46. The authority of the dynasty at first expands to
its limit and then is narrowed down in successive
stages, until the dynasty dissolves and disappears 713
Above, in the third (chapter) of this Muqqadimah, 714 in the chapter on the caliphate and royal authority, we stated that each dynasty has its specific share of provinces and districts and no more. 715 (Its expansion) depends 716 on the distribution of the dynasty's group (strength) for the (military) protection of its territory and regions. Wherever its numbers go, their advance (eventually) comes to a stop at (what is called) the "border region." This surrounds the dynasty on all sides like a belt. Its farthest extension may coincide with the original "belt" of authority of the (preceding) dynasty. (Or) it may be still wider, if the numerical (strength) of the (new) group is greater than that of the preceding dynasty.
All this takes place while the dynasty has the characteristics of desert life and rude courage.
Subsequently, power and superiority come into their own. Bounties and salaries become abundant as a result of improved revenues. Luxury and sedentary culture abound. New generations grow up accustomed to this situation. (At this time,) the character of the militia softens, and they lose their toughness. This makes them cowards and lazy fellows. They are caught up in the effeminacy 717 of sedentary culture. It causes them to shed the characteristics of courage and manliness. They give up the desert attitude and desert toughness and seek power through assiduous competition for leadership. This causes some of them to kill others. The ruler prevents them from doing that, by killing their great men and destroying their leaders. Thus, amirs and great men no longer exist, and the number of followers and subordinates grows. This blunts the sharp edges of the dynasty and decreases its strength. The first element of disintegration afflicts the dynasty, that which comes through the soldiers and militia, as has been mentioned.718
This is paralleled by extravagance in expenditures. (The people of the dynasty) suffer from the pomp of power and limitless ostentation as they compete with each other in matters of food, clothing, large palaces, good weapons, and the horses in their stables.719 At this time, the income of the dynasty is too small to pay for such expenditures, and thus the second element of disintegration afflicts the dynasty, that which comes through money and taxation. Weakness and destruction are the results of these two elements of disintegration.
The leaders of (the dynasty) often compete with each other. They quarrel, and are too weak to stand up and defend themselves against rivals and neighbors. The people of the border and remote regions often sense the weakness of the dynasty at their backs, and they show their strength. They eventually gain independent control over the districts in their possession. The ruler is too weak to force them back on the (right) path. Thus, the authority of the dynasty becomes narrower than it had been at the beginning. The administration of (the dynasty) 720 restricts itself to a smaller area. Eventually, the same weakness, laziness with regard to group strength, and the shortage of money and revenue that had come about in the first, larger, area also comes about in the second, smaller, area.
The 721 person in charge of the dynasty now undertakes to change the norms the dynasty had, adopted as its policy with regard to soldiers, money, and administrative functions.722 The purpose is to have norms suitable for balancing the budget, satisfying the militia, safeguarding the administrative districts, distributing the tax revenue for the (soldiers') salaries in the proper manner, and readjusting (the new conditions) to those that had existed at the beginning of the dynasty. However, evil happenings can still be expected from every quarter.
At this later stage, what had happened before in the first stage happens again. The ruler now considers the same (measures) that the first ruler had considered, and applies the old yardstick to the new conditions of the dynasty. He intends to repel the evil consequences of disintegration, 723 which reappears at every stage and affects every part of the realm until the area of the dynasty is again narrower than it had been (before), and what had happened before happens again.
Each of the persons who changes the previous norms (of the dynasty) is in a way the builder of a new dynasty and the founder of a new realm. However, the dynasty is eventually destroyed. The nations around it push on to gain superiority over it. They then found a new dynasty of their own. And thus befalls what God has destined to befall.
This may be exemplified by the Muslim dynasty. Through its conquests and victories over (foreign) nations, its authority expanded. Its militia then increased, and the numerical (strength of the militia) grew as the result of the bounties and salaries granted to (the soldiers). Eventually, the power of the Umayyads was destroyed. The 'Abbasids gained the upper hand. Luxury, then, increased. Sedentary culture emerged, and disintegration made its appearance. The creation of the Marwanid (Umayyad Spanish) and 'Alid (ldrisid) dynasties cut down the authority of the 'Abbasids in Spain and the Maghrib. These two border regions were cut off from ('Abbasid) authority.
Then, dissension arose among the sons of ar-Rashid. 'Alid propagandists appeared in every region, and ('Alid) dynasties were founded. Then, after the death of al-Mutawakkil, the amirs gained control over the caliphs and kept them in seclusion. Provincial governors in the outlying regions became independent, and the land tax from there did not come in any longer. Luxury (however) still increased. Al-Mu'tadid appeared. He changed the norms of the dynasty and adopted another policy 724 He gave the outlying regions, over which the governors had won control, to them as fiefs. Thus, for instance, the Samanids (were given) Transoxania, the Tihirids the 'Iraq and Khurasin, the Saffirids Western India (Sind) and Firs, the Tulunids Egypt, and the Aghlabids Ifriqiyah. Then, the power of the Arabs was broken up. The non-Arabs achieved superiority. The Buyids and the Daylam gained control of the Muslim dynasty. They kept the caliphs in seclusion. The Samanids remained in control of Transoxania. The Fatimids 725 pushed out of the Maghrib into Egypt and Syria and gained possession of (those countries). Then arose the dynasty of the Saljuq Turks. The Saljugs gained domination over the Muslim empire. They kept the caliphs in seclusion, until their dynasties were destroyed. From the time of an-Nasir 726 on, the caliphs were in control of an area smaller than the ring around the moon, namely, the Arab 'Iraq up to Isfahan, Firs, and al-Bahrayn. For some (time), the dynasty continued in that manner, until the power of the caliphs was destroyed by Hulagu b. Tuli b. Dushi Khan, the ruler of the Tatars and Mongols. They defeated the Saljugs and took possession of the part of the Muslim empire that had been theirs.
Thus, the authority of the dynasty (at each stage) becomes successively narrower than it had been at the beginning. (This process) continues, stage by stage, until the dynasty is destroyed. (The fact) can be exemplified by examination of any dynasty, large or small. This is how God proceeds with dynasties, until the dissolution destined by Him comes upon His creatures. "Everything perishes except His face (person)." 727