Abu al-Hasan al-Mawardi, the son of a rose-water merchant, lived in Basra from 974 to 1058AD, a time of political turmoil. Despite ongoing disputes between the Abbasid caliphs and the military powers of the Shiite Buyids, al-Mawardi held the respect of both parties and was often called on to mediate between them. He served as a judge in several districts and was commended as a judge par excellence. He wrote on many subjects, including Quranic interpretations, religion, government, public and constitutional law, language, ethics and belles-lettres. His method of working was as an independent thinker, quoting different viewpoints, discussing their merits, and putting forward his own conclusions. The Ordinances of Government is believed to have been written under commission from one of the caliphs of Baghdad, as indicated in the authors preface. It has long been recognised as a classic in its field, much discussed by Arab authors and orientalists, quote in courses on Islamic law and government. It contains insights into key issues of Islamic law, including the appointment of sovereigns, officials, judges and military commanders, and their rights, responsibilities and duties; fighting apostates, insurgents and brigands; dividing the spoils of war; boundaries between countries, land reclamation and water supplies; land enclosure, tithes, taxes and alms; crimes and punishments; fornication, theft, drinking and adultery.