Ali b. Hussain al-Masʿudi

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Ali b. Hussain al-Masʿudi
Native nameعلی ابن الحسین مسعودی
Well Known AsMuslim historian and geographer

Ali b. Hussain al-Masʿudi  (b. 280/893 - d. 346/957), known as al-Mas'udi, was a Muslim historian and geographer in the 4th/10th century. His known works number over twenty and deal with a wide variety of religious and secular subjects, including history (both Islamic and universal), geography, the natural sciences, philosophy, and theology. Only two of his works survive, both historical-geographical in scope: Muruj al-dhahab wa maadin al-jawahir (Meadows of gold and mines of gems) and Akhbar al-zaman (The history of time). Masudi wrote for an audience eager to acquire useful knowledge outside of the traditional religious sciences and appreciative of a fluent, nontechnical literary style. A native of Baghdad, he lived and worked in Syria and Egypt, where he died. Associated in his early life with the Mutazilis, he is known for initiating the Arabic historiographic model of treating events topically (rather than strictly chronologically).

An Account on the Battle of Karbala[edit | edit source]

In Muruj al-Dhahab, Masudi gives a slightly different version of Ibn Ziad's entry into Kufa and adds some descriptions of the attempt to persuade al-Hussain not to go to Kufa. He then reverts to Ammar b. Mu’awiya's account and faithfully reproduces it.[1]

It seems conceivable that al-Mas'udi got his account from al-Tabari. Nowhere does al-Baladhurri use this account. Nor does Abu al-Faraj al-Isfahani use it, although he was aware of it. He uses an isnad with a different intermediary from al-Tabari.[2]

There are two main reasons why his account of Ashura is disputable among Shi’a. The first is that he reports when Imam al-Hussain heard of the news of Muslim b. `Aqil's death, he wanted to return; and the second is that he reports when `Umar b. Sa`d's army came near, the Imam offered three options:

(i) that he should return,

(ii) that he should go to the outposts of the empire, and

(iii) that he should go to Yazid.

Sources[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Al-Mas'udi, Muruj al-Dhahab (Beirut, n.d.), III, pp. 60-1.
  2. Abu al-Faraj, op. cit., p. 63.