In the introduction to his Taʾrı-kh, al-T.abarı-reveals the freedoms and constraints under which he worked. He does this by providing his History with a purpose and by spelling out, albeit vaguely, his methodology. He states:

There were messengers sent by God, kings placed in authority, or caliphs established in the caliphal succession. God had early on bestowed His benefits and favors upon some of them. They were grateful for His favors, and He thus gave them more favors and bounty in addition to those bestowed by Him upon them in their fleeting life, or He postponed the increase and stored it up for them with Himself. There were others who were not grateful for His favors, and so He deprived them of the favors He had bestowed upon them early on and hastened for them His revenge. There were also others who were not grateful for His favors; He let them enjoy them until the time of their death and perdition.1