You are on page 1of 14

Text Book Writing Project of IIIT BD Human Science Series – 08

Muslim Historiography
The Caliphate and Indian Sub-Continent

Professor Emeritus Dr A K M Yaqub Ali

Dept. of Islamic History & Culture
University of Rajshahi, Rajshahi

Bangladesh Institute of Islamic Thought (BIIT)

Title : Muslim Historiography: The Caliphate and Indian Sub-Continent

ISBN : 978-984-8471-57-9

Author : Professor Emeritus Dr A K M Yaqub Ali

Dept. of Islamic History & Culture
University of Rajshahi, Rajshahi

Editor : Prof Dr Muin-ud-Din Ahmad Khan

Dean, Faculty for Arts, Social Science & Law
Head, Dept. of Islamic Studies
Southern University Bangladesh, Chittagong

Reviewers : Dr Md Ibrahim
Professor, Department of Islamic History & Culture
University of Dhaka

Dr A K M Shahnewaz
Professor, Department of Archaeology
Jahangirnagar University, Savar, Dhaka

Copyright © Bangladesh Institute of Islamic Thought

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, electronic or
Mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage or retrieval
system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Price : BDT 300.00, US$ 50

Published : 2020

Published by
Bangladesh Institute of Islamic Thought (BIIT)
H # 4, R # 2, S # 9, Uttara Model Town, Dhaka-1230
Phone : +88 02-58954256, +88 02-58957509
E-mail :,
Website :

Printed in Bangladesh
To the sweet memory
my wife Rahima Yaqub
who left this world on March 2, 1996
As part of IIIT’s mission- ‘reform of thought & knowledge’, BIIT produced 300 more
courses curriculum of different public and private universities in Bangladesh with revised
mode and integrated approach (comparative study of western & Islamic concept) during
2008-2015. Based on those re-designed courses, BIIT took a project named ‘Text Book
Writing Project’ in 2010 with the principle of ‘one book for one course’, resulting in a
series of Text Books- six books in 2013, eleven books in 2014, one book in 2015,
three in 2016 and one in 2020 on different branches of higher education such as social
science, education, arts & humanities, law, business and so on. The present book
entitled ‘Muslim Historiography: The Caliphate and Indian Sub-Continent’ is one of its
The main objective of this book is to acquaint the readers with a wide range of knowledge
for graduate & post-graduate students, researchers & academics and to satisfy the
inquisitiveness of the advanced readers and professionals. This book will particularly be
useful for the students of Rajshahi University in the department of Islamic History &
Culture (Group A, Paper IV) and for the students of Dhaka University in the same
department having Course No.-IHC- 408 as a text or required book. This book will also
be useful in the same way to the students of Dhaka University, Islamic University Kushtia
and National University in the departments of Islamic History & Culture having Course
No.- IHC- 505, IHC- 401 and IHC- 241601 respectively as recommended/reference book.
Moreover, the students of various public and private universities of Bangladesh, having
similar courses in their graduation & post graduation level can easily consult this book as
a text/recommended and get benefitted indeed.
Special thanks to its author Professor Emeritus Dr A K M Yaqub Ali of Rajshahi
University for his painstaking efforts to writing this book. We would like to express our
deep gratitude to the editor of the book Prof Dr Muin-ud-Din Ahmad Khan for his
scholarly effort to edit this book in spite of having his age related complications. We are
also thankful to reviewers- Prof Dr Md Ibrahim and Prof Dr A K M Shahnewaz for their
observations & comments to make it publishable. The author tried to address those
comments with due care which being undoubtedly helped a lot for the improvement of the
book. Despite of this effort, there may be some errors/mistake in the book and we could
hope to overcome those shortcomings in the subsequent editions, InshAllah. We are
grateful to the Allah (SWT) for making this task possible.
We also would like to thank to the committee members and officers of BIIT without
whose cooperation, this project could not have been implemented. We would feel
rewarded if the students, teachers as well as researchers find this book worthwhile
and useful.
May Allah (SWT) bless us all and grant our all efforts for the causes of Ummah.

