Towards a History of Ibn Tulun’s corpus

While much of what has been published here, has been more or less concerned with the topic of this post’s title, today it will get much more “personal”. More concretely, this post gives a list of all those people I could identify as having engaged with the corpus at one time or another.

This list is inspired by recent scholarship on the “social life of manuscripts”, “social codicology”, and “life-cycle studies of manuscripts”. In short, these approaches have in common an interest in the engagements people beyond the author had with certain manuscripts. Did they read them and how? How did they order their books and why? Which books did they acquire and what did they do with them? Which ways did books take between the point of their creation and our own engagement with them?

A first logical step in answering those question is the identification of the people who did engage with any given manuscript. The following list gives all the names to be found in Ibn Tulun manuscripts I had access to and indicates in which way people engaged with a manuscript.

  • ʿAbd al-Salām b. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Shaṭṭī al-Ḥanbalī al-Qādirī (lived around 1860-1867) (owner)
  • Ramaḍān b. Mūsā al-ʿUṭayfī (owner, reader, copyist)
  • Muḥammad Ibn Ṭūlūn (d. 1543) (owner, reader, copyist, author)
  • Yūsuf Ibn Ṭūlūn
  • ʿAbd al-Bāqī al-Maghribī
  • Yūsuf b. Abī al-Fatḥ al-Saqīfī al-Ḥanafī (d. 1057/1647) (reader?)
  • Fāẓil Aḥmed (owner)
  • Hafid Effendī (owner)
  • Şehid Ali Paşa (owner)
  • Ḥāmid b. al-sayyid Ismāʿīl al-Taqī (owner, reader)
  • Muḥammad b. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Ghazzī (lived in 1114) (owner)
  • ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Ghazzī (after 1017) (owner)
  • Reşid Effendī (owner)
  • Muḥammad Ibn Masmūl Ibn ʿĪsā al-Bardī (d. 963) (copyist)
  • Muḥammad b. Saʿd (owner)
  • ʿAbbās al-Ḥanbalī (owner/reader?)
  • Ibn al-Minlā/al-Mullā (ca. 1600) (copyist)
  • Muḥammad Beky/Mullā(?) Yasīn(?) (owner) (before 1820s)
  • ʿAbd/ʿAbduh(?) Muḥammad Rashīd (owner)
  • [Muṣṭafā?] Ibn Muḥammad al-Bānī (around 1200 or 1300?) (owner/reader?)
  • Esat Effendī (owner)
  • Sulaymān b. ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Dahna (copyist)
  • Ṭalʿat Bey (owner)
  • ʿAbd Allāh al-Māḥimarī(?) al-Ḥanbalī al-Qadirī (lived around 1850) (owner)
  • Ulrich Seetzen (1767-1811) (owner, book trader)
  • Jār Allāh Ibn Fahd (reader, copyist)
  • Akmal al-Dīn Muḥammad Ibn Mufliḥ al-Ḥanbalī (owner, reader, student, copyist)
  • Abraham Yahuda (1877-1952) (owner, book trader)
  • Mullā ʿUthmān al-Kurdī (owner)
  • Robert Garrett (1875–1961) (owner)
  • Baron von Kremer (1828-1889) (owner)
  • Aḥmad b. Ismāʿīl b. Muḥammad Taymūr Pasha (d. 1930) (owner)
  • Chester Beatty (owner)
  • Amīn b. Ḥasan al-Ḥulwānī al-Madanī al-Ḥanafī (owner, book trader)
  • Carlo v. Landberg (1848-1924) (reader, book trader, cataloguer)
  • al-Badr Muḥammad b. Muḥammad al-Ghazzī al-ʿĀmirī (d. 984/1577) (owner)
  • Aḥmad b. Muḥammad al-Khazrātī?
  • ʿAbd al-Karīm b. ʿAlī b. Ilyās(?) (owner)
  • Ṣādiq Fahmī al-Māliḥ (copyist)
  • Muḥ. b. Muḥ. al-Ḥarīrī al-Ḥalabī al-Dimashqī (d. 1037/1628) (copyist)
  • Dr. Muḥammad ʿĪsā Ṣāliḥīn (owner of photographic reproduction)
  • Mrs. Taylor (lived around 1860) (owner)
  • ʿĪsā Iskandar al-Maʿlūf (owner & scholar)
  • ʿAbd al-Qādir b. Ismāʿīl b. ʿAbd al-Ghanī al-Nābulusī (owner)
  • Muḥyī al-Dīn al-Nābulusī (owner)
  • Aḥmad al-Nābulusī (owner)
  • Miss Falk Ṭarzī (lives around 1900?) (owner)
  • Muḥammad b. Maḥmūd al-[ʿAdsī?], known as Shams al-Dīn (lived in 1037 AH) (copyist)
  • al-Ḥājj Ibrāhīm Ruḥdī?
  • ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Muṣṭafā b. Maḥmūd al-Ḥanbalī (lived around 1840) (owner)
  • Ḥasan b. Ibrāhīm al-Bayṭar al-Shāfiʿī (d. 1856) (owner)
  • Sayyid Yūsuf b. sayyid Manṣūr al-Ḥasanī (lived around 1129 AH) (reader/owner?)
  • Johann Gottfried Wetzstein (1815-1905) (owner, book trader)
  • Aḥmad Efendī Ḥasībī-zādeh (lived around 1850) (reader)
  • [Jawharī family] (around 1926) (owner)
  • Murād Bey al-Bārūdi (d. 1918) (owner)
  • Iskandar al-Bārūdi (d. 1921) (owner)
  • Aḥmad Zakī Pasha (d. 1934) (owner)
  • Abū al-ʿAbbās Aḥmad b. Khalīl al-Ṣāliḥī (makes excerpts)
  • Ustādh al-ʿAllāma Yūsuf ʿAṭṭā (owner)
  • Aḥmad b. shaykh ʿAbd Allāh al-Ḥalabī (lived 1264 AH) (lender)
  • Muṣṭafā al-Nabīb (d. before 1241 AH) (owner)
  • Jehan Philippe de Castelane (owner)
  • Muley Zidan (sultan of Morocco, ca. 1620) (owner)

As you can see, I have not yet been able to identify a large share of those people who engaged with Ibn Tulun’s manuscripts. Of those, I could identify, many lived in the 19th and early 20th century. This is not accidental but during that period, Ibn Tulun’s manuscripts were removed from their century-old repository in the Damascene Umariyya madrasa and, at the same time, his works gained new currency in the context of the Arabic Renaissance (nahda) and ensuing Arab nationalism. For some reason, also traditionalists rediscovered him as an important participant in hadith transmission.

His readers included important modern collectors such as Ahmad Zaki and Ahmad Taymur in Egypt, the Barudis in Beirut or Robert Garrett and Chester Beatty in North America. They also included a sultan of Morocco and several Ottoman officials. Finally, two women can be found among his readers: one Mrs Taylor and one Miss Falk Tarzi, both living in the 19th century.

If you happen to have further information on any of the people included in this list, I would be much obliged if you shared it with me.

Cite this article as: Torsten Wollina, "Towards a History of Ibn Tulun’s corpus", in Damascus Anecdotes, September 15, 2019,

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