Mapping A. S. Yahuda’s Berlin, 1906-1914

As announced in the last post, I will provide more information on the manuscript trader Abraham Shalom Yahuda (d. 1951). His biography is a global one, and in this post I will address his time in Berlin before World War 1. Arguably, Yahuda came to Berlin to teach at the Higher Institute for Jewish Studies following the completion of his Ph.D. dissertation. Here, I will provide information on his changing residences during his time in Berlin, which might also make for a good day tour.

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A biography of Ibn ʿAbd al-Hādī

This post presents the biography of Ibn ʿAbd al-Hādī from Muḥammad Jamīl al-Shaṭṭī’s Mukhtaṣar Ṭabaqāt al-Ḥanābila which was introduced in an earlier post. Ibn ʿAbd al-Hādī has received some attention recently for his large-scale book binding project, detailed in Konrad Hirschler’s newest book A Monument to Syrian Medieval Book Culture, which is very good. This post is no book review though. Rather it asks what a biographer some 500 years later deemed important enough to be repeated about Ibn ʿAbd al-Hādī.

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Collecting Books: Where is its place in scholarly biographies?

One thing that has frustrated me for a while now is how most collectors of Arabic manuscripts are portrayed in biographical entries. To be more succinct, while the collections are usually mentioned, this often happens as an afterthought. According to such biographical entries, everything else a collector did in their life was more important / interesting than their collection. This is a common feature shared by articles on Wikipedia, in encyclopedias, and other scholarly publications (with the obvious exceptions from book and library history).

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Of what a biographer approves: The case of Akmal al-Din Ibn Muflih

This short post revolves around a short biography of Akmal al-Din Ibn Muflih, a somewhat elusive figure of early Ottoman Damascus. He was Ibn Tulun’s most visible student; that is, his handwriting is found in many of his teacher’s autographs. Yet, little substantial information can be found on him in the biographical literature. In this and several future posts, we will see that even the most basic facts of his career become uncertain once biographical accounts are compared. But first, this post introduces a rather late description which concentrates rather on Ibn Muflih’s contributions to the Arabic manuscript tradition.

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Teaching and transmission in 16th-century Damascus

The importance of any scholar can be justified with either of three arguments: They wrote many and important works, furthering one or even several disciplines; they taught many students who went on to become themselves important scholars; or people more generally benefited from their dispensation of helpful information. Ideally, a scholar would combine all of the above, which should reflect in them being appointed to influential positions in educational institutions. However, as today, so in the 16th century politics played a role in appointment processes, and often enough the person skillful in those could overcome someone more knowledgeable in the discipline to be taught.

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