devoted, in large part, to the science of talismans, witchcraft and the invocation of the jinn.68 Ibn Mankalī creates a list of verses and suras from the Quran to repeat while a soldier is in combat, whether alone or in a group, to strengthen the body and mind, and the author confirms having tried these practices himself.69 However, these practices are not confirmed by the Quran, the Sunna or even the practice of Companions, as all these practices are considered bidaʿ (religious innovations) and are therefore the antithesis of the dogma of Sunni Islam that Ibn Taymiyya defends.70

32In a passage from his Qāʿida fī al‑maḥaba, Ibn Taymiyya continues his diatribe against the behavior of certain Mamluks by openly denouncing and criticizing the practice of homosexuality and pederasty:

  • 71 Ibid., p. 186. He mentions also this phenomenon in his al-Istiqāma. Ibn Taymiyya, 2005, p. 443.

و كذلك كثير من جهّال الترك وغيرهم قد يملك من الذكران مَن يحبّهم ويستمتع بهم، وقد يتأوّل بعضهم على ذلك: ”إِلَّا عَلَىٰ أَزْوَاجِهِمْ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُمْ“ ومن المعلوم أنّ هذا كفر بإجماع المسلمين، فالاعتقاد بأنّ الذكران حلال – بملك أو غير ملك ـ باطل وكفر بإجماع المسلمين واليهود والنصارى وغيرهم.71

And so many ignorant among the Turks and others can own a male slave, love him and enjoy him by justifying their act on the interpretation of the verse:" except with your wives or what your hands have acquired (as slaves)". It is known that this interpretation is unanimously disbelieved by Muslims, and the belief that men are licit (for sexual relations) ‑ slaves or free ‑ is invalid, disbelieved unanimously by Muslims, Jews, Christians and others.

33The term “ignorant Turks” here clearly refers to the Mamluks. This phenomenon, pointed out by Ibn Taymiyya, is serious because it excludes from Islam any person who interprets and considers the verse mentioned above as relating to male homosexual acts. To indicate the enormity of this interpretation and the consequent belief that homosexuality is legal, Ibn Taymiyya emphasizes that it is the opposite of that found in the two other monotheisms of Christianity and Judaism, of which he is usually critical. In other words, this belief and practice are so deviant that they oppose not only the values of Islam but the universal ones God established.

  • 72 "[…] كما سألني مرة بعض الناس عن هذه الآية، وكان ممن يقرأ القرآن ويطلب العلم […]."
  • 73 On the jalet bow see Nicolle 2011, p. 178; table p. 182–184; fig. 121 p. 317; Zouache, 2014–2015, (...)
  • 74 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011a, p. 299–307.
  • 75 Ibid., p. 302. In his Qāʿida fī al-maḥabba, Ibn Taymiyya writes:
  • 76 Ibid., p. 307.
  • 77 Boudot-Lamotte and Viré, 1970, p. 49.
  • 78 Nicolle, 2011, p. 178; table p. 182–184; fig. 121 p. 317.
  • 79 Zouache, 2014–2015, p. 316.

34Is Ibn Taymiyya exaggerating? Not necessarily. It should be kept in mind that Ibn Taymiyya lived alongside the Mamluks throughout his life and interacted with amirs, some of whom were his students, such as Arghūn al‑Nāṣirī (d. 750/1349). In addition to being close to different classes of society, Ibn Taymiyya heard stories and obtained information about these types of practices, which seem to have been well known. The fact that students in religious sciences (ṭullāb al‑ʿilm) posed the question on this subject on several occasions to Ibn Taymiyya, indicate that this phenomenon was not unknown.72 This passage intersects with his fatwas on the fight halls (qāʿāt al‑ʿilāj) and the jalet bow (bunduq or julāhiq).73 In the first fatwa, Ibn Taymiyya asserts that anyone who is accustomed to frequenting such places is liable to engage in illicit sexual relations,74 implying with men. Ibn Taymiyya considers that the risk is great enough that any young beardless male must be forbidden to return to these places, and he corroborates his remarks by a word attributed to ʿUmar b. al‑Khaṭṭāb. In the second fatwa devoted to demonstrating the forbidden and harmful nature of using the jalet bow (bunduq/julāhiq), Ibn Taymiyya reports that some ʿulamā’ are of the opinion that this type of shooting was a practice of the People of Lot.75 According to him, during his time, shooting with the jalet bow was practiced only by deviant people with an unfavorable reputation, seeking isolation through the practice of jalting to better “commit turpitudes and corrupt Muslim children.”76 The examination of the sources led scholars to consider that the practice of the bunduq was quite popular in the different classes of Mamluk society.77 More recently, the discovery of bullets in Damascus between 1999 and 200678 led Abbès Zouache to think that jalting was probably practiced by the soldiers in the citadel at the end of the Mamluk period.79

  • 80 In many passages of his al-Istiqāma, Ibn Taymiyya deals with this issue. Ibn Taymiyya, 2005, p. 22 (...)
  • 81 Ibn Taymiyya, 2005.
  • 82 Laoust, 1962, p. 33; id., 1960, p. 35; Makdisi, 1973, p. 118–129; Assef, 2012, p. 91–121.

