Tag Archives: Biographical literature

Vanity Post 2: The Changing Legacy of a Sufi Shaykh

This second installment revisits a piece I originally wrote in 2015 about narrative construction in Arabic chronicles from 15th- to 17th-century Damascus. It takes a micro-perspective to explore the construction of narratives focused on one series of events or ‘story’. As in the first instance, the PDF is attached at the end.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading