Ibn Fadlān

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Ahmad ibn Fadlān ibn al-'Abbās ibn Rāschid ibn Hammād ( Arabic أحمد بن فضلان بن العباس بن راشد بن حماد, DMG Aḥmad b. Faḍlān b. al-ʿAbbās b. Rāšid b. Ḥammād ) was the Arab author of the travelogue about an embassy of the caliph al-Muqtadir , who left Baghdad on June 21, 921 for the court of the Volga Bulgarians and arrived there on May 11, 922.

His travel report

After 922, Ahmad ibn Fadlan wrote his extensive travel report about the journey of an Arab embassy to the Volga Bulgarians , the northern neighbors of the Khazars , and the Varangian Rus , with impressive descriptions of their habits, culture and religion . Ibn Fadlan first visited Bukhara and the Khorezmian capital Kath , before he crossed the Ustyurt plateau from Gurganj (with around 3000 camels and 5000 companions) and finally reached the area around Bolgar on the Volga.

Apart from the first excerpts from Fraehn , this travelogue was first made available in print through the edition of the Geographical Dictionary by Yaqut . For Yaqut, who erroneously describes Ibn Fadlan's report as a "Risala" (missive), quotes this detailed travel report in the article on the Rus, Khazars and Volga Bulgarians ("bulghar)" for pages and, as he writes, "word for word".

The respectfully and lively written travelogue, which was discovered in 1923 by the Bashkir scholar Ahmed Zeki Velidi Tokan in an incomplete copy in a library in Mashad (north-east Iran), is still one of the most important sources on the early Russians as well as on the Khazars, Volga-Bulgarians and other peoples of the regions he has traveled to.

The French Medievalist Jacques Heers relies on the descriptions of Ibn Fadlan and Ibn Fadlans in his description of the medieval slave trade and the large slave markets that existed in Europe in the 9th and 10th centuries, where predominantly non-Christianized Slavs were offered as goods for sale in the Islamic world quoted:

“'It is customary for the king of the Khazars to have wives, each of whom is the daughter of a neighboring king. He takes them with or against their consent. He also has 60 female concubines for his camp, all of whom are extremely beautiful. All of these women, free or enslaved, live in a secluded castle, where each has a pavilion with a teak dome. Each has a eunuch who keeps them from view. ' And further: 'When a great personality dies, his family members say to his young slave daughters and slave sons:' Which of you will die with him? ' It is an honor for them to sacrifice themselves. "

The Varangians , who arrive with the Bulgarians, camp on the banks of the Volga , fasten their ships loaded with prisoners to the bank slopes and build large wooden houses, are for him " the dirtiest creatures of God ". They mainly bring Slavic prisoners intended for sale, but also coveted skins for the Muslim merchants. There are between 10 and 20 people in each of their houses. Jacques Heers further quotes Ibn Fadlan:

“Among them are beautiful young slaves destined for the merchants. Each of them has sexual intercourse with a slave under the eyes of his companion. Sometimes whole groups, one in front of the other, unite with one another in this way. If at that moment a merchant comes in to buy a girl from one of them and finds him having sex with her, the man will only break away from her when he has satisfied his need. "

Literary effect

The American writer Michael Crichton used Ibn Fadlan's travelogue for his 1976 novel The Eat their Dead (later Black Fog , Original Eaters of the Dead ), which was later made into a film under the title The 13th Warrior . In the novel, the first three chapters reproduce parts of Ibn Fadlan's actual travelogue, while in the following Crichton tells a fictional story of the journey to the Vikings in Ibn Fadlan's writing style , which he presents as a translation of original manuscripts for narrative reasons. The story is mixed with elements of the Beowulf legend.

Rick Riordan mentions a Valkyrie named Samira al-Abbas in Magnus Chase, who, like her fiancé Amir Fadlan, are descendants of Ibn Fadlan.

Individual evidence

  1. M. Canard: Ibn Faḍlān . In: Encyclopaedia of Islam. Leiden 2003. III: 759a. "He was probably not an Arab by birth."
  2. Ibn Foszlan's and other Arab reports on the Russians of earlier times. St. Petersburg 1823; and: The oldest Arabic news about the Volga Bulgarians from Ibn Foszlan's travelogues. St. Petersburg 1832
  3. Kitāb muʿǧam al-buldān (Geographical Dictionary). Edited by Ferdinand Wüstenfeld . Leipzig 1866-1870
  4. Jacques Heers, Les négriers en terre d'islam VIIe-XVIe siècle , Perrin: Paris 2007, p. 19.
  5. Jacques Heers (2007), p. 19 f.


  • Carl Brockelmann: History of Arabic Literature. Second edition adapted to the supplement volumes. Brill, Leiden 1943. Vol. 1. p. 261
  • M. Canard: Ibn Faḍlān . In: Encyclopaedia of Islam. Leiden 2003. III: 759a.
  • Christian M. Fraehn: Ibn-Foszlan's and other Arab reports on the Russians of older times , Hamburg 1976 (= Hamburg philological studies, 39), reprint of the St. Petersburg 1823 edition. ISBN 3-87118-216-8 ( digitized version of the 1823 )
  • Hans-Peter Hasenfratz: The Teutons. Religion, magic, cult, myth , Erftstadt 2007. ISBN 978-3-86756-006-1 . In it pp. 13-25 "How a Muslim saw and experienced Germanic peoples" with commented excerpts from the travel report.
  • A. Zeki Velidi Togan: Ibn Fadlan's travel report . Treatises for the customers of the Orient . Volume 24, No. 3, Leipzig 1939. Reprinted in the Islamic Geography series, Vol. 168. Frankfurt a. M. 1994.

See also

Web links