The Fihrist of al-Nadīm, A Tenth-century survey of Muslim culture

Bayard Dodge


In the name of Allāh, the Merciful, the Compassionate, for nought befalls me apart from Allāh


The Second Section of the Third Chapter


comprising accounts of the kings, secretaries, preachers, letter writers, tax administrators, and public recorders, [1] with the names of their books.





Account of Ibrāhīm ibn al-Mahdī

   Ibrāhīm ibn al-Mahdī ibn al-Manṣūr ibn Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Abbās ibn ‘Abd al-Muṭṭalib was the first genius among the Banū al-‘Abbās and the children of the caliphs to become prominent. He wrote correspondence and poetry, also composing books. His mother, Shiklah, originated from Ṭabarīstān and was said to have been the daughter of the king of Ṭabarīstān.


He was a Negro, blackest [2] of blacks, with a large body and lofty character. Never before him was there seen a more eloquent stylist or greater poet among the sons of the caliphs. He also had a talent for singing, in which he surpassed everyone else, so that Isḥāq [al-Mawṣilī] and Ibrāhīm [al-Maiwṣilī] after him used to learn from him and summon before him the singers, to be judged for their performances. [3] His birth was -----------. Among his books there were:



1. “Public recorders” is omitted by the Beatty MS. In Arabic the phrase is aṣḥāb al-dawāwīn, which might refer to members of government offices, councils, or tribunals.


2. The Beatty MS gives ḥanik, which must be an error, meant to be ḥālik (“very black”).


3. Ibrāhīm ibn al-Mahdī was a contemporary of Isḥāq, the younger Mawṣilī, and was about 25 years old when Ibrāhīm, the elder Mawṣilī, died. Perhaps the text means to indicate that while Ibrāhīm ibn al-Mahdī was teaching the younger Mawṣilī, the father also learned what he could from him.




The Training of Ibrāhīm; Cooked Food; Perfume (Al-Ṭīb) (or Pleasant [Al-Ṭayyib]); Singing. [4]


   He was ‘Abd Allāh ibn Hārūn ibn al-Mahdī ibn al-Manṣūr ibn Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn al-‘Abbās ibn ‘Abd al-Muṭṭalib, the greatest authority among the caliphs [5] for the law and theology. He [also] was as good as [6] his brother Muḥammad ibn Zubaydah [al-Amīn] in eloquence of literary style. We are too rich in famed traditions concerning him to go into detail when mentioning him. Among his books there were: 

Answers to the Questions of the King of the Burghar [7] Addressed to Him [al-Ma’mūn] about Islām and the Unity (Theology); his epistle, Proofs of the Virtues of the Caliphs, since the Time of the Prophet, May Allāh Bless Him and Give Him Peace; his epistle, Signs of Prophethood. [8]


Ibn al-Mu‘tazz

   He was ‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Mu‘tazz ibn al-Mutawakkil ibn al-Mu‘taṣim ibn al-Rashīd ibn al-Mahdī, one of the men of letters and poets of his period. He emulated the Arabian stylists, learning from them. He met grammarians and historical traditionalists. He heard much and was prolific in making quotations. His life also is too well known to require details. He wrote many books, among which there were: 

Al-Badī‘ (The Discoverer) [also, a kind of rhetoric]; Flowers and Gardens; Beasts of Prey and Hunting; Plagiarisms; Poems of the Kings; Literary Pursuits; Adornments (Distinguishing Features) of Historical Traditions; Correspondence of the Brothers about Poetry (in Poetry); [9] Generations (Categories) of Poets; The Collection, about singing; his poem in the rajaz meter about the evil of drinking in the morning.


4. Omitted in the Beatty MS. The Ibrāhīm referred to in the first title was probably al-Mawṣilī, but it might also have been Ibrāhīm ibn al-Mahdī.


5. The Beatty MS has “jurists,” which may be more correct than Flügel’s word, “caliphs.”


6. “As good as” (dūn) can also have the meaning “worse than.”


7. The Burghar were probably the Bulgarians; see Mas‘ūdī, II, 14; Yāqūt, Geog., I, 568.


8. Omitted in the Beatty MS. An epistle might be a letter or essay.


9. This title and the three which follow are not in the Beatty MS.







   Abū Dulaf al-Qāsim ibn ‘Īsā ibn Ma‘qil ibn Idrīs al-‘Ijlī was a lord and emir [10] of his people, one of the illustrious men of letters and brilliant poets, who also composed songs. His life is famous. Among his books there were: 

Falcons and Hunting; Purity of Soul (Al-Nazh) (or Amusements [Al-Nuzah]); Weapons; [11] Policies of the Kings.


Al-Fatḥ ibn Khāqān 

   He was al-Fatḥ ibn Khāqān ibn Aḥmad, the most extremely brilliant, intelligent, and cultured person among the sons of the kings. [The Caliph] Al-Mutawakkil adopted him as a brother, preferring him to all of his children and relatives. He had a library which ‘Alī ibn Yaḥyā the astrologer collected for him and which was as great in quantity and quality as any other ever seen. The masters of literary style among the Arabians and the scholars of al-Kūfah and al-Baṣrah used to frequent his house.


Abū Hiffān said: 

I have never seen or heard of anyone who loved books and studies more than three men: al-Jāḥiẓ, al-Fatḥ ibn Khāqān, and Isma‘īl ibn Isḥāq, the judge. Whenever a book came into the hand of al-Jāḥiẓ he read through it, wherever he happened to be. He even used to rent the shops of al-warrāqūn, remaining in them for study. As for al-Fatḥ ibn Khāqān, he used to attend the audiences of al-Mutawakkil, but if for any reason he wished to leave the audience, he used to take out a book from his sleeve or shoe and read it away from the audience of al-Mutawakkil, so that this became a habit, even in the latrine. [12] Then with regards to Ismā‘īl ibn Isḥāq, I never visited him without seeing him looking into a book, or rummaging through books, or dusting them.

 Al-Fatḥ died during the evening when al-Mutawakkil was assassinated, being killed with swords along with him. Among his books there were:



10. He was a man of noble lineage, a general, and a governor.


11. This title and the one which follows are not in the Beatty MS.


12. The Beatty MS has min majlis (“from the audience”), whereas the Flügel text has fī majlis (“in the audience”), so that the true meaning of this passage is not clear.




The Garden, which was attributed to him, though the man who really wrote it for him was a person known as Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd Rabbih, with the nickname of “Mule’s Head”;  The Hunt and the Prey, The Disagreement of Kings; [13] The Garden and the Flowers.


The Family of Ṭāhir


‘Abd Allāh ibn Ṭahir

   He was a poet, writer of epistles, and master of literary style, as was his father, Ṭāhir ibn al-Ḥusayn, also. Both of them were authors of collections of letters. The correspondence of Ṭāhir ibn al-Ḥusayn with al-Ma’mūn, at the time of his [Ṭāhir’s] entry into Baghdād, is famous and of an excellent quality. [14]


Manṣūr ibn Ṭalḥah ibn Ṭāhir ibn al-Ḥusayn 

   [His uncle] ‘Abd Allāh ibn Ṭāhir called him the savant of the Ṭāhir family, admiring him for all his wonderful traits. He was the governor of Marw (Merv), Āmul, Zamm, and Khwārizm. [15] He also wrote some famous books on philosophy, among which there was The Agreeable in Music, after reading which al-Kindī said, “It is as agreeable as its author named it.” There were also among his books: 

Manifest (Al-Ibānah), about the actions of the heavens; Existence; his epistle, Numbers and the Reckoned; Guidance and Deduction.


‘Ubayd Allāh ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn Ṭahir 

   He was a poet, writer of epistles, and governor, who succeeded Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn Ṭāhir [16] as chief of the guard at



13. This title and the one following are not in the Beatty MS.


14. When the Caliph Hārūn al-Rashīd died, his son al-Amīn became his successor. But the younger brother al-Ma’mūn sent his general, who was Ṭāhir ibn al-Ḥusayn, with an army from Khurāsān to seize Baghdād. After 14 months, Ṭāhir ibn al- Ḥusayn entered Baghdād and al-Ma’mūn became caliph, A.D. 813. See Mas‘ūdī, VI, 436-87.


15. For these districts, see Yāqūt, Geog., I, 68; II, 480 946; IV, 507. The Flügel edition omits Zamm.


16. The translation follows Flügel. The Beatty MS has Muḥammad ibn Ṭāhir ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn Ṭāhir. In the sentence which follows, sayyid refers to his position as chief of the Kudā‘ Tribe; see Khallikān, II, 79-80; Durayd, Geneal., p. 244; “Ṭāhirids,” Enc. Islam, IV, 614.





Baghdād. He was also a chief (sayyid), with whom ended the supremacy of his family, for he was the last of them to die as a chief. Among his books there were:

The Guide, about the selection of poetry; his epistle about the policies of the kings; his missives to ‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Mu‘tazz; Elegance and Eloquence [of literary style].


The Secretaries and the Sons of Their Kind

   Naming of the secretaries who wrote missives and of each one of them who compiled a book as an anthology of his epistles. [17]


‘Abd al-Ḥamīd ibn Yaḥyā

   He was the secretary of [the Caliph] Marwān ibn Muḥammad, but before that he was an instructor of boys, moving about among the towns. The writers of correspondence learned from him, adhering to his method. It was he who facilitated the use of literary style for correspondence. He was unique in his time, one of the people of Syria from the city of --------. There is a collection of about a thousand leaves from his epistles.


Ghaylān Abū Marwān

   His name was ---------. I deal with him in the discourse about the theologians in the passage about al-Murji’ah. [18] There is a collection of about two thousand leaves of his epistles.



   He was surnamed Abū al-’Alā’ and was the secretary of [the Caliph] Hishām ibn ‘Abd al-Malik. He was related to ‘Abd al-Ḥamīd by marriage and was also one of the masters of literary style and



17. The word kātib (pl. kuttāb) is usually translated “scribe,” but here evidently refers to a government secretary. The secretary was as a rule trained in the use of flowery language in a government department. The viziers were often chosen from among the secretaries. See Flügel, in ZDMG, XIII (1859), 587; “Kātib,” Enc. Islam, II, 819; also Grunebaum, Islam: Essays, p. 69. Qalqashāndī, Ṣubḥ al-A‘shā, Part I, deals with the technical knowledge required by a secretary. Part II deals with the rhetoric and literary perfection required, and the other parts give examples of letters. See also Rifā‘ī, ‘Aṣr al-Ma’mūn. For a good description of the government departments in which the secretaries worked, and for the development of prose, see Mez, Renaissance of Islam, pp. 76-81, 242-54.


18. Ghaylān does not seem to be mentioned again in connection with al-Murji’ah.





eloquence. He made a translation from the Epistle of Aristotle to Alexander, or else it was translated for him and he made corrections. [19] There is a collection of about one hundred leaves of his epistles.


‘Abd al-Wahhāb ibn ‘Alī

   He served as secretary to Bilāl ibn Abī Burdah ibn Abī Mūsā al-Ash‘ari and was one of the masters of eloquence and style, though his correspondence was not extensive.


Khālid ibn Rabī‘ah al-Ifrīqī

   He was a writer of official letters, who had an eloquent literary style, and was connected with both dynasties [Umayyad and ‘Abbāsid]. His collection of epistles was about two hundred leaves in length.


Yaḥyā and Muḥammad, the Two Sons of Ziyād, [Who Were Called] Ḥārithīs

   They were descendants of al-Ḥārith ibn Ka‘b. Both of them were poets, writers of official letters, and masters of eloquent literary style. The epistles of both of them are in collections.


Jabal ibn Yazīd

   He was the secretary of ‘Umarah ibn Ḥamzah and he translated some of the works of eloquent and skilled writers.


‘Umarah ibn Ḥamzah

   He was the secretary of [the Caliph] Abū Ja‘far al-Manṣūr and also his protégé. He was proud, vain, generous, eloquent, and a master of literary style, though blind in one eye. Abū Ja‘far [al-Manṣūr] and al-Mahdī advanced him, overlooking his character, because of his excellence, his eloquent literary style, and his obligation to duty. Thus he administered important affairs for both of them. There is a collection of his correspondence, which includes the epistle on the army (al-khamīs) drawn up for the Banū al-‘Abbās [the ‘Abbāsids].



19. The Epistle of Aristotle evidently refers to either an entire composition ascribed to Aristotle and entitled Rhetoric of Alexander, or else to the dedicatory epistle to Alexander the Great at the beginning of this composition; sce “Aristotle,” Enc. Brit., II, 515.





Muḥammad ibn Ḥujr ibn Sulaymān

   Ḥujr was one of the people of Ḥarrān. He [Muḥammad] was a master of literary style. He wrote to the governors of Armenia and Syria in a personal way. [20] He also wrote well-known books.


He was the secretary of al-‘Abbās ibn Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī ibn ‘Abd Allāh, and was a master of eloquent literary style and a writer of official correspondence. He came from al-Anbār, and his letters form a collection. [21]



Account of ‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Muqaffa‘

   His name in Persian was Ruzbah, [22] but he was called ‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Muqaffa‘, though before he became a Muslim he was nicknamed Abū ‘Amr. When he embraced Islām he was surnamed Abū Muḥammad. Al-Muqaffa‘ ibn Mubārak was shriveled (muqaffa’ ) because al-Ḥajjāj ibn Yūsuf dealt him such a hard blow that his hand shriveled up. This was at al-Baṣrah, [and was brought about] because of the properties which he took from the belongings of the sultan. [23]


His origin was from Ḥawz, [24] a city of the regions of Persia. At first he was secretary to Da’ūd ibn ‘Umar ibn Hubayrah, later serving ‘Īsā ibn ‘Alī at Karmān. He was most accomplished as a master of literary style and eloquence, as well as being an author, poet, and stylist. It was he who composed the conditions addressed to [the Caliph] al-Manṣūr on behalf of ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Alī, making them so harsh and aggressive that Abū Ja‘far [al-Manṣūr] did not forget them. So when Sufyān ibn Mu‘āwiyah killed him by burning him in a fire, al-Manṣūr approved the action, not demanding revenge or blood compensation.



20. This probably means either that he carried on a personal correspondence with these governors, independently of the govemment secretariat, or else that he served in a personal capacity as the secretary of these governors.


21. Flügel ascribes this last paragraph to an unnamed person. The Beatty MS, followed here, includes it with the account of Muḥammad ibn Ḥujr. Ṭabarī, Annales, Part III, pp. 125, 280, mentions that al-‘Abbās ibn Muḥammad was in Armenia and Syria.


