Part 20

Certain cities have crafts that others lack Icon

January 24, 2022

20. Certain cities have crafts that others lack.

This is because the activities of the citizens necessitate each other, since mutual co-operation is innate in civilization. The necessary activities are restricted to certain inhabitants of the city.

They are in charge of them and become experts in the craft(s) belonging to them. These activities become their particular job. They make their living through them and derive their sustenance from them, because (these activities of theirs) are matters of general concern in the city and generally needed.

On the other hand, activities not required in a city are not regarded, since there is no profit in them for those who occupy themselves with them.

The activities required for the necessities of life, such as those of tailors, smiths, carpenters, and similar occupations, exist in every city. But activities required for luxury customs and conditions exist only in cities of a highly developed culture, that have taken to luxury customs and sedentary culture.

Among such activities are those of glassblowers, goldsmiths, perfumers, cooks, coppersmiths, biscuit bakers, harisah bakers,174 weavers of brocade, and the like. (These activities) exist in different degrees. In accordance with increase in the customs of sedentary culture and the requirements of luxury conditions, there originate crafts (especially) for this kind (of luxury requirements).

The crafts of this kind will, thus, exist in a particular city, but not in others.

Public baths fall into this category. They exist only in densely settled cities of a highly developed civilization as a kind of indulgence resulting from luxury and wealth.

Therefore, public baths do not exist in medium-sized towns. It is true that some rulers and chiefs desire (to have baths in their medium-sized cities). They construct them and put them into operation. However, since there is no demand for them from the mass of the people, they are soon neglected and fall into ruins.

Those in charge of them speedily leave them, because they have little profit and income from them.

21. The existence of group feeling in cities and the superiority of some of the inhabitants over others.

Human beings by nature enter into close contact and to associate with each other, even though they may not have a common descent. However, such association is weaker than one based on common descent. The resulting social group feeling is only a part of the blood-based group feeling.

Many inhabitants of cities come into close contact through intermarriage. This draws them together and, eventually, they constitute individual related groups. The same friendship or hostility that is found among tribes and families, is found among them, and they split into parties and groups.

When senility befalls a dynasty and its shadow recedes from the remote regions (of the realm), the inhabitants of the cities of (that dynasty) have to take care of their own affairs and to look after the protection of their own place.

They revert to the council (government), and (people of the) higher class keep separated from people of the lower class. (Human) souls, by their very nature, are prone to seek superiority and domination.

Because the air is clear of forceful government and dynasty, the elders desire to gain complete control. Everybody vies with everybody else.

They try to have followers, such as clients, partisans, and allies, join them. They spend whatever they possess on the rabble and the mob. Everybody forms a group with his fellows, and one of them achieves superiority. He then turns against his equals, in order to slow them down, 178 and persecutes them with assassination or exile.

Eventually, he takes away all executive power from them and renders them innocuous. 179 He obtains sole control of the entire city. He then is of the opinion that he has created a realm that he may leave to his descendants, but the same symptoms of power and senility to be found in a large realm are also to be found in his smaller realm.

Some of these people occasionally aspire to the ways of the great rulers who are masters of tribes and families and group feelings, who go into combat and wage wars, and who control large regions and provinces. They adopt the custom of sitting upon a throne. They use an “outfit,” 180 organize cavalcades for traveling about the country, use seal rings, are greeted (ceremoniously), and are addressed as Sire (mawla), which is ridiculous in the eyes of all who can observe the situation for themselves.

They adopt royal emblems to which they are not entitled. They were pushed into following such (improper aspirations) only by the dwindling influence of the (ruling) dynasty and the close relationships they had established and that eventually resulted in group feeling.

Some of (the people, on the other hand), refrained from (improper aspirations) and lived simply, because they did not want to make themselves the butt of jokes and ridicule, This happened in our own time in the later (years) of the Hafsid dynasty in Ifriqiyah to inhabitants of places in the Jarid, including Tripoli, Gabes, Tozeur (Tuzar), Nafta (Naftah), Gafsa (Qafsah), Biskra and the Zab, and adjacent regions.

They acquired such aspirations when the shadow of the (ruling) dynasty had been receding from them for some decades. They seized power in their respective cities and took control of the judicial and tax administration away from the dynasty. Theypaid (the ruling dynasty) some obedience and gave (it) reluctant allegiance, and treated (it) with some politeness, kindness, and submissiveness. However, they did not mean it. They passed (their position) on to their descendants, who (are living) at this time.

