Abu Jafar Mohammed ibn Jarir Al-Tabari, born AD 838, died AD 923. Born in Tabaristan, south of the Caspian, from where his surname is derived. Al-Tabari was a Sunni historian and theologian, his briefly lived school of thought is now extinct and superseded by Shafiites, Hanbalites, Wahabites, Hanafis, etc. Al-Tabari died in Baghdad.

After the death of his father, Al-Tabari lived in great poverty, this however changed after his appointment as a tutor to the son of the wazeer Tibaidallah ibn Yaliya. Shortly after the tutoring appointment Al-Tabari traveled to Egypt. But then returned to Baghdad where he continued to be a teacher until his death.

Al-Tabari lived a simple and dignified life, and often refused valuable gifts from royalties. Although he initially adhered to Shafiite school of thought, he claimed the right to criticize all schools of thoughts. Ongoing criticism of other schools prompted him to establish his own school, until the violent fury of the Hanbalites school was incurred.

His works are not copious, however, two of them are very broad. Tarikh Al-Rusul wal Muluk (History of Prophets and Kings) documents lives of Prophets and Kings from creation to AD 915. This is an 11 volume collection totaling 7150 pages. Modern publications varies in the ways the volumes are split.

Al-Tabari's works was translated into the west simply as the annals of Tabari with the earliest translation dating in 1867 and the most recent between 1988 and 1998. His second work involved commentary on the Quran. His third work involved traditions of the companions of Mohammed, but it was incomplete.


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