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Maisonneuve & Larose

Changing Concepts of Justice and Injustice from the 5th/11th Century to the 8th/14th
Century in Persia: The Saljuq Empire and the Ilkhanate
Author(s): A. K. Lambton
Source: Studia Islamica, No. 68 (1988), pp. 27-60
Published by: Maisonneuve & Larose
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1595757 .
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CHANGING CONCEPTSOF JUSTICEAND
INJUSTICEFROM THE 5th/llth CENTURY
TO THE 8th/14th CENTURY IN PERSIA:
THE SALJUQ EMPIRE
AND THE ILKHANATE

The Saljuq empire and the Ilkhanate were not monolithic. In


both periods there was continuous change in political, economic
and social life, sometimes of a local nature and sometimes more
widespread. Political unity was fragile and often broke down,
and the extent of the power of the central government varied at
different times. The ethnic composition of the population and
their means of livelihood also underwent change.
The sources for these events in general and for the resulting
intellectual change and the changing concepts of justice and
injustice in particular are uneven. Formal statements of the
juristic position are available and have been discussed by various
scholars. There is a copious adab literature, especially for the
Saljuq period, setting forth views on kingship and on justice and
injustice, a rich poetical literature which touches upon these
questions from time to time but from which a coherent and
consistent picture is not to be expected, and occasional references
to these matters in the works of Sufis. There is little, however, in
the nature of reminiscences or autobiographical accounts revealing
personal attitudes to the questions of the day, though a number of
letters, notably some written by Nizam al-Mulk, al-Ghazali and
Rashid al-Din Fadl Allah, have been preserved. For the attitudes
of those who wielded military power we have to rely mainly upon
the evidence of their actions and accounts written by others, while
28 A. K. LAMBTON

of the views of the common people almost nothing is


recorded. There are references in chronicles and histories to the
hardships suffered by the common people on account of outbreaks
of plague and other natural calamities, and because of the tyranny
of rulers, resulting sometimes in the dispersal of the peasants, but
there is little to indicate the personal reactions of the common
people to these events. Outbreaks of violence and rioting, which
often appear to have been provoked by the injustice of the
authorities, are mentioned from time to time, but there is little to
show what was the concept of justice and injustice held by those
concerned. So far as popular movements affected the views of
other classes it would seem that they aroused fear because of the
threat such movements offered to the status quo. They strengthen-
ed existing prejudices and reinforced the importance attached by
the ruling classes to stability and the maintenance of the
hierarchical structure of society. The basis of evidence for these
various matters is, however, too narrow to permit any but the
broadest generalizations.
Cultural uniformity in the central and eastern Islamic world in
the 5th/llth and 6th/12th centuries was remarkably widespread.
This uniformity is to be seen not only in the Great Saljuq empire
but also in the lesser Saljuq states, the Saljuqs of 'Iraq, Syria, Rum
and Kirman, and also in the various atabegates. The cultural
heritage handed down among them was a living heritage of
thought and life, modified by local circumstances but nevertheless
retaining a common stamp. This is not to say that all Saljuq
states had a common identity or that conditions were the same
throughout the 5th/llth and 6th/12th centuries. Nevertheless,
there was a broad consensus on what constituted justice and
injustice. The basis of the economy under the Great Saljuqs was
land. Its development and exploitation required stability, the
more so since agriculture largely depended upon irrigation, and
because it needed stability it needed the protection of the
law. Justice was thus closely connected with law.
The Mongol invasions brought a temporary interruption in
many of the patterns of life and the assumptions upon which they
rested. For the first time the central and eastern lands of the dar
al-isldm fell under non-Muslim rule, and were culturally and
politically fragmented in a way which had not happened
before. Persia became, for a period (from the reign of Ogedei to
the reign of Mongke), part of a vast steppe empire, ruled by a Great
CHANGING CONCEPTS OF JUSTICE AND INJUSTICE 29
Khan residing in Qaraqorum. An extensive system of communi-
cations throughout this empire facilitated commercial and cultural
exchange. Qaraqorum became the political and cultural centre
linking the Far East and the Near East; and Persia, temporarily at
least, looked to Central Asia rather than to the west. The
Ilkhanate, founded by Hiilegii, was virtually independent, but
close links were maintained first with Qaraqorum and then with
Peking until the reign of Ghazan Khan, who become converted
to Islam; prior to that all Ilkhans had required and sought
legitimization from the Great Khan. Islam, until the reign of
Ghazan, ceased to be the religion of the rulers; it lost its pre-
eminent place and became merely one religion among others. As
a result of the heavy loss of life among the population of Persia
during the invasions and the influx of large numbers of Mongols
and Turks, the balance in the ethnic composition of the population
was altered and in many parts of the country the Turko-Mongol
element became dominant. But this was not all. The invaders
were nomads and so the balance between the settled and semi-
settled elements of the population was also upset. Further, the
economy of the Ilkhanate, at least prior to the reign of Ghazan
Khan, was based on flocks and herds and rested not upon the
protection of the law but upon the sword.
So far as the Mongols looked to a law, it was to the yasa of
Chingiz Khan,(1) and to the decisions of a tribal council or
qurillai. The shar'a remained in force among the conquered
population, but they were also subject to the decrees and yarlighs
issued by the ilkhdn and to interrogation and sentence by the
Mongol court, the yarghu. Its decrees, theoretically based on the
yasa, appear to have been arbitrary, though evidence was taken
and records apparently kept. Confessions were frequently obtain-
ed by torture and it is difficult to discern any clearly formulated
principles of justice underlying the decisions of the court. The
available evidence is, however, scanty and much of it from hostile
sources. The Persian officials of the Ilkhans, in all probability,
sought to impose upon their rulers existing concepts of justice, but
their freedom of action was restricted. The ill-treatment of the
subject population by Mongol officials and their followers and the
usurpation of property (which had always been common but

(1) See further D. O. Morgan, 'The Great 'Ydsd of Chingiz Khan' and Mongol
law in the Ilkhanate', BSOAS, XLIX, Part I (1986), 163-76.
30 A. K. LAMBTON

became much more widespread in the Ilkhanate than it had


apparently been under the Saljuqs) was a denial of theoretical
justice.
Neither the jurists nor the writers of mirrors and other literary
works which touch upon the theory of government were intellec-
tual innovators or men of conspicuous integrity. They were
drawn to the courts of rulers by the wealth, power and patronage
which the rulers and their officials dispensed. At the same time
their motives were probably mixed. While some retired from all
participation in public life rather than jeopardize, as they thought,
their salvation in the next world, others took office partly in the
hope of moderating the violence of their rulers and mitigating the
hardship which their fellow-countrymen suffered because of the
arbitrary nature of the government. But the means at their
disposal were limited. To point to an ideal was often all that they
could do, in the face of arbitrary action and injustice; and their
praise of justice was perhaps little more than a call for a return to
an imaginary Golden Age.
The jurists, philosophers, writers of ethical treaties and adab
works and officials of the bureaucracy, under both the Saljuqs and
the Ilkhans, were mainly drawn from the same classes. They
were largely trained in the madrasas and shared a common
background. They represent the "Persian" and not the "Turko-
Mongolian" point of view. Because of this the reality is to some
extent concealed. Added to this, there is a difficulty of interpre-
tation arising from the fact that first writers often seem to have
felt it unnecessary to give an authoritative version of basic
assumptions which everybody was supposed to know and secondly
because the arbitrary and irresponsible nature of political power
made downright condemnation of existing practices and theories
unsafe. The full case, therefore, is not always stated. On the
other hand there is also danger of reading too much into the actual
wording of a text. Nevertheless, although hyperbole and a
tendency to be carried away by the music of words are common
features of Arabic and Persian writing, it must, I think, be
assumed, unless there are clear reasons to the contrary, that the
writers knew what they were saying, that they chose their words
carefully and deliberately and meant their readers to read between
the lines.
In asking the question what was the purpose of writers when
they discussed justice and theories of rule and whom, if anyone,
were they hoping to deceive, a distinction must be drawn between
CHANGING CONCEPTS OF JUSTICE AND INJUSTICE 31

different kinds of writing. Common to most writers, whether


jurists, philosophers, writers of ethical treatises and adab works, or
historians, is a basic desire to confirm the Islamic view of the world
and to include circumstances as they saw them within this
view. So far as they were intending to deceive, it was their
contemporaries rather than posterity that they had in mind. On
the one hand they may have wished to assure their readers that
conditions were not as bad as they appeared, while on the other,
and more importantly, they may have hoped by flattery to gain
the ruler's favour and to assure their own position. But there
were also some who hoped to moderate the injustices to which
their patrons were prone by pointing to the ideal.
The term for justice most commonly used in the literature under
discussion is 'adl (and also 'adclat and ma'dilat). Its opposite is
zulm and jawr. 'Adl has a wide sweep of meaning and has
overtones of moral virtue. It carries the suggestion of, or
includes, some of the notions which belong to righteousness. So
far as it was a legal notion it must be remembered that the law to
which it belonged was a revealed law, not a law enacted by some
assembly.(2) The basis of the conception of justice for Muslims
was the keeping of the covenant which God had freely made with
his servants. The dar al-isldm was also the dar al-'adl. In other
words the territory of Islam was the territory of justice in measure
as Quranic prescriptions were observed therein and where there
ruled a legitimate authority charged with the duty of exhorting to
righteousness and forbidding evil. If the territory of Islam was
subject to unjust laws, it became the territory of force and
injustice (fisq).(3) In the course of time the concept of justice to
some extent lost its exclusive association with Islamic government,
but it continued to carry a religious as well as a moral and ethical
connotation; and in the popular mind, as least, the connection
between injustice and irreligion was strongly felt.
A number of issues are raised by the concept of justice. First
there is the issue of righteous and unrighteous government, which
in turn raises the question of the duty of disobedience. It is
largely in terms of righteous and unrighteous government that

