Like his contemporary Al-Dinawari, Ya'qubi's histories, unlike those of their predecessors, aimed to entertain as well as instruct; they are "literary" productions. His history is divided into two parts.
In the first he gives a comprehensive account of the pre-Islamic and non-Islamic peoples, especially of their religion and literature. For the time of the patriarchs his source is now seen to be the Syriac work published by Karl Bezold as Die Schatzhöhle. In his account of India he is the first to give an account of the stories of Kalila and Dimna, as well as of Sindibad (Sinbad). When treating of Greece he gives many extracts from the philosophers (cf. M. Klamroth in the Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft, vols. xl. and xli.)..
The second part contains the Islamic history starting from the life of Mohammed, through the Caliphs and Shiite Imams down to 259/872", and is neither extreme nor unfair, although he inherited Shi'ite leanings from his great-grandfather. The work is characterized by its detailed account of some provinces, such as Armenia and Khorasan, by its astronomical details and its quotations from religious authorities rather than poets. The Tarikh is valued as a relevant historical testimony, because it "preserves the ancient Shi'īte tradition concerning the life and work of the Prophet".
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- One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Thatcher, Griffithes Wheeler (1911). "Ya'qūbī". In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 904.
- R. Y. Ebied; L. R. Wickham (Apr 1, 1970). Al-Yaʿḳūbī's Account of the Israelite Prophets and Kings. Journal of Near Eastern Studies. 29. The University of Chicago Press. pp. 80–98. JSTOR 543818.