Islamo-Biblica in Tarikh II -1200 CE-1500 CE




Islamo-Biblica in Tarikh II -1200 CE-1500 CE

∎ The Ḥanbalī preacher of Baghdad Abu’l‑Faraj Ibn al‑Jawzī (d.597/1200


∎  The Historical Compendium of Rashīd al-Din  Fadl-Allah (d. 718/1318)

 Bypassing the Persian general history entitled Mujmal al‑tavarīkh wa’l‑qiṣaṣ (Compendium of Histories and the Prophets; written around 520/1126) which sums up historical data from many previous Persian and Arabic sources and the historical works of the jurisconsult, historian and Ḥanbalī preacher of Baghdad Abu’l‑Faraj Ibn al‑Jawzī (d.597/1200) it will be important to mention the Jewish convert to Islam and physician to certain Mongol Sulṭāns, Rashīd al‑Dīn Faḍl‑Allāh (d. 718/1318). He composed an extensive Arabic and Persian Jāmi` al‑tawārīkh  (Assembling of Histories) which is a wide ranging general history of the world from "the earliest beginnings" (Storey, 1/II:72ff). Schwartzbaum refers to this work as a "turning point in Islamic presentation of Biblical history and Biblical heroes".  Its author was "reared in Jewish Orthodox tradition, and nurtured upon the vast Talmudic‑Midrashic‑Aggadah". His history has a detailed section dealing with the history of the "Children of Israel" (Banū Isrā’īl) and covering both the biblical and post‑biblical periods. He was "the first Islamic historian who draws on the Hebrew text of the Bible, being well‑versed in the Hebrew language" (Schwartzbaum 1982: 42‑3, fn. 98,141).

∎ `Izz al‑Dīn Ibn al‑Āthīr (630/1233)

 Several important histories written during the Ilkhānid (Mongol) period (1256‑1335 CE) commence with Adam and the pre‑Islamic prophets1 cannot be summarized here though the contribution of  `Izz al‑Dīn Ibn al‑Āthīr (630/1233) should be noted.  This writer viewed history as the "unfolding of God’s purposes"  for humankind (Richards, EIr. VII:671‑2) and authored an important universal history entitled al‑Kāmil fī’l‑tārīkh (The Complete History) ending at 628/1231. Much indebted to Ṭabarī, Rosenthal has pointed out that the pre‑Islamic portion of this "well balanced" history "deals with the creation of the world, Biblical history (which is synchronized with that of the Persians), and the stories of Christians, saints, and pre‑Islamic Arabs." (Rosenthal1968:146).

∎ The historian and geographer  Ismā’īl  b. `Alī Abū’l‑Fiḍā’ (d.732/ 1331)

The Syrian, `Ayyūbid  prince, historian and geographer  Ismā’īl b. `Alī Abū’l‑Fiḍā’ (d.732/ 1331) has been well‑known in the west as a result of the 17th century publication and Latin translation of his Universal history, the Mukhtasar tā`rīkh al‑bashar  (An Abridgement of the History of Humankind [until 729/1329]).2 Mainly based on Ibn al‑Āthīr’s  history, the sections on pre‑Islamic history cover the period from Adam until Muhammad. Cole has argued on the basis of paraphrastic citations in the L‑Ḥikma , that BA* was familiar  with this work (Cole 1979). .

∎ Ibn Kathīr (d. 774/1373)

The rather negative attitude towards Isrā’īliyyāt evident in the writings of the conservative historian and exegete Ibn Kathīr (d. 774/1373) has already been noted (1.1). Nonetheless, his Tafsīr al‑qur’ān al‑`aẓīm  and   weighty al‑Bidāya wa’l nihāya  (The Beginning and the Culmination [of History]) contain numerous examples of  Isrā’īliyyāt traditions.3

∎ Ibn Khaldūn (d. 808 /1406)

 The farsighted  Muslim historian Ibn Khaldūn (d. 808 /1406) pioneered the philosophy and sociology of history and is well‑known for his rejection of trenchant views of  biblical  taḥrīf   the ;like of which was advocated by Ibn Ḥazm (d. 456/1064). In his Kitāb al‑`ibar  (Book of  Admonitions) Ibn Khaldūn upholds the genuineness of the Bible in the light of the implications of Q. 5:43[7] ("..they have the Tawrat  which contains the decree of God (ḥukm Allāh)..") and in view of a tradition handed down from Ibn `Abbās to the effect that a religious community is unable to wholly, materially corrupt their sacred book  (Fischel,1958; Rosenthal, `Ibn Khaldūn).  For Ibn Khaldūn scriptural taḥrīf   indicates the inability of religionists to understand the meaning of their sacred book. In his Muqaddima  (Prolegomenon to his abovementioned multi‑volume work)  Ibn Khaldūn  wrote much that indicates his polymathic learning including the following defence of the alleged  taḥrīf  of the Torah

.. the statement concerning the alteration (of the Torah by the Jews) is unacceptable to thorough scholars and cannot be understood in its plain meaning, since custom prevents peopIe who have a (revealed) religion from dealing with their divine scriptures in such a manner. This was mentioned by al-Bukhârî in the Ṣaḥīḥ..  Custom, in the proper meaning of the word, would prevent anything of the sort from happening to other peoples.. (Muqaddima, trans. Rosenthal 1:20‑21). 

