by Salah Zaimeche Published on: 12th April 2005

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Hospitals, grand public buildings and numerous public endowment based charities characterised the generosity of Damascus. These institutions inspired the innovations and new learning which developed there.

Figure 1. A Mamluk governor and his retinue prepare to receive Venetian consul Niccolò Malipiero in Damascus in 1511. The cupola of the Great Umayyad Mosque is in the background. (Source)

In the year 633, the 18th century historian Gibbon, narrates, Caliph Abu Bakr (Caliph 632-4):

Ascended the hill, reviewed the men, the horses, and the arms, and poured forth a fervent prayer for the success of their undertaking.  In person, and on foot, he accompanied the first day’s march; and when the blushing leaders attempted to dismount, the caliph removed their scruples by a declaration, that those who rode, and those who walked, in the service of religion, were equally meritorious.  His instructions to the chiefs of the Syrian army went:

Remember that you are always in the presence of God, on the verge of death, in the assurance of judgment, and the hope of paradise.  Avoid injustice and oppression; consult with your brethren, and study to preserve the love and confidence of your troops.  When you fight the battles of the Lord, acquit yourselves like men, without turning your backs; but let not your victory be stained with the blood of women or children.  Destroy no palm-trees, nor burn any fields of corn. Cut down no fruit-trees, nor do any mischief to cattle, only such as you kill to eat.  When you make any covenant or article, stand to it, and be as good as your word.  As you go on, you will find some religious persons who live retired in monasteries, and propose to themselves to serve God that way: let them alone, and neither kill them nor destroy their monasteries…..”[1]

Figure 2. Damascus, general view at night (Source)

Gibbon dwells on the Muslim campaign to wrest Syria, providing exquisite details, unfortunately not the place to go into here. And like many of the old sources, much of what he writes remains unmatched, but also contains many errors with names, dates, and facts. Any reader/researcher is advised to use him just like all old sources, due to the first class material that can be found in them and cannot be found today, but with a great measure of caution. Whilst today’s sources can be quite dour in style in most places, and very poor in terms of content (huge amounts of knowledge completely disappeared from them), when it comes to accuracy of details they are much superior to the old sources. In words, to be able to write a decent historical essay, always combine the old with the new; use one without the other at your own loss.

In regard to Muslim primary sources, we have many dealing with the Muslim campaign in Syria.[2] First to cite is the source everyone keeps referring to: Al Waqidi’s (748-822) Futuh al Sham. Although the work contains interesting stuff, it also shows very clearly that many insertions had been made into it by second and third hands. The events that the author, al Waqidi, describes make no sense at all in places, are often contradictory, and he mixes the names of the people involved in many military or other operations. There is great confusion about the Byzantine generals as well. As a rule it is very prudent to use him with the maximum degree of caution.

Figure 3. Al-waqidi (d. 822-23 ad): kitab futuh al-sham (Source)

The reliable source of early Muslim history is definitely al Tabari.[3] The reader can easily see the logic of his narration. The reader can also notice how Al Tabari is very careful to give his sources, quite many of them for nearly every event. At times this can stretch one’s patience, but this is a remarkable proof of the high degree of both honesty and meticulousness of the author.

One can, of course, dwell on other early sources of the history of Syria but this is not the prerogative of this article. Neither is it its prerogative to dwell on secondary sources. So only brief mention is made of the latter, most particularly the phase relating to the Muslim conquest of the country, including Damascus. From a truly military aspect, nothing can beat Glubb’s works on the subject of Muslim advance/conquests.[4] Glubb, an army general by profession, a great scholar, too, had qualifications which other authors do not have: he lived and worked as a military officer in the region for many years. Hence he combined his military knowhow, his excellent scholarly erudition and style, with a perfect geographical knowledge of the region. That gives him the superiority over any other author on the subject. The other great merit of his works, for there are a few of them, is that in each of them he provides an abundance of maps, so clearly, so neatly drawn that even a non erudite can easily understand any military campaign or battle fought by Muslims.

Besides Glubb, there are a couple of excellent authors dealing with the early Muslim conquests: Gabrieli, Donner, and Hugh Kennedy.[5] By far, though, in respect to the Muslim-Byzantine conflict, it is Walter Kaegi who heads the list.[6] It would seem nothing to do with Byzantine history escapes him; his bibliography and the sources he uses are by far the richest of all, and again, he did spend a great deal of time on the ground, and hence can deliver first class analyses, all combined with a meticulous approach and love for the extremely important details. However, for anyone seeking a quick, entertaining, but still scholarly full history of Damascus and Aleppo, there is nothing better than Ross Burns’ works.[7]

Readers are hence directed to these sources, and only one modern Muslim source is worth looking into: Akram’s book on Khalid ibn Waleed, a truly excellent work despite its lacuna (but all books bear weaknesses and defects except the Qur’an of course).[8] Akram’s work highlights the immense role played by this great Muslim general (Khalid) in the Muslim conquests as no other work has been able to. The reader is advised to ignore Akram’s unfavourable opinions of Omar ibn al Khattab as well as some of his own personal involvement in the story, at times imagining dialogues and episodes (such as the dialogue between Iqrimah and Abu Sufyan, or Khalid and Byzantine generals), which never took place as he describes them. The reader is instead advised to focus on Akram’s great strength: his immense, and in most places unique military skills in depicting Khalid’s military operations, and in his first class description of the battle of Al Yarmuk (636) (again setting aside dialogues and other peripheral events.)

Figure 4. Across the ravines lies the battlefield of Yarmouk (Source)

The Muslim Capture of Damascus and Syria

Following Abu Bakr’s farewell, the Muslim armies moved forth in the autumn of 633. The three detachments of about 3000 men each, led respectively by ‘Amr ibn al-’As (‘Asi), Yazid ibn-abi-Sufyan and Shurahbeel ibn Hasanah, began operations in southern and south-eastern Syria.[9] Yazid had as standard bearer, his brother Mu’awiyah, the future founder of the Umayyad dynasty.[10] The numbers of each detachment were later increased to some 7500 men.[11] Each of the Muslim generals had a specific objective.[12] ‘Amr ibn al-’As was asked to proceed through Aila (modern Aqaba) into southern Palestine, in the direction of Gaza.[13] The second column, under Yazid, was to move northwards through Tabuk and then up the east side of the Dead Sea, while Shurahbeel was instructed to keep further east, and to move towards Busra or Damascus.[14] In case the Byzantine army was massed in one group, they would all combine against it, each commander rushing to the support and the reinforcement of the other.[15] In the early days of Abu Bakr, when they would join forces, the commander-in-chief would be ‘Amr ibn al-‘As.[16] Then Abu ‘Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah was appointed commander in chief. When Abu Bakr found the Muslims involved in major operations in Syria and Palestine, he wrote to Khalid ibn al Waleed instructing him to leave Iraq and to reinforce the Muslims on the Byzantine front.[17] Subsequently (later in 634), under Caliph Omar, Abu ‘Ubaidah ibn al-Jarrah assumed the chief command in the whole of Syria, and the commanders acknowledged him as their chief for war and peace on behalf of the Caliph.[18] The passage of power between these two great figures of Islam, Abu ‘Ubaidah and Khalid, was remarkable, as Glubb notes:

Figure 5. Map detailing the Rashidun Caliphate’s invasion of the Levant (Source)

Personal jealousy is one of the principal flaws of the Arab character and a headstrong man like Khalid might well have been expected to retire in high dudgeon at his summary dismissal after so many great victories. But nothing of the kind occurred. Khalid readily surrendered the command to the mild and pious Abu ‘Ubaidah and agreed to serve on under his command. The two men-so different from one another in character-seem to have reached an intimate personal understanding and, as far as we know, no friction or jealousy ever occurred between them. Doubtless the modest Abu ‘Ubaidah was glad to accept the advice of his formidable subordinate on all military affairs, while the astounding victories which Khalid had already won for the Arab cause must have earned for him the universal respect of the Muslims, even if he were no longer their titular commander.[19]

The dual change of personalities: the Caliph in Madinah and the Commander in Chief in Syria (both taking place in the late summer of 634) was to have its effect on the conduct and pace of military operations. Omar, unlike Abu Bakr, would order specific objectives for each battle.[20]

After the Muslim victory at Ajnadayn in the Summer of 634, part of the Byzantine army was sent to strengthen Pella, from which position it threatened the communications of the Muslim army now moving northwards on Damascus.[21] Accordingly it appears that the Muslim commanders decided to seize Pella-known to the Arabs then as now by the name of Fahel-and thus protect their communications before advancing on Damascus.[22]

In mid-March 635, the Muslims arrived before Damascus, where they soon put the city under siege. Khalid, with a force of 5,000 men, camped outside the east gate. Abu ‘Ubaidah himself lay on the south-west of the city and the other commanders were each allotted a length of the walls.[23] Following the siege, Damascus fell to the Muslims late in the Summer of 635, probably in August or September.[24] The terms of surrender stipulated that every non-Muslim should pay a poll-tax of one Dinar and one measure of wheat per year for the maintenance of the army.[25] The cathedral was divided in half by a partition wall, the Muslims in future praying in one half, the Christians in the other. There was no killing or looting. These terms were of extraordinary generosity. Cities taken by storm in Europe were liable to be sacked, even as recently as the Napoleonic Wars (1790s-1815), notes Glubb.[26]

After their victory at Fahl, followed by the taking of Damascus, the forces of Abu ‘Ubaidah pushed on to seize Heraclius’ former base of operations at Hims, ancient Emesa.[27] Its capture threatened the rich Biqa’ Valley as well as the heart of Byzantine Syria, the Orontes Valley, and opened the way for expansion even further northwards.[28] As the army marched to Shaizar, Afamiya and Ma’arat an-Nu’man, all surrendered. The gentle nature of Abu ‘Ubaidah played an important role in these quick surrenders.[29] Following these successes only Jerusalem and Caesarea still held out in Palestine, while, further north, the coastal cities of Tyre, Sidon, Beirut and Tripoli, encouraged by the Byzantine command of the sea, still remained under Byzantine control.[30] Emperor Heraclius also retained a foothold in the district of Antioch in the northwest.[31] He now organised a new army, in the hope of re-conquering Syria in the summer of 636.[32] His plan was to crush the Muslim armies once and for all. This strong Byzantine response involved the collection and dispatch of the maximum number of available troops under leading Byzantine commanders.[33] When the army was ready to march, special services were held all over the Empire for its victory before it marched south from Antioch and Northern Syria some time in the middle of June 636.[34] As the Byzantines moved south, the Muslims had to evacuate all captured places, including Damascus. Following Caliph Omar’s instruction, they gathered at al Yarmuk, and there were soon joined by the Byzantines for the decisive battle at this site. The Battle took place approximately two days’ or one and a half days’ distance from Damascus.[35] The Byzantine initial strategy was to restore the Damascus-Jerusalem axis. With the loss of Pella (Fahl), it became, Ross Burns remarks, essential to block access to Syria from the south through the Dera’a gap, which lies between the gorges of the Yarmuk on the west of the lava fields of the Jebel Hauran to the east.[36] The Byzantines positioned themselves behind the town of Dera’a, on today’s Syrian-Jordanian frontier, a town which had traditionally controlled the southern doorway into Syria.[37] To the south, the Byzantines were hemmed in by the Yarmuk River, which today forms part of the border between Syria and Jordan.[38]

Figure 6. Troop deployment: Muslim Army (Red), Byzantine Army(Blue) (Source)

There are various descriptions of the Battle of Al-Yarmuk. Although these narrations agree on the main facts, they widely differ on the details. Some of these descriptions are far too short to give credit to a battle that has remained one of the most decisive in history. Kaegi’s narration, possibly the best, informs us that Drungarios commanded the Byzantine left, while Gargis of Armenia commanded the Byzantine right wing. The Byzantine left pushed back the Muslim right wing and approached the Muslim camp, which even women defended.[39] Likewise the Byzantine right forced the Muslim left to pull back on the centre and the Muslim camp. The Muslims counterattacked. The Byzantines broke ranks, and fled.[40] The Byzantine cavalry became separated from the Byzantine infantry, probably while attempting one of the complicated Byzantine manoeuvres identified with the “mixed formation” or “convex formation.”[41] Khalid noticed this gap in Byzantine forces and managed to interpose his cavalry between the Byzantine cavalry and infantry, whom his horsemen proceeded to slaughter. A dust storm unsettled the Byzantines and created an opportunity, which the Muslims exploited. In the meantime, many Christian Arabs who had been supporting the Byzantines fled.[42] The Muslim cavalry under the command of Khalid managed during the evening to capture the only bridge over the Wadi’l Ruqqad.[43] This effectively isolated much of the Byzantine forces between the steep and dangerous cliffs of the Wadi’l Ruqqad and the Wadi’l ‘Allan, both west of the Wadi’l Harir.[44] On 20 August, the battle reached its climax. Byzantine panic spread as soldiers learned that some Christian Arabs had deserted by simple flight or switching to the Muslim side and that the Muslim capture of their only route of escape, the bridge, had left them without options. Some Byzantine forces simply ceased to fight and were slain without resistance by the Muslims the next day. Other Byzantine troops and horses were destroyed when they fell down the deep ravine into the wadis while trying to escape. The outcome was the annihilation of most Byzantine forces and hot and thorough pursuit of those who managed to escape.[45] The Muslims pursued the Byzantines and then proceeded to besiege (a second time) Damascus, which they had abandoned following the Byzantine march south to Al-Yarmuk.[46] The Battle of Al-Yarmuk was the most disastrous defeat ever suffered by the Eastern Roman Empire, and it spelled the end of Roman rule in Syria. It is known that the Muslims lost 4,000 men in this battle, and those who did not carry wounds were few indeed; but the Roman casualty figures were considerable, albeit that they vary from one source to the other, rising from the realistic 10,000 or so casualties to the exaggerated 100,000 Romans killed according to the Pseudo-Wakidi.[47]

When the aged Heraclius heard at Antioch of the utter extermination of his army, he knew that the decision was irrevocable. Soon he would have to leave the Holy Land, which he had fought so long to win back from the Persians, only to lose it to the Muslims.[48] Riding northwards, on arrival at the border between Syria and what was known to the Muslims as ‘Rome’, he looked back towards Syria and, with great sorrow, lamented:

Salutations to thee, O Syria and farewell from one who departs. Never again shall the Roman return to thee except in fear. Oh, what a fine land I leave to the enemy!”[49]

Figure 7. Battle between Heraclius’s army and Persians under Khosrau II (Source)

The speed by which Byzantium was soon to lose its Middle Eastern empire was due both to the scale of the disaster at Al-Yarmuk, and also to the rapidity by which the Muslims seized the initiative.[50] The Byzantines, by Muslim accounts, had no time to recover immediately following the battle. The Muslim military leadership showed strategic and military sense. They did not halt after the battle to relax or quarrel over the booty.[51] They maintained their organisation, followed closely, and hunted down those who fled in every locality until they pursued them to Damascus and beyond to Hims.[52] The Muslims, thus, reoccupied Damascus, Hims, Baalbek, and the other towns which had been evacuated during the Byzantine offensive. Abu ‘Ubaidah then advanced upon Antioch, ‘the Queen of the East,’ with Rome, Alexandria and Byzantium, one of the greatest cities of the classical world.

Muslim progress in Syria met with local enthusiastic response. On many occasions Muslims were seen as liberators not as conquerors, welcomed back with singing and dancing. A statement attributed to the people of Hims is representative of the sentiment cherished by the native Syrians towards the new conquerors:

We like your rule and justice far better than the state of oppression and tyranny under which we have been living.[53]

The Orthodox Church of Byzantium had persecuted Syrian and Egyptian Christians as heretics. The Muslims granted them religious toleration.[54] Muslims made little or no attempt to convert Christians, but imposed upon them a different system of taxation.[55] Most of the Christian Bedouin tribes adopted Islam without more ado.[56]

Thus began Muslim rule in Syria, a land out of which then emerged some of the greatest aspects and places of civilisation ever witnessed; a civilisation Muslims then carried to Spain to turn it from its barbaric state into the beacon of modern civilisation (see entries on Spanish cities on this site, especially Seville, the most Syrian of all Spanish cities). Amongst the great Syrian cities was Damascus.

Damascus, The Magnificent City of Islam:

Damascus [says Yaqut (d. 1229)] called Dimishk or Dimashk, is the capital of Syria, and it is the garden of the Earth.[57]

Decades before Yaqut, in 1185, the Valencian traveller, Ibn Jubayr described the city, and was mostly impressed by its hospitals and colleges, which he ranked among the ‘great glories of Islam.’[58] He saw Damascus as one of the friendliest places he had ever visited and said that ‘it surpasses all other cities in its beauty . . . the paradise of the Orient.’[59]

Damascus,” said Al Idrisi,

Is the most delightful of all God’s cities. It is the most beautiful city of Syria, the finest in situation, the most temperate in climate, the most humid in soil, having the greatest variety of fruits, and the utmost abundance of vegetables. The greatest variety of fruits, and the utmost abundance of vegetables. The greater part of the land here is fruitful, and the most portion rich. Everywhere is seen the plain country, and the houses are high.”[60]

Five converging streams made its hinterland the “Garden of the Earth,” fed a hundred public fountains, a hundred public baths, and 120,000 gardens, and flowed out westward into a “Valley of Violets” twelve miles long and three miles wide.[61] The geographer al-Dimashki writes:

The gardens of Damascus number one hundred and twenty one thousand; all are watered by a single river which comes down from the country near Az Zabadani, and the Wadi Barada. The springs coming from the heights above the wadi and the waters from the Ain al-Fijah come together and form a single river called the Barada, which below divides into seven streams, each called by its name.[62]

It was not just the Muslims who were thrilled by the beauty and greenness of the city, the Crusaders themselves arriving in Syria after 1097 were astounded by the greenery which surrounded the city. William of Tyre’s History talks of the neighbourhood of Damascus

Where there are great number of trees bearing fruits of all kinds and growing up to the very walls of the city and where everybody has a garden of his own.[63]

Figure 8. Khan As’ad Pasha, Damascus (Source)

Despite the vagaries of wars and time, Damascus’ gardens remained a dominant feature for many centuries. The natural expansion of the city, through the development of the al-Ghuṭa gardens and their surrounding landscapes played an important role in the city’s growth and development in the late Mamluk period and continued into the Ottoman period.[64] Al-Badri (b.1443) cites, in his text on the beauty of Damascus, Nuzhat al-Anam fī Maḥāsin al-Shām:

Visitors from around the world unanimously agreed that the best four gardens on earth are: Sughd Samarqand, Shiʻb Bawwān, Nahr al-Ubulla, and Ghūṭat Dimashq… I visited them all and found the most virtuous one to be Ghūṭat Dimashq… It is like paradise that has been adorned and presented on earth.”[65]

Al-Badri described al-Rabwa as a Damascene beauty, located in a valley filled with nature. It overlooked al-Ghuṭa and was located far from the walled city to the west. The al-Rabwa natural landscape housed a suburban centre containing a mosque, a religious school, a public bath, canteens and halls, with additional room above for various purposes (ṭibāq).[66] There is also a reference to the existence of a small bazaar (suwayqa), which was filled with a wide selection of essential goods and different food shops, which visitors to the area patronised.[67]

Although the gardens mentioned in al-Badri’s Nuzhat al-Anam can be dated to the late Mamluk period, gardens in Damascus can be dated to well before this time, and were gathering places for leisure and recreation, frequented by people from all walks of life. Taj al-Din al-Kindi, (d. 613/1217) praised Nur al-Din (Zangi), for bestowing the gift of al-Rabwa to the public.[68] The suburban gardens of al-Rabwa continued to host Damascene people in the late Mamluk and Ottoman period as described by Al Badri. The French traveller and diplomat, Laurent d’Arvieux, who visited Damascus in the 17th century, noted how most of the elites in al-Salihiyya own houses for recreation practices.[69] Another visitor in the same century, Monconys, wrote:

We went with our hosts to a village called Salaié, on the slope of the mountain close to Damascus […] where we have an excellent view of the city and the whole countryside. We were in a delightful garden with trees, streams and beautiful view. In fact, this village has country houses of the most of important people in the city.[70]

In the 19th century, the French travellers, Michaud and Poujoulat, wrote:

[al Salihiyya was] “one of the most delightful places on the Earth, where we find the most charming gardens, the most amiable nature of the land of Damascus; the rich habitants of the holy city have chosen these preferred areas to build their kiosks.”[71] 

At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, Damascene garden culture still thrived, as Nuʻman al-Qaṣaṭili noted the Spring ‘days of roses’, which lasted for seven Tuesdays, seven Saturdays and five Thursdays beginning sometime in March.[72]

