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Emigration, land and tax policy of arabs in Azerbaijan

Conquests of Arabs in new territories were accompanied by the migration of Arabic tribes, which settled in conquered territories and constructed there military settlements. Being the owners of Azerbaijanian lands, Arabs did their best to strengthen there by the means of emigration of their fellow-tribesmen, especially from South Arabia and constructed military settlements in such strategic towns as Derbend, Barda, Baylagan, Gabala, Khunan, Varsan, Tabriz, Miyana, Sarab and so on. Arabic garrisons, which were settled in rabats were kept by the vehicle of local population. Arabic settlers settled around the cities of Barda, Baylakan, Gabala, Derbent, Tabriz and other cities even in the first years of their conquests.

In Arran there have always been rabiits, which settled in Barda, Shamakha and Shabran. But in the southern part of Azerbaijan there were settled the representatives of other tribes, who “did their best” to turn the local population into debters (muzariuna).

This migration continued till the first quarter of the 9th century and was stopped in the period of great anti-arabic movements of khurramids, which was led by Babek. Several settlements of modern Azerbaijan, which kept the ethnic origin of “arab” in their names tell us a lot about above-mentioned emigration policy.

Immediately after the conquests, Arabs began to build and restorate boundary settlements, construct castles by the means of local  population and captivated people. The strengthening of northern parts of Arran was accompanied by settling in Bab-al-Abvab (Derbend) plenty of Arabic population. There has abready been mentioned that about 24 thousand Arabs settled in Derbend and its around regions even after the second conquests of this city by Maslama ibn Abd al- Malik. Later, Al-Bazauri mentioned that when Shamkir was captured by Salman ibn Rabia, Arabic soldiers-veterans settled there with their family and relatives. Settlers from Syria, Kufe, Basra actively settled in the plains of Araz and Kura. They occupied harvestive lands and dependent peasants, transited into settled life-stock. Caliphs supported and accepted such emigration of colonists, since the treasure became free to maintain military people, as well as the state obtained support and pillar in captured territories. Arabic settlers were very self-confident and considered themselves privelegeous over civil population.

Major aim of emigration policy of Caliphate in strategic regions consisted of the creation of pillars of Caliphate administration, strengthening boundaries against Khazars, defeat of possible revolts, providing of the gather of taxes and dissemination of Islam. In conclusion, this policy was directed to the change of demographic circumstances, assimilation of local people, in a word, transition of Azerbaijan into one of Arabic countires. Al-Istakhri wrote about one of most settled areas of Derbend: In the mountains of Bab al-Abvab there was constructed castles (rabats), where soldiers lived and were created for the protection of roods, through which khazars entered to Islamic lands. There exists 14 of them, where the people of Mosul, Diyar-Rabia and Suria lived and which were known by the names of these tribes. Arabic language were preserved here from generation to generation.

There were concentrated such troops, which did not take salary from caliph, who were called “mutataviya” in rabats. There were settled whole tribes, which captured the best lands of local population and that made “leaders of tribes gave to their hands the protection of areas and captivated their wives and children in order to prevent possible uprising of population”. In this lands Arabic garrisons maintained by the means of local population and settlement of Arabs in the homes of this population was the one of main arrangements of concluded treaties or forcible conquest. Camps rapidly became the centres of urban life, where the priority was given to Muslim culture.

So, the major duties of rabat were the strengthening of the power of caliphate in the region, protection of frontiers, defeat of possible uprising of local population and provision of tax gathering.

Commanders of rabats implemented the function of local authority and tax officer in the duty of amil.

The policy of creation of Arabic settlements and occupation of existed settlements were intensively implemented in the presence of caliph Harun ar-Rashid (786-809) and in his reign caliphate was prospered. Historian Al-Yakubi (the end of the 9th century) informed that when Harun ar-Rashid appointed Yusuf al-Mulama to the governance of Arran, the last one migrated part of nizarits to the country of Arran. “During this governance the number of nizarits increased, but at first the Yemens were much more populated there.” Arabic settlers played significant role in the dissemination of Islam and fortification of Caliphate’s power in Azerbaijan. So, Arable-farming population of Azerbaijan completly lost their independence and the people, who did not convert to Islam – zimmies – became double dependent people as well.

