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Rulership and Justice

Islamic Period

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The Muslim Middle East Around 1090

The Muslim Middle East Around 1090

This map illustrates the political fracturing of the Abbasid Caliphate that began in the early tenth-century and continued until the Mongol conquests of the mid-thirteenth century. As the power of the caliph-imām diminished, military rulers known as sultān’s rose to prominence and ruled the territories formerly under caliphal jurisdiction. With the rise of independent sultanates (states ruled by sultāns), the political authority of the caliph-imām was redefined and drastically reduced. However as an institution, the ideal of the Sunnī-Jamā‘ī Imamate endured as an important manifestation of sharī‘ah. A ruling sultān’s legitimacy depended partly on the recognition and approval of the sitting caliph-imām, who Muslims continued to recognize as the titular head or personification of the ummah. Two of the prominent Sunnī sultanates represented on this map are the Saljuq Empire (1038 – 1194 CE) and the Ghaznavid Empire (963 – 1187 CE). The principal rival of the Saljuqs was the Fatimid Empire (969 – 1171 CE), a Shī‘ī state whose ruler also claimed to be caliph-imām in opposition to the Abbasids.

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