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.
The term ṣāḥib sunna is frequently encountered in classical Arabic biographical dictionaries. In this article, I compare the group of Islamic religious scholars (ulama) identified as aṣḥāb sunna with comparable religious scholars who did not receive such a designation. The results show that the aṣḥāb sunna constituted a distinct group of Muslim religious scholars. I suggest that the formation of the aṣḥāb sunna was further prompted by the Miḥna initiated by the caliph al-Maʾmūn. The opposition of the aṣḥāb sunna to the Miḥna contributed to the development of the more elaborate formula ahl al-sunna wa-l-jamāʿa by which Sunnis define their creed.
Using data derived from thousands of biographical entries, we present an overview of the geographic distribution of Muslim jurists (
) during the first four centuries AH, i.e., from the beginning of Islam up to the date of the establishment of the Islamic college (
) toward the end of the fourth/tenth century CE. We also examine the overall share during this period of each of the four Sunnī schools of law (
), together with jurists who switched from one Sunnī school of law to another, as well as
who did not belong to a particular Sunnī
. Our primary focus, however, is on the geographical distribution of these jurists throughout the Islamic world in this period. Some of our findings confirm earlier studies while others afford new insights.