The Concise History of Humanity


Al-Mukhtaṣar fi akhbār al-bashar (The concise history of humanity) is a history of the world from Creation until 1331, the year of the author’s death. Abu al-Fida’ was a statesman, historian, geographer, and patron of intellectual life in the Syrian city of Hamāh. The work is valued nowadays for its treatment of the city in the 13th and 14th centuries. The first volume of this four-volume edition is dedicated to the history of the Abrahamic prophets and the lives of the Prophet Muhammad and his early companions. Subsequent volumes chronicle the history of Islamic empires, rulers, and significant intellectual figures. By all accounts, Abu al-Fida’ was a just and generous sultan. Under his hand Hamāh flourished in semi-independence from the central authority in Cairo. During his 20 year reign the economy prospered, and the local population produced a series of leaders in legal and administrative spheres. Abu al-Fida’s history and geography, while once considered important sources for Islamic and regional history, are not much studied anymore. He died in Hamāh, and his history was carried forward until 1348 by his contemporary, Ibn al-Wardi (1290−1349), whose work is included as an appendix in this edition. Latin translations of al-Mukhtaṣar and of Abu al-Fida’s geography (Taqwim al-buldan, literally “Almanac of nations”) published in the 18th century provided much of what Europeans knew of Islamic civilization. The biography of the Prophet Muhammad in al-Mukhtaṣar was published in Latin as Vita, et rebus gestis Mohammedis (The life and achievements of Muhammad) in Oxford in 1723. The present printing is not a critical edition. It was published in Cairo in 1907 at the al-Husayniyah Press.

Date Created

Publication Information

Al-Husayniyah Press, Cairo


Title in Original Language

المختصر في أخبار البشر

Type of Item

Physical Description

215 pages ; 27 centimeters


  1. Sarkis, Yusuf Ilyan, Mu’jam al-matbu’at al-‘Arabiyah wa-al-mu’arrabah. (Dictionary of Arabic imprints). (Cairo: Sarkis, 1928).
  2. “Abū al-Fidāʼ (672−732/1273−1331),” in Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature, Meisami, Julie Scott, and Paul Starkey, editors (London: Routledge, 1998).

Last updated: April 9, 2015