Ibn Khallikan’s Biographical Dictionary, Volumes 1 and 2


Abu-l ‘Abbas Ahmad Ibn Khallikan (1211–82 AD, 608–81 AH) was a Kurdish Muslim jurist who lived in present-day Iraq, Syria, and Egypt. Wafayat al-a’yan wa-anba abna az-zaman (Obituaries of eminent men and history of the contemporaries), better known as Ibn Khallikan’s biographical dictionary, is the book on which its author’s fame rests. Considered a work of the highest importance for the civil and literary history of the Muslim people, it occupied Ibn Khallikan from 1256 until 1274.  The dictionary is of enormous scope—the English translation, made by Irishman William MacGuckin (also known as Baron de Slane) in the mid-19th century, comprises more than 2,700 pages. It is not surprising, therefore, that later Arabic historians filled their pages with extracts from Ibn Khallikan’s work and that Arabic rhetoricians, grammarians, and compilers of anecdotes have used choice passages from the dictionary.

Last updated: August 12, 2016