22. This seems to be from the Persian, roz bih (“happy days”).


23. These accounts of al-Muqaffa‘ and his son should be compared with the interesting article in Khallikān, I, 431.


24. For this city, see Yāqūt, Geog., II, 359.





He was one of those who translated from the Persian tongue into Arabic, as he was skilled and eloquent in both languages. He translated a number of Persian books, among which there were: 

Book of Kings (Khudāy Nāmah), about biography; [25] Ayīn Nāmah, about al-ayīn (ordinances, customs); [26] Kalīlah wa-Dimnah; Mazdak; [27] The Crown, about the life of Anūshirwān [Chosroes I]; the large book, Literary Pursuits; [28] the small book, Literary Pursuits; Al-Yatīmah, about the epistles; [29] his epistles; Compendium of “Kalīlah wa-Dimnah”; his epistles about al-Ṣaḥābah. [30]


Account of Abān al-Lāḥiqī

   He was Abān ibn ‘Abd al-Ḥamīd ibn Lāḥiq ibn ‘Ufayr al-Raqāshī, who along with a group of his people wrote poetry. He himself had a special position in the group, because he translated prose books into poetic couplets (muzdawaj). Among the books which he translated there were: 

Kalīlah wa-Dimnah; The Biography of Ardashīr; The Biography of Anūshirwān; Bilawhar wa-Būdāsāf; [31] Epistles; [32] Clemency of India (Ḥilm al-Hind) (or Dream of India [Ḥulm al-Hind]).


Qudāmah ibn Yazīd

   He was the secretary of ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Ṣiāliḥ, an eloquent writer and a master of literary style. He served ‘Abd al-Malik until the time of [Hārūn] al-Rashīd, when he was killed by the blow of an ax which struck his neck. Among his books there was Epistles.



25. See Ḥajjī Khalīfah, Part IV, p. 13; Browne, Literary History of Persia, I, 107, 123.


26. This could be “Athīn Nāmah (‘The Book of Aristocracy’), about those with noble lineage.” See Glossary for this famous book.


27. Mazdak was the reform prophet killed by Chosroes I, A.D. 531.


28. After this title the Flügel text gives the phrase “known as . . .,” filling in the space with a guess which is probably incorrect. The Beatty MS has what appears to be “known as Māhir Jamshāsb (‘The Sagacity of Solomon’),” but the text is not clear enough to be sure.


29. Here al-yatīmah probably means “the unique.”


30. The last two titles are not in the Flügel text. Al-Ṣaḥābah probably refers to the Prophet’s Companions, but perhaps to something in Persian history.


31. See Glossary for this famous book.


32. This title and that following are not in the Beatty MS.





Al-Harīr ibn al-Ṣarīḥ

   He was the secretary of Thumāmah [33] and was surnamed Abū Hāshim. He was one of the people of Ḥāḍir Ṭayy. He was a master of literary style and writer of correspondence. He wrote Epistles, which I have seen, and which contains about one hundred leaves.



Account of ‘Alī ibn ‘Ubaydah al-Rayḥānī

   He was a master of elegant writing and style, attached in a special way to [the Caliph] al-Ma’mūn. In his literary works and compositions he followed the method of philosophy (al-ḥikmah), and was accused of unbelief. He was a distinguished secretary. About him and about al-Ma’mūn anecdotes were told.


One of them was that one time, while he was with al-Ma’mūn, one of the pages scratched a second one. When al-Ma’mūn saw them, he desired to know whether or not ‘Alī had also observed them. So he said to him, “Did you see?” while he made a gesture to ‘Alī with his hand, separating his fingers so as to indicate five, for “five” (khamsah) can be changed to “he scratched him” (khamashaha). There were other anecdotes about brightness and wit in addition to this one. ‘Alī ibn ‘Ubaydah died ---------. Among his books there were: 

The Preserved (Protected); Al-Barzakh; [34] Searching for Love; The Party Addressed [second person in grammar]; New (Acquired) Property (Al-Ṭārif); [35] Al-Hāshimī; [36] Meaning; [37] Al-Khisāl (Properties, Customs); Al-Nāsī [one who defers the pilgrimage]; [38] The Acrostic (Al-Muwashshah); Union and Alliance; The Ancestor (Al-Jadd) (or Zeal


33. The Flügel text has Qumāmah, but Thumāmah, in the Beatty MS, seems to be correct. Ḥāḍir Ṭayy, in the next sentence, was a place near to Damascus; see Yāqūt, Geog., II, 186, l. 15; III, 863 l. 7.


34. Flügel gives al-barzakh, which is probably correct. This was the barrier or lapse of time between death and resurrection; see Qur’ān 23:100; 25:53; 55:20. The Beatty MS gives an indistinct word which might be al-tadarruj (“advancement”) or al-tadrus (“pheasant”).


35. The Beatty MS has Al-Ṭārif. Flügel gives the title as Al-Ṭāriq, meaning “the morning star” or “the visitor at night.” It might also be a proper name.


36. This title might refer to one of the several al-Hāshimī’s listed in the Biog. Index.


37. This title is used for commentaries on poetry and the Qur’ān.


38. This may be a proper name; see Biog. Index.




[Al-Jidd]); The Halter; The Free (Al-Mutakhallī); Patience; Brightness and Splendor; Cleverness of the Maiden (Muhr Azād) of Gustasb; [39] Kai Luhrāsp the King; [40] Surfaces of the Earth; The Brothers; Rūshanā Yadak; [41] Description of Heaven; Categories; Al-Washīj (The Ash Tree, Intermixture of Relationship); Cords and Ropes; The Training of Juwashtar; [42] Explanation of Love and Description of Brotherhood; The Peacock; The Grieving; [43] The Disposition of Hārūn.


Categories; The Preacher (Al-Khaṭīb); The Rising Star (Al-Nājim); Description of Persia; Structure (Al-Binyah); [44] The Confused (Difficult to Solve); The Virtues of Isḥāq; Description of Death; Hearing and Sight; Despondency and Hope; Description of the ‘Ulamā’ [legal and religious authorities]; The Son of the King; The Hoped For and Feared; Wurūd and Wadūd, the Dog Trainers (al-Mukallibayn); [45] Description of the Ant and the Gnat; Punishments; [46] Praise of Wine; The Camel; Pulpit Sermons; Marriage; Species; Qualities; The Testing of Providence; The Bountiful; The Sessions. [47]


Account of Sahl ibn Hārūn

   He was Sahl ibn Hārūn ibn Rahyūnī of Dastumīsān, [48] who after going to al-Baṣrah became dedicated to the service of [the Caliph] al-Ma’mūn. He was director of Khizānat al-Ḥikmah [the royal library], as well as a scholar, a master of literary style, and a poet. He was Persian by origin, one of the Shu‘ūbīyah, strong in his partisanship against the Arabs, and the author of many books and epistles.



39. The Flügel version is garbled. The Beatty MS gives clearly muhr azād with a proper name like Gustasb, the legendary character who was confused with Solomon.


40. He was a legendary king of Persia; see Biog. Index.


41. The Flügel text is not clear. The Beatty MS has a title which might be Rūshanā, followed by yadak (“horse”), or badhl (“munificence”). Rūshanā was Roxana, the wife of Alexander the Great.


42. Juwashtar is perhaps meant to be Zoroaster.


43. This may be, as translated, al-mashjī (“the grieving”), or meant to be al-mashjar or al-mushjir (“planted with trees”), or a proper name which cannot be identified. In the following title, the man referred to is probably Hārūn al-Rashīd.


44. The Beatty MS repeats this title later in the list.


45. Wurūd (Roses) and Wadūd (Lovers) were evidently characters in a story.


46. The Arabic, al-mu‘āqabāt, has other meanings.


47. The Beatty MS omits this title.


48. A town near al-Awwāz, northeast of al-Baṣrah. See Yāqūt, Geog., II, 574.





As he was extremely concerned with miserliness, he wrote a letter to al-Ḥasan ibn Sahl [the vizier], in which he praised miserliness, inspiring liim with a desire for it, but at the same time asking him for a gift. Then al-Ḥasan wrote a reply to him on the back of his letter: “Your letter has arrived and we are following your advice and have made on the back [of the page] a receipt and acknowledgment for you with salaams.” So nothing came to him as a result.


Abū ‘Uthmān al-Jāḥiẓ showed him favor, ranking high his eloquence and literary style and quoting him in his books. Among the books of Sahl ibn Hārūn there were: 

Collection of Epistles; [49] Tha‘lah wa-Afrā’, similar to Kalīlah wa-Dimnah; [50] The Tree of Intelligence; The Leopard and the Fox; The Maid of Hudhayl and the Youth of Makhzūm; [51] The Lover and the Virgin; Wurūd wa-Wadūd; [52] The Two Wives [of the same husband]; Aspasius on the Taking of Brothers; The Two Gazelles; The Culture of Ashak ibn Ashak, addressed to ‘Īsā ibn Abān about judgment; The Administration of the Kingdom and Policy. [53]


Sa‘īd ibn Huraym [54] al-Kātib (the Secretary)

   He was an associate of Sahl ibn Hārūn in the Bayt al-Ḥikmah. He was eloquent, a master of literary style and a writer of correspondence who was quoted by al-Jāḥiẓ. Among his books there was Learning and Its Benefits. He also had a collection of epistles.



   He was the director of the Bayt al-Ḥikmah with Sahl ibn Hārūn, who made translations from Persian into Arabic.



49. Not found in the Beatty MS.


50. Tha‘lah and Afrā’ are names in a fable. Tha‘ālah (the ā is often omitted) is a female fox. Afrā’ means wild asses. Perhaps the word should be in the singular, al-farā’ (“wild ass”), or it might also be al-farrā (“fur dealer”). See Mas‘ūdī, I, 159, 400. Kalīlah wa-Dimnah is a famous book of Indian fables; see Glossary.


51. For these two tribes, see “Hudhail,” Enc. Islam, II, 329; “Makhzūm,” III, 171.


52. This title may be the book of fables translated by ‘Alī ibn ‘Ubaydah (see n. 45). Flügel gives Nudūd wa-Wadūd wa-Ladūd. The Beatty MS has Nudūd wa-Dudūd. The form given is probably the correct one.


53. Not found in the Beatty MS.


54. This name is taketi from the Beatty MS. The form given by Flügel, Sa‘īd ibn Hārūn, is probably incorrect. Hugel’s form is also given in “Bait al-Hikma,” Enc. Islam (1960), I, 1141.





‘Alī ibn Dā’ūd

   He was the secretary of Umm Ja‘far Zubaydah, and one of the masters of eloquent literary style. In his composition [of official letters] he used the method of Sahl ibn Hārūn. Among his books there were:

Using a Loud Voice (Al-Jarhīyah), a book of singing; [55] The Freeborn and the Populace; The Beautiful.


Muḥammad ibn al-Layth al-Khaṭīb (the Preacher)

   He was surnamed Abū al-Rabī‘, and served as secretary to Yaḥyā ibn Khālid [the vizier]. He was a protégé of the Banū Umayyah and was known for his legal skill. He had an eloquent literary style and was a writer of correspondence, a secretary, legal authority, and theologian, distinguished and frugal. It is said that he was the ugliest of the creations of Allāh, but the Barmak family advanced him, favoring him although he was accused of heresy. [56] Among his books there were: 

The Elliptic, about comparative computation; Refutation of Heretics (al-Zanādiqah); Constantine’s Reply from al-Rashīd; [57] Penmanship and the Pen; The Admonition (Preaching) of Hārūn al-Rashīd, addressed to Yaḥyā ibn Khālid about literary pursuits.

Another account about him was written in the handwriting of Ibn Ḥafṣ: “Muḥammad ibn al-Layth of the Banū Ḥiṣn Tribe [58] was gifted in language. He was among the protégés of the Banū Umayyah, with a dislike for Persia, for which the Barmak family hated him. He was a preacher through the agency of his letters.”



55. The translation is taken from the Beatty MS. Flügel is probably incorrect.


56. The members of the Barmak family were viziers who organized the empire for the early ‘Abbāsid caliphs. The word “heresy” is al-zanādiqah, which usually was associated with the dualistic tendencies of the Manichaeans and Zoroastrians. As Muḥammad ibn al-Layth wrote a book refuting this heresy and was a man who sympathized with the Arabs rather than the Persians. the accusation was probably false.


57. Constantine VI was the boy emperor at Constantinople, A.D. 780–97. During his reign Hārūn al-Rashīd extracted tribute from the Byzantines.


58. For this tribe, see Qutaybah, Ma‘ārif, p. 48 top.





I read what was written in the handwriting of Ibn Thawābah:

“He was Muḥammad ibn al-Layth, the preacher and master (ṣāḥib) of correspondence. He was a descendant of Adhabb (Azabb) Bād ibn Firūz ibn Shāhīn ibn Adhar Hurmuz ibn Hurmuz ibn Sarūshān ibn Bahman ibn Afrandār, reaching back in his lineage to Dārā ibn Dārā the King.” He had an anthology of epistles.



   He was Abū ‘Amr Kulthūm ibn ‘Amr ibn Ayyūb al-Tha‘labī al-‘Attābī, a Syrian living at Qinnasrīn, [59] who was a poet, secretary, and accomplished letter writer. He became associated with members of the Barmak family, devoting himself to them. Then, later, he served Ṭāhir ibn al-Ḥusayn and ‘Alī ibn Hishām.


It is related that when [the Caliph] al-Rashīd met him after the execution of Ja‘far ibn Yaḥyā and the waning of the Barmak fortunes, he [al-Rashīd] said to him, “What have you produced for me so far, oh, ‘Attābī?” [60] Then he [al-‘Attābī] composed extemporaneously some verses with excellent significance, among which there were: 

Doth it please thee that there should befall me

What was accorded to Ja‘far of wealth and to Yaḥyā ibn Khālid?

That the Commander of the Faithful should choke me

With their choking, with things exceeding cold.

Call me, leave me alone, tranquil, that my fate might come slowly,

Not afflicted with the horror of these happenings.

For confused are the events bound together

In the caverns of darkness. [61]

He was the best of the people, preeminent in his epistles and poetry, following the way of genius. [62] Al-‘Attābī died -----------. Among his books there were:



59. For Qinnasrīn, see Yāqūt, Geog., IV, 184.


60. For a brief history of the Barmak family, see Hitti, Arabs, pp. 294-96, an account which helps to explain this incident and the poem which follows.


61. Flügel, the Beatty MS, and Iṣbahānī, Aghānī, Part 12, p. 9, give different versions of this verse. The translation follows in general the Beatty MS.


62. The word translated as “preeminent” is i‘tizāz in Arabic, although it is written, probably inaccurately, as i‘tidād in Flügel and i‘tidhār in the Beatty MS. The Arabic word for “genius” is al-nābighah. This was the name of a famous poet, and may refer to him.




Literary Pursuits; The Arts of Govemment; The Delightful Book of the Horse; Pronunciations, which Abū ‘Umar al-Zāhid quoted as passed down by al-Mubarrad and which was eloquent; Logic; [63] Things Beautiful.



   He was ‘Abd al-Raḥmān Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Amr ibn Mu‘āwiyah ibn ‘Amr ibn ‘Utbah ibn Abī Sufyān of al-Baṣrah. Abū al-‘Aynā’ said that ‘Amr ibn ‘Utbah was of distinguished lineage.