M Abdul Aziz PhD

Executive Director
Bangladesh Institute of Islamic Thought, Dhaka
Praise be to Allah, the Almighty Lord and the Creator of the universe and countless
salam and benediction on Prophet Muhammad (SAAS), the best of human creation of
the world. On this short expression of my gratitude to Allah and His last Apostle, I
would like to say a few words about the subject which I am going to introduce in this
treatise. It is history and history-writing of the Muslims. There is no room of doubt
that history is interlinked with the creation of man. It portrays the realistic aspects of
human society through the ages with all the changes happened from time to time. So
starting from individual life and crossing the various tiers of human society history as
a discipline steps forward in the vast spectrum of the universe. With the growth of
perceptive faculty creeps in the mind of a child thousand of questions which his/her
parent or close relations are to answer to satisfy the infant’s thirst for knowledge. All
age groups of human species share the same feeling. In this way, the ground is
prepared for the perception of variegated complexities of man’s activities with
pertinent consequences, and ultimately this factor in a cumulative way creates the
backdrop of history. As traced in the available records like all other branches of
knowledge, the study of history originated in ancient Greece with the work titled The
Persian Wars written by Herodotus (b. 484 or 480 B. C.). An analysis of the subject-
matter of this book shows that Herodotus tried to build up a structural frame-work in
writing history which in many ways was imitated by the later historians. Following
Herodotus, the Greek and Roman historians continued to write history on war-exploits
and relating aspects of man and society. In the sequence the Persian history of ancient
times arising out of legends, proverbs, anecdotes and folk-tales seem to have been
delineated in the Khudainamah. Ibn al-Muqaffa (d. 760 C. E.) translated this book
from the Pahlawi (Old Persian) into Arabic under the caption of Siyar al-Mulk.
Moreover, the church history along with the activities of the priests was glorified in
the Church-controlled regions. In this way, history-writing getting start in Greece and
crossing various stages of development reached to its methodical form under the
Muslim suzerainty of the medieval times.
During the golden age of the Muslim rule over the vast territorial expanse of the
world from about the 7th till the 13th century C. E., history-writing in Arabic language
on biographical, regional, national and universal perspective in character reached the
apex of development, which was really amazing in the context of world history. Al-
Tabari’s (838-923 C. E.) universal history titled Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Muluk (the
History of the Prophets and Monarchs) and al-Masudi’s (d. 956 C. E.) analytical
compendium of historical work under the title of Muruj al-Dhahab wa Ma’adin al-
Jawhar (the Meadows of Gold and the Mines of Precious Stones) are cases in point.
In subsequent times, the Arabic was replaced by the Persian and Turkish when the
Persians and Turks had their sway over the great expanse of the east and the west. Yet
like all other disciplines history-writing was found to be continuing in Arabic in the

Muslim states of North Africa and Spain in later times. In such stages of development,
history appeared with a new dimension, and Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) moved that
wheel to bring a new breath of life in the study of history. He realized fully that the
study of history could bear no fruitful results unless approached from sociological
stand-point and philosophical interpretation. So the Muqaddamah or Prolegomena to
his Encyclopedic work Kitab al-Ibar wa Diwan al-Mubtada wa al-Khabar fi Ayyam
al-Arab wa al-Ajam wa al- Barbar (Book of Instructive Examples and Register of
Subject and Predicate dealing with the History of the Arabs, Persians and Berbers)
embodied all kinds of sociological factors that helped grow the historical institutions
to their fullest forms, and their absence deterred the progress to that extent. In such
interpretation of historical phenomena, he must be regarded as the precursor of the
19th century sociological thinker, Buckle. It seems that Buckle wrote his History of
Civilization on the model of Ibn Khaldun’s Muqaddamah after a lapse of five hundred
years. In assessing the Muqaddamah the famous historian Arnold Toynbee wrote “the
greatest work of its kind has ever been created by any mind in any time or place.” In
Indian sub-Continent’s context, the Kitab al-Hind of al-Biruni (970-1038) is a
monumental work to get information about the subjects of astronomy, astrology,
philosophy, mathematics and geometry of ancient India along with the life-pattern of
her people in the 10th and 11th C. E. Thus Indological study got much impetus with his
work, and as such he may be regarded ‘more as an indologist than a historian’.
With the conquest of Central Asian Turks the Muslim rule was permanently established
in India at the early 13th century having its capital at Delhi, and it continued over this
sub-Continent till 1858 C. E. This long period of more than six hundred years was
divided into Sultanate rule from 1206 to 1526 and Mughal rule from 1526 to 1858, and
the Mughal rule ended theoretically and practically with the assumption of the power by
the British Crown in 1858. It is to be noted that as the state language under the Muslim
rule in India was Persian, so history-writing in Persian with multidimensional aspects
either by individual initiative or under royal patronization progressed tremendously
during the Sultanate and Mughal periods in this sub-Continent. Hence the scope of the
discussion spreads over the vast spectrum of the Muslim Caliphate till 1258 and the
Muslim rule in Indian sub-Continent till 1858.
As opined by the scholars, history is such an encyclopedic knowledge that encompasses
the whole accounts of particular lands and also sheds luster on the socio-political and
cultural heritage of global human race- past and present. More precisely it may be said
that history is such a discipline in which are recorded all sorts of activities of human
society being tabulated in accordance with the cotemporaneous calendar. Very nicely
the modern scholars especially the orientalists expressed the whole concept of history in
three words viz. man + time + space. Because history studies man in reference to the
time he passes and land he lives in. It is obvious that all kinds of activities of mankind
are included in history. In the old concept history mainly deals with the works and
deeds of past human race especially of the kings, monarchs and aristocrats without

