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"The Arabic Historical Tradition & the Early Islamic Conquests Folklore, Tribal Lore, Holy War" by Boaz Shoshan (May 2015)

"The Arabic Historical Tradition & the Early Islamic Conquests (…)

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The author

Boaz Shoshan is professor at Ben Gurion University of the Negev where he has also served as chair of the General History department. His research focuses on the historiography of early Islam and the history of the Mamluk period.


The early Arab conquests pose a considerable challenge to modern-day historians. The earliest historical written tradition emerges only after the second half of the eighth century- over one hundred years removed from the events it contends to describe, and was undoubtedly influenced by the motives and interpretations of its authors. Indeed, when speaking or writing about the past, fact was not the only, nor even the prime, concern of Muslims of old.

The Arabic Historic Tradition and the Early Islamic Conquests presents a thorough examination of Arabic narratives on the early Islamic conquests. It uncovers the influence of contemporary ideology, examining recurring fictive motifs and evaluating the reasons behind their use. Folklore and tribal traditions are evident throughout the narratives, which aimed to promote individual, tribal and regional fame through describing military prowess in the battles for the spread of Islam. Common tropes are encountered across the materials, which all serve a central theme; the moral superiority of the Muslims, which destined them to victory in God’s plan.



  • Chapter 1: Tribal Lore on the Conquests
  • Chapter 2: Tropes of Islamic Superiority
  • Chapter 3: Yarmūk – Another View
  • Chapter 4: ʿUmar in Jerusalem
  • Chapter 5: When Muslims Meet Infidels
  • Chapter 6: The Conquest of Egypt: Ibn ʿAbd al-Ḥakam and Beyond


View online : Routledge (editor)