By settling Arabic colonists in the lands of Azerbaijan and transiting them into settled life stock, Omayyad caliphs achieved two goals: first of all, they freed the state treasure from wastes and pensions, secondly they strengthened the authority of Arabs in conquered regions. If in first years the settlers were separated people, but later they became whole tribes. Although sources mention that lands, which were taken from local population were not properties of Arabic soldiers, but in fact it was so.

Settlers played an important role in the dissemination of Islam, confirmation of Arabic supremacy and implementation of the land policy of Caliphate. Muslim conquested put deep traces of political and economic life in conquered regions, as well as in Azerbaijan. According to Arabic system of ownership, lands were divided into 5 major categories: Caliph’s estate The lands of iqta The lands of mulk The lands of vaqf Common lands Caliphs estates were gradually increased by the vehicle of bought or confiscation of properties, possessing to died or dismissed officers. These lands were very large and brought wide profits. There were created several divans due to govern caliph’s lands.

Most of suitable lands were concerned to the category of conditional ones, which were granted to military or civil service; it was  called iqta. Owners of iqta did not obligate compulsory military service, but they payed taxes for this land. They had to repair canals, ways and bridges, which were located in their lands. The lands of iqta teoretically divided into two categories, depending on which law they were given by: granted (tamlik) iqta and iqta hired (idjara). According to sources, granted iqta was given to a person as a complete property and they could passed by generation. Owner of this iqta payed the tax of tithe (desyatin). Such iqtas were usually granted by the land of non-cultivated or which owners died and they had no any successor. Al-Kharazmi wrote: “Sultan granted land to the person and gave him control over this land”, i.e. this became the property of the owner of iqta. Neverthless, such rights of ownership sometimes was not pursued and iqta could be taken from his owner and given to social divan. Hired iqta could not be passed by generation, they were often given to military officers. Kharadj lands were also included to them. In fact, iqta was depended on the circumstances of his owner and on the ground of this, it could be divided into four categories: civil iqta (personal); special iqta (khass); military iqta and caliph’s iqta.

Civil iqta was much more enlarged; the size of this type of iqta was depended on the authority and influenced to the officers-igtadars, but during dismissal this iqta was taken from former officer and given to a new one.

Special iqta was given to the people who had special contribution. Its owners were completely legal owners of these lands, passing them to generation. There were granted whole areas for such type of iqta in the presence of Abbasids. After the defeat of uprising, led by Babek, caliph Mutasib granted Afshin with Azerbaijan, Arran and a part of Arminiyya as iqta. In 851, caliph Mutavakkil granted Muhammed ibn Yazid ibn Mazyad such iqta and strengthend the city of Derbend with the lands and encircled it. Gandja was also granted to him as iqta and this land began to be called “khalidiyya” – land, lied fallow – after this occasion. Owner hired peas ants – hired men due to cultivate this land. He payed determined tax to the treasure for this land and instead of it could pass iqta to generation. The owner of such iqta was freed from other taxes. Nobody could take this land of iqta from the person, who gave it by generation. The owner of iqta was called “mukta”.

Military iqta was given by the means of other types of lands, such as iqta khass, caliph’s estates and treasure lands. Troops could be granted with iqta by vaqf lands too. Military iqta could not be passed from generation to generation or it was not inherited; muslim lawers understood iqta as property, which could be bought, sold or passed by generation.

There were continued to be preserved inherited properties of feudal aristocracy in Azerbaijan at that time. They were called mulk and his owners were called “malik“. The sources for such cathegory of lands were: Reviving of the lands of mavat (abandoned lands), drainage of marshs by the enlargement and support of central authority and planting this land; it was given to its owner with complete ownership.

Bought of treasury lands. Officers and others obtained treasury lands and became their permanent owners, received stable profit from them. The owners of this type of lands had to pay special taxes, repair canals, passing from their property. The category of mulk was existed in Caliphate in the first years of her establishment. The lands of mulk could be bought, sold and passed by generation, i.e. it was in complete authority of feudal. The owners of this land did not have to obligate special military service.

