Khidma in the Social History of pre-Mongol Iran

in Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
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Khidma (Ar., literally “service”) denotes the binding subordination of a slave or free-born noble to a lord, master, or patron—often the ruling sultan, but sometimes lesser figures—involving mutual obligations and mutual loyalty. This article studies this relationship and the ceremonies by which it was concluded in eastern Iran in the twelfth century, on the level of political thinking and, as far as possible, of political practice.

Khidma in the Social History of pre-Mongol Iran

in Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

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  • 1

    A. LambtonState and Government in Medieval Islam. An Introduction to the Study of Islamic Political Theory: The Jurists (Oxford: Oxford University Press1981); A. Black History of Islamic Political Thought. From the Prophet to the Present (Edinburgh: University Press 2011); P. Crone Medieval Islamic Political Thought (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press 2004); G. Bowering (ed.) Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought (Princeton: Princeton University Press 2013). The importance of the caliph as a source not only of legitimation for political rule but also of authority in legal matters is not discussed in the present article. E. Hanne “Abbasid Politics and the Classical Theory of the Caliphate”. In Writers and Rulers: Perspectives on Their Relationship from Abbasid to Safavid Times ed. Beatrice Gruendler and Louise Marlow (Wiesbaden: Reichert 2004): 49-71.

  • 2

    H. HorstDie Staatsverwaltung der Großselǧūqen und Ḫōrazmšāhs (1038-1231) (Wiesbaden: Steiner1964).

  • 3

    A. LambtonContinuity and Change in Medieval Persia. Aspects of Administrative Economic and Social History 11th-14th Century (Albany NY: Persian Heritage Foundation1988): 369-370; A. Lambton “Eqṭāʿ ”. Encyclopedia Iranica vol. 8 (Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers 1998): 520-533.

  • 5

    R. MottahedehLoyalty and Leadership in an Early Islamic Society (First published 1980 by Princeton University Press. New York: Tauris2001).

  • 6

    For the term see T. WelsfordFour Types of Loyalty in Early Modern Central Asia. The Tūqāy-Tīmūrid Takeover of Greater Mā warā al-Nahr 1598-1605 (Leiden: Brill2012): 17 and M. Rustow “Loyalty.” In The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought ed. Gerhard Bowering (Princeton: University Press 2013): 318a-319b.—Welsford defines “loyalty” as “an individual’s self-subjugation to something which is not him whether this be to an individual a group or any other entity.” He then proposes to analyze loyalties “with reference to people’s differing motivations for undertaking self-subjugation.” This is not the method followed in the present contribution. In the period under study Mottahedeh’s approach focusing on “juridical categories” seems to yield better results. Welsford Four Types of Loyalty: 17-21.

  • 8

    L. MarlowHierarchy and Egalitarianism in Islamic Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press1997).

  • 60

    A. MezDie Renaissance des Islams (Heidelberg: Winter1922): 132. The history of the term cannot be covered in this contribution.

  • 98

    Ibn IsfandiyārṬabaristān 2:104; 114-5. Every change implied the naming of another overlord in the Friday sermon and on the coinage; further obligations could vary.

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