The History of al-Tabari
|Author||Ibn Jarir al-Tabari|
|Original title||Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Muluk|
|Subject(s)||Islam, Muslim and |
Middle Eastern history
The History of al-Tabari is an English translation of The History of the Prophets and Kings (تاريخ الرسلوالملوك Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Muluk, popularly known as Tarikh al-Tabari). It is an historical and religious chronicle written by the Muslim historian Ibn Jarir al-Tabari (838-923), beginning with the Islamic Creation to the year 915 AD.
It forms one of Islam's major religious sources, containing the most complete recension of Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah (the most important biography of Prophet Muhammad, partially forming his Sunnah), and is universally praised by Muslims for its detail and accuracy concerning Muslim and Middle Eastern history.
- 1 Praise and Description
- 2 Summary of Volumes
- 2.1 Volume I: General Introduction and From the Creation to the Flood
- 2.2 Volume II: Prophets and Patriarchs
- 2.3 Volume III: The Children of Israel
- 2.4 Volume IV: The Ancient Kingdoms
- 2.5 Volume V: The Sasanids, the Byzantines, the Lakhmids, and Yemen
- 2.6 Volume VI: Muhammad at Mecca
- 2.7 Volume VII: The Foundation of the Community
- 2.8 Volume VIII: The Victory of Islam
- 2.9 Volume IX: The Last Years of the Prophet
- 2.10 Volume X: The Conquest of Arabia
- 2.11 Volume XI: The Challenge to the Empires
- 2.12 Volume XII: The Battle of al-Qadisiyyah and the Conquest of Syria and Palestine
- 2.13 Volume XIII: The Conquest of Iraq, Southwestern Persia, and Egypt
- 2.14 Volume XIV: The Conquest of Iran
- 2.15 Volume XV: The Crisis of the Early Caliphate
- 2.16 Volume XVI: The Community Divided
- 2.17 Volume XVII: The First Civil War
- 2.18 Volume XVIII: Between Civil Wars: The Caliphate of Mu`awiyah
- 2.19 Volume XIX: The Caliphate of Yazid b. Mu`awiyah
- 2.20 Volume XX: The Collapse of Sufyanid Authority and the Coming of the Marwanids
- 2.21 Volume XXI: The Victory of the Marwanids
- 2.22 Volume XXII: The Marwanid Restoration
- 2.23 Volume XXIII: The Zenith of the Marwanid House
- 2.24 Volume XXIV: The Empire in Transition
- 2.25 Volume XXV: The End of Expansion
- 2.26 Volume XXVI: The Waning of the Umayyad Caliphate
- 2.27 Volume XXVII: The `Abbasid Revolution
- 2.28 Volume XXVIII: `Abbasid Authority Affirmed
- 2.29 Volume XXIX: Al-Mansur and al-Mahdi
- 2.30 Volume XXX: The `Abbasid Caliphate in Equilibrium
- 2.31 Volume XXXI: The War between Brothers
- 2.32 Volume XXXII: The Reunification of the `Abbasid Caliphate
- 2.33 Volume XXXIII: Storm and Stress along the Northern Frontiers of the `Abbasid Caliphate
- 2.34 Volume XXXIV: Incipient Decline
- 2.35 Volume XXXV: The Crisis of the `Abbasid Caliphate
- 2.36 Volume XXXVI: The Revolt of the Zanj
- 2.37 Volume XXXVII: The `Abbasid Recovery
- 2.38 Volume XXXVIII: The Return of the Caliphate to Baghdad
- 2.39 Volume XXXIX: Biographies of the Prophet's Companions and Their Successors
- 2.40 Volume XL: Index
- 3 See Also
- 4 External Links
- 5 References
Praise and Description
. . .
Tarikh al-Rusul wa'l muluk 'Annals of the Apostles and Kings' ,by Abu Ja'far Muhammad b Jarir al-Tabri (839-923), is by common consent the most important universal history produced in the world of Islam.
This monumental work explores the history of the ancient nations, the prophets, the rise of Islam and the history of the Islamic World down to the year 915 AD / 302 AH i.e The Return of the Caliphate to Baghdad: (The Caliphates of al-Mu'tadid, al-Muktafi and al-Muqtadir)
It is divided here in 40 Volumes (Including Index) each of which covers about two hundred pages of the original Arabic text.
. . .
