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The Social Organization of Mecca and the Origins of Islam Author(s): Eric R.

Wolf Source: Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, Vol. 7, No. 4 (Winter, 1951), pp. 329-356 Published by: University of New Mexico Stable URL: Accessed: 10/06/2010 13:45
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THE PRESENT PAPER attempts to analyze some aspects of the early developmentof Islam in terms of certain anthropologicalconcepts. It would like to take issue with the popularview best expressedin the wordsof Harrison1 is that "Mohammedanism little more than the Bedouin mind projectedinto the realm of religion." It is concernedprimarilywith the change from a type of society organizedon the basis of kin relationshipsto a type of society possessed of an organized,if rudimentary, state. It will attempt to show that this change in an urbanenvironment and was causally connectedwith the spread took place of trade. No cross-culturalcomparisonswill be attempted, though it is hoped that the material presentedmay have applicabilityelsewhere,especially in the study of areasin which settled populationsand pastoralpeoples interact. Many writershave dealt with the rise of Islam primarilyin termsof diffusion. Thus Torrey analyzed"the Jewish foundationsof Islam."2Bell dealt with "the HirschbergdiscussedJewish and origin of Islam in its Christianenvironment."3 Christian teaching in pre-IslamicArabia and early Islamic times.4 Grimme, Nielsen, and Philby have tracedIslamic elementsto southernArabia as the prin. cipal source of diffusion.5Kroeberhas included Islam in the "exclusive-monotheisticpattern"which is said to characterize Judaism,Christianity,and Mohamof his concept of "systemicpatterns" of medanismand serves as an instance of diffusion.6The work of these writersis aimed at an understanding the deriva1 Harrison, 1924, p. 42. 3 Bell, 1926. 5 Grimme, 1892; Nielsen, 1927; Philby, 1947. 329 2 Torrey, 1933. 4 Hirschberg, 1939. 6 Kroeber,1948, p. 314.



tion of some of the culture elements utilized by Islam, or has pointed to the existenceof elementsanalogousto Islam in other religious traditionsdeveloped within the same generalarea. Our presentemphasisis somewhatdifferent.We are interestedprimarilyin the way in which people relate themselvesto each other in terms of the material culturallyavailableto them, and how such systemsof relationship changedue to the impact of internal and external factors. The present approachis thus functional and historical.It is also evolutionary.The writer is interestedin one case history,to show up certainchangesin social organizationwhich appearto occur at the thresholdof transitionfrom one level of organization another. to The presentationdoes not aspire in any way to completeness.It must needs disregardlarge areas of culture which are peripheralto the present problem. Thus, for example,the change in the position of women from pre-Islamictimes to the period of Islam has been disregardedhere. Certain areas of culture are so isolated for observation, that hypotheseson the characterof systemicchange be derived. may

During the first century AD, the discovery of the regular change of the monsoon made possible the rise of regular coastwisetrade around the Arabian to peninsula.This loweredfreight ratessufficiently cause the main overlandroute from Yemen to Syria to lose much of its importance. While most of the coastwise tradepassedinto non-Arabhands, the Arab inhabitantsof the Hejaz seized what was left of the carryingtrade along the main caravanroute. This marginaleconomic developmentled to the establishmentof a permanentsettlement in the valley of Mecca, aroundthe year 400 AD.7 This permanentsettlementwas founded by membersof the tribe of Koreish, an impoverished subdivisionof the larger pastoraltribe Kinana. Before settling at Mecca, the Koreishlived as pastoralnomadsin scatteredmigratorykin groups which added to their livelihood by selling protectionto passing caravans.8The social organizationof these groups appearsto have followed the general pattern of such organizationamong the Bedouins of the pre-Islamicperiod. They were "local groups habituallymoving together,"9composedof a chief and his family, free families,protectedstrangerswho were not blood relatives,and slaves.10The chief, usually the oldest or most respectedmale of the group, was responsible
7 Lammens, 1926, p. 13. 9 Smith, 1903, p. 43. 8 Lammens, 1928, p. 239. 10 Levy, 1933, vol. 1, p. 278.




for the care of poor, widows, and orphans,for hospitalityto strangers,for payments of blood money,1l and for the maintenanceof order within the group.12 Yet, then as now, "it is only in war, or on the march,which is conductedwith all the precautions war, that the sheikh of a tribe exercisesan active authority."13 of Chief and free families were linked together by bonds of kinship. Those individuals who travelled with the group but were not blood relatives of the rest were tied to them by a numberof ritual kin relationshipswhich we shall have occasion to discuss more fully at a later point. These relationshipsenabled the componentelements of the group to "combineon the model or principleof an associationof kindred,"14 made it possible for outsidersto "feign themselves and be descended from the same stock as the people on whom they were to
engrafted." 15

The name of Koreish has received two interpretations, both of sociological ratherthan etymologicalinterest. One interpretation traces the name back to a word meaning "to collect together."The Koreish are said to carry this name, either because their ancestor "collected together" all migratory kinship units around an already existing religioussanctuaryat Mecca16 or becausethey "collected together commoditiesfrom all sides for sale."'7 Another interpretation derivesthe name from a word meaning "to trade and make profit."'8 The two interpretations adequatelycharacterizethe Koreish as a tribe of traders, living
in a permanent settlement.

The settled characterof their life set them off from the pastoralnomads of the desert,those who "stayedon the heights of the Hedjaz."'1 "They have lived in towns, when only the heads of the Benu Amr lived in them, and others still led an unsettled existence.They have built many habitationsin them, and dug wells," sang one pre-Islamicpoet.20Another said that if he had chosen to stay with the Koreish,he would not have had to wanderabout the desertin search of
pasture, spending the night at "brackish water . . . in an evil lodging."2l The

Koreishthemselvesset up of a set of arbitrary themselves regulations the followingkind; they declared exempt whichrequired that they make sour milk, turn milk into butter, from the obligation all and live in tentsmadeof camelhair,thus renouncing the customs the Bedouin of desert nomads,from whom they wanted to distinguishthemselvescompletely."22
11 13 15 17 19 21 Procksch, 1899, pp. 7-9. Smith, 1903, p. 68. Idem, p. 126. Idem, p. 25. Ibn Hisham, 1864, p. 85. Mufaddaliyit, 1918, p. 254 12 14 16 18 20 22 Ashkenazi, 1946-49, p. 665 Maine, 1888, p. 127. Wiistenfeld, 1864, p. 28. Ibn Hisham, 1864, vol. 1, p. 46 Ibid. Caetani, 1905, p. 148




The permanentsettlementat Mecca existed solely for the purposesof commerce.A pre-Islamic poet testifiedto this: If Mecca had any attractions offer, Himyariteprincesat the head of their to armieswould long since have hurriedthere.There winterand summerare equally desolate.No bird flies over Mecca,no grassgrows.There are no wild beaststo be hunted.Only the mostmiserable all occupations of flourishes there,trade.23 When Mohammedattemptedto ruin Mecca by destroyingits Syrian trade, after his flight from Mecca to Medina,a merchantof the Koreishclan of Umaiya said: Mohammed stoppedup our trade,his men do not leave the coast clear,and has the inhabitants have a pact with them and are largelyin understanding with them, so we don'tknowwhereto go; but if we remainat home,we shall eat up our capital and cannotmaintainourselvesin Mecca over a long periodof time, becauseit is only a settlementfor the purposeof carryingon trade,with Syria in the summer timeand with Abyssinia winter.24 in Without trade, the Meccanswould have perishedin their "unfruitful valley."25 The Koreishappearto have becomethe dominanttradersin westernArabia by stages. First, they sold protectionto caravans.Then they began to offer wares "for sale along the overland routes leading through their territory."26 Finally, they entered the large markets located outside their area, coming into direct tradecontactswith Syria and Abyssinia,27 with Persia.28 and The Koreish skimmedthe fat off the fairs of the neighboring places. Mina, Maganna,Dhul Magaz and not least Ukaz were like outpostsof Meccantrade.In all these places we find the Koreish; in business theirhands.The esteemin which they concentrated they were held can be seen from the fact that the weaponswhich had to be surfor rendered the durationof the marketsand the pilgrimage were depositedwith a Koreish.29 The Koreish thus played an importantpart in centralizingthe economyof the peninsula.Their trading venturesturned Mecca into "a city, secure and at ease, to which supplies come from every side";30into a "place of crowding";31 filled with "their movements,their comings and goings";32into "the mother city."33 The main article of trade carriednorth from Mecca was leather, especially tanned camel, cattle, and gazelle hides,34productsof numeroustannerieslocated
23 25 27 29 31 33 Essad Bey, 1936, p. 44. Koran 14, 40; p. 229. Ibid. Wellhausen, 1884-99, vol. 3, p. 88. Idem, 3, 90; p. 395. Idem, 42, 5; p. 271. 24 26 28 30 32 34 Wakidi, 1882, p. 100. Wistenfeld, 1864, p. 35. Idem, p. 38. Koran 16, 113; p. 208. Idem, 3, 196; p. 405. Sprenger, 1869, vol. 3, p. 94.




