Abū Shāma Shihāb al-Dīn al-Maḳdisī[a] (10 January 1203 – 13 June 1267)[b] was an Arab historian.

Abū Shāma was born in Damascus, where he passed his whole life save for one year in Egypt, a fortnight in Jerusalem and two pilgrimages to the Ḥijāz.[1] He was an eyewitness to and provides the most precise information about the siege of Damascus in May–June 1229.[2] He received a diverse Sunnī education and wrote on a variety of topics. In 1263, he became a professor in the Damascene madrasas of al-Rukniyya and al-Ashrafiyya. He died five years later in Damascus.[1]

Five works by Abū Shāma survive. All the rest have been lost, some in a fire that destroyed his library. He is best known today for his three historical writings, especially his two volumes on Syria in the Zengid and Ayyubid periods:[1]

  • Kitāb al-rawḍatayn fī akhbār al-dawlatayn al-Nūriyya wa-l-Ṣalāḥiyya (The Book of the Two Gardens, Concerning Affairs of the Reigns of Nūr al-Dīn and Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn),[3] a chronological account of the reigns of Nūr al-Dīn (1146–1174) and Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn (1174–1193). He is careful to cite his sources. His main ones are al-Barḳ al-Shāmī of ʿImād al-Dīn al-Iṣfahānī, Sīrat Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn of Ibn Abī Ṭayy and the epistles (Rasāʾil) of al-Ḳāḍī al-Fāḍil. He usually quotes his sources verbatim, with the exception of ʿImād al-Dīn.[1]
  • al-Dhayl ʿalaʾl-rawḍatayn (Sequel to the Two Gardens),[3] a continuation of the previous work down to contemporary events. His main source in the first part is the Mirʾāt al-Zamān of Sibṭ ibn al-Jawzī and in the second part himself as eyewitness.[1]
  • Taʾrīkh Dimashḳ (History of Damascus), a summary of the eponymous work of Ibn ʿAsākir (died 1175). It survives in two versions.[1]

Abū Shāma's works are important sources for the history of the Crusades.[3] There are partial translations in French[c] and German.[3] Abū Shāma also wrote commentaries on:


  1. ^ Full name: Abū Shāma Shihāb al-Dīn Abuʾl-Ḳāsim ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Ismāʿīl ibn Ibrāhīm ibn ʿUthmān ibn Abī Bakr ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Muḥammad al-Maḳdisī (or al-Maqdisī).
  2. ^ Ahmad 1960 gives the Hijrī dates 23 Rabīʿ II 599 – 19 Ramaḍān 665, but gives the Gregorian year of his death as 1268.
  3. ^ In Recueil des Historiens des Croisades, Historiens Orientaux 4 (Paris, 1898).


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Ahmad 1960.
  2. ^ Humphreys 1977, p. 448 n22.
  3. ^ a b c d Antrim 2009.

Works citedEdit

  • Ahmad, Hilmy (1960). "Abū Shāma". In Gibb, H. A. R.; Kramers, J. H.; Lévi-Provençal, E.; Schacht, J.; Lewis, B. & Pellat, Ch. (eds.). The Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition, Volume I: A–B. Leiden: E. J. Brill. p. 150. OCLC 495469456.
  • Humphreys, R. Stephen (1977). From Saladin to the Mongols: The Ayyubids of Damascus, 1193–1260. State University of New York Press.
  • Antrim, Zayde (2009). "Abū Shāma Shihāb al-Dīn al-Maqdisī". In Fleet, Kate; Krämer, Gudrun; Matringe, Denis; Nawas, John; Rowson, Everett (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE. Brill Online. ISSN 1873-9830.