Ibn Khallikan

Aḥmad bin Muḥammad bin Ibrāhīm bin Abu Bakr ibn Khallikan[a][2] (Arabic: أحمد بن محمد بن إبراهيم بن أبي بكر ابن خلكان; 1211 – 1282), better known as Ibn Khallikān, was a 13th century Shafi'i Islamic scholar who compiled the celebrated biographical encyclopedia of Muslim scholars and important men in Muslim history, Wafayāt al-Aʿyān wa-Anbāʾ Abnāʾ az-Zamān ('Deaths of Eminent Men and History of the Sons of the Epoch').[3]

Shams al-Dīn Abū Al-ʿAbbās Aḥmad Ibn Muḥammad Ibn Khallikān (ابن خلكان)
TitleChief Judge
BornSeptember 22, 1211
Erbil (now Iraq)
DiedOctober 30, 1282(1282-10-30) (aged 71)
RegionMiddle East
Notable work(s)Deaths of Eminent Men and History of the Sons of the Epoch


Ibn Khallikān was born in Erbil on September 22, 1211 (11 Rabī’ al-Thānī, 608), into a respectable family that claimed descent from Barmakids,[2] an Iranian dynasty of Balkhi origin.[4] His primary studies took him from Arbil, to Aleppo and to Damascus,[5] before he took up jurisprudence in Mosul and then in Cairo, where he settled.[6] He gained prominence as a jurist, theologian and grammarian.[6] An early biographer described him as "a pious man, virtuous, and learned; amiable in temper, in conversation serious and instructive. His exterior was highly prepossessing, his countenance handsome and his manners engaging."[7]

He married in 1252[6] and was assistant to the chief judge in Egypt until 1261, when he assumed the position of chief judge in Damascus.[5] He lost this position in 1271 and returned to Egypt, where he taught until being reinstated as judge in Damascus in 1278.[5] He retired in 1281[6] and died in Damascus on October 30, 1282 (Saturday, 26th of Rajab 681).[5]

Deaths of Eminent Men and the Sons of the EpochEdit

Beginning in 1256, Deaths of Eminent Men and the Sons of the Epoch,[5][8] an eight-volume biographical reference dictionary of Islamic scholarship and literature was completed in 1274.[5] Khallikān documented the lives of notable cultural figures, the celebrated writers, scientists, religious and legal scholars. Complementary to the popular religio-political biographies of the Prophet Muhammad and of the caliphs, it is primarily a literary work.[5] An English translation by William McGuckin de Slane, in four volumes, published between 1801–1878, runs to over 2,700 pages.[9][6] The British scholar Reynold A. Nicholson called it the "best general biography ever written".[7]


  1. ^ Also known as Abu ’l-ʿAbbās S̲h̲ams al-Dīn al-Barmakī al-Irbilī al-S̲h̲āfiʿī (Arabic: أبو العباس شمس الدين البرمكي الأربلي الشافعي)


  1. ^ Lewis, B.; Menage, V.L.; Pellat, Ch.; Schacht, J. (1986) [1st pub. 1971]. Encyclopaedia of Islam. Vol. III (H-Iram) (New ed.). Leiden, Netherlands: Brill. p. 832. ISBN 978-9004081185.
  2. ^ a b J.W., Fück. "Ibn Khallikan". Brill. doi:10.1163/1573-3912_islam_sim_3248. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ "Ibn Khallikan".
  4. ^ Frye, R. N.; Fisher, William Bayne; Frye, Richard Nelson; Avery, Peter; Boyle, John Andrew; Gershevitch, Ilya; Jackson, Peter (1975-06-26). The Cambridge History of Iran. ISBN 9780521200936.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Encyclopædia Britannica Online, Ibn Khallikān". 2010. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Ibn Khallikan". Humanistic Texts.org. Archived from the original on October 20, 2010. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  7. ^ a b Ludwig W. Adamec (2009), Historical Dictionary of Islam, p.139. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0810861615.
  8. ^ Wafayāt al-aʿyān wa-anbāʾ abnāʾ az-zamān
  9. ^ Ibn Khallikan's Biographical Dictionary


  • Ibn Khallikan (1842–1871). Ibn Khallikan's Biographical Dictionary, Translated from the Arabic (4 vols.). Translated by Baron Mac Guckin de Slane. Paris: Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland.