Although some historical accounts refer to the existence of a shurtah before the caliphate of ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, other accounts which refer to the shurtah during the caliphate of ‘Ali show that the real formation of the shurtah as a governmental organization occurred during the caliphate of ‘Ali. During this time, the military and to some extent the social and political characteristics of this organization were directly linked with ‘Ali’s political and ideological supporters; that is, originally, the shurtah was the same as the shurtat al-khamis or shurtat al-jaysh, which was comprised of an elite group of dedicated, faithful adherents of ‘Ali. Subsequently, the composition of the shurtah changed, and it developed into a full-fledged governmental organization in the Islamic empire


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