Outsiders in the Lands of Islam

Mamluks, Mongols and Eunuchs
Ayalon, David
Date published: 
January 1988

The theme unifying the articles in this collection of Professor Ayalon’s work is that of the impact on the Islamic world of ‘Outsiders’, people from beyond that world who entered and settled within it, and became themselves part of it. This excludes, therefore, those who may have conquered Muslim lands but remained outside that world, for instance the Crusaders. This impact, the author argues, was profound, felt in all areas - religious, social and economic, as well as military - and proved a determinant in shaping the course of the history of Islam. The focus here is, in particular, on the Mamluk institution, an institution of fundamental importance in Islam’s military struggle with Christianity. The author’s investigation of the influence of these Outsiders, however, leads also to a detailed study of the origins of the eunuchs in the Islamic world - from Africa to the steppes of Russia - and so to the vexed question of the saqaliba; similarly, he provides a radical reassessment of the law code of the Mongols, the Great Yasa of Chingiz Khan, and its significance in the Mamluk sultanate of Egypt.