in the towns betweenTaif and Aden. Other export items were preciousmetals, dry raisins, and incense.35Items of trade carried to Mecca were cereals, oil, wine, mule skins, silk, and luxury goods.36 Large amountsof capital were investedin this trade. Caravanscomprisedup to 2,500 camels37and were valued up to 50,000 mithkal, or the equivalentof 2,250 kg of gold.38Sprengerhas attempted to calculate the annual volume of trade flowingin and out of Mecca: morethan 1,200,000 of goods thatthe Meccans sent annually We mustassume kg to Syria,and imported muchfrom there.But we set the value at only 10 mithkal as per 100 kg, becausethey also tradedin cereals.Exportand importin this direction of to of amounted roughlya quarter a millionmithkal[or the equivalent 11,250kg then they had an annual of gold]. If tradewith the southwas of equalimportance, of turnover half a million.The profitswere seldomless than 50 percent,and thus of they earneda pureincrement at least250,000mithkal.39 The sums of needed capital for these operations were brought together through the "developmentof credit institutions [by means of which] the most humblesums could be turnedinto capital down to the participationof a dinar or a piece of gold, or even . . . half a ducat of gold."40"Few caravansset forth in which the whole population, men and women, had not a financial interest. On their return, every one received a part of the profits proportionateto his stake and the numberof shares subscribed."41 Thus, for example,a caravanin the year 624 AD in numbered1,000 camels,almost every man of Koreishhad participated it, even if only with smallstakes.50,000dinarsare said to have been investedin it; most of it belongingto the familyof Sa'idb. al Oc Abu Uxaixa, eitherhis own or borrowed in returnfor a shareof half the profit.The Banu Makzumare said to havehad 200 in camelsand 4000 to 5000 mithkalof gold invested it, al Xarithb. Amirb. Naufal and Umayya b. Xalaf each 1000 mithkal. A numberof caravans,belongingto the Meccanfamilies,were unitedin this one caravan; marketdestination individual
was Gaza.42

This "union of the Koreish,their union in equippingcaravanswinter and summer"43centralizedtrading operationsin the hands of the few best equippedto carryon such large-scaleventures.
35 Lammens, 1869,p. 95. 1928,pp. 22-23;Sprenger, 36 Lammens, 1869,p. 95. 1928,pp. 22-23;Sprenger, 38 Idem,p. 39. 37 Wakidi, 1882,p. 34 40 Lammens, 39 Sprenger, 1924,p. 233. 1869,p. 96. 42 Wakidi, 1882,p. 39. 41 Lammens, 1926,p. 16 43 Koran 1; p. 36. 61,




Money in this society had not yet reached the stage of the universalcommodity. Yet precious metals served as a means by which the value of other commoditiescould be measured.Byzantineand Persian coins were in use,44and gold was mined in the Hejaz.45As yet, however,"it was not customaryto buy and sell with them [coins] except by consideringthe coins as bullion,"46i.e. by weighing ratherthan by counting them. This may perhapsbe attributedto the lack of a centralpolitical power whose imprintmight have served to standardize the value of the different coins in circulation.At any rate, commoditieslike food, milk, and wine were sold.47Bad harvestsaround Mecca are said to have caused the prices of bread to rise.48Clothing was sold.49Abu Sufyan is said and the to have sold a house for 400 dinars,with 100 dinars for down-payment, Slaves were sold in what was Arabia'slargest slave rest payablein installments.50 market.51Camels obtained in raids were sold in the open market in Mecca,52 and the price of horses is said to have been determinedby market conditions.53 Camelswerehiredout for caravanduty.54Ransomwas calculatedin moneyterms Certain occupations,such as sheepherding, on certainoccasions.55 guiding caraWhile wages in Medina wall building,leeching,etc., were paid in wages.56 vans, were usually paid in kind, in Mecca they were usually paid in money.57 betweenindividualsand groups Credit,pricing,and wagesset up relationships of individuals which were not comprisedwithin the preceding system of kin relationships.Under the impact of commercialdevelopment, Meccan society changed from a social order determinedprimarilyby kinship and characterized by considerablehomogeneityof ethnic origin into a social order in which the fiction of kinship served to mask a developing division of society into classes, ethnic diversity possessedof considerable Accumulationof wealth and powerin some clans of the Koreishtribedivided the Koreishinto rich and poor. To some extent, this was mirroredin the pattern The two dominantKoreishclans, Makhzum and Umaiya, occuof settlement.58 the "innercity" aroundthe centralsanctuaryof the Ka'ba, and were called pied "Koreishof the center."The other eight and poorerKoreishclans occupiedthe
44 46 47 48 50 52 54 56 57 45 Buhl, 1930, p. 51. Baladhuri, 1916-24, p. 233 Baladhuri, 1916-24. Ibn Hisham, 1864, vol. 2, pp. 3, 7; Mufaddaliyat,, 1918, p. 34. 49 Ibn Hisham, 1864, p. 9. Wiistenfeld, 1864, p. 36. 51 Lammens, 1928, p. 12. Wakidi, 1882, p. 340. 53 Mufaddaliyat, 1918, p. 308. Ibn Hisham, 1864, pp. 21-22. 55 Wakidi, 1882, p. 76. Idem, p. 318. Bukhari, 1903-14, vol. 2, pp. 62-64; Sprenger, 1869, vol. 1, p. 275. 58 Wiistenfeld, 1864, pp. 58-75, passim. Sprenger, 1869, vol. 3, p. 141.




"outer city" and were called "Koreishof the outskirts." The real functional units of Meccan society, however,were no longer clans as such, nor localized groupsof kin, but clustersof rich merchants,their familiesand their dependents. The dependentpopulation was made up of several groups. Differentiationof status, minor among the pastoralnomads,assumedmajor importancein Mecca. First, there were the slaves.Secondly,there existed a group of mercenaries, many of whom were of slave origin.59Thirdly, merchantsmaintained the necessary personnel for their caravans.Fourthly, there were middlemen,like the future Caliph Omar. Fifthly, there were people who had come under the domination of the wealthythroughdebts, like the dependentsof al-'Abbaswho had brought them under his sway through usury.60Sixthly, there existed a group of people who workedfor wages. Finally, there were the clients or protectedpersons,called mawall (sing. mawla). This group of clients deserves special consideration.A client stood in a called Jiwar, to a patronor protector.The word for client relationof dependency, is derived from a root signifying "closeness." Two kinds of closenesswere disA pre-Islamicpoet speaks of "cousinsof our cousins, of the same tinguished. stock by birth, and a cousin knit to us by an oath."61Clients, called cousins by oath, are contrastedwith cousins by birth.62The client-patronrelationshipin its pure form involved a tie of ritual kinship, sealed by comminglingof blood and by an oath swornat the centralreligioussanctuary,the Ka'ba.63 Within Mecca, there were thirteenmajor groups of clients, each affiliatedto a patron family or patron clan.64The clients were of diverseorigins. Some were Others were outlaws from tribal groups who sought refuge. Some freed slaves.65 were individualswho had moved into the protectionof the group through matrilocal marriage.Some were adoptedpersons.66 Just as settlementin Mecca was nominallyorganizedon a genealogicalbasis, with two clans at the center and eight clans at the outskirts,so the functioning social groups within Meccansociety tended to be formallyorganizedon the principle of the fiction of kinship by blood. This fiction was the only means by which, apart from slavery, individualscould be related to each other. Within a the social clusters,the clientsrepresented group not linked by birth but through ritualkin arrangements. Due to the commercialorientationof Meccan society, this patron-clienttie,
59 Lammens, 1928, p. 244. 61 Mufaddaliyit, 1918, p. 34. 60 Buhl, 1930, p. 109. 62 Goldziher, 1889, vol. 1, p. 105.

