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(1) This madrasa was called after the doctor Abu Bakr al-Baihaki, See his life, vol. I. p. 57; and Introduction, p. xxviii.

(2) Abû 'l-Kâsim Abd al-Jabbâr Ibn Ali Ibn Muhammad, surnamed al-Ustad (the master) and generally known by the denomination of al-Iskåf (the cobbler), was a native of Isfarâin and a disciple of the shaikh Abu Ishak al-Isfaráini. He composed a number of works on the dogmas of faith, on the fundamentals of jurisprudence, and on dialectics. As a jurisconsult and a scholastic theologian he held a high rank; as a controvertist and a professor he displayed great powers of language, and as a mufti, he was esteemed one of the most capable. If we take into consideration besides that he was a strict imitator of the original Moslims in devotion and self-denial, we must allow that he had no equal among his contemporaries. He lived in the knowledge of his duties towards God and in the performance of them. His death occurred in the month of Safar, A.H. 454 (A.D. 1062).—(Tab. as-Shâf¡yin).—Ibn Khallikân writes his surname Iskåfi, not Iskaf, but I prefer the authority of the Kâmûs and the Tabakât as-Shafiyin.

(3) The author of the Tabakât as-Shâfîyin mentions an Abu Jaafar Muhammad Ibn Abi Ali al-Hamadani in the life of the Imam al-Haramain: this was perhaps the same person as the hâfiz.

(4) To judge from the title, this should be a profession of faith for the use of the students at the Nizamiya college.

.in the Arabic text المسترشدين Read (3)

الاحوال Read (6)

(7) Literally: On frying pans!


The celebrated philologer Abû Said Abd al-Malik Ibn Kuraib al-Asmâi drew his descent from Adnân, his father Kuraib being the son of Abd al-Malik Ibn Ali Ibn Asmâ Ibn Mutahhir Ibn Riâh Ibn Amr Ibn Abd Shams Ibn Aaya Ibn Saad Ibn Abd Ibn Ghanam (1) Ibn Kutaiba Ibn Maan Ibn Mâlik Ibn Aasar Ibn Saad Ibn Kais Ailân (2) Ibn Modar Ibn Nizâr Ibn Maad Ibn Adnân.-AlAsmâi bore also the surname of Bahili (descended from Bâhila), and yet no such name appears in his genealogy; he was so entitled, however, because his ancestor Mâlik Ibn Aasar was the husband of the female named Bâhila; others say that Bahila was the name of a son of Aasar (3).-Al-Asmâi was a complete master of the Arabic language, an able grammarian, and the most eminent of all those persons who transmitted orally historical narrations, singular anecdotes, amusing stories, and rare expressions of the language. He received his information from Shòba Ibn al-Hajjaj (see vol. I. page 493, note 8), the two Hammâds (4), Misâr

Ibn Kidàm (vol. I. p. 580, n. 3), and others; his own authority was cited by his brother's son Abd ar-Rahman Ibn Abd Allah, Abù Obaid al-Kasim Ibn Sallâm (5), Abù Hàtim as-Sijistâni (vol. I. page 603), Abû 'l-Fadl ar-Riâshi (v. II. p. 10), and others. He was a native of Basra, but he removed to Baghdad in the reign of Harûn ar-Rashid. Some person then said to Abû Nuwâs (vol. I. p. 391) that Abû Obaida (6) and al-Asmâi had been just presented to ar-Rashid, on which he replied: "As for Abû Obaida, he will recite to them, if "allowed, the history of the ancients and the moderns; but as for al-Asmâi, he " is a nightingale to charm them with his melodies." It is related by Omar Ibn Shabba (7), that he heard al-Asmâi say that he knew by heart sixteen thousand pieces of verse composed in the measure called rajaz (8); and it was observed by Ishak al-Mausili (vol. I. page 183) that he never heard al-Asmâi profess to know a branch of science without discovering that none knew it better than he. Ar-Rabi Ibn Sulaiman (vol. I. p. 519) relates that he heard as-Shâfi pronounce these words: "None ever explained better than al-Asmâi the idiom "of the desert Arabs." And it was mentioned by Abû Ahmad al-Askari (v. I. page 382) that when al-Asmâi was at Basra, he received most pressing invitations from al-Mámún to go and see him, but refused on the pretext of his feebleness and advanced age; al-Mâmûn then used to draw up collections of questions on doubtful points (of literature) and send them to him that he might resolve them. The following anecdote was related by al-Asmâi: "I and Abû Obaida went to "see al-Fadl Ibn Rabi (9), who asked me in how many volumes was my work on horses, and I replied: "One only!' He then made the same question to "Abû Obaida respecting his work on the same subject, and he answered: Fifty volumes.' Fadl then said to him: Go over to that horse and place your hand successively on all the parts of his body, naming them at the “‘same time.'—'I am not a farrier,' replied Abû Obaida, ‘but all I have compiled on this subject was procured by me from the Arabs of the desert.' Al"Fadl then told me to do it, on which I went over to the horse, and, taking "hold of his mane, I commenced naming the different parts of his body as I






