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Jamāl al-Dīn al-Asnawī

(190 words)

Author(s): Mallett, Alex
Jamāl al-Dīn Abū Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Raḥīm ibn al-Ḥasan al-Umawī l-Qurashī l-Asnawī Date of Birth: 1304/5 Place of Birth: Asna Date of Death: September 1370 Place of Death: Cairo Biography Al-Asnawī was a fairly prolific though generally unremarkable writer. He moved from his native town of Asna (Isna) in Upper Egypt to Cairo in 1321/22, where he excelled in his studies, and he soon became a renowned teacher at various mosques in the city. He then moved into the administration of the Mamluk state, where he stayed for some year…

Franks

(1,154 words)

Author(s): Mallett, Alex
The Franks (Arabic Franj or Ifranj) were originally a Germanic people who migrated from the East into the Western Roman Empire, beginning at the end of the third century CE, and gradually became the dominant political force in Western Europe. The term probably came into Arabic through the Byzantine Greek term Frangoi, which itself came from the Franks; it was used by mediaeval Muslims as a generic term for all the Latin Christians of Europe, despite their knowledge of more specific ethnic terms, such as English, French, German, and Slav. It was often used in contradistinction to al-Rūm, the…
Date: 2020-02-11

Dandanakan, battle of

(571 words)

Author(s): Mallett, Alex
The battle of Dandanakan (Ar. Dandānaqān or Dandānqān) was fought between the Ghaznavids and the Seljuks (Saljūqs) in 431/1040 on a plain outside the now-lost town of Dandanakan, about 40 miles southwest of Marw. The battle was the culmination of several years of conflict between the two sides, with the Seljuks, approaching from the Central Asian steppes, attempting to wrest control of Khurāsān from the Ghaznavids, based to the southeast at Ghazna, in modern-day Afghanistan. The immediate cause of the battle was the Seljuk takeover of Khurāsān several months before t…
Date: 2020-02-11

Dilmaçoğulları beyliği

(808 words)

Author(s): Mallett, Alex
The Dilmaçoğulları beyliği (also known as the Dilmaç Beylik) was one of many petty Turkish polities formed in parts of Anatolia, the Jazīra, and the Caucasus following the battle of Manzikert (463/1071), and little is known about this relatively insignificant dynasty. It was founded by a Turk named Mehmed around the year 478/1085 after he was given Bitlis as ikta (iqṭā)ʿ by the Seljuq sultan and was centred on Bitlis and Erzen in far eastern Anatolia and the Caucasus from the end of the fifth/eleventh century to the mid-sixth/twelfth, while they also hel…
Date: 2020-02-11

Īnālids

(840 words)

Author(s): Mallett, Alex
The Īnālids (İnaloğulları, Yinaloğulları, r. 488–579/1095–1183) were one of the many petty Turkish dynasties that became established in Anatolia in the decades following the Saljūq victory over the Byzantines at the battle of Malazgirt (Manzikert) in 463/1071, which resulted in the opening of that region to permanent Turkish domination. The dynasty was centred on the town of Amid (Āmid, modern Diyarbakır), and lasted from around 488/1095 until it was ended by Salāḥ al-Dīn’s (Saladin’s, 532–89/1138–93) capture of the capital in 579/1183. Little scholarly research has been car…
Date: 2020-02-11

Arzan

(574 words)

Author(s): Mallett, Alex
Arzan (Syriac: Arzōn; Armenian: Artsn, Arzn, Ałzn) was a town designated by the Arabs to be in the Arabian Peninsula, near the frontier with Anatolia. It was the seat of a Syriac bishopric between the first/seventh and fifth/eleventh centuries. Its location meant that it was often affected by the battles between the Byzantines and Persians in the centuries before Muslim domination. It was reportedly attacked by Lakhmid Arabs under al-Mundhir III around 520 C.E., and possibly again in 527 C.E. Th…
Date: 2020-02-11

ʿAmmār, Banū (Syria)

(784 words)

