Ibn Aʿtham and His History

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Lawrence I. Conrad


The editors of al-ʿUṣūr al-Wusṭā are delighted to publish this long-awaited piece by Lawrence I. Conrad on Ibn Aʿtham al-Kūfī and his Kitāb al-futūḥ. The article was written on the basis of two papers presented in 1992 (see initial note) and subsequently prepared for publication. It has circulated among colleagues, but, for various reasons, never appeared in print. Professor Conrad, with characteristic generosity, has given us permission to publish the text. It stands as a monumental piece of scholarship and the most comprehensive study on the subject to date. By way of introduction, a few historiographical comments are in order. Limited attention has been devoted to Ibn Aʿtham since the early 1990s. Conrad himself wrote a brief entry for The Routledge Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature [London and New York: Routledge, 1998, 314], summarizing his findings and arguing that Ibn Aʿtham flourished in the early third/ninth century. There he rejects Ibn Aʿtham’s conventional death date of 314/926-7 as “an old Orientalist error.”

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