Dictionary term

Definition of "Al-diwan"

Lit: Account books of the treasury. Tech: The finance department of early Muslim states. Initially established by the second caliph of Islam, ‘Umar bin al-Khattab (13–23 AH), as a department to manage state finances, but later adopted by the Muslim states as a regular institution. The entire economic activity came to be coordinated through diwan bait al-mal, an equivalent of a present-day ministry of finance. During the ‘Abbasid period (AD 750–945), the diwan became a generic name for a department. Each department came to be designated as diwan relating to specific functions. Each diwan had two sections: al-’asl (shortened from majalis a-’asl or diwan al-’asl) and al-zimam. The former was the main office while the latter was a supervising bureau (and was also called diwan al-’ishraf because it was responsible for an oversight function). The ’asl section was responsible for preparing the departmental budget and its execution while al-zimam was responsible for audit and control. In addition to a zimam section with each department, there was a zimam for public undertakings or state property.

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