1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Abulfaraj
ABULFARAJ [Abū-l-Faraj ‛Alī ibn ul-Ḥuṣain ul-Isbahānī] (897–967), Arabian scholar, was a member of the tribe of the Quraish (Koreish) and a direct descendant of Marwān, the last of the Omayyad caliphs. He was thus connected with the Omayyad rulers in Spain, and seems to have kept up a correspondence with them and to have sent them some of his works. He was born in Ispahān, but spent his youth and made his early studies in Bagdad. He became famous for his knowledge of early Arabian antiquities. His later life was spent in various parts of the Moslem world, in Aleppo with Saif-ud-Daula (to whom he dedicated the Book of Songs), in Rai with the Buyid vizier Ibn ‛Abbād and elsewhere. In his last years he lost his reason. In religion he was a Shiite. Although he wrote poetry, also an anthology of verses on the monasteries of Mesopotamia and Egypt, and a genealogical work, his fame rests upon his Book of Songs (Kitāb ul-Aghāni), which gives an account of the chief Arabian songs, ancient and modern, with the stories of the composers and singers. It contains a mass of information as to the life and customs of the early Arabs, and is the most valuable authority we have for their pre-Islamic and early Moslem days. A part of it was published by J. G. L. Kosegarten with Latin translation (Greifswald, 1840). The text was published in 20 vols. at Bulaq in 1868. Vol. xxi. was edited by R. E. Brünnow (Leyden, 1888). A volume of elaborate indices was edited by I. Guidi (Leyden, 1900), and a missing fragment of the text was published by J. Wellhausen in the Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenländischen Gesellschaft, vol. 50, pp. 146 ff.
For his life see M‘G. de Slane’s translation of Ibn Khallikan’s Biographical Dictionary, vol. ii. pp. 249 ff. (G. W. T.)