Most narratives about the events during the Umayyad rule come from sources that were compiled during the succeeding Abbasid rule. Since the Abbasids came to power through armed insurrection against the Umayyad government, it is possible that certain biases may have crept in narratives written during their rule. One way to answer this question is to look at older Arabic sources, or look at third party information, for example Byzantine writings describing the events in Syria after the fall of Damascus.


I am looking for primary sources from the time of the Umayyad reign (i.e. 750 CE or earlier). Are there things like manuscripts or books compiled during this time, royal archives, letters sent to foreign powers like the Byzantines, travelogues of this time etc? Basically, any sources of information about the Umayyad rule, administration, and civil strife etc. that did not come to us from historians or scholars living in the succeeding Abbasid rule. Such sources could even be from Andalusia where the vestiges of Umayyad rule survived a little longer.

Specific sources

I have heard about a controversial personal diary of an Andalusian governor (Hurr), called "Tazkirah Hurr ibn Abdul Rahman", but I am unable to find whether it is real, where it exists (manuscript or copies) or any academic description.

Disclaimer: Cross-posted from https://islam.stackexchange.com/q/20276/10523

  • Please note that for History, you're very close to being off-topic, as reference requests have been so named. – CGCampbell Jan 1 '15 at 1:02
  • @CGCampbell, thank you. I am very interested in finding such primary sources, and I think any answers will be of interest to even academic historians. I will be glad to reformulate the question in any way if it helps. Is the reference material question supposed to deter people using this for school? I will look in the meta. – Yusaf Jan 1 '15 at 3:20
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    @CGCampbell We exclude reference requests because more often than not they turn into open ended & wildy subjective polls (opinionated book reviews, etc). Sometimes, they also attract outright spam. I don't think a question asking for primary sources is in any danger of that. – yannis Jan 1 '15 at 4:58
  • There's a standing proposal on meta to allow source requests for seminal texts and "closed field" type primary sources where, barring a remarkable discovery, there should be an answer. IIRC. The proposal hasn't been actioned yet. – Samuel Russell Jan 1 '15 at 6:59

From "The First Dynasty of Islam: The Umayyad Caliphate AD 661-750" by G. R Hawting:

It seems likely that it was not until the later part of the Umayyad period that traditions, religious or historical (and the distinction is not always clear), came to be committed to writing with any frequency. Before that time they were generally transmitted orally in short, separate reports which were self-contained and relatively easy to memorise.

However, the same book suggests interesting data could be find in contemporary poetry (e.g. Farazdaq and Jarir). A little bit more on this can be found in "The Politics and Culture of an Umayyad Tribe: Conflict and Factionalism in the Early Islamic Period" by Mohammad Rihan.

Hope that helps.

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