By Islamic Historiography I mean written material concerning the events of the early period of Islam written by Muslim historians. This material is essential for any major research on Islam but has been continuously discredited by predominantly Western scholars. Therefore, before the study of these texts, an outline of their characteristics and a short discussion about the criticisms of these texts and their authors is indispensable.
Among the problems proclaimed in the criticisms are: the gap between the historical events and their recording, the fact that early historical compilations have not survived and have been paraphrased or summarized in later digests, the problem of the oral origin of many reports, the task of the historian, the incompatibility of non-Islamic sources, forged reports, political influences on historiography, the purpose of historiography and the originality of the historian.
In this paper the criticisms concerning the Islamic historiography and the answers of the some historians to these criticisms will be surveyed.
The origin, the terminology and the form of the early Islamic historiography
According to Robinson, Arabs produced very little written material before Islam and relied instead on orality.
It seems logical to conclude that the enormous volume of written work which was produced after Islam must be ascribed primarily to the emphasis in various Qur´ānic verses on writing and the stories in this book about the previous peoples and prophets, which encouraged the Muslims to narrate, and reflect and investigate about the origins of those narrations, examples are, the next two verses:
…By the pen and what they write with it…. (Qur’ān 68:1)
Relate these allegorical stories (to the people) perhaps they might think. (Qur’ān 7:176).3
The second important impetus seems to have been the traditions of the Prophet of Islam which were to be preserved for the future generations. Islamic Tradition informs us that the Prophet of Islam discouraged his followers, in the initial stages of his mission, to write about him in order to prevent any confusion between his sayings and the Qur´ān.
However the reports about the alteration of this attitude in a later stadium encouraged the biographers to write Sīra or biographical collections at the end of the first and beginning of the second Islamic century. The campaigns of the Prophet (Maġāzī) and the conquests (Futūḫ)  were the other historical works, produced in the period between the first works and the later great compilations.
The collections with the modern name for history, Ta’riḥ, appeared in the 2nd/9th century.
Their source material consisted of Aḥbār which according to Rosenthal means both information and the events and corresponds to history in the sense of story, anecdote (ḫekāyat). Later, when the term was used together with āthār, it became synonymous to hadīth.
The other sources were the above mentioned Sīra, Maġāzī and Futūḫ works, the books of aḥbāriyyūn and genealogical works and oral accounts.
Thus, the first historical works, as the ordered record of the events of the past, began as a mixture of the above mentioned genres. This is the same multi-faceted character that Robinson says history used to have:
“…coming via Latin from the Greek historia, generally meant ´inquiry´; it earlier described a variety of genres, including geography, folklore and ethnography, in addition to what we would commonly understand to be history.”
And the way Rosenthal defines history:
History in the narrow sense.., should be defined as the literary description of any sustained human activity either of groups or individuals which is reflected in, or has influence upon the development of a given group or individual….for the modern mind, the general concept of history may, in theory, be extended to include all animate or inanimate matters. 
While he also mentions that:
Muslim historiography includes those works which Muslims, at a given moment of their literary history, considered historical works and which, at the same time, contain a reasonable amount of material which can be classified ashistorical according to our definition of history, as given above. 
Thus, history is made up of many elements which together have certain meaning for certain people. This is by no means the denial of general definitions of or theories about history, rather, the emphasis is on the meaning of a certain concept, object or idea in a specific context.
Not only the combination of aḥbār and āthār became synonymous to ḫadīth, but also the form of historical narratives took the form of ḫadīth. According to Dūrī two perspectives existed among the early compilers: the ḫadīth perspective and the tribal perspective. Very soon, the first perspective prevailed which explains why the Islamic historiography has maintained the form of ḫadīth, thus, beginning with an isnād or chain of transmitters, continued by the report (ḥabar).
The problems concerning the Islamic historiography
Islamic history books and Muslim historians have been the subject of both praise and critique. There are problems concerning the historical texts and those concerning the narrators both historians and their transmitters.
One problem ascribed to Islamic historiography is the fact that there is a gap between the time of the events of the early period of Islam and their historiography. Is this gap so long that it can in fact disqualify the whole historiography? It seems that this gap was not considered to be very important when the Western scholars first came into contact with the Islamic sources of the second and third century of Islamic era. Perhaps this was caused by their earlier experiences with other historiographies. The later recording of the events in Islam had its precedents in other historiographies. For example, according to Robinson: The gap between event and record in early Islam is relatively narrow compared with our source material for the ancient Israelites, which usually dates from several centuries after the facts they purport to relate.
