Ibn Khallikan

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Shams al-Dīn Abū Al-ʿAbbās Aḥmad Ibn Muḥammad Ibn Khallikān
TitleChief Judge
BornSeptember 22, 1211
Irbil (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

Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Ibrāhīm Abu ’l-ʿAbbās S̲h̲ams al-Dīn al-Barmakī al-Irbilī al-S̲h̲āfiʿī[2] (Arabic: أحمد بن محمد بن إبراهيم أبو العباس شمس الدين البرمكي الأربيلي الشافعي‎) (September 22, 1211 – October 30, 1282) was a Shafi'i Islamic scholar of the 13th century and is famous as the compiler of a great biographical dictionary of Arab scholars, Wafayāt al-Aʿyān wa-Anbāʾ Abnāʾ az-Zamān (Deaths of Eminent Men and History of the Sons of the Epoch).


Born in Arbil, Iraq on September 22, 1211 (11 Rabī’ al-Thānī, 608), into a respectable family that claimed descent from Barmakids,[2] Ibn Khallikan's studies began in Arbil. These took him on to Aleppo, then to Damascus.[3] and then to Mosul to study jurisprudence ], before settling down finally in Cairo.[4] He gained prominence as a jurist, theologian and grammarian.[4] 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."[5]

He married in 1252[4] and was assistant to the chief judge in Egypt until 1261, when he assumed the position of chief judge in Damascus.[3] He lost this position in 1271 and returned to Egypt, where he taught until being reinstated as judge in Damascus in 1278.[3] He retired in 1281[4] and died in Damascus on October 30, 1282 (Saturday, 26th of Rajab 681).[3]


Ibn Khallikan began compiling his renowned biographical dictionary entitled Wafayāt al-aʿyān wa-anbāʾ abnāʾ az-zamān (وفيات الأعيان وأنباء أبناء الزمان) (Deaths of Eminent Men and History of the Sons of the Epoch).[6][3] in 1256, which he completed in 1274, as an eight-volume work of reference of Islamic scholarship and literature.[3] Deaths of Eminent Men excludes biographies already sufficiently covered, such as the Islamic Prophet Muhammad and the caliphs.[3] It was translated into English by William McGuckin de Slane, (1801–1878), and is over 2,700 pages, in four volumes.[7][4] The British scholar Reynold A. Nicholson called it the "best general biography ever written".[5]


  1. ^ Lewis, B.; Menage, V.L.; Pellat, Ch.; Schacht, J. (1986) [1st pub. 1971]. Encyclopaedia of Islam (New Edition). Volume III (H-Iram). Leiden, Netherlands: Brill. p. 832. ISBN 9004081186.
  2. ^ a b J.W., Fück,. "IBN K̲H̲ALLIKĀN". Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Brill. doi:10.1163/1573-3912_islam_sim_3248. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Encyclopædia Britannica Online, Ibn Khallikān". 2010. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Ibn Khallikan". Humanistic Texts.org. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
  5. ^ a b Ludwig W. Adamec (2009), Historical Dictionary of Islam, p.139. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0810861615.
  6. ^ Wafayāt al-aʿyān wa-anbāʾ abnāʾ az-zamān
  7. ^ Ibn Khallikan's Biographical Dictionary


  • Ibn Khallikān (1843) Ibn Khallikan's Biographical dictionary, M. de Slane trans. Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland, 1843. Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3 & Vol. 4