Part 15

Capital Accumulation

January 26, 2022

15. The accumulation of estates and farms in cities, their uses and yields.

The accumulation of numerous estates and farms by the citizens does not come all at once nor at one time. No one person would have enough wealth to acquire limitless (real) property. 126

Even if prosperity were as great as possible, the acquisition and accumulation of real property would be gradual. It may come about through inheritance from one’s forefathers and blood relatives, so that eventually the property of many comes to one person, who thus possesses much. Or it may be through fluctuation in the real estate market.

When one dynasty ends and another begins, the militia vanishes. There is no protection, and the city collapses and is ruined. At that time, (the possession of) real estate does not make a person happy, because it is of little use in the general upheaval. (Real estate) values fall, and (real estate) can be acquired for low prices.

It then passes through inheritance into the possession of someone else. (By that time,) the city has regained its youthful vigor as the new dynasty flourishes, and conditions in it are in excellent shape. The result is that one may be happy with the possession of estates and farms, because they will then be very useful.

Their value increases, and they assume an importance they did not have before. This is the meaning of “fluctuation in (the real estate market).” The owner of (real estate) now turns out to be one of the wealthiest men in the city.

That is not the result of his own effort and business activity, because he would be unable to achieve such a thing by himself. Estates and farms do not yield their owner a sufficient income for his needs. The income from them will not pay for the customs of luxury and the things that go with it.

As a rule, it serves only to help provide for the necessities of life. We have heard from scholars that the motive in the acquisition of estates and farms is a concern for the helpless children a person may leave behind.

Income from real estate providies for their education, care, and upbringing, as long as they are unable to earn their own living. When they are able to earn their own living, they will do it by themselves. (But) there often are children who are unable to earn their own living because of some weakness of the body or some defect in (the part of) the mind that provides the ability to make a living. The real property then becomes their support. This is the motive of persons who spend a great deal of money acquiring (real estate).

The motive is not to accumulate capital through (such acquisitions) or to provide for extravagant living. This is achieved only by a few and is achieved only rarely through market fluctuations, through the acquisition of a great deal of (real estate), and through the upgrading of (real estate) as such and its value in a certain city.

But then, if someone achieves it, the eyes of amirs and governors are directed to him (and his real estate). As a rule, they take it away, or they urge him to sell it to them. Such (real estate) spells harm and hardship to its owners.

16. Capitalists among the inhabitants of cities need rank and protection.

This is because a sedentary person who has a great deal of capital and has acquired a great number of estates and farms and become one of the wealthiest inhabitants of a particular city, who is looked upon as such and lives in great luxury and is accustomed to luxury, competes in this respect with amirs and rulers.

The latter become jealous of him. The aggressiveness that is natural to human beings makes them cast their eyes upon his possessions. They envy him them and try every possible trick to catch him in the net of a government decision and to find an obvious reason for punishing him, so as to confiscate his property.

Government decisions are as a rule unjust, because pure justice is found only in the legal caliphate that lasted only a short while. Muhammad said= “The caliphate after me will last thirty years; then, it will revert to being tyrannical royal authority.” 128

Therefore, the owner of property and conspicuous wealth in a given civilization (community) needs a protective force to defend him, as well as a rank 128a on which he may rely. (This purpose may be met by) a person related to the ruler, or a close friend of (the ruler), or a group feeling that the ruler will respect. 129

In its shade, he may rest and live peacefully, safe from hostile attacks. If he does not have that, he will find himself robbed by all kinds of tricks and legal pretexts. “God decides, and no one can change His decision.” 13

17. Sedentary culture in cities comes from the dynasties

A city’s culture is firmly rooted when the dynasty is continuous and firmly rooted. This is because sedentary culture is a condition that is the result of custom and goes beyond the necessary conditions of civilization.

How far beyond, differs in accordance with unlimited differences in the prosperity and the numerical strength or weakness of the nations. (Sedentary culture) 131 occurs in the (nations) when much diversity develops among its various subdivisions.

