Being a Sabian at Court in Tenth-Century Baghdad

Roberts, Alexandre M.

Thabit b. Qurra (d. 288/901), a Sabian of Harran, and his descendants remained in their ancestral religion for six generations. Why did they persist despite pressure to convert? This article argues that religious self-identication as a Sabian could be a distinct advantage in Baghdad's elite circles. It focuses on Thabit's great-grandson Abu Ishaq Ibrahim b. Hilal al-Sabi (d. 384/994) and his poetry as collected by al-Tha‘alibi (d. 429/1038). Two members of the family who did convert are also considered by way of contrast.

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Journal of the American Oriental Society

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September 9, 2017