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"Arabs and Iranians in the Islamic Conquest Narrative" by Scott Savran (June 2016)

"Arabs and Iranians in the Islamic Conquest Narrative" by Scott (…)

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Scott Savran is Visiting Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech University.

Scott Savran is an assistant professor of history in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Nazarbayev University. He specializes in the Middle East and the Islamic world. His current book project analyzes early Islamic historiography of the pre-Islamic period, particularly portrayals of encounters between the Arab peoples and representatives of the Persian Sasanian dynasty, as comprising a didactic narrative whose purpose was to justify the Arab-Islamic conquest of Iran in the eyes of a contemporaneous audience. Scott’s teaching repertoire includes a wide range of courses on pre-modern and modern subjects both within and outside the context of Islamic history, including The Age of Globalization, The Ancient World from Prehistory to the Middle Ages, The Middle East from the Rise of Islam to 1800, The Middle East from 1800 to the Present, The Arab-Israeli Conflict, Women in Islamic History, and The History of Kazakhstan. (Source:


This book analyzes how early Muslim historians merged the pre-Islamic histories of the Arab and Iranian peoples into a didactic narrative culminating with the Arab conquest of Iran. Through an in-depth examination of Islamic historical accounts of encounters between representatives of these two ethnicities taking place in the centuries prior to the coming of Islam, this book uncovers anachronistic projections of contemporaneous Islamic discourses. It shows how the formulaic placement of such embellishment within the context of the narrative served to justify the Arabs’ rise to power while explaining the fall of the Iranian Sasanian Empire. By so doing, this book sheds new light on how historians of the early Islamic era both perceived and constructed pre-Islamic history.


1 Introduction

  • 2 The Negotiation of Iranian Culture in an Islamic Imperial Context
  • 3 The Shu’ubiyya: A Repository of Socially Charged Imagery
  • 4 The Arab Dawla: The Assimilation of Iranian History in the Islamic Historiographical Tradition
  • 5 The Opening of the Drama: Shapur and the Sheikh
  • 6 Bahram V Gur, the Lakhmids and the Hephthalite Disaster
  • 7 The Twighlight of Sasanian Power: Khusraw I Anushirvan and the Yemeni Embassies
  • 8 The Build-up to the Confrontation: Khusraw II Parviz and the Rise of the Arabs 9 The Climax: the Arab Liquidation of the Sasanian State

10 Conclusion
Dynastic Lists

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