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Plague in Early Islamic History

Michael W. Dols
Journal of the American Oriental Society
Vol. 94, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 1974), pp. 371-383
DOI: 10.2307/600071
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/600071
Page Count: 13
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Plague in Early Islamic History
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Abstract

The appearance of epidemics in early Islamic history may be attributed in part to the cyclical recurrences of plague in the Middle East following the Plague of Justinian, beginning in A. D. 541. Based primarily on the Arabic plague treatises written after the Black Death (the second plague pandemic in the mid-fourteenth century), the history of the plague epidemics through the Umaiyad Period has been reconstructed. These epidemics provoked medical and religio-legal explanations and prescriptions, which have strongly influenced the attitudes and behavior of the Muslim community toward the disease. Besides the deaths of important men by plague, it is suggested that the endemic nature of plague during the early Islamic Empire may have significantly retarded population growth and debilitated Muslim society in Syria and Iraq during the Umaiyad Period.

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