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Click to Expand/Collapse OptionEtymArab
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ĭstibdād اِسْتِبْداد
ID 057 • Sw – • BP 4414 • APD ... • Aut SG
BDː (BDD)
n., C
arbitrariness, highhandedness; despotism; autocracy; absolutism – WehrCowan1979.
▪ Morphologically, the word is a vn. X, derived from budd in the (obsolete) sense of ‘part, portion’ and thus denotes taking possession of s.th., or monopolizing it.
▪ While in classical texts the word meant ‘arbitrary and capricious’ rather than ‘illegitimate or tyrannical rule’, it has taken on, during C19, the modern sense of ‘despotism’ etc.
▪ Lane gives the meaning of the underlying vb. X in ClassAr as ‘to be(come) alone, independent of others, exclusively of others; to have none to share, or participate, with; bi‑ ‘to have or keep s.th. to o.s., exclusively, with none to share with in it; bi-raʔyi-hī ‘to follow o.’s own opinion only, with none to agree with; to be singular in o.’s opinion; bi-ʔamri-hī ‘to obtain (absolute) predominance, or control, over o.’s affair, so that people would not hear (or obey) any other’.
▪ »In the modern period, new experiences, perceptions and ideas, both at home and abroad, reshaped the theory and practice of politics in the Islamic lands. First, reports from Western lands, then the massive Western presence in the Islamic world changed Muslim perceptions of good and therefore also of bad government. [...] As good government was redefined, bad government was redefined as a departure from it. [... Among other terms, also] the term istibdād was revived to connote autocratic personal government. As used in classical texts, it had a connotation of arbitrary and capricious rather than of illegitimate or tyrannical rule. It was used, for example, of a ruler who took decisions and actions on his own, without consulting his religious or bureaucratic advisors. In Ar chronicles of the Mamlūk period it sometimes appears in a neutral or even in a positive sense, to indicate that one or another of contenders for power had got rid of his rivals and taken sole charge. In the 19th and 20th centuries, it came to be the term commonly used by advocates of liberal reforms to denounce the autocratic monarchs whom they wished either to restrain or to remove.«1 Cf., e.g., ʕAbd al-Raḥmān al-Kawākibī’s Ṭabāʔiʕ al-ĭstibdād wa-maṣāriʕ al-ĭstiʕbād , which first appeared, in 1900, as a series of anonymous articles in al-Muʔayyad and which to a large extent is »a faithful rendering in Arabic of Della Tirannide (1800) by Vittorio Alfieri«. 2
1. B. Lewis, art. “ẓulm”, in EI². 2. Sylvia G. Haim, art. “al-Kawākibī”, in EI² .
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▪ vn. of ĭstabadda , vb. X, ‘to be independent, proceed independently (bi‑ in, e.g., in one’s opinion, i.e., to be opinionated, obstinate, headstrong); to possess alone, monopolize (bi‑ s.th.); to take possession (bi‑ of s.o.), seize, grip, overwhelm, overcome (bi‑ s.o.; said of a feeling, of an impulse); to dispose arbitrarily, highhandedly (bi‑ of s.th.); to rule despotically, tyrannically, autocratically (bi‑ over)’. Form X (TŠ-stem) can be understood as an autobenefactive or requestative formation, coined from budd in the (obsolete) sense of ‘part, portion’, i.e., *‘to make s.o. give his portion to o.s./the speaker, to ask for one’s portion’.
▪ The underlying budd is related to the vb. →badda ‘to distribute, spread, disperse’. The latter has preserved the original meaning of a 2-consonantal →*BD ‘to cut, separate’, a component to be found in many 3-consonantal roots that can be interpreted as extensions from this nucleus.
ĭstibdādī, adj., arbitrary, highhanded, autocratic, despotic; authoritarian; ĭstibdādiyyāt , n.pl., arbitrary acts: nsb-adj.
ĭstibdādiyyaẗ, n.f., autocracy; authoritarianism: abstr. formation in ‑iyyaẗ .
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