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Kâtip Çelebi, Mustafa bin Abdullah, Haji Khalifa or Kalfa, (1609, Constantinople – 1657 Constantinople) was an Ottoman scholar. A historian and geographer, he is regarded as one of the most productive authors of non-religious scientific literature in the 17th-century Ottoman Empire.
The son of a soldier, he himself was a soldier for ten years until a heritage made him turn to a more contemplative life. As the accountant of the commissariat department of the Ottoman Army in Anatolia, he accompanied the Ottoman army in the campaign against Baghdad in 1625, was present at the siege of Erzurum, and returned to Constantinople in 1628. In the following year he was again in Baghdad and Hamadan, and in 1633-34 at Aleppo, whence he made the pilgrimage to Mecca (hence his title Hajji). The following year he was in Erivan and then returned to Constantinople. Here he obtained a post in the head office of the commissariat department, which afforded him time for study. He seems to have attended the lectures of great teachers up to the time of his death, and made a practice of visiting bookshops and noting the titles and contents of all books he found there.
Katip Çelebi died suddenly and peacefully in October 1657, while drinking a cup of coffee.
Among his best-known works is the Kashf al-ẓunūn ‘an asāmī al-kutub wa-al-funūn, ("The Removal of Doubt from the Names of Books and the Arts"), a bibliographic encyclopaedia, written in Arabic, which lists more than 14,500 books in alphabetic order.
One of his shorter and more accessible works is Mīzān al-ḥaqq fī ikhtiyār al-aḥaqq ("The balance of truth in the choice of the truest"), a collection of short essays on topics in Islamic law, ethics, and theology, in which he takes a relatively liberal and tolerant view—often critical of narrow-minded Islamic religious authorities. This book serves as a source on Ottoman social developments in the 16th and 17th centuries, such as the introduction of coffee and tobacco. While he did not concur with the outlawing of coffee and tobacco, he found tobacco smoke personally distasteful, writing of the "noxious effects of the corruption of the aerial essence." An English translation by G. L. Lewis of the Mīzān al-ḥaqq has been published with annotations under the title The Balance of Truth.
- Bekir Karliga, "The Horizon of Katip Celebi's Thought" in the MuslimHeritage.com
- Ruveyda Ozturk, Salim Ayduz, "A Jewel of Ottoman Naval History: The Book of Kâtip Çelebi on Naval Campaigns" in the MuslimHeritage.com
- "Ottoman Maritime Arsenals And Shipbuilding Technology In The 16th And 17th Centuries" in the MuslimHeritage.com
- Kâtip Çelebi (1957). The Balance of Truth. London. Translated with an introduction and notes by G. L. Lewis.
- Encyclopædia of Islam (Leiden, 1954) vol. 4, s.v. Katib Celebi.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Griffithes Wheeler Thatcher (1911). "Hājjī Khalīfa". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
- "Hajji Khalfah, Mustafa ibn Abdallah Katib Tchelebi". New International Encyclopedia. 1905.