Author: John Nawas

At some moment in time, the patronate system that had been introduced as a way to incorporate non-Arab Muslims into Arab society, allowed the client of a patron to have clients of his own. Using this phenomenon of mawālī of mawālī as focal point, this article pinpoints when changes in the patronate system occurred and sketches the process of islamization of society during the first four centuries of Islam.

In: Journal of Abbasid Studies
In: Arabic Humanities, Islamic Thought
This book deals with patronate and patronage ( walā’) of early and classical Islam. Though Webster's Third has the term “mawla,” the concept remains very difficult to come to grips with. Fourteen contributions by renowned scholars analyze the social and cultural phenomenon of walā’ from various angles. As a whole, the book conveys what we presently know about patronate and patronage during the first four centuries of Islam. Inasmuch as the contributors have used different methods – from a close rereading of primary sources to the application of social theory and quantitative analysis – the book additionally offers an overview of methodologies current in the field of Islamic Studies.
Author: John A. Nawas


This article contends that the caliph al-Mutaim came to power as the result of Abbasid opposition to his predecessor al-Mamūn whose rule is generally considered the ‘Golden Age’ of the caliphate. This opposition had already started during the Civil War between al-Amīn and al-Mamūn and it continued during the latter’s reign after winning the Civil War. In the end, al-Mamūn was able to quell the opposition by accepting al-Mutaim, at a later stage, as a member of his own inner circle. Nevertheless, ultimately al-Mamūn’s reign ended in a victory for the anti-Mamūn wing of his family. With this change, the Mamūnite vision of a strong caliphal institution passed away and henceforth the Abbasid caliphate commenced its slow decline — confirmed later by the lack of an efficient central authority and the ensuing chaos. Thus, the collapse of the Abbasid dynasty-caliphate started much earlier — after the first three decades of the ninth century CE and not during the second half of that century, contrary to what most textbooks on Islamic history state.

In: Oriens