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Classical Arabic Biography
The Heirs of the Prophets in the Age of al-Ma'mun

$39.99 (C)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization

  • Date Published: October 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521088541


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About the Authors
  • Premodern Arabic biography has served as a major source for the history of Islamic civilization. In the first book-length study to explore the origins and development of classical Arabic biography, Michael Cooperson demonstrates how Muslim scholars used the notions of heirship and transmission to document the activities of political, scholarly and religious communities. The author also explains how medieval Arab scholars used biography to reconstruct the life stories of important historical figures. He then examines the careers of four of these figures, analyzing their relationships and their place in later biography.

    • A book-length study dealing with classical Arabic biography
    • Interdisciplinary treatment of formative period of Islamic thought
    • Scholar well regarded in the field
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "A splendid book..." Journal of the American Oriental Society

    "Cooperson's glossary is quite useful, as is the extensive and well-focused bibliography." Journal of the American Academy of Religion.

    "This richly documented and thorough study reflects a linguistic competence in Arabic and depth of reading that have become increasingly rare with the decline of area study specialties over the past two decades. The author succeeds in revisiting well-known sources and in bringing to light hitherto ignored anecdotes about these figures. Great effort is made to reach to the general reader, with a full glossary at the outset of the book, translation and explanation of Arabic and Islamic in the course of each chapter, and a very-friendly introduction about the fundamentals of early Islamic historical narration...stimulating." Biography Dec 2001

    "This study sheds important light on the origins and development of classical Arabic biography." Religious Studies Review

    "Outstanding..." American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2008
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521088541
    • length: 244 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.36kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of abbreviations
    Note on transliteration
    Note on dating systems
    1. The development of the genre
    2. The caliph al-Ma'mun
    3. The Imam 'Ali al'Rida
    4. The Hadith-scholar Ahmad Ibn Hanbal
    5. The renunciant Bishr al-Hafi
    Appendix: the circumstances of 'Ali al-Rida's death

  • Author

    Michael Cooperson, University of California, Los Angeles

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