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Reinterpreting Islamic Historiography : Harun al-Rashid and the Narrative of the Abbasid Caliphate - Tayeb El-Hibri

Reinterpreting Islamic Historiography

Harun al-Rashid and the Narrative of the Abbasid Caliphate

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Published: 28th December 1999
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The history of the early 'Abbasid Caliphate has long been studied as a factual or interpretive synthesis of various accounts preserved in the medieval Islamic 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, 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. The analysis also reveals how the exercise of decoding Islamic historigraphy, through an investigation of the narrative strategies and thematic motifs used in the chronicles, can uncover new layers of meaning and even identify the early narrators. This is an important book which represents a landmark in the field of early Islamic historiography.

"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

Acknowledgements
List of abbreviations and note on the dates
Genealogical table: the line of the early 'Abbasid caliphs
Historical background and introduction
Harun al-Rashid: where it all started and ended
Al-Amin: the challenge of regicide in Islamic memory
Al-Ma'mun: the heretic Caliph
The structure of civil war narratives
Al-Mutawakkil: an encore of the family tragedy
Conclusion
Select bibliography
Index
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780521650236
ISBN-10: 0521650232
Series: Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 250
Published: 28th December 1999
Publisher: CAMBRIDGE UNIV PR
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.93  x 2.03
Weight (kg): 0.45