Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 October 2020
Cadis at the Forefront of Political Life
The history of Egypt between 868 and 969 was marked by the rule of two short-lived semi-independent local dynasties, the Tulunids (868–905) and the Ikhshidids (935–69), and an intermit period of direct Abbasid control (905–35). During that period the cadi institution saw few long-serving cadis, as well as a rapid turnover in the post, increasing politicisation of the post, and growing dependence of the cadis on their political masters. When Aḥmad ibn ʺṬūlūn arrived in Egypt the cadi was Bakkār ibn Qutayba, a Ḥanafī jurist from Baṣra, where he studied the shurūṭ literature (formularies). In 860, he was appointed by the caliph al-Mutawakkil and received the exorbitant monthly salary of 168 dīnārs. He is described as a pious unmarried person and as a conscientious cadi, who made every effort to ensure the credibility of testimonies submitted at his court and kept a watchful eye on the trustees who handled various funds supervised by the cadi. He was also involved in the local world of learning and the transmission of prophetic traditions. It may be said that Bakkār ibn Qutayba was a professional cadi in a long tradition of scrupulous cadis who executed their duties properly, but his career was overshadowed by his complex relations with Aḥmad ibn ʺṬūlūn.
Aḥmad ibn ʺṬūlūn respected Bakkār ibn Qutayba, who was not a yes-man, but a stern cadi who applied the law appropriately. In one case, a tax farmer (or tax contractor, literally ‘one of the mutaqabbilūn’) who owed money to Aḥmad ibn ʺṬūlūn died and the chief tax-collector asked the emir to order the cadi to sell the debtor's house. Tax contracts were complex legal and financial transactions, and in this case the tax farmer/contractor himself guaranteed the deal and did not transfer the guarantee to a third party. In any case, Bakkār ibn Qutayba proceeded in an orderly way. He verified the existence of the debt, then the debtor's ownership of the house, and, finally, requested Aḥmad ibn ʺṬūlūn to swear that he was the creditor.