The lands of vaqf were one of major types of land-tenure and ownership over lands. The lands of vaqf implied land properties, which were concentrated in religious institutions. The lands of areas and cities, which were subordinated to Arabs were turned into vaqf. Vaqf – was the “property of Allah” and people could only utilize it, having no personal rights on it. For some period, Azerbaijan entirely were included to vaqf, as it was conquered by force.

Common lands – were the lands, possessing to the settlers of villages, pastures for fostering cattle, cemetery and so on. Communal lands were utilized in the condition of paying kharac behalf on Treasury.

After the conquest of Azerbaijan and Arran Arabs kept tax system/apparate of their predecessor – Iran and Byzantine as in other conquered countries. After coming to the throne the dynasty of Omeyyads tax policy was a little bit changed but it was not so heavy. It was ordered not to take taxes from priests, azats and horsemen. In the first phase, the population of Northern Azerbaijan, who were mostly Christians payed to the Treasury of Caliphate two types of taxes – cizya and kharac, which Muslim people were freed from. They payed only tithe (ushr) according to shariat, cizya was taken from male sex per year, taking into account their living conditions: the rich should pay 48 dirhams, people from middle level-24 and the poor -12 dirhams. Land taxes were also taken in double form from non-Muslim people.

If the taxes were taken in the amount of the phase of Sasanids from Christians, but since 20s of the 8th century Omeyyads increased the amount of kharac from them. The tax policy, regarding to Christian population was weakened in the reign of Omar II (719-720). But after his death, in the ruling period of his successor Yazid II (720-724), Sahib al-kharac (governor of the kharac of caliphate) Usama ibn Zeyid at- Tanukhi “increased kharac for Christians, obliged them to pay, brought money and branded monks’ hands” in 721/722.

Tax policy of Arabs in Azerbaijan and Arran was originally changed in the presence of caliph Khashim. So, in previous times Muslim law did not differ cizya from kharac, but in the reign of Khashim kharac began to be distinguished as one of the most important taxes, which brought great profit to Treasury. In 725, there was implemented new general census in Azerbaijan and Arran by the order of caliph Khashim. Moisey Kalankatlu informed that it was also inventory of cattle and all kinds of property. This subsequent census “turned people, cattle and the country into slave”, so that in the next year there began big starvation in Arran. New tax system, implemented after this census took into account to take taxes not only from civil population, but also from monks.

In the presence of Khashim population were obliged to pay extra taxes for economic and trade items, marriage agreement and in Azerbaijan there were restored former Sasanid taxes, such as “gifts for Novruz and makhraddjan”, which had been abolished by Omar II.

These difficulties were first of all badly influenced to zimmies, who payed taxes both Arabs and their owners-local feudals.

Unbearable treatment of officers caused to replacing of Arabs with local feudal, who better knew local conditions and system – they could easily oblige population to pay these taxes. But this measure did not reach to its aim, since officers, who converted to Islam exteriorly began to plunder arable-farmers-their former subordinators much more than previous officers.

Plenty of taxes made small land-owners to give their lands under the patronomy of Arabic tribes, big land-owners from Arabic origin and state officers. These lands were registrated under the category of kham and ildja, their real owners payed part of the harvest as tax to their partonomies. For instance, settlers of Maragha gave their lands to the patronomy of Marvan ibn Muhammed. Most of the settlers in Azerbaijan gave their villages and lands to Arabic emigraters in such way.

Expansive conquests were being continued in the northern boundaries of Caliphate in the presence of Omeyyads and Arabs satisfied only bringing taxes from the whole region. Despite of lots of information about the kharac, cizya and other taxes or profits in the works of medieval authors, uncertainty in terminology did not give us opportunity to determine exact amount of taxes, bringing from the lands of Azerbaijan and Arran during the reign of Omeyads. Taxes were gathered completely by money in the presence of Omeyyads, but it was gathered partly by natura i.e. the products of arable-farming during Abbasid reign. This tax system became the form of plundering of peasants during Abbasid caliph Mansur’s reign.

