3 Matching Annotations
  1. Mar 2024
    1. I said, “Let us turn to the opinion of [Abū Ja‘far Muhammad ibn Jarīr] al-Ṭabarī [d. 923], for he is the greatest historian and traditionist of the Islamic world and no other opinion can outweigh his.” He said, “We do not rely upon al-Ṭabarī. We will bring the great works of histories of the Arabs and the Persians and debate with you.” I said, “And I, for my part, shall debate according to the view of al-Ṭabarī.” This ended the discussion, and he was silent.

      Khaldun and Timur relying on other sources (Tabari)

  2. Feb 2024
    1. 1. We first read an excerpt from Ibn Khaldun, a great historian of the Muslim world. His family came from Muslim Spain, but he was born in North Africa. He spent many years working in the administrations of local rulers, until he eventually moved to Egypt, where he died in 1406. We will encouter him quite often in this course and will discuss his life in week 6. This week, we turn to his famous book The Muqaddimah (or, Introduction), in which he lays out his vision of history, its patterns and purpose. In the excerpt that we read this week he is trying to make sense of a question that should bother us too: how were the Arabs (meaning, pre-Islamic Arabs, not Arabs in the modern sense), a fragmented society, able to conquer the known world and establish their rule over it? What do you think of his answer, is it any good? 2. The other source we read this week is by another famous Muslim historian, al-Tabari. al-Tabari was originally from Iran, but lived most of his life in Baghdad, where he died in 923. He wrote a massive historical work, History of Messengers (or Prophets) and Kings, in which he collected all he knew about the world from its creation to his days. Translated into English in its entirety this work takes up 40 volumes. When we say that al-Tabari wrote this book, we need to understand that his role was often that of an editor, not an author: he selected, arranged and edited accounts that he found in the works of others. Usually, he names his sources. In the excerpt we read today, al-Tabari is telling what happened before a major battle between the Persians (representing the Sasanian Empire) and the Arabs, the battle of Qadisiyya that took place in the mid-630s (perhaps, in 636). On the eve of the battle, the Persians want to talk and the Arabs (Muslims) send an envoy. Here you have a vivid account of how this messenger arrives to the assembled Persians. Historically this encounter is not important: the battle took place regardless and the Arabs won. But the narrative is significant for how it shows the values of the two sides involved in the fight. So what are these values? For the Arab side, to what extent are their ethnic (that's the way Arabs are) and to what extent religious (that's the way Muslims are)?
  3. Jan 2023
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIfH-iSGa5M


      Dr. Hanan Harif started out as a Geniza scholar but is now a biographer of Shlomo Dov Goitein.

      In the 1920s Goitein published his only play Pulcellina about a Jewish woman who was burned at the stake in France in 1171.

      Had a friendship with Levi Billig (1897-1936)

      You know very well the verse on Tabari that says: 'You wrote history with such zeal that you have become history yourself.' Although in your modesty you would deny it, we suggest that his couplet applies to yourself as well." —Norman Stillman to S.D. Goitein in letter dated 1977-07-20

      Norman Stillman was a student of Goitein.

      What has Hanan Harif written on Goitein? Any material on his Geniza research and his note cards? He addressed some note card material in the Q&A, but nothing direct or specific.

      Goitein's Mediterranean Society project was from 1967-1988 with the last volume published three years after his death. The entirety of the project was undertaken at University of Pennsylvania.

      The India Book, India Traders was published in 2007 (posthumously) as a collaboration with M.A. Friedman.

      Goitein wrote My Life as a Scholar in 1970, which may have some methodological clues about his work and his card index.

      He also left his diaries to the National Library of Israel as well and these may also have some clues.

      His bibliography is somewhere around 800 publications according to Harif, including his magnum opus.

      Harif shows a small card index at 1:15:20 of one of Goitein's collaborators (and later rival) Professor Eliasto (unsure of this name, can't find direct reference?). Harif indicates that the boxes are in the archives where he's at (https://www.nli.org.il/en/discover/archives/archives-list ? though I don't see a reasonable name/materials there, so perhaps it's at his home at Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem).