The Arabs: A Short History

Publication Year



Edited by Luke Yarbrough (Ph.D. 2012) and Oded Zinger (Ph.D. 2014).

This new edition of Heinz Halm’s The Arabs: A Short History (Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 2012) includes 150 pages of primary sources selected, edited, and in some cases translated by NES graduate students Luke Yarbrough (Ph.D. 2012) and Oded Zinger (Ph.D. 2014). This new Appendix of primary sources enhances the text’s value for instructors as well as for general readers. Some 40 primary source readings—ranging from Spain to Iraq, from classical Antiquity to the 2011 Arab Spring, and from poetry and scripture to medieval economics and travelogue—provide a classroom-ready component for courses in history, area studies, and religious studies. Several of the readings appear here for the first time in translation; all have been chosen to give vivid and representative accounts of the Arabs’ history as told by those who experienced it. Taken together, they offer readers a glimpse of the vast, richly textured mosaic of texts that have been generated by and about the Arabs, and they encourage greater exploration. The volume is a part of the department’s new series, Princeton Series of Middle Eastern Sources in Translation.




Readings for Chapter 1
1. A medieval historian on nomadic and sedentary peoples (Ibn Khaldun)
2. The nomads of Arabia in antiquity (Diodorus Siculus, al-Mas‘udi)
3. Arabic poetry (‘Antara ibn Shaddad)

Readings for Chapter 2
4. The Qur’an
5. The hadith
6. Muhammad (Ibn Ishaq)
7. A conquest treaty from Spain (‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Musa ibn Nusayr)
8. A dissident opinion of the Umayyads (Abu Hamza al-Mukhtar ibn ‘Awf)
9. The dilemma of a Muslim ruler (Ziya’ al-Din al-Barani)
10. Jahiz on singing girls (‘Amr ibn Bahr al-Jahiz)
11. Reconciling the religious and philosophical sciences (Abu al-Hasan al-‘Amiri)

Readings for Chapter 3
12. Whom to hire to run one’s affairs (Nizam al-Mulk)
13. From the autobiography of ‘Abd al-Latif al-Baghdadi (‘Abd al-Latif al-Baghdadi)
14. Those boorish Franks (Usama ibn Munqidh)
15. Hard times on the Nile (al-Maqrizi)
16. Problems of married life (Ja‘far ibn Ahmad)
17. Latin and Arabic in al-Andalus (Alvarus of Cordoba)
18. Andalusi poems on forbidden love and the fall of Granada (Anonymous)

Readings for Chapter 4
19. A British traveler on Arabs and Turks in the Syrian desert (William Beawes)
20. Principles of Wahhabism (Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab)
21. The advent of coffee and coffee-drinkers (‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jaziri, Anonymous)
22. A European observer of the Ottoman military (Ogier Ghiselin de Busbecq)
23. A French observer of the Moroccan military (Louis Chénier)

Readings for Chapter 5
24. A Sunni modernist on the conversion of Iraq’s Arabs to Shi‘ism (Rashid Rida)
25. The Gulf before oil (Carsten Niehbuhr)
26. A barber of Damascus: Ahmad Budayri al-Hallaq’s chronicle of the year 1749 (Ahmad Budayri al-Hallaq)
27. Aftermath to a massacre (Anonymous)
28. Observing the French in Egypt (al-Jabarti)

Readings for Chapter 6
29. Behind-the-scenes dealings of the early 20th century (Various European diplomats)
30. The founder of the Muslim Brotherhood on politics and religion (Hasan al-Banna’)
31. Israel’s declaration of independence
32. The Palestinian National Covenant
33. The Hamas charter
34. The heady years of Arab nationalism (Jamal ‘Abd al-Nasir)
35. Sadat in Jerusalem (Anwar al-Sadat)
36. Political jokes from Egypt and Syria
37. Impressions of the Lebanese civil war (Mishka Moujabbar Mourani)

Readings for Chapter 7
38. The dark days of Iraqi discord (Ayatollah Sistani)
39. Israel’s mid-life crisis? (David Grossman)
40. A manifesto of the Arab Spring (The April 6 Youth Movement)

Expanded edition with documents selected and edited by Luke Yarbrough and Oded Zinger.
Markus Wiener Publishers
Princeton, NJ
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