35Ibn Taymiyya denounces a similar phenomenon regarding the contemplation and penchant that those in the circles of samāʿ have for beardless young men.80 Ibn Taymiyya criticizes these practices of certain Sufi brotherhoods but not Sufism (al‑taṣawwuf) as such. In many of his writings, but especially in his al‑Istiqāma, a commentary on the famous al‑Risāla al‑Qushayriyya, Ibn Taymiyya defends and praises taṣawwuf as a spiritual means of drawing closer to God and conforming to the Sunna.81 The ill‑established hypothesis that Ibn Taymiyya was a stubborn opponent of Sufism no longer holds, as Henri Laoust, George Makdisi and more recently Assef Qays clearly demonstrated his links with al‑taṣawwuf and especially with the al‑Qādiriyya Ḥanbalī brotherhood.82

  • 83 On this concept see Yosef, 2013, p. 346–352. See also “k̲h̲us̲h̲dās̲h̲iyya”, EI, consulted online (...)
  • 84 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011c, p. 190–191.

36Ibn Taymiyya’s critique of the khushdashiyya83 is also important. He considers that it is through this “Mamluk companion pact” that the Mamluks infringe the most prohibitions (probably among them homosexuality, implicitly), because each Mamluk must support and help his companion (khushdash) even with what the Islamic law forbids.84

Injustice and Corruption of the Authorities

  • 85 Tāj Al-Dīn Al-Subkī, 1964, vol. 8, p. 216–217. According to Yaacov Lev, this fatwa of al-ʿIzz b. ʿ (...)

37The amirs are not spared either, as Ibn Taymiyya indirectly criticizes their illicit purchase of Mamluks with the money of bayt al‑māl, which is not theirs but belongs to the Muslims, and thus represents an injustice. This position suggests the anecdote of the famous Shāfi’ī scholar al‑ʿIzz b. ʿAbd al‑Salām, who had demanded that amirs bought as Mamluks several years earlier with bayt al‑māl money be resold since this type of purchase was not allowed.85

  • 86 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011c, p. 190–191. For another passages that may also refer implicitly to the Mamluk (...)

38Ibn Taymiyya considers the improper use of Mamluks by the amirs to be an injustice, whether to make them proud and strut, humiliate them or use them against other people. Even if he does not quote the name of any amir or even the word amir, it is understood that this passage concerns them.86

  • 87 Caterina Bori considers it as a treaty of ethical leadership whereas for Mona Hassan it refers mor (...)

39In his al‑Siyāsa al‑sharʿiyya,87 Ibn Taymiyya urges the ruler to fight injustice and corruption within the authorities, especially when they take advantage of their positions to claim profits in various contracts:

  • 88 Ibn Taymiyya, 2015, p. 136–137.

وما أخذ وُلاة الأموال وغيرهم من مال المسلمين بغير حق فلولي الأمر العادل استخراجه منهم كالهدايا التي يأخذونها بسبب العمل، قال أبو سعيد الخدري – رضي الله عنه ‑ : هدايا الأمراء غلول وروى إبراهيم الحربي – في كتاب الهدايا – عن ابن عباس ـ رضي الله عنهما – أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: هدايا الأمراء غلول. […] وكذلك محاباة الولاة في المعاملة من المبايعة، والمؤاجرة والمضاربة، والمساقاة والمزارعة، ونحو ذلك هو من نوع الهدية […].88

What governors, who are in charge of finances, wrongfully take money from Muslims, then the righteous ruler must take back from them the money as well as the gifts they receive in the course of their office. Abū Sa'īd al‑Khudrī ‑ may Allah be pleased with him ‑ said: “the gifts of the amirs are tantamount to fraudulent taking of the spoils of war” and Ibrāhīm al‑Ḥarbī reports ‑ in the book of gifts ‑ according to Ibn ʿAbbās ‑ that God ‑ that the Prophet ‑ may God's prayers and greetings be upon him ‑ said: "The gifts of the amirs are tantamount to fraudulent taking of loot". […] as well as the favoritism of the governors in contracts such as those of sale, lease of land, al‑muḍāraba, al‑musāqā and al‑muzāraʿa and other contracts of this type as they are considered to belong to the category of gifts […].

  • 89 Muḥammad A Zahra, s.d., p. 325. For more information see Rapoport, 2010, p. 196, 216, 218.

40The first contract that Ibn Taymiyya mentioned, al‑muḍāraba, is a partnership between a provider of capital and a provider of work with a share in the profits. The second, al‑musāqā is an agreement between a landowner and a person pledging to plant the land in exchange for part of the harvest. The last, al‑muzāraʿa is an agreement between a landowner and a person committing to watering and cultivating the land in exchange for part of the harvest.89 These types of contracts, and others, are often quoted and discussed by the ʿulamā’ in the chapters of the muʿāmalāt (social relations) in the fiqh treatises. Although Ibn Taymiyya in his Siyāsa does not explicitly mention the amirs of the sultanate, the reference to various contracts suggests that the Ḥanbalī scholar was describing a practice that was still common in his lifetime, a suggestion which is corroborated by the multiple accounts of the chronicles.

  • 90 The word maks (pl. mukūs) refers to any tax or duty that was not originally in the Quran or the Su (...)
  • 91 Ibn Taymiyya, 2015, p. 129.
  • 92 Bori, 2016, p. 11.

41In addition to this levied money, Ibn Taymiyya condemns the imposition of mukūs90 as being against Islamic principles.91 In spite of his advice (naṣīḥa), which is an important principle for Ibn Taymiyya, his Siyāsa had nearly no impact on the sultan’s financial politics given the level of corruption reached and the great expenditures of all kinds during the third and last reign of al‑Nāṣir Muḥammad.92

  • 93 Ibn Taymiyya, 2015, p. 209.
  • 94 Cook, 2000, p. 157.