(2) The Islamic concept of justice is closer to the Aristotelian concept of justice,
on which see Sir Ernest Barker, The politics of Aristotle, Oxford, repr. 1952, 362ff.,
than to modern European concepts.
(3) See further, L. Gardet, La cite musulmane, Paris, 1954, 91ff.
32 A. K. LAMBTON

justice and injustice are discussed in works of fiqh by Sunni and


Shl'i jurists, though their approach and the conclusions they draw
are different. Similarly their approach to the duty of disobedi-
ence is different, and in either case is somewhat muted, largely
because of a fear of civil disorder.
Secondly there is the issue of leadership and authority and the
conflict between the concept of justice as an ideal harmony, in
which divine kingship is expressed in royal absolutism, and divine
justice reflected in the justice of the ruler on the one hand and the
authority of a community of righteous believers expressed by the
imcm through a consensus on the other. This issue did not,
however, exist for the Shl'is, at least not in the same form, since all
authority was vested in the imam.
Thirdly because of the association of the concept of justice with
the revealed law, it raises the issue of the financial administration
of the state.(4) The revenue from taxation was part of the huquq
allah, the claims or rights of God, as opposed to the huquq al-'ibdd,
or huqIq insdan, the rights of man. Rules, based on the
circumstances of the conquests, were laid down for khardj and jizya
and for the expenditure of the revenue according to the source
from which it was obtained. Failure to abide by the rules was a
form of injustice. The demands which followed from justice were
thus sometimes of a concrete nature. Al-Ghazali, in a letter to
Fakhr al-Mulk b. Nizam al-Mulk, Sanjar's wazir, after urging upon
him the practice of equity and justice, asks him to reduce the
additional taxes (mu'un) imposed upon the people of Tis, claiming
that the city had been ruined by tyranny and famine.(5)
Fourthly, also because of the association of justice with the law,
it raises the issue of equality. All were to be treated equally in the
matter of punishment, which was to be meted out exactly
according to the penalties laid down by the sharF'a. Anything
other than this was injustice. The ruler was further commonly
enjoined to treat his subjects as he would wish to be treated
himself, which implied equality in his treatment of
them. Equality thus consisted in an even-handedness in his
actions towards his subjects. Al-Ghazali states that justice
consisted in complete impartiality: in treating an unknown man

(4) See further A. K. S. Lambton, State and government in medieval Islam,


Oxford, 1981, 55-6.
(5) Fadd'il al-anam, ed. 'Abbas Iqbal, Tehran, AHS 1333, 31.
CHANGING CONCEPTS OF JUSTICE AND INJUSTICE 33

and a famous man, or a rich man and a poor man, with complete
equality when judging between them.(6) All might be equal
before the law of God, but all did not have equal power in
vindicating their rights. It was for the ruler, therefore, to see that
justice prevailed and to ensure that each was treated equally with
others. This consisted chiefly in making sure that the strong did
not oppress the weak and that the powerful did not transfer their
burdens to the poor and weak. Each was entitled to that
treatment which was his due according to the divine law. This
was not and did not imply social or economic equality, merely the
appropriate treatment of each according to his rank and status in
society. It was a kind of limited "legal" equality and implied
equity. Hence the term insdf is used interchangeably with 'adl.
Finally the concept of justice raises the issue of beneficence
(ihsdn). The basis for this is the Quranic phrase, 'Verily God
enjoins justice and beneficence', which is quoted by many
writers. (7)
For the most part, writers started with certain preconceptions:
the framework of the world in which they operated was
"given". In general they accepted that the aggressive nature of
man and his perennial tendency to encroach upon his fellows gave
rise to the need for temporal government, whether exercised by the
caliph or by the sultan. The existence of injustice in the world,
the result of the innate tendency of man to encroach upon his
fellows, imposed the need for a restraining influence, an idea for
which sanction is found in the Traditions. Al-GhazalT believed
that men were incessantly exposed to quarrels and conflict and
that they needed a principle of power (sultin) to guide them and
to arbitrate in their disputes.(8) Siraj al-Din Urmawi, who wrote

(6) Nas.hat al-muluk, ed. Jalal Humafi, Tehran, AHS 1351, 121. Cf. also a letter
from al-Ghazfal to Diya' al-Mulk b. Nizam al-Mulk in which he defines 'adl (justice)
as treating the people as he would wish to be treated himself were he in their place
(Fadd'il al-andm, 34), and a letter from Nizam al-Mulk to his son Mu'ayyid al-Mulk
urging him to be equitable (munsif) in all his dealings with the people (Aqili, Athdr
al-wuzard', ed. Mir Jalal al-Din jHusayni Urmawi, Tehran, AHS 1337, 213).
(7) Cf. for example the diplomas issued by Sanjar's diwan for the governor of
Balkh and the shihna of the Turkomans in Muntajab al-Din Badi' Atabak Juwayni,
'Alabat al-kalaba, ed. 'Abbas Iqbal, Tehran, AHS 1329, 74, 80-1.
(8) Ihyd' 'ulIm al-d(n, Cairo, n.d., i, 30. See also H. Laoust, La polilique de
GazalT, Paris, 1970, 196.
34 A. K. LAMBTON

the Ladt'if al-Hikma in or about 655/1257-8 for the Saljuq ruler of


Rum, 'Izz al-Din Kay Ka'fs b. Kay Khusraw, states that there
must be a restraining influence (wazi' wa mani'), physical (hissi),
religious (shar'[) or intellectual ('aqli), among the people so that
injustice would be removed from among them or at least lessened
and the order of the world preserved.(9) He interprets the
physical influence to be temporal power(10) and states that the
well-being of the world would not be secured until there was a
sultan with whom the oppressed might take refuge, and he quotes
the tradition "Temporal government (sullan) is the Shadow of
God upon earth under which every oppressed person takes
refuge." Temporal government was, he states, like shade in
which men took refuge from the heat of the sun. Thus, just as
men fled from the sun into the shade, so the oppressed fled from
tyranny to the ruler and there found release by reason of his
justice and equity.(1l) This idea of the restraining influence is also
found in Ibn Khaldin's Muqaddima, written rather over a century
later than the Latd'if al-hikma.(12)
It was the ideal of the Qur'an that the Islamic community
should represent on earth the principle of divine justice. Writers
and theorists were aware that the contrast between this ideal and
the history of the community was at all times stark, and many of
them in the Saljuq period, as in earlier times, felt the need to
safeguard the consciousness of the divine calling of the community
and to account for the evident corruption of the institution of
government and the absence of justice in the conduct of
affairs. In this connection Sunni jurists were concerned to work
out the relationship between the caliph and those who had usurped
power. Mawardi, who wrote al-Ahkaim al-sulIdniyya in the early
years of Saljuq domination (though he wrote primarily with the
irregularities which had prevailed under the Bfyids in mind) led
the way. He was followed by the Imam al-Haramayn, al-Ghazali
and others.(13) For the jurists the basic qualities of the imam, the

(9) Ed. Ghulam Husayn Yfsufi, Tehran, AHS 1351, 163.


(10) I take him to be using the word sultan in its original meaning of temporal
government as well as in its later and more usual meaning of ruler.
(11) Lata'if al-hikma, 164-5.
(12) See The Muqaddimah, tr. F. Rosenthal, 2nd ed., London, 1967, 3 vols., i,
translator's introduction, lxxiv-lxxv. See also Lambton, State and government in
medieval Islam, 171ff.
(13) See further H. A. R. Gibb, 'Al-Mawardi's theory of the caliphate', Islamic
CHANGING CONCEPTS OF JUSTICE AND INJUSTICE 35
leader of the community, were 'adala (moral and religious probity)
and 'ilm (knowledge of the traditional Muslim sciences necessary to
interpret the law). The purpose of his rule was the continuity of
Islam and the execution of the sharl'a.
Other than the works of the jurists, the basic exposition of
justice in the Saljuq period is that of Nizam al-Mulk in the Siydsal-
ndma. This is of particular interest because of his experience in
government, first under the Ghaznawids and secondly as wazir to
Alp Arslan and later to Malikshah, when the Saljuq empire was at
its height. Nizam al-Mulk maintains that the state rested upon
justice and right religion, and that of the two the former was of
greater importance. "Kingship", he asserts, "remains with un-
belief but not with injustice".(14) Quoting a tradition of the
prophet, he states, "Justice is the glory of the world and the power
of the sulIan (i.e. the temporal government) and in it lies the well-
being of the common people ('amma) and the elite (khassa), the
army, and the subjects (ra'iyyai)".(l5) The Saljuq sultans were
staunch Sunnis. They possessed "right religion". Perhaps it was
Nizam al-Mulk's intention to point out that this in itself was not
enough and that it must be accompanied by justice. For him
justice implied also the threat of punishment (siyisal) and the
exercise of coercive force, and a consciousness of this runs through
the Siydsat-ndma. He believed that the affairs of the world would
be properly ordered only if the scales were equally balanced
between justice and punishment-and for such a view he sought
the sanction both of the Qur'an and ancient custom. The ruler, he
states, was to adopt "the mean" in all affairs and to follow ancient
custom and canons of kingship and he was to refrain from
introducing evil customs and not to give his consent to the
shedding of blood unlawfully.(16) The association of justice and
coercive force is found in later writers also, and broadly for the
same reasons. One of the causes of injustice was weakness (or

