These 11th-century tales, written in many different languages and well known throughout the Muslim world, have been read and studied through the years. This is, however, the first complete translation of the Arabic text into English, from the story of the creation of the world to the time just before the coming of the Prophet Muhammad and the revelation of Islam. It includes tales of prophets who are Biblical figures, but also of others not considered prophets in other traditions, and contains tales too like
The Thousand and One Nights, with no prophetic content. In the Islamic world, this work has been and is still read and enjoyed, both as a source of religious study and for simple pleasure.
William M. Brinner, Ph.D. (1956) in Semitic Languages at the University of California, Berkeley, is Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at that University, having retired in 1991. He has published among Islamic and Judaic studies:
Readings in Modern Arabic Literature (Brill, 1972); and translations of Arabic texts, including
A Chronicle of Damascus, 1389-97 by Muhammad ibn Sasra (University of California Press, 1961-62),
An Elegant Composition Concerning Relief after Adversity by Nissim ibn Jacob ibn Shahin, (Yale University Press, 1978); two volumes of
The History of al-Tabari (State University of New York Press