∎ Taqī al-Dīn Aḥmad ibn `Alī  ibn `Abd al-Qādir al-Makrīzī   ( d. 845/1441 )


 “al-Mawā'iz wa al-i'tibar fī dhikr al-khitat – mss Isma’ili lib.

 One of the most famous Egyptian historians of the Mamluk period, Taqi al-Din al-Maqrizi was born into a prominent Cairene family in 766/1364. His al-Mawa‘iz (or al-Khitat) is one of the best-known historiographical works on Egypt in general and the topography of Fustat, Cairo and Alexandria in particular. Utilising many early and contemporary sources, al-Maqrizi includes an extensive account of the Fatimids in this work; as such, it remains one of the chief sources for Fatimid history…” NOTE ERRORS HERE ?

On Maqrīzī see, for example, Nasser Rabbat, `Who Was al-Maqrizi? A Biographical Sketch’  and the several articles in Mamluk Studies Review  vol. 7 No.2 . His  al-Mawā`iẓ wa al-i`tibār fī dhikr al-khiṭaṭ wa al-āthār  was published in Bulaq (Egypt) ADD and  edited G. Wien, in 1913… + Book review by Ahmad ibn ‘Ali al-Maqrizi, Al-Mawa’iz wa-al-I‘tibar bi-Dhikr al-Khitat wa-al-Athar, edited by Muhammad Zaynhum and Madihah al-Sharqawi (Frédéric Bauden) [ in MSR 8/1?), Recently,  Le Manuscrit autographe d’al-Mawā`iẓ wa al-I‘tibār  fī-Dhikr al-Khiṭaṭ wa al-Āthār de Taqī al-Dīn Aḥmad  b. `Alī b. `And al-Qādir al-Maqrīzī (766-845AH/1325 [sic.]-1441), ed. Ayman Fu`ād Sayyid. London: al-Furqān Islamic Heritage Foundation. 1416/1995 (see the reviw of this edition by Li Guo in MSR 2 (1998), 229-237.

This historian appears to have had definite Zāhiri inclinations and to have been influenced by the straight-laced Andalucian originator of this legal school, the anti-biblical polymath Ibn Hazm (             ).  Perhaps best known as a source for materials on  Islamic Cairo and Fāṭimid history, the extensive history (= the al-Mawā`iẓ wa al-I‘tibār  fī-dhikr al-khiṭaṭ wa al-āthār  ?) of  al-Makrīzī was cited by Karānawī in his Iẓhar al-ḥaqq  in connection with the taḥrīf of the Bible:

“Al-Maqrizi was a great scholar of Islam in the eighth century AH. He said in the first volume of his history:

The Jews think that the book which they have is true and original, free from all corruption. The Christians, on the other hand, claim that the Septuagint [fn.1 on LXX] version of the Bible which is with them is free from any possible distortion and change, while the Jews deny this and contradict their statement. The Samaritans consider their Pentateuch to be the only genuine version as compared to all others. There is nothing with them to eliminate the doubts about this difference of opinion among them.  [FN2 Brit. 14:868 Marcian].

The same difference of opinion is found among the Christians regarding the Evangel. For the Christians have four versions of the Evangel which have been combined together in a single book. The first version is of Matthew, the second of Mark, the third of Luke and the fourth of John.

Each of them wrote his gospel according to his own preaching in his own area with the help of his memory. There are innumerable contradictions, incompatibilities and inconsistencies between their various accounts regarding the attributes of Jesus, his message, the time of his Crucifixion and his genealogy. The contradictions are irresolvable.

Alongside this the Marcionites and the Ebionites have their separate version of the Evangels, each being different  [226] from the present canonical gospels. The Manichaeans also claim to have an Evangel of their own totally different from the current accepted gospels. They claim that this is the only genuine Evangel present in the world and the rest are inau-thentic. They have another evangel called the Evangel of AD 70 (Septuagint) which is ascribed to Ptolamaeus. The Christians in general do not recognize this gospel as genuine. In the presence of the above multifarious differences to be found within the corpus of the Judaeo-Christian revelation, it is almost impossible for them to sort out the truth."


1 Note the Zubdat al‑tavārīkh (Quintessence of Histories) by Abū al ‑Qasīm  al‑Kāshānī  (early 14 th  century CE?) and the Tār īkh‑i  Guzīdah  (composed 1330) of Ḥamd‑Allāh Mustawfī Qazvīnī (d.c.744/1334).

2 The several eighteenth century editions include that of J. Gagnier, Die vita....  Mohammedis, (Oxford, 1723). The complete Arabic text was apparently first published in 2 vols. In Istanbul in 1286/1869‑70 (Gibb, `Abu’l‑Fidā’ EI2 1:118‑9). 

3 In its recent 7 (14) volume  printing  over 450 pages are allotted to biblical and other figures of the pre‑Islamic era (Ibn Kathīr, al‑Bidayā vol.1 [1‑2])