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Probing the Theological Resources of a Seventeenth-Century tārīkh: the Tārīkh al-Sūdān and Ashʿarī kalām

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image of Islamic Africa

Modern Western scholars, journalists, travellers, and colonial officials have shown an interest in Timbuktu’s famous seventeenth-century chronicles ever since they heard of them in the mid nineteenth-century. The three tārīkhs (chronicles) are the Tārīkh al-Sūdān, the so-called Tarīkh al-fattāsh, and the Notice historique. The first Western written works began to be produced at the end of the nineteenth century and burgeoned over the twentieth century with several large projects continuing into the present century, as recent as 2015. These works were primarily, though not exclusively, concerned with the authorship, sources, and political properties of the tārīkhs. This article is interested in Muslim theology as a resource of the Tārīkh al-Sūdān, one the three tārīkhs. It focuses in particular on the precepts of Ashʿarī kalām (theology) of Sunni Islam as the key resource the author of the Tarīkh al-Sūdān.

Affiliations: 1: University of Johannesburg,


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