This volume of Tabari's annals deals almost exclusively with the final stages of the Zanj revolt, the most serious external challenge faced by the central authorities in the last half of the third/ninth century. The rebellion, which began as an 'Alid uprising, but soon gave way to Kharijite influences, was a movement that attracted the disenfranchised elements of society in lower Iraq. Their battle against the tested armies of the Caliphate continued over three decades. And while the Zanj were never able to translate their localized successes into any decisive victory, they caused widespread chaos and great concern for those who had a vested interest in political and economic stability. In many respects, the Zanj resemble modern revolutionary movements that live off the countryside, and harass the authorities. They emerged occasionally for conventional battles, but, more often than not they resorted to unconventional warfare, taking advantage of the extremely difficult terrain in the marshy areas of the region that gave rise to them. To defeat them, the government armies had to improvise new tactics and a strategy based on the lessons of early defeats.
This volume records the lives and efforts of some of the prophets preceeding the birth of Mohammad. It devotes most of its message to two towering figures--Abraham, the Friend of God, and his great-grandson, Joseph. The story is not, however simply a repetition of Biblical tales in a slightly altered form, for Tabari sees the ancient pre-Islamic Near East as an area in which the histories of three different peoples are acted out, occasionally meeting and intertwining. Thus ancient Iran, Israel, and Arabia serve as the stages on which actors such as Biwarasb, the semi-legendary Iranian king, Noah and his progeny, and the otherwise unknown Arabian prophets Hud and Salih appear and act. In the pages of this volume we read of the miraculous birth and early life of Abraham, and of his struggle against his father's idolatry. God grants him sons--Ishmael from Hagar and Isaac from Sarah--and the conflicts between the two mothers, the subsequent expulsion of Hagar, and her settling in the vicinity of Mecca, all lead to the story of Abraham's being commanded to build God's sanctuary there. Abraham is tested by God, both by being commanded to sacrifice his son (and here Tabari shows his fairness be presenting the arguments of Muslim scholars as to whether that son was Ishmael or Isaac) and by being given commandments to follow both in personal behavior and in ritual practice. The account of Abraham is interlaced with tales of the cruel tyrant Nimrod, who tried in vain both to burn Abraham in fire and to reach the heavens to fight with God. The story of Abraham's nephew Lot and the wicked people of Sodom also appears here, with the scholars once again arguing--this time over what the exact crimes were for which the Sodomites were destroyed. Before proceeding to the story of Joseph, which is recounted in great detail, we linger over the accounts of two figures associated with ancient Arabia in Muslim tradition: the Biblical Job, who despite his trials and sufferings does not rail against God, and Shu'ayb, usually associated with the Biblical Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses. Finally we meet Joseph, whose handsome appearance, paternal preference, and subsequent boasting to his brothers lead to his being cast into a pit and ending up as a slave in Egypt. His career is traced in some detail: the attempted seduction by Potiphar's wife, his imprisonment and eventual release after becoming able to interpret dreams, and his rise to power as ruler of Egypt. The volume ends with the moving story of Joseph's reunion with his brothers, the tragi-comic story of how he reveals himself to them, and the final reunion with his aged father who is brought to Egypt to see his son's power and glory. This is proto-history told in fascinating detail, of us in different contexts, as well as of others completely unknown to Western readers.
This volume deals with the caliphate of Yazid. Yazid was not accepted as a legitimate caliph by many of the leading Muslims of the time, and, therefore, al-Tabari has concentrated his account of Yazid's caliphate almost entirely on the opposition to him. This opposition had its leadership in two of the leading Islamic figures of the time, al-Husayn, the son of the caliph 'Ali, and Ibn al-Zubayr, a leading Muslim who felt that he had had some claims to the caliphate himself. The first revolt was led by al-Husayn. This revolt, although ineffectual in military terms, is very important for the history of Islam, as al-Husayn came to be regarded by Shi'ite Muslims as the martyred imam; his martyrdom is still commemorated every year by them. In his account al-Tabari has preserved for us some of the earliest historical writing on the subject. The amount of space he devotes to this event shows the importance it had already assumed by his own time. The second revolt, that of Ibn al-Zubayr, was much more serious in immediate terms. The revolt or civil war can be divided into two stages. This volume covers the first stage, ending with the timely death of Yazid, which saved Ibn al-Zubayr from defeat.
