Arab messengers played a vital role in the medieval Islamic world and its diplomatic relations with foreign powers. An innovative treatise from the tenth century (Rusul al-Mulik, 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-Mulik draws on examples from the Qur'an and other sources which extend from the period of al- jihiliyya 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-Farri rejects jihadist policies in favor of quiet diplomacy and a pragmatic outlook of constructive realpolitik. Rusul al-Mulik is an extraordinarily important and original contribution to our understanding of the early Islamic world and the field of International Relations and Diplomatic History.