Reinterpreting Islamic Historiography: Harun al-Rashid and the Narrative of the Abbasid Caliphate / Edition 1

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Overview

The history of the early 'Abbasid caliphate in the eighth and ninth centuries has long been studied as a factual or interpretive synthesis of various accounts preserved in the medieval chronicles. Tayeb El-Hibri's book breaks with the traditional approach, applying a literary-critical reading to examine the lives of the caliphs. By focusing on the reigns of Harun al-Rashid and his successors, al-Amin and al-Ma'mun, as well as on the early Samarran period, the study demonstrates how the various historical accounts were not in fact intended as faithful portraits of the past, but as allusive devices used to shed light on controversial religious, political, and social issues of the period, as well as on more abstract themes such as behavior, morality, and human destiny.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
El-Hibri (Near Eastern Studies, U. of Massachusetts, Amherst) breaks with the traditional approach to the history of the Abbasid caliphate in the eighth and ninth centuries. He demonstrates how the various historical accounts were not in fact intended as faithful portraits of the past, but instead were used to shed light on religious, political, and social issues of the period in which they were written. He shows how decoding Islamic historiography through study of its narrative strategies and thematic motifs can uncover important new layers of meaning. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher
"Al-Hibri's analysis is a careful argument for an 'Islamic salvation history'..." Journal of the American Academy of Religion.

"...a significant contribution to contemporary scholarship of classical Islamic narratives. It stands out for its literary-critical approach to the question of intentions and meanings...students of both classical Islamic literature and historiography will find it useful and informative." Arab Studies Journal

"El-Hibri...breaks with the traditional approach to the history of the Abbasid caliphate in the eighth and ninth centuries...He shows how decoding Isalmic historiography through study of its narrative strategies and thematic motifs can uncover important new layers of meaning." Book News

"...the book is very clearly written..." Religious Studies Review

"Reinterpreting Islamic Historiography is a pioneering work filled with powerful arguments that challenge historians to read Abbasid chronicles in fresh ways, to embrace techniques of literary criticism, and to consider their own assumptions carefully." Kate Lang, Journal of Near Eastern Studies

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
List of abbreviations and note on the dates
Genealogical table: the line of the early 'Abbasid caliphs
1 Historical background and introduction 1
2 Harun al-Rashid: where it all started or ended 17
3 Al-Amin: the challenge of regicide in Islamic memory 59
4 Al-Ma'mun: the heretic Caliph 95
5 The structure of civil war narratives 143
6 Al-Mutawakkil: an encore of the family tragedy 178
Conclusion 216
Select bibliography 221
Index 230
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