42The most serious corruption for the Ḥanbalī scholar was when a legal sentence (ḥadd plural ḥudūd) was canceled because of the social status of the convicted person or in return for a sum of money. For Ibn Taymiyya, this practice represented the greatest cause of fasad (corruption) among Bedouins, Turkmens, Kurds and people in the countryside as well as among the amirs and commanders of the army.93 “Power is inherently contaminated and contaminating”,94 and to illustrate this Ibn Taymiyya recounts an example of corruption which he may have witnessed or, at least, about which he had been told:

  • 95 Ibn Taymiyya, 2015, p. 209–210.

ألا ترى أن عرب المفسدين إذا أخذوا مالاً لبعض الناس، ثم جاءوا إلى وليِّ الأمر فقادوا إليه خيلاً يقدمونها له أو غير ذلك، كيف يَقوَى طمعُهم في الفساد، وتنكسر حرمة الولاية والسلطنة وتفسد الرعية.95

Do not you see that when corrupt Bedouins take money from people and then come to the governor with a horse or other goods, how greed and desire to corrupt strengthen, how sacredness, authority and sovereignty are flouted and how subjects are corrupted.

  • 96 Ibid., p. 229, 235.
  • 97 Ibid., p. 229.

43While it is known that Bedouin, Turkmen and Kurdish tribes were engaged in robbery, Ibn Taymiyya explains that corrupt soldiers of the Mamluk army also participated in this action.96 For him, these four groups are to be regarded as muḥāribūn that must be fought.97

  • 98 Bori, 2007, p. 23–25; id., 2016, p. 21.

44Ibn Taymiyya does not hesitate to denounce and condemn these anti‑Islamic practices by the Mamluk authorities, because the latter must act in harmony with the Quran and the Sunna to command right and forbid wrong, as politics serve religious functions and not the contrary.98

Ibn Taymiyya a Critical Loyalist?

  • 99 For his criticism of some practices such as al-samāʿ among certain Sufi groups see Ibn Taymiyya, 2 (...)
  • 100 Bori, 2013, p. 72.

45Although Ibn Taymiyya was a supporter of the Mamluk Sultan and amirs, this did not prevent conflict with them, given his stance vis‑à‑vis certain practices and beliefs among some Sūfīs and Ashʿarīs, which were powerful and dominant in Mamluk society at this period.99 By criticizing a doctrine advocated by ʿulamā’ close to the Mamluk power to which powerful amirs adhered, Ibn Taymiyya came de facto into conflict with the Mamluk power.100 It would be useless to recall all the incidents between Ibn Taymiyya and the ʿulamā’ and Mamluk authorities, the most important being those relating to the question of Divine Names and Attributes (asmā’u Allāh wa ṣifātuhu), the oath of divorce (ḥilf bi‑l‑ṭalāq), the pantheistic doctrine of Ibn ʿArabī (waḥdat al‑wujūd) and finally the visit to the graves (ziyārat al‑qubūr). An analysis of the latter two shows that the position of Ibn Taymiyya represents an indirect criticism of the Mamluk power, which perceived the Ḥanbalī scholar as a threat, against which it would act accordingly.

  • 101 Laoust, 1960, p. 19–22.
  • 102 Rapoport, 2005, p. 94–105; Baugh, 2013, p. 181–196.

46Around 704/1305, Ibn Taymiyya addressed to the shaykh Naṣr al‑Dīn al‑Manbijī (d. 719/1319) a letter with a courteous tone and useful advice (naṣīḥa) in which he explicitly condemns the doctrine of Ibn ʿArabī (d. 638/1240). Ibn Taymiyya indirectly attacked the most powerful character of the time, namely the amir Baybars al‑Jāshankīr (d. 709/1310) who was under the influence of the shaykh Naṣr al‑Dīn al‑Manbijī. These last two, helped by ʿulamā’ of Ashʿarī and Ṣūfī tendencies, were to succeed in condemning the creed defended by Ibn Taymiyya in his famous ʿAqīda al‑Wāṣītiyya by declaring it contrary to the Quran and Sunna and by having him imprisoned for a year and a half.101 In 718/1318, his fatwa on the oath of divorce (ḥilf bi‑l‑ṭalāq), which opposed the consensus (ijmāʿ), earned him a ban by the sultan from issuing fatwas on this issue, and subsequent imprisonment, being accused of failing to comply with the said prohibition.102

  • 103 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011d, p. 101.
  • 104 Talmon-Heller, 2019, p. 227–251.
  • 105 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011d, p. 121, 142, 144, 145, 151, 155–158, 169–176.

47About visiting the Prophet's tomb and tombs in general, Ibn Taymiyya adopted a position that was in opposition to beliefs and practices widespread in his time and strongly criticized by the Mālikī qāḍī al‑quḍā Taqī al‑Dīn Muḥammad b. Abī Bakr al‑Ikhnā’ī (d. 750‑751/1350‑51), who was an influential scholar and close to Sultan al‑Nāṣir Muḥammad. According to him, Ibn Taymiyya received a copy of al‑Ikhnā’ī’s text from one of his companions.103 In an important volume, Ibn Taymiyya replies and refutes al‑Ikhnā’ī’s words and views, and he addresses the same arguments presented in previous writings with additional details, demonstrating the weakness, deficiency and invention of the hadiths encouraging the visit of the Prophet’s tomb, and also by adopting a historical approach to the phenomenon of visiting tombs.104 Moreover, since al‑Ikhnā’ī is a qāḍī al‑quḍā of the Mālikī madhhab, Ibn Taymiyya uses Mālik’s and Mālikī ʿulamā’s opinions in order to refute the positions of al‑Ilkhnā’ī.105

  • 106 "[…] كلامه من الجهل والكذب والضلال […]" Ibn Taymiyya, 2011d, p. 103.
  • 107 "[…] مثل هؤلاء الذين يتكلمون في الدين بغير علم […]"Ibn Taymiyya, 2011d, p. 103.
  • 108 Ibid., p. 105–106.
  • 109 Little, 1975, p. 109.
  • 110 Id., 1973, p. 327.

48Beyond the refutation of religious arguments, Ibn Taymiyya is violent to al‑Ikhnā’ī and qualifies his words as words of ignorance, lies and misguidance106 and accuses him of speaking without science,107 which is worse for someone who calls himself qāḍī al‑quḍā.108 By violently criticizing a powerful ʿulamā’ close to the sultan, Ibn Taymiyya faced reprisals from the authorities, and on Friday 16th shaʿbān 726/18 July 1326, he was arrested and imprisoned without trial together with several of his disciples. Although the latter were released, Ibn Taymiyya remained more than two years at the Citadel of Damascus, where he died on 20 dhū al‑qaʿda 728/26 September 1328. Ibn Taymiyya's pugnacity and unwillingness to appease his adversaries contributed to the difficulties he encountered with the ʿulamā and the Mamluk ruling class.109 Although several factors are to be considered in the controversies provoked by Ibn Taymiyya, one of the most important regards his critical position vis‑à‑vis the Ashʿarī doctrine, which was the dominant doctrine at the time of the sultanate.110

  • 111 Bori, 2013, p. 73.
  • 112 Bori, 2003, p. 145–146; id., 2013, p. 78–80.
  • 113 Ibid., p. 78–80.

49These two examples show that although the criticisms of Ibn Taymiyya concerned the religious domain, in which the Mamluks were not competent, it is nonetheless they who incarcerated him. As Caterina Bori pointed out, the accusations against Ibn Taymiyya were not made by the Mamluk power but by the ʿulamā’ close to him and who had influence over him. The Mamluk authorities only intervened when Ibn Taymiyya threatened order, the public sphere and their authority by creating a stir with his fatwas and writings.111 In addition to opposing and criticizing the dominant Ashʿarī doctrine to which the Mamluk power adhered, the other danger that Ibn Taymiyya represented regarded his ability to popularize his own doctrine, that of the Ahl ḥadīth, which was in the minority, and to disseminate it to the masses. As Caterina Bori demonstrated, Ibn Taymiyya’s accessibility and proximity to the popular masses, in addition to his ability to popularise and summarize complicated subjects such as the interpretation of divine Names and Attributes, allowed the shaykh of Damascus to spread his thought in society, thus compensating for his lack of influence on the network of madrasas.112 In this way, Ibn Taymiyya was threatening the Shāfiʿī‑Ashʿarī political‑religious establishment, hence the systematic intervention of the Mamluk power and the affiliated ʿulamā’ to have him arrested.113

  • 114 Ibid., p. 81.
  • 115 Ibid., p. 71.
  • 116 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011d, p. 104, 110, 112, 131.

50This situation does not solely concern Ibn Taymiyya. Every scholar who publicly questioned the prevailing Ashʿarī doctrine was at some time worried about the authorities, as were al‑Mizzī (d. 742/1342) or Ibn Niqāsh (d. 819–820/1417).114 Although Ibn Taymiyya claimed to be loyal to the Mamluks, even during his final incarceration, he arguably had mixed feelings since it was due to a high political authority that he was in prison115 and especially since he seems to have fallen victim to a plot to falsify his words on the subject of visiting tombs, as he himself stated on several occasions.116

  • 117 Ibn Taymiyya, 2005, p. 73.

51For Ibn Taymiyya, do these heterodox and anti‑Islamic practices and behaviors reconsider and question the Mamluk Sultanate? If these practices and behaviors must be criticized and denounced, they cannot be a motive for rebellion against the Mamluk power. For Ibn Taymiyya, an absolute necessity was the existence of a strong Muslim power capable of guaranteeing the practice of sharīʿa and protecting Islam and Muslims from near‑permanent threats, which was crucial because it was the primary responsibility of a Muslim state. According to him, the weakness of power constituted an open door for innovations, beliefs, and heterodox practices, as is well illustrated by the placing of the Abbasid caliphate under the supervision of the Shiite Buyyids.117

  • 118 Ibn Taymiyya, 2005, p. 53–56, 310. Later in the text, Ibn Taymiyya reports that the Prophet “has f (...)
  • 119 Ibn Taymiyya, 2005, p. 53.
  • 120 Cook, 2000, p. 154; Hassan, 2010, p. 354; Morel, 2015, p. 371; Hoover, 2016, p. 194.
  • 121 Michot, 2006, p. 53–56; Hoover, 2016, p. 185, 191, 193.
  • 122 Cook, 2000, p. 157.

