Parts 11

The Progress of Royal Authority

January 28, 2020

11. The dynasty becomes senile after it claims all glory for itself and establishes luxury and tranquility

This can be explained in several ways.

  1. The royal authority, by its very nature, must claim all glory for itself.

As long as glory was the common (property) of the group, and all members of the group made an identical effort (to obtain glory), their aspirations to gain the upper hand over others and to defend their own possessions were expressed in exemplary unruliness and lack of restraint.

They all aimed at fame. Therefore, they considered death encountered in pursuit of glory, sweet, and they preferred annihilation to the loss of (glory).

Now, however, when one of them claims all glory for himself, he treats the others severely and holds them in check. Further, he excludes them from possessing property and appropriates it for himself.

People, thus, become too lazy to care for fame. They become dispirited and come to love humbleness and servitude. The next generation (of members of the dynasty) grows up in this (condition). They consider their allowances the government’s payment to them for military service and support.

No other thought occurs to them. (But) a person would rarely hire himself out to sacrifice his life. This (situation) debilitates the dynasty and undermines its strength. Its group feeling decays because the people who represent the group feeling have lost their energy.

As a result, the dynasty progresses toward weakness and senility.

  1. Royal authority by its very nature requires luxury.

People get accustomed to a great number of things. Their expenses are higher than their allowances and their income is not sufficient to pay for their expenditures.

Those who are poor perish. Spendthrifts squander their income on luxuries. This (condition) becomes aggravated in the later generations.

Eventually, all their income cannot pay for the luxuries and other things they have become used to. They grow needy. When their rulers urge them to defray the costs of raids and wars, they cannot get around it (but they have no money). Therefore, (the rulers) impose penalties on the (people) and deprive many of them of their property, either by appropriating it for themselves or by handing it over to their own children and supporters in the dynasty. In that way, they make the people too weak (financially) to keep their own affairs going, and their weakness (then reacts upon the ruler and) weakens him.

Also, when luxury increases in a dynasty and people’s income becomes insufficient for their needs and expenses, the ruler, that is, the government, must increase their allowances in order to tide them over and remedy their unsound condition.

The amount of tax revenue, however, is a fixed one. It neither increases nor decreases. When it is increased by new customs duties, the amount to be collected as a result of the increase has fixed limits (and cannot be increased again).

When the tax revenues must go to pay for recently increased allowances that had to be increased for everybody in view of new luxuries and great expenditures, the militia decreases in number from what it had been before the increase in allowances.

Luxury, meanwhile, is still on the increase. As a result, allowances become larger, and the militia decreases in number. This happens a third and a fourth time.

Eventually, the army is reduced to the smallest possible size. The result is that the military defense of the dynasty is weakened and the power of the dynasty declines. Neighboring dynasties, or groups and tribes under the control of the dynasty itself, become bold and attack it, and God permits it to suffer the destruction that He has destined for (all) His creatures. Furthermore, luxury corrupts the character.

Through luxury, the soul acquires diverse kinds of evil and sophisticated customs, as will be mentioned in the section on sedentary culture. 68

People lose the good qualities that were a sign and indication of (their qualification for) royal authority. 69 They adopt the contrary bad qualities.

This points toward retrogression and ruin, according to the way God has planned it for His creatures in this connection. The dynasty shows symptoms of dissolution and disintegration.

It becomes affected by the chronic diseases of senility and finally dies.

  1. Royal authority, by its very nature, requires tranquility and rest.

When people become accustomed to tranquility and rest and adopt them as character traits, they become part of their nature. This is the case with all the things to which one grows used and accustomed.

The new generations grow up in comfort and the ease of luxury and tranquility. The trait of savagery (which former generations had possessed) undergoes transformation. They forget the customs of desert life that enabled them to achieve royal authority, such as great energy, the habit of rapacity, and the ability to travel in the wilderness and find one’s way in waste regions. No difference remains between them and ordinary city dwellers, except for their (fighting) skill 71 and emblems.

Their military defense weakens, their energy is lost, and their strength is undermined. The evil effects of this situation on the dynasty show themselves in the form of senility.

People, meanwhile, continue to adopt ever newer forms of luxury and sedentary culture and of quiet, tranquility, and softness in all their conditions, and to sink ever deeper into them. They thus become estranged from desert life and desert toughness.

Gradually, they lose more and more of (the old virtues). They forget the quality of bravery that was their protection and defense. Eventually, they come to depend upon some other militia, if they have one.

An example of this is the nations whose history is available in the books you have. What I have said will be found to be correct and admitting of no doubt.

In a dynasty affected by senility as the result of luxury and rest, it sometimes happens that the ruler chooses helpers and partisans from groups not related to (the ruling dynasty but) used to toughness. He uses (these people) as an army which will be better able to suffer the hardships of wars, hunger, and privation.

