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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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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