During caliph Mehdi’s (the successor of Mansur, 775-785) reign circumstances of population were a little bit facilitated. Mehdi gave order, which the system of kharac was changed by. Istead of kharac “misakh” (tax with money) there was brought kharac “mukasama” (tax with agricultural products) its amount and conditions were accurated: there was taken half of harvest from irrigation lands and 1/3 or quarter of harvest from other lands as well. There was applied kharac to fruit trees and growing grapevines during Mehdi’s reign.

At first, certain evidences about the amount of kharac, taken from Azerbaijan, Arran, Mughan and other regions were referred to the period of ruling of caliph Harun ar-Rashid. There was taken 4 million dirham profit per year from Azerbaijan, 300 thousand dirham from Mughan and Karkh, and common profit of Caliphate Treasury consisted of 530,3 million dirham during Harun’s reign.

Kharac system was the major source of profits of Caliphate Treasury, as well as it was one of the basics of further development of feudal relations in Caliphate.

There were other taxes except of kharac and cizya at that time. Muslims payed separate taxes of khums, zekat, sadaka besides of tithe (ushr) and kharac.

Khums was taken from whole property, oil and salt enterprises, gold and silver mines, sea foods from the part of military profit and trophy, including captives, who were brought during wars and turned into slaves, from captivated women, children and moving property; Zekat was taken behalf on poor Muslims and consisted of no less than 1/10 of harvest and property.

Sadaka was given to poor and orphan people.

Taxes, which were taken from merchants consisted of two types: there was taken 1/30 amount of the product from zimmies, but merchants, coming from foreign countries payed 1/10 amount of product, if this product amounted more than 200 dirham.

Differing from previous time, monks and cathedral lands had to pay some taxes too.

Kharac of Azerbaijan equaled to 4-4,5 million silver dirhams per- year. Al-Yakubi informed that, “kharac of Azerbaijan constituted 4 million dirhams, but sometimes it was either more or less”. Mughan payed 300 thousand dirhams and Arran about 3 million dirhams, which generally constituted 8 million dirhams per-year.

The beginning of long lasted war with khazars resulted with that governors of various regions violated order of Koran about taking cizya only from zimmies-non muslim people ones; at the beginning of 8thcentury they applied this tax to mavals-people who converted to Islam recently. This policy caused to disagreement of ordinary people and caliph Omar II (717-720) ordered to his governors to stop taking cizya from mavals. But after his death this rule was restored. During Omar’s reign there was ordered to zimmies to carry swean/pig stamp, which was the sign of poll-tax.

During first campaigns, Arabs, who converted to Islam recently, demonstrated great toleration to Christians and jews, who were called “People of Book” (akhl al-kitab) in Koran. This toleration was a little bit demonstrated to zoroastrianism, monikheys and other politheists too.

Arabs obliged to convert to Islam only heathens, whom they considered non religious people. That’s why, they called subordinated people muslimuna (in Arabic it means “subordinated” – muslim).

First caliph Abu-Bakr also called his soldiers not to forget Allah in such words: “When you meet the enemy and overcome over him by the aid of Allah, do not mock at his body, do not be treacherous and caward. Kill neither a child, nor old and woman… pass by the people who prayed to God, but hit those people who did not convert to Islam or let them to pay taxes as well”.

Toleration to non-arabic population was explained with that Arabs understood the strategic essence of Azerbaijan in the fought with Byzantine and khazars as well as convert to Islam freed people from paying poll taxes. Namely, that’s why, Arabs treated with civil population with patient. Convert to Islam gave material privileges to local feudals, so that they protected their right over own properties. They were also freed/liberated from paying cizya, which was taking according to wealth by coming to Islam. Merchants and craftsmen, among urban population converted to Islam in order to preserve their  property. Arabic authority presented lots of privileges to merchants and craftsmen and stimulized their activity.

