Begun in 1134 and completed some four decades later, Ibn ’Asakir’s massive Ta’rikh madinat Dimashq ("History of Damascus"), with its 10,226 biographical notices, is a veritable gold mine of information for our understanding of the first five and one-half centuries of Islamic history. Now that it has finally been edited and published in its entirety, scholars will have far greater access to this fundamentally important (and to date little exploited) Syrian source. Ibn ’Asakir and Early Islamic History seeks to demonstrate the kinds of questions that Ibn ’Asakir (d. 571/1176) can answer for us, and highlights Ibn ’Asakir’s importance for the study of early Islamic History and historiography, especially in the context of geographic Syria (Bilad al-Sham). Although the essays in this volume do not necessarily represent agreement as to the particulars of Ibn ’Asakir’s historiographic agenda(s), each essay addresses important aspects of his methodology in his presentation of his vision of Syria’s past. Taken separately, the individual contributions serve as guides through the perils and pitfalls of specific aspects of Ibn ’Asakir’s coverage of the early Islamic past. Taken together, they show us how one Crusader-era Muslim envisioned the formative centuries of his own embattled religious and cultural community.
The list of contributors includes Marianne Engle Cameron, Paul M. Cobb, Fred M. Donner, Steven C. Judd, James E. Lindsay, and Suleiman A. Mourad.