‘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.

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