Al-Qalqashandi on the Caliphate

Shihab al-Din Abu’l-Abbas Ahmad ibn ‘Ali ibn Ahmad ‘Abd Allah al-Qalqashandi (died 820 H/1418 CE) was a renowned Egyptian clerk of the Mamluk court. He was an experienced and esteemed official scribe in the Chancery Bureau, the official bureau for all state correspondence in the courts of the Mamluk sultans al-Zahir Barquq and al-Nasir Farag. Due to his position and long appointment to the chancery, al-Qalqashandi had great experience and knowledge of the workings of government, protocol, treaties and the other intricacies of the Mamluk state. He was a polymath and a scholar, educated to the highest standard of jurisprudence. He had a reputation for being a pious, learned, eloquent and honourable man.

During the last few years of his life, al Qalqashandi authored a comprehensive work on the Caliphate entitled Ma’āthir al-Ināfah fī Ma‘ālim al-Khilāfah, in which he emphasizes the vital necessity of the Caliphate for Muslims, describing it as

“the enclosure of Islam, the protection of its domain, the meadow of its flock, and the pasture of its weary (ḥaẓīrat al-islām, wa muḥīṭ dā’iratih, wa marba‘ ra‘āyāh, wa marta‘ sā’imatih). By it the religion is preserved and protected, the territory of Islam is safeguarded, and the populace dwell in peace.”

Ma’āthir al-Ināfah fī Ma‘ālim al-Khilāfah, vol. 1, p. 2, translated by Mona Hassan in Longing for the Lost Caliphate: A Transregional History, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2016, p. 127

He writes that it constitutes

“public office over the entire community, the undertaking of its affairs, and the bearing of its burdens.”

Ma’āthir al-Ināfah, vol. 1, p. 8, quoted in ibid.

And, citing the celebrated Companion of the Prophet ﷺ Salman the Persian, he states that

“[The Caliph] is the one who deals with his flock justly and apportions [resources] among them fairly, who shows compassion and concern for them the way a man has compassion for his wife or a parent for his child, and who judges among them by the Book of God the Exalted.”

Ma’āthir al-Ināfah, vol. 1, pp. 13-14, in ibid., pp. 127-128

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: