Yaqut al-Hamawi

Yaqut ibn-'Abdullah al-Rumi al-Hamawi
Born 1179
Died 1229
Era 12th century-13th century
Region Mesopotamia
Religion Islam
Main interest(s) Islamic history

Yāqūt ibn-'Abdullah al-Rūmī al-Hamawī (1179–1229) (Arabic: ياقوت الحموي الرومي) was an Arab biographer and geographer of Greek origin,[1][2] renowned for his encyclopedic writings on the Muslim world. The nisba "al-Rumi" ("from Rûm") refers to his Greek (Byzantine) descent; "al-Hamawi" is taken after his master's name; and ibn-Abdullah is a reference to his father's name, Abdullah. The word yāqūt means ruby or hyacinth.


Born in Constantinople,[3] Yāqūt became a "mawla" (the term can mean client, apprentice or slave) of a trader named Askar ibn Abi Nasr al-Hamawi who lived in Baghdad, Iraq. His master taught him accounting and trading and sent him to trade on his behalf.

Yāqūt travelled two, or three, times to Kish in the Persian Gulf.[4] In 1194 after a quarrel with his master deprived Yāqūt of his income he supported himself as a copier and availed of an opportunity to study under the grammarian Al-‘Ukbarî. After five years he returned to his old master and again travelled for him to Kish; on his return he set up as a bookseller and began to write.[5]

Yāqūt was one of the last scholars to access libraries east of the Caspian Sea before the Mongol invasion of Central Asia, and spent ten years travelling in Persia, Syria, and Egypt. For two years he studied in the libraries of the peaceful scholarly city of ancient Merv (in present-day Turkmenistan), where he would gain much of the knowledge evident in his works.[6] He also visited the ancient city of Balkh and in about 1222 he had settled in Mosul to work on his geography. The first draft was ready in 1224. In 1227 he had moved to Alexandria, and from there on to Aleppo, where he died in 1229.[5]

In his large geography, the Mu'jam ul-Buldān (ed. F. Wüstenfeld, 6 vols., Leipzig, 1866–73), the places mentioned in the literature or the stories of the Arabs are given in alphabetical order, with the correct vocalization of the names, an indication whether they are Arabic or foreign and their locality. Their history is often sketched with a special account of their conquest by Muslims and the name of the governor at the time is recorded. Attention is also given to the monuments they contain and the celebrities who were born in them or had lived there. In this way a quantity of old literature, both prose and poetry, is preserved by Yāqūt.[5]



See also


  1. David C. Conrad, Empires of Medieval West Africa: Ghana, Mali, and Songhay, (Shoreline Publishing, 2005), 26.
  2. Ludwig W. Adamec, The A to Z of Islam, (Scarecrow Press, 2009), 333.
  3. "The Dictionary of Countries". World Digital Library. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  4. cf. F. Wüstenfeld, "Jacut's Reisen" in the Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, vol xviii. pp. 397-493
  5. 1 2 3  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Yāqūt". Encyclopædia Britannica. 28 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 904.
  6. "Homework Help, Book Summaries, Study Guides, Essays, Lesson Plans, & Educational Resources". BookRags.com. 2010-11-02. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
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