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Chapter Mamluks

NMC101H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter Mamluks: Mutassim Gaddafi, Abbasid Caliphate

Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations
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The reading by Turner talks about two generations of the Abbasids starting
from Al Mamun to his son Al Abbas. Al Mamun died a suspicious death, which seemingly
was caused by poisoned dates, and as his will, he left Al Mutassim, his half brother as his
successor, instead of his son Al Abbas. I’m wondering what the motive behind such a
decision could have been because Al Abbas seemed to me like someone with advanced
knowledge about the administrative affairs.
The founder of Ayyubid Dynasty Salah al-Din organized his army in the Iqta system. This
system was a form of administrative grant that helped feed the Emirs who were mainly
Kurdish and Turkish Mamluk. However, Al Salih Ayyub was the first one to rely heavily on
the Mamluks, militarily. There were other officials who were part of the Al Salih’s
administration but it seems like he did the Mamluks extra favors. What struck me in the
reading by Levanoni was the position of Shajar al-Durr, who was the slave-turned-wife of
Al Salih. It seems like she had a great deal of autonomy and say in the administration and
also had coins minted in her name. However, I would have to disagree withc the author
where she says that Shajar wasa rare exception in Islam and the only one to enjoy a formal
position. The reason for this is that approximately a decade before Shajar, Razia Sultana
who was the daughter of Iltutmush, the Sultan of Delhi Sultanate, had succeeded her father
and minted coins in her name as early as 1236. But needless to say, Shajar’s role in the
court signifies he Mamluks as that where she came from. It seems like that the Mamluks
couldn’t remain loyal to the Dynasty they were part of, except for Al Salih, as they were the
ones who brought the Ayyubids to and end.
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