3 A ‘Rediscovered’ Letter of the Umayyad Caliph ʿUmar b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (r. 99–101/717–720)

Caliphal Authorship and Legal Authority in al-Risāla fī l-fayʾ

In: Rulers as Authors in the Islamic World
Sean W. Anthony
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This chapter examines a rediscovered letter attributed to the Umayyad caliph ʿUmar b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz called al-Risālah fī l-fayʾ (‘The Epistle on the Conquest-Revenue’). The epistle, I argue, serves as a paradigmatic example for how an early caliph could exercise legal authority through authoring his own epistles and exert a decisive influence on legal debates in the realm Islamic law via the authority of his office and the weight of his charismatic leadership. An edition of the Arabic text and an English translation are also provided.

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