Arab messengers played a vital role in the medieval Islamic world and its diplomatic relations with foreign powers. An invative treatise from the 10th Century ( Rusul al-Muluk , Messengers of Kings ) is perhaps the most important account of the diplomacy of the period, and it is here translated into English for the first time. Rusul al-Muluk draws on examples from the Qur'an and other sources which extend from the period of al-jahiliyya to the time of the 'Abbasid caliph al-Mu'tasim (218-227/833-842). In the only medieval Arabic work which exists on the conduct of messengers and their qualifications, the author Ibn al-Farr rejects jihadist policies in favor of quiet diplomacy and a pragmatic outlook of constructive realpolitik. Rusul al-Muluk is an extraordinarily important and original contribution to our understanding of the early Islamic world and the field of International Relations and Diplomatic History.
Maria Vaiou is Post-doctoral Research Fellow in Byzantine History at Sabanc University, Istanbul. She completed her PhD at the University of Oxford.