Futuwa


Futuwa

Futuwa (Arabic: فتوة sometimes translated as "courage", "chivalry" or "manliness") is a name of Sufi Islamic virtue that has some similarities to chivalry and charity. Futuwa emphasize honesty, peacefulness, gentleness, generosity even in poverty, avoidance of complaints and hospitality in life. Patched robes of sufi were called "libas al-futuwa".

Social groups

Futuwwa was also a name of ethical urban organizations Akhi in 13th and 14th century Anatolia. Members were united through the practices of Sufi worship and a form of common property.

Historical origin of futuwwa groups is obscure. They were ideologically connected to Sufi mystics who used to refer to futuwwa as a moral direction.

Through membership in a futuwwa group, artisans and crafters were linked to other social groups and vice versa. This served as a social connection that stabilized the local community and balanced the power of the aristocracy. Futuwwa groups often influenced the course of political events and were definitely a part of the community. Different futuwwa leaders could have serious rivalries.

Some futuwwas were equivalent of trade guilds with sufi ideology, preference for self-government and forming a counter-force to power of Turkish despots.

One form of futuwwa was a social group. The leader of the group would furnish a hospice. At the end of the workday members would bring the money that they used to buy the food and drink for the hospice. They entertained travelers with elaborate banquets or, if no traveler came that day, enjoyed the feast themselves with song and dance. They also invested in charities (vakif). According to Ibn Battuta, a member was called "fata" (youth, pl. "fityan") and group leaders were called "akhi".

Warfare

Another form was Warriors for the Faith, that is, warbands or warrior societies. Some of these were just glorified bands of brigands. However, for example, in 1100s in Damascus, Ibn Jubayr wrote of an organization called the "Nubuya" that fought the fanatic Shi'a sects in Syria.

Abbasid Caliph an-Nasir (1158–1225) approved of and supported futuwas. In 1182 he organized a warrior futuwa that was for all practical purposes a knightly order with mounted warriors. He became the head of the order and gathered ruling princes and other notables to its membership. It continued for some time after the death of its founder.

This military futuwa was also practiced by Javans, mercenary soldiers of 10th and 11th centuries in Khurasan, Persia (although they may have also had non-Muslim soldiers amongst them). Apparently it may have been a model for janissaries.

Historiography

Futuwa became a topic for European orientalists after being mentioned in a work by Franz Taeschner. Later it was studied by Claude Cahen as a social phenomenon of medieval Iraq and Turkey.

Modern reuse of the name

"Al-Futuwa" was also an Arabic name the of Arab-nationalist Young Arab Association founded in 1913 in Paris during the First World WarFact|date=July 2008. It was also the name of a Hitler-Jugend style nationalistic youth movement that existed in Iraq in the 1930s and 1940's. [http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=%2FMES%2FMES40_02%2FS0020743808080690a.pdf&code=453153c048ebbbd89ea5e022a6df2e32]

In modern day dialects of Arabic in the Middle East, e.g. Egypt the term is used for youth who are physically able who try to do quasi-chivalrous acts, e.g. try to help others out against intimidation by rival groups. Alternatively, it can also denote some gang like behaviors, depending on the context.

References


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