culture, xi, 291-302 (also in Stanford J. Shaw and William R. Polk (eds.), Studies on
the civilization of Islam, London, 1962, 166-75), H. Laoust, La politique de Gazdlr,
and Lambton, State and government in medieval Islam.
(14) Siyasat-nama, ed. C. Schefer, Paris, 1891 (Persian text), 8, idem, ed.
H. Darke, Tehran, 1968, 15. See also Lambton, 'The dilemma of government in
Islamic Persia: The Siydsat-ndma of Nizam al-Mulk', Iran, xxii (1984), 55-66.
(15) Schefer, 44, Darke, 65.
(16) Schefer, 209-10, Darke, 329-30. Darke's ed. reads heresy for the shedding
of blood unlawfully.
36 A. K. LAMBTON

neglect) on the part of the ruler. Al-Ghazali writes, "In these


days men are shameless, mannerless and merciless, and if, God
forbid, the sultan in their midst should be weak and powerless, the
world will undoubtedly become ruined and religion and the world
will suffer injury and damage."(17)
The writers of mirrors would appear to have been influenced in
many respects by the Sasanian theory of the king as the
representative of God upon earth, who was concerned with orderly
and just government. This in turn involved the preservation of
equipoise by the maintenance of the social hierarchy. For these
writers the sultan was divinely endowed with justice ('adl) and
knowledge ('ilm) and his regime identified with justice, seen not so
much in terms of the sharc'a as in the harmonious ordering of
society. Religion was thus identified with the social order. The
jurists defined justice in terms of the shart'a: what was lawful was
just and what was unlawful was unjust. The writers of mirrors on
the other hand distinguished between what was lawful and
unlawful on the one hand and what was just and unjust on the
other. They were not the same. Thus, the anonymous author of
the Bahr al-fawd'id, which was written between 552/1157-8 and
557/1161-2 and dedicated to Alp Qutlugh Jabugha Ulugh, the
atabeg of Arslan Aba, the son of Aq Sonqur, the Saljuq ruler of
Aleppo, states that the stability (qiwdTm)of religion and what it
was to be a Muslim (musulmdnn) depended upon the 'ulama', who
distinguished between what was lawful and unlawful, while the
stability of religion and the people (millat) depended upon kings,
who distinguished between justice and injustice.(18)
In his Persian mirror, the Nas(hat al-muluk, al-Ghazali makes
the importance of justice clear. "The true sultan", he writes, "is
he who practises justice".(19) If the king was just the world
would be prosperous and the subjects secure, but if the king was
tyrannical the world would be laid waste.(20) Although justice
was basically desirable in the light of the religious ethic, al-Ghazall

(17) Nasihat al-muluk, 131-2. Cf. also Yfsuf Khass Hajib, Wisdom of royal
glory (Kutadgu Bilig), tr. R. Dankoff, Chicago and London, 1983, 142. The
Kutadgu Bilig was written for Tavghach Bughra Khan, the ruler of Kashghar,
shortly after the Saljuqs took Nishapfir.
(18) Bahr al-fawd'id, ed. Muhammad Taqi Danish-Pazhiih, Tehran, AHS 1345,
478.
(19) Op. cit., 82.
(20) Ibid., 83.
CHANGING CONCEPTS OF JUSTICE AND INJUSTICE 37

points out that expediency also demanded the practice of


justice. To bring this point home he states that ancient kings
made efforts to increase the prosperity of the world because they
realised that the greater material prosperity the more extensive
their dominions and the more numerous their subjects. They also
knew that the sages of the world had truly spoken when they said
that 'religion is made firm by kingship, kingship by the army, the
army by wealth and that wealth comes from prosperity and
prosperity from justice.' A contrary practice led to the ruin of the
kingdom, the flight of the people to other countries, a diminution
of the revenue and an empty treasury.(21) Underlying al-
Ghazall's thought there is the realisation, born, perhaps, of
contemporary circumstances-the violence of Turkish military
rule and the intrigues and disorders committed by the Batinis
and others-, that power to inspire awe, to ensure order and to
inflict punishment were essential if the individual was to go about
his business in peace and the people were to have security from
one another. To ensure order the ruler required coercive force
and this he could only have if he had revenue to pay for it, and
revenue could only be obtained from a prosperous country rightly
(justly) governed. Moreover, like Nizam al-Mulk, he knew that
the country had been won by the sword and could ultimately be
held only by the sword.
Ibn Balkhi, writing in south Persia in the reign of Muhammad b.
Malikshah (498-511/1104-18) takes a similar view in his account of
the pre-Islamic Persian kings-the oldest independent Persian
prose history of them which has come down to us. "The kingdom
of the Persians', he maintains, "was based on justice and their
conduct on equity and liberality. Whenever one of them made
his son heir apparent, he enjoined upon him the following maxim:
there is no kingdom without an army, no army without wealth, no
wealth without material prosperity and no material prosperity
without justice."(22) Similarly, he states, "If a king is adorned
with religion and his rule is made stable by justice, kingship will
not disappear from his house unless, God forbid, some disorder
appears in religion or he commits tyranny".(23)

(21) Ibid., 100-1.


(22) Fars-ndma, ed. G. Le Strange, London, 1921, 4-5.
(23) Ibid., 34.
38 A. K. LAMBTON

The author of the Bahr al-fawai'id, like Ibn Balkhi, accepts the
view that justice led to the continuation of the rule of the
king. Kingship, he states, depended upon three things, the army,
the treasury, and agricultural development and these were to be
secured by justice.(24) But he was not only concerned with the
results of justice in the world. He states that the sultan was to
act justly so that he might gain salvation in the next world. If he
committed tyranny, he would be driven from the courts of
God.(25) Kingship, further, brought responsibility for the conduct
of others. The king was to restrain the tyrannical because he
would be called to account on the last day, not only for his own
actions but also for their tyranny.(26)
To Afdal al-Din Abf Hamid Ahmad b. Hamid KirmanT, who
wrote the 'Iqd al-'ula in 584/1188-9, the prospect of the establish-
ment of order by a strong government must have seemed an
attractive alternative to the ravages of the lawless bands of Ghuzz
who had laid the province of Kirman waste after the fall of
Sanjar.(27) He holds up absolute justice as the ideal and
maintains that kings as guardians of that ideal were entitled to
absolute obedience. He cites the story of Moses, related in the
Traditions and quoted by many other writers before and after him
with slight variations,(28) in which justice is associated with "legal"
justice, security, effective rule and morality. Moses is said to
have complained to God saying, "0 God, how long wilt thou leave
Pharaoh in his unbelief and disobedience?" The answer came
back, "0 Moses, during his rule he keeps the roads safe; he does not
commit injustice when he gives decrees; he does not listen to the
words of plaintiffs in the absence of the other party; and he does
not look upon the sons and daughters of his subjects with the eye
of desire."(29) In another saying, which Afdal al-Din attributes to
Anushlrawan, he emphasizes the importance and strength brought
by justice in words which will have appealed especially to the
people of Kirman. "Let the cities be made strong by justice,

(24) Bahr al-fawa'id, 245.


(25) Ibid., 120, 427ff.
(26) Ibid., 120.
(27) Cf. his description of the decay of Kirman in his time, 'Iqd al-'uld, ed. 'Ali
Muhammad 'Amiri Naini, Tehran, AHS 1311, 76ff.
(28) Cf. Bahr al-fawa'id, 432 and Siraj al-Din Urmawi, Laia'if al-hikma, 248.
(29) 'Iqd al-'uld, 54.
CHANGING CONCEPTS OF JUSTICE AND INJUSTICE 39-

which is a wall that will not be washed away by water, burnt


down by fire or destroyed by ballistas."(30) Flash floods, which
caused much destruction, were a frequent occurrence in Kirman,
though it may be that Afdal al-Din had in mind the siege of Bam
in or about 571/1175-6 when the attackers sought to breach the
walls by the diversion of river water into the moat.(31)
Closely allied to the belief that justice was the basis of kingship
was the belief that goodness and prosperity resulted from justice,
and evil and temporal disaster from its lack. The Bahr al-fawa'id
sets this out clearly.(32) If the ruler acted with justice (or even if
he merely resolved upon justice in his heart) blessing and
abundance would be found in his kingdom. If, on the contrary,
he committed tyranny (or resolved upon injustice in his heart)
famine and calamity would result.(33) The same point of view is
expressed by Siraj al-Din Urmawi. He states that if the king
followed the path of equity and justice and occupied himself in
putting right his own affairs and those of his subjects, this would
manifest itself in security and low prices, and plants and animals
would reproduce themselves abundantly, while if the king acted in
a contrary sense the reverse would be the case.(34) At the other
extremity of the Islamic world, Fakhr-i Mudabbir Mubarakshah
puts forward a similar view in the Adab al-harb wa'l-shujd'a,
dedicated to Shams al-Din Iltutmish, the sultan of Delhi
(607-33/1210-36), and cites as his authority for this Wahb
b. Munabbih.(35)
Many writers quote the adage that kingship might endure with
unbelief but not with injustice and also the saying attributed to
the prophet that the justice of one hour was better than the
worship of sixty years. It may be that this simply reflects the
failure of governments to ensure justice in the conduct of affairs.
Al-Ghazali in a letter written probably to Sanjar in 503/1109-1110
reminds him that one day's justice of a just sultan was better than
the worship of 60 years, and ends "Today affairs have reached

