TABARI (OIP),al-Tabari (ca. 838â€“923), a brilliant scholar of â€˜Abbasid Baghdad, wrote extensively in all fields of the Islamic sciences of his day. Now, the most widely read of his works are his massive History of the Messengers and Kings and his Qurâ€™an commentary. The History is the primary source for information about Sassanid Persia and the first three centuries of Islam. It is also an argument for grounding knowledge and policy on experience and rationality. In the introductory chapters, Mårtensson explains the methodologies that underpin Tabariâ€™s contribution to history, scriptural interpretation and jurisprudence. Through an account of Tabariâ€™s education, writings, political contacts, and the political context within which he worked, she describes Tabariâ€™s principal concern: how to combat, through good scholarship and â€˜good governanceâ€™, the arbitrary legal and administrative practices which threatened to bring down the Abbasid empire. The main chapters of the book (with maps and extensive citations from the History) show how Tabari demonstrated his general argument: that good governance should depend on merit, not family or tribal loyalties; that political and religious authority should be separated; that administration should manage the needs of societyâ€™s conflicting interest-groups rationally, through rule of law and a centralized taxation policy. That argument has urgent relevance for contemporary Muslims, as does Tabariâ€™s observation that, while the causes of insurrection can be justified, its effects seldom can.