Imam at-Tabari spent 12 years writing this encyclopaedia on Islamic history. His job was not easy for he had to collect and compile the material from different sources. He had to rely on oral reports as well to complete his encyclopedia.
His encyclopedia, 'Annals of the Apostles and Kings', chronicled the History of Islam year by year; an attempt to categorize history from creation till the year 915 A.C. By the time he had finished his work, he had gathered all the historical traditions of the Arabs in his voluminous work. The Muslim world was not slow in showing its appreciation, and this work became more famous than his Commentary of the Holy Qur'an, for there was no other works like that in existence at that time.It is reported that there were at least 20 copies of his encyclopedia in all great libraries in the Muslim world of those days. Hundreds of copyists earned their living copying his work for use of individuals and libraries. Many of his original works were lost over the passage of time. It was only in the end of the last century that modern scholars pieced together his work so that it could be studied by students in modern times.
Summary of Volumes
Volume I: General Introduction and From the Creation to the Flood
Translator: Franz Rosenthal Release Date: April 1989 ISBN: 978-0-88706-562-0
Volume II: Prophets and Patriarchs
Translator: William M. Brinner Release Date: November 1986 ISBN: 978-0-87395-921-6
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.
Volume III: The Children of Israel
Translator: William M. Brinner Release Date: August 1991 ISBN: 978-0-7914-0687-8
Woven into these accounts are stories about figures belonging to the very earliest literatures of the Middle East: the mysterious al-Khidwith echoes from the epic of the Sumero-Akkadian hero Gilgamesh; the legendary exploits of Dhu l-Qarnayn, mirroring the ancient romance of Alexander; and incorporating elements about the encounter of King Solomon and Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba, of Jewish midrash and South Arabian lore.The Islamic empire was at its political and economic height during the tenth and eleventh centuries, and a new civilization was forged at the caliphal court and in society at large. One of the literary triumphs of that civilization was this rich and colorful tapestry belonging to the Islamic genre of "tales of the prophets." The tales in this volume show how threads from all the ancient civilizations of the Middle East were incorporated, absorbed, and Islamized in the brilliant fabric of that new civilization.
Volume IV: The Ancient Kingdoms
Translator: Moshe Perlmann Release Date: August 1987 ISBN: 978-0-88706-181-3
Falling outside the general scheme of the volume, are other details. These are concentrated in five chapters on the biblical stories of Samson and Delilah, and on Jonah, commentary on a Quranic passage concerning three divine envoys, and on two stories of Christian antiquity, the Seven Sleepers and the martyr Jirjis.Tabari presents a mass of Iranian, Jewish, Christian, and Arabian lore in order to create a unified view of the material. His treatment of the mythical Iranian kings, as they battle Turanians and other foes, extends beyond the time of Alexander and his successors to the era of the Gospels, John the Baptist, and Jesus. Tales of the Israelites include the story of Asa and Zerah the Indian, remarkable for its development of the Biblical nucleus and variants of the history of the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.
Volume V: The Sasanids, the Byzantines, the Lakhmids, and Yemen
Translator: C. E. Bosworth Release Date: November 1999 ISBN: 978-0-7914-4355-2
Volume VI: Muhammad at Mecca
Translator & Annotator: W. Montgomery Watt & M. V. McDonald Release Date: January 1989 ISBN: 978-0-88706-706-8
Volume VII: The Foundation of the Community
Translator: M. V. McDonald Annotator: W. Montgomery Watt Release Date: August 1987 ISBN: 978-0-88706-344-2
Volume VIII: The Victory of Islam
Translator: Michael Fishbein Release Date: January 1997 ISBN: 978-0-7914-3149-8
Events following this battle show the gradual collapse of Meccan resistance to Islam. The next year, when Muhammad set out on pilgrimage to Mecca, the Meccans at first blocked the road, but eventually a ten-year truce was negotiated at al-Hudaybiyah, with Muhammad agreeing to postpone his pilgrimage until the following year. The Treaty of al-Hudaybiyah was followed by a series of Muslim expeditions, climaxing in the important conquest of Khaybar. In the following year Muhammad made the so-called Pilgrimage of Fulfillment unopposed.
Al-Tabari's account emphasizes Islam's expanding geographical horizon during this period. Soon after the Treaty of al-Hudaybiyah, Muhammad is said to have sent letters to six foreign rulers inviting them to become Muslims. Another example of this expanding horizon was the unsuccessful expedition to Mu'tah in Jordan.