placed my hand successively upon them; repeating at the same time the "verses in which the Arabs of the desert mentioned them. When I had finished, he bid me keep the animal, and whenever I wished to annoy Abû "Obaida, I rode on that horse to pay him a visit." Al-Asmâi carefully ab



stained from explaining any of the obscure expressions occurring in the Koran and the Sunna, and when questioned on a point of this kind, he would answer: "The Arabs of the desert say that such and such an expression means so and so, but I do not know what may be its signification in the Koran and the 404 "Sunna." His adventures and the anecdotes related of him are very numerous. His grandfather Ali Ibn Asmâ committed a theft at Safawân (10), for which he was arrested and taken before Ali Ibn Ali Tàlib. "Bring me witnesses," said Ali, "to prove that he purloined the object out of the saddle-bag (11)." The person who tells this story proceeds to say that evidence to that effect was given before Ali, who immediately ordered the fingers of his hand to be cut off. On this some person said to him: "Commander of the faithful! why "not cut it off by the wrist (12) ?" - "God forbid!" exclaimed the khalif; "how could he then lean on his staff? How could he pray (13)? How "could he eat (14) ?" When al-Hajjaj Ibn Yusuf arrived at Basra, Ali Ibn Asmâ went to him and said: "O emir! my parents treated me most foully in " naming me Ali; give me another name."-"You come," replied al-Hajjàj, "with an excellent pretext to excite my interest; I appoint you director of the "fisheries at al-Baraja with a daily salary of two dânaks (15) in copper-money; "but, by Allah! if you go beyond that sum, I shall cut off the portion of your “hand which Ali left on (16).”—Al-Asmâi was born A. H. 122 (A. D. 740) or 123, and he died at Basra in the month of Safar, A. H. 246 (March-April, A. D. 831); some say, 214 or 217; and others mention that his death took place at Marw. The khatib Abû Bakr (vol. I. p. 75) says: "I have been informed that al"Asmai lived to the age of eighty-eight." Kuraib, al-Asmâi's father, was born A.H. 83 (A. D. 702), but I have not been able to discover in what year he died. Kuraib was only a byname, but he was not generally known by any other appellation; according to al-Mazubâni (17) and Abû Said as-Sirâfi (vol. I. page 377), his real name was Aâsim and his surname Abû Bakr.- Asmâi is a patronymic derived from the name of his grandfather.- Safawan is the name of a place near Basra; [the road from Basra to Bahrain passes successively through Safawan and Kazima to Hajar, the capital of Bahrain.-Al-Barajah is the name of a place at Basra.] (18).- -The following anecdote is related by Abû 'l-Ainâ (19): "I was at al-Asmâi's funeral, and the poet Abù Kilâba Hubaish Ibn Abd ar

"Rahmân al-Jarmi (20), with whom I was conversing, recited to me these lines. "of his own composing:

'God curse the bones which they are now bearing on the bier towards the abode of corruption! bones hateful to the Prophet, to the Prophet's family, and to all the saints.'

"I was then accosted by Abû 'l-Aâlya al-Hasan Ibn Mâlik as-Shami, who "recited to me the following lines:

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'Let (the rivulets) the daughters of the earth cease to flow; afflicted as they now are 'by the death of al-Asmâi! They (still flow on, yet) do not wash away our grief. Live in the world as long as you may, you will never meet a man like him, or with learning ' such as his.'

