Kâtip Çelebi

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This map of the Indian Ocean and the China 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 Cihannuma (Universal Geography), the first printed book of maps and drawings to appear in the Islamic world.

Kâtip Çelebi (Persian: کاتب چلبی‎‎), Mustafa bin Abdullah, Haji Khalifa or Kalfa, (February 1609 Constantinople – 26 September, 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 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

The son of a soldier, he himself was a soldier for ten years until an inheritance 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 in October 1657 while drinking a cup of coffee.[citation needed]


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.[1][2][3]

One of his shorter and more accessible works is Mīzān al-ḥaqq fī ikhtiyār al-aḥaqq (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.[4]

Account of the murder of Osman II[edit]

He witnessed the murder of Sultan Osman II in person, and presented the most complete account of this event in his famous book Fazlaka in the chapter titled "Osman II at the Central Mosque (Orta Camii)".[5] (Turkish)

Further information: Mustafa I and Osman II


There is a university named after him, İzmir Katip Celebi University in İzmir.[6] Turkey and the UK have an ongoing science and innovation exchange program called the Newton-Katip Çelebi Fund.[7]


  1. ^ Bekir Karliga, "The Horizon of Katip Celebi's Thought" in the MuslimHeritage.com
  2. ^ Ruveyda Ozturk, Salim Ayduz, "A Jewel of Ottoman Naval History: The Book of Kâtip Çelebi on Naval Campaigns" in the MuslimHeritage.com
  3. ^ "Ottoman Maritime Arsenals And Shipbuilding Technology In The 16th And 17th Centuries" in the MuslimHeritage.com
  4. ^ Kâtip Çelebi (1957). The Balance of Truth. London.  Translated with an introduction and notes by G. L. Lewis.
  5. ^ Ahmet Refik, Kâtip Çelebi, Kanaat Kütüphanesi, pages 41-42, 1932.
  6. ^ "İzmir Kâtip Çelebi Üniversitesi". Retrieved 21 August 2015. 
  7. ^ "Newton-Katip Çelebi Fund - British Council". Retrieved 21 August 2015. 



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