52If a ruler achieved these goals despite religious misconduct and even injustice, the latter were not a valid reason to overthrow him.118 Ibn Taymiyya was always a supporter of the Mamluk power, especially that of Sultan Muḥammad al‑Nāṣir, enjoining patience in cases of injustice and tyranny on the part of the latter and prohibiting any rebellion, in order to avoid a civil war (fitna).119 Ibn Taymiyya concretely followed the qāʿida fiqhiyya (jurisprudence rule) of the akhaf al‑ḍarrarayn (the lesser of the two evils) and of the maṣlaḥa al‑ʿāma (general interest),120 and he simultaneously adopted and called for a religious and non‑violent quietism position vis‑à‑vis Mamluk power.121 Nevertheless, as Michael Cook pointed out, this type of quietism differs from the moralist quietism “characterised by a certain timidity or meaness of spirit” that Ibn Taymiyya condemns.122

  • 123 "السلطان ظل الله في الأرض"، "ستون سنة من إمام جائر أصلح من ليلة بلا سلطان". Ibn Taymiyya, 2015, p. (...)
  • 124 Morel, 2015, p. 372.

53At the end of his Siyāsa al‑sharʿiyya, Ibn Taymiyya cites two well‑known expressions of political authority in Islam that are quoted by numerous authors before and after him: “The sultan is the shadow of God on Earth” and “Sixty years with an unjust sultan are better than a night without sovereign.”123 Their position at the end of his Siyāsa reflects his fear of fitna and of a civil war that would open the door to considerable evils. During a time when the Ilkhanids had converted and claimed Muslim leadership in the region and a climate of hesitation seemed to exist among certain Muslims,124 it was better for Ibn Taymiyya to live with the Mamluks despite their flaws than to accept the Ilkhanid power of Ghāzān, whom he viewed as a hypocrite, or worse yet, the openly Shīʿī ilkhan Öljeitü; this also represents a case of the akhaf al‑ḍarrarayn principle.

Conclusion

  • 125 Ibn Taymiyya, 2005, p. 53–56.

54An examination of Ibn Taymiyya’s writings reveals that he held a mixed opinion of the Mamluk Sultanate and the Mamluk ruling class. Although Ibn Taymiyya considered the Mamluks to be God’s chosen ones to protect Islam, which was more than ever threatened in the 7th–8th/13th–14th century, he also viewed them as those referred to by the prophetic hadith on al‑ṭā’ifa al‑manṣūra. On the other hand, he points to some of their heterodox and anti‑Islamic practices as well as to the corruption and injustice of the amirs, enjoining Muslims, in these latter cases, to be patient because rebellion against power leads to civil war, the worst thing for Muslims according to Ibn Taymiyya.125

  • 126 Hassan, 2010, p. 355.
  • 127 Michot, 2006, p. 53–56; Hoover, 2016, p. 195.

55As Mona Hassan pointed out, Ibn Taymiyya’s contribution in the field of politics is important especially “towards the development of a modern system of moral thought that does not rebel against the political order, but rather views itself as an integral component of the political system by representing a positive and moderate voice inspired by the Islamic tradition.”126 Ibn Taymiyya demonstrated loyalty to the Mamluk power, a critical, careful, and patient loyalty.127

  • 128 Crone, 2004, p. 135–139; Wiktorowicz, 2006, p. 207–239; Olidort, 2015, p. 1–25; Adraoui, 2018a, 3– (...)
  • 129 Decontextualizing a fatwa from the apparent analogy of contemporary situations that present certai (...)

56Today we find the argument of obedience to power (ṭāʿat al‑ḥukkām) in debates on the legitimacy of some of the political power in Muslim countries. Read and taken in a literal way, this argument is a leitmotiv often put forward by some groups claiming salafiyya to counter any protest movement or call for the overthrow of these powers due to practices that are serious and contrary to that of their conception of Sunni orthodoxy.128 If we recognize here the idea of Ibn Taymiyya, we cannot compare its context to that of today. This is a case of what we can call an analogical decontextualization.129

  • 130 Cook, 2000, p. 150; Bori, 2016, p. 17.

57In summary, the Mamluks were the jund Allāh (soldiers of God) and katība al‑Islām (the brigade of Islam) but also suffered from moral turpitudes in the eyes of Ibn Taymiyya. However, in the 7th–8th/13th–14th century, the priority was to fight the enemies of Islam, to protect Muslims and ensure the observance of sharīʿa. The Mamluks attained the former objective through military exploits (against the Mongols, Franks and Armenians) and the latter by working closely with the ʿulamā’, who were the sole holders of religious knowledge and capable of setting standards. Although Ibn Taymiyya had ambivalent relations with the Mamluk government, the cooperation between the ʿulamā’ class and Mamluks was a fundamental principle of his political thought.130

58Finally, the writings of Ibn Taymiyya are valuable sources on the sultanate and the Mamluks since they offer the perspective of a theologian, and his testimony provides important insights into the Mamluks’ exercise of power and religious practice. We learn more about the personality of Ibn Taymiyya both as an observer and witness of his time, along with his critique of the practices of any social class, even the powerful, that failed to respect his conception of Sunni orthodoxy.

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Bibliographie

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Notes

1 Non-exhaustive list: Michot, 2006; id., 2012b; Hoover, 2007; id., 2010, p. 55–77; id., 2013, p. 377–399; id., 2016, p. 177–203; El-Omari, 2010, p. 101–122; Özervarli, 2010, p. 78–100; Hallaq, 2011; Zouggar, 2012; id., 2014, p. 1–17; Assef, 2012, p. 91–121; Tamer, 2013, p. 329–374; Von Kügelgen, 2013, p. 253–328; Vasalou, 2016; Suleiman, 2019.

2 Laoust, 1960, p. 2.

3 “As far as patronage is concerned, the common idea that Ibn Taymīyah was at odds with the Mamluk authorities needs to be revisited.” Bori, 2009, p. 48-49.

