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“It’s the Economy, Stupid”: Al-abarī’s Analysis of the Free Rider Problem in the Abbāsid Caliphate

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The article argues that al-abarī’s History of the Prophets and the Kings provides a free rider-analysis of the decline of Abbasid state power. Al-abarī’s historical analysis considers state policy on land tax, and religion as a legal norm related to the social contract between the head of state and the landlords. It is concluded that al-abarī saw the misāa tax system and ‘rule of law’ as the principal conditions for imperial rule, and that al-abarī’s History already provides an answer to modern historians’ questions as to why the Abbasid state crumbled, and what role religion played in the political economy.


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