This could prove a cure for the senility of the dynasty when it comes, (but only) until God permits His command regarding (the dynasty) to be executed. This is what happened to the Turkish dynasty in the East. Most members of its army were Turkish clients.

The (Turkish) rulers then chose horsemen and soldiers from among the white slaves (Mamelukes) who were brought to them. They were more eager to fight and better able to suffer privations than the children of the earlier white slaves (Mamelukes) who had grown up in easy circumstances as a ruling class in the shadow of the government.

The same was the case with the Almohad (Hafsid) dynasty in Ifriqiyah. Their rulers often selected their armies from the Zanatah and the Arabs. They used manyof them, and disregarded their own people who had become used to luxury. Thus, the dynasty obtained another, new life, unaffected by senility.

12. Dynasties have a natural life span like individuals

Physicians and astrologers believe that the natural human life span is 120 years.

The life of a Muslim lasts between 60-70 years. This is stated in the hadith.

Simlarly, dynasties have a lifespan which differ according to the conjunctions. However, as a rule, no dynasty lasts beyond three generations. A generation is identical with the average lifespan of a person or 40 years – the time required for growth to be completed and maturity reached.

God said= “Until when he reaches his maturity and reaches the age of forty years….” 76

Therefore, the average lifespan of an individual is identical with the duration of a generation. This is confirmed by the significance of the 40 year sojourn of the Israelites in the desert. That span was intended to disappear the generation then alive and the growth of another generation, (one) that had not witnessed and felt the humiliation (in Egypt).

This is proof of the assumption that (a period of) forty years, which is identical with the (average) life of a single individual, must be considered the duration of a generation.

The first generation retains the desert qualities, desert toughness, and desert savagery. Its members are used to privation and to sharing their glory with each other. They are brave and rapacious. The strength of group feeling continues to be preserved among them. They are sharp and greatly feared. People submit to them.

Under the influence of royal authority and a life of ease, the second generation changes from the desert attitude to sedentary culture, from privation to luxury and plenty, from a state in which everybody shared in the glory to one in which one man claims all the glory for himself while the others are too lazy to strive for (glory), and from proud superiority to humble subservience.

Thus, the vigor of group feeling is broken to some extent. People become used to lowliness and obedience. But many of (the old virtues) remain in them, because they had had direct personal contact with the first generation and its conditions, and had observed with their own eyes its prowess and striving for glory and its intention to protect and defend (itself).

They cannot give all of it up at once, although a good deal of it maygo. They live in hope that the conditions that existed in the first generation may come back, or they live under the illusion that those conditions still exist.

The third generation, then, has completely forgotten the period of desert life and toughness, as if it had never existed. They have lost (the taste for) the sweetness of fame and (for) group feeling, because they are dominated by force.

Luxury reaches its peak among them, because they are so much given to a life of prosperity and ease. They become dependent on the dynasty and are like women and children who need to be defended (by someone else). Group feeling disappears completely. People forget to protect and defend themselves and to press their claims.

With their emblems, apparel, horseback riding, and (fighting) skill, 79 they deceive people and give them the wrong impression. For the most part, they are more cowardly than women upon their backs. When someone comes and demands something from them, they cannot repel him.

The ruler, then, has need of other, brave people for his support. He takes many clients and followers. They help the dynasty to some degree, until God permits it to be destroyed, and it goes with everything it stands for.

As one can see, we have there three generations. In the course of these three generations, the dynasty grows senile and is worn out. Therefore, it is in the fourth generation that (ancestral) prestige is destroyed. This was stated before in connection with (the subject) that glory and (ancestral) prestige are restricted to four generations. 80

Three generations last 120 years. As a rule, dynasties do not last longer than that many years, a few more or a few less, save when, by chance, no one appears to attack (the dynasty).

When senility becomes preponderant (in a dynasty), there may be no claimant (for its power, and then nothing will happen), but if there should be one, he will encounter no one capable of repelling him. If the time is up, (the end of the dynasty) cannot be postponed for a single hour, no more than it can be accelerated.

In this way, the lifespan of a dynasty corresponds to the lifespan of an individual; it grows up and passes into an age of stagnation and thence into retrogression.

Therefore, people commonly say that the life (span) of a dynasty is one hundred years. The saying means the same as what (I have just explained).

One should consider this and derive from it a rule for finding the correct number of ancestors in a pedigree, if one is uncertain about it but knows the time interval that the pedigree covers.

For every 100 years, one should figure three ancestors. If the result tallies with the total number of (ancestors indicated in the pedigree, it) is correct. If it is one generation short, there must be an error in the number of (ancestors indicated in the pedigree, and) there must be one (ancestor) too many in it.

If (the result) indicates one generation too many, one (ancestor) must have been omitted (from the pedigree). In the same way, one may figure out the number of years, if one knows the correct number of ancestors 82