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Al-Baladhuri

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The author of this article is Laxman Burdak.

Al-Baladhuri (d.892 AD) or (Biládurí) was a 9th-century Persian historian.

Full name

His full name was Ahmad Bin Yahya Bin Jabir Al-Baladhuri (Arabic: أحمد بن يحيى بن جابر البلاذري‎) or Balazry Ahmad Bin Yahya Bin Jabir Abul Hasan or Abi al-Hassan Baladhuri.

His life

One of the eminent middle-eastern historians of his age, he spent most of his life in Baghdad and enjoyed great influence at the court of the caliph al-Mutawakkil. He traveled in Syria and Iraq, compiling information for his major works. He is regarded as a reliable source for the history of the early Arabs and the history of Muslim expansion.[1]

A Persian by birth, though his sympathies seem to have been strongly with the Arabs, for Masudi refers to one of his works in which he rejects Baladhuri's condemnation of non-Arab nationalism Shu'ubiyya.[2]

He lived at the court of the caliphs al-Mutawakkil and Al-Musta'in and was tutor to the son of al-Mutazz. He died in 892 as the result of a drug called baladhur (hence his name).[3] (Baladhur is Semecarpus anacardium, known as the "marking nut"; medieval Arabic and Jewish writers describe it as a memory-enhancer) [4]

Futuh al-Buldan

Futuh al-Buldan or Futūh al-Buldān (Arabic:فتوح البلدان) is an Arabic book by Persian historian Ahmad Ibn Yahya al-Baladhuri.

The work by which he is best known is the Kitab Futuh al-Buldan ("Book of the Conquests of the Lands"), edited by M. J. de Goeje as Liber expugnationis regionum (Leiden, 1870; Cairo, 1901). This work is a digest of a larger one, which is now lost. It contains an account of the early conquests of Mohammed and the early caliphs. Al-Baladhuri is said to have spared no trouble in collecting traditions, and to have visited various parts of north Syria and Mesopotamia for this purpose.[5]

Columbia University published a translation into English in two volumes as "The Origins of the Islamic State. The first (1916) was by Philip Khuri Hitti.[6] The second (1924) was by Francis Clark Murgotten.[7]

The book has the form of a geographical description of the Caliphate empire in which the main information about each location is a political history of how it came to be included in the empire and some of the early political events.

He also made some translations from Persian into Arabic.[8]

Description by Sir H. M. Elliot

Sir H. M. Elliot[9] writes that Futúhu-l Buldán, of Biládurí work is in the Leyden University Library, and has been described by Hamaker, at pp. 7 and 239 of his "Specimen Catalogi, Codd MSS. Orientalium," An abstract of it is given in an appendix contained in the third volume of Dr. Gustave Weil's Geschichte der Chalifen, and the entire chapter on the conquest of Sind, has been edited by M. Reinaud in the Journal Asiatique for February 1845, reprinted with additional notes in his valuable "Fragments Arabes et Persans inedits relatifs a l' Inde. [There is also a copy in the British Museum. The complete text has lately been admirably printed at Leyden, under the editorship of M. de Goeje.

The author is Ahmad bin Yahya, bin Jábir, surnamed also Abú Ja'far and Abú-l Hasan, but more usually known as Biládurí, who lived towards the middle of the ninth century of our era, at the court of the Khalif Al Mutawakkal, where he was engaged as instructor to one of the princes of his family. He died A.H. 279, A.D. 892-3 This is according to Reinaud's statement- Pascual de Gayangos while he gives the same year of his death, on the authority of Abú-l Mahásin, says he lived at Baghdád in the Khalifat of Al-Mu'tamad. He left a large as well as a small edition of the Futúhu-l Buldán.


[p.114]: This work contains as its name implies, an account of the first conquests of the Arabs in Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, Armenia, Transoxiana, Africa, Spain and Sind. It is one of the earliest Arabic chronicles; for Tabarí, though he wrote at Bagh-dád, and did not compose his work till afterwards, was evidently not acquainted with this author, since he omits much that Bilá-durí has mentioned. It brings down the history of events to the close of the reign of Mu'tasim, A.H. 227, A.D. 842. Wákidí, who is quoted by Biládurí, also wrote a book of "Conquests," and amongst them a "Conquest of Sind," which Dr. Sprenger mentions that he has seen quoted by Nuwairí at folio 103 of the large copy of Leyden. Copies of his other Futúh are very common; and much passes under his name which was never written by him, as in the instance of the work translated by Ockley; but his Futúhu-s Sind is rare. Nuwairí mentions also another author of Indian history, folio 795,-Al Husain bin Yazíd us Siráfí. We find also other authors on Sindian invasions quoted as existing at the early period of the Arabian conquests.

Biládurí does not himself appear to have visited Sind, but quotes the authors on whom he relied for information. Thus we have mention of Abú-l Hassan 'Ali bin Muhammad Al Madaíní, with whom he had verbal communication. This author, who died A.H. 840 (1436 A.D.), at the advanced age of ninety-three, composed, amongst other works, Al Mughází wau-s Siyár, "Wars and Marches," which contained a detailed account of the expeditions of the Musulmáns in Khurásán and on the Indus. Mansúr bin Hátim is also mentioned as an author on Sindian History, with whom, as well as with Al Madáiní, Biládurí had held personal intercourse. Another author quoted by Biládurí is Ibnu-l Kalbí.

Besides the Futúhu-l buldán, our author wrote another work on cosmography, with a description of the inhabited earth entitled Kitábu-l buldán, the "Book of Countries," which is in the Library of the British Museum. (Bibl. Rich. No. 7496).


[p.115]: He also wrote a work on the genealogy of the Arabian tribes, the title of which is not known, and he translated several works from the Persian. He also has the credit of being a good poet. He is cited frequently by Ibn Haukal, Al-Mas'údí, and other ancient geographers, but his history is rarely quoted. Kudáma, who wrote at Baghdád, towards the end of the ninth century, gives an extract from it, and Ibn Asír also quotes it under the years 89 and 95 H.

He was called Biládurí or Bilázurí, from his addiction to the use of an intoxicating electuary made from the Balázar, or Malacca bean, which, from its resemblance in shape and colour to a heart, is called anacardium.1 [The name is written optionally with either <arabic>. Goeje transcribes the name as "Belád-sorí." The author, however, is better known as Biládurí or Beladori, and that form has therefore been retained. The Leyden MS., like other old MSS., prefers the ...<arabic> to the ...<arabic>, even when the latter is manifestly correct-thus it gives Brahmanábáz for Brahmanábád, and Rúzbár for Rúdbár.2

External links

References

  1. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Copyright © 2001-05 Columbia University Press The Columbia Encyclopedia
  2. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Balādhurī". Encyclopædia Britannica 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
  3. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Balādhurī". Encyclopædia Britannica 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
  4. Bos, Gerrit: " 'Baladhur' (Marking-Nut): A Popular Medieval Drug for Strengthening Memory", Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 59, No. 2 (1996), pp. 229-236
  5. Thatcher, Griffithes Wheeler (1911). "Balādhurī". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
  6. Full English text of The origins of the Islamic state: being a translation from the Arabic, accompanied with annotations, geographic and historic notes of the Kitâb fitûh al-buldân of al-Imâm abu-l Abbâs Ahmad ibn-Jâbir al-Balâdhuri
  7. Full English text of The Origins Of The Islamic State Part II
  8. Thatcher, Griffithes Wheeler (1911). "Balādhurī". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
  9. The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians/II. Futúhu-l Buldán, of Biládurí,pp.113-115

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