63 Smith,1903,pp. 50-51. 65 Smith,1903,p. 51.

64 Wiistenfeld, 1864,pp. 59-75,passim. 66 Idem,pp. 49-52,passim.



formally based on a fictional relation of kin, actually took on more and more the guise of an exploitativerelationbetweenmembersof different class groups. This relationshipwas reinforcedby the prevalenceof wage-payment and by the It institutionof debt slavery.67 has been pointed out repeatedlythat the bulk of Mohammed'sfirst convertscame from this group of clients and from the slaves of the city.68Caetani has even argued that Mohammedhimself was a client of the Koreish,ratherthan a blood relative,69 in this he is supportedby a curious and remarkby Mohammed:"And they say, 'Had but this Koranbeen sent down to When some great one of the two cities .. .!',",70 well as by other evidence.71 as Mohammed first embarkedon his career, the excitementamong the slaves of Mecca was so intense that a leading slave owner who had one hundred slaves removedthem from the city becausehe fearedthat they might becomeconverts.72 When MohammedbesiegedTaif, he called on the slaves of the town to desert to his camp wherethey would receivetheir freedom.73 The mechanismof kinship betweenpatron and client providedbacking for the individualwho was poor or powerless.It put the weight of a powerful group of ritual kin behind him. The isolated individual without such backing was exposed to attack or to unobstructedkilling in a blood feud.74 Yet the same mechanismwas also potentially disruptive of social stability. If a client was attacked,the protectinggroup had to make a show of force. This demonstration of force, in turn, involved the protecting group in every-wideningcircles of conflict.For example,during an encounterbetweenMohammedand the Koreish, the client of a leading Koreishmerchantwas killed by the Muslims. His brother demandedthat the dead man's patron exercisethe duty of blood revenge.The merchanttried to avoid this duty, fully cognizant of the fact that its exercise would only involve Mecca more deeply in war with the Muslims,but was forced to give in.75 Like the relationshipbetween sworn allies (hilf) which involved mutual aid between two equal parties and which we shall touch on more fully later, the relations between patron and client acted as a double-edgedsword. The extensionof kinship bonds to the individualmerely increasedthe possibility of conflictbetweengroups organizedon the kinshipmodel. As Mecca came to be characterized growing heterogeneityof status, its by ethnically.Mentionis made of Syrian populationalso becamemoreheterogeneous
67 68 69 71 72 74 Lammens, 1924, pp. 236-237. Caetani, 1905, p. 240; Procksch, 1899, pp. 81-82, 70 Koran, 43, 30; p. 136. Caetani, 1905, pp. 68-69. Caetani, 1905, pp. 233-234, note 1 to p. 225. 73 Encylopediaof Islam, vol. 1, p. 80. Sprenger, 1851, p. 159. 75 Procksch, 1899, p. 38. Buhl, 1930, pp. 36-37.




caravanleaders; of travelling monks and curers; of Syrian merchants;foreign smiths and healers; Copt carpenters;Negro idol sculptors; Christian doctors, surgeons, dentists and scribes; Christian women married into a Koreish clan; Abyssinian, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Abyssinian sailors and mercenaries.76 and Byzantineslaves were sold in the marketplace.77The market center Syrian, of Mecca exercisedan attractionon groups and individualsbeyond the Arabian periphery,as well as within the confinesof the peninsulaitself.

Economicdevelopmentset off relatedtendenciesin the field of religion.Gibb has spoken of "the abandonment local shrinesand the growingpracticeof pilof to central shrinesveneratedby groups of tribes (of which the Ka'ba in grimage Mecca was one of the most important)."78 The leading Koreishheld the rankingpositions in the Meccan religioushierarchy as well as the dominant positions in the economic system. The Umaiya at clan, especially,appearsto have owed its predominance, least in part, to its of special religious prerogativesin the past. One pre-Islamicpoet possession swears "by the holy month of the sons of Umaiya" and another is quoted as saying that the Banu Umaiya in Koreish were like the [priestly] family of the Banu Khafajahin the tribeof 'Uqail.79At any rate, the stronglymonopolistic characterof this Koreish religious oligarchy is evident in their attempt to pass The their religiousofficesdown to their first born in the direct line of descent.80 that of the priesthood,the presidencyof the council house, and the major offices, officesconcernedwith the distributionof food and water to the pilgrims, were apparentlydeveloped by the Koreish themselves,and were preemptedby them. Three minor officeswhich seem to have been traditionalin the worship of the Ka'ba8s were held by three minor tribal groups. The religious society of the Hums, again headed by the Koreish,further served to reinforcetheir dominance in the religioussphere.82 Like other Arabian sanctuaries,the Ka'ba was surroundedby a sacred area, called the haram.Within this precinctno blood could be shed. As the economic importanceof Mecca grew, the Koreish self-consciouslysought to extend the sacredprecinctas a means for increasingthe stability of social relationsin their
76 78 80 81 82 77 Idem, pp. 18-19. Lammens, 1928, pp. 12-32, passim. 79 Mufaddaliyat, 1918, pp. 125-126. Gibb, 1948, p. 113. Wiistenfeld, 1864, p. 34. Caetani, 1905, p. 105; Wellhausen, 1884-99, vol. 3, p. 77. Caetani, 1905, p. 148.




trading territory.They sought to "put their warehouses,their strong boxes, at The story of Amr b. Luhaiy greaterdistancefrom their turbulentneighbors."83 illustratesthe secular interest involved in this effort. It shows that the Meccan tradersringedthe Ka'bawith the idols of other tribalgroups,in orderto increase the importance the sanctuaryand to attractmorevisitorsto the growingcity.84 of The extensionof the conceptof an inviolablezone in which blood feuds were outlawed, and new fights could not develop, appearsto have resulted from the developmentof trade and to have fostered a further developmentof it. Wellhausenwrites: Within the tumultuousconfusionwhich fills the desert, the festivitiesat the the beginningof each seasonrepresent only enjoyableperiodsof rest. A peace of the God at this time interrupts continuousfeuds for a fair period of time. The most diversetribeswhichotherwise not trust each other at all, make common did to pilgrimage the sameholy placeswithoutfear, throughthe landof friendand foe. Trade raisesits head, and generaland lively exchangeresults .... The exchange of commodities followedby an exchangeof ideas. A community ideological is of that interest all develops comprises of Arabia ... 85 The Koreishdevelopeda special pact with other tribal groups to guarantee the inviolabilityof pilgrims on their journeys to the religious center.86Their attempts to maintainpeace earned them the scorn of the more war-like desert tribes. "No one has yet lived through a terror [raid] by them," said a Hudail poet.87"They are peoplewho do not know how to fight,"said a Jew of Medina.88 "Your couragefails you in battle,"sneeredanotherpoet, "at best, you are [only] good at figuringin the ranks of the processions!"89 In stressingthe Ka'ba as the center of their power, the Koreish broke with the traditionalnotion of a territorybelonging to a certainkin group, and representingits inviolableproperty. Under holy protection, there had here developeda generalsecurityunder law, unheardof in Arabiawhere law does not otherwiseextend beyond the tribe and this limitcan only be extendedthroughclientage. stranger No stoodhere in need of a pass,none neededthe protection a nativepatron,. . . everyone of was securein this free state of God, and if he was subjectedto injusticeand force, he always found someonewho backedhim up.90
83 85 87 89 Lammens,1928, p. 239. Wellhausen, 1884-99, vol. 3, p. 183. Hell, 1933, p. 10. Lammens, 1928, p. 145. 84 86 88 90 Ibn Hisham, 1864, vol. 1, p. 39. Caetani, 1905, p. 165. Ibn Hisham, 1864, vol. 2, p. 2. Wellhausen, 1884-99, vol. 3, p. 88.




