Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World
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The mawla were practicing Muslims who were not of Arab descent. Despite being active believers, their heritage relegated them to a somewhat less privileged status within the Islamic community, and they sometimes were not even considered members of the Umma, or Islamic nation. This term also appears as an honorific in relation to the shaykhs of the Sheikh's House, with al-mawla meaning "the master."
Posted at Dec 06/2010 03:45PM:
ian: i wouldn't worry about the later definition. For us what is important is that it signals that the Muslim community from early on had its fractures. This would lead to the Abbasid revolution and had to play in things like the settlement of Fustat and its organization. An indication of the persistence of a cultural tribalism despite the ideal of an Islamic umma.