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10 Qasimi Genesis? Qansuh’s Slave Troop and Ridvan’s Circassian Geneaology Thus far, we have been treating the Faqari and Qasimi factions in tandem , as part of a single two-faction phenomenon whose roots we are seeking. Yet in the introduction, I hinted that in “reality,” the two factions may have come into being through two very different, nonparallel processes , which could explain why the factional labels “Faqari” and “Qasimi” do not appear to come into widespread use until the early eighteenth century. I have collected a handful of pieces of evidence, from disparate and rather unlikely sources, that point to the stirrings of factional consciousness during the seventeenth century. The Qasimis stir earlier, in the early decades of the seventeenth century, and for that reason supply the subject of the first of two chapters examining this evidence. The earliest hint I have found of what would later be known as the Qasimi faction occurs in Haci ˜Ali’s Turkish continuation of al-Nahrawali al-Makki’s Al-Barq al-yamån¥ (The Yemeni Lightning), dealing almost exclusively with Yemen. A roughly contemporary indicator of Qasimi ethnic, if not yet factional, consciousness, is the extraordinary genealogy of Abu’l-Shawarib Ridvan Bey, which glorifies the bey’s Circassian ancestry and points to a critical mass of Circassians among the early Qasimis. Both sources, interestingly enough, underline the Yemeni connection that seems to haunt the two factions, and particularly the Qasimis. Qansuh Bey’s Bölük In her admirable book Egypt’s Adjustment to Ottoman Rule, Doris Behrens-Abouseif identifies a Qasim Bey who was active in the 1620s 149 150 A Tale of Two Factions and 1630s, and posits him as a plausible candidate for eponymous founder of the Qasimi faction. In this, she echoes P. M. Holt, who similarly identified this Qasim Bey in his seminal article “The Beylicate in Ottoman Egypt during the Seventeenth Century.”1 Haci ˜Ali’s translation /amendation of al-Nahrawali provides an unexpected piece of corroborative evidence for this claim. Recounting how Qasim’s mamluk Qansuh Bey was appointed governor of Yemen in 1629, Haci ˜Ali explains: Because to this day, it is customary for one party (taife) to dominate in the province of Egypt, Qasim Bey the Great’s followers (tevåbi˜) dominated all the governors and authorities . One of [his followers], an emir of Egypt who was at the time pilgrimage commander, Qansuh Bey, amassed majesty, wealth, property, and power, and collected followers from the soldiers and sultan’s servants (kullar). Because he was amoral and given to ostentation, and at base oblivious to the consequences , he always antagonized the authorities. When his intentions were thwarted, he wrought outrage and havoc. He never kept still, and it was impossible to curb his thousands of kuls and followers. The inevitable result of his remaining in Egypt was upheaval and rebellion.2 In desperation, the governor of Egypt obtained an imperial order to pack Qansuh off to Yemen. In this fashion, he attained the rank of pasha and became Yemen’s last Ottoman governor until the second Ottoman occupation of Yemen in 1872.3 Qasim Bey’s taife may have been the germ of the Qasimi faction. It seems, moreover, that his mamluk Qansuh, in preparation for his campaign in Yemen, amassed a party of his own: “In Egypt, he immediately assembled a troop (bölük) of different races, all, like him, foreign slaves (kölemen celbåları).4 Haci ˜Ali’s observations are striking in two almost contradictory ways. On the one hand, he implies that the factional system, or at least a system in which one party dominated all positions, was already established in Egypt by the 1620s. Qasim Bey’s followers constituted such a dominant party. In describing this group, nonetheless, Haci ˜Ali avoids the term far¥q or any of its variants. The word he does use, taife (†å˘ifa), is a generic term for a grouping; it can apply to artisan guilds, merchant consortia, interest groups, factions, Sufi brotherhoods, and a host of other social bodies. When it comes to Qansuh Bey’s group, on the other hand, the chronicler is clearly groping for words to describe an unfamiliar phenomenon. He employs none of the vo- 151 Qasimi Genesis? cabulary typical of descriptions of elite households.5 Bölük, in contrast, has unmistakable military connotations. A bölük was a division or troop of soldiers; the imperial Janissaries were divided into bölüks, with...


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