Of the Syrian cities, Damascus was most favoured with an extensive and complete water system. The city‘s growth could have not occurred without the Barada River, which provided Damascus with an essential source of water. In the words of Ross Burns:

If there was no Barada River, there could be no Damascus.”[73]

Without the Barada River, Ghuṭat Dimashq, the agriculturally rich land surrounding Damascus, would not have provided feasible land for farming and other agricultural cultivation.[74] The rivers Barada, Qanawat, and Banyas supplied the city through two sets of underground canals, one for fresh water, which brought water to mosques, schools, baths, public fountains, and private homes, and the other for drainage.[75] During the reign of the Mamluk ruler, Tankiz (r.1312-1340), this system was cleaned, repaired, and overhauled to assure the distribution of water in the centre of the city.[76] Canals were brought into new quarters in 1497, and other repairs and improvements were made at about that time.[77]

The baths of Damascus, meticulously constructed, were numerous; the historian, Ibn al-Asakir pointing out that during his era, the second half of the 12th century, there were forty public baths within Damascus, and another seventeen in its suburbs.[78] Two centuries before him, the geographer al-Muqaddasi, wrote: ‘There are no baths more beautiful, no fountains more wonderful.’[79] In his time, water was piped from the hot springs in Tiberias to Damascus’ hot baths.[80] Many such baths were still working in 1914, 24 hours a day, and they were also hostels for travellers coming from distant lands to spend a night in warmth and comfort.[81] In a very interesting recent article, Magda Sibley made a study of the baths of Fes and Damascus. A point of importance relates to the heating system, which Sibley explains to us in relation to Damascus as follows:

The heating system of the medieval hammams of Damascus used smoke ducts travelling under the floor of the washing rooms. The smoke from the fire in the furnace passes along a duct under the floor of the hot room and rises up in a chimney in the wall. The duct branches out into the side chambers and its presence is made evident by the way the floor is paved with a black stone tiling. The floor over the duct is known as the fire slab or bilāt al-nār. The furnace is kept working late at night allowing the structure to remain warm. Unfortunately all the surviving and working historic hammāms of Damascus have abandoned the traditional heating system and replaced it by a boiler fuelled by diesel. Concerns about air pollution and pressure from local authorities have led to this change of heating system. There is however one exception and that is hammām Ammuna located outside the city walls and which continues to recycle wood shavings and garbage as fuel for its furnace. It is clear that the replacement of the heating system by a boiler is not necessarily environmentally friendly. Furthermore, the under-floor heating system which allowed for the spaces to maintain comfortable warm temperature is completely abandoned. The rooms are heated by allowing steam from the boiler to enter the bathing spaces. However, as soon as the boiler is stopped during the night, the bathing spaces cool down rapidly and take more time to heat again the next day.”[82]

Sibley also offers us the following in relation to ventilation and lighting, both essential elements in regard to hamams:

The most distinctive feature of the hammāms is the way the domes over the washing rooms are pierced with circular or star-shaped roof lights, forming intricate patterns. Whereas Roman and Byzantine bathhouses are naturally lit with a central lantern at the top of the dome and windows placed at the lower edge of the dome, the Islamic bath houses are characterised by multiple circular or star-shaped openings over the whole surface of the dome and closed by glass caps. These openings consist of pottery tubes built into the domes, closed by glass covers and arranged according to various decorative patterns. Some of these glass bulbs are removable in order to allow for natural ventilation to take place when the bathing spaces are not used. This allows for daylight to enter the bathing spaces and create a special atmosphere enhanced by the high concentration of steam in the bathing spaces.”[83]

In her article Sibley raises the awareness about these structures’ social and cultural role, and righty insists on their preservation, for most of them have been lost, which constitute yet another dent to the great Islamic heritage.

In medieval Damascus there could be found many buildings of diverse nature: religious, commercial and industrial, besides charitable foundations for the care of the sick, orphans, and the aged.[84] Each craft had its quarter, and on the outskirts of the city the landed aristocrats and the wealthier merchants had magnificent homes surrounded with gardens.[85]  The city, according to Dimashki, in reality consists of three towns. First come the palaces, the gardens, and orchards in the Ghutah, sufficient to form a large town by themselves; then, second, are the under ground water courses; and third are the houses of the city itself.[86] In the heart of the city, amid a population of some 140, 000 souls, notes Durant, rose the palace of the caliphs, built by Muawiya I, ‘gaudy with gold and marble, brilliant with mosaics in floors and walls, cool with ever-flowing fountain and cascades.’ On the north side stood the Great Mosque, one of 572 mosques in the city, and the sole surviving relic of Umayyad Damascus.[87] The mosque, al Dimashki remarks:

Is one of the wonders of the world. On the middle night of the month of Sha’aban they light in it twelve thousand lamps, and burn fifty Damascus quintars weight (quintar=100kgs) of olive oil, and this not counting what is consumed in the other edifices, such as the colleges, mosques, convents, cloisters, and hospitals. The walls of the mosque are faced with marble after the most exquisite manner ever seen, and above are mosaics in coloured glass and gold and silver. The length of the mosque from east to west is 282 ells, and the width is 220 (or 210) ells. The roof is covered with sheets of lead.”[88]

Summing up contemporaries’ accounts of the building, Durant writes:

The whole land tax of the empire, we are told, was devoted for seven years to the construction of the mosque; in addition a large sum was given to the Christians to finance a new cathedral. Artists and artisans were brought in from India, Persia, Constantinople, Egypt, Libya, Tunis, and Algeria; all together 12,000 workmen were employed, and the task was completed in eight years. Muslim travellers unanimously describe it as the most magnificent structure in Islam; and the Abbasid caliphs al-Madi and al-Mamun—no lovers of the Umayyads or Damascus—ranked it above all other buildings on the earth. A great battlemented wall, with interior colonnades, enclosed a spacious marble-paved court. On the south side of this enclosure rose the mosque, built of squared stones and guarded by three minarets—one of which is the oldest in Islam…The roof and dome—fifty feet in diameter—were covered with plates of lead. The interior, 429 feet long, was divided into nave and aisles by two tiers of white marble columns, from whose gold-plated Corinthian capitals sprang round or horseshoe arches, the first Moslem examples of this latter form. The mosaic floor was covered with carpets; the walls were faced with coloured marble mosaics and enamelled tiles; six beautiful grilles of marble divided the interior in one wall, facing Mecca, was a mihrab lined with gold, silver, and precious stones. Lighting was effected through seventy- four windows of coloured glass, and 12,000 lamps. “If,” said a traveller, “a man were to sojourn here a hundred years, and pondered each day on what he saw, he would see something new every day.” A Greek ambassador, allowed to enter it, confessed to his associates: “I had told our Senate that the power of the Arabs would soon pass away; but now, seeing here how they have built, I know that of a surety their dominion will endure great length of days.”[89]

Ibn Jubayr, the 12th century Valencian traveller, noted that the Mosque had four gates, and he described something quite interesting very much worth reproducing here:

On your right hand, coming out of the Bab Jarun, in the wall of the portico fronting you, is a gallery, which has the form of a great archway, and set around it are arches of brass, in which open small doors, in number according to the number of the hours of the day. Through the working of a piece of mechanism, when one hour of the day is passed, there fall two weights of brass from the mouths of two falcons fashioned in brass, who stand above two brazen cups, set one under each of the birds. One of the falcons is below the first of the doors, and the second below the last of them. Now the cups are perforated, and as soon as the balls have fallen, they run back through a hole in the wall to the gallery. The falcons appear to extend their necks when holding the balls, leaning towards the cups, and to throw the balls off with quick motion, so wondrous to see that one would imagine it was magic. With the falling of the two balls into the two cups, there is heard a sound (as of striking) a bell: and thereupon the doorway, which pertains to the hour that has elapsed, is shut with a brass door. A similar action goes on for each of the hours of the day; and when all the hours of the day are passed, all the doors are shut. When all the day hours are passed, the mechanism returns to its first condition. For the hours of the night they have another mechanism. It is this…. In the bow of the great arch, which goes over the small arches (with the doors), just mentioned, are twelve circles cut out in the brass, and over each of these openings, in the wall of the gallery, is set a plate of glass. This is all so arranged as to lie behind the doors (for the day hours) above mentioned. Behind each glass is a lamp glass, which is water set to run for the space of one hour. When the hour is past, the light of the lamp coming down, illumines the glass, and the rays shine out of the round opening in front of it, and it appears to the sight of a red circle. This same happens to each circle in turn, till all the hours of the night are passed, and then all the circles have red light in them. There are eleven workmen (belonging to the mosque) who attend to this gallery, and keep the mechanism in order, and see the opening of the doors, and the running back of the weights into their proper places. This (piece of mechanism) is what people call al-Mikanikiyah.”[90] 

Sarton notes, without making it clear, that there was a famous clock in one of the gates of Damascus, which was so called because of it, Bab Sa’a. It was placed there about the middle of the twelfth century and diverse mediaeval travellers mentioned it.[91] It was constructed and taken care of by one Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Khurasani, and after Muhammad s death it was repaired and kept in good order by his son, Ridwan Ibn al-Saati. In 1203 the latter wrote a treatise explaining its construction and use.[92] It is certain that this is the same clock which Ibn Jubayr describes.

Syrian construction skills are obvious in the edification of madrasas. We learn that courses of coloured stone were used to accentuate building facades.[93] The Zahiriyya madrasa of Damascus, which also housed the tomb of its founder, the Mamluk sultan Baybars (d. 1277), has portal constructed of black and white courses; the tomb chamber has a lavishly decorated mihrab and band of glass mosaic imitating designs used in the eighth-century Umayyad mosque.[94] Typically Syrian madrasas had an elaborately decorated portal and an inner courtyard onto which opened living chambers along with a small mosque and larger rooms for classes; the latter often in the form of barrel-vaulted eyrdns, a feature that may suggest Iraqi influence.[95] In addition to lecture halls and cells for the students, Syrian madrasas of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, of which almost 200 are recorded in the medieval sources, often had an oratory and an attached mausoleum for the founder.[96] From Syria the fashion quickly spread to Egypt, encouraged by Salah Eddin after 1171, following his victory over the Fatimids.[97]

Damascus, just like the rest of Syria, was also famed for its industries. Al Idrisi again:

The city of Damascus contains all manner of good things, and streets of various craftsmen, with merchants selling all sorts of silk and brocade of exquisite rarity and wonderful workmanship-all this, such that the like exists nowhere else. That which they make here is carried into all cities, and borne in ships to all quarters, and all capital towns both far and near. The manufacture of the Damascus brocarde is a wonderful art.”[98]

There were many Christian residents in the Levant who, as merchants or as consuls of their respective states (Venice, Genoa, Florence, etc.), made Damascus in the latter part of the 14th century their residence.[99] By the middle of this century, Damascus had become
a great commercial center and was next to Cairo and Alexandria the prominent seat of commercial agents from Europe. The Italian merchants dealing with merchandise of all kinds (especially spices) had their store-houses in Damascus and Aleppo as well as Alexandria and Cairo, and developed a prosperous commercial relationship between East and West.[100] According to Simone Sigoli, a Florentine Pilgrim, in 1384:

Really all Christendom could be supplied for a year with the merchandise of Damascus… There are such rich and noble and delicate works of every kind that if you had money in the bone of your leg, without fail you would break it to buy of these things.”[101]

Another Italian, De Mignanelli, who was living in the East, saw Damascus after its destruction by Timur in 1401, and we will return to his account of this at the end of this article. Here, he reflects on such a great city and its loss when he saw it in ruins:

Truly must we grieve over the beautiful city. To be sure Damascus was not very large, being a little smaller than the city of Pisana. It lay in a plain with large forts and suburbs. It was heavily populated, contained, it was then believed, a hundred thousand inhabitants. Within, it was very beautiful and very pleasing to look upon. Its most elegant homes were covered from top to bottom with stones of many colours. It had a fountain in the middle which shot a continual stream of water toward the sky. This fountain was the source of their water for cooking and for washing everything that was needed in cooking. The whole city abounded in many fountains throughout the districts and streets. There were in Damascus the official master craftsmen for every craft for gold, silver, iron, cotton, linen, glass, copper, brass, and almost every craft under the sun. Generally, in its country districts from their excellent rose water there was as much yearly yield as four thousand mules were able to carry, to wit, a thousand measures according to Siena measures, that is, a thousand or a thousand one hundred Neapolitan bushels. Enough sugar was produced there in any one year in eight kitchens, which were renowned for such craft, to amount to three or four thousand large jars. A jar from Damascus contains six hundred Venetian pounds. Indeed many fabulous things could be told of that city and of its great decay after its destruction and ruin.”[102]

Lapidus outlines the city’s medieval industries, which include fine household decorations, utensils, and jewellery in gold and silver, brass and copper; silks, cottons, linens, decorative brocades and embroidered garments, tents, horse-trappings, and robes made for Mamluk elites. The city’s craftsmen made weapons and precision instruments such as quadrants and astrolabes. High quality building crafts flourished, and even Cairo made use of Damascus’ plasterers, masons, marble workers, and brick manufactures. Damascus had a thriving glass industry, noted for gilded lamps, vases, ewers, and bowls, and also iron, ceramic, leather, paper and the manufacture of fine confections. The city’s luxury goods were exported throughout the empire and abroad.[103]

There can be found many references about the existence of foundries in medieval Islamic cities, and the state involvement in their management. Al-Qalqashandi (d.1418) in Subhi al-A’sha, when discussing government departments in Damascus during the period of 1171-1250, says:

Of these are several small military departments… such as the department of foundries for iron, copper, glass and others.”[104]

Further on, about the departments of the civil service, he adds:

Of these is the department of foundries and the executive in charge of this department is the counterpart of the officer in charge of the military department of foundries.”[105]

Ibn Asakir (d.1177) mentions the sites of the iron foundries of Damascus:[106]  

An industry that made the fame of Damascus was the paper industry.  The first paper mills in the land of Islam were built in Baghdad in the late 8th century. After Baghdad, paper manufacturing rapidly spread west to Damascus, Tiberias, Syrian Tripoli. The factories set up in Syria benefited greatly from the favourable conditions for growing hemp. Syrian paper was regularly shipped to Egypt, the Red Sea ports, and India. The paper mills constructed in Damascus were the major sources of supply to Europe, which as production increased, became cheaper and more available, and better quality. Cotton paper, sold as charta Damascena, was previously made at Damascus.[107]

In Damascus, underglaze painting predominated. In such ceramic ware, designs are drawn directly on the body, usually in black or blue; red and green highlights are sometimes added, the surface then is covered with a transparent, usually colourless glaze.[108] From Damascus the technique was carried to Cairo, probably by Syrian craftsmen who settled there.[109]

One of Syria’s thriving industrial centres was Raqqa, where kilns produced a characteristic lustre ware.[110] There kilns remained active until the Mongol invasion in 1259, which caused ruin to the area.[111] Once the Mamluks put an end to the Mongol scourge, they gathered the surviving and scattered potters in Damascus. The trade, consequently, experienced another great flurry, the quality of Damascus wares being such that their reputation spread far and wide. French and Italian inventories of the 14th century suggest that Damascus pots were treasured for their own sake, and even mounted on precious metal.[112] In 1420 a Muslim potter of Manises (near Valencia), living under Christian rule, was contracted to make for a Milanese merchant 720 pots a la domasquina (on the Damascus model) to match a sample he had been given, probably a somewhat older Syrian jar.[113] By the time that potter had been asked to reproduce a Damascus model, the days of that, and other, Syrian industries were over. In the year 1401, Timur the Lame fell on Syria, and put the country to waste, amongst others setting the potter’s quarter of Damascus to fire.[114] In the wake of his slaughter of the population, he carried with him all the craftsmen he had spared.[115]

It was the same scenario in regard to other industries. Damascus was described as a glassmaking centre by Ibn Battuta (d. 1377) and Niccolo of Poggibonsi who travelled in the Holy Land in 1345-6.[116] Glass made in Damascus was especially famous in the time of the Mamluk sultans.[117] It was in Damascus’ rich bazaars that Cairo traders found regular supplies of all luxury glass products.[118] Lamm assigned two main groups of vessels to Damascus: one decorated with fish placed in herringbone patterns, arabesques, and scenes of revelry, and the other with “Chinese” ornament.[119] Another Damascene tradition was the manufacture of enamelled and gilded glass, which in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries lamps decorated this manner were especially popular in Egypt, where they were used in many Mamluk buildings.[120] The political links between Syria and Egypt, particularly during the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods (1169-1517), led to the migration of craftsmen from one region to the other and the creation of a unified style in both regions.[121] Glass production virtually ceased after Timur Lang’s invasion of 1401.

The decline of the glass industry in the Muslim world is symptomatic of the decline of Muslim civilisation. Carboni, for instance, refers to the high place of enamelled glass in Syrian manufacturing, its exports to the Christian West, and its popularity in subsequent Western literature, and raises questions about its disappearance in the 15th century.[122] This disappearance coincides with that of Syrian manufacturing, which  came as a result of the invasion and devastation of the country by Timur the Lame in the last years of the 14th and early in the 15th century. Timur burnt the glass manufacture of Damascus, just as the rest of the city.[123] In the wake of this assault, whilst pyramids of skulls were made of the inhabitants, Timur only spared one group: master craftsmen whom he carried back to his capital in Samarkand.[124] Following that, Syrian trades and industries, by far the most advanced of the medieval era, totally disappeared.[125] This, Weiss insists, meant that the great days of Syria (and Egypt) were gone for good.[126] And, so from being the leading producer and exporter of glass, skills, and arts, the situation became reversed in the 15th century, and now Venetian workshops executed orders for enamelled glass mosque lamps for the Near East.[127]

Here, we must note that following the destruction of Timur, the Ottoman arrival in Syria had a positive impact, accounting for a partial revival of the country. Numerous religious, educational, cultural, and commercial buildings were built under Ottoman rule.[128] Damascus, though, just like the rest of Syria, had been too much devastated by centuries of war and destruction to remain the beacons of civilisation they once were. We must here note one fact: the Muslim arrival into al Andalus owes to the Umayyads and to Syrian troops (besides the Berbers). Much of the civilisation of al Andalus, which is at the origins of modern civilisation also owes mostly to the Syrian spirit of civilisation. The Syrian role in human civilisation remains to be explored, and although this point is raised here, this article has a limited remit to be able to deal with this vast and fascinating aspect of history. What can be done here is to briefly sum up Syria’s other great contribution to the land of Islam: its role during the crusades as a bastion of resistance, here focus being on Damascus.

Damascus Decisive Role During the Crusades

It is possible to write a whole encyclopaedia on the role Syria, in general, and Damascus, specifically, played during the crusades. In fact, no other part of the Muslim world played as decisive role as Syria in this episode. This is not the place, though, to show this, and only a very brief outline of this decisive role by the city can be possible here, hopefully lengthy enough to prove the point just made. We will avoid focussing on conflict, warfare, and the like, but instead focus on the essential element Damascus’ decisive contribution to the Muslim victory during the crusades. Further down we will see how Syria was bled by this conflict.

