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Shboul, Ahmad M. H. (1972) Al-Mas'udi With Special Reference to His Treatment of Non-Muslim History and Religions. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Al-Mas'udi was a man of wide learning and versatile scholarly interests; and his work might be approached from more than one angle. The present thesis is concerned with two inter-related themes. The first three chapters deal with the salient features of al-Mas'udi's life and work as a traveller and a scholar. The remaining four chapters consider his treatment of non-Muslim history and religions against the background of his experience. The first chapter gives an account of his travels. Although it did not prove possible from extant material to draw a full itinerary of al-Mas'udi's journeys, an attempt is made to indicate their geographical extent and their duration, and whenever possible their chronological sequence. The significance of these journeys is considered against the background of earlier and contemporary Muslim travellers who are alluded to by way of introduction. Al-Mas'udi was a true child of his age and environment; and in the second chapter an attempt is made to show how he vies alive to the scholarly and literary currents and trends of his age. A consideration of his contacts with scholars of various disciplines, and his wide reading as well as an indication of his politico-religious tendencies and his intellectual affiliations are the main points considered. The third chapter deals with aspects of al-Mas'udi as an author. On the basis of his surviving Murui and Tanbih and his frequent references to his earlier books an attempt is made to show his interests and scope as an author. After a brief consideration of his earlier (and now lost) works, a discussion of the Murui and Tanbih is given. The relationship between these two works and earlier ones is indicated: al-Mas'udi's interest in historical and geographical factors is examined; and his position as an author is indicated. The remaining four chapters are concerned with al-Mas'udi's treatment of non-Muslim history and religions. This aspect, which has long been recognised, is here approached not primarily from the viewpoint of the value of his accounts as source material, but rather as a major theme in his works; and emphasis is laid on his sources, approach, and attitude of mind towards non-Muslims. His use of non-Muslim sources, albeit usually in Arabic, is given particular attention; as is his use of oral information, and his inclusion of literary traditions and conceptions. Al-Mas'udi's treatment of, and views on, pre-Islamic history, particularly of non-Arabs, form the subject of the fourth chapter. Although the wide range of his accounts is indicated, only his treatment of biblical history, the antiquities of Persia, and the personality of Alexander the Great are considered in some detail. In all three, special attention is given to the diversity of his sources, and his method of presentation; his interest in particular aspects, and his awareness of the difficulties involved. His recognition of the contribution of ancient civilisations is also indicated, with some additional reference to Graeco-Roman history and to ancient Egypt and Babylonia. His inclusion of the antiquities of further nations, such as India and China, is also indicated and his awareness of the problems of ancient history is further illustrated with some allusion to Arabian antiquity. Finally his distinction between a divine view of ancient history and the beginnings of mankind as found in Judaeo-Christian and Islamic traditions, and other views are considered: his broader conception of a universal history is, likewise, underlined. Al-Mas'udi's is treatment of non-Muslim history after the rise of Islam and of the contemporary conditions of non-Muslim peoples is dealt with in the next two chapters. (Abstract shortened by ProQuest.).

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:22

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