© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2011 DOI: 10.1163/156852011X586822 Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 54 (2011) 203-238 brill.nl/jesh “It’s the Economy, Stupid”: Al-T ̣ abarī’s Analysis of the Free Rider Problem in the ʿ Abbāsid Caliphate Ulrika Mårtensson* Abstract The article argues that al-T ̣ abarī’s History of the Prophets and the Kings provides a free rider- analysis of the decline of Abbasid state power. Al-T ̣ abarī’s historical analysis considers state policy on land tax, and religion as a legal norm related to the social contract between the head of state and the landlords. It is concluded that al-T ̣ abarī saw the misāh ̣ a tax system and ‘rule of law’ as the principal conditions for imperial rule, and that al-T ̣ abarī’s History already provides an answer to modern historians’ questions as to why the Abbasid state crumbled, and what role religion played in the political economy. Résumé Cet article avance que l’ Histoire des prophètes et des rois d’al-T ̣ abarī analyse le déclin de l’État abbasside conformément à la théorie économique du « cavalier seul ». Al-T ̣ abarī considère que la politique ﬁscale de l’État, tout comme la
Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2011
Keywords: misāa; Abbasid; history; al-abarī; free rider problem
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