touching the affairs of general mass. But in modern time the concept is changed. Now
history-writing is not confined to the biographies of the elites, the wars of the empires
and exploits of the monarchs of the bygone days, rather its scope expands over the
socio-cultural aspects of the global people of the past and present besides their politico-
economic upheavals. In the modern concept under the perspective of globalization the
human species living in any territorial expanse are assessed with the same emotional
scale in spite of their physical and mental variance. With this variance is added the
perception of the historians in interpreting the same events in different angles. To bridge
the gap among their divergences the object of history should be to find out the truth
from the heap of materials centering round an event or an occurrence. But sometimes
due to the unwelcoming situation the facts are distorted for history-writing and the real
truth remains hidden for the learners. It is, therefore, necessary that the fair mind and
unprejudiced attitude should be applied in writing history overcoming all temptations
and wraths. The ethical mind-set should get top priority of a historian in the fair analysis
of relevant data of historical events. In spite of some hurdles on the way of its
presentation the inquisitive mind of man seeks the answer of life-questionnaire in the
events happened in the past and near past.
Historiography and history-writing though meant to convey the same idea of the study
of history in its entirety, yet in the methodical approach a bit variation could be shown
in their apparent application. Historiography has three steps to cross for the final
accomplishment. In the first step it needs to collect materials from the divergent
sources of both primary and secondary character without any reservation and with the
sharp power of verification around the particular events leaving no gap in the relating
points. In the second step the culled materials are to be scanned and scrutinized with
careful mind and to be systematized them in chronological order for the final touch.
This is the final step of writing up the whole accounts centering round the particular
events. The whole process starting from the collection of materials and ending in the
write-up of the occurrence of particular events would come within the expanse of
historiography, the writing being a part of the whole. A few scholars are of the
opinion that historiography is the history of the historians. Because in this discipline
the historians as well as their books are evaluated with constructive criticism. Thus
the importance of historiography in general and Muslim historiography in particular
can never be ignored at this age of technological development. Till now I have found
no such English book to deal with the subject that could satisfy the inquisitiveness of
the students and the advanced readers. Hence in spite of my limitations I have
ventured to write on the subject at the request of the authority of Bangladesh Institute
of Islamic Thought, Dhaka. The credit goes to the Institute’s persuasion, and the
follies, if any, are of mine.
The present work is divided into ten chapters. The first chapter titled ‘Early Phase of
Arab Historiography’ is aimed at introducing the subject with the backdrop and its

