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Early Arabic Sources for the History of Islam: Events

Digitized primary sources in Arabic for the study of Islamic history and civilization. Includes historical, geographical, and biographical texts.

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This page is dedicated to the most important historical chronicles (ta’rīkh or tārīkh) written in Arabic between 900/300 AH and 1900/1200 AH. Most are arranged by year and are valuable sources for the political and social histories of their day. The list of significant texts below is adapted from the outline of history writing in R. S. Humphreys, "Ta’rīkh: Historical Writing," EI2Texts on this page are arranged in chronological order, by death date of author, given in Gregorian (CE)/Hijri (AH).

Balādhurī : Futūḥ al-Buldān
البلاذري : فتوح البلدان

A history of the Muslim conquest of the Sasanian and Byzantine Empires by Aḥmad ibn Yaḥyā al-Balādhurī (d. ca. 892).

  • Leiden 1866 Edition. Authoritative edition of the Arabic text. Published as Kitāb Futūḥ al-Buldān [Liber expugnationis regionum]. Ed. M. J. de Goeje. Leiden: Brill, 1866. 

Complete Book (Internet Archive) 

  • English Translation (1916-1924). Translated in two parts as The Origins of the Islamic State. Part I translated by Philip K. Hitti. New York: Columbia University Press, 1916. Part II translated by Francis Clark Murgotten. New York: Columbia University Press, 1924.

Volume 1 (Internet Archive)

Volume 2 (Internet Archive) 

Ṭabarī : Ta’rīkh al-rusūl wa’l-mulūk
الطبري : تأريخ الرسول والملوك

A "universal history" by Abū Ja‘far Muḥammad ibn Jarīr al-Ṭabarī (d. 923 CE/255 AH). This foundational work begins with the Flood, recounts the lives of the Biblical prophets, and covers the kingdoms of late Antiquity, the rise of Islam, the Rashidun Caliphs, the Umayyad Caliphs, and the first century and a half of the Abbasid Caliphate.

  • Leiden Edition (1879). Authoritative scholarly edition of the Arabic text. Published as Annales quos scripsit Abu Djafar Mohammed ibn Djarir at-Tabari. Ed. M. J. de Goeje.15 volumes in 3 series. Leiden: Brill, 1879-1901.

Series 1, Volume 1 (Internet Archive) -- Creation; Flood; The Prophets & Biblical Kings

Series 1, Volume 2 (Internet Archive) -- Persian Kings in Babylon - Sasanian Kings)

Series 1, Volume 3 (Internet Archive) -- Life of the Prophet Muhammad; The Hijra; Years 1 - 8 AH

Series 1, Volume 4 (Internet Archive) -- Years 9 - 16 AH

Series 1, Volume 5 (Internet Archive) -- Years 17 - 33 AH

Series 1, Volume 6 (Internet Archive) -- Years 33 - 40 AH

Series 2, Volume 1 (Internet Archive) -- Years 40 - 65 AH

Series 2, Volume 2 (Internet Archive) -- Years 66 - 96 AH

Series 2, Volume 3 (Internet Archive) -- Years 97 - 130 AH

Series 3, Volume 1 (Internet Archive) -- Years 131 - 180 AH

Series 3, Volume 2 (Internet Archive) -- Years 181 - 232 AH

Series 3, Volume 3 (Internet Archive) -- Years 233 - 266 AH

Series 3, Volume 4 (Internet Archive) -- Years 234 - 302 AH; Biographies of Companions and Successors

Editor's Introduction, Glossary, Addenda, Emendanda (Internet Archive)

Indices (Internet Archive)

Mas‘ūdī : Murūj al-dhahab wa ma‘ādin al-jawhar
المسعودي : مريج الذهب ومعادن الجوهر

A work by ‘Alī ibn al-Ḥusayn al-Mas'udi (d. 956/345 AH) that combines historical scholarship and human geography. The first part of the work contains sacred and ancient history up to the time of the Prophet Muhammad, as well as descriptions of the earth, its seas, its regions, and its peoples. The second part is a history of Islam from the Prophet to the Abbasid Caliphs.

