SUYUTI, Jalal al-Din al-.

History of the Caliphs.

Translated from the Original Arabic by H. S. Jarrett.

Calcutta: the Asiatic Society, 1880-81 Stock Code: 117609
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First edition in English of Suyuti's Ta'rikh al-khulafa'. Fairly common in libraries, but rare in commerce, with no copies traced in auction records.

A prolific polymath, Suyuti (1445-1505) was born in Cairo, where he lived through the final decades of the Mamluk Sultanate. His cohesive and authoritative chronicle of Muslim rulers, from the immediate successors of Muhammad to the shadow 'Abbasid caliphs of his own time and also covering Muslim Spain, is a work "right on the chronological edge of the historical period of classical Islam" (Calder and others, eds, Classical Islam: A Sourcebook of Religious Literature, p. 83). "Suyuti wanted to curb certain excesses of the Mamluk regime. He drew a favourable contrast between the piety of Saladin, the restorer of Sunnism in Egypt, and the present rulers. His praise went to jurists, religious judges, Sufis, and mystics; he highlighted the heroic resistance of a qadi to Baybars. Suyuti offers a glimpse of Sunni 'pious opposition', at odds with the temper of the dawlah regime and scornful of its power" (Black, History of Islamic Political Thought, p. 148).

Jarrett was an Indian Army soldier and colonial officer. He also produced translations of the 16th-century "Constitute of Akbar" (Ain-i Akbari) and the Ibn 'Arabshah's account of Timur. Suyuti's other notable works include his immense commentary on the Qur'an. There was an Arabic edition of the History of the Caliphs was printed at Calcutta in 1857.

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6 parts in one volume, octavo in half-sheets (250 x 152 mm). Contemporary half morocco, marbled boards and endpapers, title gilt to spine, raised bands, top edge gilt, original purple printed paper wrappers bound in at the rear.


From the library of British Arabist and colonial agent Col. S. B. Miles (1838-1914), with printed bookplate noting his widow's bequest of the collection to Bath Public Library in 1920, and associated manuscript shelf-marks and blind-stamps as usual. Small portion of stripping to morocco on backstrip, spotting to prelims and endleaves, very occasionally to text, one of the bound wrappers partially torn. A very good copy.


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