Community: Society, Institutions, and Patronage
From Windows on the House of Islam:Muslim Sources on Spirituality and Religious Life
© 1998 The Regents of the University of California
Two Waqf Documents: Sultan Barquq and Khwaja Ahrar
Mamluk Sultan Barquq's Waqf
From Faraj ibn Barquq's historical inscriptions we move to another type of documentation that offers information about that sultan's own father, Barquq, who is buried in the building complex just discussed. The foundational document ( hujjat waqf ) governing the late-fourteenth-century complex of the Mamluk sultan Barquq (1336-1399) in Cairo provides a wealth of information about how this major religious and social institution shaped Muslim life. An example of royal patronage, the text begins with a detailed description of the building, leading the reader virtually room by room from one section to another, pointing out important formal and functional features. Then it describes the qualifications and duties expected of principal staff, and gives details about salary and other material benefits attached to each position. Note that the building included four vaulted halls, called iwans, each for the use of one of the four Sunni schools of religious law, with the largest iwan given to the dominant school in Mamluk Egypt, the Hanafi school. Here are the waqf document's descriptions of some of those critical posts:
The overseer and administrator of this endowment must make advantageous use of its revenues [from attached shops] according to the principles of shari'a . That begins with the structure of this madrasa [college of religious studies and law] and the other endowed facilities, with their repair and improvement, with whatever assures its permanence and secures lasting advantage for it, even if he should spend all its income on that. He will therefore pay the owner of the property the real estate rent due as prescribed by shari'a. What is left over he will spend as follows: The Hanafi shaykh-professor: [The administrator] will hire a good, religious, devout, upstanding man, an excellent jurist of the Hanafi school who is learned in the principles of the religion, in qur'anic exegesis, in the Prophetic hadith, in the jurisprudence of his legal school and its positive law, in both its difficult and subtle aspects. He is appointed this madrasa's chief professor of the study of the advanced learning of his law school and the shaykh of [the madrasa's] Sufis, who will be described below. Each month of the lunar year [will be issued] 500 newly minted silver dirhams, or its equivalent in currency if that is not possible - 300 silver dirhams for the professorship and 200 for his duties as shaykh - along with two measures of sweets, and 100 silver dirhams annually for clothing. In addition, he will appoint forty Hanafi scholars occupied as specialists in the method of the great Imam Abu Hanifa - may God be pleased with him and make him content - and in other sharia-related sciences. It is stipulated that every day of the week except Tuesday and Friday this shaykh will hold session with his students in the qibla iwan; every student will busy himself with whatever the shaykh chooses, from the legal school's law and jurisprudence, to exegesis and grammar, to doctrine and other matters. The shaykh must clarify for them whatever difficulties they might find in obscure or recondite questions, and accompany them on the road of learning and benefit as is customary in such matters. Their sessions will occupy them for three and a half hours beginning at sunrise.
The Shafi'i professor: In addition, the administrator will appoint a religious and righteous man, a fine jurist of the Shafi'i school learned in the method of his legal school and its jurisprudence, as professor in this madrasa. And he will appoint along with [the professor] twenty legal scholars occupied with the Shafi'i school of the great Imam Muhammad ibn Idris ash-Shafi'i - may God be pleased with him and grant him contentment - and with other sharia-related sciences. It is stipulated that every working day of every week this shaykh and these students of his will gather in the Bahri iwan [opposite the qibla iwan] in this madrasa and proceed as is customary for Hanafi students. And their session should extend from noon until the time of the afternoon [ritual prayer]. This shaykh's portion each month of the lunar year will be 300 silver dirhams and two measures of sweets, and annually 100 silver dirhams for clothing.
The Maliki professor: Similarly, the administrator will appoint a good, religious man who is of superb learning and experience in the law and jurisprudence of the Maliki school and a master of its interpretation and transmission as professor in this madrasa. To him will be allotted a monthly payment of 300 newly minted silver dirhams and two measures of sweets, and 100 silver dirhams annually for clothing. He will be assigned twenty students dedicated to the lofty Maliki science in the school of the Imam Malik ibn Anas, Imam of Medina [lit., the abode of the Hijra] may God be pleased with him and grant him contentment with the understanding that this shaykh will gather with these students every working day of every week in the eastern iwan [to the left of the qibla iwan] in this madrasa, from noon until the time of the afternoon [ritual prayer], and that they will conduct themselves as is incumbent on the Hanafi and Shafi'i groups, as has been explained.
The Hanbali professor: The administrator will appoint also a good, devout man, an excellent scholar knowledgeable in the law of the Hanbali school and in its jurisprudence, a competent exponent and practitioner, as professor in this madrasa. He will appoint along with the shaykh twenty Hanbali legal scholars engaged in the legal method of the Imam al-Kirmani Ahmad ibn Hanbal ash-Shaybani - may God be pleased with him and grant him contentment - and in other shari'a-related sciences. It is understood that this shaykh will gather these students every working day of each week in the western iwan [to the right of the qibla] of this madrasa. They will conduct themselves in the manner that has been described in the case of the other three legal schools. Their sessions will run from noon until the time of the afternoon [ritual prayer], as already described. [Compensation equal to that of the Shafii and Maliki professors.]
