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al-Balādhurī , with full name Abu 'l-ʿAbbās Ahmad ibn Yahyā ibn Jābir al-Balādhurī ( Arabic أبو العباس أحمد بن يحيى بن جابر البلاذري, DMG Abu 'l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad b. Yaḥyā b. Ǧābir al-Balāḏurī ), was an important Muslim historiographer in the 9th century. His year of birth is unknown; he died in Baghdad around 892 . Along with at-Tabari, he is considered to be one of the best compilers of historical news of the first centuries of Islam from the writings of his teachers and those of earlier historians, most of whose works have been lost.


He studied in Damascus , Homs , Antioch and with scholars of his time in Iraq. Possibly he was of Persian descent, as he also worked as a translator from Persian into Arabic at the Abbasid caliph's court - especially under al-Mutawakkil . He was also known for his praise poems for the Abbasid caliph al-Ma'mun .


Kitāb al-Futūh

The Kitāb al-Futūḥ (“Book of Conquests”), also known under the title Futūḥ al-buldān (“The Conquest of the Lands”), begins with Muhammad's emigration to Yathrib / Medina , but does not deal with all of his campaigns ( maghazi ). The depiction of the warlike activities of the time of the prophets begins with the distribution of booty by the Banu Nadir and ends with the attempts at conversion in al-Yamama , which then led to violent battles with the so-called "false" prophet Musailima in 633 after the death of Muhammad . The news about the conquests begin with the violent overthrow of the rebel Arab tribes ( Ridda ) under the first caliph Abu Bakr and end with the conquest of the areas on the lower reaches of the Indus ( al-Sind ) under the second caliph Umar ibn al-Chattab . The book was first published by Michael Jan de Goeje (Leiden 1866) and translated into English by Philip Khuri Hitti and Fl.Murgotten: The Origins of the Islamic State (New York 1916). Otto Rescher (Leipzig 1917; 1923) then took care of the German translation of the work . The book was printed several times in the Orient, but only in uncritical readings. The best edition goes back to Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn al-Munaǧǧid (Cairo 1956–1960).

Ansab al-ashraf

Sheet from the Istanbul manuscript of al-Baladhuris Ansab al-ashraf (chapter heading: The Caliphate of ʿAbd al-Malik ibn Marwān)

The book Ansāb al-ašrāf ("Descent of the nobles") is the main work of al-Baladhuri. Since the author did not write a preface to his life's work in which the title is generally mentioned, the work title has been passed down differently in the subsequent generations. One speaks of the "summary of the genealogy of the nobles and their news", the Damascus scholar Ibn ʿAsākir , who cites the work in his seventy volumes of scholarly biography, speaks of a "summary of the noble genealogy"; others simply call the work "The History of al-Balādhurī" Taʾrīch al-Balādhurī  /تأريخ البلاذري / Taʾrīḫu 'l-Balāḏurī , or "The Genealogy of al-Baladhuri" Ansāb al-Balādhurī  /أنساب البلاذري / Ansābu 'l-Balāḏurī . The title of the work "The Genealogy of the Nobles", which was then also established in the professional world, is named by the Andalusian historian Ibn al-Abbār († 1260), who used a copy of the autograph .

The complete work in the complete manuscript of Istanbul , which was produced between 1000 and 1004 in Cairo , comprises around 2500 pages and is only slightly shorter than the annalistic world history of at-Tabari. Other fragments of the work are in Moroccan libraries, in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (Staatsbibliothek Prussischer Kulturbesitz Berlin) and in Paris.


The work begins with a short genealogical overview of the Arabs over the branch of Ishmael , from Noah to the ancestors of the Quraish in Mecca . Around 260 manuscript pages are dedicated to the biography of Mohammed. The author devotes only around 140–150 manuscript pages to the Abbasid Caliphate , under whose rule he was active, while the Umayyad period is the main focus of the work: on around 900 pages all caliphs of the dynasty and the historical events of their time are based on one broad source base.

In its main features, the work of al-Balādhurī goes far beyond the usual genealogical-biographical representations and is to be understood as a fundamental source of Islamic history. The biographies of the caliphs are subdivided into chapters by subtitles, in which earlier monographs on historical events during the rule of the caliphs are evaluated. In the section on the caliphate of Uthman ibn Affan, the author evaluates, among other things, the monograph by the historian Abū Michnaf († 774) and T. the book about the election (Uthmans) and his murder, the book about the so-called camel battle , the book about the Battle of Siffin related in chronological order and historical causality to the assassination of the caliph. In the description of the caliphate of Marwan I ibn al-Hakam, in addition to the genealogy and biography of the ruler, that of the counter-caliph of Abdallah ibn az-Zubair and his murder, the fate of his followers and opponents according to earlier sources, which have been lost today , dealt with in detail. Numerous quotes from contemporary political poetry round off the individual chapters.

An anonymous work by T. Kitāb al-ʿUyūn wa-'l-hadāʾiq fī achbār al-haqāʾiq  /كتاب العيون والحدائق في أخبار الحقائق / Kitāb al-ʿUyūn wa-'l-ḥadāʾiq fī aḫbāri 'l-ḥaqāʾiq  /' The Book of Water Fountains and Gardens of the Accounts of Truths', published by MJ de Goeje in the series Fragmenta Historicorum Arabicorum (Leiden 1871), has great Similarities with the corresponding passages of al-Balādhurīs Ansāb al-ashrāf .

Work editions

The first partial edition based on the Berlin manuscript was made by the German orientalist Wilhelm Ahlwardt :

  • Anonymous Arabic Chronicle XI, presumably the book of the kinship and history of the nobles of elbalāḏorī. From the Arabic Hs of the royal library in Berlin Petermann II 633 autographed and edited by W. Ahlwardt. Greifswald 1883.
The Schloessinger Edition

In 1936 Max Schloessinger started a first major edition of his work at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem . The following volumes were published within this project:

  • Vol. IVB deals with the caliphate of Yazid I. ibn Mu'awiya: The Ansāb al-Ashrāf of al-Balādhurī. Published for the first time by The School of Oriental Studies, Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Ed. Max Schloessinger. Jerusalem 1936. See the book review in: Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam (JSAI), Volume 20 (1996), pp. 271-278 (Isaac Hasson).
  • Vol. V deals with the events under Uthman ibn 'Affan , Marwan I ibn al-Hakam and al-Muchtar : Edited under the above title by Shlomo Dov Goitein . Jerusalem 1936.
  • Vol. IVA: Ed. Max Schloessinger, with additions by MJ Kister. Jerusalem 1971.
  • Vol. VIB: deals with the caliphate of Hisham ibn 'Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan. Khalil Athamina. The Max Schloessinger Memorial Foundation. Jerusalem 1993.

The volumes edited by M. Schloessinger, Shlomo Dov Goitein and MJ Kister are unsurpassed in terms of edition quality to this day.

The Bibliotheca Islamica Edition

A new edition appeared from 1978 in the Bibliotheca Islamica series by Steiner-Verlag:

  • Vol. I, part 1 + 2 edited in 2008 by Yūsuf ʿAbd-ar-Raḥmān al-Marʿašlī.
  • Vol. II, edited in 2003 by Wilferd Madelung.
  • Vol. III, edited by ʿAbd-al-ʿAzīz ad-Dūrī in 1978, deals with the Abbasids up to the caliphate of al-Mahdi . Published by ʿAbdal-ʿAzīz ad-Dūrī.
  • Vol. IV / 1, edited by Isān ʿAbbās in 1979, deals with the Banū ʿAbd Shams ibn ʿAbd Manāf with Muʿāwiya ibn Abī Sufyān , Ziyād ibn Abī Sufyān , Yazīd ibn Muʿāwiya and ʿUthmān Uthmānn .
  • Vol. IV / 2, edited by ʿAbd-al-ʿAzīz ad-Dūrī in 2001
  • Vol. V, edited by Iḥsān ʿAbbās in 1996, deals with the remaining clans of the Quraish
  • Vol. VII / 1, edited in 1997 by Ramzī Baʿlabakkī, deals with the other Arab tribes.
  • Vol. VII / 2, edited by Muḥammad al-Yaʿlāwī in 2002, deals with the Qaisite tribes.

Vol. VI is still missing. The volumes that have already been published are completely digitized by Menadoc at the University Library in Halle.

Other editions
  • From 1996, Suhail Zakkār and Riyāḍ az-Ziriklī published a 13-volume edition at Dār al-Fikr in Beirut.
  • An edition planned by Muhammad Hamidullah was not completed. Only the first volume was published (Cairo 1959), which deals with the genealogy of the Arabs, the biography of Muhammad and the election of the first caliph Abu Bakr .
  • An isolated volume deals with the caliphate of Ali ibn Abi Talib . Ed. Muḥammad Bāqir al-Maḥmūdī. Beirut 1974. The sequel (Beirut 1977) by the same editor deals with al-Ḥasan ibn ʿAlī, al-Ḥusain ibn ʿAlī and Zaid ibn ʿAlī ibn al-Ḥusain.


Individual evidence

  1. Ibn ʿAsākir : Taʾrīḫ madīnat Dimašq . Vol. 6, p. 75: madaḥa 'l-Maʾmūna bi-madāʾiḥ
  2. ^ Digitized at . e-text at Wikisource .
  3. See on this: Journal of the German Oriental Society (ZDMG) 129 (1979), pp. 98-101. Digitizedhttp: //vorlage_digitalisat.test/ 3D ~ double-sided% 3D ~ LT% 3D ~ PUR% 3D
  4. digitized version
  5. digitized version
  7. A thematic overview with links to the individual volumes is here visible.