The Crusaders reached Syria sometime around 1097, and from then on, the country witnessed countless battles and widespread destruction. By far, one of the decisive moments was the Crusaders’ campaign against Damascus in 1148. This attack followed the capture of Edessa by Imad Eddin Zangi in 1144 and the crusaders’ preying on Syria.[129] In May 1147, the Frankish army, which included Templar and Hospitalliers, set for Damascus, crossing the Jordan with the King at their head, and marched into the Jaulan.[130] Nur-Eddin Zangi, who was called for help by the local ruler arrived with his armies from Aleppo.[131] When the Christians reached Bosra, the combined armies of Nur Eddin and Damascus fell on them and registered a great victory.[132]

Despite this defeat, Crusaders’ hopes for capturing the great city of Islam remained high, and more troops kept arriving from Europe via the coastal ports of Palestine.[133] For very long, Elisseeff remarks, there has not been noted such large gathering of princes and barons in the Kingdom of Jerusalem.[134] In July 1148, the large Christian army assembled at Tiberias, from whence it crossed the Galilee, passing trough Banias, south of The Hermon, and emerged in the Plain of Wad al-Ajam, south west of Damascus.[135] The campaign lasted for weeks, and resulted in constant heavy fighting, and at some point Damascus was under imminent threat, until the arrival of Nur Eddin. When reports began to reach the Franks speaking of the rapid advance of fresh Muslim armies, they became convinced of the imminence of disaster.[136] They realized that should Nur Eddin make a sweep against them, not only would they be defeated, but also the city would fall under his sway, and would lead to what they dreaded most of all, the unification of Syria.[137] Nur Eddin’s army coming from the north would also outflank them in the position they were in at present, and that would mean utter disaster, indeed.[138] The Christians, thus, decided to raise the siege, and march back to Jerusalem. Their retreat cost them more than the previous fighting, as they lost troops in great numbers, horses, and supplies.[139] So considerable were the crusader losses, ‘the stench of their corpses polluted the plains for many months to come.’[140] When the news of the disaster reached Europe, people were stunned by the scale of losses.[141] The failure of the Second Crusade in front of Damascus marked a decisive turn in the life of the states of the Levant, Elisseeff remarks.[142] Muslim power was now rising, and was being organized under Nur Eddin. He was first to bring about political and moral unity in Syria before extending his authority upon Egypt, and victoriously attack the crusaders.[143]

The capture of Damascus by Nur Eddin followed his attack against the local ruler of the city, Mujir Eddin, who preferred an alliance with the Franks.[144] To Mujir Eddin and his counselors, mindful of their own safety, a Christian protectorate was preferable to their fate should Nur Eddin become their master, but to the ordinary citizen of Damascus ‘the insolence of the Christians was unbearable, and the rulers were proving themselves traitors to the faith.’[145] It was not long before the city’s population rose in revolt. Mujir called his Christian allies for help, but in vain.[146] Before they could organize their expedition, Nur Eddin was already in front of the city, together with his leading officers, including Shirkuh.[147] On 25 April 1154, near Bab Kaysan, the army of Nur Eddin made its way into the city.[148] According to the eminent Crusades historian, Grousset, Nur Eddin’s entry in Damascus was a determining event in history, accomplishing the unification of Muslim Syria.[149]

Nur Eddin’s entry into Damascus united the two main Muslim strongholds: Aleppo and Damascus, and also brought in the lands re-conquered by himself and his father. Now, there was a semblance of united Muslim territory, which contrasted with the former disunity, which had made the existence of the crusader states possible.[150] ‘The barrier between Jerusalem and the sultan of the north, Stevenson notes, was broken. ‘The old scourge of Antioch and Edessa came near Jerusalem, and when the Muslim sultan judged that the time had come, the way was open for an attack on the Holy City.’[151]

Now, the liberation of Jerusalem could be contemplated, but there was another great role that Damascus was going to play.

From the year 1161, after consolidating his rule, and from Damascus, Nur Eddin and his main general, the Kurd, Shirkuh, would devote a whole decade of military enterprise to bring Egypt, then under Fatimid rule, into the anti Crusader fold. The Fatimids had either allied themselves to the crusaders, or at best only given faint support to the Muslim cause.[152] On the few occasions they sent armies to fight the Christians, these were only token gestures.[153]

Needless to dwell on the historical events, for a decade, beginning in 1161, after many military campaigns, at last, in December 1168, Shirkuh, accompanied by his nephew Salah Eddin, and 8,000 of Nur Eddin’s best men, descended on Egypt, again.[154] Suddenly facing the old warrior and his great army, the crusaders retreated back to Palestine.[155] On the 8th of January 1169, Shirkuh made a triumphal entry into Cairo.[156] Shirkuh ordered the execution of the scheming and unreliable Vizier, Shawar.[157] Shirkuh then stepped in his place as the caliph’s vizier and thus became the true ruler of Egypt.[158] Soon after his success, Shirkuh died.[159]  In 1171 the Fatimid Caliph died. The mass of the Egyptian population hardly mourned the end of Fatimid rule.[160] The end of Fatimid rule had a momentous impact, though. Now, as Lamonte notes, the religious schism between the Sunnite and Shi’ite caliphs, which had materially aided the Christians in their earlier conquests, was ended, and Christendom was now confronted with a technically united Islam.[161] From the island of resistance of the early crusades: Mosul, now the Muslim front stretched from Anatolia to Egypt, passing by Syria, a whole united territory facing the crusaders for the first time since they arrived. The task of Nur Eddin and Damascus towards the liberation of the Muslim land had now been accomplished. Soon, this duty would become the Mamluks’ and Cairo’s.

Damascus: City of Munificence and Learning:

When he reaches Damascus, the Moroccan traveller, Ibn Battuta (b. Tangier 1304; d. 1368-9) is struck by the dedication of its population to all forms and manners of religious charitable foundations, so many foundations, it is difficult for him to count them. He cites as instances legs by people who could not travel to Mecca to pay others to do it; foundations aimed at providing girls from poor backgrounds with necessities for their marriage; foundations devoted to purchasing the freedom of Muslim prisoners; others for paying the maintenance of roads, and so many more.[162] Once, he saw a young boy dropping a porcelain plate, which broke. The passer byes told the boy to take the pieces to the foundation for utensils. Which he did, and there, he got a refund for the value of a new plate.[163] The people of Damascus also provided waqfs for schools, hospitals, and mosques in their great numbers, a city, Ibn Battuta tells us, where the social spirit was at its optimum.[164]

Damascus is not just historically generous with its wealth, it is generous by nature, the city, possibly, the one that offered most welcome to all refugees, more than any other in history. This brief outline by Bianquis captures this. In the 12th century, we find the Andalusian refugees chased from Spain by the Christian re-conquest; former inhabitants of Naplouse in Palestine fleeing the Franks, the new masters of Palestine; the 13th century witnesses the arrival of Iraqi and Iranian refugees fleeing the Mongol onslaught, and again more refugees from Spain.[165] In the 16th century, it is more refugees from Spain, both Muslim and Jewish, seeking the protection of the Ottoman empire, then in the 19th century it is refugees from the Caucasus, Kurds, and Turks fleeing the advance of the Russian armies.[166] In the same century, it is Algerians refusing French colonisation who arrive in large numbers, and so do the Albanians and other Balkan Muslims fleeing nationalist Christian risings.[167] 

Damascus was also at the forefront in providing assistance for education. Nur Eddin Zangi, the founder of schools, gave large collections of books to the various libraries.[168] Towards the end of his life, the Damascus doctor, Muhaddab Eddin Al-Dawhar, who was childless, transformed his house, located south of the Mosque of the Ummayads, into a madrasa for the teaching of medicine.[169] He attributed to it waqfs to secure its running, the payment of salaries for the teachers and also grants for students, and he himself taught there before his death.[170] He requested, that after his death, it was Saraf Eddin Ali Ibn Rahbi (d. 1268) the son of a well known doctor, who was to be appointed Professor, there.[171] During his visit to Damascus, the traveller, Ibn Jubair reported the high number and varied facilities for foreign students and visitors at the Umayyad Mosque, and he himself encouraged students from Spain to go east for education.[172] Ibn Jubair holds:

Anyone in the west who seeks success, let him come to this city (Damascus) to study, because assistance here is abundant. The chief thing is that the student here is relieved of all worry about food and lodging, which is a great help.”[173]

The madrasas, the precursors of our modern university colleges, were first established by the Seljuk leader Nizam al-Mulk (murdered by the Ismailis in 1092). Following his death, madrasas spread so rapidly that at some point in the medieval times, according to Tawtah,[174] there were 73 colleges in Damascus alone (41 in Jerusalem, 40 in Baghdad, 14 in Aleppo, 13 in Tripoli, 9 in al-Mawsil, and 74 in Cairo, in addition to numerous institutions in other cities.)[175] A later author, writing around 1500, counted about 150 madrasas in Damascus alone.[176]

Shalaby offers an excellent description of one such illustrious madrasas: the al-Nuriyyah al-Kubra in Damascus founded by Nur Eddin, and which was described by Ibn Jubair as one of the best colleges in the world.[177]

It is situated in Khatt al-Khawwasin which is now called `al-Khayyarin’ and it is about half a mile south West of the Umayyad Mosque. The school has a monumental entrance: an arch with an outer door, and a broad passage leading to the court with a second door halfway along. The lintel of the outer door is adorned with the endowment tablet. The school had its Iwan, which then, was the most important place in the Muslim school. It is the equivalent of the modern lecture room, and there where the halaqat were held. Not far from the Iwan was the mosque, which took the significant place in a medieval school. The mosque was also open to other worshippers, and it was thus normal that it was remote from the Iwan. The school also included eight lodges for the students, and the caretaker’s lodgings, the latrines, and also a kitchen and dining hall, the food store, and the general store for the building. This madrasa, in most parts, still stands up to now.[178]

Ibn-Jubair writing about his visit to Damascus in 1184, also said:

There is in this city an old and a new hospital. The old hospital was constructed on the same plan as the new one, but it is not as well furnished as the new one. It is situated west of the al-Mukarrem mosque. Both of these constitute a true glory of Islam.”[179]

The first known hospital in Islam was built in Damascus in 706 by the Ummayad Caliph: Al-Walid Ibn Abd al-Malik. It was to cater for various sorts of patients including the blind, but also the lepers (then, in Europe, and for centuries thereafter, lepers were burnt to death by royal decree.) This hospital was well equipped and well staffed, and was to serve as the model for other hospitals to follow in the region. This was very certainly the first Muslim hospital to have been built.[180] Al-Walid appointed physicians to staff the hospital and paid them for their services; he ordered that lepers be isolated so that they would not contaminate the other patients in the hospital.[181]

Under the Seljuks was added another hospital, located in the quarter known as Bab al-Barid, west of the great mosque, founded by the Seljuk leader Duqaq, towards the end of the 11th century. In the 13th century, it was still standing as Izz Eddin Ibn al-Suwaydi (d. 1291) was working there.[182]

The most important hospital of the city was built in 1156 by Nur Eddin Zangi: The Al-Nuri Hospital. The revenues of the hospital according to al-Maqrizi owe to the fact that Nur Eddin had made prisoner a European king, and had planned to have him executed. But the king paid as his ransom, four forts and 500,000 dinars, and he was put at liberty.[183]

On this hospital, the 13th century medical historian, Ibn abi Usaybi’ah, wrote:

When Nur-al-Din built the Grand Bimaristan he appointed as the director Abul Majd al-Bahilli. This physician went regularly to the hospital to care for the patients, to examine them and to give the necessary orders to the attendants and servants who worked under his direction. After that this physician went to the citadel to examine the dignitaries and the noblemen that were ill. This task completed he returned to the hospital, sat in the liwan (vestibule hall) richly furnished, and commenced his lectures.”[184]

Under the direction of the physician Abu al-Majid al-Bahili, Nur Eddin equipped the hospital with adequate supplies of food and medication, and donated in addition a large number of medical books to be housed in a special hall serving as library.[185] Eminent physicians worked at the hospital. Muhadhib ad-Din Ibn an-Naqqash (d. 1178) headed an-Nuri hospital besides serving Nur Eddin as chief physician.[186] His son Najm Eddin served in the same hospital, then was promoted to the rank of Vizier for the Ayyubiyyah. Early in the thirteenth century, the physician ad-Dakhwar first served in an-Nuri hospital at a low salary, then, as he increased in fame, his income from private practice brought him much wealth and he started a medical school in the city.[187] In the hospital, teaching and discussions on topics related to medicine were conducted.[188] Many renowned physicians taught at the hospital’s medical school, which it is said had elegant rooms, and of course the library above mentioned. The physicians and practitioners assembled before Nur Eddin Zangi to discuss medical subjects and to listen to the lectures that Abul Majd gave his pupils; discussions and lectures, which lasted three hours.[189] A number of Muslim physicists graduated from there.  Among the well-known students are Ibn Abi Usaybi’ah (1203-1270), the famous medical historian and Ibn al-Nafis (d.1289) whose discovery of the lesser circulation of the blood marked a new step in better understanding of human physiology and was the earliest explanation until William Harvey (1628).[190]

At the hospital, health provision was universal as noted by Ibn Abi Usaybi’ah who relates to an eminent Syrian doctor of the 12th century, who after examining the sick in the hospital, went to court to treat the important people.[191]

The hospital also innovated in the keeping of records of patients, Ibn Jubair praising the way in which the administrator kept a register of the patients,[192] probably the earliest of its kind in the history of hospitals.[193] Beside each name, the physician daily listed the patient’s requirement of diet and medication after he had made his rounds. Such hospitals, Ibn Jubair concluded, ‘are one of the great glories of Islam’.[194]

Al-Qalgashandi (1355-1418) affirms that the administrator of an-Nuri hospital in his time was given, as a token of his prestige, title of honour, Shihab Eddin. He was authorized to exhort the employees to render better service to the patients and each department to execute its duties faithfully and efficiently.[195]

Khalil ibn-Shahine al-Zahiri told about his visit to Damascus:

I was accompanied by a distinguished and affable Persian. When he visited the al-Nuri hospital and saw the diets, the utilities and the comforts to be found there, he decided to see for himself, what being a patient was like in that hospital. He pretended illness and was admitted to the hospital. There the medical chief visited him every day and took his pulse and prescribed his diet, consisting of a variety of meats, fat chickens, candies and drinks and fresh fruits. On the third day the doctor told him that such patients were not allowed to stay more than three days, and asked him to leave.”[196]

It is worth noting that fragments of the original building of this hospital which served in promoting public medical care for about seven centuries remain to this day, and is reconstructed to its original design and structure.[197]

At the same time as observations were developed in Baghdad (9th century), they were equally so in Damascus, where was set up another observatory on the outskirts of the city on Mount Qasiyun.[198] The best astronomers of the era were brought together at the expense of the sovereign, charged most particularly with proving the data in Ptolemy’s Almagest, and of making observations of the sun and the moon for one year.[199] The superintendent at the observatory of Damascus was the scholar Abu Mansur (b. 885).[200] At that early stage, already, large instruments were gradually being introduced, which in Damascus include a 20 ft quadrant and a 56 ft sextant.[201]

The Scholars of Damascus:

Abu’l-Fadl Jaafar ibn ‘Ali al-Dimashqi was an economist who flourished in Damascus and other places in Syria at an unknown time.  He composed in or before 1175 the Kitab al-ishara ila mahasin al-tijara wa matrifa aljayyid al-atrad wa radiha wa ghushush al-mudallisin fiha (Book explaining the benefits of commerce and the knowledge of good and bad qualities [of wares] and the falsifications of counterfeiters).[202] One of the two manuscripts of it (both Damascene) was completed April 20, 1175. It is a work of great importance dealing not only with the knowledge of many wares and their falsifications, but also with the theory and practice of commerce, and even with economic subjects.[203] It examines such questions as the true meaning of wealth or ownership (haqiqat al-mal), the various kinds of possessions, the origin and use of money, the means of testing money, how to pack and preserve goods, how to determine their average prices, and how to protect property, whilst the chapters relative to wares contain abundant information on stones and metals, perfumes, textiles, and the related arts and trades.[204]

Ibn Asakir (b. 1106; d.1176) lived in Damascus, and taught tradition at the Ummayad Mosque, then in college.[205] He was the most notable figure of the ‘Asakir family, whose members occupied prestigious positions as judges and scholars of the Shafi’i school of Sunni law in Damascus for almost two centuries (AH 470–660/ 1077–1261 CE).[206] He started his pursuit of religious education when he was six years old, accompanying his father and elder brother to the teaching circles of several renowned Damascene scholars.[207] Between 520/1126 and 535/1141, Ibn ‘Asakir made two educational journeys that took him to the most influential learning centers in the Islamic world, from Egypt and the Hijaz (Mecca and Medina) to Iran and Central Asia (Khurasan and Transoxiana). In his work, Mu‘jam al-shuyukh, he mentioned some fourteen hundred teachers whom he met and studied with, including approximately eighty women.[208] The enormous knowledge that he acquired, especially of hadith, law, and scriptural exegesis, earned him the title of Hafiz (good memorizer), and he became the most learned and renowned scholar of his day.[209] The hadith master Ibn an-Najjar (d. 980 H) said about Ibn ‘Asakir, that he was:

The imam of hadith scholars in his time and the chief leader in memorization, meticulous verification, thorough knowledge in the sciences of hadith, trustworthiness, nobility, and excellence in writing and beautiful recitation. He is the seal of this science.”[210]

Ibn ‘Asakir returned from his travels to settle in his hometown of Damascus, shortly after Nur Eddin Zangi had taken over control of the city (549/1154). Nur Eddin aimed to unite Syria and Egypt and put an end to the ineffectual Fatimid dynasty so as to mount an effective military campaign against the Crusaders. After Nur Eddin assumed control of Damascus in 1154, successfully wooing the city’s elites in the process, Ibn Asakir and his peers, Antrim remarks, ‘may have looked toward him not only as a patron but also as a potential unifier of Syria.’[211] By his death in 1174, Nur Eddin had brought extensive territories, including Syria’s two largest cities, under the aegis of a single regime headquartered in Damascus, a political configuration not seen since the 8th century.[212]  Nur Eddin found in Ibn ‘Asakir the perfect scholar who could help him achieve his goals, and so he ordered that a madrasa be built for Ibn ‘Asakir, known as Dar al-Hadith (School of Hadith).[213] Nur Eddin’s patronage was essential. According to Ibn Asakir, himself, the lengthy compilation of the Tarikh Madinat Dimashq, a project that he started earlier in life and subsequently despaired of ever finishing, was encouraged and finally completed at the urging of Nur Eddin, “avenger of the vile, infidel enemies of Muslims.”[214]

Nur Eddin asserted his authority and strengthened his position in the architecture and infrastructure of his new capital city; Ibn Asakir’s topography of Damascus lists nine mosques inside and five outside the city walls, two canals, two baths, two gates, and three separate Madrasa al-Nuriyya’s, all endowed, renovated, or expanded at the behest of Nur al-Din.[215] By the time of Nur Eddin’s death in 1174, Damascus had become the political capital of the united Muslim-controlled areas of Syria.[216] The last two year of Ibn Asakir’s life were marked by the entry of Salah Eddin ibn Ayyub into Damascus, where he maintained his predecessor’s policies, and was even present at Ibn Asakir’s funerals (in 1176).[217] Just over a decade later, in 1187, Salah Eddin would recapture Jerusalem from the Crusaders and administer the expanding territories, including Egypt, from Damascus. Ibn Asakir missed this glorious event, just as he would, of course, never know of much worse to befall his city a century later, but, during the last two decades of his life, mainly thanks to Nur Eddin, Zayde Antrim remarks, Ibn Asakir ‘had every reason to feel optimistic about the future of his region and the rising political fortunes of his native town.’[218]

Before his death, Ibn Asakir completed over a hundred books and epistles and narrated under five hundred hadith lessons. Amongst his larger works Haddad lists the following:

1. Tarikh Dimasqh in eighty volumes. Ibn Khallikan said that it contains, like al-Tabari’s Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Muluk, several books that can be read independently.

2. Al-Muwafaqat `ala Shuyukh al-A’imma al-Thiqat in seventy-two volumes.

3. `Awali Malik ibn Anas and its Dhayl in fifty volumes.

4. Ghara’ib Malik in ten volumes.

5. Al-Mu`jam listing only the names of his shaykhs, in twelve volumes.

6. Manaqib al-Shubban in fifteen volumes.

7. Books of “Immense Merits”: Fada’il Ashab al-Hadith in eleven volumes, Fadl al-Jumu`a, Fadl Quraysh, Fada’il al-Siddiq, Fada’il Makka, Fada’il al-Madina, Fada’il Bayt al-Muqaddas, Fada’il `Ashura’, Fada’il al-Muharram, Fada’il Sha`ban.

8. Al-Ishraf `ala Ma`rifa al-Atraf.

9. Akhbar al-Awza`i.

10. Al-Musalsalat.

11. Al-Suba`iyyat in seven volumes, listing narrations with chains containing only seven narrators up to the Prophet — Allah bless and greet him –.

12. Tabyin Kadhib al-Muftari Fima Nusiba ila Abi al-Hasan al-Ash`ari, a defense of al-Ash`ari and his school.

13. Yawm al-Mazid in three volumes.

14. Bayan al-Wahm wa al-Takhlit fi Hadith al-Atit (“The Exposition of Error and Confusion in the Narration of the [Throne’s] Groaning”).