The shaykh of Hadith: In addition, the administrator will appoint a good, devout man of outstanding erudition in linguistic science, who knows the Qur'an by heart, a Hadith scholar familiar with and steeped in the sayings of the Prophet - may the choicest blessings and peace be upon their speaker - and whose credibility is well founded. The administrator will appoint him as professor in this madrasa, and will compensate him with a monthly payment of 150 newly minted silver dirhams, one measure of sweets, two Egyptian measures of soap, two measures of oil, three Egyptian measures of bread daily, and for his clothing 80 silver dirhams a year. Assigned to the shaykh will be fifteen students of the lofty science dedicated to knowledge of Prophetic hadith - may the choicest blessings and peace and mercy be upon the one who uttered them. It is stipulated that this shaykh and these students will gather every work day of each week in the place which the administrator designates for them in this madrasa, and these students will occupy themselves there with the noble sayings of the Prophet. The shaykh will analyze for them what they find difficult, and clarify for them what needs further explanation, as is customary in such matters. Their sessions will run from noon until the afternoon [ritual prayer].
The shaykh of the seven Qur'an readings [ qira'at ]: The administrator will also appoint a good, devout, upright man who knows by heart the beloved Book of God and who has mastered the seven ways of reading Qur'an , one who fulfills the requisite conditions for one devoted to the seven readings, as professor in this madrasa. He will be paid a monthly sum of 100 silver dirhams, one measure of sweets, two Egyptian measures of oil, two Egyptian measures of soap, 50 silver dirhams annually for clothing, and three Egyptian measures of bread daily. Ten Qur'an reciters who have memorized the Book of God Most High will be assigned to him and dedicated to the science of the readings of Qur'an, with the understanding that this shaykh will hold sessions every working day of each week in the place the administrator appoints for them in this madrasa. The shaykh will have these students recite the exalted Qur'an in the seven modes of recitation, and will instruct them as needed in those skills. And if someone approaches this shaykh for [instruction in] recitation in the manner of these students, he shall teach them to recite in the same way, so that no one will be turned away from [learning to] recite.
The students of the four law schools and the students of Hadith and of the readings of Qur'an: To each of these students of the four law schools and traditionists and reciters of the seven Qur'an readings the administrator will allot a monthly stipend of 20 silver dirhams, one measure of sweets, two measures of good oil, and two Egyptian measures of soap, along with 30 silver dirhams annually for clothing, and three Egyptian measures of bread daily.
The Sufis: The administrator will also appoint sixty good and upright Muslims, Sufis, on the understanding that they will gather in this madrasa and act according to the requirements of this document. Each of them will receive, in view of their Sufi assignments, a monthly allotment of 10 silver dirhams, two measures of oil, two measures of soap, one measure of sweets, three Egyptian measures of bread daily, and 30 silver dirhams annually for clothing.
Our master the sultan, founder of this endowment - may God make his reign eternal - has stipulated that the shaykh of this khanqah, of the Hanafi school, who has already been mentioned, along with the students of the four law schools mentioned above, the shaykh of Hadith and his students, the shaykh of the seven Qur'an readings and his students, and the Sufis just mentioned, numbering 187 persons in all, shall gather daily to perform the afternoon prayer in this madrasa-khanqah. The above-mentioned shaykh will take his seat in the qibla iwan surrounded by this assembly. Everyone will recite two full sections [ ahzab ] from the sixty [total] sections of the exalted Qur'an either from memory or from revered texts [lit., "quarters," one of the designations of segments into which Qur'an is traditionally divided] circulated among them in sections, and they will proceed as described earlier.
The imams: The administrator will appoint two individuals from among the sixty Hanafi Sufis already mentioned. One of them, an excellent jurist steeped in the seven qur'anic readings, will lead the Muslims, in the qibla iwan at the front of which is the mihrab, in the five prescribed ritual prayers and for the opening of the month of Ramadan and the times of assembly prescribed in shari'a. His compensation will be 70 silver dirhams a month, 50 silver dirhams for clothing annually, in addition to what is allotted him from the Sufi activities described earlier. A second man will lead the Muslims in the five [prayers], as is customary, in the mausoleum [ qubba ] in this madrasa. He will be paid 30 silver dirhams monthly, and 20 silver dirhams annually for clothing, in addition to what is set aside for him from his Sufi duties already mentioned.
The muezzins: The administrator will also appoint six of these Sufis with beautiful voices who will intone the call to prayer and the exclamation of praise to God [ tasbih ], and magnification of God at times of fasting and the beginning of ritual prayer, and the enunciation "God is supreme" [ takbir ] behind the imam, and the invocation of peace [ taslim ] upon the Prophet, "may God bless him and give him peace," on Friday nights and at times of fasting. They will do that by turns as designated by the administrator in this waqf. Each of them will be paid 15 silver dirhams a month in addition to what is allotted them from Sufi activities.
* Seven slightly different versions, distinguished by only minor variations in voweling or phrasing, were agreed on in the eleventh century. Sufis often interpret the seven readings as levels of meaning.