By Nasser Saad Rasheed
PhD Dissertation, University of St Andrews, 1971
Introduction: For a long time the study of Abbasid society has had a special fascination for me, not only because it was “The Golden Age” of the Islamic civilization, but also because it witnessed changes in both literary and social life. Naturally, changes were a result of a mixture of various nations and an intermarriage of different civilizations.
From reading certain books which deal with social and literary aspects of that society, I have been struck by the idea that the numerous slave-girls might have participated in one way or another in such changes. This would not be surprising, since slave girls in other societies played social and literary roles. It might be seen as conceivable that slave-girls, through their clothes, their social novelties, their fondness for poetry and above all their emergence in the households, influenced the man of that society, his way of life and then his poetical production. I have thus decided to work on the study of this subject, endeavouring to find their social and literary roles. I hope this work will stand as a useful contribution to serve those interested in such a study.
For the purpose of brevity and in view of the fact that the Abbasid period covered several centuries, I have tried to confine this work exclusively to the so-called first Abbasid period (from al-Saffah’s Caliphate, 749 AD, to that of al-Mutawakkil, 847), but at the same time I have referred to incidents which took place outside the period, especially when the reference was necessary.