Author(s): Mallett, Alex
The Banū ʿAmmār were a dynasty established in 462/1070 by Amīn al-Dawla Abū Ṭālib al-Ḥasan b. ʿAmmār, qāḍī of the Syrian coastal city of Tripoli, which had, until then, been ruled by a Cairo-appointed Fāṭimid governor. Following a pattern set by others in Fāṭimid-ruled settlements in Syria, al-Ḥasan b. ʿAmmār made himself ruler of the town upon the death of the previous governor, thereby creating a dynasty that was to last until 502/1109. The death of this first of the Banū ʿAmmār rulers of Tripoli only two years later (464/1072) meant that he had little time to make…
Date: 2020-02-11

Alp Arslan

(1,932 words)

Author(s): Mallett, Alex
Alp Arslan (Alp Arsān, lit., brave lion), whose full name was ʿAḍud al-Dawla Abū Shujāʿ Muhammed b. Davud Çagri Beg Alp Arslan (Muḥammad b. Dāwūd Çağrı Bey Alp Arslān), was the second sultan of the whole Great Saljūq Empire (r. 455/1063 to 465/1072). He was born around the year 421/1030, the son of sultan Çağrı Bey, who ruled the Saljūq Empire jointly with his brother Tuğrul Bey (Ṭughril Beg from 431/1040, until his death in 452/1060. At a young age Alp Arslān led the armies of his father on camp…
Date: 2020-02-11

Çaka Bey

(733 words)

Author(s): Mallett, Alex
Çaka (or possibly Çakan) Bey was a Turkish emir who founded an Islamic polity based on the town of Smyrna (modern İzmir) in or just before 473–4/1081, one of a number of states set up by Turkish military strongmen in Anatolia in the years following the Saljūq victory over the Byzantines at Manzikert (Malazgirt, 463/1071). Very little is known about his activities during his period of rule, and our knowledge is based almost exclusively on The Alexiad, a Greek biography of the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos written by his daughter Anna towards the middle of the sixt…
Date: 2020-02-11

Roger II of Sicily

(581 words)

Author(s): Mallett, Alex
Biography Roger was a member of the ruling dynasty of Normans who had conquered much of southern Italy and Sicily during the late 11th century. On the death of his brother, Simon de Hauteville, in 1105, Roger became Count of Sicily, ruling independently upon his maturity in 1112, as well as claiming Calabria. On the death of the Norman ruler of Apulia in 1127, Roger claimed that as part of his territory as well, although his attempts to unify Sicily and Apulia were resisted by both the pope, who declared a crusade aga…

John of Joinville

(418 words)

Author(s): Mallett, Alex
Jean de Joinville Date of Birth: Probably early 1225 Place of Birth: Joinville, Champagne, France Date of Death: 1317 Place of Death: Joinville Biography John of Joinville came from a relatively important family from the Champagne region of France. Born in the 1220s, he became the seneschal of the county upon his father’s death in 1233, as the family had held this position for generations, and he also became squire to count Thibaut IV of Champagne in 1241, thus receiving a knightly education. Joinville’s family had a s…

 Dialogus disputationis inter Christianum et Sarracenum

(175 words)

Author(s): Mallett, Alex
'Dialogue of a dispute between a Christian and a Muslim' Dionysius the Carthusian Date: Mid-15th century Original Language: Latin Description This tract is an (almost certainly fictitious) account of a dispute between a Christian and a Muslim. In style it follows quite closely earlier Eastern Christian works in the genre of ‘the monk in the emir’s majlis’, although it transposes the debate to Europe. As might be expected, the Muslim eventually acknowledges the correctness of Christianity. Significance The style of this tract shows how Eastern Christian responses to Islam…

Al-Māzarī

(401 words)

Author(s): Mallett, Alex
Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad ibn ʿAlī ibn ʿUmar ibn Muḥammad al-Ṭamīmī l-Māzarī Date of Birth: Probably 1061 Place of Birth: Unknown; though it has been convincingly argued that it was in Ifrīqiya Date of Death: 1141 Place of Death: Al-Mahdiyya, modern Tunisia Biography Despite his laqab, which refers to the town of Māzar on the southern coast of Sicily, it seems al-Māzarī was born in Ifrīqiya to a father who had emigrated from the island before the Norman conquest. He pursued his studies in Sfax and either Mahdiyya or Sūs, and became the chief…

