The Quṣṣāṣ of Early Islam


The Islamic qāṣṣ (preacher/storyteller) has been viewed most commonly as a teller of stories, primarily religious in nature and often unreliable. Building on material of over a hundred quṣṣāṣ from the rise of Islam through the end of the Umayyad period, this book offers the most comprehensive study of the early Islamic qāṣṣ to-date. By constructing profiles of these preachers/ storytellers and examining statements attributed to them, it argues that they were not merely storytellers but were in fact a complex group with diverse religious interests. The book demonstrates how the style and conduct of their teaching sessions distinguished them from other teachers and preachers and also explores their relationship with early religio-political movements, as well as with the Umayyad administration.

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Lyall R. Armstrong, Ph.D. (2013), University of Chicago, is Assistant Professor of History at the American University of Beirut.
"This book is a thoroughly researched study, meticulously referenced and well arranged. It willl be of interest not only to students of various disciplines of Islamic studies, [...] but also to non specialists due to its accessible language and added translations. This book is highly recommended..."
Yasmin Amin, Exeter University, in: Al-Abhath 64 (2016)

"... the work of Armstrong remains an important contribution that brought serious clarifications to our shortcomings in this field and represents a solid bedrock upon which historians can build on in the future."
Mohammad A. Rihan, University of Balamand, Balamand Al Kurah-Lebanon, in: Ilahiyat Studies 9/1 (2018)

"Armstrong's study is thorough and well-researched and provides opportunities for more in-depth research to fill in the inevitable gaps now revealed. While a clear picture of the quṣṣāṣ and their significance in early Islam remains elusive, Armstrong's work is an impressive contribution to our understanding of this important element of the early Islamic scholarly community." - Steven C. Judd, Southern Connecticut State University, in: Journal of the American Oriental Society 139/2 (2019)
Those interested in Islamic thought and religious education in early Islam
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