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Allen J. Fromherz

Egyptian author and historian, was born in Cairo. A famed historian and writer of the Futuh Misr, or the Conquest of Egypt the oldest preserved work on the subject Abu al Qasim ʿAbd al Rahman bin ʿAbd Allah Ibn ʿAbd al Hakam is also known for his description of the Muslim conquest of North Africa and Iberia Abu al Qasim was a member of a prominent Egyptian family of legal scholars His father ʿAbd Allah wrote a refutation of al Shafiʿi the famed founder of the Shafiʿi school of Islamic law and was brought to Baghdad to swear to the createdness of the Qurʾan He refused and was sent back to Egypt by the caliph al Maʾmun Indeed despite their wealth and initial prominence the ʿAbd al Hakam family was often persecuted for standing up for their principles especially for the preservation of traditional Maliki law an early ...

Article

Russell Hopley

Tunisian historian, was born in the city of al-Qayrawan to a father trained as a scholar of Islamic law and hadith. His full name was Abu Bakr ʿAbd Allah bin Muhammad al-Maliki. Al-Maliki’s father was a historian in his own right, and he is known to have authored a hagiography of the renowned Tunisian jurist Abu al-Hasan al-Qabisi (d. 1012). Al-Maliki received his early education in al-Qayrawan under several influential figures, including Abu Bakr ibn ʿAbd al-Rahman (d. 1040 or 1043) and Muhammad bin ʿAbbas al-Ansari (d. 1036). He also appears to have spent a brief period in Sicily studying with several scholars there.

Upon his return to al Qayrawan al Maliki embarked on a career teaching the various branches of the Islamic sciences Among his pupils was the important jurist Abu ʿAbd Allah al Mazari d 1141 who cites al Maliki affectionately in one of his extant legal opinions ...

Article

Kurt J. Werthmuller

Egyptian Christian author, was a patron of Copto-Arabic historical literature, long presumed to be the author of Churches and Monasteries of Egypt and Some Neighboring Countries, a twelfth-century topographical survey of Christian sites and traditions in and around Egypt. The original author of the majority of that work was, in fact, Abu al-Makarim Saʿdallah Ibn Jirjis Ibn Masʿud, an elder of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. Despite confusion regarding its authorship, Churches and Monasteries has proven to be a crucial text for the study of Coptic tradition, Christian-Muslim relations, and the twelfth-century Egyptian state and society in general and was in turn an important source to later medieval chroniclers and topographers.

Although little is actually known about the specifics of the life of Abu Salih his patronage of this important piece of medieval Egyptian historical literature suggests that he was of a well to do socioeconomic class and ...

Article

Stanley M. Burstein

grammarian, historian, and the author of the most important surviving accounts of ancient northeast Africa and the Red Sea basin. Unfortunately, little is known of the details of his biography. The only sources for his life are a few autobiographical remarks in the fragments of his works and a notice in Codex 213 of the Bibliotheca of Photius the ninth century CE scholar and patriarch of Constantinople These references indicate that Agatharchides was born probably about 200 BCE in the city of Cnidus on the west coast of modern Turkey and that his origins were comparatively humble Probably in the early second century BCE he immigrated to Egypt where he came to the attention of an official and adviser of Ptolemy VI r 180 145 BCE named Cineas who made Agatharchides his protégé It was probably Cineas who also introduced him to another Ptolemaic official the historian and diplomat ...

Article

historian, was born and raised in al-Qayrawan in Tunisia. He undertook his education in the various fields of Islamic learning at the hand of no fewer than eighty scholars, among them the jurists Abu Zakaria al-Barqi and Ibn ‘Abd al-Jalil al-Azdi. Like numerous other North Africans, al-Dabbagh embarked on a journey to the cultural capitals of the Islamic east to complete his education, and there exists notice of his having been granted a license to teach by several eastern luminaries, including the religious scholars Abu al-Fadl al-Sa‘di and Abu al-Qasim ibn al-Hasib. Following his return to al-Qayrawan al-Dabbagh began writing the work for which he is best known, the Ma‘lim al-iman fi ma‘rifat ahl al-Qayrawan a lengthy prosopographical treatise containing biographical notices of 390 holy men religious scholars and jurists who inhabited the region of al Qayrawan from the period immediately following the death of the Prophet until ...