Shortly afterward the Treaty of al-Hudaybiyah broke down, and Muhammad marched on Mecca. The Meccans capitulated, and Muhammad entered the city on his own terms. He treated the city leniently, and most of the Meccan oligarchy swore allegiance to him as Muslims.
Two events in the personal life of Muhammad during this period caused controversy in the community. Muhammad fell in love with and married Zaynab bt. Jahsh, the divorced wife of his adopted son Zayd. Because of Muhammad's scruples, the marriage took place only after a Qur'anic revelation permitting believers to marry the divorced wives of their adopted sons. In the Affair of the Lie, accusations against Muhammad's young wife 'A'ishah were exploited by various factions in the community and in Muh'ammad's household. In the end, a Qur'anic revelation proclaimed 'A'ishah's innocence and the culpability of the rumormongers.This volume of al-Tabari's History records the collapse of Meccan resistance to Islam, the triumphant return of Muhammad to his native city, the conversion to Islam of the Meccan oligarchy, and the community's successful weathering of a number of potentially embarrassing events in Muhammad's private life.
Volume IX: The Last Years of the Prophet
Translator: Ismail K. Poonawala Release Date: September 1990 ISBN: 978-0-88706-691-7
Volume X: The Conquest of Arabia
Translator: Fred M. Donner Release Date: July 1993 ISBN: 978-0-7914-1071-4
The second main subject of Volume X is the riddah or "apostasy"--actually a series of rebellions against Muslim domination by various tribes in Arabia that wished to break their ties with Medina following the Prophet's death. The History offers one of the more extensive collections of accounts about this early sequence of events to be found in the Arabic historical literature. It provides richly detailed information on the rebellions themselves and on the efforts made by Abu Bakr and his Muslim supporters to quell them. It also tells us much about relationships among the tribes of Arabia, local topography, military practice, and the key personnel, organization, and structure of the early Islamic state.The successful suppression of the riddah marked the transformation of the Muslim state from a small faith community of importance only in West Arabia to a much more powerful political entity, embracing all of the Arabian peninsula and poised to unleash a wave of conquests that would shortly engulf the entire Near East and North Africa. The riddah era is, thus, crucial to understanding the eventual appearance of Islam as a major actor on the stage of world history.
Volume XI: The Challenge to the Empires
Translator: Khalid Yahya Blankinship Release Date: April 1993 ISBN: 978-0-7914-0851-3
Volume XII: The Battle of al-Qadisiyyah and the Conquest of Syria and Palestine
Translator: Yohanan Friedmann Release Date: January 1992 ISBN: 978-0-7914-0733-2
The volume also deals with the conquest of Syria and Palestine and the Expulsion of the Byzantines from those regions. Particular attention is devoted to the traditions related to the conquest of Jerusalem at the hands of 'Umar b. al-Khattab, the first Muslim prayer on the Temple Mount, and its transformation into an Islamic sanctuary.The volume contains colorful descriptions of the various battles, expatiations on the bravery of the Muslim warriors, and portrayals of the futile negotiations between the parties before the beginning of hostilities. It thus provides the reader with a fascinating insight into the later Muslim traditions related to those crucial events of early Islamic history.
Volume XIII: The Conquest of Iraq, Southwestern Persia, and Egypt
Translator: Gautier H. A. Juynboll Release Date: August 1989 ISBN: 978-0-88706-876-8
This volume is important in that it describes how the newly conquered territories are at first administered. As the climate of al-Mada'in is felt to be unwholesome, a new city is planned on the Tigris. This is al-Kufah, which is destined to play an important role as the capital city of the fourth caliph, 'Ali. The planning of al-Kufah is set forth in considerable detail, as is the building of its main features--the citadel and the great congregational mosque.
After this interlude there follow accounts of the conquests of a string of towns in northern Mesopotamia, which bring the Muslim fighters near the border with al-Jazirah. That region is conquered in 17/638. The history of its conquest is preceded by an account of the Byzantines' siege of the city of Hims. Also in this year, 'Umar is recorded to have made a journey to Syria, from which he is driven back by a sudden outbreak of the plague, the so-called Plague of 'Amawas.
The scene then shifts back to southwestern Iran, where a number of cities are taken one after another. The Persian general al-Hurmuzan is captured and sent to Medina. After this, the conquest of Egypt--said to have taken place in 20/641--is recorded.
