Over the course of many years he collected oral and written material from numerous scholars and libraries for his later work. The times in which he lived were marked by political disorder, social crisis, and philosophical-theological controversy. An independent within orthodox ranks, he established his own school of jurisprudence, which did not long survive his own death. He nevertheless made a distinct contribution to the consolidation of Sunni thought during the 9th century. Thus plurality of interpretation was admitted on principle.

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Today, he is best known for his expertise in Qur'anic exegesis and Islamic jurisprudence but he has been described as "an impressively prolific polymath. He wrote on such subjects as world history , poetry , lexicography , grammar , ethics , mathematics , and medicine. He retained close ties to his home town.

He returned at least twice, the second time in AH AD when his outspokenness caused some uneasiness and led to his quick departure. He first went to Rayy Rhages , where he remained for some five years. Tabari quotes ibn Humayd frequently, but little is known about Tabari's other teachers in Rayy.

Tabari then travelled to study in Baghdad under Ahmad ibn Hanbal , who, however, had recently died in late or early His debates with his former teachers and classmates were known, and served as a demonstration of said independence.

Tabari's view of Ibn Hanbal, the school's founder, became decidedly negative later in life. Tabari did not give Ibn Hanbal's dissenting opinion any weight at all when considering the various views of jurists, stating that Ibn Hanbal had not even been a jurist at all but merely a recorder of Hadith. On his return to Baghdad, he took a tutoring position from the vizier, Ubaydallah ibn Yahya ibn Khaqan. The ever-ethical Tabari declined the offer saying he had undertaken to do his work at the specified amount and could not honourably take more.

In his late twenties, he travelled to Syria, Palestine and Egypt. Al-Abbas instructed Tabari in the Syrian school's variant readings of the Qur'an and transmitted through his father al-Walid the legal views of al-Awza'i , Beirut's prominent jurist from a century earlier.

If so, he did not stay long in the Hijaz. Tabari had a private income from his father while he was still living and then the inheritance. Among Tabari's students was Ibn al-Mughallis , who was also a student of Tabari's own teacher Muhammad bin Dawud al-Zahiri ; Ibn al-Mughallis lavished Tabari with almost excessive praise. Tabari was some fifty years old when al-Mu'tadid became caliph. He was well past seventy in the year his History was published.

During the intervening years, he was famous, if somewhat controversial, personality. Among the figures of his age, he had access to sources of information equal to anyone, except, perhaps, those who were directly connected with decision making within the government. Most, if not all, the materials for the histories of al-Mu'tadid, al-Muktafi , and the early years of al-Muqtadir were collected by him about the time the reported events took place. His accounts are as authentic as one can expect from that period.

Tabari's final years were marked by conflict with the Hanbalite followers of Al-Hasan ibn 'Ali al-Barbahari , a student of the students of Ibn Hanbal.

Tabari was known for his view that Hanbalism was not a legitimate school of thought, as Ibn Hanbal was a compiler of traditions and not a proper jurist.

While Tabari accepted, the Hanbalites did not show up but instead came later to pelt his house with stones again. The constant threat of violence from the Hanbalites hung over Tabari's head for the rest of his life. Tabari finally died on 17 February He is described as having a dark complexion, large eyes and a long beard. He was tall and slender [36] and his hair and beard remained black until he was very old.

He was attentive to his health, avoiding red meat, fats and other foods he deemed unhealthy. He was seldom sick before his last decade when he suffered from bouts of pleurisy. When he was ill, he treated himself to the approval of physicians. He had studied poetry when young and enjoyed writing, reciting and participating in poetic exchanges. It is said that he was asked in Egypt about al-Tirimmah and was able to recite this 7th century poet's work for Egyptians who had merely heard al-Tirimmah's name.

He was witty and urbane, clean and well mannered. Such were considered essential for Qur'anic commentary. He knew Persian and was acquainted with the origins of various foreign loan words in Arabic from a number of other languages. He died in Baghdad on 17 February Al-Tabari wrote history , theology and Qur'anic commentary.

His principal and most influential works were:. His legal texts, commentaries and Qur'anic exegesis, and history, produced respectively, were published throughout his lifetime. Biographers stress his reverence for scholarship, objectivity and independent judgement ijtihad. Initially, Tabari belonged to the Shafi'ite madhhab school of fiqh Islamic law , and was welcomed by them. He established his own madhhab, usually designated the Jariri madhhab after his patronymic.

His school failed to endure in the competitive atmosphere of the times. As a youth in Baghdad he had applied to the Hanbalite 's but received a hostile rejection. Al-Tabari's jurisprudence belongs to a type which Christopher Melchert has called "semi-rationalistic", largely associated with the Shafi'i madhhab.

It was characterized by strong scripturalist tendencies. He appears, like Dawud al-Zahiri , to restrict consensus historically, defining it as the transmission by many authorities of reports on which the Sahaba agreed unanimously.

Like Dawud al-Zahiri, he also held that consensus must be tied to a text and cannot be based on legal analogy. While we still lack a satisfactory scholarly biography of this remarkable scholar, interested readers now have access to a meticulous and well-annotated translation of the sections from al-Tabari's chronicle, which constitute the most important primary source for the history of his reign.

Anyone familiar with al-Tabari's chronicle knows what a formidable challenge it poses for a translator, especially for one attempting to make it accessible to an audience that includes non-specialists.

There is first of all the obstacle of al-Tabari's Arabic prose, which varies greatly in style and complexity according to the source he is using and apparently quoting verbatim. The sections in the McAuliffe translation, drawn mostly from al-Mada'ini and ' Umar ibn Shabba , do not represent the most obscure passages to be found in al-Tabari, but they are nonetheless full of linguistic ambiguities and difficulties for the translator.

The first of the two large works, generally known as the Annals Arabic Tarikh al-Tabari. This is a universal history from the time of Qur'anic Creation to , and is renowned for its detail and accuracy concerning Muslim and Middle Eastern history.

Tabari's work is one of the major primary sources for historians. His second great work was the commentary on the Qur'an , Arabic Tafsir al-Tabari , which was marked by the same fullness of detail as the Annals. They said: "This would take a long time and cannot be completed in one lifetime. He therefore made it concise and kept it to pages note, this was in reference to the old days when they used ink and hard-paper which was a bit long format today.

It took him seven years to finish it from the year until It is said [ by whom? Scholars such as Baghawi and Suyuti used it largely. It was used in compiling the Tafsir ibn Kathir which is often referred to as Mukhtasar Tafsir at-Tabari. A persual of Tabari shows that he in fact relied on a variety of historians and other authors such as Abu Mihnaf, Sayf b.

Muzahim, al-Mada'ini, 'Urwa b. Bakkar and so forth, in addition to oral accounts that were circulating at the time. In recounting his history, Tabari used numerous channels to give accounts.

These are both channels that are given by the same author in a work, such as for example three different accounts that start with the isnad al-Harita. It is thus an extremely early witness to the reception of al-Tabari's text-indeed much earlier than the sources that are customarily pressed into service to improve our understanding of the Ta'rikh al-rusul wa-l-muluk , e.

Second, since al-Azdi was writing in the decades following al-Tabari, his Ta'rikh can say something about the reception of al-Tabari's Ta'rikh among those who immediately followed the great master.

That al-Tabari's history was immensely significant we can all agree; but as to precisely how he became so significant there is no clear consensus. In This might suggest that al-Tabari considered kitab merely as a metaphor for Allah's knowledge. However, from al-Tabari's comments elsewhere on Allah's knowledge it is quite evident that he is not speaking metaphorically.

For example, in Al-Tabari reports that al-Mahdi was just about to promote Harun as heir apparent ahead of Musa when he died, and adds by way of corroboration another report that al-Mahdi set off for Masabadhan in a great hurry. However, it may be doubted that al-Mahdi at the time shared the reporter's subsequent knowledge of his imminent demise there, and none of the other reported circumstances of his death suggest that he was in a hurry to go anywhere.