The Koreishthus laid the basis for a transitionfrom a conceptof territoriality circumscribed kin relationsto a concept of territorialityin which consideraby tions of kinshipdo not play a prominentpart. Caetanistates that they admittedthat if Arabsnot of their own kin wereborn in the precinctof the Ka'ba or in its vicinity,they had the same rights as the Koreish,in orderto validatethe over all other Arabs.91 idea that settlementnear the Ka'bagave them precedence Parallel to the abandonmentof local shrines and growing centralizationof worship,there occurredan increasingtendencyto stress one deity above others. There existed religious symbols denoting the different social units of the older kinship society. Thus, each Koreish clan appears to have had its special clan symbol,92and each Meccan household had its household god.93 The extension of kinship ties into ritual kin ties of clientagehad led to a special predominance of "the conceptionof god and worshipperas patron and client."94But as the new and non-kin based relationsbegan to emerge in increasedstrength, the importance of one god, Allah, grew concomitantly.Allah was preeminentlythe guardianof social relationswhichextendedbeyondthe scope of kinship.In terms of the pre-Islamicformulae, he is "the guardian of faith and the avenger of treason,"the god in whose name people are supposedto "fulfill their contracts, honor their relativesby oath, and feed their guest."95 Allah is the Zeus Xenios, the protectorof gar and daif, of client and guest. Within the lineageand to a lesserdegreewithinthe tribe,rahim,the piety of family the relationship, holinessof the blood, exercisesprotection.But when rights and dutiesexist whichgo beyondthe lineage,then Allah is the one who imposesthem them.He is the protector giwar[the patron-client of and guarantees relationship] by is in whichthe naturalcircleof the community widenedand supplemented a fashion aboveall the clientand the guest.96 whichbenefits We have seen that the economic centralizationof western Arabia through trade was accompaniedby a related tendency in the centralizationof religious worship.Here we venturethe hypothesisthat the emergenceof social classes out of the network of a society based primarilyon actual or fictive ties of kinship was accompanied,in the sphere of religion, by an increasedemphasis on the deity associatedwith non-kinrelationship.
91 Caetani, 1905, p. 148. 93 Wakidi, 1882, p. 370. 95 Wellhausen, 1884-99, vol. 3, p. 191. 92 Lammens, 1928, p. 145. 94 Smith, 1927, p. 79. 96 Wellhausen, 1884-99, vol. 3, p. 190.



The way in which power is organizedin a given society must be considered both in terms of internal,or endogenous,and in terms of externalor exogenous factors.97 In termsof internaldevelopment, lines of politicalpowerin Mecca tended the to coincide with the lines of economic power. In theory, power in Mecca was located in a town council, made up of adult males. In actuality, however,the councilwas dominatedby the same wealthymerchants who ruled over the clusters of kin and dependents,and who held the main religious offices.They decided the general policy and made alliances.They represented "unionof the Koreish" made formal trade agreementswith the Abyssinianand and their representatives the Persian courts.98 They permittedforeignersto address the town council on specific matters; and receivedthe taxes which all foreignerswho were not kin or ritual kin had to pay if they wantedto trade in the area. Despite its oligarchiccharacter,the council had no direct legislative power and lacked a centralexecutiveorgan.In a society which was rapidlymovingaway from primaryreliance on kinship ties, its power was still largely kin-based.It lay in the council'sability to break a recalcitrantby refusing to grant him profor tection.The mechanism enforcingsuch decisionswas the blood feud, and law was maintainedonly by the unwillingness potentialculpritsto risk the dangers of of an encounterwith the powerful "Koreishof the center."The limitationsof this negativepoweras a meansof effectivesocial controlare shown clearlyin the story of the supposed boycott against Mohammed at the end of his Meccan that period.Whether apocryphalor not,99the story demonstrates the ideological movement createdby the prophettore apartthe ancientArab order of whichwas basedon kinship.Most members the boycotted lineagedid not believe most ferventadin Mohammed. . . and on the otherhand,someof Mohammed's herentslike Abu Bekrand Umar wereleft untouched this rule of conduct,since by they did not belongto his lineage.100 Just as the blood feud as a means of social control in a class-divided society mechanisms used to ensuresecurity could not governinternalfriction,so kin-based against the outside world failed of their purpose.We have alreadyseen that the relation,extendingprotectionto individualsor groups, at the same patron-client
98 Wiistenfeld, 1864, pp. 35, 38. 97 Wittfogel, 1932, pp. 542-551. 99 Caetani, 1905, pp. 290-291; Buhl, 1930, p. 175.

100 Buhl,1930,p. 176.




time extendedthe possibilityof inter-tribal conflict.The same may be said of the so-calledhilf relationship. The hilf generallydesignatesa relationof co6peration between roughly equal partners,in contrast to the patron-clientrelation which involves a strongerand a weakerparty.10'Such a pact of cooperationcould be enteredinto temporarily a specificpurposelike joint action in war or for the for of protectinga caravan.Or it could developinto a permanent between tie purpose tribes and tribal groups.102 The tie was sanctifiedby a ceremonyin which both and partiesmixedtheir blood,103 might be surrounded a mythologyof common by Wellhausen has spoken of the Arab genealogy as a statistical dedescent.'04 have stressedthe fictionalcharacter descent and of vice,105 both he and Caetani106 in Arabiain general.The Koreishmaintainedsuch pacts, for example,with many the members the tribe Sulaim who possessedmineralresources of and commanded road from Medina as well as accessto Nejd and the Persian Gulf;107with indilike al-Barrad;and others. vidual Syrianmerchants;08 with a Bedouinmarauder While these kin-basedmechanisms permittedthe formationof more extensive social bonds, they were also charged with potential for further friction. Fights between far-off desert tribes, involving partnersto a pact with the Koreish, involved the Koreishagainst their better interests.When a chain of petty insults started a war betweenthe tribes Kinana and Hawazin, the Koreishhad to enter the fight on the side of their Kinana relatives.When their sworn ally al-Barrad plunderedthe caravanof the king of Hira, they were drawn into the quarrelon his side. Thus the system of ritual kin on which the Koreishrelied for increased their interestin peaceful relationsof trade. securityat the same time counteracted Lammenshas discussed the reaction against direct blood revenge and the growing preferencefor settlementof blood feuds through arbitrationand payment of blood money which came to the fore in pre-IslamicArabia.109It is possiblethat this reactionwas relatedto a growing realizationthat the prevailing kinship mechanisms proved disruptiveof the peace they were supposedto maintain. It may also have been conditionedby the growing utility and ubiquity of money,by meansof whichblood claimscould be reducedmoreeasily to a common denominator. An elementin the social organizationof Mecca which was not disguisedas a kinship unit was the military force at the disposal of the Koreish, the so-called
101 102 103 104 106 108 Pedersen, 1914, p. 29; Braunlich, 1934, p. 191. Briunlich, 1934, p. 194. Pedersen, 1914, p. 21; Smith, 1903, pp. 60-61. 105 Wellhausen, 1884-99, vol. 4, p. 27. Nallino, 1941, pp. 77-78. 107 Encyclopediaof Islam, vol. 4, p. 518. Caetani, 1905, p. 59. 109 Lammens, 1928, p. 232. Lammens, 1914, p. 79.




Ahabis. This group of soldiers may have consisted either of splinter elements drawn from different tribal groups; or they may have been Abyssinianmercenaries, if one may put credencein Lammens'interpretationof the textual material.110 They may have resembledthe "men of different Arab elementswhich followed the kings . . a type of Praetorian guard" characteristicof the Himyarite kingdom of Kinda and the Persian satellite kingdom of Hira.1l and Their main function was to provideprotectionfor caravans112 to assist the Koreish in warfare. The cadre for these troops was drawn from the Kinana, genealogicalrelativesof the Koreish.While these militaryguards were thus nontribal in character,and were organizedon the basis of a non-kin principle,they them to the command were integratedinto the social structureby subordinating of tribesmen relatedby kinship to the Meccanoligarchy. If interactionwith the tribalgroupsnear Mecca could be phrasedin terms of with societiesbeyondthe Arabianperipherymeant ritualkin relations,interaction These were, first, the satellitestates of contactwith developedstate organizations. the greaterpowers,like the HimyariteKinda,the PersianHira, and the Byzantine Ghassan; secondly, the great powers themselves:Byzantium and Persia in the north and first Himyar and later Abyssiniain the south. Hira and Ghassanwere outpostswhichkept the pastoralnomadsin check.Built up by nomadsthemselves, they were used "as barriersagainst their brotherswho pushed after them."113 They also set the "termsof trade" against the pastoralnomads in the exchange of productsbetweendesert and agriculturalarea. The cultivatedzone furnishes the nomadswith cerealsand handicraftproducts,permittingthem free access to and wateringplacesafter harvest.The nomadsin turn suppasture,meadowland the settled area with livestock and livestockproducts.When the nomadsare ply strong, they rig the terms of exchangeagainst the settlers, by adding tribute in kind to their other demands.Sometimesthey may be compensatedby outright paymentby a larger power. When the settled area is strongly organizedpolitically, it can exploit the need of the nomads for pasture to exact tribute from Thus the kings of Hira receivedleather,truffles, them in turn.114 and horsesfrom the nomads,15 in exchangefor pasturingrights in Iraq. Ghassanand Hira even fought each other over the right to exact tribute from a certainarea.1l These satellites had certain characteristicsin common. They maintained armed "Praetorianguards" consistingof detribalizedelements117 and a system
110 112 114 116 Lammens, 1928, pp. 244-283, passim. Lammens, 1928, p. 283. Dussaud, 1907, pp. 3-4. Rothstein, 1899, pp. 130-131. 111 113 115 117 Rothstein, 1899, pp. 136-137. Rothstein, 1899, p. 130. Fraenkel,1886, p. 178. Idem, pp. 136-137.