Arabic characters. The second chapter under the caption of ‘Structural Form and
Development Phase of Arab Historiography’ deals with the forms and classification
of Arab history-writing starting from sirah-maghazi and ending in the write-up of
universal history with all paraphernalia. The third chapter under the title of ‘Madinite
and Iraqian Schools of Historiography’ deals with the characteristic features and
differential points of the history-writing evolved in these two centers. In the fourth
chapter under the caption of ‘Multidimensional Approach in Arab Historiography:
Nature and Trend’ discussion spreads over the various forms and types of history-
writing till the end of the Abbasid Caliphate (750 C. E.) along with the study of
history from sociological standpoint at hand of Ibn Khaldun.The fifth chapter titled
‘Early Phase of Persian Historiography’ throws light on the start of history-writing in
Persian with its characteristic features at the fall of the Abbasid Dynasty under the
Ilkhanid and later Persian dynasties. Here ends the part 1 of the book.
The part II of the book begins with sixth chapter under the caption of ‘The Early
Phase of History-writing in the Indian sub-Continent: Nature and Trend’. It mainly
deals with history-writing before and just after the entry of the Muslims as conquerors
in this sub-Continent. The seventh chapter titled ‘History and Historians of the
Sultanate of Delhi’ divided into Sections A & B discusses all the characteristic
features of history-writing of the period along with the works of the historians
vertically and to a greater depth. Likewise in the eighth chapter under the title of
‘Nature and Trend of Mughal History-writing’ divided into Sections A & B, the
whole spectrum of Mughal history-writing along with select historians is put under
discussion. A few historians of the provinces are discussed in the ninth chapter under
the caption of ‘History-writing in the provinces.’ The part II of the book is put to an
end with chapter ten delineating the life-perception and philosophy of history.
I have left no stone unturned to consult both the primary and secondary sources at my
disposal in giving a final touch to the proposed book. It is not mere a synoptic
representation of facts like some other texts, rather I have placed new interpretation in
some cases substantiated by convincing arguments in the light of new findings. Yet I
have every respect to the intelligent views of the scholars in this discipline. In the
completion of this work I intend to convey my deep sense of gratitude to the
authorities of the Bangladesh Institute of Islamic Thought (BIIT) for having
sponsored this project. Particularly I express my gratitude to Mr. Abdul Aziz,
Executive Director of BIIT, Dr. M. Akhtar Husain Majumdar, Associate Professor of
the Dept. of Social Work, University of Rajshahi, Mr. Mahfuzar Rahman (Research
and Publication) and Mr. Md. Iqbal Hossan, both of them as Asst. Director of BIIT,
for their ungrudging interest in my work. May Allah help us all.

Professor Emeritus Dr A K M Yaqub Ali

Preface v

Part I
Chapter One
Early Phase of Arab Historiography 2
Definition of History and Historiography 3
History 3
Historiography 5
Source-Analysis 5
Arabic and Persian Historiography 6
Backdrop of Historiography in Ancient World 8
The Early Phase of the Arab and Muslim Historiography 10
Sirah and Maghazi of the Prophet (SAAS) 15
Aban b. Uthman 17
Urwah b. Zubayr b. A’wam 17
Wahab b. Munabbih 19
Muhammad b. Muslim b. Shihab al-Zuhri 22
Muhammad b. Ishaq and His Works 25
Importance of Ibn Ishaq and Examination of His Methodology 28
Criticism and Evaluation of Siratu Rasulillah of Ibn Ishaq 29
Ibn Hisham and Reformed Edition of the Sirah 29
Muhammad b. Umar al-Waqidi 30
Muhammad b. Sa’d 31
Chapter Summary 31
Chapter Evaluation 33

Chapter Two
Structural Form and Development Phase of Arab Historiography 34
Maghazi 35
Sirah 36
Manaqib 36
Conquest, Genealogy and Regional History 38
Genealogy 38
Abu Yaqzan al-Nassab or the Genealogist (d. 190 H/805 C. E.) 40
Musab al-Zubayri (d. 233-36 H/ 847-50 C. E.) 41
Khabar, Akhbar and Akhbari Historians 42
Abu Mikhnaf (d. 157 H/774 C. E.) 42
Awana b. Hakam (d. 148 H/765 C. E.) 43
Al-Madaini (d. 225 H/ 839 C. E.) 43
Abu Ubaidah (110-211 H/728-826 C. E. 44
Conquests and the Regional History 45
Regional History of Syria 46
Aleppo 47
Damascus 48
Jazirah 49
Ummah’s National History 50
Al-Baladhuri 50
Criticism and Estimation of al-Baladhuri 52
Universal or World History 53
Al-Yaqubi 54
Ibn Qutaibah 56
Al-Dinawari 56
Al-Tabari 56
Chapter Summary 60
Chapter Evaluation 60
Chapter Three
Madinite and Iraqian Schools of Historiography 62
Madinite School of Historiography 64
Nature and the Characteristic Features of the Madinite School of
Historiography 66
Iraqian School of Historiography 67
The Salient Features of Iraqian School of History-Writing 69
A Comparative Study of the Madinite and the Iraqian Schools of
Historiography 70
Chapter Summary 70
Chapter Evaluation 71
Chapter Four
Multidimensional Approach in Arab Historiography: Nature and 72
Al-Masudi 73
Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi 75
Ibn Khallikan 77
Ibn al-Athir 79
Ijjud-Din Abul Hasan Ali Jazri 80
Abul Faraj Ispahani 81
Ibn Miskawiyyah 82
Nizamul Mulk 84
Ibn Khaldun 86
Ibn Khaldun and His Concept of History, Philosophy, Asabiyyah
(Clan-Affinity) and Sociology 88
Chapter Summary 94
Chapter Evaluation 95
Chapter Five
Early Phase of Persian Historiography 96
Backdrop 97
Ibn al-Muqaffah 97
Al-Baihaqi 99
Al-Baihaqi’s Philosophy of History 100
Fazlullah Rashid ud-Din 101
Merit, Intelligence and Knowledge-pursuits of Rashid ud-Din 102
An Analysis of the Subject-matters of Jami ut-Tawarikh 103
Evaluation and Estimation of the Book 104
Wassaf 105
Chapter Summary 106
Chapter Evaluation 106

