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The early Islamic elites used Islamic teachings, ostracizing and inducements, as the means to solve the twin problems of controlling the potentially troublesome Arab nomads and the conquered populations.
The early Islamic elites had to contend with two potential threats in the…
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Discussion Questions The early Islamic elites used Islamic teachings, ostracizing and inducements, as the means to solve the twin problems of controlling the potentially troublesome Arab nomads and the conquered populations.
The early Islamic elites had to contend with two potential threats in the form the troublesome Arab nomads, and the conquered populations. To deal with these potential threats three strategies were employed by the early Islamic in the opinion of Donner, and these included the use of Islamic teachings, ostracizing, and inducements targeted at the troublesome Arab nomads.
Islamic teachings of early Islam inclined towards the social ideals of a settled life in preference to the nomadic way of life of the troublesome Arab nomads. The great importance that Prophet Muhammad placed on a settled way of life (hijra), and the abandonment of the nomadic way of life in the process of embracing Islam formed the basis of this means to subdue the troublesome Arab nomads. According to Donner (1981), this enabled the early Islamic elites to draw support from these religious teachings in their attempts to subdue the potentially troublesome Arab nomads, as can be seen from this quote, when supplies were requested for the troublesome Arab nomads, “by God, I will not supply you until I have supplied the settled people [ahl al-ha-dira]”. (1)
The early Islamic elites denied the troublesome Arab nomads’ high positions of power in the political set up, and in the army chain of command, even if their loyalty was not in doubt, as the second means to control the Arab nomads. This ostracizing of the nomadic tribes meant that in the eyes of the ruling elite, they were not fit to occupy such seats of power. This meant that only the settled people occupied these seats of power, and removed the possibility of the Arab nomads being able to use these seats of power to incite action on behalf of the Arab nomads. (1)
The tax pattern that was introduced by the early Islamic elites in the opinion of Donner (1981), sought to ostracize the Arab nomads. While the Muslims leading a settled way of life had to pay alms or zakat, and the non-Muslims leading a settled way of life tribute, or tax called jizya, the nomadic tribes had to pay a tax called sadaqa. This differentiation suggests that though the nomadic Arabs, who had embraced the religion of Islam were not considered to the settled Muslimsm and could be extended to mean that they were not Muslims in the true sense. (1)
The final means employed by the early Islamic elite in subduing the possible threat posed by the Arab nomads was inducement. Inducements of like stipends, lands, and shares of booty were offered to the Arab nomads to join the armies of the early Islamic elite. These inducements had twin benefits. The first benefit was that it increased the strength and power of the early Islamic elite armies on one hand, and reduced the strength and power of the Arab nomads on the other hand. The second benefit was that the Arab nomads that became part of the early Islamic armies could be used as the means to face any challenges thrown at the early Islamic elite by the conquered people. As a result early Islamic garrisons containing elements of the Arab nomads that had joined them sprang up in areas that the early Islamic elite found would be effective in containing threats emanating from the other Arab nomads and the conquered people. Thus Donner opines that by making use of religious texts, ostracizing, and inducements the early Islamic ruling elite lured some of the Arab nomads on to supporting the settled way of life, and then used these Arab nomads, as the means to control the potentially troublesome Arab nomads and the conquered people. (1)

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1. Donner, F. The Early Islamic Conquest. 1981. Read More
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