4 A locality situated forty kilometers south of Damascus, close to the Ghabāghib mountain. Yāqūt, 1993, vol. 4, p. 184 and vol. 5, p. 101.

5 Berriah, 2018, p. 431–469.

6 Al-Birzālī, 2006, vol. 1, t. 2, p. 554; Ibn Kathīr, 1998, vol. 17, p. 704.

7 Al-Yūnīnī, 2013, vol. 4, p. 98–99, 109–110, 120; Al-Dhahabī, 1990–2000, vol. 52, p. 90, 93, 95; Ibn Kathīr, 1998, vol. 17, p. 719–720, 726.

8 Ibn Kathīr, 1998, vol. 17, p. 735–736, 737–739; Al-Dhahabī, 1990–2000, vol. 52, p. 104.

9 Ibn Kathīr, 1998, vol. 18, p. 23–28; Al-Yūnīnī, 2013, vol. 7, p. 11; Berriah, 2018, p. 431–469.

10 Ibn Kathīr, 1998, vol. 17, p. 730.

11 Ibid., vol. 18, p. 49. For more information see Laoust, 1940, p. 93–115; Salbi, 1957, p. 294–299; Hutait, 1997, p. 77–84.

12 Berriah, 2019, vol. 2, p. 794–806.

13 Berriah, 2021.

14 Fons, 2010, p. 31–73; Morel, 2015, p. 368–397; Michot, 2017. Emmanuel Fons’ edition of the letter contains several translation errors that Yahya Michot reported and corrected.

15 Ibn Kathīr, 1998, vol. 17, p. 720.

16 Al-Birzālī, vol. 2, t. 3, p. 445; Ibn Kathīr, 1998, vol. 18, p. 88–93.

17 Berriah, 2021.

18 Shams and Al-ʿImrān, 1422H (2001–2002), p. 198; Michot, 2020a.

19 Shams and Al-ʿImrān, 1422H (2001–2002), p. 199; MichoT, 2020a.

20 Taqī Al-Dīn Al-Subkī, 1347H, p. 6–42; id., 1347h, p. 43–53; id., 1347H, p. 55–58. See also Rapoport, 2005, p. 94–105; Baugh, 2013, p. 181–196.

21 Taqī Al-Dīn Al-Subkī, 1991. See also Olesen, 1991; Taylor, 1999, p. 185–195; Munt, 2014, p. 129–137; Talmon-Heller, 2019, p. 227–251.

22 Taqī Al-Dīn Al-Subkī, 1347H, p. 59–79. For more information see Hoover, 2009, p. 181–201; id., 2013, p. 377–399.

23 Berriah, 2019, vol. 2, p. 455–508.

24 Ibn Taymiyya, 2005, p. 35, 240.

25 "[…] على أصول فاسدة مخالفة للشريعة" Ibn Taymiyya, 2005, p. 40.

26 Hassan, 2016, p. 117. But like his shaykh, al-Dhahabī was also critical vis-à-vis the political authorities. For more information see Al-Dhahabī, 2010, p. 25, 45, 56, 168, 179–180.

27 Haarmann, 1988, p. 61–77.

28 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011b, vol. 14, t. 28, p. 220.

29 Ibn Taymiyya, 1974, p. 26–27.

30 Winter, 2016, p. 58–60.

31 Friedman, 2005, p. 349–363; id., 2010, p. 188–199. On the concept of Mamluk inquisition see Strauss, 1950, p. 11–26.

32 Ibn Taymiyya, 1974, p. 31.

33 On this topic see Ayalon, 1977, p. 1–12; Pryor, 1992, p. 131–134; Fuess, 2001, p. 45–71; Christides, 2008, p. 367–393; Zimo, 2018, p. 1–13.

34 Al-Nuwayrī, 2004, vol. 32, p. 10; Baybars Al-Manṣūrī, 1998, p. 366.

35 Ibn Taymiyya, 1974, p. 32–33.

36 Fuess, 2005, p. 11–28; Moukarzel, 2007, p. 177–198.

37 Raff, 1973; Michot, 2011; id., 2012a; id., 2013; Aigle, 2016a, p. 283–305; id., 2016b, p. 255–282.

38 Correction :"سماواته"

39 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011b, vol. 14, t. 28, p. 256.

40 Ibid., vol. 14, t. 28, p. 289, 301.

41 Ibn Faḍl Allāh Al-ʿUmarī, 2001–2004, vol. 3, p. 120–121.

42 "[…] فنسأل الله أن يجعلنا منهم وأن لا يزيغ قلوبنا بعد إذا هدانا"Ibn Taymiyya, 1997, p. 168.

43 Related by Muʿawiyya.

44 Related by ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb.

45 Related by al-Mughīra b. Shuʿba.

46 Related by ʿImrān b. Ḥaṣīn.

47 Michot, 2017.

48 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011b, vol. 14, t. 28, p. 229.

49 Amitai, 2004, p. 21–41.

50 On this issue see Raff, 1973; Michot, 2011; id., 2012a; id., 2013; Aigle, 2016a, p. 283–305; id., 2016b, p. 255–282. On the conversion of the Ilkhanids see Broadbridge, 2008, p. 65–98.

51 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011b, vol. 14, t. 28, p. 289.

52 Ibid., vol. 14, t. 28, p. 290.

53 Antrim, 2014–2015, p. 91.

54 Ibid., p. 97–98.

55 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011b, vol. 14, t. 28, p. 290.

