Al-Thaʿalibi’s <i>Adab al-muluk</i>, a Local Mirror for Princes

Julia Bray

in Living Islamic History

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780748637386
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653218 | DOI:
Al-Thaʿalibi’s Adab al-muluk, a Local Mirror for Princes

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This chapter considers the al-Tha،alini’s Adab al-muluk as a text belonging to the genre of mirrors for princes. It emphasises that the texts belonging to this genre reflect a complex relationship shaped by the author, the addressee/audience and the imperatives of time and place. The content of mirrors for princes is moulded by interpretations of religious texts which produce meanings that could justify a particular mode or rule or legitimise a particular ruler. In this genre, it is recognised and acknowledged that political legitimacy must be earned, nurtured and safeguarded against counter-claims which might exploit the political or differential status in society and the hierarchical duties and obligations they encode in social interaction. The local context can have a legitimising role, but this must receive theological backing to avoid the danger of corruption which, can render the princely rule morally bankrupt. Highlighted as well in the chapter is the significance of ‘aristocractic eliticism’, and the importance of promoting culture and Arabic letters in securing princely rule.

Keywords: Adab al-muluk; mirrors for princes; religious texts; political legitimacy; theological backing; aristocractic eliticism

Chapter.  6860 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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