Shihab al-Din al-'Umari

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Shihāb al-Dīn Abū al-‘Abbās Aḥmad b. Faḍl Allāh al-'Umarī (شهاب الدين أبو العبّاس أحمد بن فضل الله العمري), or simply al-‘Umarī, (1300 – 1349) was an Arab historian, born in Damascus.[1] His major works include at-Taʾrīf bi-al-muṣṭalaḥ ash-sharīf, on the subject of the Mamlūk administration, and Masālik al-abṣār fī mamālik al-amṣār, an encyclopedic collection of related information.[1] The latter was translated into French by Maurice Gaudefroy-Demombynes in 1927.

al-Umari visited Cairo shortly after the Malian Mansa Kankan Musa I's pilgrimage to Mecca, and his writings are one of the primary sources for this legendary hajj. In particular, al-Umari recorded that the Mansa dispensed so much gold that its value fell in Egypt for a decade afterward, a story that is often repeated in describing the wealth of the Mali Empire.[2]

al-Umari also recorded Kankan Musa's stories of the previous mansa; Kankan Musa claimed that the previous ruler had abdicated the throne to journey to a land across the ocean, leading contemporary Malian historian Gaoussou Diawara to theorize that Abubakari reached the Americas years before Christopher Columbus.[citation needed]

His works also provide a basis for the Muslim side on the wars of Amda Seyon I against Ifat, Adal, and other regions.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b "Al-ʿUmarī - Syrian scholar". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-09-04.
  2. ^ Kingdom of Mali Primary Sources - Boston University: African Studies Center

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