This volume of al-Tabari's History covers nearly a quarter of a century, and after covering the very brief caliphate of al-Hadi, concentrates on that of Harun al-Rashid. During these years, the caliphate was in a state of balance with its external foes; the great enemy, Christian Byzantium, was regarded with respect by the Muslims, and the two great powers of the Near East treated each other essentially as equals, while the Caucasian and Central Asian frontiers were held against pressure from the Turkish peoples of Inner Eurasia. The main stresses were internal, including Shi'ite risings on behalf of the excluded house of 'Ali, and revolts by the radical equalitarian Kharijites; but none of these was serious enough to affect the basic stability of the caliphate. Harun al-Rashid's caliphate has acquired in the West, under the influence of a misleading picture from the Arabian Nights, a glowing image as a golden age of Islamic culture and letters stemming from the Caliph's patronage of the exponents of these arts and sciences. In light of the picture of the Caliph which emerges from al-Tabari's pages, however, this image seems to be distinctly exaggerated. Al-Rashid himself does not exhibit any notable signs of administrative competence, military leadership or intellectual interests beyond those which convention demanded of a ruler. For much of his reign, he left the business of government to the capable viziers of the Barmakid family--the account of whose spectacular fall from power forms one of the most dramatic features of al-Tabari's narratives here--and his decision to divide the Islamic empire after his death between his sons was to lead subsequently to a disastrous civil war. Nevertheless, al-Tabari's story is full of interesting sidelights on the lives of those involved in the court circle of the time and on the motivations which impelled medieval Muslims to seek precarious careers there. A discounted price is available when purchasing the entire 39-volume History of al-Tabari set. Contact SUNY Press for more information.
Spanning the period from c.300 to c.1150 and containing primary source material from the European, Byzantine, and Islamic worlds, Barbara H. Rosenwein's Reading the Middle Ages, Second Edition once again brings the Middle Ages to life. Building on the strengths of the first edition, this volume contains 20 new readings, including 8 translations commissioned especially for this book, and a stunning new 10-plate color insert entitled "Containing the Holy" that brings together materials from the Western, Byzantine, and Islamic religious traditions. Ancillary materials, including study questions, can be found on the History Matters website (www.utphistorymatters.com).
Spanning the period from c.900 to c.1500 and containing primary source material from the European, Byzantine, and Islamic worlds, Barbara H. Rosenwein's Reading the Middle Ages, Second Edition once again brings the Middle Ages to life. Building on the strengths of the first edition, this volume contains 24 new readings, including 10 translations commissioned especially for this book, and a stunning new 10-plate color insert entitled "Containing the Holy" that brings together materials from the Western, Byzantine, and Islamic religious traditions. Ancillary materials, including study questions, can be found on the History Matters website (www.utphistorymatters.com).
The initial years (126-145) of al-Mansur's reign presented several significant challenges to nascent Abbasid hegemony, and the resulting confrontations constitute the central focus of this section of Tabari's Tarikh. After Abu Jafar succeeded his brother Abu al-Abbas as caliph, the second of the Abbasid dynasty, he moved against his recalcitrant uncle, Abdallah b. Ali, and against the potential threat that he perceived in the person of the commander in Khurasan, Abu Muslim. Eliminating the latter and containing the former freed the caliph to address a series of other onslaughts and insurrections. Starting with the year 144, however, Tabari turned to this volume's principal preoccupation, to which half of the book is devoted. Judging by the attention given to it, he clearly perceived the Hasanid rebellions of Muhammad b. Abdallah (the Pure Soul) and of his brother Ibrahim to be the most substantial attack on Abbasid authority to arise in the first years of that dynasty. Tabari's description of the prolonged search for Muhammad and Ibrahim and of the caliphal vengeance visited upon their father and family provides an extended prelude to the vivid battle and death scenes in Medina and Bakhamra. Yet, elaboration of these events does not eclipse mention of all other Abbasid activity. To bridge the account of Muhammad's defeat and that of Ibrahim's uprising, Tabari inserted a narrative interlude depicting the site selection and preliminary construction of al-Mansur's most celebrated achievement, the City of Peace, Baghdad.