15. Arba`un Hadithan fi al-Jihad.

16. Arba`un Hadithan `an Arba`ina Shaykhan min Arba`ina Madina.[219]

Cited among these is the largest work of history ever produced by a medieval Muslim scholar: Ta’rikh madinat Dimashq (The History of Damascus and Its Environs), which he started in 529/1134.[220] This voluminous, 80 volumes, History of the city has only been recently completely available thanks to an edition by Umar ibn Gharama al Amrawi (al Umrawi) and Ali Shiri.[221] The History of Damascus is primarily a biographical dictionary that documents the lives and achievements of the scholars who lived in it or passed by it.[222] Tarikh Madinat Dimashq is a very important work in that it preserves extensive excerpts from hundreds of now-lost works authored by historians and religious scholars before the time of Ibn ‘Asakir.[223] He includes biblical prophets and figures as well: Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, David, Jesus, Mary, and John the Baptist, to name a few. This is the only Muslim biographical dictionary that features substantial biographical notices for pre-Islamic figures.[224]

The Tarikh also includes many aspects crucial to our knowledge of medieval Damascus. Ibn Asakir, for instance, reports to us the existence of an efficient public water system available to all inhabitants, both rich and poor.[225]  This testifies to the sophistication and prioritization of municipal planning in Ibn ‘Asakir’s time.[226]  In enumerating the one hundred-plus water mains and public baths within the walled city of Damascus,[227] Ibn ‘Asakir indicates whether the upkeep of each branch of the network was funded by an endowment and noted directions to each site.[228] He also inventories the gates of Damascus, exhibiting similar concern with the efficiency of the urban infrastructure, this time in terms of the architectural features and recent renovations that enabled the gates to meet the competing needs of commercial intercourse and defense.[229]

Ibn ‘Asakir’s topography of Damascus is based on firsthand observation rather than received information; his inventories organized according to each entry’s position along a circuit of the city.”[230] Ibn ‘Asakir [Antrim remarks]

Portrayed his hometown as 12th-century Damascenes encountered it, and his catalogues of its mosques and canals resemble “walking tours” intended to provide a practical guide to the principal landmarks of the city. In his urban topography, therefore, Ibn Asakir associated belonging in Damascus with the intimate familiarity of the resident, with a reverence for its Umayyad past, and with a sense of the baraka embedded in its stones. These pages acted as a pledge of allegiance to Damascus from one of its most prominent native sons and as a celebration of a city that was, if not untroubled, certainly poised in the second half of the 12th century for better things to come.[231]

Ibn ‘Asakir authored several other works as noted above, including two books in defense of the theologian al-Ash‘ari and his school, and two other works on the virtue of jihad: Arba‘in fi al-ijtihad fi iqamat al-jihad, urging the Muslims to wage jihad against the Crusaders, his contributions as a scholar to the success of Nur Eddin’s campaign and, subsequently, to the triumph of Sunni Islam in Syria and Egypt.[232]

Ibn ‘Asakir’s eldest son, al-Qasim (d. 600/1203), followed in his father’s footsteps. He composed a continuation of the History of Damascus and authored a treatise on the merits of Jerusalem, titled al-Jami‘ al-mustaqsa fi fada’il al-masjid al-aqsa (The Verified Compendium on the Merits of the Aqsa Mosque). The works of Ibn ‘Asakir, especially the History of Damascus, inspired later Syrian scholars to follow his lead, like Ibn al-‘Adim (d. 660/1262), who composed a biographical dictionary of the notables of Aleppo and its environs, and a chronological history of the city.[233]

Ibn Abi ‘Usaybia (1203-69) was a Muslim physician and historian of medicine. Born in Damascus, where he studied medicine before emigrating to Cairo; where he was physician at the hospital there; then became physician of the Emir Azeddin in Sarkar.[234] He obtained different managerial positions at hospitals in both Cairo, and then after in Syria, near Damascus; he also herborised with Ibn al-Baytar of Malaga, entertained correspondence with Abd Al Latif, and knew personally many physicians.[235] He compiled a collection of medical observations which is lost.[236]  He has the distinction of being the first historian of Muslim medicine in his Lives of the Physicians: Uyun l’Anba fi Tabaqati’l Atiba; (Sources of information on the classes of physicians) the first edition of which was in 1245-6.[237] Uyun is a series of bio-bibliographies of the most eminent physicians from the earliest times to his own. It was composed near Damascus in 1242, but revised at a later date.[238] It is our main source for the history of Muslim medicine; it deals with about 400 Muslim physicians, but it also deals with others. It is divided into fifteen chapters:

1. Origins of medicine; 2. Early physicians; 3. Greek Physicians; 4. Hippocrates and his contemporaries; 5 Galen and his time; 6. Physicians of Alexandria; 7 Physicians of the Prophet’s time; 8 Syrian Physicians under the early Abbasids; 9. The translators and their patrons; 10 to 15: the last six chapters deal with the physicians respectively of Iraq; Persia; India; the Maghrib and Spain; Egypt; Syria.”[239]

Although the work focuses on medicine, it also incorporates facts relating to such figures, who were not just physicians, but also mathematicians, physicists, astronomers, philosophers or men of encyclopaedic type, thus, the Uyun is a source of Muslim history of science in general.[240] The work was edited into Arabic by Imru-l-Qais Ibn al-Tabban in the late 19th century in Cairo,[241] and the same text was republished by A. Muller with 162 additional pages, including a German preface, lists of corrections and variations and a complete index in 2 volumes soon after.[242] There is a more recent edition of the work in Beirut dating from 1957.[243] Yet, as Sarton lamented early in the 20th century, there is no version of this immense work in English.[244]

Ibn Khalikan (d.1282) undertook work on his dictionary whilst acting as a man of the law in Damascus, and then in Cairo.  Ibn Khalikan came originally from Irbil, born there in 1211, where he received his education from his father who was a teacher at the madrasa of Irbil, before he continued his studies in Aleppo, then Damascus, and finally Egypt.[245] From 1260 to 1270, then after 1277, he was chief Qadi of Syria with residence in Damascus, where he also taught in various colleges, chiefly at the Aminiya madrasa until his death in 1282 (he had also taught during Baybars rule in Egypt between 1270-1277 at the Fakhriya madrasa in Cairo).[246]

His major work is entitled Wafayat al-Ayan, which is a major biographic book, which includes 865 entries of important personalities, ranked in alphabetical order.[247] Ibn Khalikan went back to the 3rd H/9th century, and covered the whole period up to his time, in every entry, he indicated the origin of the person, 865 in total, the date of birth if known, and date of death.[248] He gave good accounts on the character of his subject, of course citing both work and achievements; taking considerable pains to give accurate information, e.g to trace genealogies, to establish the right spelling of names, to indicate the main traits of each personality and illustrate them by anecdotes, to fix dates of birth and date.[249] He, in fact, omitted many biographies simply because he was unable to ascertain the exact date of death.[250] Ibn Khalikan’s dictionary was continued twice, first by Al-Muwafaq Fadlalah who wrote the Tali Kitab Wafayat al-Ayan, which contains the biographies of Egyptians and Syrians between 1261 and 1325, and second by Muhammad Ibn Shakir al-Kutubi (d. 1363) who wrote Fawat al-Wafayat (omissions from the deaths).[251]

Ibn al-Nafis (B. near Damascus 13th century; d. Cairo Dec 1288.) studied medicine at the Great Nuri hospital in Damascus that was founded by Nur Eddin Zangi. Amongst Ibn al-Nafis’ great works is Kitab al-Shamil fi Sinaat al-Tibiyya (Comprehensive book on the art of medicine), which he wrote in his thirties, and which consisted in 300 volumes of notes, eighty of which only were published. This voluminous work was thought to have been lost until in 1952 when one a large but fragmentary volume was discovered among the Islamic manuscripts at Cambridge University.[252]

Extracts on the life and activities of Ibn-al-Nafis in this chapter are taken from two sources:

-The thesis by Chehade on Ibn al Nafis’ discovery of pulmonary circulation.[253]

-Haddad and Khairallah article which includes translations from the treatise of Ibn-al-Nafis on the pulmonary circulation.[254]

Ibn-al-Nafis followed his medical studies under the tutelage of the great master in Damascus, al-Dahwar, as well as other able physicians in that city.[255] It is not certain when he migrated to Egypt and settled in Cairo, where he worked in the al-Nasiri Hospital, founded by Salah Eddin, and became the physician-in-chief and later the dean of that institution. The medical historian Ibn-Abi-Usaybi’ah was undoubtedly a contemporary of Ibn-al-Nafis, for they both had studied together under al-Dahwar in Damascus, and were colleagues in the Nasiri Hospital; when Ibn-al-Nafis was dean, Usaybi’ah was in charge of the ophthalmologic service in that hospital. [256]

Chehade discusses Ibn-al-Nafis’ knowledge of the medicine of his day, saying that his knowledge and understanding of the works of Galen and Ibn Sina was vast, but Ibn-al-Nafis, contrary to most of his peers and predecessors, was an accurate observer who carefully recorded the facts that he had observed himself.[257] His love of the truth and his logical mind made him refuse to follow blindly traditional doctrines, which led him to oppose the dogmatic teachings of Galen and Ibn Sina when he considered them false, and did not hesitate to criticize them in definite terms, as had never been done before.[258] In his Commentary on the Anatomy of Ibn Sina’s Qanun, in which he discussed the pulmonary circulation, Chehade states that Ibn-al-Nafis’ treatise is to be found in a number of manuscripts- in Berlin, Paris, Bologna, Beirut, Damascus, the Escurial, Istanbul, and Oxford.[259]

Ibn al-Nafis was the first to have written an accurate account on the pulmonary blood circulation. He antedated the Spaniard, Servetus, and other European anatomists who had been credited with this discovery, by three centuries. Meyerhof believes it was a happy hypothesis that Ibn al Nafis made his discovery,[260] but there are reasons to disagree with that idea because of the definite statements that Ibn Nafis makes on the actual anatomy of the heart and the in terventricular septum.[261] Chehade believes that Ibn-al-Nafis discovered this circulation after careful observations from dissections in comparative anatomy, which Ibn-al-Nafis considered essential to the understanding of human anatomy.[262] In Folio IV and Chapter V of his treatise is a discussion on anatomical technique and the instruments to be used in dissecting, where he advised suffocating the animal by submersion to obtain engorgement of the veins; statements, which certainly indicate his interest in dissecting animals, if not in human cadavers.[263]

The Greeks, Erisistratus of the Alexandrian School believed that the arteries and the left side of the heart were empty and served to convey the spirit of life to the body, whilst Galen, in the second century, showed that by pricking any artery of a living mammal blood gushed forth.[264] He taught that most of the blood from the right side of the heart passed through invisible pores in the septum to the left side of the heart, where it mixed with air to create spirit and was distributed to the body.[265] He also indicated that a small portion of the blood from the right side passed through the vena arteriosa and then by way of the arteria venosa reached the left side. Therefore Galen seems to have had a vague idea of the pulmonary circulation-comprised by his doctrine of the invisible pores in the inter-ventricular septum.[266]

In 1553 the Spaniard Michael Servetus described the pulmonary circulation and denied the permeability of the septum, but upheld the Galenic theory that the blood in the arteria venosa was mixed with the inspired air and cleaned the ‘soot’ by expiration.

Haddad and Khairallah summarize Ibn al-Nafis’ discovery as follows:

1. He advises the study of comparative anatomy as an aid to the understanding of human anatomy.

2. On several occasions he hints that he performed dissections, which was very rare among Moslem physicians, and this despite the fact that he denies this in his introduction.

3. He is not a blind follower of authority. He has his own convictions, and after careful observation and recording he states these regardless of accepted authority.

4. He classifies man as an air-breathing animal.

5. He uses logic where observation does not suffice.

6. He declares that blood is aerated in the lung and gives a description of the alveoli.

7. He states that the heart is nourished by its own vessels.

8. He gives a definite description of the pulmonary circulation and repeats this more than five times in his text.[267]

Haddad and Khairallah, studying Haddad’s manuscript of Ibn-al-Nafis in Beirut, made literal translations of the passages in which he describes it as follows:

‘In describing the functions of these organs, heart and lungs, we have depended upon true observations (he does not say how he made them) and honest study, regardless of whether or not these fit the theories of those who have preceded us. …We see fit before starting the discussion of anatomy to write a preface that will help us to understand this science …

In describing the pulmonary vessels and their structure, Ibn-al-Nafis disagrees with Galen and his predecessors, as the cause of the difference in structure between these vessels and those in other parts of the body.

And we say, and God is all knowing, whereas one of the functions of the heart is the creation of the spirit for very thin blood, strongly miscible with air, so it is necessary to make in the heart very thin blood to make possible the creation of the spirit from the mixture. The place where the spirit is created is in the left cavity, of the two cavities, of the heart. Therefore it is necessary in the heart of man and his like, of those that have lungs, to have another cavity where the blood is thinned, to become fit for the mixture with air. For if the air is mixed with blood while it is still thick it would not make a homogeneous mixture. This cavity where the blood is thinned is the right cavity of the heart. If the blood is thinned in this cavity it must of necessity pass to the left cavity where the spirit is created. But between these two cavities there is no passage as that part of the heart is closed and has no apparent openings, as some believed, and no non-apparent openings fit for the passage of this blood, as Galen believed.

The pores of the heart are obliterated, and its body is thick, there is no doubt that the blood when thinned passes in the vena arteriosa to the lung to permeate its substance and mingle with the air, its thin part purified, and then passes in the arteria venosa to reach the left cavity of the heart. Having mixed with the air the blood becomes fit for the creation of the spirit.

What is left of this mixture, less attenuated, the lung uses for its nourishment. This is why the arteriosa is made of thick walls and of two coats, so that what passes through its branches be very thin, and the arteria venosa thin and of one coat…. Of necessity the cavity which contains this thin blood should be near the liver where the blood is made, and so must be near the right side of the body. Ibn Sina’s statement that the heart has three cavities, or ventricles is not correct, as the heart has only two ventricles. Also dissection gives the lie to what they said, as the septum between the two cavities is much thicker than elsewhere, just some blood or spirit pass through and get lost….   Again Ibn Sina’s statement that the blood that is on the right side of the heart is to nourish the heart is not true at all, for this nourishment of the heart is from the blood that goes through the vessels that permeate the heart.’[268]

It is evident, notwithstanding his denial, in the first part of his preamble that Ibn-al-Nafis must have done dissections to have obtained the anatomical facts that he describes.[269]

Taqi Eddin Ahmad Ibn Taymiyya (1263-1328) belonged to a family of well known scholars such as his uncle Fakhr Eddin (d. 1225) and his paternal grandfather, Majid Eddin, (d. 1255). It was in Damascus where his father was the director of the Sukkariyya madrasa that he was educated, learning Muslim sciences.[270] He succeeded his father in his office and gave his first lesson there in 1284, and in 1285, he began to teach Qur’anic exegis at the Umayyad Mosque. During the Mongol invasion of 1300 by the Il-khan Ghazan, Ibn Taymiyya was in Damascus preaching resistance.[271] He travelled to Cairo to ask the Mamluk sultan Muhammad B. Qalawun to intervene in Syria. He was present at the subsequent victory by the Mamluks on the Mongols in 1303.[272]

Ibn Taymiyya argues that Muslims should strive to put their own house in order first, and, stressing the moral rearmament of the Muslims within their own lands and strong resistance to any external intervention.[273] Ibn Taymiyya lays great emphasis on the greater jihad, the spiritual dimensions of which he outlines in his fatwas on jihad.[274] Ibn Taymiyya draws parallels between Muhammad’s time and contemporary events.[275] He sees the Muslim world attacked by external enemies of all kinds,[276] and the only solution is to fight jihad so that ‘the whole of religion may belong to God’.[277]

By Ibn Taymiyya’s time, the Crusaders had become a spent force, but the Mongols were the exact opposite – ‘the most fearsome enemy that the world of Islam had ever encountered’ an alien force that had taken over most of the eastern Islamic world and seemed poised to absorb the remaining parts. Ibn Taymiyya, thus, saw it as his responsibility to galvanise the forces of Islam against such a threat.[278] This crucial matter will be looked at further on.

Ibn Taymiyya considered religion and the state to be indissolubly linked. Without the coercive power of the state, religion is in danger. Without the discipline of the revealed law, the state becomes a tyrannical organisation. The essential function of the state is to see that justice prevails, to ordain good, and to forbid evil, to bring about, in reality, the reign of unity, and to prepare for the coming of a society devoted to the service of God.[279]

Ibn Taymiyya favours the idea of property, but states that the rich ‘should be friends and partners of the poor, and he substitutes for the idea of competition that of cooperation and mutual help. He reminds people that ‘the revealed law condemns those who make riches their goal and wish to resemble Karun, just as it condemns those whose aim is political power and who wish to be like pharaoah.’[280]

Ibn Taymiyya is no stranger to prison, having served many terms under diverse rulers, in 1306, for over a year, then in 1308, and in 1309, in 1320, and again in 1321, and 1326, the latter instance because he had issued a risala which attacked visits to tombs and the cults of saints, and was imprisoned for two years.[281] Ibn Taymiyya kept writing from prison, until his enemies protested to the sultan, who ordered that ink, pens and paper be taken away from him.[282] This was a terrible blow to him, and despite prayer and the recitation of the Qur’an, he fell ill and died after twenty days. His funeral in Damascus was attended by 200,000 men and 15,000 women.[283]

Ibn Taymiya and the Mongol Scourge

Only the experienced historian can grasp fully the extent of Ibn Taymiyya’s genius as we see in the following in relation to the Mongol scourge. Ibn Taymiyya managed to understand what very few, not just in his day, but even today, have failed to understand: the extremely complex issue of the Mongols who had turned to Islam but still remained its enemies, and how to deal with them, or how to even see them. Indeed, rare are people amongst Muslims who understand this Mongol issue, and many Turks, to this moment, believe that the Mongols and Turks are one and the same thing. Poor historical knowledge and distortions of history have led Muslims, Turks, included, into a horrendous misunderstanding of the Mongol intrusion into their history and even DNA. The Mongols, as great and honest minds such as Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Khaldun, as well as the Mamluks (at least their leadership and scholars) understood at their time was this: setting aside the Mongols/Tartars of Southern Russia, also known as the Golden Horde, the rest of the Mongol tribes had been a scourge to the Muslim realm from as far east in India to Egypt. By far the worst Mongols were those established in Tabriz, who, even after they had supposedly converted to Islam, were the allies of the Crusaders, and it is they who slew millions of Muslims as we shall see. Berke, the Mongol commander of the Golden Horde, on the other hand, had early converted to Islam, and supported the Muslim cause. His descendants passed under the Ottoman realm when Sultan Mehmet II brought the Crimea and other territories under Ottoman fold, and they became part of the larger Ottoman population, and even modern Turkey today. The rest of the Mongols, i.e Genghis Khan, Hulagu, their successors, including Timur the Lame, were responsible for most of the destruction and woes that afflicted the Muslim realm from India, down to the provinces of central Asia, the Ottoman realm, and Syria and Iraq. A good knowledge of history shows this easily, but who has good knowledge of history amongst Muslims these days except maybe few individuals to be counted on the fingers of a normal person. Here, we understand Ibn Taymiyya’s genius.  Whilst it is impossible today for the masses and even elites to understand how could it be that the Mongols, converted to Islam, could invade Muslim lands such as Syria and commit widespread massacres and other misdeeds of the worst sort, at the time of Ibn Taymiyya, without the benefit of knowledge of history, or hindsight, the people of Syria were utterly confused on how to deal with the supposedly Islamised Mongols of Iran. They were Muslims in their declarations, they had Muslims fighting in their ranks, and the Mongols declared policy was that they were fighting ‘only the Mamluk tyrants who were persecuting the people.’ These Mongols, who were quite cunning, even offered aman (safety/security) to the people of Syria. The Ilkhan, Ghazan, who was then based in Iran, presented himself as the protector of Islam.[284] The population of Damascus was ready to come to terms with the Mongols, particularly after the amān that Ghazan Khan had caused to be read in the Umayyad Mosque on 8 Rabi’ II 699/2 January 1300, some days after his victory at Wadi al-Khaznadar on 27 Rabi’ I 699/22 December 1299.[285] Ghazan had also issued a decree in support of the sayyids and guardians of the Kaʿbah in which he declared his attachment to the two holy cities.[286] He planned to organize a caravan under the protection of the amir Quṭlugh-Shah and a thousand horsemen, which would bear a cover (sitr) for the Kaʿbah and a decorated maḥmal in his name.[287] Twelve gold tomans were to be distributed to the governors of Mecca and Medina as well as to the Arab notables and tribal shaykhs.[288] Immediately after converting to Islam, he adopted the title Padishah al-Islam (king of Islam), thus making plain his ambition to assume the leadership of the Muslim world.[289] Ghazan even gave religious justifications for his invasion of Bilad al-Sham in December 699/1299.[290]

In face of this, the people were divided, and the Mongols threatened to exploit such disunity to overwhelm the whole Muslim world, including the holy sites, and here where Ibn Taymiyya came forth and guided the people, and united them. We will look at Ibn Taymiyya’s fatwas, and how thanks to his erudition, integrity, and courage he managed to unite the people in this hour of great danger. Ibn Taymiyya could make his argument even if he missed two essential ingredients, which, we historians know today, that could have reinforced his argument. These two essential elements he was not aware of were:

1. Many Muslims were forced to serve Mongols including in armed conflict because it was a Mongol tactic to put Muslims at the front to fight their co-religionists or they, and often their families with them, perished. Most had no choice but do the ghastly work. Here we must not ignore that the Mongols were also served by many Muslims for many reasons: greed, or sectarian leanings amongst Muslims, or whatever motivated these Muslims such as Nassir Eddin al Tusi ‘the scholar’, Ibn Alqami the Abbasid vizier, Rashid Eddin and al Juyani and many other Muslims.[291] These served the Mongols, whether those based in Iran or those based in China under the rule of Hulagu’s brother, Kubilai, and who persecuted and even slew in great numbers both Chinese and Muslims, just as they did in Syria and Iraq.

