The History of al-Ṭabarī Vol. 25
The End of Expansion: The Caliphate of Hishām A.D. 724-738/A.H. 105-120
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This volume deals with the part of Ṭabarī's great History covering the first fifteen years of the caliphate of the Umayyad Hishām ibn 'Abd al-Malik, which represents almost the last period of universal political unity in Islamic history. Tabari's work is generally recognized as among the most important sources for Hishām's reign. Here the bitter fighting faced by the Muslim forces on the frontiers receives extensive and graphic coverage. In particular, the unrewarding and continous war against the pagan Turks in Khurasan, a struggle that did so much to alienate the troops and thus to spread disaffection with Umayyad rule, is recorded in much more detail than elsewhere. Military disasters such as the Day of Thirst, the Day of Kamarjah, and the Day of the Defile are vividly portrayed.
Ṭabarī also devotes considerable attention to the growing internal problems that clouded the latter days of Hishām's rule, including the persistent contest for power between the great tribal groupings and the struggle of non-Arab Muslims for better status for themselves in the Islamic state. The burgeoning fiscal difficulties that threatened the state under Hishām are also highlighted. Additionally, there are many reports of the easliest 'Abbāsid revolutionary activity. This volume is not only essential for the study of the reign of Hishām but also for understanding the background of the Umayyads' downfall and the establishment of 'Abbāsid rule, laying bare some of the roots of the final breakdown of Islmaic political unity.
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