God’s Caliph: Religious Authority in the First Centuries of by Patricia Crone

By Patricia Crone

This examine examines how spiritual authority was once dispensed in early Islam. It argues the case that, as in Shi'ism, it used to be focused within the head of country, instead of dispersed between discovered laymen as in Sunnism. initially the caliph used to be either head of kingdom and supreme resource of spiritual legislation; the Sunni trend represents the result of a clash among the caliph and early students who, as spokesmen of the group, assumed spiritual management for themselves. Many Islamicists have assumed the Shi'ite notion of the imamate to be a deviant improvement. against this, this booklet argues that it truly is an archaism maintaining the concept that of spiritual authority with which all Muslims begun.

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Vol. = 30 God's Caliph Fuller evidence, however, is available in Umayyad poetry, most of it Marwanid. It cannot be said that complete parity obtains between prophets and caliphs here. The poets speak of the Prophet rather than prophets, and they automatically assume him to rank higher than caliphs; 23 caliphs only rank higher than the rest of mankind. 14 Even so, the Prophet's edge is thin. Caliphs are inferior only in that they do not receive revelation; and if God had not restricted the gift of prophecy to prophets, the caliphs would have been messengers themselves, as we are told with reference to Yazid 1115 and Hisham.

Abihi); ai-'Ajjij, no. 29:140, p. 48 (Yazid I); Farazdaq, vol. 1, pp. 265', 2861 ; vol. 11, pp. 58011 , 695• (Sulaymin, Bishr, Hishim and al-l;lajjij); Jarir, p. 50610 (the Umayyads in general); cf. also Aghani, vol. XI, p. 307; vol. xxo, p. 330. 3 Farazdaq, vol. 1, pp. 256, 101• (fa/Jib Alliih glulyr magh/ub, laysa bi-magh/ub man Alliih ~QJ]ibuhu). 4 Below, appendix 2, p. 120. S Cf. Ibn Qutayba, lminuJ, p. 258, where al-l;lajjij writes to al-Walid Jfa-'alayka bi' /-Islam fa-qawwim awadahu wa-slulra'i'ahu wa-/pM/Udahu.

Taplib remembered ai-Wal"ad I, as an illliim lnMiiJ (Agluini, vol. 2831). Yazid II was likewise praised aa an s• The Umayyad conception of the caliphate 35 he is associated with light. 81 He sets up a 'beacon of guidance' (maniirG,. /i' 1-hudii) wherever he goes. 70 His kinsmen and governors are similarly 'lights of guidance', full moons, stars and the like. 71 He disperses darkness 71 and makes the blind see. 7• He revives both land and souls,'• being rain (ghayth) in both a literal and a metaphorical sense: one asks for rain no less than for guidance from him.

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