2. There was another factor which Muslims, then, including Ibn Taymiyya did not know, and just as today in great numbers people do not know: whether the Mongols of the 13th century, or Timur the Lame later, they all had strong alliances with the Crusaders, the Papacy, Western monarchs, and Byzantium in their wars with Islam. Here, let’s examine some such alliances, albeit briefly, for a whole work can be devoted to this subject, and has been examined by this author in many of his other works in much detail to dwell on it here.

Figure 9. Letter of Ghazan Khan: Conclusion of the Il-khan’s letter in Mongolian – the Uighur script – to the court of Rome in 1302.

It ought to be reminded that we are not referring to the Mongols of the North (Golden Horde,) under Berke, who had adopted Islam early, who were the allies of the Mamluks and other Turks, and who had opposed and even fought Hulagu and his descendants.[292] Hulagu, his generals, his brothers, including Mongke and Kubilai, on the other hand, were all either Christian or their mothers or wives, or both, were; and they all shared in one thing: their unbound loathing of all things Islamic or Turkish.[293] Throughout the 13th and 14th centuries countless coalitions and alliances were built between these Mongols, the Papacy, Crusaders, and also Christian rulers, including Armenians and Byzantines, in joint military campaigns against Muslims in general and Turks in particular.[294] Mongol-Christian armies together slew millions of Muslims in Baghdad in 1258; in Aleppo in 1260, and other places; and both Christians and Mongols fought together at the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260, and in all places and battles until the early 14th century.[295] Mongol leaders such as Ghazan (d.1304), for instance, were in constant contact and alliance with the Christians whether of the East or of the West.[296] Before Ghazan, Abaqa (r. 1265-1282), Hulagu’s successor, had sent several embassies, notably at the time of the Church Lateran Council of 1274.[297] Arghun (r. 1284-1291) in turn sent several missions to the West, the most important of which was headed by the Nestorian monk Rabban Ṣawma in 1287.[298] In 1299 he sent two letters, in Mongolian and Latin, to the Pope,[299] and to King Philip IV of France.[300] Ghazan Khan sought many times to form an alliance with Christians, including, the king of Cyprus, Henri II de Lusignan, and Pope Boniface VIII with the objective of forming a united front against the Mamluks.[301] Öljeitü too, in 1305, long before his invasion of Syria in 1312, sent a letter in Mongolian to the kings of France and England with the same purpose in mind.[302]

Now, Ibn Taymiyya, even if unaware of these previous two elements, still managed to put fatwas and oppose the Mongols on the following grounds:

As a learned man, he was aware of the history of Mongol attacks against Islam, and their massacres of Muslims (the entries on Baghdad, and Aleppo will show the scale of killing and destruction committed by the Mongols.) Even after many, if not most Mongols, including their leaders, had supposedly converted to Islam, the Iran based Mongols still unleashed terrible destruction on the Muslim world, Syria, and Damascus in particular. Under the successors of Hulagu, the Ilkhan rulers of Persia, attempts were made to win over the Christian rulers of Europe for a joint attack on the Mamluk domain in order ‘to rescue the Holy Land from the hands of the “infidels”, the Mamluks of Egypt.[303] Abaqa (r. 663–80/1265–82), in alliance with Franks, Armenians, and other local Christians launched a murderous onslaught which ended with the Mamluk victory at Ḥimṣ in 1281. This was the battle if won by the Mongols would have threatened the very survival of Syria. The news had reached Cairo that the armies of the Mongols and their allies counted 80,000 troops: 50,000 Mongols, and 30,000 Georgians, Armenians, and Franks, marching on Syria.[304] Qalawun, who had already gone to Damascus, assembled his forces, and rushed northward to meet them.[305] The citizens of Damascus gathered inside the main mosque and made fervent prayers to God to grant victory to the Muslims.[306] The Qur’an of ‘Uthman was carried above the heads, the people then streaming out of the mosque, gathered outside a large prayer oratory and renewed their calls for God’s help.[307] The battle fought on 30 October 1281 ended in a Muslim victory which saved both Damascus and Syria.

The Mongol threat persisted, though.  Ghazan (1295-1304), who had also ‘converted’ to Islam just before his enthronement in 1295, led three major offensives against Syria in 1299–1300, 1300–1, and 1303. They were all equally destructive. In the years 1299-1300, for instance, virtually the whole of al-Salihiyya suburb to the north of Damascus was pillaged and burned. Many important buildings were destroyed and the population was plundered and murdered.[308] Many hospitals and madrasas were destroyed. Inside the city, the area around the citadel was severely damaged and important schools were burned. The outlying villages suffered, too.[309] Ghazan Khan was defeated by the Mamluk forces in the battle of Shaqhab in 1303.[310] The last Mongol invasion of the time of Ibn Taymiyya, was in 1312 by Oljeitu, Ghazan’s brother and successor, who was also supposedly a Muslim. It was reported that Amir Ḥajji al-Dilqandi, sent on an expedition to Makkah to reinforce pro Mongol allies in their fight against the Mamluks, had been given orders by Oljeitu to exhume the bodies of the first caliphs Abu Bakr and ʿUmar from their place alongside the Prophet Muhammad.[311]

So, Ibn Taymiyya, as a learned person, and also person of grit, courage, and dignity, unlike most, was not going to be fooled by the supposed sudden Mongol change of heart, which had deceived many.

The Mongols looked down on al-Malik al-Naṣir, the Mamluk successor of Qalawun, for his lack of noble lineage. Of course, they set aside the fact that this was the same Sultan who captured Acre in 1291 from the Crusaders, whilst they, the Mongols, never gained anything for Islam, rather the opposite. Ibn Taymiyya responded to their insults that Ghazan’s ancestors were without doubt all sons of kings, but they were all ‘sons of infidel kings.’[312] There was nothing to be proud of about being the son of an infidel king; a Muslim Mamluk is better than an infidel king.[313] In Ibn Taymiyya’s view, the Mongol dynasty of Iran was personified:

By infidel kings and impious Muslims. The Tatars may have pronounced the Muslim declaration of faith, [he writes] but they have deviated from the laws of Islam (khārijūn ʿan sharāʿī al-islām) by keeping their ancient beliefs from the Age of Ignorance.”[314]

He explains the deviant theology of the Mongols as follows:

It is that the Tatars believe grave things about Genghis Khan. They believe that he is the son of God, similar to what the Christians believe about the Messiah (al-maṣīh). The sun, they say, impregnated his mother…  he was a bastard (walad ziná), despite which they hold him to be the greatest messenger of God.”[315]

The reference to Genghis Khan as the son of God is based on the Mongols’ legend of their origin. According to that legend, Alan-Qʾoa, their mythical ancestor, gave birth to three sons after the death of her husband. A being with “pale yellow” skin had crept into her tent three times and its light had penetrated her stomach.[316] This, for Ibn Taymiyya, was a grave heresy.[317]

Supposed or claimed (and to this day in fact) Mongol tolerance of diverse faiths is attacked by Ibn Taymiyya. He describes their regime in the following terms:

Every person who lays claim to a branch of learning or to a religion, they consider him a scholar, whether the jurist (al-faqīh), the ascetic (al-zāhid), the priest (al-qisīs) and the monk (al-rāhib), the rabbi (danān al-yahūd), the astrologer (al-munajjim), the magician (al-sāḥir), the physician (al-ṭabīb), the secretary (al- kātib), or the keeper of the accounts (al-ḥāsib). They also include the guardian of the idols (sādin al-aṣnām).[318]

According to him, Ghazan, despite his conversion to Islam, had remained faithful to the Mongol yāsā, raising the danger that malign innovations could be introduced into legalistic, shariʿah-based Islam.[319] Ibn Taymiyya was deeply convinced that religion and state were inextricably linked, and that without the discipline imposed by revealed law, the state would become tyrannical.[320] Islam, as understood, or applied by the Mongols, was in Ibn Taymiyya’s view the bearer of a conception of power that did not accept the Qur’an and the interpretation thereof as its sole source of political legitimacy.[321]

This instance does not just show how crucial role was played by Ibn Taymiyya, who by his argument won the elites and the rest of the population in the great war against the Mongols, and hence saved the land of Islam from those pernicious foes, it shows one thing above all, which leaders such as Nur Eddin Zangi understood, and which is hardly understood these days: the power of true scholarship and high intellect at the service of Islam.

Damascus a City of Great Instrument Makers and Scientists:

Syria has long been a land of great engineers. The entry on Hama highlights this fact. Damascus has also produced great figures in the field such as Ibn al-Shatir as to be seen further on. It also attracted great engineers, who came, lived, worked, and died in the city. Muhamad B. Ali Rustum Al-Khurasani, who between 1146 and 1169, constructed the clock placed at the big clock at the Bab Jairun (often called the Bab as’aa, (door of the clock) of the Mosque of the Umayyads in Damascus,[322] which had been burnt down in 1166-7.[323] This clock was seen and described by travellers such as Ibn Jubair, in 1184, and also subsequent travellers such as al-Qazwini and Ibn Battuta. When for various reasons, the clock became unworkable, his son Fakhr Eddin, author of a book on astronomical clocks, repaired and improved it.[324] This son is commonly known as Ibn Al-Saati, born in Damascus where he also flourished, and where he eventually died in 1223.[325] Ridwan repaired and improved the clock, and in the year 1203, he wrote a book to explain its construction and use. Next to al-Jazari, who was his contemporary, this is the most important source of early Islamic clocks, although the earliest Muslim reference to clocks, oddly, comes from the unlikely source of Al-Jahiz (middle 9th century, see entry on Basra) in his book: Kitab al-Hayawan.[326] Ridwan wrote also a commentary on Ibn Sina’s Qanun and a supplement to the latter’s treatise on gripes.[327]

Muhammad B, Ahmad al-Mizzi, was born in 1291, and studied in Cairo under Ibn al-Akfani. He lived in Damascus and worked there until he died in 1349 as a muwaqqit of the rabwa, and then of the Umayyad Mosque. He is the author of several works on astrolabes and quadrants.[328] His quadrants sold for two dinars and more, his astrolabes for 10 dinars and more. In 1326/7 he constructed a quadrant which is now found in the museum of Islamic art of Cairo (No 3092).[329] In 1326-7, he made a quadrant now found in the British museum ( In 1333/4, while in Damascus he made a quadrant for Nasur Eddin, which was formerly found in the Collection of Clot Bey, but is now in the Public Library of Leningrad (St Petersburg).[330] In the same year he also made another quadrant, once in the Octavius Morgan Collection, now in the British Museum (88.12-1. 276).[331] Sarton notes, that judging from the number of Mss scattered in many libraries (every large Arab library has at least one of them) his treatises on the construction of instruments enjoyed much popularity.[332] These treatises are listed by Sarton as follows:

1.Al-Risala al-Istarlabiya (on the astrolabe).

2.Kashf al-Raib fi-l-amal bil-jaib (the removal of doubt concerning the use of sines); this may refer to the sine quadrant or to the sine calculations implied.

3.Al-Raudat al-muzhirat fi-l amal bi rub al-muqantarat (the flowering gardens concerning the use of the quadrant with parallel circles.

4.Al-Risala fi-l (amal bil) mujannaha on the `winged’ astrolabe, which may be a special kind introduced by the author.

5.Nazm al-lu’lu al-muhadhdhab fi-l’amal bil rub’ al-mujaiyab (string of golden pearls concerning the use of the sine quadrant), 20 chapters in verse (arjuza) with an introduction.

6.Risala fi-l amal bil rub al-musattar (one the use of precious and mysterious quadrant).

7.Mukhtassar fi’l amal bil rub’ al-daira (summary concerning the use of the quadrant of the circle).

Suter also adds two other instruments one on the folded quadrant (al-Muqantarat al-matwiya), and another a table for the latitude of Damascus (Jadawil al-Hisas).[333]

Ibn al-Shatir: b. Damascus 1305; d. Damascus 1375 was an orphan since childhood, brought up by his grand-father who turned him over to an uncle to rear, the latter teaching him the craft of inlay work with ivory, wood, and mother of pearl for which Damascus is still famous.[334] His skill in making his own instruments and his ability in ivory mosaics, which earned him the appellative `the incrutator’ is especially mentioned by chroniclers.[335] In 1314-5 he went to Alexandria in order to study, and for years serving as head muwaqqit at the Umayyad mosque in Damascus, with the duty to regulate astronomically defined prayer times.[336] Ibn al-Shatir is a prolific author about scientific instruments, astronomy and mathematics, his most influential work being his Zij al-Jadid, composed after the non extant Taliq al-Arsad, presumably a report of his observations at Damascus, and the Nihayat al-Sul, the exposition of his planetary theory.[337] In 1337 he made two astrolabes for Muhammad ad-Darbandi, one of them to be acquired centuries later by Jomard from the Bibliothque Nationale of Paris.[338] In 1365-6, while Muwaqqit in Damascus, he made a sundial with a qibla indicator, which he called Sanduk al-Yawaqit by order of the viceroy of Syria. In the main inscription, his work is characterised as `composition’ (made it and created for the first time) obviously in order to indicate its unusual square form.[339] Ibn al-Shatir continued to make astronomical instruments at an advanced age, for the large sundial for the Mosque of Damascus was constructed by him in 1371.[340] David King tells us in regard to this instrument:

Fragments of the original instrument are preserved in the garden of the National Museum, Damascus. Ibn al-Shāt.ir’s sundial, made of marble and a monumental 2 × 1 m in size, bore a complex system of curves engraved on the marble which enabled the muwaqqit to read the time of day in equinoctial hours since sunrise or before sunset or with respect to either midday or the time of the afternoon prayer, as well as with respect to daybreak and nightfall. The gnomon is aligned towards the celestial pole, a development in gnomonics usually ascribed to European astronomers.”[341]

All of Ibn al Shatir’s devices are ingenious whereby geometric configurations are constructed mechanically and to scale in order to give numerical solutions to the standard problems of spherical astronomy.[342]

The most important contribution of Ibn al-Shatir was his planetary theory.[343] Here one must point to the many ‘scholars’ who keep connecting him with the Maragha Observatory set up by the Mongols, for Ibn al Shatir had nothing whatsoever to do with those savage Mongol hordes, for he thrived at least 6 decades or so after them and their ‘accomplishment’.  Also he is critical of his predecessors, including that pro Mongol lackey, known as a scholar: Nasir Eddin al-Tusi.[344] Ibn al Shatir’s models are exactly mathematically identical to those prepared by Copernicus over a century after him, which raised the issue of how Copernicus acquired such elements of information, and their impact on European astronomy.[345] Indeed, the mathematical devices originated by the Muslim predecessors of Copernicus, expressible in modern terms as linkages of constant length vectors rotating at constant angular velocities, are precisely those used by Copernicus.[346] In many instances even the numerical parameters of Ibn al-Shatir and Copernicus are the same, the sole but important difference between the two systems being that Ibn al-Shatir’s earth is fixed in space, whereas Copernicus gives an orbit around the sun. In the case of the lunar motion, Ibn al-Shatir corrects Ptolemy, whose imagined moon is made to approach far closer to the earth than does the actual moon. Again, Copernicus’s solution is identical with that of Ibn al-Shatir.[347] After noting, as did other Muslim astronomers before him the shortcomings of the Greeks’ planetary theory, Ibn Shatir stated:

I therefore asked Almighty God to give me inspiration and help me invent models that would achieve what was required, and God, may He be praised and exalted, all praise and gratitude to Him- did enable me to devise universal models for the planetary motions in longitude and latitude and all other observable features of their motions, models that were free-thank God-from the doubts surrounding previous models.

Here, David King refers to the following accomplishment by Ibn al Shatir, an observation by King, which is quite revealing in more than one way:

A contemporary historian reported that he visited Ibn al-Shātir in 1343 and inspected an “astrolabe” that the latter had constructed. His account is difficult to understand, but it appears that the instrument was shaped like an arch, measured three-quarters of a cubit in length, and was fixed perpendicular to a wall. Part of the instrument rotated once in 24 h and somehow displayed both the equinoctial and the seasonal hours. The driving mechanism was not visible and probably was built into the wall. Apart from this obscure reference, we have no contemporary record of any continuation of the sophisticated tradition of mechanical devices that flourished in Syria some 200 years before his time.[348]

Later Scholars of Damascus

ʻAbd Allah ibn Muḥammad al-Dimashqi al-Qahiri al-Shafiʻi, commonly known as Al-Badri or Abu al-Tuqa (b. 847/1443; d. 894/1498),[349] was a scholar, a poet and a historian.[350] In his early years he worked with his father as a trader, but later moved to Cairo.[351] His life in Cairo made him nostalgic for Damascus in the end driving him to write Nuzhat al-Anām fī Maḥāsin al-Shām. This text is in praise of the beauty of Damascus, describing the city’s gardens, landscapes, and natural beauty, as well as its socio-cultural wealth. This work was widely used by seventeenth– and eighteenth–century scholars in Damascus, notably Ibn Kannan al-Ṣaliḥi (d. 1135/1740).

Ibn Kannan was born into a Damascene illustrious family in al-Ṣaliḥiyya, where he grew up under the care of his father, a notable Muslim Sheikh, surrounded and influenced by other prominent Sheikhs in Damascus.[352] His entire life was spent in Damascus. Like al-Badri, he wrote on the beauty of Damascus, his work bearing the exquisite title:  al-Mawākib al-Islāmiyya fi al-Mamālik wa-l-Maḥāsin al-Shāmiyya (The Islamic Convoys in the Places and Beauties of Damascus).[353] This work abounds in the description of trees and flowers, the urban environment, and the wider landscape surrounding Damascus, besides other cultural manifestations. Ibn Kannan cited several descriptions of al-Badri’s Recreational Gardens (maḥāsin Dimashq al- mutanazzahiyya).[354] The text also provided descriptions of local flowers, along with records of their medicinal uses and physical benefits.[355] From the two authors, we understand how gardens were furnished for the preparation of the recreational events which facilitated social communication among the Damascene.[356]

In addition to the cited work, Ibn Kannan wrote al-Murūj al-Sundusiyya al- Fasīḥa fi Talkhīṣ Tārīkh al-Ṣāliḥiyya.[357] This work is a summary of an earlier text on al-Ṣaaiḥiyya by Yūsuf ̳Abd al-Hadi, better known as Ibn al-Mibrad,[358] with additional interpretations and observations by Ibn Kannan.

During the Ottoman period there were completed biographies of Damascene scholars and eminent characters of the city.[359] Najm al-Din al-Ghazzi’s al-Kawākib al-Sāʾira, is one example of biographical dictionary from the sixteenth century.[360] This dictionary was divided according to date into three generations (ṭabaqat), starting from 911/1505 and ending in 1000/1592. Each generation is organised alphabetically and includes biographical information for a wide range of people, including the Ottoman Sultans, respected religious leaders (ulama), and notables (ayan) in Eastern Ottoman provinces, but mainly Damascus. In his accounts, al-Ghazzi relied on his predecessors for his information.

Al-Ghazzi’s work was followed by the biographical dictionaries of Muḥammad Amin al-Muḥibbi and Muḥammad Khalil al-Muradi, Khulaṣat al-Athar and Silk al-Durar.[361] Both contain memoirs from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, are divided into four parts and then organised alphabetically. Al-Muḥibbi relied on al-Ghazzi’s work, commonly referencing his accounts.[362] Al-Muradi, a Hanafi jurisconsult, was fascinated by collecting anthologies and news relating to eminent personalities. He stated in his prologue that the primary reason for writing his accounts was the lack of Damascene biographies in the eighteenth centuries.[363]

These biographical dictionaries are important sources on the socio-economic, cultural and urban history of Damascus in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, besides being a collection of narratives about the lives of various eminent personalities. Also, these biographical dictionaries provided accounts of the social interaction between the elite class and common people, as well as the stories of recreational gardens, such as that of Kiwan, for example.[364]

This brief outline of Muslim scholarship of Damascus (and here we are setting aside other places such as Hama, Aleppo, Hims, and others) which could have easily been expanded into a very large work shows us very clearly the staggering volume and the quality of Syria’s scholarship. If we also look at the role of the Umayyads in expanding the boundaries of Islam from the Iberian Peninsula to the frontiers of China, then, we can easily understand that truly, the foundation of Islamic civilisation and its greatness lies in Syria and nowhere else. The destruction of Syria at different phases in history explains to us the decline of Islamic civilisation. One of course, is not going to deal with what’s happening to Syria today, by far one of the worst tragedies in human history in many ways, except to say that Syrians emigrating to any nation are the most plus such nations would ever experience, for Syrians can only make them better. All one focuses on here is this: If we understand what afflicted Syria in the medieval period (with focus on Damascus) we understand why Islamic civilisation collapsed.