The volume concludes with a lengthy account of the crucial battle at Nihawand of 21/642. Here the Persians receive a blow that breaks their resistance definitively.This volume abounds in sometimes very amusing anecdotes of man-to-man battles, acts of heroism, and bizarre, at times even miraculous events. The narrative style is fast-moving, and the recurrence of similar motifs in the historical expose lends them authenticity. Many of the stories in this volume may have begun as yarns spun around campfires. It is not difficult to visualize an early Islamic storyteller regaling his audience with accounts that ultimately found their way to the file on conquest history collected by Sayf b. 'Umar, al-Tabari's main authority for this volume.
Volume XIV: The Conquest of Iran
Translator: G. Rex Smith Release Date: 1994 ISBN: 978-0-7914-1293-0
The volume begins with the caliphal order to the Muslim troops, recently victorious at the famous battle of Nihawand in 21/641, to penetrate farther into infidel lands in the east. The might of the Persian empire had been broken, and a golden opportunity offered itself to the Muslim community to expand its territories. The territorial gains thus achieved are recounted in this volume. Moving out of the garrison towns of al-Kufah and al-Basrah, the Muslim forces' conquests of Isfahan, Hamadhan, al-Rayy, Qumis, Jurjan, Tabaristan, Azerbaijan, Khurasan, parts of Fars province, Kirman, Sijistan and Makran as far as the Indus, are all described in these pages.
Contained in these accounts of far-reaching conquests are the peace documents, which are of considerable historical importance. They are typically the documents issued by the victorious Muslim commanders on the ground to the subjugated local inhabitants, laying out in precise terms the obligations of the latter toward their Muslim conquerors in return for safe conduct.
Leaving the Muslim forces on the bank of the Indus, Tabari switches his account to Medina, where in 23/643 'Umar b. al-Khattab was assassinated by a Christian slave. After full accounts of this deed, the reader is provided with details of the caliph's genealogy, his physical description, his birth date and age, the names of his children and wives, and the period of time he was a Muslim. A lengthy section follows, in which the deeds of 'Umar are recounted in anecdotal form. There are also quotations from his addresses to his people and some poetic eulogies addressed to him.The volume ends with 'Umar's appointment of the electoral council, five senior figures in the Islamic community, to decide on his successor, and the fascinating and historically greatly important account of the workings of the council with all the cut and thrust of debate and the politicking behind the scenes. Thus was 'Uthman b. 'Affan appointed to succeed 'Umar.
Volume XV: The Crisis of the Early Caliphate
Translator: R. Stephen Humphreys Release Date: March 1990 ISBN: 978-0-7914-0154-5
Volume XVI: The Community Divided
Translator: Adrian Brockett Release Date: January 1997 ISBN: 978-0-7914-2391-2
Volume XVII: The First Civil War
Translator: G. R. Hawting Release Date: March 1996 ISBN: 978-0-7914-2393-6
The volume is focused on the struggle between the caliph 'Ali and his rival and eventual successor as caliph, Mu'awiyah, the first caliph of the Umayyad dynasty. About half of the material is concerned with the confrontation between the two at the battle of Siffin in 657, the fighting, the ending of the battle when the Syrian supporters of Mu'awiyah are described as having attached Qu'ranic texts to their lances, and the subsequent negotiations between the two rivals which resulted in the dispute's being put to arbitration. Much detail is also provided about 'Ali's struggle against the Kharijis, his former supporters who had turned against him as a result of his agreement with Mu'awiyah to accept arbitration; the revolt against 'Ali in regions of Iraq and Persia around the northern edges of the Persian Gulf, which involved Christians, as well as Muslims, Arabs, and such non-Arab groups as Kurds; the events in Egypt that led to the burning of 'Ali's representative there in the skin of a donkey; and the murder of 'Ali by Ibn Muljam, the account of which sometimes reads as if it were a popular story.
Al-Tabari's text makes available a wealth of detail in narratives collected from the now lost compilations of scholars of earlier generations. The bulk of the material is cited from the famous Abu Mikhnaf, who died in A.D. 774, but there are also many reports from other traditionists and narrators whose materials would be largely unknown to us if it were not for the work of al-Tabari. The volume contains a number of speeches and letters attributed to the Prophet's son-in-law and cousin 'Ali, including his deathbed speech to his sons, and there is also a version of the document drawn up by 'Ali and Mu'awiyah in which they agreed to appoint arbitrators.The Arabic text of the Leiden edition of al-Tabari has been compared with the more recent Cairo edition and with the substantial parallel passages in such other works as the Waq'at Siffin of al-Mingari and the Sharh Nahj al-Balaghah of Ibn Abi' l-Hadid, as well as other sources, in an attempt to provide a secure text for translation. Individuals and places are identified in the footnotes, further references to sources and secondary literature are provided, and textual problems and historical matters are discussed. The volume contains a bibliography and index.