(30) Ibid.
(31) Tdrtkh-i Afdal, reconstructed text by Mihdi Bayani, Tehran, AHS 1326, 71.
(32) Bahr al-fawd'id, 481-2.
(33) Ibid., 434.
(34) Lafd'if al-hikma, 232.
(35) Ed. Ahmad Suhayli Khwansari, Tehran, AHS 1346, 64-5.
40 A. K. LAMBTON

such lengths that the justice of one hour is equal to the worship of
one hundred years".(36)
Siraj al-Din Urmawi is unequivocal on the need to curb injustice
if only because it led to a dispersal of the population and therefore
to a decline in the revenue. He states that the result of tyranny
was ruin and when a country was ruined the following year nothing
would be obtained from the tax districts; and because the revenues
had dried up the muqla's would have to be paid by the treasury
and this would lead to great corruption. For this reason the ruler
must not be negligent with regard to the affairs of the tax-
collectors(37). If he was vigilant, tyranny would not be practised
against the subjects and the country would remain flourishing, the
muqla's happy and the army powerful.(38) He also states that if
any one of the subjects demanded the redress of a grievance from
the ruler, he must be held in honour, for he would then believe
that the ruler did not commit injustice or tyranny himself and
would not allow anyone else to do so.(39)
Siraj al-Din argues that justice was tantamount to worship, but
a worship the benefit of which was general ('dmm) and not
personal, and upon which the order of the world depended. To
exercise such justice was to exercise the vicegerency of God, and to
protect the people from destruction and ruin; and to emphasize the
connection between justice and morals, he states that life and
chastity were protected by justice, and immoral intercourse and
the corruption of the species was thereby prevented. Innumerable
matters depended upon the justice of the king. When anyone
undertook the duties of leadership (imarat), this was for him
worship, and by his actions the order of the world and the well-
being of the people (in the public and the private sphere) were
achieved.(40) Siraj al-Din then attempts to associate this con-
ception of justice with shar't justice also, pointing out that justice
was the balance of God, the mean laid down by the sharf'a. This

(36) Fadd'il al-andm, 14.


(37) The terms used are nuwwdb and 'ummdl. The latter is the usual term for
tax-collectors. The nd'ib in the 7th/13th century was sometimes used synony-
mously with darugha, whose function was broadly to oversee the local administra-
tion.
(38) Lata'if al-hikma, 237.
(39) Ibid.
(40) Ibid., 228-9.
CHANGING CONCEPTS OF JUSTICE AND INJUSTICE 41

consisted in exact retribution; anything more or less was


tantamount to injustice and tyranny.(41)
Since the true sultan was the just sultan, it follows that justice,
so far as it referred to the ruler, comprehended the qualities that
made for effective rule. Thus, Siraj al-Din Urmawl states, "The
king is king when he has under his control (dar tasarruf-i khwud)
the whole of his kingdom, and this will be the case when he is
informed of the state of affairs of the kingdom and is aware of the
condition of the tax-collectors, wazirs, amirs and those in charge
of local administration (nuwwdb) in the whole of the kingdom
and is in no way negligent concerning the state of the subjects".(42)
The actions demanded of a just king varied according to
circumstances. The author of the Bahr al-fawd'id, who was living
on the frontiers of the Islamic world, after stating that the object
of kingship was justice and equity, holds it incumbent upon the
ruler to undertake every year a raid for the faith. He considers
justice to consist above all in gaining victory for Islam, defeating
unbelief, carrying on jihad and raids for the faith and publicly
proclaiming the customs (shi'ar) of Islam.(42) He admits that
ideal justice may be beyond the reach of ordinary men: the king
could not attain to the heights reached by Abf Bakr and 'Umar,
but he was expected to reach at least the standards of unbelievers
such as Aniishiravan in justice, Hatim al-Ta'i in generosity and
'Abbas b. Mirdas in wisdom.(44) This, perhaps, was his way of
reminding his patron that Muslims were falling behind non-
Muslims in the rectitude of their behaviour.(45)
Siraj al-Din Urmawi, also writing in a frontier situation, states
that everything that the king acquired by way of equipment,
money or men he must acquire with the intention of using them to
overcome the enemies of God and religion, to exalt Islam, to
repulse evil from the Muslims and to obtain their interests. Siraj
al-Din is, it seems, aware of the perennial abuses of power by the
military, for he states, "When he (the sultan) gives money to the
army, let him give it because they are the army of Islam through
which the victory of religion, the exaltation of Islam and the

(41) Ibid., 229.


(42) Ibid., 275-6.
(43) Bahr al-fawa'id, 438.
(44) Ibid., 317.
(45) Cf. ibid., 80.
42 A. K. LAMBTON

confusion of unbelievers is achieved."(46) Like others, he does not


separate the actions of the ruler in the temporal sphere from their
moral consequences. He continues, "If the king acts with this
purpose in mind, he will acquire merit. The intelligent man ought
to keep this truth in mind in all his actions, so that his concern
may always be to acquire merit in the next world. For example,
when he eats food let him do so that he may obtain strength to
worship God and when he sleeps let him do so that he may be
rested in order (the better) to engage in worship."(47)
The existence of the unjust ruler raises the question of the duty
of disobedience. For Sunni jurists the issue was whether the
imam acted contrary to the sharf'a or not. Loss of probity by
reason of injustice and sin (fisq) led in theory to the forfeiture of
the imamate. Some jurists, however, maintained that the imam
should be enjoined to return to the good and simply disobeyed in
whatever led to a revolt against God. The crucial point was that
no means were laid down for depriving an unjust imam of his
power and by the 2nd/8th century the prevalent view was that
although 'adala was required of the imam, the obligation to obey
the imam was not limited to a just imdm.(48) This continued to be
generally accepted in later centuries. Abu Yusuf (113-82/731-98)
in this connection cites the tradition "if the imam is just, the
reward is due to him and gratitude from you. If he is tyrannical,
then the burden of sin is his, and it is yours to be
patient."(49) Later writers, including those who interpret justice
in a general sense, reach very much the same conclusion, namely
that rebellion against an unjust ruler is not justified.
The Imami Shli jurists from an early period held rebellion
against an unjust, i.e. illegal, government without the authori-
zation of the imam to be unlawful.(50) This continued to be the
case during the ghayba. Their attitude towards the acceptance of
office from unjust rulers was, however, equivocal. Between the
government of the just sultan (al-sultain al-'adil), i.e. the imam,

(46) Ibid., 271-2.


(47) Ibid., 272.
(48) See Lambton, op. cit., 74ff.
(49) Ibid., 57. Al-Turtushi, writing in Spain in 516/1122-3, takes a similar
view. He states that the unjust ruler was the punishment meted out by God to the
people for their disobedience and was therefore to be endured and they were not to
remove him by force. (Sirdj al-muluk, Alexandria, A.H. 1289, 88.)
(50) See W. Madelung, Hisham b. al-flakam, EI2.
CHANGING CONCEPTS OF JUSTICE AND INJUSTICE 43
whose government in absolute terms was the only legitimate
government, and the tyrannical sultan (al-sulidn al-jd'ir), by
whom they meant primarily one of the Umayyad or 'Abbasid
caliphs, whose rule they held to be illegitimate, there was a
shadowy area in which co-operation with an unjust government
was in some circumstances permitted; but this did not give that
government more than a kind of derivative or functional
legitimacy: in absolute terms it was still illegitimate.(51)
Al-Ghazali, by the time he wrote the Ihya' al-'ulum had
apparently come to the conclusion that almost all the property of
which the state disposed had been illegally acquired and that rulers
were, therefore, unjust. His condemnation of unjust rulers was,
however, tempered by his fear of civil war and also by his distrust
of the common man. He states, "An evil-doing and barbarous
sultan, so long as he is supported by military force, so that he can
only with difficulty be deposed and that the attempt to depose him
would create unendurable civil strife, must of necessity be left in
possession and obedience must be rendered to him, exactly as
obedience is required to be rendered to those who are placed in
command. For in the hadiths regarding the duty of obedience to
those invested with command and the prohibition of withdrawing
one's hand from assisting them there are expressed definite
commands and restraints."(52) In the Nasihat al-mulik, after
deploring the rough and merciless nature of the people of his day,
he remarks that the tyranny of a sultan for one hundred years
would do less damage than tyranny committed by the people
against each other for one year.(53) Al-Ghazall's attitude towards
injustice was, thus, modified by the constraints and exigencies of
the time and his fear of instability. His paramount concern was
for the continuity of Islamic society and this was not possible, in