56 Ibid., vol. 14, t. 28, p. 290.

57 Ibid., vol. 14, t. 28, p. 290.

58 Ibid., vol. 14, t. 28, p. 290.

59 Ibid., vol. 14, t. 28, p. 289.

60 Michot, 2016, p. 8–10. According to Ibn Taymiyya, the origin of the military music came from Persian kings. This tradition would have spread through the conquests of the Persian armies during Antiquity. Ibn Taymiyya, 2005, p. 238. See also Ibn Taymiyya, 2003, p. 213.

61 Badr Al-Dīn Al-ʿAynī, 2014, vol. 1, p. 452–453. For Ibn Taymiyya, the Prophetic tradition at war is"خفض الصوت" . Ibn Taymiyya, 2005, p. 238, also 242.

62 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011c, p. 156.

63 Ibid., 182–183.

64 There is no consensus on the author’s identity. Fārūq Aslīm identifies him as Badr al-Dīn Baktūt al-Rammāḥ whereas Shihaf al-Sarraf, Georges Tantum and Agnès Carayon claims that he is Muḥammad b. ʿĪsā b. Ismāʿīl al-Ḥanafī al-Aqṣarāʿī who died in 749/1348. On the hypothesis that Muḥammad b. ʿĪsā b. Ismāʿīl al-Ḥanafī al-Aqṣarāʿī could be the author of the Nihāyat al-su’l, Abbès Zouache writes in a footnote on page 131: « on ne sait à vrai dire pas grand-chose. Il serait mort, selon les versions, soit en 749/1348, soit vers 800/1400. On n’est même pas sûr qu’il soit l’auteur du Nihāyat al-suʾl wa-l-umniyya fī taʿlīm aʿmāl al-furūsiyya […] ». Tantum, 1979, p. 188; Al-Sarraf, 2002, p. 71; id., 2004, p. 154; Zouache, 2008, p. 131; Carayon, 2012, p. 106.

65 Muḥammad B. ʿĪ Al-Aqsarā’ī Al-Ḥanafī, 2009, p. 488–494.

66 Ibn Mankalī, 1988, p. 202–209. For more information on the science of letters see Lory, 2004 and Coulon, 2013, p. 603–662.

67 Coulon, 2013, p. 398–497.

68 Aḥmad B. ʿA Al-Būnī, 2007. For a full analysis of the Shams al-maʿārif see Coulon, 2013, p. 477–1035.

69 Ibn Mankalī, 1988, p. 228–229.

70 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011c, p. 156. See also Ibn Taymiyya, 2005, p. 225.

71 Ibid., p. 186. He mentions also this phenomenon in his al-Istiqāma. Ibn Taymiyya, 2005, p. 443.

72 "[…] كما سألني مرة بعض الناس عن هذه الآية، وكان ممن يقرأ القرآن ويطلب العلم […]."

Ibid., p. 186.

73 On the jalet bow see Nicolle 2011, p. 178; table p. 182–184; fig. 121 p. 317; Zouache, 2014–2015, p. 316. See also the review by Abbès Zouache https://www.ifao.egnet.net/bcai/28/50/ in particular p. 123.

74 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011a, p. 299–307.

75 Ibid., p. 302. In his Qāʿida fī al-maḥabba, Ibn Taymiyya writes:

"[…] وكذلك ما يوجد من التحالف بالتآخي وغير التآخي للملوك والمشايخ وأهل الفتوة ورماة البندق[…]." Ibn Taymiyya, 2011c, p. 196.

76 Ibid., p. 307.

77 Boudot-Lamotte and Viré, 1970, p. 49.

78 Nicolle, 2011, p. 178; table p. 182–184; fig. 121 p. 317.

79 Zouache, 2014–2015, p. 316.

80 In many passages of his al-Istiqāma, Ibn Taymiyya deals with this issue. Ibn Taymiyya, 2005, p. 226, 233, 262, 264, 268, 434. See also Ibn Taymiyya, 2011c, p. 184; id., 2011e, p. 358; Pouzet, 1983, p. 132; Homerin, 1985, p. 226 note 32. On the samāʿ see Ibn Taymiyya, 1991. The Taḥqīq al-naẓar fī ḥukm al-baṣar contains a complete chapter on the issue of seeing beardless young men (في النظر إلى الأمرد). Although the book is sometimes attributed to a certain Burhān al-Dīn al-Subkī, the author is not clearly identified. [Burhān Al-Dīn Al-Subkī], 2007, p. 50–59.

81 Ibn Taymiyya, 2005.

82 Laoust, 1962, p. 33; id., 1960, p. 35; Makdisi, 1973, p. 118–129; Assef, 2012, p. 91–121.

83 On this concept see Yosef, 2013, p. 346–352. See also “k̲h̲us̲h̲dās̲h̲iyya”, EI, consulted online on 29 January 2021 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1573-3912_ei2glos_SIM_gi_02377>

84 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011c, p. 190–191.

85 Tāj Al-Dīn Al-Subkī, 1964, vol. 8, p. 216–217. According to Yaacov Lev, this fatwa of al-ʿIzz b. ʿAbd al-Salām can be considered as a form of “conditional cooperation”. Mohamed El-Merheb notes this fatwa is also an implicit critique of the wealth taken by the Mamluk amirs and an invitation to surrender it to the bayt al-māl before contemplating the possibility of a new tax. Lev, 2009, p. 2, 21; El-Merheb, 2019, p. 365–366.

