Parable and Politics in Early Islamic History: The Rashidun Caliphs

Kobo ebook | October 22, 2010

byTayeb El-Hibri

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The story of the succession to the Prophet Muhammad and the rise of the Rashidun Caliphate (632-661 AD) has been familiar to historians from the political histories of medieval Islam, which lend a factual credibility to scholarly narratives, and the competing perspectives of Sunni and Shi'i Islam, which focus on the legitimacy of their claims. While descriptive and varied, these approaches have long excluded a third reading in which the conflict over the succession to the Prophet is treated as a parable, the motives, sayings, and actions of the protagonists revealing profound links to previous texts and an irony with regard to political and religious issues.

In a controversial break from previous historiography, Tayeb El-Hibri privileges the literary and artistic triumphs of the medieval Islamic chronicles and maps the origins of Islamic political and religious orthodoxy. Considering the patterns and themes of unified narratives, including the problem of defining qualification according to religious merit, nobility, and skills in government, El-Hibri offers an insightful critique of both early and contemporary Islam and the concerns of legitimacy shadowing various rulers. In building an argument for reading the texts as parabolic commentary, El-Hibri also highlights the Islamic reinterpretation of biblical traditions, both by Qur'anic exegesis and historical composition.

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The story of the succession to the Prophet Muhammad and the rise of the Rashidun Caliphate (632-661 AD) has been familiar to historians from the political histories of medieval Islam, which lend a factual credibility to scholarly narratives, and the competing perspectives of Sunni and Shi'i Islam, which focus on the legitimacy of their...

Tayeb El-Hibri is associate professor of Near Eastern studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the author of Reinterpreting Islamic Historiography: Harun al-Rashid and the Narrative of the 'Abbasid Caliphate. He received his BA in history from Stanford University and his PhD in Islamic history from Columbia University...

other books by Tayeb El-Hibri

Format:Kobo ebookPublished:October 22, 2010Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231521650

ISBN - 13:9780231521659

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Table of Contents

Preface
1. Introduction
2. Abu Bakr: The Moment of Confirmation
3. 'Umar b. al-Khattab: A Saga of Law and Conquest
4. 'Uthman: The Challenge of Innovation
5. The Road to Civil War: Issues and Boundaries
6. 'Ali: In the Image of the Prophets
7. From Caliphate to Kingship: 'Umar's Reign and Future Changes
8. Conclusion
Appendix 1. Abu Mikhnaf's Account of the Saqifa of Banu Sa'ida
Appendix 2. The Succession to 'Umar
Appendix 3. Manushihr's Declaration
Notes
Glossary
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

This work is valuable as it emphasizes the benefits of applying a literary approach to historiographical literature that is generally perceived as historical.