“History of the Caliphs” by al-Sūyūtī and “Primary Indicators of Well-Regulated States” by al-Hasan al-ʻAbbāsī


This volume contains two works, Tarikh al-Khulafa’ (History of the caliphs) by al-Sūyūtī (1445−1505) and Athar al-Uwal fi Tartib al-Duwal (Primary indicators of well-regulated states) by al-Hasan ibn ‘Abd Allāh al-‘Abbāsī (died circa 1310). Al-Sūyūtī is renowned for his writings in the Islamic sciences, although not necessarily for this historical work. History of the Caliphs remains in print as a standard summation of the Sunni view of the rule of succession after the Prophet Muhammad’s death. The work reveals a gift for selection and synthesis rather than original interpretation, a characteristic of much of al-Sūyūtī’s writing. The author of the associated work, al-Hasan al-ʻAbbāsī, is said to have been related to the Abbasid caliph Hārūn al-Rashīd, but this may be apocryphal. The work should be considered a “mirror for princes” rather than an historical work. It provides advice on behavior for rulers, including admonitions on the treatment of subjects (e.g., tradesmen and farmers) and choice of counsellors, as well as such details as dress, menus, and etiquette at meals. Principles of behavior are rooted in the Qur’an and sayings of the Prophet, with frequent examples drawn from the lives of the prophets and rulers of old such as Moses and King David. History of the Caliphs is the main work in the volume. Primary Indicators is printed on its margins. Including a second work on the margin of a main text was common practice in the manuscript era, and often carried over into early printed books. Although it is no longer common, books are still produced with works on the margins to this day.

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Publication Information

al-Mimniyah Press, Cairo


Title in Original Language

هذا تاريخ الخلفاء أمراء المؤمنين

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Physical Description

2216 pages ; 28 centimeters


  1. Zirikli, Khayr al-Din, Al-A’lam (Beirut: Dar al-‘Ilm lil-Malayin, 1980).

Last updated: August 8, 2014