Being a Sabian at Court in Tenth-Century Baghdad

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Alexandre M. Roberts



Thābit b. Qurra (d. 288/901), a Sabian of Ḥarrān, 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-identification as a Sabian could be a distinct advantage in Baghdad’s elite circles. It focuses on Thābit’s great-grandson Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm b. Hilāl al-Ṣābī (d. 384/994) and his poetry as collected by al-Thaʿālibī (d. 429/1038). Two members of the family who did convert are also considered by way of contrast.

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