Muslim Sources on the Magyars in the Second Half of the 9th Century

The Magyar Chapter of the Jayhānī Tradition

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Istvan Zimonyi

The Jayhānī tradition contains the most detailed description of the Magyars/Hungarians before the Conquest of the Carpathian Basin (895). Unfortunately, the book itself was lost and it can only be reconstructed from late Arabic, Persian and Turkic copies. The reconstruction is primarily based on the texts of al-Marwazī, Ibn Rusta and Gardīzī. The original text has shorter and longer versions. The basic text was reformed at least twice and later copyists added further emendation. This study focuses on the philological comments and historical interpretation of the Magyar chapter, integrating the results in the fields of medieval Islamic studies, the medieval history of Eurasian steppe, and the historiography of early Hungarian history.

Aḥsan al-taqāsīm fī maʿrifat al-aqālīm by al-Muqaddasī

Descriptio imperii Moslemici / auctore Schamso ’d-din Abu Abdollah Mohammed ibn Ahmed ibn abi Bekr al-Banna al-Basschari al-Mokaddasi. M.J. de Goeje’s Classic Edition (1877)

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Edited by M.J. de Goeje

Shams al-Dīn Abū ʿAbdallāh Muḥammad b. Aḥmad b. Abī Bakr al-Bannāʾ al-Shāmī al-Muqaddasī is one of the most prominent representatives of Arabic geography in the second half of the 10th century CE. Building on the tradition of the “atlas of Islam” of which al-Iṣṭakhrī and Ibn Ḥawqal were also representatives, al-Muqaddasī was the first to systematize the subject into a proper science of geography of Islam for the benefit of both merchants and the cultivated man. Al-Muqaddasī’s Aḥsan al-taqāsīm fī maʿrifat al-aqālīm (“the best division for the knowledge of the provinces”) was the first work of its kind to be accepted as a form of literature. The treatment of each “province” ( iqlīm) begins with the division of its districts and towns, followed by their description. Then a general chapter of the province tends to discuss the following aspects: climate, products and specialties, waters, mines, mountains, holy places, money, taxes, weights and measures, customs, marvels, calendar, political power, factions, schools and Qurʾānic readings, and routes. Aḥsan al-taqāsīm fī maʿrifat al-aqālīm by al-Muqaddasī covers North Africa (including Iberia), Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula, Greater Syria, Iraq and Upper Mesopotamia, as well as eight non-Arab provinces including Iran and Afghanistan.

Aḥsan al-taqāsīm fī maʿrifat al-aqālīm by al-Muqaddasī

Descriptio imperii Moslemici / auctore Schamso ’d-din Abu Abdollah Mohammed ibn Ahmed ibn abi Bekr al-Banna al-Basschari al-Mokaddasi. The Second Edition (1906) by M.J. de Goeje

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Edited by M.J. de Goeje

This is the second edition by M.J. de Goeje of the Arabic text of al-Muqaddasī’s Aḥsan al-taqāsīm fī maʿrifat al-aqālīm, the first BGA edition of which was published in 1877 by the same editor.

Shams al-Dīn Abū ʿAbdallāh Muḥammad b. Aḥmad b. Abī Bakr al-Bannāʾ al-Shāmī al-Muqaddasī is one of the most prominent representatives of Arabic geography in the second half of the 10th century CE. Building on the tradition of the “atlas of Islam” of which al-Iṣṭakhrī and Ibn Ḥawqal were also representatives, al-Muqaddasī was the first to systematize the subject into a proper science of geography of Islam for the benefit of both merchants and the cultivated man. Al-Muqaddasī’s Aḥsan al-taqāsīm fī maʿrifat al-aqālīm (“the best division for the knowledge of the provinces”) was the first work of its kind to be accepted as a form of literature. The treatment of each “province” ( iqlīm) begins with the division of its districts and towns, followed by their description. Then a general chapter of the province tends to discuss the following aspects: climate, products and specialties, waters, mines, mountains, holy places, money, taxes, weights and measures, customs, marvels, calendar, political power, factions, schools and Qurʾānic readings, and routes. Aḥsan al-taqāsīm fī maʿrifat al-aqālīm by al-Muqaddasī covers North Africa (including Iberia), Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula, Greater Syria, Iraq and Upper Mesopotamia, as well as eight non-Arab provinces including Iran and Afghanistan.