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6. Ritual and Reality: The Bayʿa Process in Eleventh- and Twelfth-Century Islamic Courts

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Chapter Summary

Of the various rituals and ceremonies associated with the medieval Islamic courts, e.g., the granting of robes of honour, the sitting in mourning, and the beating of drums, the bayʻa process appeared to be the essential ritual that allowed for the manifestation and transmission of a ruler's power and authority. This chapter examines the nature and roles of the bayʻa process with regard to the fifth-sixth/eleventh-twelfth century Abbasid court to see what impact the political arena of the day had on this traditional ceremony involving the exchanging of oaths. The bayʻa ceremony served to legitimate the authority of the caliphs while also allowing for the dissemination of power throughout the elite strata of Muslim society. According to Emile Tyan, the bayʻa oath was intended to confirm the rulership on an individual, but also that the source of this rulership was as an "investiture from God".

Keywords: Abbasid ceremonies; bayʻa process; Emile Tyan; medieval Islamic courts; Muslim society; political system; rituals



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