Al-Maqrizi : biography
Taqi al-Din Abu al-Abbas Ahmad ibn ‘Ali ibn ‘Abd al-Qadir ibn Muhammad al-Maqrizi (1364 – 1442),Franz Rosenthal, . Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Brill Online, 2013. Reference. 09 January 2013. (Arabic: ), was an Egyptian historian more commonly known as al-Maqrizi or Makrizi. Although he was "a Mamluk-era historian and himself a Sunni Muslim, he is remarkable in this context for his unusually keen interest in the Ismaili Fatimid dynasty and its role in Egyptian history."Paul E. Walker, Exploring an Islamic Empire: Fatimid History and its Sources (London, I.B. Tauris, 2002), p. 164. The material for updating this article is taken from Walker’s account of al-Maqrizi.
Maqrizi was born in Cairo and spent most of his life in Egypt, where he was trained in the Hanifite school of law. Later, he switched to the Shafi’ite school and finally to the Zahirite school.Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Inba al-Ghumar bi-Anba al-‘Umr.Nasser Rabbat, "Who was al-Maqrizi?" pg. 13. Taken from Mamlūk Studies Review, Vol. 7, Part 2. Middle East Documentation Center, University of Chicago, 2003. Maqrizi studied theology under one of the primary masterminds behind the Zahiri Revolt,Al-Maqrizi, Tajrid al-Tawhid al-Mufid, pg. 33 of the introduction of Sabri bin Salamah Shahin. Riyadh: Dar al-Qubs, 2005. ISBN 996492028 and his vocal support and sympathy with that revolt against the Mamluks likely cost him higher administrative and clerical positions with the Mamluk regime.Rabbat, pg. 15. The name Maqrizi was an attribution to a quarter of the city of Baalbek, from where his paternal grandparents hailed. Maqrizi confessed to his contemporaries that he believed that he was related to the Fatimids through the son of al-Muizz. Ibn Hajar preserves the most memorable account: his father, as they entered the al-Hakim Mosque one day, told him "My son, you are entering the mosque of your ancestor." However, his father also instructed al-Maqrizi not to reveal this information to anyone he could not trust; Walker concludes:
- Ultimately it would be hard to conclude that al-Maqrizi conceived any more than an antiquarian interest in the Fatimids. His main concern seems more likely to be the meaning they and their city might have for the present, that is, for Mamluk Egypt and its role in Islam. (p. 167)
In 1385, he went on the Islamic pilgrimage, the Hajj. For some time he was secretary in a government office, and in 1399 became inspector of markets for Cairo and northern Egypt. This post he soon gave up to become a preacher at the Mosque of ‘Amr ibn al ‘As, president of the al-Hakim Mosque, and a lecturer on tradition. In 1408, he went to Damascus to become inspector of the Qalanisryya and lecturer. Later, he retired into private life at Cairo.
In 1430, he again went on Hajj with his family and travelled for some five years. His learning was great, his observation accurate and his judgement good, but his books are largely compilations, and he does not always acknowledge the sources upon which he relied.
Most of Al-Maqrizi’s works, exceeding 200,Okasha El Daly (2005), Egyptology: the missing millennium : ancient Egypt in medieval Arabic writings, UCL, p. 180 are concerned with Egypt. The most important is the Mawaiz wa al-‘i’tibar bi dhikr al-khitat wa al-‘athar (2 vols., Bulaq, 1854), translated into French by Urbain Bouriant as Description topographique et historique de l’Égypte (Paris, 1895–1900; compare A. R. Guest, "A List of Writers, Books and other Authorities mentioned by El Maqrizi in his Khitat," in Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1902, pp. 103–125).
Of his History of the Fatimites an extract was published by J.G.L. Kosegarten in his Chrestomathia (Leipzig, 1828), pp. 115–123; the History of the Ayyubit and Mameluke Rulers has been translated into French by Etienne Marc Quatremère (2 vols., Paris, 1837–1845).
Maqrizi began a large work called the Muqaffa, an encyclopedia of Egyptian biography in alphabetic order. Another Egyptian historian, al-Sakhawi, believed this would require eighty volumes to complete, but only sixteen were written. Three autograph volumes exist in manuscript in Leiden and one in Paris.
- Mahomeddan Coinage (ed. O. G. Tychsen, Rostock, 1797; French translation by Silvestre de Sacy, Paris, 1797)
- Arab Weights and Measures (ed. Tychsen, Rostock, 1800)
- Arabian Tribes that migrated to Egypt (ed. F. Wüstenfeld, Göttingen, 1847)
- Account of Hadhramaut (ed. P. B. Noskowyj, Bonn, 1866)
- Strife between the Bani Umayya and the Bani Hashim (ed. G. Vos, Leiden, 1888)
- Historia Regum Islamiticorum in Abyssinia (ed. and Latin trans. F. T. Rink, Leiden, 1790).
- Al Mawaiz wa al-‘i’tibar bi dhikr al-khitat wa al-‘athar (about the planning of Cairo and its monuments)
- A. R. Guest, p.103ff:
- Al Selouk Leme’refatt Dewall al-Melouk (about Mamluk history in Egypt)
- Ette’aaz al-honafa be Akhbaar al-A’emma Al Fatemeyyeen Al Kholafaa (about the Fatimid state)
- Al Bayaan wal E’raab Amma Be Ard Misr min al A’raab (about the Arab Tribes in Egypt)
- Eghathatt Al Omma be Kashf Al Ghomma (about the famines that took place in Egypt)
- Al Muqaffa (biographies of princes and prominent personality of his time)