Kufa and its People in the Early Years of Islam: A Study of Aspects of its Urbanisation, Inhabitants and Organisation
Type
abstract
Year
2014
العلي، صالح أحمد. الكوفة و أهلها في صدر الإسلام: دراسة في أحوالها العمرانية و سكانها و تنظيماتهم. بيروت: شركة المطبوعات للتوزيع و النشر، ٢٠٠۳، ٥۳١ص.

Al-ʻAli, Salih Ahmad. Al-Kufa wa Ahluha fi Sadri al-Islam: Dirasah fi Ahwaliha al-ʻUmraniyyah wa Sukkaniha wa Tanzimatihim. Beirut: Sharikat al-Matbuʻat lil-Tawziʻ wa-al-Nashr, 2003, 531pp.

ABSTRACT

Kufa and Its People in the Early Years of Islam: A Study of Aspects of Its Urbanisation, Inhabitants, and Organisation

الكوفة و أهلها في صدر الإسلام: دراسة في أحوالها العمرانية و سكانها و تنظيماتهم

The book is a study of the early history of Kufa. It contains information about the urban topography, tribal and ethnic divisions, and political developments.

The work consists of twenty-one chapters. The first is about the sources on the early history of Kufa. It discusses both extant and lost sources and concludes with a discussion of several modern Western studies. 

The remaining chapters tackle various aspects of the early history of Kufa. They depict important sites, monuments, and the congregational mosque. The author presents the geographical location, the administrative division, the population and the economic life of Kufa. 
 
The author discusses first the tribal divisions within the town, and the Kufan immigrants in other regions of the Muslims’ empire, before tackling the arrival of Arab tribal groups in Kufa from different parts of Arabia, e.g., “The Tribes of the Eastern Part of the Peninsula”, “The Tribes of Hijaz”, etc. Interestingly, despite the fact that there is a separate chapter about the Yemeni tribes, the author dedicates an entire chapter to the South Arabian Hamdan tribe. He discusses the role of non-Arab warriors of Kufa, and the position of the non-Arab clients (mawali) in Arab tribes. The author attempts to classify the population of Kufa, dividing them into nobles (ashraf) and commoners (ʻamma). Among others, he tackles such issues as the “level of the commoners’ thinking”, where he quotes several sources describing the lowly qualities of the commoners. It is not entirely clear, however, what the author himself thinks about this. 

The last two chapters are about the political life in Kufa during ʻAli b. Abi Talib’s caliphate, and the roles of his supporters and those of the third caliph ʻUthman in Kufan politics. 

The book contains much valuable information about early Kufa. The author often quotes lengthy passages from primary sources to corroborate his views. However, the material is not always organised in a coherent manner, and sometimes he presents information that has little to do with the particular chapter. There is no historical line of development, and no critical assessment of the primary sources. Another shortcoming is that the book does not have a bibliography. 

Overall, the book is a fair summary of information found in primary sources on early mediaeval Kufa, and can be useful if read critically. 

Mushegh Asatryan
Citation
Asatryan, Mushegh. “English abstract of 'of Kufa and Its People in the Early Years of Islam: A Study of Aspects of Its Urbanisation, Inhabitants, and Organisation'". Translated by Mushegh Asatryan. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi. 75. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014
Authorities
Collections
Copyright
Muslim Civilisations Abstracts - The Aga Khan University
Country
Iraq
Language
English
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