There was disseminated zoroastrianism in South Azerbaijan, which was directly included to Sasanid Iran. Despite of the treaty, concluded between Arabs and local population and which permitted to the worship to previous religions, zoroastrianism was supplanted by Islam soon. New ideology, which declared equality among muslims in front of Allah, was rapidly spread among non-Iranian population of Sasanid Empire, as well as among Azerbaijanis. According to Al- Balazuri, previous religion was worshiped only by mountainous regions of Azerbaijan, where even in 10th century Islam was not disseminated entirely. Sources informed about various ethnic entities, settled mountainous villages of Ardebil and they were called Kafirs – “infidels”. And the reason of their maintainance in above mentioned regions was that according to ibn-Haldun, Arabs “were inclined to invade only plain areas and they did not achieve their aims in mountainous regions”. Namely these mountainous regions were the pillar of the revolts against Arabs.

Settlers of Arran were Christians by religion and they were concerned to the “people of Book”. So, there was concluded agreement with them, where was noticed that this people had to pay tax, as well as accept the political dependence of Caliphate. But, gradually Islam supplanted previous religion there too. First of all, Islam was adobted by local aristocracy, which aimed to gain patronomy of Arabs by converting to this religion. Convert to Islam presented material privileges to local feudal as they preserved the right of ownership over their land properties. The process of Islamization in Arran lasted longer than in South Azerbaijan. Sources of the 10th century gave plenty of information about muslims-urban settlers and Christians – rural settlers. Among urban population merchants and craftsmen converted to Islam due to protect their properties. Arabic administration presented great privileges to merchants and craftsmen and stimulized their activity.

Emigration policy of Arabs – resettling of conquered countries by Arabic settlers, whom were ordered “to call local population to Islam” – also influenced to the dissemination of new religion.

Local population, who converted to Islam began to be known under the name of manha (mavals). Although mavals were considered in equal rights with Arabic members of Islamic community, they became the clients of separate Arabic families or whole tribes. Mavals were included to army of conquerors and observed them in campaigns.

The number of muslims was increased because of military captives, who was considered the slaves of their commanders. Convert to Islam guarantied such captive to liberate.

Islam became the leading religion in Azerbaijan at the mid of the 8th century. New religion, which was in most cases adobted by the people of high stratum in order to keep their material and moral privileges, presenting to them by Arabs, sometimes was accepted by peasants, which were freed from poll-taxes.

As Islam forbidded the image of live being, described art in Azerbaijan was decreased by the confirmation of Arabic supremacy and Islam at that time.

At first, people who converted to Islam in the South Caucasus became Albanian – heathens who did not converte to Christianity, as well as Turks and Iranian linguistic tribes, settled by Sasanids in the territory of Azerbaijan. Exactly, they along with those Christians who converted to Islam voluntarily became first mavals of Caucasus.

The population of Albania, including the representatives of prince dynasty of Mikhranids continued to worship to Christianity even in the period of first Arabic conquests. At the beginning of the 8th century Omeyyads, who seeked durable support in South Caucasus utilized from the religious disagreement between Armenians and Albanians – Arabs did not satisfied with that Albanian diophisite church, led by catholicos Nerses seeked support in Byzantine, the great enemy of Caliphate. Arabs subordinated the catholicos of Albania to Armenian catholicos Iliya (703-717), after that there began supplanting Albanian clergy and grigoryanization of Albanian population. Monuments of Albanian literature were also grigoryanizated.

So, regions with armenianized Albans, such as Artsakh (modern Karabakh) “was never regarded to Armenian culture”. Objective scientists as N.Adonts, Q.Shamidze, I.Petrushevsky mentioned that “Artsakh was not always been under the Armenian influence”; according to I.P.Petrushevsky “Armenian church could never reign over the successors of Arran people with such cultural influence, which it possessed in Syunik during the phase of Orbelyans and after them”.

So, Armenian church grigoryanized part of the population of Albania by the vehicle of Arabic conquerors. This process lasted till 1836, when Russia completely liquidated Albanian catholicocate and began to regard the successors of cristian population of Albania to Armenians.

About Ismayil bey Zardabli

Author of t extbook for the higher educational institutions "THE HISTORY OF AZERBAIJAN, from ancient times to the present day"