In the era of the “Sunnī Revival” and the couple of centuries following, scholars engaged in a large historiographical project aimed at rehabilitating the reputation of the Umayyad dynasty and Syria’s role in the early Islamic narrative. One of Ibn Kathīr’s historiographical missions in his history Kitāb al-Bidāya wa-l-nihāya was specifically the defense of the Companions of the Prophet. As such, the narrative of ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib required some manipulation to answer Shīʿī narratives that cast some of the most important Companions (especially those associated with the Umayyads and Syria) in a rebellious light. This article explores the literary-narrative strategies Ibn Kathīr employs to alter the narrative so as to counteract the implications of the pro-ʿAlīd versions of the story he found in his sources, especially al-Ṭabarī’s Taʾrīkh al-Rusul wa-l-mulūk.
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