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The Abbasid Caliphate
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Book description

The period of the Abbasid Caliphate (750–1258) has long been recognized as the formative period of Islamic civilization with its various achievements in the areas of science, literature, and culture. This history of the Abbasid Caliphate from its foundation in 750 and golden age under Harun al-Rashid to the conquest of Baghdad by the Mongols in 1258 examines the Caliphate as an empire and institution, and probes its influence over Islamic culture and society. Ranging widely to survey the entire five-century history of the Abbasid dynasty, Tayeb El-Hibri examines the resilience of the Caliphate as an institution, as a focal point of religious definitions, and as a source of legitimacy to various contemporary Islamic monarchies. The study revisits ideas of 'golden age' and 'decline' with a new reading, tries to separate Abbasid history from the myths of the Arabian Nights, and shows how the legacy of the caliphs continues to resonate in the modern world in direct and indirect ways.


‘Filling a major lacuna, El-Hibri authors an extensively researched political history of each Abbasid caliph using a wide range of medieval sources including coinage as well as extensive references to modern scholarship. When appropriate his focus shifts to religious trends, the contributions of specific women, and the role of the caliph as a regional ruler and as a source for legitimization for a wider Muslim world.’Jere L. Bacharach, University of Washington

‘Lucidly and elegantly written, this insightful tour de force wonderfully surveys one of the great dynasties of world history. El-Hibri traces the rapidly changing shape of the Abbasid Caliphate and the Abbasid Empire over five centuries to offer a truly captivating narrative beyond Golden Age and decline.’Konrad Hirschler, Freie Universität Berlin

‘In this richly informative and eminently readable book, Tayeb El-Hibri expertly narrates the political history and cultural achievements of the Abbasids of Baghdad, one of the greatest dynasties of the medieval world, covering the full five centuries of their rule over the far-flung lands of their empire.’Robert Hoyland, New York University

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