By al-Ṭabarī, Clifford Edmund Bosworth
This quantity of al-Tabari's History covers approximately 1 / 4 of a century, and after overlaying the very short caliphate of al-Hadi, concentrates on that of Harun al-Rashid. in the course of those years, the caliphate used to be in a nation of stability with its exterior foes; the good enemy, Christian Byzantium, used to be seemed with recognize via the Muslims, and the 2 nice powers of the close to East handled one another basically as equals, whereas the Caucasian and critical Asian frontiers have been held opposed to strain from the Turkish peoples of internal Eurasia. the most stresses have been inner, together with Shi'ite risings on behalf of the excluded condo of 'Ali, and revolts by way of the novel equalitarian Kharijites; yet none of those used to be severe sufficient to impact the fundamental balance of the caliphate.
Harun al-Rashid's caliphate has bought within the West, below the impact of a deceptive photo from the Arabian Nights, a sparkling snapshot as a golden age of Islamic tradition and letters stemming from the Caliph's patronage of the exponents of those arts and sciences. In mild of the image of the Caliph which emerges from al-Tabari's pages, besides the fact that, this snapshot appears to be like fantastically exaggerated. Al-Rashid himself doesn't express any impressive symptoms of administrative competence, army management or highbrow pursuits past these which conference demanded of a ruler. for far of his reign, he left the enterprise of presidency to the able viziers of the Barmakid family--the account of whose excellent fall from energy kinds some of the most dramatic positive factors of al-Tabari's narratives here--and his selection to divide the Islamic empire after his dying among his sons was once to guide for that reason to a disastrous civil struggle. however, al-Tabari's tale is filled with attention-grabbing sidelights at the lives of these thinking about the courtroom circle of the time and at the motivations which impelled medieval Muslims to hunt precarious careers there.