The History of al-Ṭabarī Vol. 14

The Conquest of Iran A.D. 641-643/A.H. 21-23

Translated by G. Rex Smith

Subjects: Middle East Studies
Series: SUNY series in Near Eastern Studies
Paperback : 9780791412947, 216 pages, February 1994
Hardcover : 9780791412930, 216 pages, February 1994

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Table of contents


Translator's Foreword
Map 1. The Area of the Conquests of Iran, 21-23/641-44
The Events of the Year 21 (cont'd) (641-642)

What Happened in This Year, 21—`Umar's Previously Mentioned Orders to the Two Armies
The Account of [the Attack on Isfahan]
The Events of the Year 22 (64-643)

The Conquest of al-Rayy
The Conquest of Qumis
The Conquest of Jurjan
The Conquest of Tabaristan
The Conquest of Azerbaijan
The Conquest of al-Bab
Information on [`Umar's Division of the Conquered Lands
The Reason for [the Dismissal of `Ammar]
Yazdajird's Journey to Khurasan and the Reason for It
The Events of the Year 23 (643-644)

The Conquest of Tawwaj
The Conquest of Istakhr
The Conquest of Fasa and Darabjird
The Conquest of Kirman
The Conquest of Sijistan
The Conquest of Makran
Bayrudh in al-Ahwaz
Salamah b. Qays al-Ashja'i and the Kurds
`Umar's Assassination
The Sources of [the Conflicting Report of `Umar's Death]
`Umar's Genealogy
The Sources of [the Report that Muhammad First Called `Umar al-Faruq]
The Sources of [the Report that the People of the Book Did That]
A Description of `Umar
His Birth and Age
Some of the Sources of [the Report that He Was Fifty-Five Years Old]
The Sources of [the Report that He Was Fifty-Three Years Old]
The Sources of [the Report that He Was Sixty-Three Years Old]
The Sources of [the Report that He Was Sixty-One Years Old]
The Sources of [the Report that He Was Sixty Years Old]
The Names of His Children and Wives
When He Became a Muslim
The Sources of This Report
Some of His Memorable Deeds
Relevant Information on [`Umar's Night Visits]
`Umar's Being Called Commander of the Faithful
Information on This Matter
His Institution of the [Islamic] Dating System
[`Umar's] Carrying a Whip and His Instituting the State Registers
Some Excerpts from His Addresses
Another Address
Another Address
Another Address
Those Who Have Lamented and Elegized `Umar—Some of the Elegies Written about Him
Some of `Umar's Meritorious Deeds Not Previously Recorded
The Account of the Electoral Council
`Umar's Governors in the Garrison Towns


This volume covers the years 21-23/641-43 of the caliphate of ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb. It can be divided into two distinct and almost equal parts: the first concerning the Muslim conquests in Iran and the east, and the second concerning ʿUmar himself, his assassination, and an assessment of the caliph and the man.

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, Ṭabarī switches his account to Medina, where in 23/643 ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb 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 ʿUmar 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 ʿUmar'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 ʿUthmān ibn ʿAffān appointed to succeed ʿUmar.