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Abū al-Hasan 'Alī Ibn Muḥammad Ibn Habīb al-Māwardī ( أبو الحسن علي بن محمد بن حبيب البصري الماوردي ), known in Latin as Alboacen (972–1058 CE), was an Islamic jurist of the Shafi'i school most remembered for his works on religion, government, the caliphate, and public and constitutional law during a time of political turmoil. Appointed as the chief judge over several districts near Nishapur in Iran, and Baghdad itself, al-Mawardi also served as a diplomat for the Abbasid caliphs al-Qa'im and al-Qadir in negotiations with the Buyid emirs. He is best known for his treatise on "The Ordinances of Government." The Ordinances, Al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya w'al-Wilayat al-Diniyya, provide a detailed definition of the functions of caliphate government which, under the Buyids, appeared to be rather indefinite and ambiguous.


Al-Mawardi was born in Basrah during the year 972 C.E. Some authors make the claim that his family was Kurdish,[1] a claim which is unsubstantiated.[2]

The Shafi'i historian al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (d. 463/1072) recorded his father as being a rose-water seller. Growing up he was able to learn Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) from Abu al-Wahid al-Simari and subsequently took up his residence in Baghdad. While both Basrah and Baghdad were centers of the Mu'tazila school of thought, the great (orthodox) Shafi'i jurist al-Subki (d. 756/1355) would later condemn al-Mawardi for his Mu'tazila sympathies. He was eventually appointed chief qadi of Baghdad, and subsequently was entrusted with various responsibilities on behalf of the Caliphate: On four occasions he served as a diplomat on behalf of Caliph al-Qa'im (422-1031, 428/1037, 434/1042 and 435/1043), his successor al-Qadir also entrusted al-Mawardi as a diplomat in a negotiation with the Buyid emirs and charged him with the task of writing his treatise on "The Ordinances of the Government." Among many of his various other works he is also credited with the creation of darura, a doctrine of necessity. Al-Mawardi died at an old age in Baghdad on 30 Rabi'a 450/27, May 1058.[3]


  • Al-Ahkam al-Sultania w'al-Wilayat al-Diniyya (The Ordinances of Government)
  • Qanun al-Wazarah (Laws regarding the Ministers)
  • Kitab Nasihat al-Mulk (The Book of Sincere Advice to Rulers)
  • Kitab Aadab al-Dunya w'al-Din (The Ethics of Religion and of this World)
  • Personas of the Prophethood[1]

On The Ordinances of the Government[edit]

According to Wafaa H. Wahaba, "For al-Mawardi the caliphate symbolized an entire politico-religious system that regulates the lives of men in a Muslim community to the smallest detail. Hence the emphasis in [The Ordinances] placed on the qualifications, power and duties pertinent to [a given office of government]... This approach to the matter would explain the working arrangement finally reached by the Buyids and the Abbasid caliphs, later followed also by the more efficient Seljuqs, whereby the military held actual power while recognizing the Caliph as the supreme head of government and receiving from him, in turn, recognition of their mundane authority."[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Abul-Fazl Ezzati, The Spread of Islam: The Contributing Factors, ICAS Press (2002), p. 384
  2. ^ Library of Congress: Rules for Governing. accessed September 2016.
  3. ^ C. Brockleman"al-Mawardi" in the Encyclopedia of Islam 2, vol. 6, p. 869.
  4. ^ Introduction to "The Ordinances of Government", trans., Wafaa H. Wahaba (Lebanon: Garnet Publishing, 1996), xv.

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