Ḥamza ibn al-Ḥasan ibn al-Mū'addib al-Iṣbahānī Abū ‘Abd Allāh[1] (Arabic: حمزة بن الحسن المُؤَدِّب الأصفهاني ابو عبد الله; c. 893 – after 961), commonly known as Ḥamza al-Iṣfahānī or Hamza Esfahani (Persian: حمزه اصفهانی), was a Persian[2] philologist and historian, who wrote in Arabic during the 'Abbasid and Buyid eras. He spent most of his life in his native town, Isfahan, and visited Baghdad at least three times during his lifetime. He had contact with many important scholars and historians, among them al-Tabari and Ibn Durayd. He wrote a history of Isfahan, a famous chronology of pre-Islamic and Islamic dynasties known as Taʾrīk̲h̲ sinī mulūk al-arḍ wa ’l-anbiyāʾ (تاریخ سنی ملوک الارض و الانبیا), and some other works on lexicography and poetry.

Hamza al-Isfahani
Bornc. 893
Isfahan, Jibal, Abbasid Caliphate
Diedafter 961
OccupationPhilologist, historian



Like many other medieval Iranian scholars, details regarding the life of Hamza are obscure. He was born in the city of Isfahan in c. 893, where he spent most of his life and was the son of a schoolmaster (mū’addib).[3][4][5] The city had served as an important center in western Iran under the Achaemenid, Parthian and Sasanian Empire.[6] During the 9th-century, many Zoroastrians and other adherents of non-Zoroastrian, Iranian faiths continued to reside in the city. During the late 9th-century or early 10th-century, the city started to gain a large Muslim community, which, nevertheless, preserved their ancient lore.[7] Some scholars such as A.C.S. Peacock have theorized Hamza to possibly have been a secret Zoroastrian, but other scholars have disagreed with this statement.[8][9][10]

Despite his keen interest in Iranian affairs and the pre-Islamic history of the country, Hamza preferred to write in Arabic, like the rest of the literary elite of Isfahan.[a][11] The city seemingly served as a major hub for the collection and transmission of the numerous modifications of the Middle Persian history text Khwaday-Namag (Book of Kings). Hamza made much use of the work, as demonstrated in his Sini Muluk al-ard w'al-anbiya.[7] Not many scholars in Isfahan were familiar with Middle Persian, and it is uncertain if Hamza himself had any knowledge of it.[12] Hamza was seemingly a distinguished citizen of Isfahan, due to his broad knowledge, which also earned him opponents, who referred him to as "drivel merchant."[3] In his work, Hamza immediately puts emphasis on the importance of Iran at the center of the world, a common trend in the historiography of the period as also seen in the works of al-Tabari and Abu Hanifa Dinawari.[13]



Extant works

  • Tā’rīkh sinī mulūk al-arḍ wa’l-anbiyā’[14]
  • al-Durra al-fākhira fī’l-amthāl al-sāʼira
  • Sawāʼir al-amthāl ʻalá af’al[1]
  • al-Amthāl al-ṣādira ‘an buyūt al-shi’r[1]
  • Dīwān ‘Abī Nuwās[1]
  • al-Tanbīh ʻalá ḥudūth al-taṣhīf[1]

Partially extant works

  • al-Muwāzana bayn al-‘arabī wa’l-fārsīya (also titled al-Muwāzana bayn al-‘arabī wa’l-‘ajami)[14]

Lost works

  • Tā’rīkh Iṣbahān[1]
  • Iṣbahan wa-‘akhbāruha[1]
  • Kitāb al-tashbīhāt[1]
  • ‘Anwā’i al-du’ā’[1]
  • Kitāb rasā’il[1]
  • al-Atamāthīl fī tabāshīr al-surūr[1]
  • Kitāb jama’ feyh ‘akhbār ‘esharat min al-shu’arā’ al-muhdithuīn ‘awaluhum Bashār[1]
  • Dīwān sh’ar ‘Abi Tamām[1]
  • Maḍāhik al-‘ash’ār[1]
  • A’yād al-furs (also titled A’yād Baghdād al-furs) [14][1]
  • Risāla al-ash’ār al-sā’ira fī ‘l-nayrūz wa’l-mihradjān[15]

Other works


Hamza also edited a recension of the Kitāb Naqd al-Shi’r (Book on Poetic Criticism) by Qudāma ibn Ja’far, but he only added chapter divisions.[16]

Published editions and translations



  1. ^ Persian first increasingly became the preferred literary language of Isfahan starting from the late 11th-century.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o al-Ḥamawī, Yāqūt (1226). Mu'jam al-udabā: Irshād al-arīb ilā ma’rifat al-adīb [Encyclopedia of Writers: Expert Guide to Literature] (in Arabic). Beirut: Dar Algharb al-Islami (published 1993). pp. 1220–1221.
  2. ^ Danner 1975, pp. 590–591.
  3. ^ a b Rosenthal 1971, p. 156.
  4. ^ Pourshariati 2007, p. 111.
  5. ^ al-Sam’ānī, ʻAbd al-Karīm ibn Muḥammad (1912). The Kitāb al-ansāb of ʻAbd al-Karīm ibn Muḥammad al-Sam’ānī: Reproduced in Facsimile from the MS. in the British Museum, add. 23,355 (in Arabic). Leiden: Brill. pp. 41r-v.
  6. ^ Pourshariati 2007, pp. 111–113.
  7. ^ a b Pourshariati 2007, p. 113.
  8. ^ Herzig & Stewart 2011, p. 62.
  9. ^ Zychowicz-Coghill, Edward (2022). "Remembering the Ancient Iranian City from Late Antiquity to Islam: Hamza al-Isfahani and the Sasanian Book of Kings". In Jiménez, Javier Martínez; Ottewill-Soulsby, Sam (eds.). Remembering and Forgetting the Ancient City. Oxbow Books. pp. 247–274. ISBN 9781789258165.
  10. ^ Sherrill, Logan J. (2024). The World of Ḥamza al-Iṣfahānī: His Life and Writings in Context (PDF) (Thesis). University of North Carolina at Greensboro. pp. 19–21.
  11. ^ a b Kamaly 2006, pp. 641–650.
  12. ^ Pourshariati 2007, p. 114.
  13. ^ Sherrill, Logan J. (2024). The World of Ḥamza al-Iṣfahānī: His Life and Writings in Context (PDF) (Thesis). University of North Carolina at Greensboro. pp. 37–39, 44.
  14. ^ a b c Brockelmann, Carl (2017). History of the Arabic Written Tradition (vol. 1 supp.). Leiden: Brill. p. 219.
  15. ^ al-Bīrūnī, Abū Rayhān (1000). The Chronology of Ancient Nations. London: W.H. Allen (published 1879). p. 36.
  16. ^ Bonebakker, S.A. (1978). "Ḥamza al-Iṣfahānī's Recension of the Kitāb Naqd Ash-Shi'r of Qudāma b. Ja'far". Rivista Degli Studi Orientali. 51 (1–4): 99–101 – via JSTOR.