21. The existence of group feeling in cities and the
superiority of some of the inhabitants over others.
It 176 is clear that it is in the nature of human beings to enter into close contact and to associate (with each other), even though they may not have a common descent. However, as we have mentioned before, 177 such association is weaker than one based upon common descent, and the resulting group feeling is only part of what (group feeling) resulting from common descent is. Many inhabitants of cities come into close contact through intermarriage. This draws them together and, eventually, they constitute individual related groups. The same friendship or hostility that is found among tribes and families, is found among them, and they split into parties and groups.
When senility befalls a dynasty and its shadow recedes from the remote regions (of the realm), the inhabitants of the cities of (that dynasty) have to take care of their own affairs and to look after the protection of their own place. They revert to the council (government), and (people of the) higher class keep separated from people of the lower class. (Human) souls, by their very nature, are prone to seek superiority and domination. Because the air is clear of forceful government and dynasty, the elders desire to gain complete control. Everybody vies with everybody else. They try to have followers, such as clients, partisans, and allies, join them. They spend whatever they possess on the rabble and the mob. Everybody forms a group with his fellows, and one of them achieves superiority. He then turns against his equals, in order to slow them down, 178 and persecutes them with assassination or exile. Eventually, he takes away all executive power from them and renders them innocuous. 179 He obtains sole control of the entire city. He then is of the opinion that he has created a realm that he may leave to his descendants, but the same symptoms of power and senility to be found in a large realm are also to be found in his smaller realm.
Some of these people occasionally aspire to the ways of the great rulers who are masters of tribes and families and group feelings, who go into combat and wage wars, and who control large regions and provinces. They adopt the custom of sitting upon a throne. They use an "outfit," 180 organize cavalcades for traveling about the country, use seal rings, are greeted (ceremoniously), and are addressed as Sire (mawla), which is ridiculous in the eyes of all who can observe the situation for themselves. They adopt royal emblems to which they are not entitled. They were pushed into following such (improper aspirations) only by the dwindling influence of the (ruling) dynasty and the close relationships they had established and that eventually resulted in group feeling. Some of (the people, on the other hand), refrained from (improper aspirations) and lived simply, because they did not want to make themselves the butt of jokes and ridicule,
This happened in our own time in the later (years) of the Hafsid dynasty in Ifriqiyah to inhabitants of places in the Jarid, including Tripoli, Gabes, Tozeur (Tuzar), Nafta (Naftah), Gafsa (Qafsah), Biskra and the Zab, and adjacent regions. They acquired such aspirations when the shadow of the (ruling) dynasty had been receding from them for some decades. They seized power in their respective cities and took control of the judicial and tax administration away from the dynasty. They paid (the ruling dynasty) some obedience and gave (it) reluctant allegiance, and treated (it) with some politeness, kindness, and submissiveness. However, they did not mean it. They passed (their position) on to their descendants, who (are living) at this time. Among their successors, there originated that cruelty and tyranny that is common among the descendants and successors of rulers. They thought that they ranked with (true) rulers, despite the fact that they had only recently been common people.181
Something similar happened also at the end of the Sinhajah dynasty. The inhabitants of the cities of the Jarid made themselves independent there and seized control of the (ruling) dynasty. Eventually, they were deprived of their power by the shaykh and ruler of the Almohads, 'Abd-alMu'min b. 'Ali. He transferred all of them from their amirates in the Jarid to the Maghrib, and removed all traces of them from (the Jarid), as we shall mention in his history.182
The same happened also in Ceuta at the end of the dynasty of the Banu 'Abd-al-Mu'min.
As a rule, such leadership goes to members of great and noble houses who are eligible for the positions of elders and leaders in a city. Sometimes, it goes to some person from the lowest class of people. He obtains group feeling and close contact with the mob for reasons that fate (al-miqdar) produces for him. He, then, achieves superiority over the elders and people of the higher class when they have lost their own group support.
"God has the power to execute His commands." 183