Thus the problem of late compilation does not seem to be restricted to Islamic historiography. Read more
Fatsoenlijk land – Porgel en Porulan in het verzet van Loes Gompes Het boek verscheen in 2013 bij Rozenberg Publishers – ISBN 978 90 361 0350 3 – Met DvD van de documentaire Fatsoenlijk land (Lumen Film – 60 min.)
Proloog ~ Verzet in twee werelden
Athene, Rome en Jeruzalem in Alkmaar
De Duitse inval en het ontslag van de vaders
De Vrije Groepen Amsterdam
Porgel en Porulan in documenten en voedsel
Bevrijding – Foto’s Jan Hemelrijk
Jan Hemelrijk gaf de groep de naam PP-groep. Dat gebeurde bij de oprichting van de Vrije Groepen Amsterdam (VGA) in 1944 toen elke groep een naam moest kiezen. Je zou kunnen denken dat het een verwijzing is naar Potasch en Perlemoer, de twee kibbelende joodse zakenlieden uit de bekende gelijknamige vooroorlogse volkskomedie. Maar dat was niet het geval. Jan liet zich inspireren door de ‘porgel’ en de ‘porulan’, fantasiebeesten in het clandestien verschenen nonsensrijm De Blauwbilgorgel (1943) van Cees Buddingh’.
Ik ben de blauwbilgorgel,
Mijn vader was een porgel,
Mijn moeder was een porulan,
Daar komen vreemde kind’ren van.
Raban! Raban! Raban!
Ik ben de blauwbilgorgel,
Ik lust alleen maar korgel,
Behalve als de nachtuil krijst,
Dan eet ik riep en rimmelrijst.
Rabijst! Rabijst! Rabijst!
Ik ben de blauwbilgorgel,
Als ik niet wok of worgel,
Dan lig ik languit in de zon
En knoester met mijn knezidon.
Rabon! Rabon! Rabon! I
Ik ben de blauwbilgorgel,
Eens sterf ik aan de schorgel,
En schrompel als een kriks ineen
En word een blauwe kiezelsteen.
Ga heen! Ga heen! Ga heen!
Cees Buddingh’ (1918 – 1985)
Professional Blindness And Missing The Mark ~ The Historical Analysis Of Four Major Crises During The First Two Decades Of The Republic Of Indonesia
Within a few days we will begin publishing Professional Blindness And Missing The Mark ~ The Historical Analysis Of Four Major Crises During The First Two Decades Of The Republic Of Indonesia. The paperback edition will be available in the beginning of 2015 (EHV Academicpress – Bremen).
This book contains six captivating articles about decisive moments in the first two decennia of the Republic of Indonesia’s existence (1945-1965); one per chapter with an introduction. They were presented at the memorial in honor of Professor dr. Wim Wertheim’s centennial birthday in 2008 – the doyen of post-war Dutch Indonesia research.
Each chapter explores a significant event from that era and was written by experienced researchers – Mary van Delden, Saskia Wieringa, Ben White, Pieter Drooglever and Coen Holtzappel – making use of source material that for the most part has been neglected by previous research. The analyses of the material reveal the new Republic’s struggle to bring together, and keep together, the colonial heritage of the Dutch East Indies in one independent and productive Republic of Indonesia. The foundation of a domestically, across the archipelago, and internationally accepted national government, as well as obedient regional governments and obliging armed forces, were deciding factors in this struggle.
Violent confrontations between armed forces and the communist party PKI took place in 1948 during the Indonesian National Revolution, as well as in 1965 after the Republic had already been independent for 14 years. The dividing issue was the power balance between politics and army top in state, government and land. A rigorous break with the past was made in 1965, which saw the installation of a junta regime under the leadership of General Soeharto that stayed in place for the following 32 years. Democracy had to wait until the army top made sure every part of politics and armed forces was finely adapted to work with the other. Not until then would the clock of government, production and control be fully set.
The articles reveal a blind spot in Western research of Indonesian developments in the discussed period; research that from 1965 onward was further, and permanently, influenced by the Indonesian army’s view. The Cold War raged domestically as well as abroad.