of taxation.118 Their very existenceconstituteda dilemma for the larger dominant power. If they grew too strong politically,they had to be incorporated into the domainof the dominantpower.119 When they were incorporated, lack of the an independentbuffer was immediatelyfelt in new exactionsand incursionson the part of the nomads. The state of Kinda demandssome specialconsideration. represents first It the of which we know to set up a more encompassingsocial structure in attempt central Arabia, with a center of gravity in the Nejd, around the end of the 5th century AD. The first Kinda prince apparentlyowed his dominanceover the tribal groups included in the Kinda coalition to the desire of the kingdom of Himyar in south Arabia to erect a buffer against Persia.l20As soon as the coalition was organized,it began to raid Byzantineand Persian territory.121 "It is evident that not only all Nejd but also great parts of al-Higaz, al-Bahrain, and al-Yamamaweresubjectto al-Harit's [Kindite] sceptre,"'122 the Kinana, and mother-tribeof the Koreish, the Asad and the Kais-'Ailan of the Hejaz are mentionedas part of the federation.l23 The Kinda state maintaineda "Praetorian It similar to that of the Hira and Ghassan,and tax collectors.124 broke guard" as quickly as it had developed,apparentlydue to an inability to collect the up requisitetaxes from its componentnomadicgroups.125 The position of Mecca in relationto these organizedareas is of considerable Lattimorehas pointed out, in connectionwith anotherarea of interimportance. action betweennomadsand settled populations,that the probabilityfor independent socio-politicaldevelopment increases beyond a certain distance from the In dominantcenter.126 this connection,it is significantthat Meccan power rose after the Kindite power disintegrated,and that it was able to maintainits independencefrom Abyssinia,Byzantium,and Persia. Ghassanidexpansionreached as far south as al-Ela, Khaibarand Hajel,27 but never reachedMecca. At least one attempt was made to include Mecca in the Byzantine zone, but it failed. 'Uthman Ibn Huwairith attemptedto seize leadershipin Mecca by threatening it with Byzantinereprisalsagainst its Syrian trade. The attempt was foiled, permitting the Umaiya clan to rise to unchallengeddominationin the city.128The Abyssinianattemptto attack the Persiansfrom the south129 was similarlydoomed
118 119 120 122 124 126 128 Ibid. Idem, pp. 117-120; Noldeke, 1887, p. 31. Olinder, 1927, pp. 37-40. Idem, p. 75. Idem, p. 81. Lattimore,1940, pp. 238-240. Sprenger, 1869, vol. 1, p. 91.

121 123 125 127 129

Idem, p. 57. Idem, p. 74. Idem, pp. 77-78. Musil, 1926, p. 259. Tabari, 1879, pp. 204-205.




to failure.The legend of the Battle of the Elephantsin whichGod is said to have saved the Ka'ba from destructionby the Abyssiniansappearsto reflect the fact that the Abyssinianshad reached the outer limits of their ability to expand. With leatheras its principalexportto the north, and with cerealsas its principal import,Mecca participatedin the generalexchangebetweenpastoraland settled area. Its relative distance from the center, and its ability to capitalize on a peripheraltrade route permittedthe independentgrowth of state organizationin this zone.

The religiousrevolutionassociatedwith the name of Mohammedmade possible the transition from Meccan society as we have describedit to a society possessed of the elements which permit state organization. The success of Mohammed's propheticmissionpermittedthese elementsto crystallizeout of the social network in which kin relationshipshad become increasingly preceding fictional and disruptive. of The emergenceof Islam completedthe centralization worshipby making Mecca the sole religiouscenter. It completedthe trend towardsworshipof the deity governing non-kin relations by making this deity the supreme and only In of god, "the personification state supremacy."l30 Islam-"voluntary surrento der" or "self-surrender" a supremedeityl31-all men were to be clients of God, the only patron. "And warn those who dread being gatheredto their Lord, "God that patronor intercessor they shall have none but Him," says the Koran.132 is the patron of believers."133 "There are no genealogiesin Islam,"states a traditionalsaying.l34The very to act of adherence Islam impliedan individualdecisioninto which considerations of kin did not enter. The story of the boycott of the Prophet's lineage shows how completely the principles of kin relationships failed to cope with the new force. "Truly, the most worthyof honor in the sight of God is he who fears him most,"135 the individualwhose lineage is the most famous or the most not When MohammedenteredMecca, he declared:"God has put an end powerful. to the pride in noble ancestry,you are all descended from Adam and Adam 136 from dust, the noblestamongyou is the man who is most pious." Adherenceto Islam was not a matter of kin relationships:"Mohammedis not the father of 13 any man amongyou, but he is the Apostle of God." Islam set kinsmanagainst
130 132 134 136 Wellhausen, 1927, p. 8. Koran 6, 51; p. 321. Levy, 1933, vol. 2, p. 79. Wakidi, 1882, p. 338. 131 133 135 137 Smith, 1927, p. 80; Lyall, 1903, p. 784. Idem, 2, 258; p. 367. Koran 49, 13; p. 470. Koran33, 40; p. 438.




kinsman. "The swords of the sons of his father were drawn against him," mourns a song about the battle of Badr, "oh God! Love among relatives was A deeply injured there!"138 son turned Muslim could approvethe death of his father who had fought with the Koreishagainst the new faith.'39 As Islam built on ties other than those of kinship,it had to put a limit on the disruptiveexerciseof power and protectionimplicit in the blood feud. On the occasion of his entrance into Mecca, Mohammed "declared all demands for interest payments, for blood revenge or blood money stemming from pagan times as null and void."140The same demand was expressedin a letter to the people of Najran: "There are no interest paymentsand no demands for blood revenge from pagan times."14 God permits a relaxationof the lex talionis.142 A believerkillethnot a believerbut by mischance: whoso killeth a believer and shall be boundto free a believerfrom slavery;and the blood money by mischance shall be paid to the family of the slain, unlessthey convertit into alms. But if the slain believer of a hostilepeople,then let him confer freedomon a slave who is be a believer; if he be of a peoplebetween and whomand yourselves thereis an alliance, then let the blood-money paid to his family, and let him set free a slave who is be a believer:and let him who hath not the means,fast two consecutive months.This is the penanceenjoined God; and God is Knowing, Wise!143 by The passagecited showsthat the incipientIslamic state did not suppressthe talio as such. It even left the settlementof such disputes to the families concerned. It did, however,insist that the mannerin which they were settled conformedto the "penanceenjoinedby God," and attemptedto convertthe demand for blood into a demand for wergild. In pre-Islamictimes, the duty of carrying on the blood feud passed from father to son in direct inheritance.144 Islam demanded and peaceful settlement.The moratorium blood feud was so much part on early of the new creed that certaintribes postponedtheir affiliationwith Mohammed, until they had settled all questionsof blood revenge.145 Another set of kin-like relationssupersededby Islam were the relations involvingpast allies. There was to be "no hilf in Islam."''146 The social relationswithin Arab tribal life represented the tahalluf (hilf) by were of necessityas undesirable representatives Mohammed'sideas as the to of of particularism the tribes.For they furtheredfeudingbetweenthe tribesand were in to be overcome Islamby the brotherhood all who professed of Islam.147
138 140 142 144 146 Ibn Hisham, 1864, vol. 1, p. 390. Wikidi, 1882, p. 338. Koran 2, 173-174; p. 356. Lammens, 1928, p. 202. Encyclopediaof Islam, vol. 2, p. 308. 139 141 143 145 147 Idem, p. 340. Sperber,1916, p. 91. Koran, 4, 94; p. 421. Idem, p. 197. Goldziher, 1889, p. 69.



