The History of Abu Moslem Nameh

Abu Moslem Nameh is one of the oldest of Persian popular stories with a relatively short documented history. It is believed that the original Arabic version was a slim tome of no more that a hundred pages. The Persian version of the work was written by Abu Taher Tarsusi in early 8th/13th century. Nearly all of the later and still available copies are based on this version.

It is believed that the original narrative framework was designed by Abu Moslem and/or his warrior friends. In later years, and with each passing generation, the original story was constantly reshaped and revised. Each new narration included different versions of old tales and incorporated new elements based on personal fantasies or tales of miracles and sorcery.

Abu Moslem Nameh lost much of its popular appeal when, in the middle of 11th/16th century, during the Safavid period, a treatise written by a cleric, harshly criticized Abu Moslem as someone who had betrayed the Prophet's family and paved the way for the Abbasid's ascendence. The dearth of the copies of this story in Iran, as compared to the their abundance in neighboring countries, attests to the effects of that episode on the public perception of the worth of this tale.

The basic and recurrent themes not only in Abu Moslem Nameh b but also in a number of other works by Abu Taher Tarsusi, including Mosayyeb Nameh, Darab Nameh and Qahreman Nameh , are inspired by the history and culture of ancient Iran. Heroic manifestations of chivalry and altruism are also constantly depicted in the narrative structure of these tales.

No two copies of the various versions of Abu Moslem Nameh are alike except for their bare narrative structure. And yet, the editing and publication of its various versions may be of considerable historical and linguistic value.

Hosayn Esma`ili
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