Volume XVIII: Between Civil Wars: The Caliphate of Mu`awiyah
Translator: Michael G. Morony Release Date: November 1986 ISBN: 978-0-87395-933-9
Volume XIX: The Caliphate of Yazid b. Mu`awiyah
Translator: I. K. A. Howard Release Date: January 1991 ISBN: 978-0-7914-0040-1
Volume XX: The Collapse of Sufyanid Authority and the Coming of the Marwanids
Translator: G. R. Hawting Release Date: August 1989 ISBN: 978-0-88706-855-3
Volume XXI: The Victory of the Marwanids
Translator: Michael Fishbein Release Date: March 1990 ISBN: 978-0-7914-0221-4
Volume XXII: The Marwanid Restoration
Translator: Everett K. Rowson Release Date: July 1989 ISBN: 978-0-88706-975-8
Volume XXIII: The Zenith of the Marwanid House
Translator: Martin Hinds Release Date: August 1990 ISBN: 978-0-88706-721-1
When 'Abd al-Malik died in 705, the caliphate passed to his son al-Walid, during whose decade of office al-Hajjaj remained at his post and further Arab expansion took place in Central Asia, in Sind, and in the Iberian Peninsula. To many of their contemporaries, the Arabs of that time must have looked like potential world conquerors.The volume ends shortly after the deaths of al-Hajjaj and al-Walid and just two years before the dispatch in 717 of the ill-fated Arab expedition to Constantinople.
Volume XXIV: The Empire in Transition
Translator: David Stephan Powers Release Date: July 1989 ISBN: 978-0-7914-0072-2
Volume XXV: The End of Expansion
Translator: Khalid Yahya Blankinship Release Date: May 1989 ISBN: 978-0-88706-569-9
Volume XXVI: The Waning of the Umayyad Caliphate
Translator: Carole Hillenbrand Release Date: July 1989 ISBN: 978-0-88706-810-2
In this volume al-Tabari deals extensively with the end of Hisham's reign, providing a rich store of anecdotes on this most able of Umayyad caliphs. He also covers in depth the notorious lifestyle of al-Walid II, the libertine prince and poet, whose career has attracted much scholarly attention in recent years. Moreover, al-Tabari chronicles at great length the events of the rebellion and death of the Shi'ite pretender, Zayd b. 'Ali, at al-Kufah, as well as recording in detail the activities farther to the east, where Nasb. Sayyar was serving as the last Umayyad governor of Transoxiana and Khurasan, the very area from which the 'Abbasid Revolution was to spring. The text also contains several official letters which shed much light on Umayyad propaganda and on early Islamic epistolary style.The hindsight conferred by subsequent centuries highlights the full significance of these half-dozen years or so. Al-Tabari documents the incubation of the 'Abbasid Revolution, an event of great importance in world history, and traces the failure of the principal Shi'ite revolt of the eighth century, a debacle which was also to have serious repercussions, for it generated the foundation of Zaydi principalities in Iran and the Yemen. Yet even these major themes are secondary to the epic tale that al-Tabari unfolds of the tragic downfall of the first dynasty in Islam.
Volume XXVII: The `Abbasid Revolution
Translator: John Alden Williams Release Date: October 1985 ISBN: 978-0-87395-884-4
Volume XXVIII: `Abbasid Authority Affirmed
Translator: Jane Dammen McAuliffe Release Date: April 1995 ISBN: 978-0-7914-1895-6
Volume XXIX: Al-Mansur and al-Mahdi
Translator: Hugh Kennedy Release Date: August 1990 ISBN: 978-0-7914-0142-2
The circumstances of al-Mansur's death in 158/775 are described in vivid detail, and this section is followed by a series of anecdotes, some serious, some humorous, most vivid and lively, that illustrate his character and habits.The last section of the volume describes the reign of al-Mahdi, more pious than his father but also more liberal and open-handed. Along with routine administration, space is devoted to the bizarre intrigues that accompanied the rise and fall of the vizier Ya'qub b. Dawud and the mysterious circumstances of the caliph's own death in 169/785, followed by a short collection of character stories. In addition, the volume also contains important information about warfare on the Byzantine frontier and in Khurasan.
