The classic Mamluk era (mid-13th–early 16th century) was one of the brightest in the history of Egypt, as well as of the entire region of the Middle East. The reign of Sultan Burquq marked the beginning of what is known as the Burji or Circassian period (1382–1517). The fitna concept, which is the basic point of this article, holds a prominent place in the Islamic political doctrine, engaging with other key concepts, such as jihād and thaura. The significance of this notion and its application in the modern Arab-Islamic political culture require a detailed study of its connotations in the context of certain historical events.
The authors of the present paper trace the history of the fitna concept based on the thorough scrutiny of the relevant Arabic sources of the time. The analysis of rare epistolary artifacts of the Mamluk era forms novelty of the research. The main issue brought by the authors is to clearly discern two separate connotations of the fitna concept—as a historical and political phenomenon and, as a religious and legal notion.