Part II
Chapter Six
The Early Phase of History-Writing in Indian Sub-Continent: Nature
and Trend 108
Backdrop 109
Abu Raihan al-Biruni and His Tarikh al-Hind 110
Abu Nasr al-Utbi and his Tarikh Yamini 112
Abul Fazl al-Baihaqi and His Tarikhus Sabuktagin 113
Chapter Summary 113
Chapter Evaluation 113
Chapter Seven
History and Historians of the Sultanate of Delhi 114
Backdrop 115
Characteristic Features of Sultanate Historiography 115
Section A
Selected Historians of the Mamluk and the Khalji Periods 117
Sadar ud-Din Hasan Nizami 117
The Subject-matters of ‘Tajul Ma’thir and the Overview 118
Minhaj Siraj and His Tabaqat-i-Nasiri 121
Backdrop 121
Introducing Minhaj Siraj 121
Subject-matters of the Tabaqat 124
Evaluation of Tabaqat-i-Nasiri in the History of the Foundation
of Muslim Rule in India 126
Short Life Sketch of Amir Khasraw 129
Concluding Remarks 133

Section B
Tughlaq and Later Dynasties 134
Abdul Malik Isami 135
The Subject-Matter of Futuh al-Salatin and Its Evaluation 136
Assessment and Criticism 140
Zia ud-Din Barani (1285-1359) 142
Person and Personality 142
The Backdrop of the Compilation of Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi and Its
Contents 143
Barani’s Philosophy of History 147
Shams ud-Din Siraj Afif 151
An Overview of the Subject-matter of the Tarikh-i-Firuz Shahi 151
Barani and Afif: A Comparison 154
Yahya b. Ahmad Sirhindi 155
Introducing Tarikh-i-Mubarak Shahi along with the Author’s
Outlook 155
Importance and Estimation of Tarikh-i-Mubarak Shahi 157
Ibn Battutah 158
Subject-matter of Rihlah 159
Chapter Summary 162
Chapter Evaluation 163

Chapter Eight
Nature and Trend of Mughal History-writing 164

Biographical Sketch and Memoirs 165
Backdrop 165
Humayun Namah 166
Tuzuk 168
Tuzuk-i-Jahangiri 171
The Estimation of the Tuzuks of Babar and Jahangir and their Place
in History 173
Representative History and Historians of the Mughal Period 175
Backdrop 175
Abul Fazl Allami 175
Review and Estimation of the Subject-matter of Akbar Namah
and Ain-i-Akbari 178
Nizam ud-Din Ahmad and His Tabaqat-i-Akbari 180
Abdul Qadir Badauni and His Muntakhab ut-Tawarikh 182
Abdul Hamid Lahori and His Badshah Namah 184
Khwajah Niyamatullah and His Tarikh-i-Khan Jahani wa Makhzan-
i-Afghani 187
Ahmad Khan Sarwani and His Tarikh-i-Sher Shahi 187
Chapter Summary 188
Chapter Evaluation 189
Chapter Nine
History-Writing in the Provinces 190
Backdrop 191
Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah and His Tarikh-i-Firishta 191
Mirza Nathan and His Baharistan-i-Ghaybi 193
Ghulam Husain Salim and Riyaz us-Salatin 196
Comments and Criticism 197
Sayyid Ghulam Husain Tabtabai and His Siyar ul-Mutaakhkhirin 197
Estimation and Criticism 198
Tarikh-i-Bangala and Regional History of Bengal of Munshi
Salimullah 198
Chapter Summary 199
Chapter Evaluation 199

Chapter Ten
Life-Perception and Philosophy of History 200
Chapter Summary 207
Chapter Evaluation 208

Bibliography 209