Volume XXX: The `Abbasid Caliphate in Equilibrium
Translator: C. E. Bosworth Release Date: July 1989 ISBN: 978-0-88706-564-4
Volume XXXI: The War between Brothers
Translator: Michael Fishbein Release Date: December 1992 ISBN: 978-0-7914-1085-1
The focus of this section is a single event, the civil war between al-Amin and his half-brother al-Ma'mun. Before his death, al-Rashid had arranged for the succession in a series of documents signed at Mecca and deposited for safekeeping in the Ka'bah. Al-Amin was to become caliph; al-Ma'mun was to govern Khurasan with virtual autonomy from Baghdad. Al-Amin could neither remove his brother from office nor interfere with his revenues or military support. Furthermore, al-Ma'mun was named as al-Amin's successor, and al-Amin was forbidden to alter the succession. If either brother violated these conditions, he was to forfeit his rights.
It soon became apparent that the good will to carry out these arrangements did not exist. Disagreement broke out when al-Amin insisted that many of the forces that had accompanied al-Rashid and al-Ma'mun to Khurasan return to Baghdad. When the majority of army commanders obeyed the new caliph's orders, al-Ma'mun was enraged and countered with measures to secure his position. Angry letters were exchanged, with al-Amin pressing his brother to make concessions that al-Ma'mun regarded as contrary to the succession agreement. By March 811, military conflict was imminent. Al-Amin demanded that certain border districts be returned to the control of Baghdad. When al-Ma'mun refused, al-Amin despatched an expedition to seize the districts.
Al-Amin's resort to force ended in disaster. Al-Ma'mun's forces, led by Tahir b. al-Husayn and Harthamah b. A'yan, quickly closed in on Baghdad. In a siege lasting over a year, Baghdad suffered extensive damage from the fighting and from bombardment by siege engines. Gangs of vagrants and paupers, organized by al-Amin into irregular units, fought a kind of urban guerrilla war. But, with Tahir and Harthamah enforcing the siege and with most of al-Amin's associates having switched their loyalties to the winning side, the caliph was forced to sue for terms. These were worked out among representatives of al-Amin, Tahir, and Harthamah. However, when the caliph boarded the boat that was to take him into Harthamah's custody, troops loyal to Tahir assaulted and capsized the boat. Al-Amin fell into the Tigris, was apprehended, and was executed that night on orders from Tahir. Thus ended this phase of the civil war. Al-Ma'mun was now caliph.Al-Tabari's history of these years includes accounts by participants in the event, diplomatic letters between al-Amin and al-Ma'mun, Tahir's long letter to al-Ma'mun on the circumstances of al-Amin's death, and a dramatic eyewitness account of al-Amin's last hours. Also noteworthy is a 135-verse poem describing the devastation of Baghdad. The section ends with a series of literary anecdotes on the character of al-Amin.
Volume XXXII: The Reunification of the `Abbasid Caliphate
Translator: C. E. Bosworth Release Date: March 1987 ISBN: 978-0-88706-058-8
Volume XXXIII: Storm and Stress along the Northern Frontiers of the `Abbasid Caliphate
Translator: C. E. Bosworth Release Date: October 1991 ISBN: 978-0-7914-0493-5
Volume XXXIV: Incipient Decline
Translator: Joel L. Kraemer Release Date: October 1989 ISBN: 978-0-88706-874-4
Three caliphs are portrayed in this volume: al-Mu'tasim's son and successor, al-Wathiq; al-Wathiq's brother al-Mutawakkil; and al-Mutawakkil's son al-Muntasir. At this time the 'Abbasid caliphs came under the dominant influence of the Turkish military elite. The crowning example of Turkish power and 'Abbasid frailty was the dramatic assassination of al-Mutawakkil by Turkish officers within the precincts of his own palace. The Turks were afterward not only instrumental in raising al-Muntasir the caliphate, they also forced him to depose his two brothers as heirs apparent. Finally, they had al-Muntasir himself killed.During the period of al-Wathiq and al-Mutawakkil, insurrections erupted in the center of the empire, and serious revolts broke out in distant provinces, including Africa and Armenia. The Byzantine raids on Damietta and Samosata were memorable events, and periodic Muslim forays were made into Byzantine territory. Prisoner exchanges between Muslims and Byzantines are reported in engaging detail on the basis of eyewitness testimony. The report of a prisoner release by a Shi'ite emissary to the Byzantine emperor contains a charming description of his visit to Constantinople and his audience with Michael III.
