Internal Strife

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Internal Strife Powered By Docstoc
					Under the Abbasid caliphs (750-868), governors were appointed for
brief periods, and Egypt was plagued by a series of insurrections
arising from conflicts between the different sects of Muslims who
had settled there: the Sunni, or orthodox majority, and the minority
Shia sect. On several occasions the Copts also rose to protest
excessive taxation. Such uprisings were met with repression and
persecution by the government. Internal conditions became so bad
in the late 8th century that a group of new immigrants from
Andalusia allied themselves with an Arab tribe and seized
Alexandria, holding it until an army arrived from Baghdad and exiled
them to Crete. Insurrections continued to break out among the
Arabs, who even defeated a governor and burned his baggage.
Rebellions by the Copts continued until Caliph Abdullah al-Mamun
led a Turkish army to put down the revolts in 832. This was a period
of ruthless and unscrupulous governors, who abused the population
and extorted money from them. The only bulwark against such
oppression lay in the chief qadi, the country's leading Muslim
magistrate, who maintained the sacred law—the Sharia—in the face
of abuse of power, and helped ease the rapacity of the governors.

Despite a predominantly rural population, commercial centers
flourished, and Al Fustat grew to become a trading metropolis.From
856 onward Egypt was given as an iqta, a form of fief, to the
Turkish military oligarchy that dominated the caliphate in Baghdad.
In 868 Ahmad ibn Tulun, a 33-year-old Turk, was sent to the
country as governor. A man of ability and education, Tulun ruled
wisely and well, but he also turned Egypt into an autonomous
province, linked with the Abbasids only by the yearly payment of a
small tribute. Tulun built a new city, Al Qita‘ì (“the Wards”), north of Al
Fustat. Under his benevolent rule Egypt prospered and expanded to annex Syria.
Tulun's dynasty (the Tulunids) ruled for 37 years over an empire that included Egypt,
Palestine, and Syria.

				
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