Article

Abdul Karim Bangura

Abu Nasr Muhammad ibn al-Farakh al-Farabi, or Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Tarkhan ibn Uzalagh al-Farabi, was born in 870 c.e in Kazakhstan or Persia or Afghanistan Also known in the West as Alpharabius he is considered by many to be the greatest philosopher scientist and musicologist of his era and perhaps one of the greatest Muslim philosophers in all of history As a political philosopher al Farabi sought out answers to many of the most difficult questions facing the Islamic world during his lifetime He questioned the relations between humankind and God the role of the intermediary the influence of the divine law in private life and the limitations of the human mind He went beyond the divine law and searched for humankind s place in the universe and our relationship with nature society and the divine law He inquired about the different types of political institutions ...

Article

Alain M. Gowing

historian, composed an invaluable Roman History in Greek while living and working in Rome under the emperors Hadrian (ruled 117–138 CE) and Antoninus Pius (ruled 138–161 CE). What scant biographical details we possess derive from a few remarks about himself in his work, especially in the History s Preface Appian also evidently published an autobiography that has not survived We catch a further fleeting glimpse of his personality through extant letters exchanged with his friend Fronto the Roman jurist and man of letters from Numidia modern Algeria and Tunisia in Africa who helped to advance the historian s career by intervening on his behalf with Antoninus Pius By Appian s own reckoning he was a man of some stature in his native Alexandria who in his late twenties or early thirties moved to Rome to pursue his career soon after Hadrian took power in 117 The precise nature of ...

Article

Duane W. Roller

was a major poet and scholar of the third century BCE. He was born at the end of the previous century in Kyrene (also Cyrene), the important Greek city on the coast of Africa west of Egypt in present-day Libya. He was of distinguished background: his homonymous grandfather was a member of the ruling elite of the city. The younger Callimachus immigrated to Alexandria in Egypt at an early age and became an intimate at the court of Ptolemaios II (who came to the throne in early 282 BCE). Callimachus was part of the developing intellectual presence around the Ptolemies, which at that time included the mathematician Euclid and the poets Theokritos and Apollonios of Rhodes. He was especially close to the queen, Arsinoë II, and wrote her eulogy.

When Arsinoë died around 270 BCE Callimachus may have fallen out of favor since little is known about him for ...

Article

Stanley M. Burstein

Stoic philosopher and the last important ancient historian of Egypt, was the son of Leonidas. Unfortunately, the evidence for his biography is confined to a handful of literary and papyrological texts. The most important of these texts is a letter of the Roman emperor Claudius dated to November 41 CE, in which Chaeremon is listed among the ambassadors to the emperor, who had defended the role of the Greeks in the anti-Jewish riots that had taken place in Alexandria three years earlier. His selection for such a responsible role indicates that Chaeremon was already an important figure in the Alexandrian Greek community at this time, suggesting that he was probably born no later than c. 10 CE. Although his prominence might suggest that Chaeremon belonged to one of the city’s aristocratic Greek families, the fact that he was also a hierogrammateus that is a sacred scribe one of the ...

Article

Eugenio Fantusati

Roman writer and prefect in Egypt, was born in Fréjus, in present-day France, in 69 BCE. Before devoting himself to a political career, he showed significant literary talent. He belonged to the neoteric school— a poetic society inspired by the Alexandrine traditions—of Valerius Cato and Catullus and composed four books of elegies, now almost entirely lost, entitled Amores, in which he mourned over his unlucky love for the young girl Lycoris.

A personal friend of Augustus and Virgil Gallus received his first political appointment at the age of thirty eight when immediately after the Battle of Actium he was named to the position of praefectum fabrum supervisor of the corps of engineers in Cyrenaica There with the cooperation of Pinarius Scarpa the commander of Antony s forces in Libya he had ensured the obedience of the rebellious countries thereby depriving Antony of the possibility of mounting a defense in ...