Fallacious Explanations of the Collapse of Islamic civilisation: The Instance from Damascus:

It is needless here to dwell too long on this issue of fallacious writing of the history of Islam, its civilisation, and its decline, as this has been examined in one particular article on this site (The Myths..), and is touched upon in other articles on other cities, in relation to their specific histories. It ought to be reminded, that generally, historians and writers dealing with Islam, with some exceptions, do two things: one after the other, they suppress the positive with regard to Islam, and then attribute everything negative to it. And whilst they alter facts, they also suppress from bibliographies, and even from general knowledge, any sources, including Western, which say anything favourable of Islam. And so we end up with the picture of an inept Muslim nation that stole/borrowed at best its civilisation and sciences from others, and also that of a nation guilty of the worst crimes past and present. As for the decline of Islamic civilisation, of course, according to such narrative, there is only one culprit: Islam.

Here, we look at this issue again, by focusing on the specific case of Damascus.

Very briefly are a few instances of the claims blaming Islam for the collapse of Islamic civilisation. These claims and arguments could form a whole large book should we seek to examine them at length.

Beginning with Toland in the Doutes sur les Religions, translated from an English text in 1739, claims that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) ordered his followers to be ignorant:

Because he clearly saw that the spirit of inquiry would not favour him. This is how Islam maintained itself. [365]

Diderot, equally, in letter of 30 October 1759, held that the Prophet was the greatest enemy of reason; that he could not read or write, and so this encouraged Muslims to have contempt for knowledge, which in turn secured the survival of Islam.[366]  Diderot also asserts that in the time of Caliph al-Mamun, people were heard shouting for his death because he had fostered science at the expense of the ‘holy ignorance’ of the faithful believers.[367]

J.D. Bate (1836-1923), who served as a missionary in India (1865-1897), and who also contributed many articles to the Missionary Herald and the Baptist Magazine, held that:

Islam reduces to a state of degradation every civilised state over which it obtains ascendancy and renders impossible the social and moral elevation, beyond a certain point, of even the most degraded people. Wherever Islam has obtained the sole ascendancy, the vast induction of twelve centuries tells one uniform tale-that the ascendancy has been the death knell of all progress and the signal for general stagnation.”[368]

Von Grunebaum says:

From the orthodox viewpoint nothing was lost and perhaps a great deal gained when in the later Middle Ages Islamic civilisation prepared to renounce the foreign sciences that could not but appear as dangerous distractions. The retrenchment of intellectual scope must have seemed a small price to pay for the preservation of the original religious experience.  Not only substance but method as well came under suspicion.”[369]

More recently, another academic, Huff asked:

Why didn’t Arabic science give rise to modern science; and why did it go into decline beginning in the twelfth century?”

before he gives the answer:

A common formulation of the negative influence of religious forces on scientific advance suggests that the twelfth and thirteenth centuries witnessed the rise of mysticism as a social movement. This in turn spawned religious intolerance, especially for the natural sciences and the substitution of the pursuit of the occult sciences in place of the study of the Greek and rational sciences.”[370]

Then, of course are blamed for this decline the Seljuk Turks, the Mamluks, the Berbers, Al-Ghazali, Al-Ashari, the Ottomans… in an array of aggressive rhetoric already seen in other entries needless to be repeated here.[371] 

No writer bearing antipathy to Islam today would blame anything or anybody else other than these ‘malefic’ forces for the decline of Islamic civilisation and power. They would not blame the Mongols. Nor would they blame Timur the Lame. And of course, they would never blame the Crusades or the Papacy for the destruction of Islamic power and civilisation. There are even Western historians today who tell us that in fact the Mongols only killed few thousands of people to discourage others from resisting, and even that the Mongols promoted science (just because they built a lousy observatory in Maragha). It is also claimed that Timur was the greatest state builder in Islam, and that colonisation only brought benefits to Muslims and the Muslim world. Even today, in 2017, we have French presidential candidates, and one is not speaking of the National Front, who proudly praise France’s colonial past.

Our aim here is not to enter these contentious issues. We focus, instead, on the case of Damascus and explain what caused its collapse from the great centre of civilisation described above.

First and foremost, Islamic civilisation declined in the 13th century onwards because in that century it suffered destruction and mass killings as a result of the crusader and Mongol destruction in the East; including Damascus, which was repeatedly attacked. The Christian-Mongol alliance, which has been examined under the entry on Baghdad,[372] had devastating consequences for Damascus.[373] At the taking of the city, in 1260, three Christian leaders (the Mongol commander Kitbogha, the King of Armenia and the Crusader Count Bohemund VI of Antioch) rode through the streets and forced the Muslim population to bow to the cross.[374] Bohemond VI, whose father in law the king of Armenia, had convinced him to join with the Mongols, had Mass sung in the Mosque of the Umayyads; the other mosques he had defiled by donkeys, wine was scattered on the walls, with grease of fresh pork, and salt, and the excrement of his men.[375] The systematic slaughter of the Muslim population preceded this capture and followed it, affecting the whole of Syria, the scale of such mass killings and devastation are possibly unparalleled in world history.[376]

The Mongol-Christian alliance failed in its aims mainly thanks to Baybars (Sultan 1260-1277), first, and his Mamluk successors in the early 14th century.[377] Until then, Syria and Damascus, in particular, were, as noted in headings above, regularly devastated by the supposedly Islamised Mongols.[378]

Just as Syria began to recover from the Mongol scourge, came the worst of it: Timur’s invasion. Focus on this abject figure of Islamic history is motivated by the following considerations:

Firstly, we explain why he did what he did, which no author amongst modern ‘scholars’ has done.

Secondly this abject character is perhaps the most praised of all characters, some so-called historians singing his eulogies more than any other person; we can cite amongst these many Jean Aubin[379] and Creasy.[380]

Thirdly, we show that this supposed ghazi for Islam was the one who caused most devastation to Islam.

Now, some individuals would rise and denounce any writing that highlights the destruction of Muslim civilisation and the slaying of Muslims as in this article. They would denounce this as indulgence in gore on the part of this author. This criticism is misplaced on two grounds:

Firstly, unless we explain what the land of Islam and Muslims suffered we will never understand why Islamic civilisation declined. It is in large measure due to Muslims reluctance to describe these dark moments of their history which explains why they, just as others, cannot understand why they fell from being the greatest civilisation on earth to being the backward entities they are today.

The second reason is this: we cannot accept the arguments that blame Islam for the decline of Islamic civilisation and power, when history conveys to us the true facts and we have them. It is the duty of the historian armed with facts to pass on such facts. So, somehow, one must refuse to be blackmailed into silence simply because what one says is not all roses and cheers. Whilst our aim is to stay away from the worst in history, there is indeed much worse that can be said. Our purpose is not to engage in polemics of any nature, and whilst one will never blame any faith, let alone attack Christianity, as a faith, we cannot accept historical falsifications, either, and we cannot in our field, at least, accept that Islam is blamed for the decline of civilisation when we have the facts proving the opposite. We convey these facts, the likeable and the dislikeable, for our aim is not to massage history, and reshape it, but expose it with its truths.

And let’s make the important observation: if this author sought to dwell on the sufferings and devastation of the Muslim land with the facts he has, he would be forced to write a whole encyclopaedia. Let us put it simply: no nation on earth suffered so much killing, so much injustice and so many crimes than the Muslim nation. People have no idea of the scale of destruction and killing and the horrendous things done to Muslims in all places and at all times. It is a challenge on anyone to be able to bear reading beyond a few pages what eyewitnesses and diplomatic envoys tell us about what was done to the Turks in the 19th century, for instance. In depicting what he depicts, this author only tries his best to show just enough to make his arguments as explained in the previous two points, and then, refrain from citing the worse. If his intentions were to unveil crimes committed on Muslims, of which facts he has a super abundance, no work is large enough.

This destruction and the mass killings can be found in countless sources, whether Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, whether historian accounts or army generals’ correspondence, or just accounts by eye-witnesses. On the invasions of the East, concerning the conquest of Central Asia, Ibn Khaldun writes that they “caused in devastation and death and pillaging what no one had heard before”.[381] This sentiment is prevalent throughout his descriptions of the Mongol invasions in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Near East: there is unprecedented destruction, we find Mongols killing and plundering “according to their habit” in Azerbaijan,[382] there is massacre and slaughter, they commit atrocities.[383] Ibn Khaldun keeps his descriptions rather succinct, without many details.[384] Ibn Khaldun is shocked by the Mongol violence: statements declaring that acts were “unprecedented, unimaginably horrible and appalling”,[385] and that “[Timur’s] soldiers caused devastation in [the cities] that was more atrocious than people had ever heard.”[386]

The arrival of Timur Lang (The Lame) at the end of the century (14th) finished off any chance of recovery of the Muslim East after the Crusader Mongol onslaught. Timur is Muslim by name, but in truth, he is one of those drunkard Muslims, who are equally at ease in mass murdering fellow Muslims and collaborating with the enemy. It was he, Timur, who, in 1402, stopped the Ottomans led by Bayazid in their swift advance. Timur was allied with not just France, but also with England and Castile, both before and after his overthrow of Bayazid.[387] He attacked the Ottomans from the rear just as the Venetians broke their peace treaties with the Ottomans.[388] Timur had also received embassies from both Byzantium and France, which were inciting him to enter war against Bayazid.[389] In Siwas, just before his encounter with Bayazid, Timur had 120,000 people massacred, including the son of Bayazid, a valorous commander.[390] At the decisive battle of Angora, on 28 July 1402, which opposed Timur to the Ottomans, Bayazid was betrayed by local contingents who en masse deserted to Timur’s side during the battle.[391] Bayazid was defeated and taken prisoner, put in a cage, whilst his capital Bursa was taken and burnt down.[392] Timur then compelled Bayazid’s wife to pour out his wine in the presence of her husband, no longer `the Thunderbolt’ of Islam.[393] At the battle with Bayazid, Timur had invited the Castilian embassies, that included Enrique Payo de Soto and Hernan Sanchez de Palazuelos, at their head, to watch the fierce battle.[394] The embassy returned to Castile with the news of this immense victory by Timur, which avenged previous Ottoman victories against Christianity.[395]

Prior to his war against Bayazid, Timur had already devastated the rest of the Muslim land. Everywhere his hordes went, people were slain in their hundreds of thousands, farms, orchards, irrigation works, dams, schools, every standing structure, were all razed to the ground.[396]  In the late 1390s, he invaded what was then prosperous Muslim India, and utterly devastated it. In 1398, he sacked Delhi, massacred its inhabitants, not in the tens of thousands, but hundreds of thousands, and carried the treasure of the sultans home to Transoxeania.[397] He left a starving land, and many cities in ruin.[398] Already in the year 1394 Timur was on his way to Syria but suddenly turned back in fear of the army of the Mamluk Sultan Barquq
and he invaded instead India.[399] But when he learned of the death of Barquq (June 20, 1399) while in India, he deemed this an opportune time for his long-contemplated attack on Syria.[400] The siege of Aleppo and Damascus and their destruction by him date from the winter of 1400-1401. In Syria, just as in Iraq, in the wake of the same invasion, his huge massacres spared none, regardless of age or sex.[401] Timur even ordered his men to trample children reading the Qur’an.[402]

It is Damascus, the last beacon of Islamic civilisation in the East other than Cairo, which was destroyed for good by Timur. Here is the narration by the historian Gibbon:

Abandoned by their prince, the inhabitants of Damascus still defended their walls; and Timur consented to raise the siege, if they would adorn his retreat with a gift or ransom; each article of nine pieces.  But no sooner had he introduced himself into the city, under colour of a truce, than he perfidiously violated the treaty; imposed a contribution of ten millions of gold;… and after a period of seven centuries, Damascus (including the Great Mosque) was reduced to ashes.  The losses and fatigues of the campaign obliged Timur to renounce the conquest of Palestine and Egypt; but in his return to the Euphrates he delivered Aleppo to the flames… but I shall briefly mention that he erected on the ruins of Baghdad a pyramid of ninety thousand heads.”[403]

But whilst the account by Gibbon was written centuries after the event, further down we will look at the accounts from contemporaries who never met, who never knew each other, and who give us more or less the same account about the destruction of the city. These accounts are by Ibn Khaldun, who had even met with Timur during the siege of the city pleading with him not to harm the land of Islam.[404] We will also have the German Shiltberger who was present at the destruction of Damascus by the side of Timur’s army; the account by the Italian merchant, De Mignanelli,[405] and that by Ibn Arab Shah, a citizen of Damascus, who at the age of 12, witnessed the events and was carried into slavery before writing his accounts.[406]

First and foremost, with Ibn Khaldun, let’s correct the many who call Timur a Turk.

Ibn Khaldun clearly states that Timur and his troops as belonging to the Mongols. As he puts it:

In Turkestan and Bukhara in Transoxania (mā warāʾ al-nahr) appeared an amīr called Timur in a group of Mongols (mughul) and Tatars. He and his people trace their ancestry to Chaghadai. I do not know whether this is Chaghadai the son of Chinggis Khan or another Chaghadai of the Mongol [mughul] peoples, but the former is more likely.[407]

In Al-taʿrīf, Ibn Khaldun also refers to Timur and his troops as Mughul numerous times, including when he writes: “Al-Malik al-Ẓāhir (…) went out with his Turkish troops in order to try and defeat the Mongols (mughul) and their king Timur”.[408] We also find them as altaṭaṛ/al-tatar in many places.[409] We all must agree that Ibn Khaldun is far from being that inept to confound Turks and Mongols. If one had to choose who is more erudite: Ibn Khaldun or the hordes of ‘scholars’ of today who call Timur a Turk, one knows which choice to make. And, of course, Ibn Khaldun was alive at the time, and could see events unfold in front of his eyes, and we must remind he met Timur, and stayed with him for a month.

Those (that is amongst Muslims, for it is easy to understand the feelings of the enemies of Islam) who today eulogise Timur, are at best to be pitied or to be treated with contempt. Those who lived through his ‘exploits’ knew what he was worth. The Damascene scholar Ibn ʿArabshah (1392–1450) called Timur – among a great many other slurs – an “unbelieving despot” and wrote that he and his men are “shameless infidels”. In fact, this contemporary, who lived through the deeds of Timur in the Muslim world, called him all derogatory names found in any work. He calls him despot and tyrant, of course, but also the deceitful, villain, demon, viper, faithless, bastard, impostor, deceiver, wicked one, traitor, owl, and many others.[410] Ibn Arabshah, like the contemporaries understood the true nature of Timur. Some authors did consider Timur to be Muslim, but accused him of being Shiite – which was copied by several later scholars.[411] On this latter matter we won’t dwell, for sectarianism is what has caused most of the woes of Islam, and there is no need or wisdom to indulge in sectarian history here. The Mamluks too, confronted with the threat of Timur in the late-fourteenth century presented him as an infidel enemy.[412]

Timur presented himself as an Islamic ruler,[413] but his behaviour was far from being Islamic at all. All the accounts referred to stress his destruction of mosques, his wine drinking, his troops mass rape of Muslim women, and his mass slaughter of Muslims, especially the elites. He Timur had made a rapprochement with Western Christendom, and had declared war on Islam, the Ottomans, most particularly. In his exchanges with the French King, Charles VI, he speaks of:

The most serene, most victorious King and Sultan the King of the French and many other nations, the friend ‘of the Most-High, the very beneficent monarch of the world, who has emerged triumphant from very great wars.[414]

The main agent for this rapprochement was Archbishop Greenlaw, who was commissioned by Timur to open communications with the King of France, proposing in the name of Timur an alliance against the Ottomans, ‘their common enemy,’ and promising favourable treatment for the French King’s subjects in trading with the East.[415] Before he was appointed Archbishop, John Greenlaw, a Dominican Friar, had already gained prominence in the East thanks to his zeal in stirring the Christian sections of the population against the Turks.[416] He also established an understanding with Timur considering it ‘all fair to negotiate with one infidel for the ruin of another.’[417] In 1398/9, just three years before the Battle of Angora, John, accompanied by his fellow Dominican Francis headed an embassy from Timur to Charles VI of France, and also visited Henry IV of England, taking letters from both monarchs back to him.[418] The Latin copy of the correspondence refers to a combined military attack against Bayazid.[419] In order to enhance his credentials, and as a reward for his zeal and the success of his enterprise, John was consecrated in October, 1400, by Pope Boniface IX, with the title of Archbishop of Ethiopia and the East, with his See at Soldania, or Sultanieh.[420]

John was not alone in seeking to bring a Christian-Mongol alliance. The Byzantine emperor, John VII, and the Genoese in Pera were also in diplomatic contact with Timur.[421] In the summer of 1401, Timur sent to Constantinople two envoys, the Dominican Francis and a Muslim, instructing them that they should not make peace with Bayazid, for he was about to attack the Sultan.[422] The Byzantine Emperor, John, and the Genoese themselves had incited Timur against the Ottomans; they had certainly promised to pay him the tribute they hitherto paid the Ottomans, and they complied with his demand to block the Straits in order to prevent Ottoman forces in Europe crossing to Bayazid’s assistance.[423] The Venetians also, seem to have received the same message, and in compliance, in May 1402, before the Battle of Angora in August, sent ships to the Dardanelles.[424]

Before the battle of Angora, Timur had as his special guests to watch its proceedings the Castilian ambassadors, who afterwards took ‘the great news’ of Timur’s victory over Bayazid to the West.[425]

The Christian world in Europe of the 15th century became fully aware of the events in the Muslim East and the campaign of Timur. The hope was even re-kindled that a Christian-Mongol alliance with Timur against the Muslim Mamluks might lead to the re-conquest of the Holy Land for Christianity.[426]

Timur’s harshness towards Muslims contrasts with his good treatment of Christians (one of course is not saying he should have treated them badly, one is raising the point that his true hatred was towards Muslims.) When he captured Sivas, whilst he slew everyone in the most horrific manner, including Bayazid’s son, he spared the Greeks among the population.[427] When he destroyed Damascus and mass-slew its population, raping its women, making mountains of skulls of its inhabitants, and his usual misdeeds on Muslims, again, contemporary accounts, on this occasion an Italian merchant, stated that houses in the Christian quarter were spared the destruction.[428] When following the defeat of Bayazid in 1402, and Timur’s hordes devastated the Ottoman realm, and inflicted the usual woes on Muslim Turks, all Christians found held by the Ottomans were both spared and released from captivity.[429] Amongst those released were two high-born Christian women who were believed to have been slaves in Bayazid’s household at the time of his defeat.[430] Christians who had fought and been taken prisoners at Nicopolis in 1396, including the Great Count of Hungary were also released from captivity at Bursa.[431]

What confused Muslims, and to this day, is as raised above in relation to the Mongols of the 13th and 14th centuries. There were many Muslims who served Timur, just as many served Hulagu and Kubilai, and some wrote accounts, which to this day confuses people, who only access such favourable accounts of him. Amongst these lackeys of Timur were the contemporary authors, mostly court historians. Nizam ad-Din Shami, for instance, was commissioned by Timur to write an account of his deeds, incorporated in his Zafar Na’ma (“Book of Victory”), which he presented to Timur before his death in 1405, a chapter recording Timur’s siege and conquest of Aleppo and Damascus.[432] The other ‘scholar’ Sharaf ad-Din ‘Ali al-Yazdi, the panegyrist of Timur, who completed in 1424 his Zafar Na’ma, gave great prominence to the events in Aleppo and in Damascus with all their grim data and facts.[433]

Unlike these lackeys, a great number of Muslim authors understood the true nature of the individual. Other than Ibn Khaldun and Ibn Arabshah, we can cite Al Qalqashandi (1418),[434] al Maqrizi (1442),[435] Ibn Qadi Shuhba (1448),[436] Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani (1449),[437] al-‘Aini (1451),[438] Ibn Taghri Birdi (1469),[439] as-Sakhawi (1497),[440] Ibn Iyas,[441] (1524) and others who described in all details the horrors and sufferings of the inhabitants of Damascus and the Muslim world as a result of Timur’s invasions. However, when we read about Timur these days, we find that Western historians, with hardly any exception, never refer to these authors just cited, but instead rely on the lackeys (Timur’s own court historians) cited above. So, when seeking to know the true history of Timur, people are advised not to follow the Western historians tactics. Any honest historian has to use all sources to obtain a balanced view of this scum, Timur.

Now, we return to the destruction of Damascus by Timur, and this is described by four contemporaries, independent from each other: Ibn Khaldun, the German Shiltberger, the Italian De Mignanelli, and Ibn Arab Shah, a Syrian who lived through the events.

Concerning Timur’s conquest of Aleppo, Ibn Khaldun writes: “The Mongols (al-mughul) entered the city from all directions, caused destruction, pillaged, looted, and seized the women, as no man has ever seen”.[442]  Ibn Khaldun himself witnessed the seizure of Damascus. In spite of a peace settlement, Timur demanded more payments than had been agreed upon, and pillaging was rife, as Ibn Khaldun relates:

He confiscated qintars of goods from people in the city.[443] Then he loosed [his men] to plunder on the houses of the people of the city, and they uprooted their people and their possessions and set fire to whatever remained of debris and old furniture. The fire spread to the houses’ walls, which were supported by wood. It kept burning until it reached the Great Mosque [the Umayyad Mosque] and it climbed up to its roof. The lead melted, and its roof and walls collapsed. This deed was unimaginably horrible and appalling. The events are in God’s hands, He does with His creation what he wants, and decides in His kingdom what He wants.[444]

The German Shiltberger was a former prisoner of the Ottomans, captured at the Battle of Nicopolis, in 1396, and who once freed by Timur’s men, remained by their side, describing their deeds. He describes one such incident for us:

He (Timur) assembled all the citizens, and ordered all those over fourteen years to be beheaded, and the boys under fourteen years he ordered to be spared, and with the heads was constructed a tower in the centre of the city; then he ordered the women and children to be taken to a plain outside the city, and ordered the children under seven years of age to be placed apart, and ordered his people to ride over these same children. When his counsellors and the mothers of the children saw this, they fell at his feet, and begged that he would not kill them. He would not listen, and ordered that they should be ridden over; but none would be the first to do so. He got angry, and rode himself [amongst them] and said: “Now I should like to see who will not ride after me?” Then they were all obliged to ride over the children, and they were all trampled upon. There were seven thousand. Then he set fire to the city, and took the other women and children into his own city; and then went to his capital called Semerchant, where he had not been for twelve years.[445]

When he took Damascus; again, this is what Shiltberger told us happened:

And now, soon after he had taken the city, came to him the Geit (Sheikh), that is as much as to say a bishop, and fell at his feet, and begged mercy for himself and his priests. Tamerlin ordered that he should go with his priests into the temple (the Umayyad Mosque); so the priests took their wives, their children and many others, into the temple for protection, until there were thirty thousand young and old. Now Tamerlin gave orders that when the temple was full, the people inside should be shut up in it. This was done. Then wood was placed around the temple, and he ordered it to be ignited, and they all perished in the temple. Then he ordered that each one of his [soldiers] should bring to him the head of a man. This was done, and it took three days; then with these heads were constructed three towers, and the city was pillaged.”[446]

After his departure from the Mamluk dominion and his return to Siena, in Italy, our third source, the Italian merchant, de Mignanelli, spent some time in Constance in Germany, and there in the year 1416 at the request of his friends began his literary activities. He wrote in this year two long treatises, one entitled Vita Tamerlani or Ruina Damasci.[447] De Mignanelli’s treatise Vita Tamerlani or Ruina Damasci is the earliest and most detailed Latin, European source which has been preserved,[448] dedicated almost exclusively to Timur’s conquest of Syria, written by an author who had the advantage of living in proximity of space and time during the events he described. This treatise constitutes a unique contribution to our knowledge of Timur’s personality and his activities in Damascus.[449] The account by De Mignanelli offers us some very interesting details, such as how Timur (calling him Thomor) used precisely the same tactics as used by the Mongols a century and half before him, deceiving the population into false security, pretending to be a good defender of Islam, before unleashing death and destruction on them. Here follows the account, which is abridged out of necessity:

In the year 1400, in the month of October, a powerful and vile man and a great lord by name Thomorlengh, alias Tomorbey, alias Tomor asach, (these names mean one and the same thing) came from his own part of the world the Semi-Aquilonares, that is, the region between the North and the East beyond the Tartars and set out for the territory of the Sultan of Syria and Egypt, which lies in an almost southerly direction from his own territory which has been named above…”

After the withdrawal of the Sultan the people of Damascus, as if headless, wavered this way and that, and, confused in their grief, did not at all know what they ought to do. They were also surprised at the mildness of (the enemy) by whom they hoped the war would have been immediately fought to an end. When at the end of the first, second, and third hour of the day they had observed from the wall of the city nothing unusual nor any confusion outside they began to be suspicious of the greatest treachery. Finally about the ninth hour, that is, noon, they decided to ask humbly for a safe conduct of their ambassadors. When the safe conduct was granted they sent courteously to Thomor the four Cadis, that is, the legislators, well skilled in their own law, and the clerks also demanded by him. … Thomor answered them, “I want you to know that I have come to these regions from my country so far distant with such great toil and at such great expense only for the purpose of removing from you, who are good and devoted Mohammedans, (though, in truth [insists de Mignanelli] he believed less in Mahomet than I do), a deadly disease with which all of this holy country has long been infected. I will strive, God willing, to free you from the damnable yoke of the Christians and from the worse yoke of the Sultan and his people (would that they were Christians) because the Sultan and all false Christians have no foundation in any law. Therefore out of reverence for our most holy prophet Mahomet to whom I have long devoted myself, this city of Damascus, which, as you can see, I can now destroy together with all your possessions, I now give, bestow, grant, and hand over to you who are at present dwelling within its walls, but with this stipulation, that those who left when they knew of our coming are not to be included in our kindness and favor. “Therefore all the possessions of the Sultan and of his followers and of those who left are to be added to our treasure.’’

When the foolish Cadis heard these words they began to weep for joy and they answered that they gave thanks at once to God for the coming of a Prince so devoted, so pious, so merciful, so great a father, shepherd, and master of Mohammedan law, whom God had deigned to bestow upon his faithful people. They subjected themselves to the commands of this prince and offered to comply with his recommendations, especially with respect to the possessions of the Sultan and his followers. This seemed just and holy, since these foolish men, deprived of reason, did not know what a future day would bring upon them.

In joy the Cadis departed and promised to return to Thomor’s camp on any day he wished. They entered Damascus and reported to the people what had taken place, and they greatly encouraged the people because of this unheard of good fortune.

After the manner of their country, in procession they marched singing through the city and the suburbs, which were large, and gave boundless praise to God. Carefully and scrupulously they searched out the possessions of those who had been proscribed. Many were assigned the task of searching for these possessions and so foolish had they become that he who found more was considered holy and dedicated to God. Thus the tents of the Sultan and his followers, their horses, mules, camels, lambs, all their pack animals, and everything else that could be found (which came to a great number) were presented
to the afore-mentioned treasury. Then after a thorough search had been carefully made, the possessions of the absent citizens and of others who had formerly lived in Damascus were brought to the treasury. The four Cadis came twice a day to Thomor’s tents, which were two Italian miles distant from the city. Cadi Shafii their chief, Cadi Hanefi, Cadi Maliki and Cadi Hanbali made the arrangements for their fellow citizens and countrymen to bring provisions to Thomor’s camp day and night. By Thomor’s command surprisingly they passed back and forth safely and securely with incredible wealth. So busy were they that the whole country looked like an ant hill.

Then Thomor’s officials with those from the city went through the streets and quarters of the city and called upon all who owned shops and places of business and upon those who practiced a craft. They also visited those places where commercial transactions were carried on. If he who was called on did not answer they broke down the door of his shop and everything that was inside they piled up in baskets to be carried off to the treasury. They stated that these were the possessions of an unjust man, who, not trusting the mercy of so glorious a Prince, fled before his face and was unwilling to await his favor. If an owner of a shop should answer, everything that was in the shop they caused to be written down even to the last item on an authenticated inventory which they themselves kept. They would say, “We are doing this by command of our master in order to avoid trouble and the danger of despoiling by evil men whom we have with us and who would be very happy to rob you. So by our doing this no one will dare to try to get what is not due him. If any despoiling should occur, and may there be none, our master will want to correct it honestly and correctly as it is found on the inventory”. Then they would hand over the keys to the owner of the shop and say, “Keep your shop, sell your wares, do as you will, and dispose of your goods according to your own wishes”. At the same time they wrote down the amounts of the money which they had counted. In this way they took an account of the whole city and a vast amount of wealth was conveyed to the Treasury. Many of these foolish men who had written down a list of their possessions on an inventory, seeing the goods of others who were absent from the city carried off, gave thanks to God and thought themselves far wiser than those who were gone.

When this had been done Thomor ordered the people of Damascus to permit none of their friends and family to enter the city except some few who were appointed. He said that he did this for the protection and safety of Damascus and the people of Damascus. He was lying of course because he had another thought in mind, as will become clear below. Then he caused all the streets of the city throughout the larger sections to be closed off and had the gates lowered. Through these a man bent over could scarcely cross or go out. He said that this way they were much better protected. But he really had this done in order that they might not be able to take anything out of the place in secret. He also had the gates of the city guarded day and night by his own men…

Thomor stated that he wished to open a road from Damascus to his metropolitan city of Samarcant, and to guard it so closely that day and night merchants would be able to exchange their goods between the two cities and grow wealthy. All this the senseless of Damascus believed in in their hearts… When he had used all his malicious sophistry to get them to hand over their money, he turned to open villainy to extort the sum he wished. He sent his officials with a herald and with the inventories already mentioned and had the shop owners summoned before him. They were told that because the money paid him was not enough he was forced to provide in other ways for so large an army, especially for the expenses which would be required on their journey. Therefore he had determined that the goods and wares in their shops and factories should be redeemed in cash or burned to ashes. The poor Damascenes moaned and said that they had nothing more. But those who did not ransom their goods on the spot had their portable wares carried off to Thomor’s treasury or burned. Because of this many who had money hidden ransomed their wares. They made a fairly good profit from them, about half their value. Thomor, however, kept the inventories and in this way exacted large sums of money. Everything that had been given and everything that remained in the shops was noted down in the inventories. Then Thomor came to the immovable possessions, for example, their homes, shops, plantations, and things of that sort. These they sold for half their value or less and what was not sold was completely wrecked. Thus great amounts of money were accumulated…

Finally when Thomor saw that he could not by right or wrong drain off any more, he summoned his nobles and generals and said, “I have gained such little money from these worthless Damascenes with the greatest toil and sweat on my part and I have saved the greater and better share for you. Behold, I give you whatever is left. Be strong and know how to deal with them”.

As good sons of a good father they were obedient and subservient. With all humanity put aside they entered Damascus and called the men who had been turned over to them as their booty. First they seized their possessions and then tortured them with whips, knives, and fire. The tale is unbelievable to tell and was more pitiable to see. For they tied men to a piece of wood like they would a boar and then with a fire placed all around as when meat is roasted, they turned the spit with intolerable pain and screaming on the part of the victim. Often red hot irons were set on the flesh and they caused the smoke to rise with an odor of roast meat. By such tortures as these many weakened and an unbelievable amount of money came to light to avoid these incredible tortures. When every means, right or wrong, had been used to extort money, and the streams had been dried up, that cursed man, as Thomor was called, ordered all the handsome young men of the country, the beautiful women and young girls, and the official teachers of the arts, in large numbers, with everything that could be carried, brought outside the city to his camp. Then he set fire to the city of Damascus with all its buildings. God permitted and caused this because of the unspeakable sins and iniquities of the Damascenes, a great number of which I myself have experienced. So great was the blast of wind for three days that a ship could have gone fifteen miles an hour with any kind of sail. Thus, sorrowful to relate, the whole of so great and large a city was reduced to a mountain of ash…

He took with him the beautiful young maidens, the boys, the official master craftsmen, of whom Damascus had a great number, and left that city in incredible desolation and burned to a heap of ashes. There were left in one corner of the city a few small houses which the flames had not destroyed belonging to the Christians of Centura on the east side. You can take it as actual fact that the fire burned so fiercely in the city beneath the surface that after the departure of Thomor it continued for nine months. I myself saw it. Therefore let all men fear the judgement of Almighty God and let no one glory in his iniquity however mighty it may be. They had nothing to eat because everything had been destroyed and provisions had to be brought from far distant places. God also sent upon them through the air a great swarm of ravenous locusts. This occurred in March and April after the departure of Thomor, who had left in March. As a result they were not able to harvest any crops that year. The locusts devoured everything, not only the buds and fruits, but also the stalks, leaves, and roots. The poor Damascenes were starved beyond belief. They lacked all manner of relief and in their want and hunger an incredible people were destroyed by incredible misery. The very air was infected by the corruption and stench of corpses in the streets and roads. No one buried them and no one could live anywhere except in the fortresses which had not been burned. My mind and body were completely shattered by the stench of the corpses and by the great confusion. I could eat nothing and I could not sleep in my fear.[450]

Let’s look at the fourth source which at no moment knew of the others, or ever read them. This source is Ahmed ibn Arabshah, who was taken as a slave from Damascus at the age of 12, who witnessed the destruction of his country and city, and who wrote excellent accounts of what happened around him.[451] We use these brief extracts focusing only on Timur’s destruction, his slaying of the learned elites, and his carrying away artisans and craftsmen:

When he had filled the bag of his cupidity with precious things and had gradually milked every drop clear or foul, until the place was wiped clean with a cloth, he ordered those great Amirs to be tortured and vexed them with water and salt and made them drink ashes and lime and singed them and squeezed hidden wealth from them, as oil is squeezed out of a press.  Then he let his soldiers plunder at will, seize any they wished as prisoners, destroy suddenly and slaughter, burn and drag into bondage without restraint. And those evil unbelievers suddenly fell upon men, torturing, smiting and laying waste… they slaughtered and smote and raged against Muslims and their allies, as ravening wolves rage against teeming flocks of sheep and did things, which to do is unseemly and which it is not meet to record and relate… afflicting great and small alike with every kind of torture, men suffering things whose sum cannot be reckoned… and separated mothers from their children and souls from bodies and everyone that gave suck forgot her suckling and everyone received the reward of what he had done and  had not done and men fled from their brothers, mothers, fathers, friends, and children…. When they had completed the ruin and confusion and in their pilgrimage of destruction performed the ceremonies, which they discharged by crime, strife and impurity and fulfilled their circuit and course in iniquities and hurled fire on the houses and coals on men’s hearts and caused rivers to flow with the blood of the Muslims slain in the fort, they hastened in circles of fire and sent flames of fire into the holy place of the city. And among them were Rafidites of Khorasan, who sent fire into the mosque of the Omayyads, and it clung by its own heat, with the help of the wind with its violent gusts, the wind and fire driving each other on in destroying traces of the city.  And this fire, by the will of Allah Almighty, lasted night and day and burned up what remained of precious things and souls; and the tongue of fire wiped out what was written in the tablets of the city and towards evening in those pleasant mansions no more was heard vain conversation or whispering and in the morning the city appeared mown down as though yesterday it had not teemed, even after booty had been taken out and bundles put on beasts of burden…. That tormentor departed and his cloud of calamities pouring forth constant storms withdrew on the Sabbath day, the third of Shaban, but since they had taken precious things beyond their strength and removed more than they could carry, they left them in narrow streets and houses and threw away one thing after another in the difficult places where they halted, because of the excessive abundance of bundles and lack of porters…. Nevertheless, even had twice so much been taken of the precious things of Damascus and a thousand times more cut from the heart of its treasuries, yet this would not have diminished the water in its spring or drained its abundant seas, but the fire was a grievous affliction and deadly blow, for it devoured those within the city for want of help: think, therefore, how much perished of buildings, precious goods and chattels. The dogs also rushed to devour the flesh of dead citizens and none dared enter the mosque of the Omayyads….. And now all the citizens of the great cities and inhabitants of places high and low prepared for flight and listened to the awful news which they received, making every movement or inaction turn on that. But Timur went forward on his tortuous way and returned to the path of his violence, which he had chosen instead of a straight and royal road; and now his armies filled the countries on every side and fear of him seized the whole world…. One of the leaders of Syria, one of its famous men of learning, the chief judge Muhiuddin, son of Alaz Hanifi, after they had subjected him to various kinds of torture and branded him and made him drink water and salt and roasted him with lime and fire… Chief Judge Shamsuddin of Nablus, the Hanbalite, and Chief Judge Sadruddm Manavi, the Shafeite, were received to the mercy of Allah, the Giver, being drowned in the river Tarab…. the chief Amirs, the great Amir Butakhas, who was a prisoner with Timur, died, when he had come to the Euphrates.  As for Qazi Nasiruddin, son of Abiltib, him also they tortured with every sort of affliction, but since he was of feeble body, and mild and melancholy temperament, he could not endure it… And now they stalked through the live and dead and feared lest anyone by pretence of death might escape from their hands, and they kept each house of the city besieged and proclaimed that no one should go out alive or any dead be carried out… And he took from Damascus learned men and craftsmen and all who excelled in any art, the most skilled weavers, tailors, gem-cutters, carpenters, makers of head-coverings, farriers, painters, bow-makers, falconers, in short, craftsmen of every kind, and collected Ethiopians, as related above.  And he divided these companies among the heads of the army and ordered them to lead them to Samarkand. He also took Jamaluddin, the chief physician, and Shahabuddin Ahmad Azzardakash, who in the fort, as related above, had overcome countless men of his army and was now ninety years old and bent. And as soon as he saw him, he received him with vehement anger and said to him: “Truly you have smitten my vassals, scattered my friends and driven out my followers; but if by one blow I deprived you of life, my sickness would not be healed or my thirst quenched, but I will torture you despite your age and add affliction to your affliction and weakness to your weakness.” Then he ordered a chain to be fastened to his knees, whose weight was seven-and-a-half Damascene pounds, and he sought thereby to afflict him, and he remained in bonds condemned to endless captivity, until the death of Timur, when hardships were removed and that prisoner escaped from his bonds, then passed to the mercy of Allah Almighty.   Perchance he also took others of the excellent and leaders and princes and eminent, whom I do not know, in the way I have related; likewise all his Amirs and lords took an infinite multitude of lawyers, theologians, of men who knew the Koran from memory, and learned men, craftsmen, workmen, slaves, women, boys and girls, and in the same way acted each man of his army great and small, master and slave, since none was blamed who seized anything and carried it off, but whatever anyone was first to take, went to him; indeed, when he had given rein to general plunder, thereby the generals  of the army and the lank and file were made equal, and if  among them the plunderer were a slave or foreigner and the despoiler a stranger, yet that was permitted him, since, imitating their conduct and assuming their character, he enjoyed the  same right as they…. WHEN the harvest of the wealth of Damascus had been completed and he was about to depart, there followed a plague of locusts, which advanced with him, until they reached Mardin and Bagdad, stripping every place, tilled or untilled, and utterly consuming whatever was found on the face of the earth. Then Timur reached Hims plundered its villages and laid waste its fields.  Then he moved to Hamat and they plundered its precious things and dragged out hidden treasures, and carried away its maidens and brides. And on the seventeenth day of Shaban that flood poured into the mountains and sent men to Haleb and from its fort he took what had been stored there; then turned to the Euphrates, which he crossed in skiffs and otherwise. Then to Arruha, which he plundered.[452]

With Timur was completed the circle of destruction: now, the Muslim world had lost Syria and Iraq, devastated by the same Timur, and so was Muslim India. Al Andalus had been lost already with the exception of Grenada; North Africa was weak and divided, only Cairo survived in the mire, and had it not been for the rise of Ottoman Turkey, the Muslim world would have been swept away in the 15th century, and not colonised in the 19th. There is a great difference between being swept away in the 15th and colonised in the 19th and after.


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[1] E. Gibbon: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Methuen and Co; Limited; London; 1923 edition. vol 5; pp. 415-7.

[2] Such as Al-Baladhuri: Kitab Futuh al-Buldan: tr., as The Origins of the Islamic State by P. Hitti; New York Columbia University; 1916.

Al-Baladhuri: Futuh al-Buldan; Cairo; 1959.

[3] Al-Tabari: Tarikh al-Umum wal Muluk; Cairo; 1939.

Al-Tabari: The History of al-Tabari (Tarikh al-rusul wa’l muluk;) tr., by M. Fishbein; State University of New York Press; 1997; vol 3 and subsequent ones.

[4] J. Glubb: A Short History of the Arab Peoples; Hodder and Stoughton, 1969.

J.B. Glubb: The Great Arab Conquests; Hodder and Stoughton; 1963.

[5] F. M. Donner: The Early Islamic Conquests, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1981.

F. Gabrieli: Muhammad and the Conquests of Islam, World University Library, London, 1968.

H. Kennedy: The Great Arab Conquests; Da Capo Press; 2007.

[6] W.E. Kaegi: Byzantium and the Early Islamic Conquests; Cambridge University Press; 1992.

W.E. Kaegi: Muslim Expansion and Byzantine Collapse in North Africa; Cambridge University Press; 2010.

