Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ibn Khallikan's Biographical Dictionary (download)

Abu-l ‘Abbas Ahmad ibn Khallikan (أبو العباس أحمد بن خلكان), (September 22, 1211 – October 30, 1282) was a Kurdish Muslim scholar of the 13th century. He was born in Arbil, Iraq in 1211.

By his talents and his writings he received the title of the most learned man and the ablest historian of that city. He studied jurisprudence at Mosul and after a brief stay at Damascus, settled in Cairo, where he gained pre-eminence as a jurist, a theologian, and a grammarian. He married in 1252 CE. He left Cairo to become judge (Qadi) of Damascus in 1269 CE. When he was removed later, he returned to Cairo to take up a professorship and to act as deputy to the chief judge. He returned to Damascus to a triumphant welcome to become kadi again, a post he relinquished in 1281 CE, one year before his death.

Ibn Khallikan’s most famous work is The Obituaries of Eminent Men (Wafayat al-Ayan), often referred to as The Biographical Dictionary. He started to work on it in 1256 until 1274. It has always been considered as a work of highest importance for the civil and literary history of the Muslim people. It is of enormous scope—the English translation by Mac Guckin de Slane occupies over 2,700 pages— and it is not surprising that later Arabic historians filled their pages with extracts from his work, and that Arabic rhetoricians, grammarians, and compilers of anecdotes have taken choice passages from it.

Khallikan restricted his coverage to those persons who held a conspicuous place in the Muslim world. The pages are full of accounts of individuals who have risen to or fallen from power by intrigue or force, of leaders of military campaigns, of learned men, and of poets.

The PDF of the book can be downloaded from:

Ibn Khallikan's Biographical Dictionary


Anonymous said...

The link takes one only to the second volume (of 4). Vol. I is here:

Haven't found vol. 3 and 4 yet.

Anonymous said...

The entire 4-volume English translation (2,766 pages) can be downloaded at