of The core of the new society was the militant brotherhood MuhajJirinand werethe Muslimswho fled with Mohammedfrom Mecca Ansar. The MuhaJJirin to Medina.The Ansar were their Medinesehosts. Armed, and without ties of kin to bind them, they resembledthe "Praetorian guard" of the kings of Hira and Kinda. They were the storm troops of Islam. A Hudail poet comparedthem to his own tribes.The Hudail were called "a luxuriouspeople of [many] subdivisions." The Muslims were "a multitude drawn together from many sources of They rent the ties of kinship which had bound them [warriors]clad in iron."148 in the past. The Ansar were commandedto inform on those "who have been forbidden secret talk, and return to what they have been forbidden, and talk privately together with wickedness, and hate and disobedience towards the Apostle."149"The foundationsof society, faithful co6perationof kin, were so underminedthat they were not safe from espionageon the part of their closest Disaffected individualswere threatenedwith use of force.l51 relatives."150 It is interestingto note how, initially, attempts were made to invent a new functional kind of kinship for this group. Mohammedordered in with him and the believers Medinashouldregardthemthat thosewho migrated whileall the bonds able to inheritfromone another, and selvesas brethren therefore left and betweenthe Muhadjurun theirrelatives in Meccawereto be of relationship as regarded broken.152 The Koranstates: for Verily, they who have believedand fled their homesand spent their substance the causeof God, and they who have takenin the prophetand beenhelpful to him, shallbe nearof kin the one to the other.153 They were to form a special aristocracy: and They who have believed,and fled theirhomes,and strivenwith theirsubstance on withtheirpersons the pathof God,shallbe of highestgradewithGod.154 The new society which arose in Medina and was given organized form by was means of a town charterpromulgatedby Mohammed,155 called umma, i.e. includednot only Muslims,but non-Muslimsas well. The community community. The umma comprisedthe whole territoryof Medina, embracingall who lived within it.156These were all includedin the incipientIslamic state, "one commu148 150 152 154 156 Hell, 1933, p. 6. Sprenger, 1869, vol. 3, p. 27. Encyclopediaof Islam, vol. 3, p. 508. Koran 9, 20; p. 472. Idem, p. 74. 149 151 153 155 Koran 58, 9; p. 451. Ibn Hisham, 1864, vol. 1, pp. 266-267. Koran8, 73; p. 381. Wellhausen, 1884-99, vol. 4, pp. 68-73.




The core of the new community werethe Muslims,"a nity overagainstmankind." unit with its own laws within the whole society, destined of necessityto disrupt the ties of the whole."157 The elements of state power developed gradually. In his deportmentas a prophet,Mohammedfollowed pre-Islamic precedents. The mantic knowledge[of the pagan seer, called kahin] is based on ecstatic . in inspiration. . . They are interrogated all importanttribal and state occasions ... in privatethe kahinsespecially as judges. . . . They interpret act dreams,find lost camels,establish clearup othercrimes.. . . The prophetMohammed adulteries, as disclaimed being a kahin.But . . . his earliestappearance a prophetremindsus He stronglyof the mannerof the soothsayer. was an ecstaticand had "truedreams" like them. . . . Eventhe formswhichhe wasstill using for administering justiceand in Medina during the early years of his stay there correspond in settling disputes theirmainfeatures thoseof the pagankahinandhakam.15l to Mohammedhimself acted as judge in a few known cases only.159Yet his very word, said to be the word of God, acted as law in the new state. During his life-time,the prophethimself was the final judicial authority.He deposedlineage He chiefs and replacedthem with his own candidates.l60 appointed officials,in the majorityof cases apparentlyon a temporarybasis.16lThe incipientstate did not take on itself direct governing power over groups which became affiliated with it. Usually, its "emissariesexercised a sort of supervisionand collected In taxes."162 manycases,local authoritiescontinued,themselvesbecomingofficials In of the new state.163 one case, a Christianchief becamecollectorof the Islamic tax from his own people.164 The subordination the right of the blood feud to the power of the state of out more clearly the characterof the new organization.The blood feud brings of impliedexerciseof power based on kinship.The consequences its exercisewas warfarebetweenkin groups. With the limitationof the blood feud under Islam of a there was accomplished separation war and blood revengewhich had been in impossible such claritybefore.The notionof bloodrevengeis still appliedto war. of The faithful are each other'savengers blood on the war path of God, but tribal are law and familysentiment whollyignored.165 The family remainedthe executorof the civil feud, but the use of force in the form of war becamean attributeof the state. Due to the limiteddevelopment
157 Buhl, 1930, p. 210. 159 Caetani, 1905, pp. 645-646. 158 Encyclopediaof Islam, vol. 2, pp. 625-626. 160 Margoliouth, 1905, p. 216.

161 'Abdurraziq, 1934,p. 168. 163 Wellhausen, idem,p. 30. 165 Procksch, 1899,p. 66.

162 Wellhausen, vol. 1884-99, 3, p. 29. 164 Husain,1938,pp. 126-127.




of the judicial power in the new state, writers have often misunderstoodthe has meaningof warfarein Islam. 'Abdurraziq criticizedtraditionalviews of vihad by (the holy war) as a war of conversion fire and sword,as follows: of All evidence showsthat the purpose the holy warwasnot to be religious propaand to bringthe peopleto believein Allah and his prophetalone.The holy ganda the war is carriedon only for the purposeof affirming authorityof the state and mustbase itself on its armedforce of enlarging kingdom.66 . . . A government the andabilityto exercise power.l67 The new state was capablenot only of the essentialshow of force, but also possessedof effective taxing power. One fifth of all booty was assigned to the Prophet as "the part of God." Among pre-IslamicBedouins, one fourth or one fifth of all bootyl68was assignedto the chief "as a kind of state treasurewhich was of course in the hands of physical individualsdue to the lack of judicial The chief was supposedto use this wealthto settle blood feuds, grant persons."'69 The hospitality,feed guests and the poor, and care for widows and orphans.l70 the prophet's"fifth" represents transferof this mechanismfrom the level of the kin group to the level of the state. In pre-Islamic times, areas of pasturelocated could be used as commonpasturesnot in the sacredprecinctsaroundsanctuaries In monopolizedby any one tribe.171 Islam, the sacredprecinctsand the pastures located in them became state property,with "Allah the legal successorof the 172 pagan deity," wheretax camelsand other livestockcould be kept.173 Muslimshad to pay a so-calledpoor tax or alms tax (zakat), as one of their five essentialreligiousduties. It soon becamea graduatedincometax.174 Payment of or non-payment this tax quickly becamethe chief test of adherenceto Islam. When Mohammeddied, many affiliatedtribal groups broke away from the new state, maintainingtheir newly acquiredreligiousfaith, but refusing to pay taxes. Mohammed,during his lifetime, had alreadycastigated"the Arabs of the desert . . . who reckonwhat they expendin the cause of God as tribute,and wait for The leadersof the revolts against the some change of fortune to befall you."175 state proclaimedtheir missions"like Mohammedin the name of Allah and not in the name of some pagan deity. ... They wanted to carry on divine worship, The new officials"causedanger among the populace, but not to pay taxes."176
166 168 170 172 174 176 'Abdurraziq, 1934, p. 175. Mufaddaliyat, 1918, p. 237. Idem, pp. 7, 59-60. Idem, p. 104. ldem, pp. 51-52. Wellhausen, 1884-99, vol. 6, p. 7. 167 169 171 173 175 Idem, p. 176. Procksch, 1899, p. 9. Wellhausen, 1884-99, vol. 3, p. 104. Kremer,1875-77, vol. 1, p. 57. Koran 9, 99; p. 481.




