The History of al-Tabari Vol. 11
The Challenge to the Empires A.D. 633-635/A.H. 12-13
Alternative formats available from:
Although this volume deals with the part of al-Tabari's History covering the years 12 and 13 (633-35), in the caliphates of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq and 'Umar b. al-Khattab, the narratives contained in it, which are lengthy and detailed, are concerned with the first Muslim conquests in Iraq and Syria. Although it might be expected, therefore, that this volume would be a basic source for these conquests, the actual value of the bulk of the reported traditions is in considerable doubt because most of the material is derived from a later Kufan traditionist, Sayf b. 'Umar (d. 170-93/786-809), who apparently exaggerated and distorted his material considerably. Indeed, Sayf's transmissions clearly reveal the tendency of his party, an anti-Shi'ite faction based on the Arab Mudar tribal group in al-Kufah that had lost out with the fall of the Umayyads and the coming of the 'Abbasids to power. Although Sayf's transmissions thus have limited value as far as the earliest conquests themselves are concerned, they are of the utmost value in revealing the content and character of Islamic historical debates in the late 2nd/8th century. In addition, they permit us to elucidate and reconstruct an early harmonizing tendency in Islam that undoubtedly had a significant effect on the way later Muslims viewed their earliest history.
The translation is preceded by an introduction analyzing the tendencies of Sayf and his party as revealed in this volume. Extensive notes accompany the text for the benefit of historians in other fields, as well as of Islamic specialists.