My use of this type of literature is limited to the writings of Edward William Lane and Alexander Russell, both of whom lived for long periods in the Middle East, spoke Arabic, and made knowledgeable and valuable observations about Middle Eastern society. This proliferation of libraries has been explained by some scholars as springing from the intense religious and doctrinal disputes that characterized the formative period of medieval Islam in the seventh through eleventh centuries. But at the end of Mamluk rule in Egypt and in face of mounting financial problems, the regime adamantly tried to maintain these customs. Laskier, and Zeev Maghen of the Department of Middle Eastern History at Bar Ilan University for providing the stimulating academic environment that helped clarify the orientation of my work. The beneficiaries of his charities were people of the religious class in Hebron, leaders of prayer and Koran reciters, as well as simple folk—but he also forbade Jews and Christians to visit the Tomb of the Patriarchs.
The charity given by slave girls, be they concubines of rulers and mothers of their sons or those belonging to the households of other powerful people, reflects these efforts to be included in society. They nonetheless made an impressive appearance at his funeral. What was true for Jerusalem applied, even more so, to Mecca and Medina and the sources from the high and late Middle Ages provide ample data concerning the charitable deeds performed by people of the administrative and military classes in Arabia. The actions of the sultan are open to two interpretations. In the event that the line came to an end, the incomes would be divided between the poor and other non-Arab clients of Musalama who were registered as military personal and volunteers.
Some had teaching posts at endowed law colleges, while others served in various capacities at endowed mosques and other institutions. Despite this he was capable of building an opulent residence for himself in Fustat adjacent to his law college, and he undertook the work of restoring the Ancient Mosque in Fustat. He consolidated the power of his political masters by playing the role of the just vizier and acting as a model for emulation. This merchant, who was known for his piety and charities, was a supporter of the Hanbali community in Baghdad to which Ibn Jawzi himself belonged. His father, writes Musabbihi, lived a comfortable life and died with his faculties intact, although he was confined to his home during his final years. Charité bien ordonnée commence par soi-même. Salih suggested a different way of spending the money: only 100 dinars for the shrouds and the rest for clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, and providing water for the thirsty.
It is said that properties worth 200,000 dinars were dedicated by him as pious endowments, and these yielded a yearly income in the range of 30,000 dinars. In this case the source of his wealth is well attested to, since his blessings were much appreciated and sought after by people of the ruling class who undoubtedly rewarded the sheikh handsomely for his benedictions. This verse, especially in its references to tax collectors and those whose hearts are to be conciliated, reflected the realities of the time of the Prophet. Al-Mansur himself set an example by freeing slaves, and in a letter he informed Jawdhar about his manumission from slavery and wrote that he had granted him the title of Client mawla of the Commander of the Believers. Providing a proper burial for the dead is a religious duty, and special pious endowments were often set up for this specific purpose, indicating the charitable nature of this function.
In this case, charity can be viewed as a way that the imam communicated with God. The charities of the Mamluk emirs for Mecca and Medina were many, and some were performed in conjunction with their own pilgrimages. Jiha Maknun, the wife of the Fatimid ruler al-Amir, is characterized as a God-fearing woman who performed many pious deeds, sent handsome gifts to ashraf, and gave money to those living in seclusion arbab al-buyut and ahl al-satr. He was registered in an office that remitted him the high monthly payment of 400 dinars or dirhams derived from taxes collected from non-Muslims and European traders. In both cases the patrons were well-to-do local notables. This was not charity in the strict sense of the word but a political payoff.
To this end, a great deal of attention has been paid to the choice of sources. The whole affair is narrated in his obituary, indicating that it had stained his reputation. The allusion to this concept and the use of the term indicate that Ahmad ibn Tulun viewed ahl alsatr not as pitiable and wretched but as a normative social class within the overall social model. Eventually the outcry against his deeds reached al-Amir, who ordered him to be put to death but became concerned about how these events might affect the concept of his infallibility as an imam. His first concern was to provide for and marry off his four daughters, but the rest of his assets were devoted to charity.
Although officials were paid through the Office of Payments, who was, or was not, on the list also depended on the internal configuration of political power in the state. The similarities between the two institutions, however, went even deeper, involving the motives behind their establishment, since each institution served as a channel for the propagation of a particular brand of Islam, whether ShiiteIsmaili or Sunni. Law permits—in fact, requires—the collection of a poll tax from Jews and Christians, but these were not permitted in Arabia, and the collection of certain types of land taxes allowed by law was impracticable in the barren Mecca. The costs of building and maintaining drinking fountains were not prohibitive, and a modest pious endowment was usually enough for the constructing and running of these facilities. As such, it transcends time and place and shows remarkable uniformity throughout changing historical circumstances.
Thus the activities of women and men of the Fatimid ruling circles in the Qarafa enjoyed wide public exposure and must have been greatly appreciated. Ibn Rasha pointed out that this option was always open to him but would not be enough. They were torn into pieces to be bestowed on distinguished people, although sometimes they were sent intact to distant Muslim rulers. The list of the beneficiaries included cadis, court witnesses, the pious, widows, and orphans. When salaries of state officials are considered, however, 1,000 dinars is a negligible sum. Both terms are Koranic and have a wide range of meanings.
What was true for the rulers also applied to ordinary people, whatever their position on the social ladder. The law college also provided religious instruction for the wider public, a service rendered by an imam who taught the people how to perform the rites of prayer correctly. For example, such was the pious endowment of Muhammad ibn Maqil al-Rumi, who divided the incomes of his foundation in equal shares among the following beneficiaries: the eunuchs of the tomb of the Prophet in Medina, students at the Azhar mosque in Cairo, and students in Gaza. On the other hand, Ibn Jubayr does say that the Maghribi travelers who arrived at Alexandria after an arduous journey through the desert were entitled to a daily portion of bread. Balawi, his tenth-century biographer, writes that during the day the well was used by ordinary people, literally those who unveil their faces, while others sent their ghulams young boys or slaves and slave girls. His attempt to attain long-term future security for his family by monopolizing two key appointments at the foundation aroused envy and the animosity of other people who were also trying to gain some benefit from this foundation. The properties managed by this office included pious endowments set up for the maintenance of walls, lodges, hospitals, churches, and lands of monasteries.