Among the Tamim, "after the especiallyin their capacity as tax collectors."177 death of Mohammedthe question was whether the tax camels which had been brought together were to be handed over at the proper station or not; this was the criterionof faith in Islam or of defection."'78When the Muslims won, the camelswerehandedover.179 The use of the poor-taxto financethe newly establishedstate structureimplies the transferenceof a mechanismwhich had previouslyfunctionedon the lineage level to the level of the state. The tribalchief or head of the sub-tribe was responsible for the care and feeding of the poor. The necessarysums were obtained from a portion of the booty allocated to him for such purposes. He was also for responsible hospitalityto strangers.Under Islam, care for the poor as well as for the responsibility entertainingstrangerswas shifted to the level of the state. The use of taxation for this purpose led to an argumentamong scholars as to whetherMohammedcould be called a socialist.l80 must be pointed out that It Mohammeddid not touch the basic dynamicof the society which had produced him. To followerswho feared that combiningthe religiouspilgrimagewith irreligious trademight be a sacrilege,he is supposedto have said: "There are no sins for you during the festivals of pilgrimage."s18Mohammed, Abu Bekr, and Omar all owed their personalwealth to trade. Torrey has pointed to the abunterms in the Koran.182 dance of "commercial-theological" Mohammed and his adherents continued to trade while in exile in Medina, an often over-looked fact.'83 Continuedtrade, as well as the plunderingof Meccan caravans,fortified the positionof the faithful in Medina, wherewide-travelled merchantswere used as well as valued spies and informerson other areas.184 Mohammed,did, however, for transferto the state the responsibility the care of the poor whose status had becomeincreasinglyexploitativeunder the guise of traditionalkin relationships. We have seen above that he declaredall interestpaymentsstemmingfrom pagan times to be null and void. Usury was made illegal: "God hath allowed selling, but forbiddenusury."185 Both acts seem to have been aimed at undercuttingthe were also granted Koreishpowerand raisingresistance againstit. Poor MuhaJJirin a specialpart of the spoils,l86and poor Muslims were assignedland.l87 Non-Muslims paid a special tax, but were integratedinto the new state with177 179 180 181 183 185 187 178 Idem, p. 13. Idem, p. 31. Idem, p. 15. Grimme, 1892; Snouck Hurgronje, 1894, pp. 48-70, 149-178. 182 Torrey, 1892. Bukhari, 1903-14, p. 20. 184 Ibid. Lammens, 1924, pp. 257-260. 186 Koran 59, 8; p. 432. Koran 2, 276; p. 369. BalIdhuri 1916-24, vol. I, p. 37.



out forced conversion.Where they resisted the encroachmentof the new state by force, they were indeed subjected to serious economic disabilities, as, for example,werethe Jews of Khaibar.88But the popularnotion that the beginnings of Islam were marked by wholesale conversions,achieved by force, is wholly unwarranted.The Koran says: "Dispute not, unless in kindly sort, with the people of the Book; save with such of them as have wrongfully dealt with you,"189 and "let there be no compulsionin religion."'90If these non-Muslims paid taxes, as did the Christiansof Aila, the Jews of Adruh, Garba,and Makna, and the Jewish and Christian communitiesof southern Arabia, their security was guaranteed.They became "people [living] under contractuallyguaranteed protection."'l9Such relationshipshad previouslybeen phrased in terms of kin or ritual kin relationshipsbetween patrons and clients, as in the case of the protectiverelation in existencebetweenthe Jewish communitiesof Medina and Khaibarand their Bedouin patrons.192 Under Islam, this type of relation was transferred the level of the state. to Conversion to Islam was in fact not primarilya religious demand, but a politicalone. During the initial Medineseperiod to Mohammed does not call on the tribesto convertthemselves Islam. . .. He concludes with them pacts of protectionand mutual aid in aggression,in which he them the protecof and his guarantees clientssecurity personand property promises In assumethe duty of puttingthemtion of God and his messenger. exchange, they selvesat the disposalof the prophetwhen he calls on them to fight. Exceptedare 193 warsin the causeof religion! Only after the unsuccessfulsiege of Medina by the Koreish did Mohammed begin to demand that affiliated tribes take on Islam "as a sign of political 94 affiliation." Conversion with Mohammed remained and of only servedas a manifestation politicalaffiliation The remainder thereforelimitedto the circleswhichsought this affiliation. paid the in was Mohammed moreinterested the gizja [the specialtax paidby non-Muslims]. tax whichthesetribesbroughtin thanin theirbelief.l95 Mohammedwas statesmanenough to grant the status of Muhafjirinto the Aslam, a tribe which ownedpasturegroundson the road from Medina to Mecca and without whose cooperationthe war against the Koreishcould not have been
188 190 192 194 Ibn Hisham, 1864, vol. 2, p. 170 ff. Koran, 2, 257; p. 367. Lammens, 1928, pp. 70-71, 79. Idem, p. 5. 189 191 193 195 Koran 29, 45; p. 265. Buhl, 1930, p. 346. Sperber, 1916, p. 4. Ibid.



carriedon,'96and to permitthe inhabitantsof Taif to includethe sacredprecinct aroundtheir pagan sanctuaryinto the sacredprecinctof Mecca, thus getting the same prerogativesas the inhabitants of Mecca.197Within the various tribal groupsand settlementswhich joined Mohammed,only certainminoritiesaccepted Islam as a religiousfaith. These were usually groups attemptingto improvetheir status within their own societies.198 Mohammedhad already begun in Mecca to "introducehimself to individuals[among the Bedouins] of whom he knew that they were held in great esteem and to lecture them about his vision of God's The use of the state treasuryto win over such interested guidanceand mercy."'99 nomad leadersis impliedin the Koran: But alms are to be given only to the poor and needy, and to those who collect and them,and to thosewhoseheartsarewon for Islam,and for ransoms, for debtors, and for the causeof God, and the wayfarer.200 The inclusionof petty chiefs in participationin booty served to attract shiekswho werethen interested spreading in ambitious Islam amongthe members of their tribe.These in turn sought their allies amongthe Muslims,in orderto maintain themselves againstthe rulingfamilieswith theirhelp.201 Their titles to propertiesand perquisitesacquiredthrough their affiliationwith Islam depended on the continued existence of the Islamic state, and were strengthenedby the progressof Islam. When the death of Mohammedthreatthese minoritiesacted to keep the tribal ened the young state with disintegration, groupswithin the new structure.Victory was based on the ability of the Muslims to keep the adherenceof the loyal minorities to amongthe Bedouintribes,with whomthey weresuperior the nor because theseneveralliedthemselves, closedtheir rankswith determimajorities, nation. . . . There were also Bedouinswho, togetherwith the Muslims,carriedon within their own tribe.202 successfuloperations againstdissenters The alliancewith Bedouintribes,finally,enabledthe young state to challenge the dominantpowersalong the Arab periphery.This task would have been impossible without the active co6perationof tribes in Syria203and tribes ranging along the Persianfrontier.204 The centerof the Islamicstate, however,remainedin the settled communities,
196 198 200 202 204 Idem, pp. 18-19. Idem, pp. 33-79, passim. Koran 9, 60; p. 477. Wellhausen, 1884-99, vol. 6, p. 11. Musil, 1927, pp. 284-285, 292. 197 199 201 203 Idem, p. 72. Ibn Hishim, 1864, vol. 1, p. 211. Sperber, 1916, p. 74. Kremer, 1875-77, pp. 85-96.



where it had originated. It might be said that the state was "oasis-bound." Mar;ais has noted that if the Muslimarmycontingents. . . comprised nomadmajority,the cadreswere a town merrecruited amongthe settledpeopleof the Hejaz, Medineseagriculturists, chantsof Meccaand Taif.205 Von Grunebaum states: Islam, from its very outset unfoldingin an urbanmilieu, favoredcity development. The legislationof the Koranenvisagescity life. The nomadis viewedwith a distrust.... Only in a city, that is, a settlement harboring centralmosque,jami', fit for the Fridayserviceand a market (and preferably publicbath) can all the a of fulfilled.Migrationinto town,hijra,is recomrequirements the faith be properly in mendedand almostequalized meritto that more famousmigration, again called hijra, of the Prophet from Mecca to Medina. To forsake town for countryis severelycondemned.206