(51) See further, Lambton, op. cit., 249, 61. For a rather different view see
W. Madelung, 'Authority in Twelve Shi'ism in the absence of the imam' in
G. Makdisiet al. (eds.), La notion d'autoriteau moyendge, Colloquede la Napouli...
1978, Presse de France, 1982, 163-71.
(52) Ihya' 'ulum al-din, ii, 124, tr. as in H. A. R. Gibb, 'Constitutional
organization'in Majid Khadduriand Herbert J. Liebesny (eds.), Law in the Middle
East: origin and developmentof Islamic law, Washington D.C., 1955, i, 19.
(53) Nasihat al-muliik, 131-2. Ibn Jama'a, writing later in different circum-
stances considers that the tyranny of a sultan for 40 years was preferableto the
subjects (ra'iyyat) being left without a master for a single hour ('Handbuch des
IslamischenStaats- und Verwaltungsrechtes von Badr-al-Din Ibn 6ama'ah', text
and tr. in H. Kofler, Islamica vi, 1934, 355).
44 A. K. LAMBTON

his view, without a duly constituted authority. Hence he refrains


from outright rejection of unjust rulers, because this would have
left no room for even the vestiges of Islamic government to
continue. (54)
The author of the Bahr al-fawd'id states, "We do not consider it
obligatory to draw the sword against an unjust sultan. In
whatever he does which is contrary to religion and is not sin
(masiyai), we consider obedience to him to be obligatory."(55) In
another passage he reiterates this view. He writes, "It is not
fitting to rebel against unjust kings even if they commit injustice
and tyranny. Patience must be shown except when the ruler
publicly proclaims innovation (heresy) and summons the people to
such." (56)
For Fakhr al-Din Razi (d. 606/1209), the last of the great
medieval mutakallimun, who wrote after the fall of the Saljuq
empire but before the Mongol invasions, justice was the expression
of a right order, something which comprehended other values in a
harmonious whole. Actual conditions were far removed from the
ideal but Fakhr al-Din, like others before him, saw no alternative
to acceptance of this unsatisfactory state of affairs. The Saljuq
empire had broken up into warring principalities. In the east the
Khwarazmshah had emerged as the most powerful ruler. I1
Arslan's death in 568/1172 had been followed by civil war. His
son Tekish finally established himself as Khwarazmshah. In
588/1192 the caliph al-Nasir appealed to him for help against
Toghril b. Arslanshah, the last of the Saljuqs of 'Iraq, and together
they defeated him in 590/1194. But in 592/1196 fighting took
place between the Khwarazmshahi army and the caliphal army to
the disadvantage of the latter and skirmishes accompanied by
much destruction and slaughter continued until Tekish's death in
596/1200. In terms of shar'F justice greater injustice than war
against the caliph of God could hardly be imagined. Yet Fakhr
al-Din, who wrote the Jdmi' al-'ulum for Tekish, states that it was
not permissible even to speak evil of a tyrannical ruler because
however tyrannical he might be, the good coming from his

(54) See further, Lambton, op. cit., 110ff.


(55) Bahr al-fawa'id, 365.
(56) Ibid., 372; but see also ibid., 321.
CHANGING CONCEPTS OF JUSTICE AND INJUSTICE

existence would be, as a rule, greater than the evil which might
come from it.(57)
During the rule of the Khwarazmshahs there was an increase in
arbitrary action by the government and its military forces were
notorious for their brutality towards the population. It is not
without interest that Nasir al-Din Munshi Kirmani attributes the
fall of the Khwarazmshahs to their turning aside from the path of
equity: "unbelief and Islam joined hands and overthrew that
house".(58) It is perhaps partly because of the unsatisfactory
state of affairs under the Khwarazmshahs that Rawandi, who grew
up during the reign of Toghril b. Arslanshah, the last of the Saljuqs
of 'Iraq, and was an eyewitness of the occupation of 'Iraq by the
troops of the Khwarazmshah, considered the establishment of
justice to lie not in abstract terms but in the appointment of just
officials. He writes that four persons ensured the stability of the
kingdom: (i) a just qddi who shows respect towards God in the
execution of the decrees of the sharl'a and is not influenced by
praise or blame from the people-the praise of the khawass or the
blame of the 'awamm (which perhaps implies that the judgements
of qddfs tended to be supported by the former and opposed by the
latter); (ii) a sahib dfwdn who obtains justice for the oppressed from
the oppressor and for the weak from the strong; (iii) a wise wazir
who puts into operation the laws of the public treasury, such as the
proper levy of kharij and of jizya from the Jews and does not
permit tyranny; and (iv) a chamberlain who reports news accurate-
ly and truthfully.(59) The anonymous Trfkh-i shaht, commission-
ed by Padishah Khatun, the daughter of Qutlugh Terken, the ruler
of Kirman, and probably written about 680/1281, was also familiar
with this formulation and rightly attributes it to the caliph al-
Mansuir.(60) Rawandi's statement carries the implication
that justice in its several senses-shar'f justice and the implement-

(57) Ed. Muhammad Khan Malik al-Kuttab Bambai, lith., Bombay, A.H. 1323,
218.
(58) Simf al-'ula, ed. 'Abbas Iqbal, Tehran, AHS 1328, 5.
(59) Rdaha al-sudar, ed. Muhammad Iqbal, London, 1921, 386-7. Rawandi
began the Rahat al-sudir in 599/1202 and dedicated it first to Rukn al-Din
Sulaymanshah, the Saljuq of Rum, who had usurped the throne of his elder brother
Ghiyath al-Din Kay Khusraw in 597/1200-1. After Rukn al-Din's death in
601/1204-5 Rawandi rededicated his book to Ghiyath al-Din (ibid., xix).
(60) Ed. Muhammad Ibrahim Bastani Parizi, Shahinshahi 2535, 8, and see
Tabari, pt. 3, 398, Anno 158.
46 A. K. LAMBTON

ation of the law and the proper administration of the finances,


protection of the oppressed and the weak, and vigilance by the
ruler based on accurate information-were needed to ensure
stability. He also alleges that there was no distinction in his time
between an unbeliever and a Muslim, which perhaps accounts for
his reference to the levy of jizya which does not appear in Tabari's
version in relation to al-Mansfr or in the Tarrkh-i shahi. The
conclusion to be drawn from this assertion would seem to be that
the quality of justice ought to be expected of a Muslim, but that
when Rawandi was writing this expectation was no longer fulfilled.
Najm al-Din Razi (d. 654/1256) and Nasir al-Din Tusi (597-672/
1201-74) bridged the Khwarazmshahi and Mongol periods. They
came from different backgrounds and represent different points of
view. Both were important and influenced later writers. The
former was a Sunni and a Sifi, the latter an Imami Shii. Both
were influenced by the concept of the philosopher king, which
Najm al-Din interprets in terms of Sufism and Nasir al-Din in
terms of Shi'ism.
Najm al-Din fled from Hamadan before the Mongols in 618/1221
and came to Malatiya and was for a time in the service of Kay
Qubad in Qaysari. He describes the just king in the context of
the sharl'a. God, he states, had placed obedience to learned and
just kings on a par with obedience to Himself and His prophet.
Justice and beneficence characterised the ideal king. The king
was to free his soul from carnal desires and bring them under the
control of the sharf'a. He was to turn his heart to God so that he
might become worthy of His grace and favour and be strengthened
by divine support; and so that he might be empowered as the
deputy of God over His servants, and might approach nearer to
God in everything he did, and thus acquire greater honour in the
courts of God.(61)
Justice for Najm al-Din was thus a state of mind. The actual
dispensation of justice in his exposition was covered by the quality
of beneficence, which embraced a number of negative and positive
actions. These were to spread equity, to refrain from tyranny and
to preserve equality among the subjects, not to empower the

(61) Mirsad al-'ibdd min al-mabda' ila'l-ma'dd, ed. Husayn al-Husayni al-
Ni'matallihi, Tehran, AHS 1312, 246-7. For further details on Najm al-Din's life
see H. Algar's translation of the Mirsdd al-'ibdd, entitled The path of God's bondsmen
from origin to return, New York, 1982, Introduction, 8.
CHANGING CONCEPTS OF JUSTICE AND INJUSTICE 47

strong over the weak, and not to place the load of the rich upon the
poor; to show courtesy and generosity to the subjects; to treat the
strong with civility and to succour the poor and those with large
families with alms and daily bread; and to accept responsibility for
the welfare of travellers. The remainder of the actions imposed
upon the ruler by beneficence hardly concern the dispensation of
justice except so far as this is seen in religious and ethical terms-
though in a sense because of the connection between public finance
and just government they form part of a coherent system. These
actions included treating the abstinent and learned with respect
and seeing that they had sufficient allowances; stimulating the
students of the religious sciences to study; enquiring after them
and giving them what they needed by way of allowances; holding
the righteous and the servants of God in respect; so acting that the
thoughts of the Sfifs and the devout might support him; relieving
their needs and consulting them concerning the affairs of the
kingdom; respecting the sayyids and seeing that they received the
dues to which they were entitled, and giving them, if they could
not be given sadaqa,(62) gifts and allowances; associating with
darvishes and mystics, giving help to them in a lawful way and
ensuring that they were free from anxiety, so that they might
occupy themselves with God with collected minds, because the
world was made stable by the blessing which derived from their
activities. This group had (a right to) a share in the public
treasury, which it was incumbent to give them even if they did not
demand it because of the loftiness of their religion and high
aspirations. (3)
Justice, thus meant full and perfect obedience to God; and
beneficence, seen as the dispensation of justice, carried with it wide
implications of a public and private nature. The ruler, after the
performance of his obligatory religious duties, was to turn his
attention to the affairs of the kingdom, to investigate the condition
of the country and the people, and to exert himself in according to
the people the rights which they enjoyed as Muslims.
In his personal relations the just ruler would refrain from sin
(fisq wa fuqur wa fisad). In public affairs he would not institute
bad customs, increase the taxes or farm offices; and false charges
would not be trumped up against the people, or mulcts taken from

(62) Some sayyids were not entitled to sadaqa.