It is thus on the same level as the crafts. Each particular kind of craft needs persons to be in charge of it and skilled in it.

The more numerous the various subdivisions of a craft are, the larger the number of the people who (have to) practice that craft. The particular group (practicing that craft) is colored by it. As the days follow one upon the other, and one professional coloring comes after the other, the craftsmen become experienced in their various crafts and skilled in the knowledge of them. Long periods of time a(experiences) add to establishing the crafts and to causing them to be firmly rooted.

This 132 happens mostly in cities, because cities have a highly developed civilization and their inhabitants are very prosperous, and the dynasty is at the root of it, because the dynasty collects the property of the subjects and spends it on its inner circle and on the men connected with it who are more influential by reason of their position than by reason of their property. The money comes from the subjects and is spent among the people of the dynasty and then among those inhabitants of the city who are connected with them. They are the largest part (of the population).

Their wealth, therefore, increases and their riches grow. The customs and ways of luxury multiply, and all the various kinds of crafts are firmly established among them. This (then) is sedentary culture.

Therefore, cities in remote parts of the realm, even if they have an abundant civilization, are found to be predominantly Bedouin and remote from sedentary culture in all their ways.

This is in contrast with (the situation in) towns that lie in the middle, the center and seat of the dynasty. The only reason is that the government is near them and pours its money into them, like the water (of a river) that makes green everything around it, and fertilizes the soil adjacent to it, while in the distance everything remains dry. We have stated before that dynasty and government are the world’s market place. 133

All kinds of merchandise are found in the market and near it. Far from the market, however, goods are altogether non-existent. As a particular dynasty continues to rule and its rulers succeed each other in a particular city, sedentary culture becomes increasingly firmly established and rooted among the inhabitants of that city.

This may be exemplified by the Jews. Their rule in Syria lasted about 1,400 years. Sedentary culture thus became firmly established among them. They became skilled in the customary ways and means of making a living and in the manifold crafts belonging to it as regards food, clothing, and all the other parts of (domestic) economy, so much so that these things, as a rule, can still be learned from them to this day. Sedentary culture and its customs became firmly rooted in Syria through them and (through) the Roman dynasties which succeeded them for 600 years.

Thus, they had the most developed sedentary culture possible.The same was the case with the Copts. Their political power lasted 3,000 years. The customs of sedentary culture were thus firmly rooted in their country, Egypt. They were succeeded there by the Greeks and the Romans, and then by Islam, which abrogated everything.

The customs of sedentary culture have, thus, always continued in (Egypt). The customs of sedentary culture became likewise firmly rooted in Yemen, because the Arabs ruled continuously in the Yemen for thousands of years, ever since the time of the Amalekites and the Tubba’s who were succeeded by the rule of the Mudar.

The same was the case with the sedentary culture in the ‘Iraq which, for thousands of years, was ruled continuously by the Nabataeans and the Persians, that is, the Chaldaeans, the Kayyanids (the Achaemenids), the Sassanians (alKisrawiyah), and, after them, the Arabs. Down to this time there has never been upon the face of the earth a people with more sedentary culture than the inhabitants of Syria, the ‘Iraq, and Egypt.

The 134 customs of sedentary culture also became firmly rooted in Spain, which, for thousands of years, was ruled continuously by the great Gothic dynasty, later succeeded by the Umayyad realm. Both dynasties were great. Therefore, the customs of sedentary culture continued and became firmly established in (Spain).

Ifriqiyah and the Maghrib had no great royal authority before Islam. The Romans (Byzantines, Rum) 135 and European Christians had crossed the sea to Ifriqiyah and had taken possession of the coast. The obedience the Berbers who lived there paid them was not firmly grounded. They were there only temporarily. No dynasty was close to the people of the Maghrib.

From time to time, they offered their obedience to the Goths across the sea. When God brought Islam and the Arabs took possession of Ifriqiyah and the Maghrib, the Arab rule lasted for only a short while at the beginning of Islam. At that time, the (Arabs) were in the stage of Bedouin life.