 Ta’rīkh Mayyāfāriqīn wa-Āmid

(958 words)

Author(s): Mallett, Alex
Ta’rīkh MayyāfāriqīnThe history of Mayyafariqin and Āmid, History of Mayyafariqin Ibn al-Azraq Date: 1164-65 and 1176-77 Original Language: Arabic Description The Taʾrīkh Mayyāfāriqīn is a chronicle which, while generally focused on the area around Mayyāfāriqīn and Āmid in Diyār Bakr, includes discourses which are wide-ranging both geographically and historically. The chronicle probably originally started with the life of Muḥammad, as there are a number of missing folios at the beginning of MS BL Or. 5803, before the…

 Contra perfidiam Mahometi

(338 words)

Author(s): Mallett, Alex
‘Against the perfidy of Muḥammad’ Dionysius the Carthusian Date: Around 1452 Original Language: Latin Description This work was commissioned as part of a preaching tour conducted by Nicholas of Cusa (q.v.) across Germany in the early 1450s in an attempt to raise support for a crusade against the Ottomans. The tract itself contains two main sections; the first is devoted to refuting the charges levelled against Christianity in the Qur’an, while the second is an attack on Muḥammad himself. The work seems to be based primarily on earlier writings on the subject from various m…

Orderic Vitalis

(659 words)

Author(s): Mallett, Alex
Biography Orderic was born in Mercia in 1075 to a Norman father and English mother. His father was a clerk in the retinue of Roger of Montgomery, later the earl of Shrewsbury. Orderic was given a rudimentary education at a newly-built local abbey, before his father sent him away at the age of ten to the abbey of St Evroul, never to see him again. Despite his importance as a historian, little is known of Orderic except a few details that can be gleaned from his own work, so his life at the abbey is something of a mystery. His studies at St Evroul probably last…

 Riḥla

(2,234 words)

Author(s): Mallett, Alex
‘Travels’ Ibn Jubayr Date: Sometime between 1185 and 1217 Original Language: Arabic Description Ibn Jubayr’s Riḥla details the ḥajj and subsequent travels he undertook from his Andalusian homeland in 1183-85. His route took him from Granada to Ceuta, and thence by ship to Sardinia and Alexandria. Once there, he travelled south through Egypt to the pilgrim port of Aydhab on the Red Sea, and from there crossed to Mecca, where he performed the obligatory devotions. He did not then go straight back to al-Andalus, but…

 Historia ecclesiastica

(1,540 words)

Author(s): Mallett, Alex
Ecclesiastical history Orderic Vitalis Date: Mainly between 1123 and 1137, with additions until 1142 Original Language: Latin Description The Ecclesiastical history was written, at the request of the abbot of St Evroul, as an historical record of the abbey, but it soon grew to become a much wider historical work. Starting with the life of Christ, the Apostles and subsequent popes in Books 1 and 2, it describes the events in a chronological framework that adds little to previous writings. It is with Book 3 that the …

 Fatwā

(377 words)

Author(s): Mallett, Alex
Legal opinion Al-Māzarī Date: First half of the 12th century Original Language: Arabic Description This fatwa is contained in al-Wansharīsī’s (q.v.) Asnā l-matājir, the later scholar using it as a foil for his own opposing opinion concerning the permissibility of remaining in territory that has been conquered by non-Muslim forces and is now dār al-ḥarb. The fatwa discusses the two related questions of whether it is permitted to remain in formerly Muslim territory, and whether the opinions of judges who have been appointed by infidel rulers are valid. In answer to the first question…

Ibn al-Jawzī

(560 words)

Author(s): Mallett, Alex
Abū l-Faraj ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn ‘Alī ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Jawzī Date of Birth: 1116 Place of Birth: Unknown Date of Death: 1200 Place of Death: Baghdad Biography Ibn al-Jawzī was known as a historian, qāḍī, and preacher of the Ḥanbalī legal school. He started his career as a preacher in the Baghdad house of the Ḥanbalī leader Ibn Hubayra, and his stature quickly grew to the point where he was asked by the Caliph al-Mustanjid (r. 1160-70) to preach sermons in the palace mosque, denouncing schismatics, among others. He then became a…
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