He was one of the most eloquent of men, both al-‘Utbī and his father being persons of a superior type, men of letters and masters of literary style. Al-‘Utbī was also a poet, though this was not true of his father. [64]


It is said that al-‘Utbī stood at the doorway of Isma‘īl ibn Ja‘far ibn Sulaymān, asking for permission to enter, but the servant said that he [Ismā‘īl] was in the bath. Then he [al-’Utbī] recited: 

When I desire a meal from the emir

And his servant (ghilmān) says that he has gone to the bath,

Then my answer to the porter (ḥājib) is

That I sought nothing but greetings

And will not come to you at any time,

Except on each day that we are fasting.

Al-’Utbī died during the year two hundred and twenty-eight [A.D. 842/43]. Among his books there were:

Horses; Poetry of the Nomads and Poetry of Women Who Were Loved and Then Hated; The Slaughtered [for Sacrifice]; [65] Characters (Morals).


The Names of Writers of Correspondence Whose Epistles Were Collected as Anthologies


Al-Qāsim ibn Ṣabīḥ, a small amount; [66] Yaḥyā ibn Khālid, a small amount; his son al-Faḍl (ibn Yaḥyā), a small amount; his son Ja‘far (ibn Yaḥyā), a small amount; al-Fayḍ ibn Abī Ṣāliḥ, a large amount; Yūsuf ibn al-Qāsim, a small amount; Ya‘qūb ibn



63. This title and the one following are not in the Beatty MS.


64. This paragraph follows the Beatty MS; Flügel differs.


65. This title is omitted by Flügel.


66. The words “a small amount” and “a large amount” are taken from the Beatty MS, as they are not given perfectly by Flügel.





Nūḥ, a small amount; Yūsuf Laqwah, a small amount; al-Faḍl ibn Sahl, a small amount; al-Ḥasan ibn Sahl, a small amount; Muḥammad ibn Bakr, a small amount; Aḥmad ibn al-Najm, a large amount; Aḥmad ibn Yūsuf the secretary of al-Ma’mūn and a vizier, a large amount.



Ibrahīm [67] ibn al-‘Abbās ibn Muhammad ibn Ṣūl, the Secretary

   He was one of the eloquent writers and poets who were masters of literary style, and he was in charge of the correspondence during the regimes of a number of caliphs, being a man both cultured and gifted. Abū Tammām said, “If Ibrāhīm had not turned his interests to the service of the sultan, he would not have left bread to a single poet, because of the excellency of his poetry.” Among his books there were:

Epistles; The Government, a large book; Cooking; Perfume.


Al-Ḥasan ibn Wahb ibn Sa‘īd ibn ‘Amr ibn Ḥuṣayn ibn Qays ibn Qanān ibn Mattā

   Qanān served as secretary to Yazīd ibn Abī Sufyān while he was administering Syria, and later to Mu‘āwiyah. Mu’āwiyah passed him on to his son, Yazīd, during whose reign as caliph he [Qanān] died. Then Yazīd appointed his [Qanān’s] son, Qays, to be his secretary. Qays later served as secretary to Marwān, ‘Abd al-Malik, and Hishām, during whose [Hishām’s] reign he died.


Hishām made his [Qays’s] son, al-Ḥuṣayn, his secretary. Marwān [II] later employed him as a secretary. He went to Egypt, and when Marwān was killed he became attached to Ibn Hubayrah. When Ibn Hubayrah went over to Abū Ja‘far [al-Manṣūr], he won safe conduct for al-Ḥuṣayn, who served al-Manṣūr and al-Mahdī, until his death occurred on the road to al-Rayy.


Then al-Mahdī appointed his [Ḥusayn’s] son ‘Amr as a secretary and he served as secretary to Khālid ibn Barmak. When he died, his son Sa‘īd was his successor, remaining in the service of the Barmak farnily and being followed by his own son Wahb, who first acted as secretary to Ja‘far ibn Yaḥyā and later in the entourage of Dhū



67. The Flügel edition adds Abū Isḥāq to the name of Ibrāhīm.






al-Ri’āsitayn [al-Faḍl ibn Sahl]. Dhū al-Ri’āsitayn said about him, “In view of his associates, I have wondered how Wahb refrained from self-seeking.” [68]


After that al-Ḥasan ibn Sahl made him [Wahb] his secretary, appointing him governor of Kirmān and Fars, in which provinces he made improvements. When he sent him on a mission to al-Ma’mūn via Fam al-Ṣilḥ, [69] he was drowned on the way to Baghdād from Fam al-Ṣilḥ. His son Sulaymān, when he was a boy fourteen years old, did secretarial work for al-Ma’mūn. Later he served as secretary to Ītākh and Ashnās. After that he was head of the vizierate of al-Mu‘tamid. This Sulaymān ibn Wahb had a book, a collection of his epistles.


The brother of Sulaymān, al-Ḥasan ibn Wahb, served as secretary to Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Malik al-Zayyāt, also presiding over the bureau of correspondence. He was a poet, an eloquent writer, a composer of correspondence, a master of literary style, and one of the rnost excellent of the secretaries. His book was a collection of epistles.



Ibn ‘Abd al-Malik al-Zayyāt Was Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Mahk ibn Abān al-Zayyāt

   Abān was one of the inhabitants of a village of al-Jabal called al-Daskarah, from which region he transported oil to Baghdād. [Muḥammad] was a poet and master of literary style, who served as vizier to three caliphs: al-Mu‘taṣim, al-Wāthiq, and al-Mutawakkil. Forty days after appointing him as vizier, al-Mutawakkil humiliated him, killing him in his affliction. We give a detailed account of him elsewhere. [70] He died during the year two hundred and thirty-three [A.D. 847/48]. He had an anthology of epistles.


Al-Qāsim ibn Yūsuf

   He was the brother of Aḥmad ibn Yūsuf. He was a poet and writer of correspondence. He had a book of epistles.



68. For the caliphs mentioned, see Hitti, Arabs, pp. 193, 279, 297.


69. This locality was on the Ṣilḥ River above al-Wāsiṭ; see Yāqūt, Geog., III, 917.


70. Perhaps the author of Al-Fihrist expected to mention Muḥammad in further detail in connection with the poets, but actually his name is only mentioned briefly.





‘Amr ibn Mas‘adah ibn Sa‘īd ibn ----------

   He was the vizier of al-Ma’mūn, and was a master of literary style, a poet, and writer of correspondence. There is a large book of his epistles.


Sa‘īd ibn Wahb

   He was a secretary, but not from the family of Wahb ibn Sa‘īd, for his origin was Persian. He wrote:

Epistles; a collection of his poems. [71]



   He was Abū al-Ṭayyib ‘Abd al-Raḥīm ibn Aḥmad al-Ḥarrāni, a poet, writer of correspondence, and master of literary style, who wrote:

Epistles; about eloquent literary style. [72]


Abū ‘Alī al-Baṣīr

   He was a poet, master of literary style, and writer of correspondence. Between him and Abū al-‘Aynā’ there were exchanges of satires and excellent compositions, including a number of poems. He wrote:

Epistles; a collection of his poems. [73]



   He was Abū al-Ṭayyib Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd Allāh, one of the descendants of Aḥmad ibn Yūsuf al-Kātib, the secretary of al-Ma’mūn. [74] He was a writer of correspondence and a master of literary style. He wrote:

The Distinguished (Al-Faḍūl), referring to his selected epistles; epistles about his personal affairs.


71. This second title not found in the Beatty MS.


72. This title is not found in the Beatty MS.


73. Omitted in the Beatty MS.


74. Flügel inserts the phrases “the secretary of al-Ma’mūn” and also “There were famous letters written by Abū al-Ṭayyib Aḥmad ibn Yūsuf.” The second phrase is omitted from the translation because the names are evidently confused.





The Banū al-Mudabbir [75]

   Aḥmad, Muḥammad, and Ibrāhīm, all of whom were poets, writers of correspondence, and masters of literary style. Aḥmad wrote the book Sessions and Conference.


Hārūn ibn Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Malik al-Zayyāt

   He was surnamed Abū Mūsā, and was one of the persons who collected historical anecdotes and quoted traditions. Among his books there were:

Historical Traditions of Dhū al-Rummah; his epistles. [76]


Sa‘īd ibn Ḥumayd

   He was sumamed Abū ‘Uthmān and was a secretary, poet, and writer of correspondence, delightful in expression, preeminent in his work, but given to plagiarism and much [literary] plundering. If it should be said to the words and poetry of Sa‘īd, “Return to your true authors (ahlik),” there would be nothing of his own left. This was the expression of Aḥmad ibn Abī Ṭāhir.


He claimed that he was descended from the offspring of the kings of Persia. Among his books there were: 

Persia’s Receiving Justice from the Arabs, also known as Equality; a collection of his epistles; an anthology of his poems. In connection with [his] quashing of Aḥmad and Ibrāhīm, a book of epistles was [addressed] to each of them. [77]


Ibrāhīm ibn Ismā‘īl ibn Dā’ūd, the Secretary

   He excelled in eloquence and literary style. He wrote Epistles.


Sa‘īd ibn Ḥumayd ibn al-Bakhtakān

   He was surnamed Abū ‘Uthmān and was a man of understanding, a theologian, and a master of literary style. Coming from ancient ancestry in Persia, he was strong in partisanship against the Arabs. Among his books there were:



75. Ibn Khallikān states that the name should be written al-Mudabbir, although as a rule it is Mudabbar (see Khallikān, IV, 389). The title Sessions and Conference is omitted in the Beatty MS.


76. Omitted by the Beatty MS.


77. Probably Aḥmad ibn Abi Ṭāhir and Ibrāhīm ibn Ismā‘il.




The Persians’ Superiority [78] over the Arabs, and Their Excellence; his epistles; about theology, which I mention in the proper place in this volume.


Ḥamd ibn Mihrān, the Secretary

   He was from Iṣbahān and served as secretary to the meinbers of the Barmak family while they were still alive. [79] He wrote Epistles.


Ibn Yazdād

   Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Yazdād ibn Suwayd was the vizier of [the Caliph] al-Ma’mūn, a master of literary style, a writer of correspondence, and a poet. [80] Among his books there were:

Epistles; an anthology of his poems.


Muḥammad ibn Mukram

   He was a secretary who was a master of literary style and a writer of correspondence. He wrote Epistles.


Abū Ṣāliḥ ‘Abd Allāh ibn Muḥammad ibn Yazdād ibn Suwayd

   He was one of the secretaries who were masters of literary style. His son was Abū Aḥmad ibn [81] ‘Abd Allāh ibn Muḥammad ibn Yazdād, who completed the book of history which his father was writing, to the year three hundred [A.D. 912/13]. Among his [Abū Aḥmad’s] books there were:

History; his epistles.


Maymun ibn Ibrāhīm, the Secretary

   He had special charge of the correspondence during the days of al-Mutawakkil. He was eloquent, a master of literary style and a writer of correspondence. He wrote Epistles.



78. The Beatty MS omits “superiority,” which omission is evidently an error.


79. The reference to the Barmak family is omitted in the Beatty MS.


80. The phrase “and a poet” and the second book title are not found in the Beatty MS.


81. The word ibn is not in the original Arabic but must be correct, judging from the dates of these two men’s lives. Flügel gives the two book titles in this paragraph with Abū Ṣāliḥ. The translation follows the Beatty MS in giving them with the son, Abū Aḥmad.





Mūsā ibn ‘Abd al-Malik

He had charge of the Bureau of al-Sawād and other matters during the days of al-Mutawakkil and was also a writer of correspondence. I have seen a few of his letters.



Ibn Sa‘d [82] al-Quṭrabbullī

   He was Abū al-Ḥasan Aḥmad ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Ḥusayn ibn Sa‘d ibn Mas‘ūd al-Quṭrabbullī, one of the secretaries who were learned and preeminent. Among his books there were:

History, which he wrote up to his own lifetime; Fiqar (Rhymed Phrases, Rhymed Clauses) of the Masters of Literary Style; [83] Logic


Naṭṭāhah Abū ‘Alī Aḥmad ibn Ismā‘īl ibn al-Khasīb al-Anbārī

   He was the secretary of ‘Ubayd Allāh ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn Ṭāhir, who turned him over to Muḥammad ibn Ṭāhir. [84] He was a master of literary style, a correspondence writer, a poet, and a man of letters, preeminent in eloquent composition. He usually wrote in a personal way to his brothers, but there were also letters and replies exchanged between him and Abū al-‘Abbās [‘Abd Allāh] ibn al-Mu‘tazz. He composed a collection (dīwān) of letters, about a thousand leaves in length, comprising all of the good [passages] from different kinds of letters.

Cooked Food; Generations (Categories) of Secretaries; and also what he entitled the Compendium Copied from Notes, which included what he heard from the scholars and what was testified to in connection with anecdotes about important people; Description (Attributes) of the Soul; his letters to his brothers. [85]


82. The Flügel text gives Ibn Sa‘īd. In the sentence below, Flügel gives Abū al-Ḥasan as part of his name; the Beatty MS omits it.


83. This title and that following are omitted by the Beatty MS.


84. The translation follows the Beatty MS, which seems to be correct. Muḥammad was the brother of ‘Ubayd Allāh, so that it was natural for the secretary to go from one to the other. The Flügel version says that Muḥammad ibn Ṭāhir killed Naṭṭāḥah, evidently an error.


85. Lacking in the Beatty MS.





Ibn Fuḍayl al-Kātib

   He was Abū al-Ḥasan ‘Alī ibn al-Ḥusayn ibn Fuḍayl ibn Marwān, and was of Persian origin. Among his books there was Idols and What the Arabs and Persians Used to Worship instead of Allāh, Blessed Be His Name.


Abū al-‘Aynā’ Muḥammad ibn al-Qāsim ibn Khillād [86]

   He was a master of literary style and eloquence, with a ready answer and a quick repartee. He was also a poet. During the latter part of his life he was blind. Letters and satires were exchanged between him and Abū ‘Alī al-Baṣīr and also Abū Hiffān. [87]


The people of al-‘Askar [88] used to fear his tongue. He quoted al-Aṣma‘ī and other scholars. Abū al-‘Aynā’ died some time after the year two hundred and eighty [a.D. 893/94]. [89] Among his books there were:

Accounts of Abū al-‘Aynā’, which was written by [Aḥmad] ibn Abī Ṭāhir; Poems of Abū al-‘Aynā’, about thirty leaves in length.




I have read something written in the handwriting of [Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī] ibn Muqlah [surnamed] Abū ‘Alī, of which this is a transcription. I am presenting it with its order and wording, as this book requires.



Names of the Preachers (Orators)

   The Commander of the Faithful, ‘Alī, for whom may there be peace; Ṭalḥah ibn ‘Ubayd Allāh; ‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Zubayr; ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Abbās ibn ‘Abd al-Muṭṭalib; Khālid and Ismā‘īl, the two sons of ‘Abd Allāh al-Qasrī; Yazīd ibn Khālid ibn ‘Abd Allāh and Jarīr ibn Yazīd ibn Khalid; ‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Ahtam; Khālid ibn Safwān; Ibn al-Qirrīyah; [90] Ṣa‘ṣa‘ah ibn Ṣūḥān; Muḥammad ibn Qays al-Khaṭīb; Ziyād ibn Abī Sufyān; Qaṭarī ibn al-Fujā’ah; al-Walīd ibn Yazīd; Abū Ja‘far al-Manṣūr; al-Ma’mūn; Shabīb ibn



86. “Ibn Khillād” is omitted by the Beatty MS.


