A New Perspective on the Kitāb al-Aghānī by Abū al-Faraj al-Iṣfahānī and Shīʿī Islam in the Tenth Century
The Kitāb al-Aghānī (the Book of the Songs) stands as one of the most important extant sources for Arabic literature and Islamic history. Compiled during the first half of the tenth century, the Kitāb al-Aghānī emerges from a pivotal period in the formation of Islamic sectarian identities, a subject of keen and ongoing scholarly debate that is fundamental to our understanding of the later development of Shīʿī Islam. The present study addresses the question of whether or not its compiler, Abū al-Faraj al-Iṣfahānī’s, sectarian leanings can be discerned from the Kitāb al-Aghānī through an analysis based primarily on redaction criticism. By examining the compiler’s editorial interventions, this book argues that al-Iṣfahānī, to some extent at least, presents past people and events central to the Shīʿī worldview in accordance with his sectarian affiliation.