The term gained prominence in the centuries following the Arab Muslims conquests in the 7th century, as many non-Arabs such as Persians, Egyptians, and Turks converted to Islam. These converts were treated as second class citizens by the ruling Arab elite - they continued to pay the tax required of nonbelievers and were excluded from government and the military., until the end of the Umayyad dynasty.
Under the Abbasid rulers of the 9th century, the Mawalis comprised an important part of the army. The fragmentation of the Abbasid Caliphate around 900, took place with the mawali's rise to power, the Saffarids in the Greater Iran, the Ghaznavidss in Sind, and the Qarmatians in the Arabian Peninsula. Together, the rise to power of these ethnic groups restricted the power of the Abbasid Caliph into Baghdad.