On the contrary, the sources in general make it clear that he had gone to Masabadhan for recreation, and they occasionally say so explicitly. Al-Tabari does say explicitly that envoys were sent to the provinces, where they obtained the oath of allegiance not only to al-Hadi as caliph but also to Harun as heir apparent wali l-'ahd This was probably the first occasion on which Harun was so acknowledged.

Harun himself, with the advice of al-Rabi', sent out these envoys, and all of this must have been presented to his brother on his return as a fait accompli. After so many exchanges of recrimination with his own men, and after various attempts to regroup what was becoming a progressively disorderly army, 'Ali is reported by Tabari in a most revealing passage to have explained his acceptance of the arbitration as such: "It is no sin but only a failure of judgement.

The group that made a big issue of 'Ali's dilemma were the Kharijites, who for reasons of their own could see clearly the religious and political issues involved, who agreed neither with 'Ali nor with his opponent but were in turn incapable of administering a polity of their own.

Tabari's account also brings that out very clearly when he relates p. Realistic depictions alternate with formalized and archetypal narrative. Tabari is careful to give his reports of these conquests a religious frame expressions such as "Nu'aym wrote to 'Umar about the victory that God had given him" [pp.

He states that 'Umar's decision to invade came as a result of his realization "that Yazdajird was making war on him every year and when it was suggested to him that he would continue to do this until he was driven out of his kingdom" p. The religious frame in Tabari's account is therefore not inflexible or exclusive.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Influential Persian scholar, historian and exegete of the Qur'an. For other people named Al-Tabari, see Al-Tabari disambiguation.

Amol , Tabaristan , Abbasid Caliphate. Baghdad , Abbasid Caliphate. Part of a series on Sunni Islam. Five Pillars. Rightly-Guided Caliphs. Sunni schools of law.


The History of al-Tabari, vol 1, General Introduction and From the Creation to the Flood

Linguist and lexicographer, legal theorist, prosodist, philosopher, and physician, Tabari devoted himself chiefly to his prime interests in law and hadith, Qur anic science, and history. Despite his accomplishments in a wide variety of intellectual fields, the greatest value to Western scholarship of the volumes here under review lies in his careful collection and organization of the traditional lore extant in the Middle East of the ninth and tenth centuries. His masterful world history, known most commonly as Ta rikh al-rusul wa'l-muluk, The History of the Prophets and Kings, is the largest extant early repository of this material and is considered the most important universal history produced in the world of Islam. Virtually all subsequent medieval Muslim historians used his work directly or through its citations in other writings, and it serves today as a major source for modem scholarship in Middle Eastern history, folklore, and religious studies among those able to read the work in its original Arabic. These two volumes represent the beginning of a thirty-eight volume translation project, under the general editorship of Ehsan Yarshater, currently in the process of publication by SUNY Press. Volume 1 opens with Franz Rosenthal's comprehensive general introduction on the life and works of al-Tabari pages and his introduction and foreword to the History and its English translation 19 pages with two appendices placed between them.


The History of Al-Tabari Volume 2: Prophets and Patriarchs

An al-Sila , appendix [2] or continuation, [3] was written by Abu Abdullah b. Ahmad b. Ja'far al-Farghani, a Turk student of al-Tabari. The main purpose of Tabari was to write history according to the science of narration. That is to say he quotes the narrator without interfering in any way. Internet Archive.


The transmitted authoritative view of society is, it is claimed, that of an organic whole created and ruled by God, not as a man-made complex of different classes, institutions, and interests. The historical analysis compatible with this view of society is moral, i. On the social level, covenant refers to a system of vassalage, which balances the economic interests of a central imperial government, its civil administration, and military. Thus although covenant is symbolised by God, it does not exclude a view of society as complex and with conflicting human interests. If the central government implemented this tax system, the caliphate would be strong, and if not, it would succumb to the forces of decentralisation.



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