(63) Ibid., 247.
48 A. K. LAMBTON

them or fines without cause; the innocent would not be falsely


accused or extraordinary levies made upon them unnecessarily; the
inheritance of orphans would not be misappropriated; there would
be no improper interference in or usurpation of awqaf and their
revenue would not be withheld from those who were entitled to it;
and no attempts to abolish the grant of pensions to the religious
classes would be made. All these things were probably of
common occurrence when Najm al-Din was writing. The benefi-
cence of the ruler also involved accessibility; but he was not to
allow men of evil conduct into his presence or to make his
intimates bold in the commission of acts of tyranny or to
encourage them to amass worldly wealth.(64)
Nasir al-Din Tfsi was originally in the service of the Isma'ili
governor of Quhistan in eastern Persia and subsequently in Isma'ili
employment in Alamut. In 654/1256 when Hiilegii took Alamut
and Maymfn Diz, Nasir al-Din entered his service. In the
Akhldq-i ndsirf Nasir al-Din looks back to Ibn Miskawaih and al-
Farabi, to whom he admits his indebtedness in his third discourse,
Siydsat-i mudun (The government of cities, i.e. politics),(65) and to
Plato and Aristotle. It is not possible to trace the actual chain of
transmission: the gap in time is too great, and in any case many of
the ideas found in the writings of Nasir al-Din were part of the
common stock of knowledge current in intellectual circles in
medieval Islam. The Akhliq-i Ndsirf is dedicated to Nasir al-Din,
the governor of Quhistan, and appears to have been in circulation
before the Mongol invasion under Hiilegii. A second dedication to
Hiilegii was added later. Nasir al-Din, like Fakhr al-Din R5zi
considers justice to be the most excellent of qualities and to
comprehend all other virtues. He also accepts the traditional
view that the material prosperity of the world depended on justice
and that tyranny resulted in the ruin of the world.
After discussing justice briefly in abstract terms in the seventh
section of his first discourse, Tahdh(b-i akhldq (The correction of
dispositions), he states that justice denotes the idea of equality
(musdqdt), or equivalence, and is the most perfect of virtues. He
then considers justice in respect of matters necessitated by the
ordering of daily life and concludes that justice cannot be
preserved among men without three things, the Divine Command,

(64) Ibid., 249-251.


(65) The Nasirean ethics, tr. G. M. Wickens, London, 1964, 187.
CHANGING CONCEPTS OF JUSTICE AND INJUSTICE 49

a human arbitrator and money.(") In his third discourse he gives


an account of righteous and unrighteous cities. In the fourth
section he discusses the conduct of kings and kingship, dividing
government into two kinds, righteous government, i.e. the
imamate, and domination (taghallub). In the former the governor
holds fast to justice ('addlat), "treating his subjects as friends,
filling the city with widespread goods and regarding himself as the
master of appetites"; in the latter the governor "holds fast to
tyranny (jaur), treating his subjects as servants and slaves, filling
the city with general evils, and regarding himself as the hireling of
appetites".(67) If justice prevailed the state would endure; if not
it would speedily vanish.(6)
Justice, Nasir al-Din holds, demanded first that equipoise should
be maintained among the people. He divides them into four
classes, the people of the pen, the people of the sword, merchants
and cultivators, which is reminiscent of the hierarchical structure
of pre-Islamic Persia and the belief of Nizam al-Mulk and others
that stability was bound up with the maintenance of the social
order. Secondly justice required that the king should determine
the rank of each one of the subjects according to their merit and
aptitude, and thirdly that he should preserve equality between
them in the division of common goods in which matter he should
also take into consideration merit and aptitude.(69) Having
fulfilled the conditions demanded by justice the king should then
show beneficence to the subjects, but not in such a way that the
awe in which he was held would be diminished.(70) Nasir al-Din,
like earlier writers, was not unmindful of the dangers posed by civil
disturbance.
Mongol rule brought changes in the practice of government, but
there is little evidence that it brought changes in the theory of
government. This may or may not be the case-the sources upon
which we must perforce rely for evidence were written by Muslims
(not by Mongols). The problem was not the question of the
distinctiveness of the ideas of the Mongols and their relationship to
Islamic thought, but the political, economic and social effects of

(66) Ibid., 95ff.


(67) Ibid., 227.
(68) Ibid., 229.
(69) Ibid., 232.
(70) Ibid., 233.
50 A. K. LAMBTON

their presence in the ddr al-isldm. The real conflict lay in the
relation of the needs and interests of the Mongols to the local
population. We do not, therefore, find (and should not, perhaps,
expect to find) new formulations of the theory of justice but only
allegations of its absence in political, economic and social
affairs. Writers do not in general discuss the ideas of the invaders
but merely deplore their methods of conquest and the tyranny of
their government.
ShiF jurists continue to discuss justice in an absolute sense,(71)
but this had little influence on their attitude towards the temporal
government. So far as the holding of office on behalf of an unjust
sultan and cooperation with an unjust government are concerned,
the theoretical basis of the Shri position remained little
changed. Najm al-Din Ja'far b. Yahya al-Muhaqqiq (602-
76/1205-1277), like Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Tusi (d. 460/1067),
holds that the exercise of authority on behalf of a just sultan is
permissible and might in some circumstances be obligatory. In
the case of unjust sultans, he is equally convinced of the need for
co-operation, and like al-Tfsi, has recourse to the principal of
Iaqiyya to justify this. He states that tradition permitted the
exercise of authority on behalf of an unjust sultan provided that he
who did so was certain that he would be safe from the commission
of forbidden acts and would be able to enjoin the good and forbid
evil. Further, if he was forced to accept office by an unjust imam,
it was permissible for him to do so in order to prevent harm (daf'-i
madarral), and while doing so to indulge in taqiyya, even if what he
was required to do was forbidden, always excepting the case of the
killing of Muslims.(72) In practice, dislike and hatred of Sunni
government led to a favourable, or at least ambivalent, attitude
towards the Mongols among Shris, especially those of southern
'Iraq. Nasir al-Din Tusi, as stated above, accepted office from
Hiilegii and was with him during his attack on Baghdad. Later
he was head of the observatory built by Abaqa at Maragha and
was also placed in charge of the awqif of the empire. Both al-

(71) Cf. Hasan b. Yusuf b. 'All b. al-Mutahhar al-Hilli, al-Bdbu'l-hddi 'ashar,


with commentary by Miqdad-i-Fadil al-Hilli (tr. by W. McElwee Miller), London,
1958, 40-53.
(72) Al-Mukhtasar al-ndfi' (tr. from Arabic into Persian, ed. Muhammad Taqi
Danishpazhuh), Tehran, AHS 1343, 149-150, Sharayi' al-isldm, ed. 'Abd al-Husayn
Muhammad 'All, Najaf, A.H. 1389, ii, 12. See also Lambton, State and government
in Medieval Islam, 256.
CHANGING CONCEPTS OF JUSTICE AND INJUSTICE

Muhaqqiq al-Hilli and al-Mutahhar al-Hilli (648-726/1250-1325)


appear to have co-operated with the Ilkhanid government. By
the time of the latter the situation had changed: the Ilkhanate had
become a Muslim government and so far as it denied the legitimacy
of Shil claims to the imamate it was "unjust". The question of
cooperation was once more sharpened. Nevertheless Ibn al-
Mutahhar was an influential figure at the court of Oljeiti and its
reported to have been responsible for the latter's conversion to
Imami Shi'ism. It is possible that a detailed comparison of al-
Mutahhar was an influential figure at the court of Oljeitii and is
emphasis in respect of collaboration with an unjust government.
Writers continued to assert the importance of justice, but there
are some slight differences of emphasis. These reflect the
uncertainties and insecurities of the time. Right religion no
longer played a dominant part as it had under the Saljuqs. The
Ilkhans did not become Muslims permanently until the reign of
Ghazan Khin (694-703/1295-1304); Tegider (680-3/1281-4) was
converted, but died shortly afterwards. Prior to the reign of
Ghazan there was thus no point in an appeal to right religion.
Also, the attitude of the Mongols towards the division between
Sunnis and ShfTs was less sharp than had been that of the
Saljuqs. The connection between justice and shar'f law never-
theless continued, but even after the conversion of the Mongols
it was less marked than had been the case formerly. The inter-
dependence of religion and state was recognised as axiomatic,(73)
but so also was the separation of shar't law and Mongol law.(74)
The need for justice in the conduct of affairs is spoken of in such
phrases as bar qanin-i ma'dilal wa yasaq(75) (according to the
law of justice and the yasa).
Qashani, in the opening passage of the Tdarkh-i Oljeiti, which he
wrote in the reign of Abu Said, Oljeitii's son and successor, makes
an effort to reassert the traditional view of kingship and the
importance of justice. It reads: "In every period God chooses
from among men, in order to assure the stability and unity of the
world, the ordering of the affairs of mankind, and the regulation of
the economy and politics (tadbir-i mandzil wa mudun), a great