Volume XXXV: The Crisis of the `Abbasid Caliphate
Translator: George Saliba Release Date: October 1985 ISBN: 978-0-87395-883-7
Volume XXXVI: The Revolt of the Zanj
Translator: David Waines Release Date: November 1991 ISBN: 978-0-7914-0763-9
A people of semi-servile status, the Zanj, who were based in the marshlands of southern Iraq, were led by a somewhat shadowy and mysterious figure claiming Shi'ite descent, 'Ali b. Muhammad. Their prolonged revolt against the central authorities was not crushed until 269/882.Al-Tabari's account of these momentous events is unique in both the quality and the quantity of his information. He himself was present in Baghdad during the years of the revolt, and he was thus able to construct his story from reports by numerous eyewitnesses. The result is a detailed narrative that brings alive for the modern reader the main personalities and engagements of the revolt.
Volume XXXVII: The `Abbasid Recovery
Translator: Philip M. Fields Annotator: Jacob Lassner Release Date: August 1987 ISBN: 978-0-88706-054-0
Volume XXXVIII: The Return of the Caliphate to Baghdad
Translator: Franz Rosenthal Release Date: October 1985 ISBN: 978-0-87395-876-9
Volume XXXIX: Biographies of the Prophet's Companions and Their Successors
Translator: Ella Landau-Tasseron Release Date: January 1998 ISBN: 978-0-7914-2819-1
In the introduction to his History, al-T'abari declared his intention to append to it a biographical work for the reader's convenience. Only a collection of excerpts has survived, however. It was first published as part of the Leiden edition of the History and is now presented as a volume in the T'abari Translation Project. It brings together biographies of Companions, successors, and scholars of subsequent generations; many chapters are devoted to women related to the Prophet who played a role in the transmission of knowledge. The biographies vary in length and style, ranging from a mere identification of a person to long accounts and anecdotes.This volume represents a long tradition characteristic of Muslim culture. Muslim scholars developed biographical literature into a rich and complex genre. It was intended to be an auxiliary branch of religious study, aimed at determining the reliability of chains of transmission through which traditions were handed down. More often than not, however, works in this genre contain valuable historical information of the kind often ignored by the authors of mainstream history books. Even though not a complete work, this volume is thus not merely a supplement to al-T'abari's History but also a source in its own right, often supplying new and rare insights into events and social conditions.
Volume XL: Index
Indexer: Alex V. Popovkin Prepared under the supervision of: Everett K. Rowson Release Date: June 2007 ISBN: 978-0-7914-7251-4
The Index comprises not only all names of persons and places mentioned by al-Tabari, with abundant cross-referencing, but also a very broad range of subject entries, on everything from “pomegranates” to forms of “punishment.” The volume includes a separate index of Quranic citations and allusions, as well as a list of errata and corrigenda to the entire translation.Alex V. Popovkin is a professional indexer and Everett K. Rowson is Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at New York University.
- Purchase the entire set of volumes from Kitaabun.com
- Purchase the entire set of volumes from Sunypress.edu
- According to Islamic scholar Fred Donner at the University of Chicago, the material in ibn Hisham's and al-Tabari's recensions are "virtually the same" (Ref: Donner, Fred McGraw (1998). Narratives of Islamic origins: the beginnings of Islamic historical writing. Darwin Press. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-87850-127-4). However, some material found in al-Tabari are not preserved by ibn Hisham. For example, al-Tabari includes the episode of the Satanic Verses, while ibn Hisham does not (Ref: Raven, Wim, Sīra and the Qurʾān – Ibn Isḥāq and his editors, Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an. Ed. Jane Dammen McAuliffe. Vol. 5. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill Academic Publishers, 2006. p29-51.)(Ref: Cf., Ibn Ishaq [Guillaume's reconstruction, at 165-167] and al-Tabari [SUNY edition, at VI: 107-112]).
- History of al-Tabari 40 Vol. Taken from "Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Jarir at-Tabari". Written by A.I. Makki and originally published by the Muslim Writers Society on April 9, 2004.
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