‘Dispositive Documents’ for the Early Abbasid Succession

Andrew Marsham

in Rituals of Islamic Monarchy

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780748625123
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653157 | DOI:
‘Dispositive Documents’ for the Early Abbasid Succession

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This chapter assesses how the understanding of the ‘covenant’ between Humanity, God and the caliph had been transformed by the events of the mid-eighth century. It examines the ‘dispositive documents’ (shart or shurūt) concerning the succession that emanated from the early Abbasid caliphal court. These were written records of the contractual agreements about the succession. In this chapter, the structures and formulas of the agreements of the 802 and 805 are compared with the shart for the succession to al-Mahdi which was drawn in 776, as well as with other similar conditional agreements such as the amans or ‘safe-conducts’. The chapter also presents a commentary of the agreements of 776 and 802/5 and compares the said agreements to determine their formal and structural parallels. The parallels with the amans, the shuru and the commercial papyri are also determined. This analysis is keyed into the six-part structure of the documents. This is then followed by some conclusions about the emergence of this new genre of written public political agreement about the succession.

Keywords: covenant; dispositive documents; shart; succession; contractual agreements; amans; public political agreement

Chapter.  8433 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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