Al-Balādhurī’s Prophet’s Biography: Narrative in Service of Politics

In: Journal of Arabic Literature
Mohammad A. Rihan University of Balamand Lebanon

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The monumental multi-volume work Ansāb al-ashrāf, authored by Aḥmad b. Yaḥyā al-Balādhurī, represents an intellectual edifice recognized by many scholars. However, this paper endeavors to discuss in depth the first volume of it, which al-Balādhurī dedicated to the life of the Prophet Muḥammad, and attempts to show that the underlying reasons for writing another biography of the Prophet—in an age where the Sīrah of the Prophet was well established—were mainly political and personal, linked in particular to the rule of the ʿAbbāsids. It aimed to legitimize ʿAbbāsid rule by systematically and subtly enhancing the role of ʿAbbāsid symbols and ancestry in the formation of early Islam, mainly by linking the eponym of the ʿAbbasid dynasty, al-ʿAbbās b. ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib, to a positive image of the Prophet.

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