Our brief historicalsurvey has shown that the tendencieswhich Mohammed broughtto fruitionwere reachingtheir peak of developmentin pre-Islamictimes. Commercial developmentin urbansettlementshad causedthe emergenceof class groupings from the precedingnetwork of kin relations.Centralizationof worship and the emergenceof a deity specifically linked with the regulation of non-kin relationsas the chief deity went hand in hand with the centralization of trade and the disintegration the kinshipstructure.Yet in the political sphere, of the use of kinship mechanismsin situations which increasinglyexposed their non-functionalcharacterin the new setting led to disruptionand conflict,rather that to furtherorganization and consolidation. The religious revolutionassociatedwith the name of Mohammedpermitted the establishmentof an incipient state structure. It replaced allegiance to the kinshipunit with allegianceto a state structure,an allegiancephrasedin religious terms.It limited the disruptiveexerciseof the kin-basedmechanism the blood of feud. It put an end to the extensionof ritual kin ties to serve as links between tribes. It based itself insteadon the armed force of the faithful as the core of a social order which included both believersand unbelievers.It evolved a rudimentaryjudicial authority,patternedafter the role of the pre-Islamic soothsayer, but possessedof new significance.The limitation of the blood feud permitted war to emergeas a special prerogativeof the state power. The state taxed both Muslims and non-Muslims,in ways patterned after pre-Islamicmodels, but to
205 MarCais,1928, p. 88. 206 Von Grunebaum,1946, pp. 173-174.



new ends. Finally, it located the center of the state in urban settlements,surrounding the town with a set of religious symbols that served functionally to increaseits prestigeand role. The revolutionaccomplished, power quickly passed out of the hands of the armedbrotherhood the faithful into the hands of the Koreishwho had fought of against them. It may be said that Mohammed accomplishedfor the Meccan traders that which they could not accomplishthemselves: the organizationof state power.


1934 L'Islamet les bases du pouvoir (Revue des ttudes Islamiques, vol. 8, pp. 163-222).


1946-49 La tribuarabe: e'lements ses vols. 41-44,pp. 657-672). (Anthropos,


1916-24 The Originsof the IslamicState (transl.and annotated Hitti and by and PublicLaw, Facultyof Murgotten,Studiesin History, Economics, Political Science, ColumbiaUniversity, vol. 68; 2 vols., New York: Longmans Green)


1926 The Originof Islamin its Christian Environment (London:Macmillan).


1934 Beitriige zur Gesellschaftsordnung der arabischen Beduinenstiimme vol. (Islamica, 6, pp. 68-111,182-229).

1930 Des LebenMuhammeds (Leipzig:Quelleund Meyer).


1903-14 Les traditions islamique (transl. and annotated by Houdas and de Marcais,Publications l'fcole des LanguesOrientalesVivantes, 4th series;4 vols., Paris:Imprimerie Nationale).


1905 Annalidell'Islam (vol. 1; Milan: Hoepli).


1907 Les arabes Syrieavantl'Islam (Paris:Leroux). en


1913-34 (4 vols., Leiden:Brill).


1936 MOHAMMED (New York: Longmans Green).


1886 Die aramdischen im Fremdworter Arabischen (Leiden:Brill).



GIBB, H. A. R.

1948 The Structure ReligiousThoughtin Islam:Part II, Muhammad and of the Quran (The MuslimWorld,vol. 38, pp. 113-123).

1889 Muhammedanische Studien (2 vols.,Halle a. S.: Niemeyer).


1892 Mohammed: Leben (Darstellungen dem Gebieteder Nichtchristdas aus lichenReligionsgeschichte, 7; Miinsteri. W.: Aschendorffsche vol. Buchhandlung).

1924 The Arabsat Home (New York: Crowell).


1933 Neue Hu4ailiten-Diwane vols.,Leipzig:Harrassowitz). (2


1939 Jiidischeund Christliche Lehrenim vor- und friihislamischen Arabien Akademia PraceKomisiji vol. (Polska Umiejetnosci, Orientalistycznej, 32, Cracow).

J. W.

1938 EarlyArabicOdes (Universityof Dacca Bulletin,no. 19; Delhi: Latifi Press).


1864 Das LebenMohammeds nach Mohammed Ishak ( Well; Ibn 2 vols.,Stuttgart:Metzler). 1937 (London:Everyman's Library).


1875-77 Culturgeschichte Orients unter den Chalifen (2 vols., Vienna: des Braiimuller).

1948 Anthropology (New York: Harcourt Brace).


1914 Le berceau l'Islam:l'Arabieoccidentale la veille de l'hegire (vol. 1, de ai Rome:ScriptaPontificii InstitutiBiblici). 1924 La Mecqueaila veillede l'hegire(Melangesde l'Universite Saint Joseph, vol. 9, fasc. 3, Beyrouth). 1926 Islam: Beliefs and Institutions(New York: Dutton). 1928 Leschretiens la Mecquea la veillede l'hegire: l'Arabie avant occidentale ai l'hegire(Beyrouth: Imprimerie Catholique).

1940 Inner Asian Frontiersof China (New York: AmericanGeographical Society). R. LEVY, 1933 An Introduction the Sociology Islam (2 vols.,London: to Williamsand of Norgate).




1903 The Words "Hanif" and "Muslim" (Journal,Royal Asiatic Society, pp. 771-784).


1888 AncientLaw (New York: Henry Holt).


1928 L'islamismeet la vie urbaine (Communication,Comptes Rendus, et Academie Inscriptions Belles-lettres, 86-100). des pp.

D. S.

1905 Mohammed the Riseof Islam (New York: Putnam). and 1918 An Anthologyof AncientArabianOdes, compiledby al-MufaddalIbn Muhammad: Vol. 2, Translation and Notes (transl.and annotatedby Lyall;Oxford: Clarendon Press).

1926 The NorthernHejaz: a Topographical Itinerary(AmericanGeographical SocietyOriental and Explorations Studies,vol. 1, New York). 1927 The MiddleEuphrates: Topographical A Itinerary(American Geographical SocietyOrientalExplorations Studies,vol. 3, New York). and

1941 Raccolta ScrittiEditi e Inediti:Vol. 3, Storiadell' ArabiaPreislamica di e Storia e InstituzioniMusulmane (Publicazionidell' Instituto per l'Oriente, Rome)

1927 Handbuchder altarabischen Altertumskunde Nyt Nor(Copenhagen: diskForlag).


1887 Die Ghassanischen Fiirsten aus dem Hause Gafna (Abhandlungen, Kaiserliche Preussische Akademieder Wissenschaftzu Berlin, Phil. u. Hist. Klasse,vol. 2, Berlin).

1927 The Kings of Kinda of the Family of Akil al-Murar (Lunds Universitets

vol. Arsskrift, FoIjd,ForstaAvdelningen, 23, no. 6). Ny


1914 Der Eid bei den Semiten (Studien zur Geschichteund Kultur des islamischen Orients,vol. 3, Strassburg). PHILBY, H. ST. J. B. 1947 The Background Islam (Alexandria: Whitehead of Morris).

Arabernund Mohammeds 1899 Uber die Blutrachebei den vorislamischen Studienaus demGebietederGeschichte, 5, vol. zu ihr (Leipziger Stellung part 4; Leipzig:Teubner).




1899 Die Dynastieder Lahmiden al-Hira (Berlin:Reutherund Reichard). in


1903 Kinshipand Marriage EarlyArabia(London:Black). in 1927 Lectures the Religionof the Semites(New York: Macmillan). on

1894 Mohammed etait-ilsocialiste?(Revuede l'Histoiredes Religions, 30, vol. pp. 48-70, 149-178)

1916 Die Schreiben an Mohammeds die StdmmeArabiens (Berlin: Reichsdruckerei).


1851 The Life of Mohammed(Allahabad: MissionPress). Presbyterian 1869 Das Lebenunddie Lehredes Mohammed vols.,Berlin:Nicolai). (3

1879 Geschichte Perserund Araber Zeit der Sasaniden(transl.and ander zur notatedby N6ldeke;Leiden:Brill)


1892 The Commercial-Theological Termsin the Koran (Leiden:Brill). 1933 The JewishFoundations Islam (New York: JewishInstituteof Reliof gion Press).


1946 MedievalIslam (Chicago:Universityof ChicagoPress).


1882 Muhammed Medina (transl.and abbreviated Wellhausen; in Berlin: by Reimer).


1884-99 Skizzenund Vorarbeiten vols.,Berlin:Reimer). (6 1927 The ArabKingdom its Fall (Calcutta: and Universityof Calcutta). 1932 "Die Entstehung Staatesnach Marxund Engels" (in Festschrift des fur CarlGrinberg,pp. 538-551; Leipzig:Hirschfield).



1864 Geschichteder Stadt Mekka nach den arabischen Chroniken(vol. 4; Leipzig:Brockhaus)


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