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By John H. Arnold

Do historians reconstruct the truth—or easily inform tales? Professor John Arnold indicates they do either, and that it’s the stability among the 2 that concerns. In a piece of metahistory (the learn of historical past itself), he is taking us from the exceptional stories of Greek Herodotus to the numerous ways of modern day execs. via interesting and specific examples——including a medieval assassin, 17th-century colonist, and ex-slave——Dr. Arnold illuminates our courting to the earlier by way of making us conscious of how the very nature of “history” has changed.

 

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History (A Brief Insight)

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49 See especially Fatima et les filles de Mahomet (1912); also Etudes sur le siecle des Omayyades (1930). " Introduction 21 raphy of the Prophet Mul}ammad) was not an independent collection of recollections of the Prophet's life, but rather represented an outgrowth of earlier works of Qur'an commentary ( tafsfr) and ~adfth, or sayings attributed to the Prophet (most of the latter of which were false, in Lammens' view). He also pointed out that Medinese traditions about the first two caliphs, Abii Bakr and 'Umar, portrayed the Prophet's daughter Fatima in a bad light, partly in reaction to the exaggerated honor paid to her by traditions of the Kiifan school.

Some individual accounts may indeed go back to the earliest times; others in the mass of tradition may be completely fabricated at a much later date. Adherents of this approach thus readily admit that a sizable proportion of the tradition about Islamic origins may, from the historical point of view, be spurious. But they also make the assumption that there does exist a "kernel of historical fact" lodged deep inside the hull of accumulated traditional material. Hence careful analysis of divergent versions of the same account can, they feel, allow them 31 "Historiography in Arabic Literature," in Goldziher, Gesammelte Schriften, III, 391-92.

18A}:Imad ibn l:lanbal, Musnad, VI, 230 (no. 4495); VII, 161 (no. mara 24). 19 amir yali amr al-muslimin. Is this a vague circumlocution for amlr almu'minan? 20 Muslim, $a~fti, XII, 215 (/mara 20). See al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, III, 617 (no. 1329), on the "tyrant imam" (imam ja'ir). The Date of the Qur'anic Text 42 of error" (imam al-¢alala). 21 God will bolt the gates of heaven to the imam who pays no heed to the poor and miserable. 22 In the ~adzth literature, the Prophet even has a considerable amount to say about the caliphate, even though the office of caliph ( khalifa) did not arise until after his death.

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