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Medieval Explanations For The Fall Of The Umayyads

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Chapter Summary

The rapid demise of the Umayyad dynasty was a pivotal event in early Islamic history. In addition to the obvious change of dynasty, the fall of the Umayyads marked an eastward shift in the geographical focus of the Muslim world and a shift in ethnic dominance away from the Arabs. This chapter illustrates the contrast in explanations for the fall of the Umayyads. It begins with an examination of the universal histories, with particular emphasis on al-Baladhuri and al-Ṭabarī, then proceeds to local Syrian histories, revealing the variety of strategies their authors used and emphasizing the peculiarity of Ibn ʿAsākirʾ interpretation. It seems quite clear that al-Baladhuri used his narrative of the fall of the Umayyads to convey a warning about the danger posed by the Muʿtazilites.

Keywords: al-Ṭabarī; al-Balādhurī; local Syrian histories; Muʿtazilites; Umayyads



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