Abu Muhammad Al-Hamadani
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Abu Muhammad Al-Hamadani

Abu Muhammad al-?asan ibn A?mad ibn Yaqub al-Hamdani (279/280-333/334 A.H. / 893-945 A.D; Arabic: ? ? ‎) was an Arab[1]Muslim geographer, chemist, poet, grammarian, historian, and astronomer, from the tribe of Banu Hamdan, western 'Amran, Yemen. He was one of the best representatives of Islamic culture during the last period of the Abbasid Caliphate. His work was the subject of extensive 19th-century Austrian scholarship.


The biographical details of al-Hamdani's life are scant, despite his extensive scientific work. He was held in high repute as a grammarian, wrote much poetry, compiled astronomical tables and is said to have devoted most of his life to the study of the ancient history and geography of Arabia.

Before he was born his family had lived in al-Marashi (?). Then they moved to Sana'a (), where al-Hamdani was born in the year 893. His father had been a traveller and had visited Kufa, Baghdad, Basra, Oman and Egypt. At around the age of seven, al-Marashi started to talk about his desire to travel. Somewhat later he left for Mecca, where he remained and studied for more than six years, after which he departed for Sa'dah (?). There he gathered information on Khawlaan (). Later, he went back to Sanaa and became interested in the land that was Himyar (), but was imprisoned for two years due to his political views. After his release from prison, he went to Raydah (?) to live under the protection of his own tribe. He compiled most of his books while there and stayed on until his death in 945.


His Geography of the Arabian Peninsula (Sifat Jazirat ul-Arab) is by far the most important work on the subject. The manuscript was used by Austrian orientalist, Aloys Sprenger in his Post- und Reiserouten des Orients (Leipzig, 1864) and further in his Alte Geographie Arabiens (Bern, 1875), and was edited by D.H. Müller (Leiden, 1884; cf. Sprenger's criticism in Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft, vol. 45, pp. 361-394).

His work has been the subject of extensive research and publications by the Austrian Arabist, Eduard Glaser, a specialist on ancient Arabia. The other great work of al-Hamd?n? is his ten volume, Iklil (the Diadem), concerning the genealogies of the Himyarites and the wars waged by their kings. Volume 8, on the citadels and castles of southern Arabia, has been translated into German, edited and annotated by D.H.Müller as Die Burgen und Schlösser Sudarabiens (Vienna, 1881).

Other works said to have been written by al-Hamdani are listed in G. L. Flügel's Die grammatischen Schulen der Araber (Leipzig, 1862), pp. 220-221.

List of works

  • History of Saba
  • Language of Himyar and Najran

Notes and references

  1. ^ O., Löfgren. "al-HAMD?N?". Brill. doi:10.1163/1573-3912_islam_sim_2666. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ Kit?b al-Jawharatayn al-?at?qatayn al-m?'i?atayn min al-?afr?' wa-al-bay' : al-dhahab wa-al-fiah. Cairo : Ma?ba?at D?r al-Kutub wa-al-Wath?'iq al-Qawm?yah bi-al-Q?hirah (Arabic:? ?  ? ), 2004. pp. 43-44, 87. OCLC 607846741.
  3. ^ http://islamport.com/w/tkh/Web/368/86.htm
  4. ^ http://www.arabacademy.gov.sy/uploads/magazine/mag72/mag72-3-1.pdf


  • "Hamd?n?, Ab? Mu?ammad al- ?asan Ibn A?mad Ibn Ya?Q?b al-". Dictionary of Scientific Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1970-1980. ISBN 978-0-684-10114-9.
  • Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Hamd?n?" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  • Britannica
  • Nabih Amin Faris: The Antiquities of South Arabia being a Translation from the Arabic with Linguistic, Geographic and Historic Notes of the Eight Book of al-Hamd?n?'s al-Ikl?l, Princeton, 1938
  • Y?suf Mu?ammad ?Abd All?h (Hrsg.): Al-Hamdani. A great Yemeni Scholar. Studies on the Occasion of his Millenial Anniversary. Sanaa, 1986
  • Y?suf Mu?ammad ?Abd All?h: al-?asan b. A?mad al-Hamd?n?, In: Al-Mausa al-Yaman?ya, Sanaa, 2003, vol. 4, S. 3097ff.
  • Y?suf Mu?ammad ?Abd All?h: Die Personennamen in al-Hamd?n?'s al-Ikl?l und ihre Parallel in den altsüdarabischen Inschriften, Dissertation, Universität Tübingen, 1975.
  • Jörn Heise: Die Gründung Sana'as - Ein orientalisch-islamischer Mythos? Berlin, Klaus Schwarz Verlag, May 2010, ISBN 978-3-87997-373-6 (the fifth chapter is devoted to al-Hamdani's Biography )
  • O. Löfgren: Art. "al-Hamd?n?" in The Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition vol. III, S. 124a-125a.

External links

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