Article

John Marincola

Greek historian was born in Halicarnassus modern Bodrum in southwestern Turkey in the early fifth century BCE Little is known about his life his parents names are recorded as Lyxes and Dryo and his brother s as Theodorus He is said to have been the nephew or cousin of Panyassis fifth century BCE a poet who wrote on historical themes including the foundations of Greek cities in Ionia the name in antiquity for the western coastal area of modern day Turkey He was supposedly expelled from Halicarnassus by its ruler Lygdamis went into exile and then returned with allies to Halicarnassus and succeeded in overthrowing Lygdamis Finding however that his fellow citizens were displeased with him he went into exile traveled throughout the Mediterranean world visited Athens where he befriended the playwright Sophocles and even participated in a joint venture planned by several city states to establish a Greek settlement ...

Article

Niall Finneran

Herodotus (c. 485–425 b.c.e.) is one of the most important historical writers of antiquity. Born in the city of Halicarnassus, Asia Minor, he is regarded as bringing an “Asian” perspective to Greek historical writing. His writings are an amalgam of geography and history, framed from firsthand observation as well as secondhand accounts, a mixture of sober historical fact as well as reports of the exotic and miraculous. Herodotus’s Histories comprises nine volumes each named after a Muse the mode of expression full of dramatic digressions and asides suggests that it was written to be declaimed aloud in front of an audience Herodotus s legacy is immense he is regarded as a founding father of history The implications for Herodotus s works for Africanists are significant they represent some of the first recorded encounters between the Greek European worldview and the African world specifically dealing with detailed descriptions of ...

Article

Russell Hopley

historian and jurist, was born in Tadla in the region north of the Moroccan High Atlas. His full name was Abu Yaʿqub Yusuf ibn al-Zayyat al-Tadili. As a young man, al-Tadili was a follower of the venerated twelfth-century Moroccan mystic Abu ʾl-ʿAbbas al-Sabti (d. 1204). He received an education in the various fields of Islamic law, and he subsequently accepted the position of qadi among the Ragraga Berbers west of Marrakesh. Al-Tadili is best known for the hagiographical collection he authored, the Tashawwuf ila rijal al-tasawwuf, that includes biographical notices on 279 holy men and mystics who lived in North Africa from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries. Most of the mystics dealt with in the Tashawwuf were active in southern Morocco; however, there are several notices concerning prominent holy men from Fez, Meknes, Ceuta, Tlemcen, and Bijaya. Al-Tadili remarks in the prologue to the Tashawwuf that his ...

Article

Lucian Reinfandt

North African Islamic intellectual and historian, was one of the most remarkable, yet nonauthoritative thinkers of Islam. Scholar and politician, ʿAbd al-Rahman ibn Khaldun was the author of the book al-Muqaddimah Introduction which earned him fame as the first sociologist of Islam and inventor of Arabic historical thought even precursor of modern anthropology by many In the course of a remarkable political career he offered his services to several rulers and courts all over the North African continent and Spain thus giving proof of the cultural unity still present in the Islamic world in the fourteenth century despite all political fragmentation at that time He served in Tunis 1347 1350 Moroccan Fez 1350 1352 1354 1362 and 1372 1375 Algerian Bougie 1353 1354 and 1365 1366 Spanish Granada 1362 1365 and 1375 and Algerian Tlemcen 1375 After four years of retreat in western Algeria a result of the persistent ...

Article

Marian Aguiar

Ibn Khaldun wrote a monumental history of North Africa, the Kitab al-Ibar. But his most significant contribution, in the eyes of many contemporary scholars, is the Muqaddimah, perhaps the first systematic philosophical study of history and society. Ibn Khaldun was born in Tunis in the region of Tunisia to a family that for centuries had played a prominent political role in Andalusia, or southern Spain, before fleeing to North Africa to escape the Christian reconquest. As a young man he received a formal education in the Qur’an (Koran), Arabic poetry and Islamic law, preparing him for a life among the ruling class of North Africa. In 1349 both his mother and father died as the black plague ravaged Tunis. As a young married man, Ibn Khaldun joined the royal court in Tunis, and later in Fès, Morocco After a rebellion upset the court he was accused of treason and ...

