Rebellions of ʿIrāqī Tribal Leaders (ashrāf) During the 7th-9th Centuries CE
This project seeks to understand one of the most frequent sources of disagreement during the 8th century CE: the constant tension between provincial elites, mainly the Arab elites that settled in major garrison cities, and the caliphs and their agents - the provincial governors. In many cases, these tensions either caused the replacement of the governor, or triggered an armed confrontation that was either aimed at deposing the governor (when initiated by elites) or suppressing opposition forces in the provinces (when initiated by the governor). The focus will be on rebellions led by Iraqi tribal leaders (ashrāf) during the 7th-9th centuries CE. A main premise is that the early Islamic Empire relied on the cooperation of the ashrāf (to an extent) and that their relations with caliphs and provincial governors were not those of a top-down hierarchy exclusively, but rather that all sides had some sort of leverage that could be used to advance their interests.
This project aims to uncover what made the ashrāf in Iraq rebel so frequently, to understand their sources of power and how they were able to gain supporters. It will explore what socio-political mechanisms and institutions facilitated their rebellions, who their supporters were and how they were mobilized, what forces drove people to rebel, and how power dynamics between the ashrāf, the caliph, and his provincial agents were formed and shaped through rebellions. The results of this study will show that rebellions were one of several mechanisms provincial elites could employ either to show their dissatisfaction with the social and political system, to try and influence or change it, or attempt to take over the caliphate.
This sub-project is conducted by Alon Dar.