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Fairuzabadi, also known as El-Firuz Abadi or al-Fayrūzabādī (1329–1414) was an Arabic lexicographer and was the compiler of a comprehensive Arabic dictionary. The dictionary, called al-Qamous, was one of the most widely used in Arabic for nearly five centuries. His full name was Abu Tahir Majid al-Din Muhammad Ibn Ya'qub Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ibrahim al-Shirizi al-Fairuzabadi. The shorter form is Muhammad Ibn Ya'qub al-Firuzabadi.[1]

His life[edit]

He was born in Fars Province in Iran, and educated in Shiraz, Wasit, Baghdad and Damascus. He lived in Jerusalem for ten years and then travelled in western Asia and Egypt, before settling in Mecca in 1368. He remained there for the bulk of the next three decades, spending some time in Delhi in the 1380s, and finally leaving Mecca in the mid-1390s to return to Baghdad, Shiraz (where he was received by Timur), and finally travelling to Ta'izz in modern Yemen. In 1395, he was appointed chief qadi (judge) of Yemen by the sultan. In Yemen either he married a daughter of the sultan or else the sultan married a daughter of his.[citation needed]

During the later years of his life, Fairuzabadi converted his house at Mecca into a school of Maliki law and established three teachers in it.[citation needed]

His works[edit]

Fairuzabadi produced many writings but he is principally remembered for the dictionary Al-Qamus Al-Muhit (Arabic: القاموس المحيط‎‎) ("The Surrounding Ocean"). In the preface to this dictionary Fairuzabadi acknowledges that the bulk of it was formed as a merger and compilation from two pre-existing dictionaries, the al-Muhkam dictionary of Ibn Sida (died 1066) and the al-ʿUbab dictionary of Al-Saghani (died 1252).[1][2] Al-Saghani's dictionary (ar:العباب الزاخر واللباب الفاخر) was an expansion of the al-Sihah dictionary of Al-Jawhari (died c. 1008), which is a core dictionary of medieval Arabic. Initially upon the merger, Fairuzabadi's dictionary was huge. He then greatly reduced its size by eliminating examples of usage, eliminating some grammatical aspects of usage, and leaving mostly only simple definitions, and eliminating some lesser-used definitions. He made it more concise with a set of terse but effective notation conventions.[2] The abridgement was still a large and comprehensive dictionary occupying two large volumes in print. It proved to be much more popular with users than the huge Lisan al-Arab dictionary of Ibn Manzur (died 1312) which contains a huge number of quotations and examples of usage.


  1. ^ a b The Biographical Encyclopedia of Islamic Philosophy, edited by Oliver Leaman, year 2006, biographical entry for Al-Firuzabadi.
  2. ^ a b Arabic Lexicography: Its History, and Its Place in the General History of Lexicography, by John Haywood, year 1965, pages 83 - 88.