  • 1866 Edition and French translation by C. Barbier de Meynard and Pavet de Courteille. Authoritative critical edition of the Arabic text published with a French translation of the entire work. Published as Les Prairies d'or. 9 vols. Paris: Impremerie Impériale, 1861-1877. Volume 9 contains a general index as well as A. I. Silvestre de Sacy's translation of the preface to a text titled Kitāb al-Tanbīh wa’l-ishrāf, also by Mas'udi, which contains useful information about his life and works. 

           Complete Book (Hathi Trust)

  • Volume 2 of Cairo 1349 [1927] Edition. Volume 2 of this edition covers the historical section of the second part of Mas'udi's text, from the Rashidun Caliphs to the reign of the Abbasid Caliph al-Muti'.  Published as Kitāb Murūj al-dhahab wa ma‘ādin al-jawhar. Ed. Abd al-Raḥmān Muḥammad. 2 vols. Cairo: al-Maṭba‘a al-Bahiyya al-Miṣriyya, 1349 [1927].

            Volume 2 (World Digital Library)

Volume 2 (Bibliotheca Alexandrina) -- better for Arabic readers

  • English translation (1841). The first translation of the text to appear, made from a critical comparison of a number of surviving copies of the text in European collections. Only the first volume of this project was published, and covers the first seventeen chapters of the Arabic text, which includes geographical sections and sacred history. Published as El-Mas’údí’s Historical Encyclopædia Entitled “Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems. Translated by A. Sprenger. London: The Oriental Translation Fund, 1841. 

Volume 1 (Internet Archive)

Ibn al-Athīr : al-Kāmil fī al-Ta’rīkh
ابن الاثير : الكامل في التاريخ

A universal history by ‘Izz al-Dīn Abū al-Ḥasan ‘Alī Ibn al-Athīr (d. 1233/630 AH). This work represents a pinnacle of the genre for the early medieval Islamic period and is especially valuable as a document for the Crusades.

  • Beirut 1965-1967 Reprint. A reprint with corrections of the Leiden 1851-1876 edition cited below. This is the preferred edition but is not available online. The Leiden edition can still be used, but should eventually be checked against this reprint. Published as al-Kāmil fī al-ta’rīkh, Ed. C. J. Tornberg. 13 vols. Beirut: Dār Ṣādir, 1965-1967.

Find a Copy on Worldcat

  • Leiden 1851-1876 Edition. Published as Ibn-el-Athiri chronicon quod perfectissimum inscribitur [al-Kāmil fī al-ta’rīkh]. Ed. Carl Johan Tornberg. 14 vols. Leiden: Brill, 1851-1876. This is the preferred edition if the Beirut 1965-1967 reprint is not available. 

Complete Book (Hathi Trust)

  • Cairo 1873-1874 Edition. Early edition of a copy of the text published as al-Tārīkh al-Kāmil. Būlāq [Cairo]: al-Maṭba‘a al-Kubrā al-‘Āmira, 1290 [1873-1874]. A copy of the text of Mas‘ūdī’s Murūj al-dhahab appears in the margins of the manuscript used to make this edition.

Complete Book (Islamic Heritage Project)

Ibn Khaldūn : Kitāb al-‘Ibar (includes al-Muqaddima)
ابن خلدون : كتاب العبر ومقدمته

Walī al-Dīn ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Muḥammad ibn Khaldūn (d. 1382/784 AHis one of the most important figures in the history of Arabic literature. Born in Tunis and traversing the Islamic west from Spain to Egypt during his tumultuous and peripatetic career, he observed what he believed to be the beginning of a decline in Islamic civilization at a time of political and cultural upheaval. He formulated these thoughts in a universal history titled Kitāb al-‘ibar wa-dīwān al-mubtada' wa'l-khabar fī ta’rīkh al-‘Arab wa’l-'Ajam wa'l-Barbar wa-man ‘āṣarahum min dhawī al-sulṭān al-akbar (known as Kitāb al-‘Ibar for short). The first part of this book, known as al-Muqaddima (Introduction or Prolegomenon), is of particular importance as it describes Ibn Khaldun’s theory of political history and the rise and fall of civilizations, as well a discussion of the process of writing history. It is thus one of the earliest works of historiography known. No critical edition of the text yet exists. The Bulaq edition cited below is the first scholarly edition. A commercial edition was printed in Beirut in 1956-1959 and has the advantage of indices.

Source: M. Talbi, "Ibn Khaldūn," EI2.

  • Cairo 1867-1868 Edition (Full Text). The first complete edition of the entire Arabic text of Kitab al-'Ibar. There is a table of contents at the beginning of each volume, but no indices. Published in 7 volumes. Cairo: Maṭba‘at al-Bulāq, 1868.

Volume 1 (Arabic Collections Online) -- al-Muqaddima

Volume 2 (Arabic Collections Online)

Volume 3 (Arabic Collections Online)

Volume 4 (Arabic Collections Online)

Volume 5 (Arabic Collections Online)

Volume 6 (Arabic Collections Online)

Volume 7 (Arabic Collections Online)

  • Paris 1858 Edition (Muqaddima Only): First complete edition of the Arabic text of the Muqaddima. Published as Prolégomènes d’Ibn-Khaldoun. Ed. M. Quatremère. 3 Vols. Paris: Benjamin Duprat, 1858. **Note: This version is a reprint of the 1858 text from Beirut: Maktabat Lubnan, 1970.

Volume 1 (Internet Archive)

Volume 2 (Internet Archive)

Volume 3 (Internet Archive)

  • Cairo 1950 Edition (Muqaddima Only). Edition of the Muqaddima only, with fully vocalized text (clearer than the 1865 Bulaq edition). There is an extensive table of contents at the end of the book, but no indices. Published as Muqaddimat Ibn Khaldūn. Cairo: Dār al-Shaʻb, 1950.

Ibn al-Furāt : Ta’rīkh al-duwal wa’l-mulūk
ابن الفرات : تاريخ الدول والملوك

Unfinished history by Nāṣir al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Raḥīm known as Ibn al-Furāt (d. 1405/807 AH). The text only covers ca. 1100-1400 CE/ 500-800 AH but it is specific and valuable or this time period. Only parts of the text have been edited and published.

  • Editions of the Vatican Manuscript. An edition of parts of the Arabic text made from an autograph copy in Vienna. The text was published in two series. First as Ta’rīkh Ibn Furāt. Ed. Qusṭanṭīn Zurayq and Najlā M. Abū ‘Izz al-Dīn. 4 vols. Beirut: Al-Maṭba‘a al-Amīrkāniyya, 1936-1942; then as Ta’rīkh Ibn al-Furāt. Ed. Ḥasan Muḥammad al-Shammā‘. 2 vols. Basra: Maṭbaʻat Ḥaddād, 1967-1970. The volume numbers in both series follow the numbering system on the Vienna manuscript (divided into 9 volumes). Published parts include: Volume 4, Part 2 [1969, ed. Shammā‘] includes years 587-599; Volume 5, Part 1 [1970, ed. Shammā‘] includes years 600-615; Volume 7 [1942, ed. Zurayq] includes years 672-682 AH; Volume 8 [1939, ed. Zurayq] includes years 683-696 AH; Volume 9, Part 1 [1936, ed. Zurayq] includes years 789-792 AH; Volume 9, Part 2 [1938, ed. Zurayq and Abū ‘Izz al-Dīn] includes years 793-799 AH.

Volume 4, Part 2 (Arabic Collections Online) -- years 587-599 AH

Volume 5, Part 1 (Arabic Collections Online) -- years 600-615 AH

Volume 7 (Arabic Collections Online) -- years 672-682 AH and index

Volume 8 (Arabic Collections Online) -- years 683-696 AH

Volume 9, Part 1 (Arabic Collections Online) -- years 789-792 AH

Volume 9, Part 2 (Arabic Collections Online) -- years 793-799 AH and index

Jabartī : ‘Ajā’ib al-āthār
جبرتي : عجائب الآثار

‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Ḥasan al-Jabartī (d. 1826 CE) was an Egyptian historian of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries CE. His main work, whose full title is ‘Ajā’ib al-āthār fī al-tarājim wa’l-akhbār, covers the history of the Islamic world from 1688/1100 AH to 1821/1236 AH. Source: D. Ayalon, "al-Djabartī," EI2.

  • Cairo 1904 Edition: Edition of the Arabic text published as Min al-Tārīkh al-musammā ‘Ajā’ib al-āthār fī al-tarājim wa’l-akhbār. 4 vols. Cairo: al-Maṭba‘a al-‘Āmira al-Sharafiyya 1322 [1904].

Link to Volumes (Hathi Trust)

Keeping Track of Dynasties and Rulers

What Year Is It?