Closing Ranks

Sijpesteijn, Petra M.

Soon after his arrival as newly appointed governor of Iraq, al-Ḥajjāj (d. 95/714) faced a standoff with a prominent member of the Baṣran garrison, Ibn al-Jārūd al-ʿAbdī (d. 76/695). In this article, I track the course of this rebellion as an example of a political system that, lacking a hegemonic system of coercion and control, was rather characterized by multiple overlapping centers authority in which the caliph, his governor, and those under their rule all played a part. Within this system, power was in an ongoing state of contestation as it was conceived of in different ways by the various stakeholders. Ibn al-Jārūd’s rebellion thus operated as a form of political negotiation, following established, if fragile, norms of communication within which violence was a calculated gambit, one of a repertoire of available and accepted tactical options. Indeed, despite the violent death of Ibn al-Jārūd and a number of his close followers, his supporters, high-ranking commanders among them, were reintegrated into the caliphate and were soon participating again in the political system, including through rebellions. The article thus argues for a re-evaluation of revolts and for their conceptualization not as a breakdown of government structures or as a rejection of them by those rebelling but rather as an understood and even inevitable feature of a political system in which certain tensions between different centers of authority and instruments of control could be mediated and resolved only through open conflict.


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Al-ʿUsur al-Wusta
Columbia University Libraries

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Published Here
December 7, 2022


revolt, Umayyads, Iraq, rebellion, good governance, negotiation, soldiers, Ibn al-Jārūd