Al-Akhfash al-Akbar

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Abu al-Khaṭṭāb ʻAbd al-Ḥamīd ibn ʻAbd al-Majīd (Arabic: أبو الخطاب عبد الحميد بن عبد المجيد; died 177 AH/793 CE‎‎),[1] commonly known as Al-Akhfash al-Akbar (Arabic: الأخفش الأكبر‎‎) was a notable Arab grammarian. An Ajam from Bahrain,[2] he lived in Basra and associated with the method of Arabic grammar of its linguists, and was a client of the Qais tribe.[3][4]

His most notable students were: Sibawayh,[5][6][7] Yunus ibn Habib,[6][8] Abu ʿUbaidah, Abu Zayd al-Ansari and Al-Asma'i. Al-Akhfash revised his student Sibawayh's famous Kitab, the first book ever written on Arabic grammar, and was responsible for circulating the first manuscripts after his student's untimely death.[9] Al-Akhfash was also one of the first linguists to contribute significantly to commentary and analysis of Arabic poetry.[4] Additionally, he contributed extensively to Arabic philology as well as lexicography, recording vocabulary and expressions of the Bedouin tribes which had not previously been recorded.[2]


  1. ^ Stefan Sperl, Mannerism in Arabic Poetry: A Structural Analysis of Selected Texts (3rd Century AH/9th Century AD - 5th Century AH/11th Century AD), pg. 109. Part of the Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization series. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. ISBN 9780521522922
  2. ^ a b Ibn Khallikan's Biographical Dictionary, vol. 2, pg. 244. Trns. William McGuckin de Slane. Paris: Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland. Sold by Institut de France and Royal Library of Belgium.
  3. ^ Reinhard Weipert. al-Akhfash. Encyclopaedia of Islam. Eds. Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas and Everett Rowson. Brill Online, 2013. Reference. Accessed 17 July 2013.
  4. ^ a b Monique Bernards, "Pioneers of Arabic Language Studies." Taken from In the Shadow of Arabic: The Centrality of Language to Arabic Culture, pg. 214. Ed. Bilal Orfali. Volume 63 of Studies in Semitic Languages and Linguistics. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 2011. ISBN 9789004215375
  5. ^ Francis Joseph Steingass, The Assemblies of Al Harîri: The first twenty-six assemblies, pg. 498. Volume 3 of Oriental translation fund. Trns. Thomas Chenery. Williams and Norgate, 1867.
  6. ^ a b Sībawayh, ʻAmr ibn ʻUthmān (1988), Hārūn, ʻAbd al-Salām Muḥammad, ed., Al-Kitāb Kitāb Sībawayh Abī Bishr ʻAmr ibn ʻUthmān ibn Qanbar, Introduction (3rd ed.), Cairo: Maktabat al-Khānjī, p. 9 
  7. ^ M.G. Carter, Sibawayh, pg. 21. Part of the Makers of Islamic Civilization series. London: I.B. Tauris, 2004. ISBN 9781850436713
  8. ^ Ibn Khallikan, Deaths of Eminent Men and History of the Sons of the Epoch, vol. 4, pg. 586. Trns. William McGuckin de Slane. London: Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland, 1871.
  9. ^ Khalil I. Semaan, Linguistics in the Middle Ages: Phonetic Studies in Early Islam, pg. 39. Leiden: Brill Publishers, 1968.