1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ibn Athīr

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IBN ATHĪR, the family name of three brothers, all famous in Arabian literature, born at Jazīrat ibn ‛Umar in Kurdistan. The eldest brother, known as Majd ud-Dīn (1149–1210), was long in the service of the amir of Mosul, and was an earnest student of tradition and language. His dictionary of traditions (Kitāb un-Nihāya) was published at Cairo (1893), and his dictionary of family names (Kitāb ul-Murassa‛) has been edited by Seybold (Weimar, 1896). The youngest brother, known as Diyā ud-Dīn (1163–1239), served Saladin from 1191 on, then his son, al-Malik ul-Afdal, and was afterwards in Egypt, Samosata, Aleppo, Mosul and Bagdad. He was one of the most famous aesthetic and stylistic critics in Arabian literature. His Kitāb ul-Mathal, published in Bulāq in 1865 (cf. Journal of the German Oriental Society, xxxv. 148, and Goldziher’s Abhandlungen, i. 161 sqq.), contains some very independent criticism of ancient and modern Arabic verse. Some of his letters have been published by D. S. Margoliouth “On the Royal Correspondence of Diya ed-Din el-Jazari” in the Actes du dixième congrès international des orientalistes, sect. 3, pp. 7-21.

The brother best known by the simple name of Ibn Athīr was Abu-l-Ḥasan ‛Izzuddīn Mahommed Ibn ul-Athīr (1160–1234), who devoted himself to the study of history and tradition. At the age of twenty-one he settled with his father in Mosul and continued his studies there. In the service of the amir for many years, he visited Bagdad and Jerusalem and later Aleppo and Damascus. He died in Mosul. His great history, the Kāmil, extends to the year 1231; it has been edited by C. J. Tornberg, Ibn al-Athiri Chronicon quod perfectissimum inscribitur (14 vols., Leiden, 1851–1876), and has been published in 12 vols. in Cairo (1873 and 1886). The first part of this work up to A.H. 310 (A.D. 923) is an abbreviation of the work of Ṭabarī (q.v.) with additions. Ibn Athīr also wrote a history of the Atabegs of Mosul, published in the Recueil des historiens des croisades (vol. ii., Paris); a work (Usd ul-Ghāba), giving an account of 7500 companions of Mahomet (5 vols., Cairo, 1863), and a compendium (the Lubāb) of Sam‛āni’s Kitāb ul-Anṣāb (cf. F. Wüstenfeld’s Specimen el-Lobabi, Göttingen, 1835).  (G. W. T.)