(73) Cf. Muhammad b. Hindushah b. Nakhchivan, Dastir al-kaiib. ed. A.A. 'All-
zadeh, ii, Moscow, 1972, 29-30.
(74) Ibid., 30ff., 35.
(75) Cf. ibid., 35, 36, 37.
52 A. K. LAMBTON

king, who has the status of the Shadow of God upon Earth, so that
by reason of the awe inspired by his punishment and his display of
equity and justice, he keeps [his] many subjects firm and constant
in perpetuating his commands and prohibitions and obliges them
to perform those things which are approved by the shart'a, such as
devotion and worship, so that the truth of the hadith "religion and
kingship are twins" is demonstrated".(76)
Ibn Tiqtaqa who wrote the Kitcb al-fakhrf in 701/1302 and
dedicated it to Fakhr al-Din 'Isa b. Ibrahim, the malik of Mawsil,
included in it a mirror. In this he states that justice and
intelligence were among the qualities required by the ruler; he also
needed coercive power. Intelligence, for Ibn Tiqtaqa, included
resolution (hazm) and was the basis upon which the security of the
kingdom rested. By justice the ruler caused the revenue from the
taxes to be abundant and the country prosperous, and by coercive
power he prevented bloodshed, preserved the wealth of others,
protected morals, prevented evil, suppressed wrongdoers and
forestalled injustice which led to civil war and disturbance. It
was his duty to protect the country, to make the fortifications
of the frontier strong, to ensure the security of the roads and to
put down the wicked. In return he was entitled to the obedience
of his subjects. The kingdom was made fertile by generosity,
prosperous by justice and stable by intelligence, and it was
protected by bravery and administered by authority (ri'isa).(77)
The Tdrtkh-i shahL, referred to above, was written in Kirman for
Padishah Khatun, who had a varied and turbulent life during
which she was married to the Ilkhan Abaqa. It is devoted largely
to an account of the reign of her mother, Qutlugh Terken Khatun,
who ruled Kirman in succession to her husband Qutb al-Din
Muhammad, who died in 655/1257. Apart from its value for the
history of Kirman, it shows the familiarity of its author with
earlier works on the theory of government. It also contains some
original insights. The author, who has not been identified, quotes
from the Jcawddn Khirad (probably in the version of Ibn
Miskawaih), the works of Ibn al-Muqaffa', the Akhldq-i Ndsir( of
Nasir al-Din TUsi, and Nasir al-Din's essay on finance written
probably for Hiilegii, or possibly for Abaqa. He was also familiar
with the Mirsdd al-'ibdd of Najm al-Din Razi, and probably also

(76) Ed. Mahin Hambly, Tehran, 1969, 1-2.


(77) Kitib al-fakhrf, Cairo, A.H. 1317, 14, 20, 30, 46, 52.
CHANGING CONCEPTS OF JUSTICE AND INJUSTICE 53
with the Jami' al-'ulum of Fakhr al-Din Razi. He seeks sanction
for the theories he puts forward in the Qur'an and the Traditions
and illustrates the points he wishes to make with stories of the
caliphs and others and, when discussing the wazirate, of the
Barmakids and Nizam al-Mulk. He was writing for a Muslim
patron in an outlying province of the Ilkhanate and was not,
therefore, subject to the same constraints as writers, such as
Rashid al-Din Fadl Allah, at the centre of the empire.
He states that just and perfect kings succeeded prophets as the
deputies (nuwwaib) of the divine institute (nawdmls-i ilhih) and
the guardians and protectors of right religion, for "religion was the
foundation and kingship the guardian". Kings brought order into
the affairs of men and caused them to follow right conduct: the
sultan was the Shadow of God upon earth.(78) Having thus laid
down the Islamic framework into which to fit his exposition, he
follows Nasir al-Din Tfsi, and states that God had created men as
civic persons and made their livelihood dependent upon co-
operation and the division of labour. Like Nasir al-Din, he
considers that the preservation of justice and the maintenance of
equity among the people could only be achieved by a divine
institute, a just and perfect arbitrator and a silent adjuster and
mediator. The divine institute, which was the controlling force of
equality and equilibrium, and that which reconciled deficiency and
excess, was the source of unity. The just and perfect arbitrator,
who was the lord of commands and prohibitions, was the just king,
and the silent adjuster and mediator was a monetary currency
(dinar), through which the order and stability of the lower world
was achieved, so that each person attained to his proper position.
Like Nasir al-Din Tusi, he seeks Quranic sanction for this system,
but departs slightly from Nasir al-Din's exposition in that he
interprets the divine institute as the Qur'an (not the sharf'a).
He also lays greater emphasis on the possession of coercive
force by the just king, without which, he maintains, the benefits of
a monetary currency and the establishment of equilibrium and
equalisation could not be achieved. The foundations of the world
rested on temporal rule and coercive power (asds-i dunyd Calatwa
imdrat wa siyisat mumahhad wa mu'add migarddnad).(79)

(78) Tarfkh-i shahl, 2-3.


(79) Ibid., 2-4.
54 A. K. LAMBTON

The author of the Tdarkh-i shiahl discusses the duties of the just
king, which has implications for the meaning which he attaches to
justice. Unfortunately the text appears to have lacunae at the
beginning of this discussion. It seems likely that the omissions
concern the treatment of the different classes of people, possibly on
the basis of various types of city (following al-Faragi and Nasir al-
Din TUsi). The text as published starts with a short passage on
the treatment of craftsmen and then goes on to a discussion of the
fiscal and economic measures which a just ruler should take-thus
implicitly relating justice to the financial administration of the
state. It was incumbent upon him to levy dues on the circulation
of goods, the fruits of the earth, and the natural increase of flocks
and herds, and to spend the proceeds on the public interest, as for
example in the provision of troops and the defence of the
frontiers. It was also incumbent upon him to keep himself
informed about inheritance and what the people of the city
acquired (through trade, etc.) and to extract any residue in
accordance with the sharC'aand place it in the public treasury, and
order the proceeds to be devoted to the livelihood of those whose
trade was meagre and those who were in need by reason of illness
or some other constraint.(80) It was also incumbent upon the just
ruler to fix wages and the hire charged by muleteers, the prices of
foodstuffs and garments and other goods from which merchants
and tradespeople gained profit or suffered loss, according to rules
and regulations which would ensure that they would receive their
due reward and that no harm or injustice would be suffered by
employers and wholesale merchants (bdrsaldrain) or purchasers so
that justice and equity might be observed with regard to both
parties. The duties of the muhlasib were to be laid down and lists
of goods available for sale in the shops of the merchants with their
prices were to be recorded on tablets or on a piece of paper affixed
to the wall above the door of the shop, so that the interest of both
buyer and seller would be protected. Usury was to be
forbidden. (81)
No distinction is made between politics and morals, and the just
ruler was required to intervene in moral affairs, to prevent
forbidden things such as gambling and immoral actions, and he
was to encourage the people of the city to marry several spouses

(80) Ibid., 5.
(81) Ibid., 6.
CHANGING CONCEPTS OF JUSTICE AND INJUSTICE 55

because such action would contribute to the survival of the


species.(82) In short it was for the just king to supervise all the
affairs of the kingdom, great and small, and to order all things
according to the rule of justice.(83)
The author states in a discussion on justice that it was the most
excellent quality of kings and sultans, because justice was the rule
of the kingdom of God and without the basis of equity there could
be no stability or permanence. Without the guiding hand of
justice (mudabbir-i 'adl) stability in the affairs of the kingdom, the
ease of the subjects, and the embellishment of the kingdom could
not be achieved. The Qur'an and the Traditions, he asserts, bore
witness to this, and he repeats the oft-quoted tradition "one hour
of justice is better than seventy years of worship" and adds that
"on the day of resurrection the just king will rest in the shadow of
God while the accounts of the people are being settled". As wise
men had said "a just king is better than heavy rain". The just
man was beloved of the people even if they did not benefit from his
justice and the tyrant was hated by the people even if they did not
suffer from his tyranny. Thus, blessings were called down upon
Anfishirawan, although he was an unbeliever who worshipped fire,
while curses were called down upon Hajjaj, who was a Muslim,
born of Muslim parents, and who had known the Companions of
the Prophet and the Followers.(84)
At this point the author introduces a passage on the tyranny of
the pen, which he asserts to be worse than the tyranny of the
sword-a somewhat original interpretation of the meaning of
tyranny. The tyranny of the pen, he states, was hidden while the
tyranny of the sword was open, and it was easier to put right an
evil which was open than one which was hidden. The tyranny of
the sword passed quickly but the tyranny of the pen was like a
perennial sickness, or like the sparks of a fire which blaze fiercely in
the corner of a house and gradually burn up everything. Its heat
is not realised until it is blazing so fiercely that it cannot be put
out. Concluding, he states, "The evil, corruption, tyranny and
injustice which flow towards the people of Kirman from the pens of
evil scribes in Kirman at this time is worse than the swords of the

(82) Ibid., 5-6.


(83) Ibid., 6.
(84) Ibid., 36-7.
56 A. K. LAMBTON

Mongols which have made the earth a sea of blood."(85) He


promises to explain this in the proper place, but in fact he does not
apparently do so and the reader is left in ignorance of what lies
behind his description of "the tyranny of the pen".
In another passage the author states that any king who
refrained from giving gifts would never achieve his desires. Those
versed in practical affairs said that liberality (hurriyyal)(86) was
preferable to justice, and he seeks to justify this by a somewhat
obscure argument, and concludes that men loved a generous man
better than a just man, although the order of the world depended
upon justice more than upon liberality.(87) This passage does not
follow naturally from the writer's other discussions, and the reason
for its inclusion can only be guessed. It is possible, since it is
followed (after various stories) by a description of gifts made by
Ogedei,(88) that the author wished to praise Ogedei but was not
prepared to praise him for his justice or to accord to him the status
of a just ruler in the technical sense. This is, perhaps, an
illustration of the dilemma of Muslims writing under non-Muslim
rule. Or maybe, like Wassaf, he is merely calling attention to the
weakness of men (see below).
Rashid al-Din Fadl Allah, wazir and sahib diuwdnto Ghazan
and Oljeitii, wrote at the centre of the empire. He seeks, like
Qashani, to reassert the traditional view of justice and the
importance attached to it. This is to be seen in the text of some
of the yarlighs issued by Ghazan Khan and contained in Rashid
al-Din's Tdrlkh-i ghazani.(89) The inspiration of these yarlighs
is presumably to be attributed at least in part to Rashid
al-Din. He also points to the interdependence of good adminis-
tration, agricultural development, justice and coercive punishment
and also to the need of equipoise in everything. The justice of
the ruler, he states, must be like the sun and shine upon the
people of the world everywhere.(90) He puts into the mouth of

(85) Ibid., 39.


