Kâtip Çelebi

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Kâtip Çelebi
Map of the Indian Ocean and the China Sea was engraved in 1728 by Ibrahim Müteferrika.jpg
This map of the Indian Ocean and the Chinese Sea was engraved in 1728 by the Hungarian-born Ottoman cartographer and publisher Ibrahim Müteferrika; it is one of a series that illustrated Katip Çelebi's Universal Geography, the first printed book of maps and drawings to appear in the Islamic world.
Born Mustafa bin Abdullah[1]
February 1609
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire (now Turkey)
Died 26 September 1657
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
Other names Haji Kalfa, Hacı Halife
Occupation Historian, geographer

Kâtip Çelebi (Ottoman Turkish: كاتب چلبى‎, Kātib Çelebi "Gentleman Scribe"), the pen name of Mustafa bin Abdullah (1609–1657), also later known as Haji Khalifa (Turkish: Hacı Halife) or Kalfa,[2][3] 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.[4]


The main motif is a calligraphic pattern formed from the names of God, the prophet Muhammad and the first four caliphs, Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman and ‘Ali written in Arabic. The combination indicates an allegiance to Sunni Islam. Ceramic tile, Istanbul, cira 1727, Islamic Middle East Gallery

Kâtip Çelebi was born as Mustafa, the son of an Abdullah, in Istanbul.[5] He began his studies at the age of five or six, and became an apprentice in the Ottoman financial bureaucracy at the age of fourteen.[6] As the accountant of the commissariat department of the Ottoman army in Anatolia, he accompanied the Ottoman army in the suppression of the rebellion of Abaza Mehmed Pasha in 1624,[7] as well as during the Ottoman-Safavid War of 1629-1639, particularly in the campaigns at Baghdad in 1625, and at the siege of Erzurum. He 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. An inheritance which he received in 1645 enabled him to live comfortably in the Ottoman capital of Istanbul and dedicate his time to scholarship.[8] Katip Çelebi died untimely in 1657.[9]


Many of his works were composed between 1648 and his death in 1657.[10] Among his best-known works is the Kashf al-ẓunūn ‘an asāmī al-kutub wa-al-funūn, (كشف الظنون عن أسامي الكتب والفنون) ("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.[11][12][13]

One of his shorter and more accessible works is Mīzānü'l-ḥaḳḳ fī iḫtiyāri'l-aḥaḳḳ (ميزان الحق في اختيار الأحق) ("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.[14]


There is a university named after him, İzmir Katip Celebi University in İzmir.[15] Turkey and the UK have an ongoing science and innovation exchange program called the Newton-Katip Çelebi Fund.[16]


  1. ^ Mathias Bernath; Felix von Schroeder (1979). Biographisches Lexikon zur Geschichte Südosteuropas. Oldenbourg Verlag. p. 270. ISBN 978-3-486-48991-0. Mustafa bin 'Abdullah (= Mustafa Sohn des Abdullah, gewöhnlich Katib oder Haci Halife genannt) 
  2. ^ Piterberg (2003), p. 46
  3. ^ Shefer-Mossensohn (2015), pp. 64-65
  4. ^ Piterberg (2003), p. 46
  5. ^ Piterberg (2003), p. 46
  6. ^ Shefer-Mossensohn (2015), pp. 65
  7. ^ Piterberg (2003), p. 47
  8. ^ Piterberg (2003), p. 47
  9. ^ Piterberg (2003), p. 47
  10. ^ Piterberg (2003), p. 47
  11. ^ Bekir Karliga, "The Horizon of Katip Celebi's Thought" in the MuslimHeritage.com
  12. ^ Ruveyda Ozturk, Salim Ayduz, "A Jewel of Ottoman Naval History: The Book of Kâtip Çelebi on Naval Campaigns" in the MuslimHeritage.com
  13. ^ "Ottoman Maritime Arsenals And Shipbuilding Technology In The 16th And 17th Centuries" in the MuslimHeritage.com
  14. ^ Kâtip Çelebi (1957). The Balance of Truth. London.  Translated with an introduction and notes by G. L. Lewis.
  15. ^ "İzmir Kâtip Çelebi Üniversitesi". Retrieved 21 August 2015. 
  16. ^ "Newton-Katip Çelebi Fund - British Council". Retrieved 21 August 2015. 



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