‘Abid al-Bukhari was a special army devised by Isma’il (1672–1727), the ‘Alawi sultan of Morocco, as an instrument of domination in a context characterized by pressing foreign threat and severe fragmentation of the country. It was not an army of slaves, since it was composed of Moroccan freemen, slaves, and haratin, but its variegated membership was linked to the sultan by a mutual oath of fidelity and obedience to the Prophet’s commands. Conceived and constructed by Isma’il as a new social group within a new social power structure and groomed to play a particular role in the social and political fabric of Isma’il’s state system, the institution of ‘abid al-Bukhari affords the scholar an opportunity to question the prevailing Atlantic slavery paradigm in an endeavor to move toward a broader characterization of bondage and servitude and a more nuanced system of power relations.
‘Abid al-Bukhari and the Development of the Makhzen System in Seventeenth-Century Morocco
Fatima Harrak is a historian, political scientist, and research professor and former director of the University Mohamed V Institute of African Studies (IAS). She is a permanent and active member of the pan-African Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), Dakar, for which she served as vice chair of the scientific committee, vice president, and then president. She is the author of numerous books and studies in Arabic, French, and English on themes of Islamic reform in North and West Africa, African women in the transmission of Islamic learning, trans-Saharan slavery, and Africa in the world.
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Fatima Harrak; ‘Abid al-Bukhari and the Development of the Makhzen System in Seventeenth-Century Morocco. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 1 August 2018; 38 (2): 280–295. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201x-6982051
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