Abu al-Hasan Ali Ibn Muhammad Ibn Habib al-Mawardi was born at Basrah in 972 C.E. (~362H). He was educated at first in Basrah where, after completion of his basic education, he learned Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) from the jurist Abu al-Wahid al-Simari. He then went to Baghdad for advanced studies under Sheikh Abd al-Hamid and Abdallah al-Baqi.
His proficiency in jurisprudence ethics, political science and literature proved useful in securing a respectable career for himself. After his initial appointment as qadi (Judge), he was gradually promoted to higher offices, till he became the Chief Justice at Baghdad. The Abbasid Caliph al-Qaim bi Amrillah appointed him as his roving ambassador and sent him to a number of countries as the head of special missions. In this capacity he played a key role in establishing harmonious relations between the declining Abbasid Caliphate and the rising powers of Buwayhids and Seljuks. He was favored with rich gifts and tributes by most sultans of the time. He was still in Baghdad when it was taken over by Buwahids. Al-Mawardi died in 1058 C.E. (~448H).
Al-Mawardi was a great jurist, muhaddith, sociologist and an expert in political science. He was an eminent jurist and his book Al-Hawi on the principles of jurisprudence is held in high repute.
His contribution in political science and sociology comprises a number of monumental books, the most famous of which are Kitab al-Ahkam al-Sultania, Qanun al-Wazarah, and Kitab Nasihat al-Mulk. The books discuss the principles of political science, with special reference to the functions and duties of the caliphs, the chief minister, other ministers, relationships between various elements of public and government and measures to strengthen the government and ensure victory in war. Two of these books, al-Ahkam al-Sultania and Qanun al-Wazarah have been published and also translated into various languages. He is considered as being the author/supporter of the ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ in political science. He was thus in favor of a strong caliphate and discouraged unlimited powers delegated to the governors, which he asserted tended to create chaos. On the other hand, he has laid down clear principles for election of the caliph and qualities of the voters, chief among which are attainment of a degree of intellectual level and purity of character.
In ethics, he wrote “Kitab aadab al-dunya wa al-din”, which became a widely popular book on the subject and is still read in some Islamic countries.
Al-Mawardi has been considered as one of the most famous thinkers in political science in the middle ages. His original work influenced the development of this science, together with the science of sociology, which was further developed later on by Ibn Khaldun.
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