The introduction and first volume of the translation of the History form a ground-breaking contribution to Islamic historiography in English and will prove to be an invaluable source of information for those who are interested in Middle Eastern history but are unable to read the basic works in Arabic.
Abū Jaʿfar Muḥammad ibn Jarīr al-Ṭabarī (/ˈtɑːbəri/; Persian: محمد بن جریر طبری, Arabic: أبو جعفر محمد بن جرير بن يزيد الطبري) (224–310 AH; 839–923 AD)
was an influential Persian scholar, historian and exegete of the Qur’an from Amol, Tabaristan (modern Mazandaran Province of Iran), who composed all his works in Arabic. Today, he is best known for his expertise in Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic jurisprudence and world history, but he has been described as “an impressively prolific polymath. He wrote on such subjects as poetry, lexicography, grammar, ethics, mathematics, and medicine.”
His most influential and best known works are his Qur’anic commentary known as Tafsir al-Tabari and his historical chronicle Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Muluk (History of the Prophets and Kings), often referred to Tarikh al-Tabari. Although it eventually became extinct, al-Tabari’s madhhab flourished among Sunni ulama for two centuries after his death. It was usually designated by the name Jariri.
Volume I of the thirty-eight volume translation of Tabari’s great History begins with the creation of the world and ends with the time of Noah and the Flood. It not only brings a vast amount of speculation about the early history of mankind into sharp Muslim focus, but it also synchronizes ancient Iranian ideas about the prehistory of mankind with those inspired by the Qur’an and the Bible. The volume is thus an excellent guide to the cosmological views of many of Tabari’s contemporaries. The translator, Franz Rosenthal, one of the world’s foremost scholars of Arabic, has also written an extensive introduction to the volume that presents all the facts known about Tabari’s personal and professional life. Professor Rosenthal’s meticulous and original scholarship has yielded a valuable bibliography and chronology of Tabari’s writings, both those preserved in manuscript and those alluded to by other authors. The introduction and first volume of the translation of the History form a ground-breaking contribution to Islamic historiography in English and will prove to be an invaluable source of information for those who are interested in Middle Eastern history but are unable to read the basic works in Arabic. (Amazon)
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