Those who stayed in Ifrigiyah and the Maghrib did not find there any old tradition of sedentary culture, because (the original population of Ifrigiyah and the Maghrib) had been Berbers immersed in Bedouin life. Very soon, the Berbers of Morocco revolted under Maysarah al-Matghari in the days of Hisham b. ‘Abd-al-Malik, 136 and never again later reverted to Arab rule. They were independent.

If they rendered the oath of allegiance to Idris, his rule over them cannot be considered an Arab rule, because the Berbers were in charge of it, and there were not many Arabs in it. Ifriqiyah remained in the possession of the Aghlabids and the Arabs who were with them.

They had some sedentary culture as the result of the luxury and prosperity of the royal authority and the large civilization of al-Qayrawan that were theirs. The Kutamah and then the Sinhajah after them inherited it from the Aghlabids.

But all that was brief and lasted less than four hundred years. Their dynasty ended, and the coloring of sedentary culture (that existed there) changed, as it had not been firmly established. The Hilal, who were Arab Bedouins, gained power over the country and ruined it.

Some obscure traces of sedentary culture have remained there down to the present time. They can be noticed among those who had ancestors in al-Qal’ah, 137 al-Qayrawan, or alMahdiyah.

Some traces of sedentary culture can be found in the domestic economy and the customs of (these people). They are mixed with other things, but the person who comes from a sedentary environment and knows about (sedentary culture) can discern them. That is the case with most cities in Ifriqiyah, but not in the Maghrib and the cities there, because since the time of the Aghlabids, the Shi’ah (Fatimids), and the Sinhajah, the ruling dynasty in Ifriqiyah has been firmly rooted there for a longer period (than the dynasties in the Maghrib).

The Maghrib, on the other hand, has received a good deal of sedentary culture from Spain since the dynasty of the Almohads, and the customs of sedentary culture became established there through the control that the ruling dynasty of the Maghrib exercised over Spain.

Many Spanish went to the Almohads in the Maghrib, voluntarily or involuntarily. One knows how far-flung the influence (of the Almohad dynasty) was. It possessed a good deal of firmly established sedentary culture, most of it due to the inhabitants of Spain. Later on, the inhabitants of eastern Spain were expelled by the Christians and moved to Ifriqiyah. 138

In the cities there, they left traces of sedentary culture. Most of it is in Tunis, where it mixed with the sedentary culture of Egypt and (Egyptian) customs imported by travelers. Thus, the Maghrib and Ifriqiyah had a good deal of sedentary culture.

But emptiness took its place, and it disappeared. The Berbers in the Maghrib reverted to their Bedouin ways and Bedouin toughness. But, at any rate, the traces of sedentary culture are more numerous in Ifriqiyah than in the Maghrib and in the cities of (the Maghrib).

The old dynasties had lasted longer in Ifriqiyah than in the Maghrib, and the customs of the people of Ifriqiyah had been close to the customs of the Egyptians because of the great amount of intercourse between (the Egyptians and the people of Ifriqiyah).

This secret should be understood, because it is not known to the people.

It should be known that these are related matters.

The strength and weakness of a dynasty, the numerical strength of a nation or race, the size of a town or city, and the amount of prosperity and wealth. This is because dynasty and royal authority constitute the form of the world and of civilization, which, in turn, together with the subjects, cities, and all other things, constitute the matter of (dynasty and royal authority). 139

The tax money reverts to the (people). Their wealth, as a rule, comes from their business and commercial activities. If the ruler pours out gifts and money upon his people, it spreads among them and reverts to him, and again from him to them. It comes from them through taxation and the land tax, and reverts to them through gifts. The wealth of the subjects corresponds to the finances of the dynasty.

The finances of the dynasty, in turn, correspond to the wealth and number of the subjects. The origin of it all is civilization and its extensiveness. If this is considered and examined in connection with the (various) dynasties, it will be found to be so. “God decides, and no one can change His decision.” 140