IN his Preface to the Second Edition, dated 1891, Sir William Muir says:—
"This volume was at first intended as an abridgment of the First Edition, or Annals of the Early Caliphate1, with continuation to the fall of the Abbassides; but I found, as I went on, the matter less compressible than I had hoped. The result, therefore, is much larger than I anticipated. I trust, however, that, its length notwithstanding, the narrative may be found not uninteresting; and I now offer it as a contribution towards the history of a period for which there are, as yet, but scanty materials in the English language.
"The authorities, excepting for the later portions, are purely Arabian; indeed, for the earlier there are no other. After Tabari, who died in the fourth century A.H., Ibn Athir (d. 630 A.H.), a singularly impartial annalist who compiled his work from all available sources, has been my chief guide. Towards the close, and especially for the brief chapter on the Caliphate under the Mameluke dynasty, I have drawn largely on Weil's admirable Geschichte der Chalifen2, which indeed has been my constant companion throughout. I gratefully acknowledge my obligations to the late Dr Weil. The more his great history is studied in connection with the original authorities, the more one is impressed with the vast research, the unfailing accuracy, and dispassionate judgment of the author.
"I should mention here that the materials out of which our story is woven differ entirely from those for the Biography of Mahomet. For that, every incident of his
1 Smith & Elder, 1833.
2 Vols. I.-III. Mannheim, 1864-1851; IV. and V. Stuttgart, 1860-1862.