Coen Holtzappel – Preface
Mary van Delden – Internees from the Republic
Coen Holtzappel – The year 1948 and the Madiun affairs, a year of cheat and rumours
Pieter Drooglever – Papua Nationalism. Another blind spot
Coen Holtzappel – The Thirtieth September Movement of 1965, as viewed by the perpetrators – Part One
Coen Holtzappel – The Thirtieth September Movement of 1965, as viewed by the perpetrators – Part Two
Coen Holtzappel – The Thirtieth September Movement of 1965, as viewed by the perpetrators – Part Three
Saskia Eleonora Wieringa – Sexual Slander And The 1965/66 Mass Killings In Indonesia: Political And Methodological Considerations
Ben White – The anthropologist’s blind spot: Clifford Geertz on class, killings and communists in Indonesia
Coen Holtzappel & Pieter Drooglever – Postscript
About the authors
Rozenberg Quarterly will publish on paper and online:
Jan Briffaerts – When Congo wants to go to school. Educational realities in a colonial context. An investigation into educational practices in primary education in the Belgian Congo (1925-1960) – Pb – 420 pag. – € 39,50 – ISBN 978 90 3610 144 8 – 2014
The education system in the Congo was widely considered to be one of the best in colonial Africa, in particular because of its broad reach among the Congolese youth. At independence however, the wake-up call was brutal as soon it became clear that the colonial educational system had neglected to form an educated class of people able to cope with administrating one of Africa’s biggest and economically most important countries. To be able to understand the mechanisms and effects of missionary education it is most enlightening to go back to the classroom and investigate the everyday reality of school. What did missionary education do exactly, how did it work, what did it teach, and how did it relate to its subjects, the children of the Congo?
This study gives clear insights into the everyday realities of colonial education. It is the result of historical research into educational practices and realities in catholic missionary schools in the Tshuapa region, located in the south of the Congolese province of Equateur. It is based on a rich array of historical source material, ranging from missionary archives and mission periodicals through to contemporary literature and interviews with missionnaries and former pupils who experienced colonial education themselves. The title, “When Congo wants to go to school… ” refers to one of many articles published in Belgian mission periodicals on the subject of the education and civilisation work carried out by missionaries in the Belgian colony.
The complete book now online:
Introduction & A Few Preliminary Remarks
Educational Organisation In The Belgian Congo (1908-1958)
The Missionaries And The Belgian Congo: Preparation, Ideas And Conceptions Of The Missionaries
Catholic Missions In The Tshuapa Region
The research project that formed the foundation for this study grew from a few existing lines of research. On the one hand it relates to research on the so-called Belgian civilisation project in the Congo, on the other to research into the micro-history of education in Belgium. Both my promoter and I have some experience in research into colonial education. Marc Depaepe’s work on the colonial phenomenon grew out of a representative, personal connection to it. As with many Flemish people, the colonial past was a part of his family history. The letters from his great aunt, Sister Maria Adonia Depaepe, a missionary in the Congo between 1909 and 1961, which he later published, are a testimony to this. Her personal documents were published as part of a project on the history of education, more specifically the missionary action of the Belgians in the former colony. The result was a general study at a macro level based on the theory of historical education, focussing in on the educational policy and institutional development of colonial education. At about the time this book was published I was writing an extended paper in the framework of the “Historische kritiek” (tr. Historical criticism) lectures in the history department at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels. The subject of my paper was the “school struggle” in the nineteen fifties in the Belgian Congo. This paper really related to a part of political history and the political players behind colonial education, particularly in Belgium and to a limited extent the Belgian Congo. Some years later the content of the paper was presented at a colloquium on 50 years of the school pact (2nd and 3rd December 1998, V.U.B.) and published in the resulting conference notes. Read more
A rich Central American culture is fast disappearing in the wake of immigration and integration. This film chronicles the challenges and struggles of the Garifuna people to preserve their identity. The story serves as a microcosmic example of the loss of time-honored customs in a world that is increasingly becoming one homogenous international culture.
A Ben Petersen Film
A Brigham Young University Communications Department Production
Produced, directed, and edited by Ben Petersen
Additional footage provided by: Jared Johnson, Dale Green and Jorge Zuniga.
Funding Provided by the BYU Office of Research and Creative Activities, BYU Communications Department and the B&A Trust Fund.
Music by Michael Bahnmiller. “Ba-ba” by Aziatic.