Tabari adds little to the historical details of the battle on the border between the desert and the Iraqi lowlands, in which the newly Islamicized Arabs decisively defeated the Persians. But the anecdotes of bravery, endurance, craft, and eloquence probably record the popular stories as they had come down to his own 10th century. Other events are also described for the years A.D. 635-637, part of the reign of Umar b. al-Khattab. The 39-volume series will be the first complete translation of Tabari's history of the Middle East, completed A.D. 915. Paper edition (unseen), $19.95. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
This first full-length study of women and the Fatimids is a groundbreaking work investigating an unexplored area in the field of Islamic and medieval studies. The authors have unearthed a wealth of references to women, thus re-inscribing their role in the history of one of the most fascinating Islamic dynasties, the only one to be named after a woman. At last some light is thrown on the erstwhile silent and shadowy figures of women under the Fatimids which gives them a presence in the history of women in medieval and pre-modern dynasties. Basing their research on a variety of sources from historical works to chronicles, official correspondence, documentary sources and archaeological findings, the authors have provided a richly informative analysis of the status and influence of women in this period. Their contribution is explored first within the context of Isma'ili and Fatimid genealogical history, and then within the courts in their roles as mothers, courtesans, wives and daughters, and as workers and servants. Throughout the book comparison is drawn with the status and roles of women in earlier, contemporary and subsequent Islamic as well as non-Islamic courts.
Volume I of the thirty-eight volume translation of Tabari's great History begins with the creation of the world and ends with the time of Noah and the Flood. It not only brings a vast amount of speculation about the early history of mankind into sharp Muslim focus, but it also synchronizes ancient Iranian ideas about the prehistory of mankind with those inspired by the Qur'an and the Bible. The volume is thus an excellent guide to the cosmological views of many of Tabari's contemporaries. The translator, Franz Rosenthal, one of the world's foremost scholars of Arabic, has also written an extensive introduction to the volume that presents all the facts known about Tabari's personal and professional life. Professor Rosenthal's meticulous and original scholarship has yielded a valuable bibliography and chronology of Tabari's writings, both those preserved in manuscript and those alluded to by other authors. The introduction and first volume of the translation of the History form a ground-breaking contribution to Islamic historiography in English and will prove to be an invaluable source of information for those who are interested in Middle Eastern history but are unable to read the basic works in Arabic.
It is taken for granted, even among many Washington policymakers, that Islam is a fundamentally peaceful religion and that Islamic jihad terrorism is something relatively new, a product of the economic and political ferment of the twentieth century. But in The History of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS, Islamic scholar Robert Spencer proves definitively that Islamic terror is as old as Islam itself, as old as Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, who said “I have been made victorious through terror.” Spencer briskly traces the 1,400-year war of Islamic jihadis against the rest of the world, detailing the jihad against Europe, including the 700-year struggle to conquer Constantinople; the jihad in Spain, where non-Muslims fought for another 700 years to get the jihadi invaders out of the country; and the jihad against India, where Muslim warriors and conquerors wrought unparalleled and unfathomable devastation in the name of their religion. Told in great part in the words of contemporary chroniclers themselves, both Muslim and non-Muslim, The History of Jihad shows that jihad warfare has been a constant of Islam from its very beginnings, and present-day jihad terrorism proceeds along exactly the same ideological and theological foundations as did the great Islamic warrior states and jihad commanders of the past. The History of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS is the first one-volume history of jihad in the English language, and the first book to tell the whole truth about Islam’s bloody history in an age when Islamic jihadis are more assertive in Western countries than they have been for centuries. This book is indispensable to understanding the geopolitical situation of the twenty-first century, and ultimately to formulating strategies to reform Islam and defeat radical terror.