86 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011c, p. 190–191. For another passages that may also refer implicitly to the Mamluk amirs and sultan on this issue see Ibn Taymiyya, 2005, p. 243, 253, 269 and 329.

87 Caterina Bori considers it as a treaty of ethical leadership whereas for Mona Hassan it refers more to the literature of “Mirrors for Princes”. Hassan, 2010, p. 347; Bori, 2016, p. 23.

88 Ibn Taymiyya, 2015, p. 136–137.

89 Muḥammad A Zahra, s.d., p. 325. For more information see Rapoport, 2010, p. 196, 216, 218.

90 The word maks (pl. mukūs) refers to any tax or duty that was not originally in the Quran or the Sunna. Mukūs cannot, in theory, be imposed on any Muslim. In his Taḥrīr al-aḥkām fī tadbīr ahl al-Islām, Badr al-Dīn b. Jamāʿa says clearly: “As for collecting taxes and duties on the goods of Muslims transiting from one country to another, or on the sale of goods, this is forbidden from a religious point of view; neither Islamic law nor justice allows it. To the contrary, this measure is a well-defined type of illegal tax that constitutes an obvious injustice.” Badr Al-Dīn B. Jamāʿa, 1985, p. 145. A little further in the text, he emphasises that: “And all that is taken of the property of Muslims, whether from their businesses or subsistence through taxes, is a clear and obvious injustice […].” Badr Al-Dīn B. Jamāʿa, 1985, p. 145.

91 Ibn Taymiyya, 2015, p. 129.

92 Bori, 2016, p. 11.

93 Ibn Taymiyya, 2015, p. 209.

94 Cook, 2000, p. 157.

95 Ibn Taymiyya, 2015, p. 209–210.

96 Ibid., p. 229, 235.

97 Ibid., p. 229.

98 Bori, 2007, p. 23–25; id., 2016, p. 21.

99 For his criticism of some practices such as al-samāʿ among certain Sufi groups see Ibn Taymiyya, 2011. On the Ashʿarīs see El-Omari, 2010, p. 101–122.

100 Bori, 2013, p. 72.

101 Laoust, 1960, p. 19–22.

102 Rapoport, 2005, p. 94–105; Baugh, 2013, p. 181–196.

103 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011d, p. 101.

104 Talmon-Heller, 2019, p. 227–251.

105 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011d, p. 121, 142, 144, 145, 151, 155–158, 169–176.

106 "[…] كلامه من الجهل والكذب والضلال […]" Ibn Taymiyya, 2011d, p. 103.

107 "[…] مثل هؤلاء الذين يتكلمون في الدين بغير علم […]"Ibn Taymiyya, 2011d, p. 103.

108 Ibid., p. 105–106.

109 Little, 1975, p. 109.

110 Id., 1973, p. 327.

111 Bori, 2013, p. 73.

112 Bori, 2003, p. 145–146; id., 2013, p. 78–80.

113 Ibid., p. 78–80.

114 Ibid., p. 81.

115 Ibid., p. 71.

116 Ibn Taymiyya, 2011d, p. 104, 110, 112, 131.

117 Ibn Taymiyya, 2005, p. 73.

118 Ibn Taymiyya, 2005, p. 53–56, 310. Later in the text, Ibn Taymiyya reports that the Prophet “has forbidden to fight the rulers as long as they perform the prayer” ([…] ونهى عن قتالهم ما أقاموا الصلاة […]). Ibn Taymiyya, 2005, p. 455.

119 Ibn Taymiyya, 2005, p. 53.

120 Cook, 2000, p. 154; Hassan, 2010, p. 354; Morel, 2015, p. 371; Hoover, 2016, p. 194.

121 Michot, 2006, p. 53–56; Hoover, 2016, p. 185, 191, 193.

122 Cook, 2000, p. 157.

123 "السلطان ظل الله في الأرض"، "ستون سنة من إمام جائر أصلح من ليلة بلا سلطان". Ibn Taymiyya, 2015, p. 450. See also Michot, 2012b, p. 230, 258–259.

124 Morel, 2015, p. 372.

125 Ibn Taymiyya, 2005, p. 53–56.

126 Hassan, 2010, p. 355.

127 Michot, 2006, p. 53–56; Hoover, 2016, p. 195.

128 Crone, 2004, p. 135–139; Wiktorowicz, 2006, p. 207–239; Olidort, 2015, p. 1–25; Adraoui, 2018a, 3–26; id., 2018b.

129 Decontextualizing a fatwa from the apparent analogy of contemporary situations that present certain similitudes with the era of the fatwa. I study, analyse and try to explain this phenomenon in the research project The taymiyyan corpus of jihad: reception, decontextualization and instrumentalization by the contemporary jihadist movements. This research project has been awarded and is funded by the French Central Bureau of Worship for the year 2020–2021. https://www.orient-mediterranee.com/spip.php?article4467

130 Cook, 2000, p. 150; Bori, 2016, p. 17.

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Mehdi Berriah, « The Mamluk Sultanate and the Mamluks seen by Ibn Taymiyya: between Praise and Criticism », Arabian Humanities [En ligne], 14 | 2020, mis en ligne le 08 mars 2021, consulté le 13 avril 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/cy/6491 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/cy.6491

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Mehdi Berriah

Faculty of Religion and Theology, Centre for Islamic Theology ‑ Vrije Univeristeit Amsterdam, Editor for the SHARIAsource at the Program in Islamic Law ‑ Harvard Law School

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