Abu al-Hasan al-Mawardi, the son of a rose-water merchant, lived in Basra from 974 to 1058 AD, a time of political turmoil. Despite ongoing disputes between the Abbasid caliphs and the military powers of the Shi'ite 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 Qur'anic interpretations, religion, government, public and constitutional law, language and ethics. The Ordinances of Government is believed to have been commissioned by one of the caliphs of Baghdad, as indicated in the author's preface. 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.