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In the first of the book's three parts, Lassner examines what he calls the stratigraphy of the text--he makes sense of the unusual organization of medieval Islamic narrative. The second section investigates issues such as work on city planning and on the creation of imperial centers. The last portion studies the interplay between Jewish and Muslim memory and the trading of themes and ideas between the cultures.
Shorter studies in the volume have been revised, and the author weaves new and complementary essays around them. Earlier work has been transformed and made more available to the general public. The style is accessible, and technical and arcane usages have been kept to a minimum. Throughout there are flashes of the author's wry humor.
Jacob Lassner is Philip M. and Ethel Klutsnick Professor of Jewish Civilization, Northwestern University, and Professor of Middle East History, Tel Aviv University.
|The Early Abbasid Caliphs|
|Pt. 1||Competing Narratives|
|Ch. 1||Reckoning Time, Recording History: The Formation of Historical Consciousness in the Medieval Near East||9|
|Ch. 2||Recovering the Early Islamic Past: Problems and Approaches to Competing Narratives||32|
|Ch. 3||Dawlah: Transformative Politics and Historical Memory||60|
|Pt. 2||Contested Spaces|
|Ch. 4||Regionalism and Regional Identities versus the Idealized Islamic Community (Ummah)||97|
|Ch. 5||The First "Islamic" Cities: Religion, Tribal Identities, and Civic Organization||122|
|Ch. 6||The Emergence of the Imperial Center in Islam: Identity Politics, Architecture, and Urban Space||153|
|Ch. 7||The Road to Samarra: Clients, Slave Regiments, and the Failure of Central Planning||180|
|Pt. 3||Communal Identity, Narrative, and Competition for Sacred Space|
|Ch. 8||The Dialectic of Jewish-Muslim Relations in the Medieval Near East||267|
|Ch. 9||Ritual Purity and Political Exile: A Jew in the Lands of Islam Explains the Babylonian Exile||292|
|Ch. 10||Contested Narratives and Sacred Space: Muslim Texts, Jewish Subtexts||313|
|Ch. 11||Joseph Sambari on Muhammad and the Origins of Islam: A Learned Rabbi Confronts Muslim Apologetics and a Christian Polemical Tradition||341|