Category Archives: Biographical Readings

Biographical works are one central source genre to my current project. But why so serious? They are among the more entertaining and sometimes surprising genres of premodern Arabic literature. And it is these aspects that I would like to stress here.

Introducing: Khadija al-Qurashiyya al-Bakriyya

Returning to a recurrent segment but with a little twist this post’s subject is Khadija bt. Jamal al-Din Abd Allah al-Qurashiyya al-Bakriyya—and we could add here—al-Misriyya. She did not receive her own biography in Ibn Tulun’s biographical dictionary al-Dhakhaʾir but nonetheless has her voice heard in that same work.

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Into Ibn Tulun’s library

My project is mostly concerned with Ibn Tulun’s own body of work, his own corpus. This focus has partially emerged due to my fascination with his organization of knowledge and partly due to constraints exerted by the current state of cataloguing. It is rather easy to find the author of any given manuscript but much more time-consuming to identify former owners of a manuscript. Today, however, let us take a look at which other books Ibn Tulun called his own.

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The Crustacean Returns: A possible context for Ibn Tulun’s observations

April 2018 saw the publication of a post on Ibn Ṭūlūn’s excursus on freshwater crustaceans indigenous to Syrian bodies of water. At the time, I could not give that much context on the meaning of this passage upon which I came in a biographical dictionary. Having recently ventured into some new literature for a course at Hamburg University, I will now try to give at least a bit more information as to the meaning of this zoological passage in a biographical work.

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Introducing: ʿAʾisha al-Salihiyya

This week we return to the final biography in the chapter on women in Ibn Tulun’s work al-Ghuraf (fol. 359a). The subject of the following short biography sheds light on some intriguing aspects of such transmission. It also poses somewhat of a riddle with regard to her own role within transmission.

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Introducing: Sitt al-Wuzaraʾ

The second biography of a woman in Ibn Ṭūlūn’s work al-Ghuraf is longer than the first. It is also concerned with a woman whose very name (as given in the text) already implies reverence towards her: Sitt al-Wuzarāʾ al-Māridāniyya al-Ḥanafiyya. In fact, it almost appears as if this biography was meant to be the center piece of Ibn Tulun’s short chapter on women.

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