"I was much struck with the difference of these two persons' feelings to"wards the deceased."-Al-Asmâi composed treatises on the following subjects the human frame, the different species of animals, on the anwâ, or influence of the stars on the weather, on the letter hamza, on the long and the short elif, on the difference between the names given to the members of the human body and those given to the same members in animals (21), on epithets, on the doors of tents (22), on games of chance played with arrows, on the frame of the horse, on horses, on camels, on sheep, on tents, on wild beasts, on the first and fourth form of certain verbs, on proverbs, on words bearing each two opposite significations, a vocabulary, on weapons, on dialects, on the springs of water frequented by the nomadic Arabs, a collection of anecdotes, on the principles of discourse, on the heart, on synonymous terms, on the Arabian peninsula, on the formation of derivative words, on the ideas which usually occur in poetry, on nouns of action, on rajaz verses, on the palm-tree, on plants, on homonymous terms, on the obscure expressions met with in the Traditions, on the witticisms of the desert Arabs, etc.

(1) The autograph has Alam ple, which, by the addition of a point on each of the first two letters, has

been changed into


(2) I follow the autograph in reading Kais Ailan, but some of the Arabian genealogists make Ailân or Ghailan the father of Kais, not the same person.

(3) The author makes some farther observations on the surname of Bahila in the life of Kutaiba Ibn Muslim.

(4) My researches have led me to the conclusion that the persons designated as the two Hammâds (alHammadani) were Abû Salamâ Hammad Ibn Salama Ibn Dinar and Abù Ismail Hammad Ibn Zaid Ibn Dirhim. The former was a native of Basra, a mawla to the tribe of Tamim, and a sister's son to Humaid at-Tawil, from whom and other eminent teachers he received his traditional knowledge. He bore a high character for exactness as a traditionist and a hâfiz; he spoke with great purity, and was considered as an excellent authority in Arabic grammar and philology (arabiya). He was noted for his learning, piety, and selfmortification. He died A. H. 167 (A.D. 783-4).—(Nujùm. Al-Yafi's Mirdat.)

Abu Ismail Hammad Ibn Zaid Ibn Dirhim, surnamed al-Azrak (the blue-eyed), was a native of Basra and a mawla to the tribe of Tamim. He received his knowledge from the first doctors of that age, some of whom were the same as those under whom his namesake Hammad Ibn Salama studied. He held a high reputation as a jurisconsult, a Traditionist, and a hâfiz. He died in A. H. 179 (A. D. 795-6).—(Tab. al-Fokahd.—Tab. al-Muhaddithin.-Al-Yâfi.)

(5) The life of Ibn Sallâm will be found in this work.

(6) His life is given by Ibn Khallikân.

(7) His life will be found in this work.

(8) See vol. I. Introd. p. xvi, note (2).

(9) His life is given in this volume.

(10) According to the Marasid, Safawan is the name of a place at a day's journey from the Mirbad, or halting-place at Basra, where there is a large pool of water.

الرحل The autograph has (11)

(12) Such was the usual punishment for theft.

(13) Before praying, an ablution was necessary, and this could not well be performed with one hand.

(14) To make use of the left hand in eating is a gross impropriety.

(13) About fourpence; there are six dânaks to a dirhim.

(16) This anecdote is related also by at-Tabrizi in his commentary on the Hamasa, p. 240.

(17) The life of al-Marzubâni will be found among those of the Muhammads.

(18) This passage is one of the author's later additions. It exists in the autograph and in one of the Paris manuscripts.

(19) The life of Abû Abd Allah Muhammad Abû 'l-Ainâ is given by Ibn Khallikân.

(20) Abû Kilâba Hubaish Ibn Abd ar-Rahmân al-Jarmi, a râwi, or transmitter of oral information, was a bigoted shiite, and for that reason he detested al-Asmâi. The author of the Oyun at-Tawarikh places his death under the year 220 (A. H. 835-6).

(21) Such is the meaning of the word al-Asmâi's works.

as appears by M. de Hammer's manuscript of a portion of

(22) In the autograph I read; but the punctuation is very indistinct.

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