Among their successors, there originated that cruelty and tyranny that is common among the descendants and successors of rulers. They thought that they ranked with (true) rulers, despite the fact that they had only recently been common people.181

Something similar happened also at the end of the Sinhajah dynasty. The inhabitants of the cities of the Jarid made themselves independent there and seized control of the (ruling) dynasty.

Eventually, they were deprived of their power by the shaykh and ruler of the Almohads, ‘Abd-alMu’min b. ‘Ali. He transferred all of them from their amirates in the Jarid to the Maghrib, and removed all traces of them from the Jarid, as we shall mention in his history. 182 The same happened also in Ceuta at the end of the dynasty of the Banu ‘Abd-al-Mu’min.

As a rule, such leadership goes to members of great and noble houses who are eligible for the positions of elders and leaders in a city. Sometimes, it goes to some person from the lowest class of people. He obtains group feeling and close contact with the mob for reasons that fate (al-miqdar) produces for him. He, then, achieves superiority over the elders and people of the higher class when they have lost their own group support.

22. The dialects of the urban population.

The dialects of the urban population follow the language of the nation or race that has control of (the cities in question) or has founded them. Therefore, the dialects spoken in all Muslim cities in the East and the West at this time are Arabic, even though the habit of the Arabic Mudar language has become corrupted and its vowel endings (i’rab) have changed. 184

The reason for this is the fact that the Muslim dynasty gained power over (foreign) nations. Religion and religious organization constitute the form for existence and royal authority, which (together) constitute the matter for (religion). 185 Form is prior to matter.

Religion is derived from the religious law, which is in Arabic, because the Prophet was an Arab.

Therefore, it is necessary to avoid using any language but Arabic in all the provinces of (Islam).

This may be exemplified by ‘Umar’s prohibition against using the idiom native among the non-Arabs. He said that it is khibb, that is, “ruse” and “deceit.” Since the religion (Islam) avoided the non-Arab dialects, and the language of the supporters of the Muslim dynasty was Arabic, those (dialects) were avoided altogether in all its provinces, because people follow the government and adopt its religion (ways). 186 Use of the Arabic language became a symbol of Islam and of obedience to the Arabs. The (foreign) nations avoided using their own dialects and languages in all the cities and provinces, and the Arabic language became their language. Eventually, (Arabic) became firmly rooted as the (spoken) language in all their cities and towns. The non :Arab languages came (to seem) imported and foreign there.

The Arabic language became corrupt through contact with (foreign languages) in some of its rules 187 and through changes of the word endings, even though it remained unchanged semantically. (This type of Arabic) was called “the sedentary language” (and was used) in all the cities of Islam. Furthermore, most of the inhabitants of the cities of Islam at this time are descendants of the Arabs who were in possession of these cities and perished in their luxury. They outnumbered the non-Arabs who lived there and inherited their land and country. Now, languages are inherited. Thus, the language spoken by the descendants has remained close to that of their forefathers, even though its rules have gradually become corrupted by contact with non-Arabs. It was called “sedentary” with reference to the inhabitants of settled region’s and cities, in contrast to the language of the desert Arabs, which is more deeply rooted in Arabism.

When non-Arabs, such as the Daylam and, after them, the Saljuqs in the East and the Zanitah and Berbers in the West, became the rulers and obtained royal authority and control over the whole Muslim realm, the Arabic language suffered corruption.

It would almost have disappeared, if the concern of the Muslims with the Qur’an and the Sunnah, which preserve Islam, had not (also) preserved the Arabic language. This (concern) became an element in favor of the persistence of the sedentary dialect used in the cities as an Arabic (sedentary dialect in its original form).

But when the Tatars and Mongols, who were not Muslims, became the rulers in the East, this element in favor of the Arabic language disappeared, and the Arabic language was absolutely doomed. No trace of it has remained in these Muslim provinces= the ‘Iraq, Khurisan, the country. of Firs (southern Persia), Eastern andWestern India, Transoxania, the northern countries, and Anatolia.

The Arabic methods of poetry and speech have disappeared, save for a remnant. Instruction in (what little Arabic is known) is a technical matter using rules learned from the sciences of the Arabs and through memorizing their speech.

It is restricted) to those persons whom God has equipped for it. The sedentary Arabic dialect has largely remained in Egypt, Syria, Spain, and the Maghrib, because Islam still remains (there) and requires it. Therefore, it has been preserved to some degree. But in the provinces of the ‘Iraq and beyond (to the East), no trace or source of (the Arabic language) has remained. Even scientific books have come to be written in the non-Arabic (Persian) language, which is also used for instruction in (Arabic) 189 in class.