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For hundreds of years, medieval Arabic and Persian rulers invoked sayings known as the 'circle of justice' as a model for how to organize their kingdoms. In each case, the 'circle of justice' describes an ideal relation among classes (namely the ruler or political class, tax collectors, the military and the agricultural class). Yet authors invoked these sayings in diverse ways that allowed them to advocate for different political visions of who should rule, how kingdoms ought to be ordered and who should get left out of politics altogether. In this article, I analyse three invocations of the ‘circle of justice’ to interpret how medieval Arabic and Persian authors deployed it to promote their unique political goals. In the end, my analysis instructs us in the complex theories of justice that existed in medieval Islamic contexts, as well as the rhetorical means by which these writers legitimized their systems of rule.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for the Humanities, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155, USA., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 January 2011

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