Land of Conquest? Muslims in Southern Italy in the Aghlabid Age (184/800-
Starting with a new examination of the dossier about the ǧihād declared and led by the Aghlabid amīr Ibrāhīm II in 289/902, this paper analyses Aghlabid policy in the “great Land” (Al-arḍ al-kabīra), i.e. on the Italian mainland, from its foundation to the fall of the dynasty. Avoiding the reductive interpretations of modern historiography, this investigation sheds light on the expansionist aims of Ibrāhīm II concerning southern Italy: these aims were not at all the result of an impromptu infatuation, but constituted a permanent feature of the Aghlabid strategy, at least since the fall of the Emirate of Bari (871), which was followed by the creation of a wālī ’l-arḍ al-kabīrah, intended to oversee political and military interests of the dynasty in southern Italy. The central topics of this essay are also the problem of the definition of ǧihād in the Aghlabid age, the question of the formation of “emirates” on the Italian mainland and the issues involving agreements, treaties, contracts, slaves and captivi.