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Regional Histories from the 4th to 8th Centuries AH

By: Rasul Ja'fariyan
The Sh'ites have also had a share in regional historiography. Among the earliest work in this field, which predates all other books is Nihl al-'Arab by Muhammad bin Bahr Rahnī.[36] Yāqut al-Hamawī, commenting on this book and its author, writes: He has written many works including the one titled Kitāb Nihl al-'Arab, in which he has mentioned the dispersion of Arabs in the lands of Islam, noting whether they were Shi'ite, Kharijite or Sunni, but he had good words for the Shi'ites as well as for others. I know about the part of the book which deals with the people of the east, especially of Kirmān, Sīstān, Khurāsān and Tabaristān.
Nothing remains of this book except what Yāqut al-Hamawī has written in Mu'jam al-Buldān.
The book al-Buldān wa al Masāhah or al-Tibyān fī Ahwāl al-Buldān as it is also known, was written by Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Khālid al-Barqī. The author of Tārīkh al-Qum used this work in the fourth century as a source for his history of Qum (Mudarrisī has pointed out the quotations from al-Tibyān in Tārīkh al-Qum; refer to Bibliography of Works related to Qum, p. 18. Rāfi'ī has also quoted some passages from it in al-Tadwīn, pp. 44-48). In the printed edition of Tārīkh al-Qum, al-Barqī has been quoted extensively, and in one instance, it says: "In the book al-Bunyān al-Barqī thus writes...".[37] It is possible that al-Bunyān is the misspelling of al-Buldān. Another possibility is that the author of the bibliographical work Kashf al-Zunun has misspelled the book whose actual title is Kitāb al-Tibyān fī Ahwāl al- Buldān.[38] Muhammad bin Khālid al-Barqī, the father of Ahmad al-Barqī has also been named as the author of al-Buldān wa al Masāhah.[39] Another book of the same name al-Buldān wa al-Masāhah was written in the third century by Abī Ja'far Muhammad bin 'Abdullāh bin Ja'far bin Husayn bin Jami' al-Himyarī. When he failed in his efforts to get a copy of Ahmad al-Barqī's book in Baghdad, Rayy and Qum, he decided to write a new book in this connection under the same title.[40]
Another important book on the history of Qum is the one written in 378 AH by Hasan bin Muhammad bin Hasan al-Qummī. It is one of the most interesting and academic books of the early period of Islamic civilization. In contrast to the regional historiography of this period which mainly concerns the life of the notables of the cities, this particular work is a scholarly account of the various issues, including civic affairs, related to the city's history. In the introduction, the compiler has divided the book into twenty chapters but unfortunately the Persian translation of only the fifth chapter is extant. There is no information either on the Arabic version or the rest of the translation. The Persian translation was completed in 805 AH by Hasan bin 'Alī bin Hasan bin 'Abd al-Malik Qummī. Apart from the information given on the city of Qum, the book mentions valuable details concerning the collecting of taxes in those days. In addition the author has elaborated in detail on the Ash'arī tribe of the city beginning with its place of origin in Yemen and the meeting with Prophet Muhammad (S) in Medina on the advent of Islam till its migration to Iraq and then to Qum. He has also focused on the role of Ash'arite tribesmen in the early Islamic conquests especially the conquest of parts of Iran.
Another valuable but lost book is the Tārīkh Rayy by Muntajab al-Dīn Ibn Babawayh the author of al-Fihrist who lived in the sixth century. Ibn Hajar 'Asqalānī in his Lisān al-Mīzān has quoted accounts of several Shi'ite and Sunni notables from this book, of which 47 have been mentioned by the late Urmawī in his introduction to the edition of al-Fihrist published by the Ayatullāh Mar'ashī Najafī Library, Qum (pp. 11-16). Tārīkh Rayy was also the title of a historical book written by Abu Sa'īd Mansur bin Husayn Abī the author of the valuable book Nathr al-Dur.[41] Another important book is the Tārīkh Tabaristan of Ibn Isfandiyār who lived in the 6th century AH. It is considered the most important work on the history of Tabaristān by a Shi'ite historian. Mention should also be made of the Tārīkh Ruyān of Mawlānā Awliyā' Allah Amulī. It is a precious work on regional history in which the author has mentioned part of the historical viewpoints of the Shi'ites in the days of the Imams ('a).
[36] Mu'jam al-Udabā, vol. 18, p. 31 al-Wāfī bi al-Wafayāt, vol. 2, p. 244; al-Dharī'ah, vol. 24, p. 82.
[37] Tārīkh Qum, p. 56.
[38] Refer to al-Dharī'ah, vol. 3, pp. 145 under the letter Shīn 497.
[39] Ibid.
[40] Rijāl al-Najāshī, p. 355.
[41] Al-Dharī'ah, vol. 3, p. 254.

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