Article

Russell Hopley

literary theorist, poet, anthologist, was born in Masila in the region of Constantine, a city in present-day Algeria, to a family of Arab origin. Hasan al-Qayrawani al-Azdi al-Masili Ibn Rashiq displayed an early interest in Arabic literature, and following his primary education in Masila he was sent to al-Qayrawan in 1015/1016 to pursue his secondary studies. There he was able to study under some of the most eminent literary figures of eleventh-century Ifriqiya (present-day Tunisia), among them the grammarian Abu ʿAbd Allah al-Qazzaz, and the poets Ibrahim al-Husri, Abu Muhammad al-Khushani, and Abu Muhammad ʿAbd al-Karim al-Nahshali. This latter was, like Ibn Rashiq, a native of Masila, and his principal work, al-Mumtiʿ fi ʿilm al-shʿir wa ʿamalih, served as Ibn Rashiq’s introduction to classical Arabic poetry, as it did for an entire generation of North African poets.

An accomplished poet by the age of nineteen Ibn Rashiq became a ...

Article

poet, litterateur, and historian, was born in the Tunisian city of al-Qayrawan to a family of Arab origin. Ibn Sharaf received his education in the Islamic sciences at the hand of several North African luminaries of the eleventh century, including the eminent jurists Abu al-Hasan al-Qabisi (d. 1012) and Abu ‘Imran al-Fasi (d. 1039), who provided the young pupil with a thorough training in Islamic jurisprudence. Ibn Sharaf also studied with Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Qazzaz (d. 1021–1022) in the fields of Arabic grammar and lexicography, and he was introduced to classical Arab literature by the poet and belle-lettrist Ibrahim al-Husri (d. 1022). It is likely that Ibn Sharaf received his initial exposure to Arab verse by studying the poetic selections found in the anthology al-Mumti‘ fi ‘ilm al-sh‘ir wa ‘amalih a work that served to initiate an entire ...

Article

jurist, historian, and litterateur, was born in the city of Sabta (present-day Ceuta) to an Arab family with origins in the Yemen. ‘Iyad's training in the various branches of Islamic learning was remarkably thorough. He undertook his early education in Sabta at the hand of several scholars, including the jurist ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Isa and the faqih ‘Ali Abu Ishaq al-Fasi. He then traveled to al-Andalus, and there exists notice that he studied there with no fewer than a hundred scholars, among them several leading figures of the age, including the traditionist Abu ‘Ali al-Sadafi of Murcia (d. 1120/21), the jurist Abu al-Walid ibn Rushd of Cordoba (d. 1126), and the religious scholar and jurist Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi of Seville (d. 1148).

Unlike many of his fellow North Africans it appears that Iyad never made the journey to ...

Article

Christopher Wise

author of the medieval history of the rise and fall of the Songhay dynasty of the Askiyas, entitled the Taʿrikh al-fattash, was born Mahmoud ibn al hajj al-Mutawakkil Kati in Kurmina (northern Mali). According to Fondo Kati, the curator of the Kati family libraries in Timbuktu, Kati’s father al hajj al-Mutawakkil Kati was a Sephardic Arab Muslim, who migrated to Timbuktu in the era of the Spanish Inquisition and who married an indigenous Songhay-Soninke woman. Kati was raised in Kurmina but lived most of his adult life in Timbuktu. In Taʿrikh al-sudan written by ʾAbad al Rahman al Sadi of the same era Kati is referred to as Mahmud ibn al hajj al Mutawakkil Kaʿti al Kurmini al Waʿkuri Sadi records that Kati was buried at Timbuktu near the tomb of Ahmad ibn al hajj Ahmad the father of Ahmad Baba and Mohamed Bagayoko two of Timbuktu s ...

Article

Reginald H. Pitts

inventor, entrepreneur, and historian, was born in what is now Gardiner, Maine, the son of Matthias Lewis, a farm laborer of Mohegan Indian ancestry. Nothing is now known of Lewis's mother. Sometime after 28 July 1800 Lewis's father married Lucy Stockbridge of Pittston, Maine, the daughter of African slaves. It is not known whether this marriage legalized a longstanding relationship or was Matthias's actual second marriage.

Although little is known of Lewis's early life, it appears that he first went to sea in ships that worked the Atlantic rim and the coastal trade down to the Caribbean. It is known that Lewis wanted to become a missionary to Africa; after his death, his neighbors remembered, “it was said … that the Congregational Church in Hallowell [where Lewis moved around 1820 had in consequence of the intelligence he had manifested in youth obtained for him an ...