87. See Mas‘ūdī, VII, 328, for mention of Abū ‘All al-Baṣīr and Abū al-‘Aynā’.


88. Al-‘askar may refer to the army, but probably refers to the quarter of Baghdād known as “Askar al-Mahdī” and often called “al-Askar.” See Coke, Baghdad, p. 40.


89. The Beatty MS leaves a gap in place of the date following “Abū al-‘Aynā’ died.”


90. The Beatty MS gives “al-Qisriyah,” which seems to be an error.





Shaybah; al-‘Abbās ibn al-Ḥasan al-‘Alawī and his son ‘Abd Allāh; Muḥammad ibn Khālid ibn ‘Abd Allāh al-Qasrī; Shabbah ibn ‘Iqāl.



The Names of Those Who Were Eloquent [91]

   Abū Marwān Ghaylān; Sālim, the secretary of Hishām ibn ‘Abd al-Malik and a kinsman of ‘Abd al-Ḥamīd; ‘Abd al-Ḥamīd ibn Yaḥyā, the secretary of Marwān [II]; Khalīd ibn Rabī‘ah al-Ifrīqī; [92] ‘Abd al-Wahhāb ibn ‘Alī, who lived at the time of Bilāl ibn Abī Burdah; ‘Umārah ibn Ḥamzah; Yaḥyā and Muḥammad, the sons of Ziyād, the two Ḥārithī descendants of al-Ḥārith ibn Ka‘b; Ḥujr ibn Sulaymān, from Ḥarrān; Muḥammad ibn Ḥujr, the secretary of al-‘Abbās ibn Muḥammad; Jabal ibn Yazīd, the secretary of ‘Umārah ibn Ḥamzah; Mas‘adah ibn ‘Amr; [93] ‘Abd al-Jabbār ibn ‘Adī and Mas‘adah ibn Khālid, the two secretaries of al-Manṣūr; Yūnus ibn Abī Farwah, who served as the secretary of ‘Īsā ibn Mūsā; Sahl ibn Hārūn, director of the Bayt al-Ḥikmah of al-Ma’mūn; Sa‘īd ibn Huraym, the associate of Sahl ibn Hārūn at the Bayt al-Ḥikmah; ‘Abd Allāh ibn Khāqān; [94] Ja‘far ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Ash‘ath; ‘Ubayd Allāh [95] ibn ‘Amrān, who served as a secretary to a number of persons, the last of whom was al-Faḍl ibn Yaḥyā; Ibn Adham, the secretary of Abū Nujūm.


Abū al-Rabī‘ Muḥammad ibn al-Layth; Ghassān ibn ‘Abd al- Ḥamīd al-Madīnī;  [96] al-Khaṭṭāb mawlā Sulaymān ibn Abī Ja‘far and his protégé; [97] Ibn A‘yān, a secretary; Abū --------- al-Shāmī, the



91. In this translation the word al-bulaghā’ (here, “those who were eloquent”) is often rendered “masters of literary style.” In the following collection of names, there are some minor variations between the Flügel text and the Beatty MS; the translation follows the latter. In the Beatty MS, three dots separate each writer from the next.


92. For the last element of this name, Flügel gives “al-Sharqī” and the Beatty MS is garbled, but probably “al-Ifrīqī” is the correct form.


93. The Arabic text gives Abū ‘Amr, but most sources give his name as ibn ‘Amr. Perhaps he was both Abū ‘Amr and ibn ‘Amr.


94. It is possible that the word for “secretary of” has been omitted between ‘Abd Allāh ibn Khāqān and Ja‘far ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Ash‘ath.


95. The name Allāh is given by Flügel but not by the Beatty MS.


96. Flügel adds, “who served as secretary to Ja‘far ibn Sulaymān at al-Madīnah.”


97. As the word mawlā (“protégé”) is mentioned twice in the Beatty MS, the phrase may be “al-Khaṭṭāb ibn Mu‘allā the secretary of Sulaymān ibn Abī Ja‘far and his protégé.” It is more likely, however, that the word for protégé is mentioned twice by mistake.





secretary of al-Walīd ibn Mu‘āwiyah; Khaṭṭab ibn Abī Khaṭṭāb, one of the Ahl al-Da‘wah [98] who wrote on his own behalf; ‘Ubayd ibn Khirāsh, one of the people of al-Shām and a secretary; Kulthūm ibn ‘Amr al-‘Attābī, a man of letters who wrote on his own behalf [and for] Abū Muslim al-Shāmī; Qumāmah, the secretary of ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Ṣāliḥ; Isḥāq ibn al-Khaṭṭāb, the secretary of Qumāmah ibn Yazīd; al-Harīr ibn al-Ṣarīh, the secretary of ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Ṣāliḥ; Abū Rawḥ, the secretary of ‘Alī ibn ‘Īsā, following Yūsuf ibn Sulaymān; Ibn al-‘Abādīyah; [99] Muḥammad ibn Ḥarb, who served as secretary to al-Makhlū’. [100]


Aḥmad ibn Yūsuf; Maslamah, the secretary of Khuzaymah ibn Khāzim; Isma‘īl ibn Ṣabīḥ; Abū ‘Ubayd Allāh, the secretary of al-Mahdī; Muḥammad ibn Sa‘īd, a contemporary of al-Ma’mūn; Bakr ibn Fayd ibn ‘Abd al-Ḥamīd al-Tamīmī, a contemporary of Bilāl ibn Abī Burdah; al-Qāsim ibn Muḥammad, also a contemporary of Bilāl; Bishr ibn Abī Bishārah; Abū al-Najm Ḥabīb ibn al-Najm, contemporary with al-Mahdī; Muṭarraf ibn Abī Muṭarraf al-Laythī; Ibrāhīm ibn Ismā‘īl, the teacher of Muḥammad ibn Mukram; Yūsuf ibn Sulaymān, the secretary of ‘Alī; [101] Abū Ḥawṭ, the secretary of al-Harīr ibn Ṣarīḥ; Ḥamzah ibn ‘Afīf ibn al-Ḥasan, a secretary of Ṭāhir ibn al-Ḥusayn; Muslim ibn Ṣadaqah, a Syrian; Abū Hāshim al-Ḥarrānī.



Ten Masters of Literary Style [102]

   ‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Muqaffa‘; ‘Umārah ibn Ḥamzah; Jabal ibn Yazīd; Ḥujr ibn Muḥammad; Muḥammad ibn Ḥujr ----------- Anas ibn Abī Shaykh, who was relied upon by Aḥmad ibn Yūsuf the secretary; Sālim; Mas‘adah; al-Harīr ibn Ṣarīh; ‘Abd al-Jabbār ibn ‘Adī; Aḥmad ibn Yūsuf.



98. This is the name by which the Ismā‘īliyah designated their own members. It can be translated as “People of the Summons.”


99. The Flügel text gives Yūsuf ibn Sulaymān ibn al-‘Abādīyah as one name. The Beatty MS is probably correct in breaking it into two.


100. Al-Makhlū‘ (“the Rejected”) was the nickname of al-Amīn, son of Hārūn al-Rashīd.


101. Probably ‘Alī ibn ‘Īsā, the famous vizier.


102. In this paragraph, the Flügel text omits Jabal ibn Yazīd, though the Beatty MS includes it. Flügel gives Anas ibn Abī Shaykh as a separate name. In the Beatty MS, the text is garbled following Muḥammad ibn Ḥujr, but evidently Anas was connected in some way with this man, and was not among the masters of literary style.





Recent Masters of Literary Style

   Ibrāhīm ibn ‘Abbās al-Ṣūlī; al-Ḥasan ibn Wahb; Sa‘īd ibn ‘Abd al-Malik.



Books Mentioned Together because of Their Excellence

   The Testament of Ardashīr; [103] Kalīlah wa-Dimnah; the epistle of ‘Umārah ibn Ḥamzah; Al-Māhānīyah; [104] Al-Yatīmah, by Ibn al-Muqaffa‘; [105] the epistle Al-Khamīs, by Aḥmad ibn Yūsuf al-Khaṭīb. [106]



Various Subjects about Which Things Were Written [107]

   About the common people, about raids [early wars of Islām], about defeats (routs), about security, about submission, about laws, about recompense, about provinces, about treaties, about counsel, about partisanship, about rain, about earthquake, about acknowledgment of a ruler, about peace, about reviling, about necessities, about satisfaction, about love (affection), about reproaches, about apologies, about trusts, about congratulations, about gifts, about judicial jurisdiction, about condolence, about holy war, about season of the pilgrimage (harvest), about feasts, about passionate desires.


Responses of the raids (correspondence of the early wars of Islām): what was written by (from) the kings to the kings about the outlying regions, about the weak (impotent), about the conflagration, about war, about praying for rain, about union (friendly relations), about security (peace), about breaking through (pouring forth) of waters. [108]



103. The charge given by the dying king Ardashīr to his son Shāpūr; see Firdawsī, Shahnama, VI, 286; Rawlinson, Seventh Great Oriental Monarchy, p. 63.


104. This may have been written by Ibrāhīm al-Mawṣilī or Isḥāq al-Mawṣilī about their ancestor Māhān; see Huart, History of Arabic Literature, p. 77.


105. Al-yatīmah means “the rare” or “the unique.” Flügel, p. 118 bottom line, gives the phrase “about epistles” following this title.


106. The title Al-Khamīs is taken from the Beatty MS, as Flügel has Al-Ḥasan, evidently an error.


107. In the second paragraph, the text follows the Beatty MS, in which the phrase “Responses of the raids” seems to introduce the group of subjects which follows. There is a variation in the Flügel edition.


108. The subject “breaking through of waters” is taken from the Beatty MS, as Flügel gives “passionate devotion,” which is a mistake.





Also What Occurs in Action

   Seeing the new moon, festivals, about amatory poetry (conversation), [109] demand for necessities, cassation in justice.


Here ends what was written in the handwriting of Abū ‘Alī ibn Muqlah [Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī].




Ghassān ibn ‘Abd al-Ḥamīd [110]

   He served as secretary to Ja‘far ibn Sulaymān ibn ‘Alī. He was eloquent, using beautiful diction and refinement of meaning. Among his books there were: 

Selected writings; a book of his epistles.


Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn Ḥarb

   He served as secretary to al-Ḥasan ibn Qaḥṭabah in Armenia. Then he was the secretary of Yazīd ibn Usayd and later of al-Faḍl ibn Yaḥyā. He wrote Epistles.


Bakr ibn Ṣurad

   He was the secretary of Yazīd ibn Mazyad and a man with an excellent literary style, who was the author of several famous books. It was he who composed for (about) Yazīd ibn Mazyad his letter to al-Rashīd at the time of the death of Yazīd. [111] He wrote: 

Epistles; The Epistle about Mazyad to al-Rashīd.


Abū al-Wizīr ‘Umar ibn Muṭarraf [112]

   He was a secretary belonging to the ‘Abd al-Qays Tribe and was one of the people of Marw (Merv). He directed the bureau of the eastern provinces for al-Mahdī, al-Hādī, and al-Rashīd. He served as secretary to al-Manṣūr and al-Mahdī, during whose reign it is said that he died, but the truth is that [113] he died during the days of al-Rashīd, who mourned for him. He was trustworthy, preeminent in



109. The Arabic word is al-ghazal, which can be used for a kind of popular ode.


110. Instead of Ghassān, the Beatty MS has ‘Īsān, which must be wrong.


111. Flügel has Barmak, but the Beatty MS must be right in giving Yazīd.


112. The Beatty MS lacks “ ‘Umar ibn Muṭarraf” in this heading. For the tribe which follows, see “ ‘Abd al-Ḳais” (‘Abd al-Qays), Enc. Islam, I, 45.


113. The Beatty MS lacks the phrase “during whose reign . . . truth is that.”





his profession, eloquent, and a quoter of traditions. Among his books there were:

Habitations of the Arabs, Their Frontiers, the Place Where Each Tribe Was Located, and the Place to Which It Migrated from There; The Epistles of Abū al-Wizīr; The Glorious Deeds of the Arabs and the Competitions of Their Tribes in Connection with Genealogy. [114]

When al-Rashīd prayed for him [at his funeral] he said, “May Allāh show mercy to thee. For verily has not Allāh offered thee two altematives, one for Allāh and one for thyself ? And hast thou not sought what was for Allāh rather than for thyself?”



Al-Faḍl ibn Marwān ibn Māsarjis, the Christian

   He was from a village known as Sullā on the shores of the River Būq, [115] and he lived to the age of ninety-three. He served al-Ma’mūn and al-Mu‘taṣim, acting as vizier. After these two, he also served several other caliphs. Although he had little grasp of learning, he showed great intelligence in the service of the caliphs. Among his books there were: 

Things Observed and Traditions Known by Eye Witnesses, Seen and Quoted; his letters. [116]


Al-Jahshiyārī [117]

   He was Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥammad ibn ‘Abdūs, a secretary, student of historical traditions, and writer of correspondence, among whose books there were:

The Viziers and the Secretaries; The Meter of Poetry and a Compendium of the Types of Prosody.


114. This title is lacking in the Beatty MS.


115. For the River Būq, see Yāqūt, Geog., IV, 836. Cf. ibid., III, 129, for Sullā, although this name may be incorrect.


116. “His letters” is lacking in the Beatty MS.


117. This whole paragraph is omitted by the Beatty MS, but a space is left, evidently with hopes that it could be filled in later.





A Group [118]



   He was Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan ibn Sahl the secretary. Shaylamah being a nickname. [119] At first he was with al-‘Alawī [120] at al-Baṣrah, but later he went to Baghdād and became loyal [to the government]. Then he became involved in working with some of the Khawārij, so that al-Mu‘taḍid burned him fastened to a tent pole. [121] Among his books there were:

Account of the Chief of the Zanj and His Battles; his epistles. [122]


Ibn Abī Aṣbagh

   He was Abū al-‘Abbās Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad, among whose books there were:

Learning and Nobility of Writing, about fifty leaves; Epistles, not many of them. [123]


Ibn Abī al-Sarj

   He was Abū al-‘Abbās Aḥmad ibn Abī al-Sarj, the secretary, among whose books there were:

The Pen (Penmanship) and What Accompanies It; Epistles. [124]


Isḥāq ibn Salamah [125]

   He was a Persian secretary. Among his books there were:

Superiority of the Persians over the Arabs; Epistles.


118. The usual Arabic spelling for the word translated as “group” is ṭa’ifah, but the Beatty MS here gives ṭāyifah.


119. Shaylam means either “a cruel-looking man” or “tares” which are known as darnel grass (Lolium temulentum), an herb which causes mild physical reaction.


120. This almost certainly refers to ‘Alī ibn Muḥammad, called Ṣāḥib al-Zanj.


121. The translation follows the Beatty MS. The word given as “fastened” cannot be identified with certainty. It could be ka-zadanj, “like sheep’s intestines.” In other words, as the intestines, a popular form of food, are cooked on a spit, so the caliph burned his victim on a tent pole over a fire. See Tanūkhī, Nishwār, pp. 73, 74; Ṭabarī, Annales, Part III, pp. 2135-36, for differently worded accounts of this incident.


122. “His epistles” lacking in the Beatty MS.


123. Second title lacking in the Beatty MS.


124. Second title lacking in the Beatty MS.


125. The name in the Beatty MS appears to be Isḥāq ibn Sulmah. The second title is lacking in the Beatty MS.





Mūsā ibn ‘Īsā al-Kisrāwī [126]

   Among his books there were:

Love of Fatherlands; The Contradictions of He Who Claims that Judges Are Not Obliged to Imitate the Imams and Caliphs in Connection with Their Food.


Yazdijird ibn Mihīndādh al-Kisrāwī

   He lived at the time of [the Caliph] al-Mu‘taḍid. Among his books there were:

The Excellencies of Baghdād and Its Characteristics; Guides to the Oneness [of God] from the Words of the Philosophers and Others besides Them, a large book which I have glanced through.


Another Group


Dā’ūd ibn al-Jarrāḥ

   He was the grandfather of Abū al-Ḥasan ‘Alī ibn ‘Īsā and served as the secretary of al-Musta‘īn. [127] Among his books there were:

The History and Historical Traditions of the Secretaries; Epistles.


Muḥammad ibn Dā’ūd ibn al-Jarrāḥ

   He was surnamed Abū ‘Abd Allāh. No one appeared during his time who was more illustrious than he. He served as vizier to ‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Mu‘tazz during the time when he was caliph. He was a learned man, who mingled with people, learning from scholars, masters of literary style, and poets. In his own handwriting he wrote more than can be computed, and he both read over and corrected whatever was written with his penmanship.


After the uprising of [‘Abd Allāh] ibn al-Mu‘tazz, he [Muḥammad ibn Dā’ūd] was made known to Mu’nis al-Khādim, who had early knowledge of his situation, but as Abū al-Ḥasan ibn al-Furāt feared him, he [Mu’nis] counseled his execution. Accordingly, he was



126. Al-Kisrāwī indicates connection with the royal fatnily of Persia and descent from Chosroes. The Beatty MS spells the name al-Kasrāwī. The second title among his books has been obscured in the Beatty MS.


127. Both the name al-Musta‘īn and the title Epistles are omitted by the Beatty MS.





killed. [His body] was taken out and cast into a canal by the gate at al-Ma’mūnīyah and later carried to his home. [128]


Among his books there were:

The Leaf, about historical traditions of the poets; [129] the delightful book, Poetry and the Poets; Who among the Poets Was Named ‘Umar during the Pre-Islāmic and Islāmic Periods; [130] The Four, modeled after the book of Abū Hiffān; The Viziers.


Alī ibn ‘Īsā ibn Dā’ūd ibn al-Jarrāḥ

   He was in a position of leadership, having power and rank, but he was especially famous and conspicuous for his professional skill and virtue. [131] Three times he served as the vizier of al-Muqtadir. He traced his lineage back to al-Ḥasan. [132]


He died on the day during the morning of which Mu‘izz al-Dawlah crossed over, which was the day of the conflict in the middle of the night, during Dhū al-Ḥijjah [the twelfth Muslim month], in the year three hundred and thirty-four [A.D. 946]. He was buried in his house. [133] Among his books there were:



128. To understand this passage it is necessary to know the history. ‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Mu‘tazz contested the right to be the caliph with al-Muqtadir and ruled for one day, after which he was killed; see Hitti, Arabs, p. 468. At this time Mu’nis Abū al-Ḥasan al-Muzaffar, called al-Khādim, was an influential member of the government. He evidently knew of a connection between Muḥammad ibn Dā’ūd and ‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Mu‘tazz, but was inclined to forgive him for his complicity with the plot. When, however, he learned that the powerful vizier Ibn al-Furāt was afraid of Muḥammad ibn Dā’ūd, Mu’nis al-Khādim did not want to lose the favor of his chief and so encouraged the execution of Muḥammad ibn Dā’ūd. For the Ma’mūnīyah Quarter, see Coke, Baghdad, pp. 65, 116.


129. Flügel adds, “which he wrote for Ibn al-Munajjim,” probably either Hārūn ibn ‘Alī the authority on poetry, or Abū Aḥmad Yaḥyā ibn ‘Alī, the court favorite.


130. Flügel has ‘Amr instead of ‘Umar. Flügel also adds the clause “during the Pre-Islāmic and Islāmic Periods.” The last title is not found in the Beatty MS.


131. The Flügel edition has “law” instead of “virtue.”


132. At this point there is a space left in the Beatty MS, evidently meant to be filled in later with data about genealogy.


133. The translation follows the Beatty MS. Flügel gives, “He died on the day in which Mu‘izz al-Dawlah crossed over, which was Friday, at midnight during the month of Dhū al-Ḥijjah, in the year three hundred and thirty-four [A.D. 946].” Aḥmad ibn Buwayh, known as Mu‘izz al-Dawlah, came from al-Ahwāz to Baghdād, and after a period of negotiations he deposed and blinded the Caliph al-Mustakfī, early A.D. 946. See “Mu‘izz al-Dawlah,” Enc. Islam, III, 705; Miskawayh, V, 87 (84); 88 (85); Hitti, Arabs, p. 470.




Collection of Invocations; The Meaning and Explanation of the Qur’ān, with which work Abū al-Ḥusayn al-Khazzāz and Abū Bakx ibn Mujāhid helped him; The Secretaries, the Politics of the Kingdom, and a Record of the Caliphs.


His Son, Abū al-Qāsim ‘Īsā ibn ‘Alī

   He devoted his time to logic and the ancient sciences. His birth was -----------. Among his books there was a book about the Persian language.


Abū al-Qāsim ‘Abd Allāh ibn ‘Alī ibn Muḥammad ibn Da’ūd ibn al-Jarrāḥ [134]

   He was known as the son of Asmā, who was a sister of ‘Alī ibn ‘Īsā. He was an excellent secretary and a writer of correspondence, among whose books there were:

The Benefit, about history; The Explanation and Correction of Speech (Tongue).


‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn ‘Īsā

   He was a brother of Abū al-Ḥasan [‘Alī ibn ‘Īsā], and an excellent man. He was a secretary who served as vizier to al-Muttaqī with the counsel of his brother. For the one who directed him and supervised his affairs was Abū al-Ḥasan ‘Alī ibn ‘Īsā. Among his books there were: 

Record of the Family of al-Jarrāḥ — Traditions about Them and Their Genealogies, Both in Ancient and Modern Times; [135] History, from the year two hundred and seventy [A.D. 883/84] to his own day; large book about land tax (al-kharāj), which he did not finish.


Ibn al-‘Aramram Abū al-Qāsim ‘Abd Allāh

   He held high positions [136] in the lowlands near ‘Umrān. Among his books there was The Land Tax (Al-Kharāj), which he named



134. This paragraph is lacking in the Beatty MS.


135. The translation follows the Beatty MS, which gives āl al-Jarrāḥ (“the family of al-Jarrāḥ”). Flügel has ahl al-kharāj (“people of the land tax”), which seems to be a mistake.


136. The translation “held high positions” is taken from the Beatty MS. Flügel gives wa-māt (“and he died”).





Al-Muṭawwaq ‘Alī ibn al-Fatḥ

   He was surnamed Abū al-Ḥasan. Among his books there was The Viziers, supplementing the book of Muḥammad ibn Dā’ūd ibn al-Jarrāḥ and brought up to the time of Abū al-Qāsim al-Kalwādhānī.



Ibn al-Ḥarun [137]

   Among his books there were:

The Excellency of the Arrangement of the Qur’ān; Epistles.



   Abū Aḥmad ibn Bishr al-Marthadī the Elder was the man to whom Ibn al-Rūmī wrote verses about fish, for there was a joke between them. He served as the secretary of al-Muwaffaq in connection with his confidential affairs. Among his books there were:

Al-Anwā’, a large and exceedingly good book; Poems of the Quraysh, upon which al-Ṣulī depended for “Al-Awrāq,” for he plagiarized him — I saw a copy written in the handwriting of al-Marthadī; Collection of Letters. [138]


Mention of the Family of Thawābah ibn Yūnus

   Their origin was Christian. It is said that Yūnus was known as Lubābah and that he was a cupper (barber-surgeon). It is also said that Lubābah was their maternal ancestor. Abū Sa‘īd Wahb ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Ṭāzādh said to me: [139]

There was once a dispute between ‘Alī ibn al-Ḥusayn and Abū al-‘Abbās ibn Thawābah about an estate. [140] They met at the hearing of some high official; I think he was ‘Ubayd Allāh ibn Sulaymān. ‘Alī ibn al-Ḥusayn delegated this case with Abū al-‘Abbās to his brother, Abū al-Qāsim


137. The account of Ibn al-Ḥarūn is not found in the Beatty MS.


138. This title lacking in the Beatty MS.


139. The versions of the following passage show numerous variations in Flügel, the Beatty MS, and Yāqūt, Irshād, VI (2), 36.


140. The Flügel text gives Abū al-‘Abbās Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn Thawābah. This man and the wife of ‘Alī ibn al-Ḥusayn were both descendants of Thawābah ibn Yūnus, the cupper, and for that reason claimed the right to inheritance of the same piece of property. When ‘Alī proved his intimate relationship with the cupper, his opponent gave up the case.




Ja‘far [141] ibn al-Ḥusayn, who was a match for (became the rival of) Abū al-’Abbas. Abū al-‘Abbās began accusing him of falsifying and mocking him. Finally, in summing up his remarks he said to him, “Who are you that you have so roughly twisted the truth?”

Then he [Wahb ibn Ibrāhīm] went on to say:

‘Alī ibn al-Ḥusayn turned to a boy accompanying him, as though he were the world to come, and took him by his hand, standing up in his place. Then he uncovered his head, saying with his loudest voice, “Oh, group of scribes, you have known me. This is my son, by so-in-so, the daughter of so-in-so. She shall be divorced from me by the divorce of invalidation and precedent (al-jaraḥ wa-al-sunnah) according to the usage of the law codes, if this cupping scar on the vein of my neck is not the scarification of his [the boy’s] grandfather, so-in-so the cupper, [142] and if he is not surnamed for a grandfather Ibn Thawābah.”

He [Wahb ibn Ibrāhīm] continued, “Abū al-‘Abbās gave up, neither answering [questions] nor making any remarks about the estate after that, capitulating without dispute or argument, so that the persons present respected this [outcome].”


Abū al-‘Abbās was troublesome and spiteful. Words of his, which are recorded, are both shameful and overbearing. It is for me to wash the words of this cupper from my mouth with rose water. From him we have, “When the people saw the Commander of the Faithful, they became chiefs, they trimmed their pens, they advanced and became viziers, with hobbled jumps.” [143] He died during the year two hundred and seventy-seven [A.D. 890/91]. Among his books there were:

Collected Epistles; Epistle on Writing and Script (Penmanship).


141. The Beatty MS leaves a blank, but Flügel fills in the name Ja‘far.


142. The Flügel text has al-Baḥrayn, an obvious error. The Beatty MS gives al-muzayyin (“cupper” or “barber”).


143. In this sentence, the Beatty MS and Yāqūt, Irshād, VI (2), 36, place  t d  before each verb. This may be meant to show the heavy speech of Abū al-‘Abbās. Probably, however, Flügel is correct in giving, instead of t d,  qad, an Arabic expression of emphasis. Flügel omits the last word of the Arabic quotation, and Yāqūt does not make it clear. In the Beatty MS the letters look like  b r s f n.  As the long a is often omitted, the word may be, as translated, bi-rasafan (“with hobbled jumps”), which means with jumps like those of a fettered camel, a good description of the advances of upstarts, always bound by the caliph’s whims.





Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad ibn Thawābah

   He was a writer of correspondence, who had an excellent literary style and served as the secretary of al-Mu‘taḍid. [144] He wrote a book of recorded letters.


Abū al-Ḥusayn ibn Thawābah

   He was the last one of the distinguished and learned men among those [descendants of Ibn Thawābah] whom we have seen. He wrote the book Epistles.


Qudāmah ibn Ja‘far

   He was Qudāmah ibn Ja‘far ibn Qudāmah, whose grandfather was a Christian. He became a Muslim under the auspices of al-Muktafī bi-Allāh. [145] Qudāmah was one of the masters of literary style, one of the polished writers, and one of the distinguished philosophers. He was noted in connection with the science of logic, although his father Ja‘far was one of those who were neither interested in nor had any knowledge of it. Among his books there were: [146] 

The Land Tax (Al-Kharāj), eight stages, to which he added a ninth; [147] Criticism of Poetry; The Cleanser [148] of Sorrow; Disrnissal of Anxiety; his epistle about Abū ‘Alī ibn Muqlah [Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī] , [149] known as The Brilliant Star; Withstanding (Making Clear) Grief; Wines of Thought; [150] Politics; [151] Refutation of Ibn al-Mu‘tazz; The Pleasure of Hearts and the Provision of the Traveler.


144. The name of the Caliph al-Mu‘taḍid is not in the Beatty MS.


145. In the Beatty MS a space is left here; the name al-Muktafī bi-Allāh is lacking. The Beatty MS implies that the grandfather became a Muslim.


146. The scribe who copied the Beatty MS made careless mistakes in this list of titles. Yāqūt, Irshād, VI (6), 203-5 quotes Al-Fihrist giving a more accurate list.


147. On the margin of the Beatty MS there is the note, perhaps a correction, “seven stages to which he added the eighth.” This line is followed by a longer explanation which has not been included in the translation, as it is evidently not part of the original.


148. “Cleanser” is ṣābūn, the modern word for “soap.”


149. The Beatty MS omits Abū, evidently mistakenly.


150. The Beatty MS is garbled, but both Flügel and Yāqūt, Irshād, VI (2), 36, give daryāq (“wines”). It can also mean “antidotes.”


151. This title and those following are not in the Beatty MS.





Ibn Ḥammādah

   He was Abū al-Ḥasan Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn Ḥammādah the secretary. He was highly cultured and one of the most illustrious of the secretaries. He wrote books and met with men of letters. Among his books there were:

Examination of the Secretaries and a Collection of the Works of Men ot Understanding; [152] The Epistles.



   He was Abū al-Qāsim ‘Ubayd Allāh ibn Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Ḥusayn ibn Abī al-Ḥasan ibn Khusraw Pirūz (Fīrūz) ibn Hurmuz (Urmi) ibn Bahrām (al-Mihrāwān) from the lineage of Ardashīr ibn Pāpak (Bābak) and [known as] al-Kalwādhānī. [153] He was the director of the Bureau of al-Sawād succeeding Abū al-Ḥasan ‘Alī ibn ‘Īsā, and he was head of the group of secretaries. Then he served as a nominal vizier, gaining increased authority in the bureau of Ibn al-Furāt. His birth was [154] ---------- and he died ----------. Among his books there was Land Tax (Al-Kharāj), two manuscripts, the first of which he wrote during the year twenty-six [A.D. 937/38] and the second during the year three hundred and thirty-six [A.D. 947/48].



Abū al-Ḥusayn Isḥāq ibn Surayj, the Christian Secretary [155]

   Among his books there were:

Land Tax (Al-Kharāj), a thousand leaves; The Designated Land Tax (Al-Kharāj al-Ma‘rūf), about two hundred leaves; his small book about the land tax, about one hundred leaves.


152. “And a collection of the works of men of understanding” and the title following are not in the Beatty MS.


153. The names in parentheses are those given in the Beatty MS. The names preceding these are Persian, taken from Firdawsī, Shahnama, VII, 150–69, and VI, 254 ff. Instead of Hurmuz ibn Bahrām, Firdawsī gives Hurmuz ibn Yazdigird ibn Bahrām. For the town of al-Kalwādhān near Baghdād, see Yāqūt, Geog., V, 28.


154. The Flügel text includes “before three hundred” (A.D. 912).


155. This paragraph is not in the Flügel edition, but is in the Beatty MS.





Ibrāhīm ibn ‘Īsā, the Christian

   He was one of the secretaries with eloquent literary style and refined training. Among his books there were:

Account of al-Ḥawārī; [156] Epistles.


Abū Sa‘īd Wahb ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Ṭāzādh, the Secretary of al-Muṭī’ [157]

   He was one of the scholars whom we have known. He was distinguished, cultured, a writer of correspondence, a collector of valuable books, and a man who was spiritually good. He and Abū al-Ḥasan Ṭāzādh ibn ‘Īsā were the last of the secretaries whom we saw in the service of Abū Ja‘far ibn Shirzād. Abū Sa‘īd died ------------. Among his books there were:

Amplifications, about the book which his father Ibrāhīm wrote; a book in which he collected accounts of the group [of secretaries]; Epistles, [selected] from his elegant compositions.


Ibn Naṣr [158]

   He was Abū al-Ḥasan ‘Alī ibn Naṣr the Christian, son of a physician, who died a few months ago and was one of the men of letters who were distinguished and were authors. He told me about a number of his books, but I imagine that he never finished most of them. Among his books there were:

Amalgamation of Qualities, about fifteen hundred leaves — he wrote it


156. Flügel gives al-Khawārij; the Beatty MS has al-Ḥawārī. Ṣābī, Wuzarā’, p. 246, calls an official by this name who died A.D. 923/24 and was named Abū al-Qāsim ‘Alī ibn Muḥammad. Al-Ḥawāri might also refer to a Christian disciple. The Beatty MS omits the title which follows this one.


157. The Beatty MS leaves a blank space where Flügel includes the name Ṭāzādh in the title of this account. The Beatty MS has a small note of no importance on the margin at the end of the paragraph. Flügel gives some variations, which do not seem to be accurate.


158. As Ibn Naṣr had the name ‘Alī, the term “Christian” in the first sentence must refer to his origin, before he joined Islām. On the margin of the Beatty MS there are notes saying that this paragraph was written in a diflferent handwriting. As Ibn Naṣr died at the time when Al-Fihrist was written, it is reasonable to believe that the data about him was inserted after the original manuscript was composed. Shujā‘, VI, 434, sect. 408, gives the date of the death of Ibn Naṣr as A.D. 1001.





in his handwriting and formed it to include both government and belles lettres; [159] Training of the Sultan, more than one thousand leaves.



Ibn al-Bāzyār [160]

   He was Abū ‘Alī Aḥmad ibn Naṣr ibn al-Ḥusayn al-Bāzyār, a court companion of Sayf al-Dawlah. His father, Naṣr ibn al-Ḥusayn, was one of the people who moved up to Sāmarrā. He lived at the time of al-Mu‘taḍid, whom he served and amused. His origin was from Khurāsān and he adopted the sport [of hunting] with birds of prey, various kinds being given to him by al-Mu‘taḍid.


Abū ‘Alī died at Aleppo during the lifetime of Sayf al-Dawlah, during the year three hundred and fifty-two [A.D. 963]. Among his books there were: 

Formation of Elegant Literary Style; Speech. [161]


Ibn Zanjī, the Secretary [162]

   He was Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Ismā‘īl ibn Zanjī. He was distinguished for beauty of penmanship. Among his books there were:

His epistles; The Secretaries and the Profession.



   He was Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥammad ibn ‘Imrān ibn Mūsā ibn Sa‘īd ibn ‘Abd Allāh. [163] His origin was in Khurasān and he was the last of the writers about historical traditions and composers of books whom I saw. He was a quoter of traditions, with a truthful tongue



159. This first book listed is not in the Flügel edition, but Flügel adds a title, Distinction (“Al-Barā‘ah”), which the Beatty MS lacks. Flügel oniits mention of the number of leaves given by the Beatty MS with the second title. The Beatty MS gives the second title as Training of the Sultan, whereas Flügel gives Association of (with) the Sultan.


160. The Beatty MS gives al-bāziyār (“the falconer”) very clearly, but bāzyār, same meaning, is used more often. The Beatty MS does not make clear whether Naṣr ibn al-Ḥusayn or al-Ḥusayn was a falconer.


161. This last title is not in the Beatty MS.


162. The Beatty MS lacks this paragraph except for the words “Ibn Zanjī, the Secretary.”


163. The last two elements may be ‘Ubayd Allāh instead of ‘Abd Allāh.





and a broad knowledge of traditional authorities. He had also heard a great deal. His birth was during Jumādā al-Ākhirah [the sixth Muslim month] in the year two hundred and ninety-seven [A.D. 909/10], and he is still living in our time, which is the year three hundred and seventy-seven [A.D. 987/88], so we pray that Allāh, through His bounty and beneficence, may give him health and long life. [164] Among his books there are: [165]

Pleasing (Kitāb al-Mu’niq), with accounts of the famous Pre-Islāmic poets, beginning with Imru’ al-Qays and the members of his generation (category), and with a thorough investigation of the traditions about them. Then [he discusses the poets] who started before Islām and lived into the Islāmic period, with the Muslims following them and their generations. He deals with Jarīr and al-Farazdaq, with their generations (categories) among the early Muslims, citing the best of the traditions about them, until the beginning of the ‘Abbāsid regime, may Allāh strengthen, support, prolong, and extend it. He mentions Ibn Harmah and al-Ḥusayn ibn Muṭayr, together with those who made their poetry known. The number of leaves [in this book] is over five thousand.


Illuminating (Kitāb al-Mustanīr), in which there are accounts of the recent poets who were famous and prosperous, with a selection of their poems according to their ages and periods. The first of them is Bashshār ibn Burd, the last one is Abū al-‘Abbās ‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Mu‘tazz bi-Allāh, with both of whom may Allāh be well pleased. The number of leaves is six thousand, written in the handwriting of al-Marzubānī in sixty Sulaymānīyah volumes. [166]


Profitable (Kitāb al-Mufīd), in which there are a number of sections. The first of these sections contains accounts of the Pre-Islāmic and Islāmic poets who were given surnames, with traditions as to which one of them


164. The year of his death is given by different authorities as follows: Flügel — 988/89; Yāqūt, Irshād, VI (7), 50 — either 988/89 or 994; the Beatty MS, Khallikān, III, 67, and Baghdādī, Ta’rīkh, Part III, p. 135 sect. 1159 — 994. The correct date is probably A.D. 994. On the margin of the Beatty MS there is a note, “From here to the end of the account of al-Marzubānī it is in a handwriting other than that of the author.”


165. The translation follows the sequence of titles as given in the Beatty MS. It is so different from the sequence in the Flügel edition that the transliteration of the Arabic is given to help identify the titles. The different editions have variations in the number of leaves given for each book.


166. Evidently there was a leather cover for each volume (mujallad) of one hundred paper leaves. Sulaymānīyah most likely refers to the kind of paper used.




was identified with a surname and whether he was noted for his father’s surname, or known in connection with his mother or the lineage of his grandfather, or related to his patrons, and also how these relationships were similar or were connected with the group as a whole. [167]


In the second section there are mentioned the things quoted about the characteristics of the poets, together with the defects of their bodies and appearances, such as being Negroid, one-eyed, blind, weak-sighted, or leprous. There are also mentioned the things leaving traces on the body, from the hair of the head to the two feet, limb for limb. The third section is about the religious categories of the poets, such as the Shī‘ah, the theologians, the Khawārij, al-muthimūn, the Jews, and the Christians, and those who followed their rites. [168]


The last section mentions everyone who put aside the recitation of the poetry of Pre-Islāmic times so as to increase in importance and in Islām to become pious; also each one who left eulogy [169] so as to rise to a higher standard, or [put aside] satire to be complimentary, and [put aside] love poetry to be virtuous; also each one who devoted his poetry to some one subject, as did the Sayyid ibn Muḥammad al-Ḥimyarī and al-‘Abbās ibn al-Aḥnaf, and those who followed their precedent. [170] It is a book of five thousand leaves.


The Alphabetical Book (Kitāb al-Mu‘jam), [171] in which are mentioned the poets alphabetically, starting with the ones whose names begin with alif (a), then those beginning with (b), to the end of the alphabet. It contains about five thousand names [of poets], with some poetry of each, a number of stanzas selected from his [each poet’s] famous verse. It exceeds one thousand leaves.


The Acrostic (Kitāb al-Muwashshaḥ), in which there is a description of the points which have caused the authorities (al-’ulamā’) to disapprove


167. This is a free translation. The last phrase is literally, “or entered in its aggregate.”


168. The word “theologians” is ahl al-kalām (“people of the word”) in Arabic. Richardson (Dictionary, p. 210) translates the term as “orators.” The word written as al-muthimūn usually means “the suspected ones,” but it might also mean “the agnostics.” This is probably the word intended here, rather than the longer Arabic form al-mutahhimūn (“heated,” “obsessed”).


169. “Eulogy” (al-madīḥ) may be instead “indecent” (al-mudabbaj).


170. This sentence evidently deals with poets who gave up the habits and interests of Pre-Islāmic times so as to join Islām and to become respected by the Muslim community.


171. Sometimes this word has a different significance, but here it obviously means “alphabetical.”




of some of the poets in connection with their poems [such as use of] kasrah [the vowel sign i], errors of pronunciation, inconsistent use of vowel signs in verses, repetition of the last syllable of a verse, irregular rhyming, changes, ambiguity, loose weaving of the composition, and other errors of poetry. It exceeds three hundred leaves.


Poetry (Kitāb al-Shi‘r), [172] a compendium of its excellencies, with a description of its benefits, its injuries and defects; also a description of its kinds and forms, measures, prosody, essential points, and selections; also the training of its composers and reciters, proof of its plagiarism and robbery, with other points about its varieties and forms. It exceeds two thousand leaves.


Poems of Women (Kitāb Ash‘ār al-Nisā’), about five hundred leaves. [173] Poems of the Caliphs (Kitāb Ash‘ār al-Khulafā’), with more than two hundred leaves. Things Quoted (Kitāb al-Muqtabas), with traditions about the grammarians of al-Baṣrah, mentioning the first person to speak about grammar and he who first compiled it, with traditions about al-Farrā’ and the scholars of al-Baṣrah and al-Kūfah, who quoted from others, and who among them lived in the City of Peace [Baghdād]; about three thousand leaves.


Guide to the Right Way (Kitāb al-Murshid). In it are traditions about al-mutakallimūn and the People of Justice and Oneness [the Mu‘tazilah], with something about their meetings and doctrines; about one thousand leaves. Poems Attributed to the Jinn (Kitāb Ash‘ār Tunsab ilā al-Jinn), [174] about one hundred leaves.


Gardens (Kitāb al-Riyāḍ), [175] in which are accounts of persons obsessed, arranged in categories. In it is a statement about [passionate] love and what results from it, with mention of its start and finish, together with the terminology and varieties connected with it, as recorded by the language scholars. [It also mentions] the derivations of these terms, with examples from the poems of Pre-Islām and of men who converted to Islām, as well as of Muslims, including the more recent ones; more than three thousand leaves.


172. The versions show variations; the translation follows the Beatty MS.


173. In the Beatty MS the word for “book” (kitāb) is carelessly omitted in this title and the one following it.


174. Flügel gives this title as follows: “Poems of Those Imitating the Jinn — in it he mentions whoever made an imitation in poetry; more than one hundred leaves.”


175. The translation follows the Beatty MS in which the sequence and order of sentences is different from what is in the Flügel edition.




The Clear (Kitāb al-Rā’iq). [176] In it there is a description of the characteristics of song, of its qualities, forms, and methods, together with traditions about the male and female singers among the freeborn, the handmaids, and the slaves; more than one thousand six hundred leaves.


The Seasons (Kitāb al-Azminah), in which there are the characteristics of the four seasons: summer, winter, and the two temperate ones; and also a description of heat and cold, clouds and lightning, winds and rain, seeking for fresh pasturage, [177] prayer for rain, and other things included in general descriptions of the spring and autumn. Then there are mentioned the beauties [178] of the celestial sphere, the stations of the zodiac, the sun, and the moon with its stations, and also the characteristics ascribed to them by the Arabs and their poems about them. [179] Also mentioned are the planets and fixed stars, the characteristics of night and day, the Arab and Persian days, the months and years, periods and eras, together with what appears in every one of the sections of this book in connection with language, historical traditions, and poems, giving explanations. It is about two thousand leaves.


Flowers and Fruits (Kitāb al-Anwār wa-al-Thimār). In it are some of the things said about the rose, the narcissus, and the other flowers in poetry, with what is said about them in the records and traditions. Then there are the fruits and mention of palms and all the fruits in general, with what there is for them of praise in poetry and prose; about five hundred leaves.


Traditions of the Barmak Family (Kitāb Akhbār al-Barāmakah), [180] in which there is a description [of the periodj from their beginnings until the downfall of the regime, ending with their disgrace; about five hundred leaves.


176. Flügel gives the title Kitāb al-Wāthiq, followed by the paragraph as given here. The Beatty MS gives the title used in the translation, but lacks part of the paragraph.


177. In the Beatty MS “fresh pasturage” (al-rawwād) is clearly written, but it is given incorrectly by Flügel.


178. Flügel has ṭarafā, but ẓurafā’ (“beauties”) seems to be more correct. For an explanation of the stations of the moon and the zodiac, see “Astrology,” Enc. Islam, I, 496.


179. This is a very free translation but seems to give the meaning implied in the Arabic text. The sentence which follows is clearer in the Beatty MS than in the Flügel version.


180. In the Flügel text this paragraph is much shorter than it is in the Beatty MS, which is translated here.




Distinguished for Excellence (Kitāb al-Mufaḍḍal or al-Mifḍal), [181] about clear speaking, Arabic, and writing; about seven hundred leaves. Congratulations (Kitāb al-Tahānī); about five hundred leaves. Submission and Pilgrimage (Kitāb al-Taslīm wa-al-Ziyārah); four hundred leaves. Visiting (Kitāb al-‘Iyādah); [182] four hundred leaves. Consolations (Kitāb al-Ta‘āzī); [183] about three hundred leaves.


Elegies (Kitāb al-Marāthī); five hundred leaves. The Exalted Book (Kitāb al-Mu‘allā), about the excellencies of the Qur’ān; two hundred leaves. [184] Fertilization of Minds (Kitāb Talqīḥ al-‘Uqūl), [185] with more than one hundred sections, the first of them being about the mind, culture, learning, and similar things. It has more than three thousand leaves.


The Noble Book (Kitāb al-Mushrif), about the rule of the Prophet, may Allāh bless him and give him peace, his culture, his preaching, his Companions, with whom may Allāh be well pleased, and others, as well as about the testaments and the rule of the Arabs and Persians; one thousand five hundred leaves. [186] Traditions about Those Who Make Metaphors in Poems (Kitāb Akhbār man Tamaththal bi-al-Ash‘ār); over one hundred leaves. Youth and Old Age (Kitāb al-Shabāb wa-al-Shayb); three hundred leaves. Crowned (Kitāb al-Mutawwaj), about justice and good living; over one hundred leaves. Brocaded (Adorned) (Kitāb al-Mudabbaj), [187] about banquets, invitations, and drink. Relief (Kitāb al-Faraj); [188] nearly one hundred leaves.


Gifts (Kitāb al-Hadāyā); about three hundred leaves. Gifts [189] (Kitāb al-Hadāyā), another manuscript in his own handwriting. Ornamented (Kitāb al-Muzakhraf), about the brothers (ikhwān) and companions (aṣḥāb); three hundred leaves. Traditions of Abū Muslim al-Khurāsānī, Giver of the Summons (Akhbār Abī Muslim al-Khurāsānī, Ṣāḥib


181. Flügel gives “Kitāb al-Mufaṣṣal, about clear speaking and eloquence.”


182. The Flügel text gives Worship (“Kitāb al-Ibādah”).


183. Flügel gives Raids (“Kitāb al-Maghāzī”).


184. This book is omitted in the Flügel version.


185. The translation follows the Beatty MS; Flügel differs.


186. The translation follows the Beatty MS; the number of pages and other details differ from Flügel.


187. Flügel gives Praise (“Kitāb al-Madīḥ”).


188. The Arabic could also be Al-Furaj or Al-Farj. Flügel gives The Young (“Kitāb al-Farkh”).


189. This extra manuscript is mentioned in the Flügel text but omitted by the Beatty MS.




al-Da‘wah); [190] one hundred leaves. Supplication (Invocation) (Kitāb al-Du‘ā’); about two hundred leaves.


The Ancients (Kitāb al-Awā’il), [191] in which are accounts of the ancient Persians and of the People of Justice and Oneness [the Mu‘tazilah], with something about their sessions and point of view; about one thousand leaves. The Newly Acquired (Kitāb al-Mustạtraf), about the foolish and unusual; over three hundred leaves. Traditions of the Children, the Wives, and the Family (Kitāb Akhbār al-Awlād wa-al-Zawjāt wa-al-Ahl), with praise and blame; [192] two hundred leaves. Renunciation and Traditions of the Ascetics (Kitāb al-Zuhd wa-Akhbār al-Zuhhād); over two hundred leaves. [193] Blame of the World (Kitāb Dhamm al-Dunyā); over one hundred leaves. [194] The Shining (Kitāb al-Munīr), about repentance, good work, piety, abstention from the illegal, and similar things; over three hundred leaves. Warnings and Mention of Death (Kitāb al-Mawā‘iẓ wa-Dhikr al-Mawt); over five hundred leaves. [195]


Traditions about Those Near Death (Kitāb Akhbār al-Muḥtaḍarīn); one hundred leaves. [196] The Chamberlains (Kitāb al-Ḥujjāb); [197] one hundred leaves. Al-Ḥātim (Kitāb al-Ḥātim). [198] Abū Ḥanīfah and His Associates (Kitāb Abī Ḥanīfah wa-Aṣḥābihi). [199] Traditions of ‘Abd al-Ṣamad ibn al-Mu‘adhdhal (Kitāb Akhbār ‘Abd al-Ṣamad ibn al-Mu‘adhdhal); about two hundred leaves. [200] Traditions of Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Ḥamzah al-‘Alawi (Kitāb Akhbār Abī ‘Abd Allāh


190. Abū Muslim was called Giver of the Summons because he sounded the call to overthrow the Umayyad caliphs and to establish the ‘Abbāsid regime, A.D. 750.


191. For this book, the Beatty MS gives only the title and the words “about one hundred and fifty leaves.”


192. Flügel adds a few words to this clause, but without changing the meaning.


193. Flügel omits the number of leaves, but adds “in his own handwriting.”


194. As differences in the texts for this and a number of titles which follow are unimportant, they are not described in detail. The translation follows the Beatty MS.


195. Flügel omits this title.


196. This title is not clear in the Beatty MS; it may also be Traditions about Settled People (“Kitāb Akhbār al-Muḥtaḍirīn”).


197. Instead of “chamberlains” (al-ḥujjāb), this word might be “curtain” (al-ḥijāb). Flügel gives Chiding the Chamberlains (“Kitāb Dhamr al-Ḥujjāb”).


198. The Flügel version has “The Poetry of Ḥātim al-Ṭa’ī (‘Kitāb Shi‘r Ḥātim al-Ṭa’ī ’); about one hundred leaves.” See Ḥātim, chief of the Ṭayy Tribe, in the Biog. Index.


199. Flügel has “Traditions of Abū Ḥanīfah al-Nu‘mān ibn Thabit (‘Kitāb Akhbār Abū Ḥanīfah al-Nu‘mān ibn Thābit’); about five hundred leaves.”


200. This title and the ones which follow are in the Flügel version, but not in the Beatty MS.




Muḥammad ibn Ḥamzah al-‘Alawī); about one hundred leaves. Traditions of the Kings of Kindah (Kitāb Akhbār Mulūk Kindah); about two hundred leaves. Traditions of Abū Tammām (Kitāb Akhbār Abī Tammām) by itself; about one hundred leaves, Traditions of Shu‘bah ibn al-Ḥajjāj (Kitāb Akhbār Shu‘bah ibn al-Ḥajjāj); about one hundred leaves. Cancellation of Contracts (Kitāb Naskh al-‘Uhūd); about two hundred leaves, addressed to the judges.

He had many books about the sawād [201] which he started to write and among which there were:

Essences of Poetry (Kitāb An‘ān al-Shi‘r), about praise and satire, glory and generosity. [202] Traditions about the Generous (Kitāb Akhbār al-Ajwād). Descriptions (Qualities) (Kitāb al-Awṣāf). Metaphors (Allegories) (Kitāb al-Tashbihāt).

From the sources written in his own handwriting there have come down to us more than twenty thousand leaves.



Ibn al-Tustarī [203]

   He was Sa‘īd ibn Ibrāhīm ibn al-Tustarī, surnamed Abū al-Ḥusayn, a Christian living near the present time. Both he and his father worked for the Banū al-Furāt. [204] He adhered to rhymed prose in his writings. Among his books there were:

The Shortened and the Lengthened, according to alphabetical sequence; Masculine and Feminine, according to the same sequence; Epistles, about the invasions, according to this sequence; his collected epistles about each skill of his workmanship.


Ibn Ḥājib al-Nu‘mān

   He was Abū al-Ḥusayn al-Nu‘mān ibn ‘Abd Allāh, the secretary. [205] Abū al-Ḥusayn was one of the unique men of the period for virtue,



201. Although the word sawād as a rule referred to central and southern ‘Irāq, here it may mean “the populace” or “environs.” This paragraph is not found in the Flügel edition.


202. In the original the word kitāb is omitted before some of the titles, but it is understood.


203. The Beatty MS gives al-Tushtarī, which is evidently an error. Yāqūt, Geog., I, 847, includes Tustar, but does not mention Tushtar.


204. The Banū al-Furāt were members of the family of the famous vizier Ibn al-Furāt.


205. A marginal note in the Beatty MS has Abū al-Ḥājib. Flügel has “ ‘Abd al-’Azīz ibn Ibrāhīm, whose father was Ḥājib al-Nu‘mān Abū ‘Abd Allāh.”





genius, and knowledge of writing in government offices. During the days of Mu‘izz al-Dawlah he was in charge of the Bureau of al-Sawād. No library of books has been seen that was better than his collection, for it contained every book, either by itself or in a compilation, each one written in the handwriting of the scholar concerned. He died ----------. Among his books there were:

Poems of the Secretaries; Traditions of Women, known as the book of Ibn al-Dukkānī; Intoxication of Daytime (Odor of the Day), about neighborhood traditions; [206] Youth; Negligence (Hazard) and Gathering of Flowers; The Courtesy of Superiors, in Office and Retired.


Al-Ṣābī Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm ibn Hilāl ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Hārūn

   He was a writer of correspondence, a master of literary style, a poet, a scholar of geometry, and a man engrossed in developing writing, literary style, and poetry. His birth was after the year three hundred and twenty [A.D. 932] and he died before three hundred and eighty [A.D. 990]. [207] He wrote:

Anthology of Epistles, written as late as this our own time — about a thousand pages; traditions of his family and the children of his father, which he wrote for some of his children; The Government of the Banū Buwayh, Traditions of the Daylam, and the Beginning of Their Rule, known as “Al-Tājī” and “Al-’Aḍudi”; [208] Missives of al-Sharīf al-Raḍī Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥusayn al-Mūsawī, [surnamed] Abū al-Ḥasan; Anthology of Poetry.


Al-Muhallabī Abū Muḥammad al-Ḥasan ibn Muḥammad

   He was the vizier of Mu‘izz al-Dawlah, [209] a poet, a master of literary style, the best of the period during his time. He died -----------. Among his books there were:

Epistles and Edicts; a collection of his poems, which were only a few.


206. This title and the one which follows are lacking in the Beatty MS.


207. This sentence is not in the Beatty MS, which must have been copied before A.D. 990, or based on the original written before that time.


208. For Buwayh and Daylam, see Hitti, Arabs, p. 470. Al-tājt signifies “the crowned” and the second title honors the chief ‘Aḍud al-Dawlah. The two titles following are not found in the Beatty MS. Al-Sharif al-Raḍī died A.D. 998/99, after the death of al-Nadīm.


209. The name Mu‘izz al-Dawlah and the mention of a collection of poems are in the Flügel edition, but not the Beatty MS.





Ibn al-‘Amīd

   He was Abū al-Faḍl. He wrote:

Collection of Epistles; The Method, about eloquent literary styles. [210]


Al-Ṣāḥib Abū al-Qāsim ibn ‘Abbād

   He was unique in his time, singled out during his period for eloquence of literary style, clarity, and poetry. Among his books there were: [211]

Collection of Epistles; Sufficiency, about epistles; Al-Zaydīyah; Feasts and the Excellencies of al-Nawrūz (New Year’s).


Another Group



   His name was ----------- and he was the grandfather of ‘Abd al-’Azīz al-‘Asjadī al-Marūzī the poet. From what his mother said he used to quote “----------- as if you were from the womb of a mixed breed (dispersed), except for the mother of Father Adam.” [212] He was one of the excellent tax officials, superior in his profession and the first to compose a book about the land tax. Among his books there were: 

Land Tax (Al-Kharāj); Epistles.


Ibn ‘Abd al-Karīm

   His name was Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Karīm ibn Abī Sahl al-Aḥwal, surnamed Abū al-‘Abbās. He was one of the outstanding and excellent men among the secretaries, well informed about the administration of the land tax and more capable in connection with that type of work than the other men of his time. He died during the year two hundred and seventy [A.D. 883/84]. Among his books there was Land Tax (Al-Kharāj).



210. This title is not in the Beatty MS.


211. This sentence and the list of books are in Flügel, but not the Beatty MS.


212. The quotation is not in Flügel and a note on the margin of the Beatty MS says that this account is not in the penmanship of the author. The quotation lacks some words and is a joke, impossible to translate with certainty. The Beatty MS lacks the title Epistles.





Ibn al-Māshitah

   He was Abū al-Ḥasan ‘Alī ibn al-Ḥasan, nicknamed Ibn al-Māshitah by the persons whom he treated harshly. [213] He lived near our own time and was skillful and outstanding in connection with finances and the administration of the land tax. Among his books there were:

Answer of the Stubborn; The Excellent Book about the Land Tax (al-Kharāj); Instruction about Certain Consultations, which I have seen, written in his own handwriting.


Ibn Bashshār

   Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn Sulaymān ibn Bashshār was the secretary and teacher of Abū ‘Abd Allāh al-Kūfī, the vizier. He was one of the secretaries who excelled in eloquent literary style and professional skill. Among his books there were:

The large book, Land Tax (Al-Kharāj), a rough copy of which I saw written in his own handwriting — about one thousand leaves; Drink (Wine) and Court Companionship, written in his own handwriting.


‘Abd Allāh ibn Hamrnād ibn Marwān, the Secretary

   I know nothing more about his life. Among his books there was The Meaning of White Hair, Its Refinements, the Excellency of Its Hues, the Arrangement of Its Front Parts, What Is Said about It in Prose and Poetry, and the Dyes.


Another Secretary

   He was known as Ya‘qūb ibn Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī. Among his books there was Dyes, the Reproach of White Hair, and Praise of Youth.


Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad ibn ‘Alī ibn Khiyār, the Secretary

   Among his books there was Land Tax (Al-Kharāj).



213. This nickname meant “son of the woman hairdresser.” He was not as cruel as other officials, but evidently used harsh methods of collecting taxes, as the title of his book Answer of the Stubborn suggests.





Ibn Surayj [214]

   He is of our time, living in this our age. His name is Isḥāq ibn Yaḥyā ibn Surayj the Christian, surnamed Abū al-Ḥusayn. He has an excellent knowledge of the government departments, supervision of public works, and the administration of the land tax. He is also preeminent and knowledgeable in the study of the stars. [215] His birth was during the year three hundred [A.D. 912/13], during Sha‘bān [the eighth Muslim month]. Among his books there are:

The large book, The Land Tax (Al-Kharāj), which he divided into two sections and six stages; the small book, The Technique of the Land Tax; The Work of Consultation in an Audience [presence of a high official]; Interpretation of the Ordinances about Births, about one hundred pages; Gatherings Together of History, which he collected.


Another Group



   He was Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn Ghālib al-Iṣbahānī, whose nickname was Bāḥ. He was a master of litcrary style, a writer of correspondence. and a secretary, who was called “Bāḥ” because he said in one of his verses: “He revealed (bāḥ) what was in the soul, making it known.”


He came to Baghdād, where he stayed with al-Nighyānī, the secretary, for whose children he composed his book about epistles. Among his books there were:

Collection of Epistles, in eight sections. He wrote an additional ninth, which he called The Book of Correlating Prose and Poetry; Al-Tawsīkh wa-al-Tarshīh, about some of the dualists among the Shu‘ūbīyah; [216] Oratory and Eloquence; Poverty (Al-Faqr).


214. This man should be compared with Abū al-Ḥusayn Isḥāq ibn Surayj. As his son’s name was al-Ḥusayn, the family must have become converted to Islām.


215. The Flügel version has “grammar” (al-naḥw), but the Beatty MS clearly gives the word for “stars” (al-nujum).


216. This title is given as it is written in the Beatty MS, perhaps meaning, “Fouling and Administering Well.” But the first word is perhaps meant to be al-tawshīḥ (“arranging verses”) or al-tawshīj (“binding together”), while the last word may mean “rearing” or “educating.” The word “dualists” is taken from the Beatty MS, which differs from the Flügel text. The term seems to be logical, as there were many Manichaeans and Zoroastrians among the Shu‘ūblyah, or non-Arabs. The Beatty MS gives Al-Fiqar for the last title, which is very likely an error.





Abū Muslim

   He was Muḥammad ibn Muslim ibn Baḥr al-Iṣbahānī, a secretary, writer of correspondence, master of literary style, theologian, and debator. Abū al-Ḥasan ‘Alī ibn ‘Īsā used to have connections with him, and desired his company. Among his books there were:

A Collection of Explanations for the Interpretation of the Revelation According to the School of Thought of the Mu‘tazilah, about exegesis of the Qur’ān — a large book; [217] a collection of his epistles.


Ibn Ṭabāṭabā al-‘Alawī

   He is mentioned in connection with poetry and the poets. Among his books there were:

Support of the Exalted; Standards (Examining) of Poetry; Poetry and the Poets, his selections; an anthology of his poetry. [218]



   His name was -----------. Diymart is in the region of Iṣbahān. He was a master of literary style, an author, and a grammarian, among whose books there was Training of Character.


Ibn Abī al-‘Awādhil

   He was ------------. Among his books there was Excellence and Eloquence.


Abū al-Ḥuṣayn Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī al-Iṣbahānī al-Diymartī

   Among his books there were:

The Faults of Thaqīf and the Rest of the Arabs; Al-Ḥamāsah. [219]


‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn ‘Īsā al-Hamadhānī

   He was the secretary of Bakr ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azīz ibn Abī Dulaf He was a poet and secretary, among whose books there was Pronunciations (Dialects).



217. The Beatty MS omits “a large book.”


218. The anthology is not mentioned in the Beatty MS.


219. For the Thaqīf Tribe, see “Thaḳīf,” Enc. Islam, IV, 734. Al-Ḥamāsah is omitted by the Beatty MS. It means “valor” and is often used as the title of an anthology of poetry.





Ibn ‘Abdakān

   His name was Muḥammad ----------- and he was a secretary of the Ṭūlūn family. He was eloquent, a writer of correspondence, and a master of literary style, who wrote a large collection of epistles.


Ibn Abī al-Baghl

   His name was Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn Yaḥyā ibn Abī al-Baghl, surnamed Abū al-Ḥusayn. [220] He was summoned from Iṣbahān to be promoted to act as vizier during the days of al-Muqtadir. He was eloquent, a writer of correspondence, and a master of literary style, one of the people of Marwān. [221] He was also a poet of excellent quality, with natural talent, who wrote a collection of epistles. His epistles were about the conquest of al-Baṣrah. [222]


Muḥammad ibn al-Qāsim al-Karkhī [223]

   He was one of the secretaries who were transferred to the vizierate. He was a writer of correspondence and a master of literary style, who wrote:

Anthology of Epistles; Anthology of Poetry.


Al-Bāḥath ‘an Mi‘yāṣ [224]

   His name was Muḥammad ibn Sahl ibn al-Marzubān al-Karkhī, surnamed Abū Manṣūr. He was one of the people of al-Karkh and one of the masters of eloquence and literary style. A man who saw him told me that he had a paralyzed hand. [225] Among his books there was The Limit of Perfection (Al-Muntahī fī al-Kamāl), comprising twelve books (chapters), which were:



220. The Flügel text does not give “Aḥmad ibn.” The translation follows the Beatty MS. A father and a son have probably been confused. See Ibn Abī al-Baghl for the members of this family.


221. Flügel has al-marwāt, but al-Marwān, a part of Marw (Merv), seems to be the word meant.


222. The reference to his epistles is not found in the Beatty MS.


223. Flügel gives al-Maqsam instead of al-Karkhl. The second title is lacking in the Beatty MS.


224. The name means “searching for the difficult in learning,” and is given in the Beatty MS. Flügel has a different form, almost certainly incorrect.


225. In the Flügel edition, this statement is given incorrectly.




Praise of Culture; Description of Rhetoric (Eloquence); Prayer and Glorification; Passionate Love and Separation; Love of Fatherlands; Congratulations and Consolation; Hope and the Hoped-For; Youthful Amatory Praises and Beseechings; Praise and Blame; Apologies (Excuses); Pronunciations (Dialects); Values of the Government.


Abū Sa‘īd ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Aḥmad al-Iṣbahānī [226]

   He wrote Epistles.


Al-Abharī al-Iṣbahānī

   Nothing more is known about him [except that] among his books there were:

Formation of Literary Style; Training of the Secretary; The Court Companion. [227]



   He was Abū ‘Abd Allāh Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn Naṣr al-Jayhānī, the secretary, vizier of the lord of Khurāsān, among whose books there were:

Roadways and Kingdoms; Usage of Examples of Writing the Contracts of the Caliphs and Governors; [228] Additions to the book of al-Nāshī about discourses; [229] Epistles.


Abū Zayd al-Balkhī

   His name was Aḥmad ibn Sahl and he was distinguished in connection with both ancient and modern sciences. In his compositions and compilations he followed the usage of the philosophers, but, as he resembled the men of letters and was closest to them, I have included him in this section of the book.



226. The Beatty MS has Abū Sa‘d instead of Abū Sa‘īd. The translation follows Flügel, which is probably correct. The Beatty MS, however, corrects Flügel by giving Al-Abharī as a separate heading rather than running it into the preceding paragraph.


227. Last title not in the Beatty MS.


228. The translation follows what seems to be indicated in the Beatty MS. The Flügel edition varies.


229. The Flügel edition is garbled, but the Beatty MS clearly gives al-Nāshī, although which one of the men with this name is not explained. The final title is not in the Beatty MS.





It is said of Abū Zayd that he said:

Al-Ḥusayn ibn ‘Alī al-Marwarrūdhī, the brother of Su‘lūk, used to conduct familiar and continuous prayers for me, but when I dictated my book about investigation by methods of interpretation, he discontinued these [prayers] for me. Then Abū ‘Alī [230] al-Jayhānī, the vizier of Naṣr ibn Aḥmad, had slave girls with whom he used to favor me, but when I dictated my book Offerings and Sacrifices, he withheld them from me.

Al-Ḥusayn [al-Marwarrūdhī] was a Qarmaṭī, al-Jayhānī a dualist, and Abū Zayd was accused of heresy. But it has been related that al-Balkhī [231] said, “This man,” meaning Abū Zayd, “is suffering an injustice, for he is a believer in the oneness [of Allāh]. I know it from other people and also because I was brought up with him. Although it [heresy] might have come from logic, we studied logic together and thanks be to Allāh did not become heretics.”


Among the books of Abū Zayd there were: [232]

The Ordinances of Religions; The Categories (Divisions) of the Sciences; Choice of Conduct (Choice of Journeys); the large book, Politics; the small book, Politics; Perfection of the Faith; [233] Excellency of the Art of Writing; Advantages of Bodies and Souls; [234] The Names of Allāh, Exalted and Sublime, and His Attributes; The Making of Poetry; The Excellency of the Science (Knowledge) of Historical Traditions; Names, Surnames, and Nicknames; Names of Things; Grammar and Conjugation; The Picture and the Pictured; his epistle about the definitions (limits) of philosophy; What Is Correct about Judgments of the Stars; Refutation of the Worshippers of Idols; Excellence of the Mathematical Sciences; about divulging [235] the sciences of philosophy; Offerings and Sacrifices; Infallibility of the Prophets, for Whom May There Be Peace. [236]


230. “ ‘Alī ” may be a mistake, as he is usually called Abū ‘Abd Allāh.


231. This was probably Muḥammad ibn al-Faḍl ibn al-‘Abbās al-Balkhī, who died in A.D. 931, three years before the death of Abū Zayd al-Balkhī.


232. The list given here should be compared with Yāqūt, Irshād, VI (1), 141–44.


233. See Yāqūt, Irshād, VI (1), 149 bottom. There is a note on the margin of the Beatty MS implying that this was an explanation of the perfection of religion.


234. Yāqūt, Irshād, VI (1), 142 l. 7, adds, “known as The Two Discourses.”


235. Flügel gives ifshā (“divulging”), Yāqūt aqsām (“dividing”), and the Beatty MS iqtinā (“acquiring”).


236. The pious phrase is not found in the Beatty MS.




Arrangement of the Qur’ān; Qawāri’ al-Qur’ān; [237] The Bold and Those Devoted to God (Al-Futtāk wa-al-Nussāk); a book in which he collected what was difficult to understand among the strange things in the Qur’ān; about how the “Sūrah al-Ḥamd” [238] is representative of the Qur’ān as a whole; Replies of [239] Abū al-Qāsim al-Ka‘bī; Rarities among Various Sciences (Rarities in Various Forms); Replies of the People of Persia; Explanation of the Figures in the Book, “Heaven and the World,” by Abū Ja‘far al-Khazin; Replies of Abū ‘Alī ibn Abī Bakr ibn al-Muẓaffar, known as Ibn Muḥtaj; Replies of Abū Isḥāq al-Mu’addab [Ibrāhīm al-Ḥarbī]; Verbal Nouns (Origins); Replies to the Questions of Abū al-Faḍl al-Sukkarī; Chess and Backgammon; The Superiority of Makkah over Other Places; Reply of the Epistle of Abū ‘Alī ibn al-Munīr al-Ziyādī; Awakening of the Secretaries; [240] the large book, Investigation of Interpretations; the clarifying epistle to the person reproached; [241] his epistle praising the profession of the warrāq; his will (testament).


Al-Bushī [242]

   He was Abū al-Qāsim ----------. Although I never saw any book of his, information was given to me by Abū ‘Alī ibn Sawwār, [243] the secretary, to whom may Allāh show mercy, who established the library of the endowment (al-waqf) at al-Baṣrah, and who was devoted to the sciences and strong in his passion for them. He told me, “There are some of his [al-Bushī’s] books in my library at al-Baṣrah.”


Thus saith Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq [al-Nadīm]: I am doubtful about “al-Bushī”;  is it written with a shīn (sh) or a sīn (s)? “Bust” is known to be a place in Sijistān, but we do not know “Bush.” That which made Abū ‘Alī [ibn Sawwār] feel that the pronunciation



237. Verses recited for protection against men and demons.


238. The opening sūrah of the Qur’ān.


239. The phrases translated as “replies of” may really refer to the replies of al-Balkhī in his disputes with other authors, in which case “replies to” would be the accurate translation.


240. The words given both in Flügel and the Beatty MS are not entirely clear.


241. The word translated as “clarifying” is al-sālifah, which usually means “previous” or “former.”


242. In the Flügel edition the heading is “Al-Bustī.”


243. The Beatty MS spells the name as Suwār (meaning “cavalier”).





was with shīn (sh) was the dotting [of the consonants]. [244] We shall inquire about this man and his books and, if Allāh so wills, make a supplement to his section. Abū ‘Alī said that his books were:

Trees and Plants; Description of the Climate of Jarjān; his reply about the antiquity of the world; The Weakness of a Double-Faced Vizier; Preservation of Learning and Control of the Soul; his epistle about the ordinances of the principal organ of man’s body.


Ḥamzah ibn al-Ḥasan

   He was from the people of Iṣbahān, a man of letters and an author, among whose books there were:

Iṣbahān and Its Historical Traditions; Similitudes (Allegories); Kinds of Prayer; Mispronouncing (Al-Taṣḥīf); Examples of Af‘ala, into which both poetry and prose are introduced; [245] Examples Derived from Proofs of Poetry; Information about al-Muṣḥif; [246] Epistles; Illustrations, about tidings of joy.


Ḥukmwayh ibn ‘Abdūs

He was from the region of the Mountain (al-Jabal). Nothing more is known about his life. Among his books there were:


Unusual Expressions (Al-Shawārid) in the Epistles; Literary Pursuits.



   He was the teacher of Ibn al-‘Amīd and his name was Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī ibn Sa‘īd. Among his books there was Historical Traditions of the ‘Abbāsids.


Kushājim [247]

   He was Abū al-Fatḥ Maḥmud ibn al-Ḥusayn, whose literary work and poetry are famous. Among his books there were:

The Training of a Court Companion; Epistles; an anthology of his poetry.


244. See Yāqūt, Geog., I, 612, for Bust; p. 628 for Busht near Nisābūr. No place called Bush is mentioned.


245. Af‘ala is a verb form. This title and the four which follow are not in the Beatty MS.


246. Al-Muṣḥif means a “written book,” but is as a rule used for the Qur’ān, as is evidently the case in this title.


247. The paragraph about Kushājim is in the Flügel edition, but not the Beatty MS.





Khushkanānjah, the Secretary

   He was from among the people of Baghdād, but spent most of his life at al-Raqqah and then moved to al-Mawṣil. His name was ‘Alī ibn Waṣīf. The meaning of the name ‘Alī was derived by the language authorities. [248] He composed a number of books, which ‘Abdān, the chief of the Ismā‘īlīyah, attributed to himself. He was friendly and agreeable to me. He died at al-Mawṣil, a Shī‘ī. [249] Among his books there was Explaining and Making Straight, about the institution of the land tax (al-kharāj) and its usages.


His Son, Abū al-Ḥasan Aḥmad ibn ‘Alī [250]

   He was a secretary, poet, and master of literary style. He died in the City of Peace [Baghdād], there being among his books:

Prose Joined to Verse (Prose Connected in Sequence); The Production of Literary Style (The Art of Rhetoric); Benefits; an anthology of his poetry.


Ibn Kathīr al-Ahwāzī

   He was Abū Bakr Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Faḍl. Among his books there was Virtues of the Secretaries. [251]


Abū Namlah al-Numaylī

   He was also called al-Namlī, but we know nothing about his life. Among his books there was Precious Things (Al-Shudhūr), about the counseling of the caliphs and governors (umarā’).




248. The Flügel text apparently confuses this phrase and the Beatty MS does not make clear exactly what the author meant. Literally the passage is “His name was ‘Alī from the masters of literary style in its meaning.”


249. “A Shī’ī” is not in the Beatty MS.


250. This paragraph with its list of book titles is given very clearly in the Beatty MS but badly confused in the Flügel version. The Beatty MS does not mention the anthology of his poetry.


251. Flügel has manāqib (“virtues”), which is probably correct. In the Beatty MS the only word which at all fits the letters is muta’wik (“defective”).



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