(86) It is clear from the context that the writer is using the term hurriyyal in the
sense of liberality.
(87) Tarkh-i shahi, 72-3.
(88) Ibid., 74-5. Rukn al-Din b. Khwaja-Juq b. Baraq IHajib received a yarligh
for Kirman from Ogedei and supplanted his cousin Qutb al-Din Muhammad (to
whom Qutlugh Terken was married). Qutb al-Din then went with his family and
household to the ordu in the hope of dispossessing his cousin.
(89) Ed. K. Jahn, London, 1940, 229. Cf. 257.
(90) Ibid., 186.
CHANGING CONCEPTS OF JUSTICE AND INJUSTICE

Ghazan the statement that God had appointed him (Ghazan) over
the people to administer their affairs and to maintain justice and
equality between them.(91)
In a letter to his son Shihab al-Din, the governor of Tustar and
Ahwaz, Rashid al-Din interprets justice to be an all-embracing
concept comprising a variety of qualities, most of them of an
ethical nature. To spread justice and equity was the greatest
quality and highest virtue of kings and governors and was
incumbent in financial affairs (dar mil), in action and in
speech. He then sets out the meaning of justice in these three
fields. First, in financial affairs, his son was to distribute to the
deserving poor all that he acquired lawfully (az wajh-i halal). To
give to the undeserving was prodigality and waste, and in doing so
he would be acting unjustly. Secondly, justice in speech consisted
in making the tongue the touchstone and measure of truth. He
enjoins his son to say what should be said and to keep silence in
what should not be said and not to praise anyone except to the
extent that he deserved. Thirdly, justice in action lay in
enjoining the good and forbidding evil and in protecting the
subjects and striving to improve their conditions and to secure
their happiness. Negatively it meant that he would not inflict
punishment on the innocent, listen to false accusations or
defamatory statements, covet the wealth and position of others,
allow himself to be influenced by the blame of sinners and corrupt
persons or to listen to their advice. Justice meant that he would
not fall short in doing God's work, that he would not transgress the
limits set by God, and would in all things observe the
mean. Further justice demanded that he should order his
servants not to transgress their limits because, if they did, they
would become bold towards him and covet the goods and positions
of other men, trouble persons of high birth (idzdagdn) and stir up
sedition, so that great weakness would appear in the affairs of the
kingdom and they would incite the people to rebel against
him. Lastly, he should not make his inner and outer garment
pride, anger, violence, vengeance, false pretences (talbfs), deceit,
lying, deviation from righteousness (fisq), avarice, peculation
(khiyanat), covetousness, greed, envy, rancour, flattery, hypocrisy,
impudence, haughtiness, and cruelty, but that he should make
clemency, forgiveness, sincerity, abstinence, generosity, bravery,

(91) Ibid., 198.


A. K. LAMBTON

loyalty, contentment (qand'aI), faithfulness, chastity ('afaf),


asceticism, modesty (haya'), humility, faithfulness, compassion,
mercy and worship his profession.(92)
The last writer I wish to consider is Wassaf. He was an official
in the finance department in Fars and had close experience of the
administration of the province and of the flagrant abuses of
Ilkhanid rule in the province. In his history, commonly called the
Tdarkh-i Wassaf, which he wrote in the reign of Oljeiti, he included
a mirror, the Akhldq al-saltana. In view of local circumstances, it
is not surprising that he should have regarded justice as of
fundamental importance. It was, he states, the foundation of all
virtues and the guardian of order in all creation. Without justice
the kingdom would not remain stable.(93) He adds, however, a
new dimension to justice, beneficence, though he may, perhaps,
have been influenced in this by Najm al-Din Razi and Nasir al-Din
Tfsi (see above). But the latter's approach was rather different: it
was only after the king had carried out the demands of the law of
justice that he was to show beneficence to his subjects.(94) Wassaf
states that men, because of their weakness, were not satisfied with
mere justice but wished for grace as well. Here, he would seem to
have in mind the justice of the jurists, for he states that the just
requital of evil was one of the principles of the shart'a and also one
of the canons of kingship. It was, therefore, incumbent upon the
king to mete out punishment, but Wassaf believed that justice
should be tempered by beneficence.(95) In this connection he may
well have had in mind, and wished to lessen, the essentially
arbitrary nature of the proceedings of the yarghu, the Mongol court
of interrogation. He recognises also the need for a full treasury-
another fact which he will have learnt from experience. In his
view, justice, prosperity, the happiness of the subjects and a full
treasury went together. If the king was concerned simply to
amass money, the kingdom would not flourish, the treasury would
not be filled and hatred or curses would be the lot of the king.(96)
Here, too, Wassaf is, no doubt, speaking from experience.

(92) Muklaabat-i rash_id, ed. Muhammad Shaf', Lahore, A.H. 1364, 112ff.
(93) Tajziyat al-amsar wa tazjiyal al-a'sar, commonly known as the Tadrkh-i
Wassaf, ed. N. M. Isfahan!, lith., Bombay, A.H. 1269, 486.
(94) The Nasirean ethics, 233.
(95) Tarnkh-i Wassaf, 486.
(96) Ibid., 491.
CHANGING CONCEPTS OF JUSTICE AND INJUSTICE 59

To sum up, the shar'( theory of justice, laid down in the early
centuries of Islam, and associated primarily with moral probity,
was supplemented during the Saljuq period by theories deriving
from conceptions which had been current (or were believed to have
been current) under the pre-Islamic Persian kings. A central core
of maxims for which sanction was sought in the Qur'an and the
Traditions was evolved and repeated by generations of writers
over the centuries. In the light of this body of received wisdom,
which had to a great extent, been formulated before the Saljuq
period, obedience to the just ruler, the Shadow of God upon earth,
was justified as obedience to God and His prophet. Justice did
not justify the law; the law justified justice. The purpose of the
government of the just ruler was the establishment of conditions in
which right religion could be lived and Islamic virtues
practised. His task was to maintain the balance of mundane
society by giving each group within society its due place and
function. The fact that conversely obedience to an unjust ruler
must have implied disobedience to God and His prophet receives
less attention, similarly the question of the duty of disobedience
towards an unjust ruler is seldom discussed. This was because of
the fear that disorder might accompany, or result from, attempts
to overthrow an unjust ruler-an attitude which also long predates
the Saljuq period. Experience had taught men to value stability
and to fear that which threatened it. Partly because of this,
emphasis is laid on the need for the just ruler to possess coercive
force-a requirement which both al-Ghaz5al and Nizam al-Mulk
laid down. Increasingly justice came to be seen not in specific
terms of shart' justice but ideally as the harmonious relationship of
society in a divinely appointed system; and at a lower or more
practical level as the maintenance of the different groups of society
in their proper station. Nasir al-Din Tfsi interpreted this to
mean that each would attain to that perfection which lay within
him, but in effect the interpretation of justice as the maintenance
of equipoise led not to a harmonious relationship of society but to a
continuance of the status quo. How far this interpretation of
justice was accepted by the common people (however much they
may have acquiesced in it), is a matter for conjecture.
I have given considerable space to two works belonging to the
middle of the 7th/13th century, the Mirsdd al-'ibdd of Najm al-Din
Razi and the Tdirkh-i shaht, because they seem to me to contain
certain insights not found in the other works discussed. As I
60 A. K. LAMBTON

suggested in an earlier article,(97) part of Najm al-Din's work would


appear to be a protest against contemporary practices. More
importantly, as a Sfif plr he had a large popular following and
hence his views are, perhaps, the nearest we get to what the
common people expected of the just ruler. The Tarikh-i shdah is
interesting first for the extent to which the author is aware of the
traditional theories of justice and the way in which he places the
ideas taken from Nasir al-Din Tfsi unreservedly in an Islamic
framework, and secondly for the attention which he gives to fiscal
and economic justice.
With the breakdown in traditional forms of government after
the Mongol invasions, justice is no longer seen as co-extensive with
right religion and is even more closely associated than heretofore
with coercive power. The question of obedience to unjust rulers
ceases to be discussed (except in works of fiqh). The Mongols did
not, prior to the reign of Ghazan Khan, recognise the claim of
Islam to be the only true religion and the concept that justice
derived its justification from conformity with the divine law hence
became muted. Finally, with the conversion of the Ilkhans to
Islam the hadith "Religion and kingship are twins" again became
axiomatic and the association of justice with the shar'a was
reasserted.
A. K. LAMBTON
(London)

(97) 'Justice in the medieval Persian theory of kingship', Studia Islamica, xvii
(1962), 112. Also in Theory and practice in medieval Persian government, Variorum
Reprints, London, 1980.