[7] R. Burns: Damascus, A History; Routledge; London; 2005.

[8] A.I. Akram: Khalid Ibn Al-Waleed; Maktabah; Publishers and Distributors; Birmingham; England; 2004.

[9] Al-Bakri: Futuhat al-Sha’am; ed. W.N. Lees; Calcutta; 1853-4; pp. 8-111; 40-2.

[10] P.K. Hitti: History of the Arabs; op cit; p. 148.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Al-Baladhuri: Kitab Futuh al-Buldan (Hitti); op cit; vol 1; p. 178.

[13] J.B. Glubb: The Great Arab Conquests; op cit; p. 132.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Al-Baladhuri: Kitab Futuh al-Buldan; op cit; p. 178.

[16] Ibid.

[17] P.K. Hitti: History of the Arabs; op cit; p. 148.

[18]Al Baladhuri; op cit; 178

[19] J.B. Glubb: The Great Arab Conquests; op cit; p. 151.

[20] A.I. Akram: Khalid Bin Al-Waleed; op cit; p. 351.

[21] J.B. Glubb: The Great Arab Conquests; op cit; p. 156.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid; p. 158.

[24] Ibid; 159.

[25] Ibid.

[26] J Glubb: A Short History of the Arab Peoples; Hodder and Stoughton, 1969; p. 48.

[27] W.E. Kaegi: Byzantium; op cit; p. 112.

[28] Ibid.

[29] A.I. Akram: Khalid Bin Al-Waleed; op cit; p. 361.

[30] J.B. Glubb: The Great Arab Conquests; op cit; p. 160.

[31] Ibid; p. 173.

[32] Ibid.

[33] W.E. Kaegi: Byzantium; op cit; p. 112.

[34] A.I. Akram: Khalid Bin Al-Waleed; op cit; p. 371.

[35] Eutychius: Annales; ed by L. Cheiko; et al; 2 vols; CSCO (Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium), Scriptores Arabici; ser 3; 2: 14.

[36] R. Burns: Damascus, A History; Routledge; London; 2005; p. 100.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid; 101.

[39] W.E. Kaegi: Byzantium; op cit; p. 121.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Maurice: Strategikon; op cit; 12A.7 (133-6 Dennis trans).

[42] W.E. Kaegi: Byzantium; op cit; p. 121.

[43] Location of this old Roman bridge, see Sheet 7, from maps in PEF Palestine. The approximate latitude is 39° 53’ E. and the longitude is 32° 52’ N.

[44] PEF Palestine, Sheet 7. Yaqusa is located about 12 miles southeast of the old Roman bridge over the Wadi’ Ruqqad.

[45] W.E. Kaegi: Byzantium; op cit; p. 121.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Lebeau:  Histoire du Bas Empire; ed. St Martin et Brosset; 21 vols; Paris; 1824-1836; XI, 242.

[48] J.B. Glubb: The Great Arab Conquests; op cit; p. 179.

[49] Al-Baladhuri: Futuh al-Buldan; op cit; p. 142.

[50] Carl von Clausewitz: On War, tr. by P. Paret and M. Howard; Princeton University Press; 1976; book 4. ch. 12. 267.

[51] W.E. Kaegi: Byzantium; op cit; pp. 139-40.

[52] Ibid.

[53] Al-Baladhuri: Futuh (Hitti); op cit; p. 211.

[54] J. B. Glubb: The Great Arab Conquests; op cit; p. 181; I.A. Patel: Madina to Jerusalem; The Islamic Foundation; Leicester; 2005; pp. 20 ff.

[55] Ibid.

[56] Ibid.

[57] Yaqut al-Hamawi: Mu’Ajam al-Buldan; Wustenfeld Edition; in six volumes; Leipzig; 1866. ii; ; p. 587.

[58] Ibn Jubayr: The Travels of Ibn Jubayr; translated from the original Arabic with introduction and notes, by R.J. C. Broadhurst (Jonathan Cape, London, 1952), p. 256.

[59] S.K. Hamarneh: Health Sciences in early Islam; Edited by M.W. Anees; Noor Health Foundation; and Zahra Publication; 1983; Vol 1; p. 100.

[60] Al Idrisi in G. Le Strange: Palestine under the Moslems; Alexander P. Watt; London; 1890; p. 237.

[61] W. Durant: The Age of Faith; Simon and Shuster; New York; 1950; pp. 230-1.

[62] Al-Dimashki; in G. le Strange: Palestine; op cit; p. 265.

[63] Historia; XVII, 3; Paulin Pari’s edit.; vol ii; p. 141 in J.K. Wright: The Geographical Lore of the Time of the Crusades; Dover Publications; New York; 1925; p. 239.

[64] This paragraph on Damascus gardens owes to Georgina: Hafteh: Gardens of Damascus:
Landscape and the Culture of Recreation in the Early Modern Period; A Thesis Submitted to the University of Adelaide in fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Landscape Architecture; School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design Centre for Asian and Middle Eastern Architecture (CAMEA) Faculty of Professions;
The University of Adelaide
2012; p. 12 ff.

[65] Al-Badrī, Nuzhat al-Anām, 309-10. The editor Ibrāhīm Ṣāliḥ mentioned that Sughd Samarqand, Shiʻb Bawwān and Nahr al-Ubulla are three rivers surrounded by gardens, water and palaces.

[66] Tabaqa (pl ṭibāq) refers to a layer situated above another layer, for example, the positioning of eyelids, see Ibn Manẓūr, Lisān al-ʻArab, the root ṭ.b.q.

[67] Georgina: Hafteh: Gardens of Damascus; op cit; p. 47.

[68] Al-Badrī, Nuzhat al-Anām, 85.

[69] Laurent D’Arvieux, 1735: Mémoires du Chevalier D’Arvieux: envoyé extraordinaire du Roy à La Porte, Consul d’Alep, d’Alger, de Tripoli, & autres Echelles du Levant, Paris. II; p. 458.

[70] Balthasar de Monconys, 1665: Journal des voyages de Monsieur de Monconys, Lyon; p. 343.

[71] Joseph François Michaud & Jean Joseph François Poujoulat, 1833: Correspondance d’Orient 1830-1831, Paris. p. 206.

[72] Al Qasatili: Al-Rawḍa al-ġannāʼ fī Dimašq al-Fayḥāʼ, Beirut, Dār al-rā’id al-ʻarabī, 1982; pp. 115-116.

[73] Ross Burns, Damascus: A History (London and New York: Routledge, 2005), xvii-xviii.

[74] Georgina: Hafteh: Gardens of Damascus; op cit; p.12.

[75] I.M. Lapidus: Muslim Cities in the Later Middle Ages; Harvard University Press; Cambridge Mass; 1967; p. 70.

[76] Ibid.

[77] Ibid.

[78] Referred to by Thierry Bianquis: Damas in Grandes Villes Mediterraneenes; op cit; pp. 37-55; at p. 46.

[79] Al-Muqaddasi: Ahssan al-taqassim; op cit; p. 157.

[80] Al-Istakhri: Kitab al-Masalik wa’l Mamalik; ed. M.G. al-Hini (Cairo; 1961), pp. 44-5.

[81] T. Bianquis: Damas; op cit; p. 46.

[82] M. Sibley: The Historic Hammāms of Damascus and Fez: Lessons of Sustainability and Future Developments in PLEA2006 – The 23rd Conference on Passive and Low Energy Architecture, Geneva, Switzerland, 6-8 September 2006; at 3.3.

[83] Ibid; at 3.4.

[84] F.B. Artz: The Mind; op cit; pp.148-50.

[85] Ibid.

[86] Al Dimashki in G. le Strange; p. 265.

[87] W. Durant: The Age of Faith; op cit; pp. 230-1.

[88] Dimashqi in G. le Strange; op cit; p. 265.

[89] W. Durant: The Age of Faith; op cit; pp. 230-1.

[90] Ibn Jubayr; pp. 262-97 in G. le Strange: Palestine; op cit; pp. 249-50.

[91] G. Sarton: Introduction to the History of Science; The Carnegie Institute; Washington; 1927 fwd; vol 2; p. 27.

[92] Ibid.

[93] R. Hillenbrand: Madrasa; Dictionary of Middle Ages; Vol 8. J.R. Strayer Editor in Chief; Charles Scribner’s Sons; New York; 1982 fwd. Vol 8; p. 11.

[94] Ibid.

[95] P.P. Soucek: Islamic Art and Architecture; Dictionary of the Middle Ages; Vol 6; pp. 592-614; p. 607.

[96] R. Hillenbrand: Madrasa; op cit; p. 11.

[97] Ibid.

[98] Al Idrisi in G. Le Strange: Palestine; op cit; p. 239.

[99] W. Fischel tr: A New Latin Source on Tamerlane’s Conquest of Damascus (1400/1401): (B. de Mignanelli’s “Vita Tamerlani” 1416)
Author(s): in Oriens, Vol. 9, No. 2 (Dec. 31, 1956), pp. 201-232; Published by: Brill; p. 205.

[100] W. Heyd, Geschichte des Levantehandels im Mittelalter, Stuttgart, 1879, Vol. II. See the informative account on Damascus and Barquq in L. Frescobaldi, G. Gucci and S. Sigoli, Visit to the Holy Places of Egypt, Sinai, Palestine and Syria in 1384, transl. from the Italian, Jerusalem, 1948, pp. 45-46, 100-101; 172-175, 181-183, 142-143, Publication of the Studium Franciscanum, No. 6; for Damascus as a commercial center, see also Bertrando de la Brocquiere in Th. Wright, Early Travels in Palestine, Syria, etc., London, 1848, pp. 293 f

[101] Visit to the Holy Places of Egypt, Sinai, Palestine and Syria in 1384 by Frescobaldi. Gucci, and Sigoli; tr. T. Bellorini and E. Hoade; Jerusalem; 1948; pp. 183; 182 in R. E. Mack: Bazaar to Piazza: Islamic Trade and Italian Arts, 1300-1600; (University of California Press; Berkeley; 2002); p. I.

[102] W. Fischel tr: A New Latin Source on Tamerlane’s Conquest of Damascus (1400/1401); op cit; p. 226.

[103] I.M. Lapidus: Muslim Cities in the later Middle Ages: Harvard University Press; Cambridge Mass; 1967; pp. 19-20.

[104] Al-Qalqashandi: Subhi al-A’sha; Cairo Ministry of Culture; part 4; p. 188.

[105] Ibid; p. 190.

[106] Ibn Asakir: Tarikh Madinat Dimashq; Damascus; (Arab Academy of Science; 1954); vol 2; p. 58.

[107] J.W. Draper: A History of the Intellectual Development of Europe; Revised edition; George Bell and Sons, London, 1875; vol II: p. 200.

[108] P.P. Soucek: Islamic Art and Architecture; Dictionary of the Middle Ages; vol 6; pp. 592-614; at p. 608.

[109] Ibid.

[110] A. Lane: Early Islamic Pottery; op cit; pp. 57-60; 77-81.

[111] A. Lane: Later Islamic Pottery; op cit; p 15.

[112] See J. Labarte:  Inventaire du mobilier de Charles V, roi de France; (Paris; 1879).

[113] A. van de Put: Hispano-Mauresque Ware of the 15th Century; (London; 1911); p. 8; 15.

[114] A. Lane: Later Islamic Pottery; op cit; p. 16.

[115] E. Gibbon: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; vol 5; Methuen and Co; Limited; (London; 1923); Chapter LXV; Part II.

[116] D. Whitehouse: Glass in Dictionary of the Middle Ages; op cit; vol 5; pp. 545-8; p. 547.

[117] M.S. Dimand: A Handbook of Muhammadan Art; The Metropolitan Museum of Art; (New York; 1958); p. 236.

[118] Simon Simeonis; p. 43 in W. Heyd: Histoire; op cit; vol 2; p. 710-1.

[119] D. Whitehouse: Glass; op cit; p. 547.

[120] P. Soucek; Islamic; op cit. p. 608.

[121] Ibid.

[122] S. Carboni: Glass From the Islamic Lands; (Thames and Hudson; 2001); p. 323.

[123] R. E. Mack: Bazaar to Piazza; op cit; p. 113.

E. Gibbon: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; op cit; vol VII; 1920; pp. 55-6.

[124] E. Gibbon: The Decline and Fall; vol vii; 1920; pp. 55-6.  D. Whitehouse: Glass; op cit; p. 547.

[125] G. Sarton: The Incubation of Western Culture in the Middle East, A George C. Keiser Foundation Lecture, March 29, 1950 (Washington DC; 1951), Note 35; p.35.

[126] G. Weiss: The Book of Glass; op cit; p. 67.

[127] D.B. Harden et al: Masterpieces of Glass; op cit; p. 103.

[128] N. Elisseeff: Al Dimashqi, in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2: 286-287

[129] S. Runciman: A History of the Crusades; vol 2; op cit; p. 241; Ibn al-Qalanisi: The Damascus Chronicles; op cit; p. 276.

[130] S. Runciman: History of the Crusades, op cit, p. 241; N. Elisseeff: Nur Ad Din, op cit, p. 404.

[131] Ibn al-Qalanisi: The Damascus Chronicles; op cit; p. 277; S. Runciman: A History of the Crusades; vol 2; op cit; p. 242.

[132] Ibn al-Qalanisi: The Damascus Chronicles; op cit; pp. 277-8.

[133] N. Elisseeff: Nur Ad Din, op cit, p. 417.

[134] Ibid.

[135] Ibid, p. 418.

[136] Ibn al-Qalanisi: The Damascus Chronicles; op cit; pp. 282 ff.

[137] N. Elisseeff: Nur Ad Din, op cit, p. 422.

[138] Ibid.

[139] Ibn al-Qalanisi: The Damascus Chronicles; op cit; pp. 282 ff.

[140] S. Runciman: A History; op cit; p. 284.

[141] G.W. Cox: The Crusades; op cit, p. 93.

[142] N. Elisseeff: Nur Ad Din, op cit, p. 426.

[143] Ibid.

[144] Ibn al-Qalanisi: The Damascus Chronicles; (Gibb); op cit; pp. 306-7; Ibn al-Athir: Kamil in RHOr; 1; p. 496; and Atabegs (RHOr) ii; p. 189.

[145] S. Runciman: A History of the Crusades; op cit; p. 340.

[146] Ibid; p. 341.

[147] N. Elisseeff: Nur Ad Din, op cit, p. 486.

[148] Ibid.

[149] R. Grousset: Histoire, op cit, II, 365.

[150] W.B. Stevenson: The Crusaders; op cit; pp. 173.

[151] W.B. Stevenson: The Crusaders in the East, op cit, pp. 173-4.

[152] Ibn Taghribirdi: Nujum al-Zahira fi Muluk Misr wa’l Qahira; Cairo; 1938; V, p. 148.

[153] Ibn Zafir: Akhbar al-Duwal al-Munqati’a; ed. A. Ferre; Cairo; 1972; p. 82.

[154] G.W. Cox: The Crusades; op cit; p. 98.

[155] W.B. Stevenson: The Crusaders; op cit; p. 194.

[156] Ibid.

[157] W.B. Stevenson: The Crusaders in the East, op cit, p. 194.

[158] Ibid.

[159] S. Lane Poole: The Life of Saladin, p. 97.

[160] J.H. Lamonte: Crusade and Jihad: op cit; p.176.

[161] Ibid.

[162] Barron Carra de Vaux: Les Penseurs de l’Islam; Geuthner, Paris, 1921; vol 2.  p. 95.

[163] Ibid.

[164] Ibid.

[165] Thierry Bianquis: Damas in Grandes Villes Mediterraneenes du Monde Musulman Medieval; J.C. Garcin editor; Ecole Francaise de Rome; 2000; pp. 37-55; at p. 43.

[166] Ibid.

[167] Ibid.

[168]  Y. Eche: Les Bibliotheques Arabes; Institut Francais de Damas (Damascus; 1967), p. 102.

[169] A.M. Edde: Les Medecins dans la societe Syrienne du 13 em siecle; in Annales Islamologiques; Vol XXIX; pp. 91-109; at p. 96.

[170] Ibid.

[171] Ibid.

[172]  Ibn Jubair in K.A Totah: The contribution of the Arabs to education; New York; Columbia University Press, 1926. p. 45.

[173] Ibid.

[174] Bayard Dodge: Muslim Education in Medieval times; The Middle East institute, Washington, D.C. 1962; p. 23.

[175] J. Pedersen: The Arabic Book, tr by G French; Princeton University Press; Princeton, New Jersey (1984). p. 128.

[176] Ibid.

[177] Ibn Jubayr: Al-Rihla (The Travels of Ibn Jubayr), tr. R.J.C. Broadhurst, Jonathan Cape, 1952, p. 284.

[178] In A Shalaby: History of Muslim Education. Beirut: Dar al Kashaf, 1954; pp. 65-7.

[179]  Cited by A Issa Bey: Histoire des hopitaux en Islam; Beirut; Dar ar ra’id al’arabi; 1981; p. 191.

[180] Ibid; p. 188.

[181] Ibid.

[182] A.M. Edde: Les Medecins dans la societe Syrienne; op cit; pp. 95-6.

[183] Al-Maqrizi, Al-Kitat Wal Athar, Vol. V, p. 408. Cited by Issa Bey, p. 191.

[184] Ibn abi Usaybi’ah, UYun al-Anba fi Tabaqat al-Atibba, ed. by August Müller, Konigsberg, 1884. Vol. II; p. 155.

[185] S.K. Hamarneh: Health Sciences in early Islam, 2 vols, edited by M.A. Anees, vol I, Noor Health Foundation and Zahra Publications, 1983; p. 100.

[186] Ibid.

[187] Ibid.

[188] Ibn Abbi Ussaybi’ah: Tabaquat, vol 3, op cit; pp. 256-7.

[189] A.Whipple: The Role of the Nestorians and Muslims in the History of Medicine. Microfilm-xerography by University Microfilms International Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A. 1977; p. 88.

[190] Max Meyerhof, ‘Ibn an-Nafis and his Theory of the Lesser Circulation,’ ISIS, 1935,23 112.

[191] Ibn Abi Usaybi’a `Uyun al-anba fi tabaqat al-attiba‘, edited by A. Mueller, Cairo/Konigsberg; 1884, reprint, 1965, p. 628 in F. Micheau: The Scientific Institutions in the Medieval Near East, in Encyclopaedia of the History of Arabic Science 3 Vols. Edited by R Rashed; Routledge, London and New York: 1996. vol 3, pp. 985-1007; at p. 1001.

[192] Ibn Jubayr, Rihlat, op cit; pp. 283-4.

[193] S.K. Hamarneh: Health Sciences; op cit; p. 100.

[194] Ibn Jubayr, Rihlat, op cit; 283-4.

[195] Ahmad al-Qalqashandi: Subh al-A ‘sha; Cairo, 1918, vol. 12, 84-85.

[196] Khalil ibn-Shahine al-Zahiri: Tableau politique et administratif de la Syrie, Paris, 1894. Quoted by Issa Bey, p. 192.

[197] S.K. Hamarneh: Health Sciences in early Islam; op cit; p. 100.

[198] A.L. Sedillot: Histoire generale des Arabes, 2 Vols; Paris, 1877. Vol 2.2, p. 8.

[199] F. Micheau: The Scientific Institutions in the Medieval Near East, op cit; p. 993.

[200] B. Hetherington: A Chronicle of Pre-Telescopic Astronomy; John Wiley and Sons; Chichester; 1996. p.101.

[201] Ibid; p. 93.

[202] The text of the MS. dated 1175, kept in the Khedivial Library, Cairo, was published in Cairo, 1318 H. Many extracts are translated into German in Wiedemann’s and Ritter.

-Eilhard Wiedemann: Mineralogisches aus einer arabischen Handels-und Warenlehre; Beitrage 30 Sitsungsber. der physi .-med. Sozietat, vol. 44, pp. 229-35, Erlangen 1912;

-E. Wiedemann: Kuiturgeschichtliche und klimatologisches aus arabischen Schriftstellern; Archiv fur Geschichte der Naturwiss., vol. 5, 60-61, 1913;

-E. Wiedemann: Aus der arabischen Handels- und Warenlehren von Abu’1 Fadl Beitrage 32, Erlangen Sitsungsber., vol. 45, pp. 34-54, 1914.

-Hellmut Ritter: Ein arabisches Handbuch der Handelswissenschaft; in Der Islam, vol. 7, 1-91, 1917;

[203] G. Sarton: Introduction; op cit; vol 2; p. 462.

[204] Ibid; p. 462-3.

[205] History by C Bouamrane: in C Bouamrane-Louis Gardet: Panorama de la pensee Islamique; Sindbad; Paris; 1984; pp. 252-66.

[206] For the best outline on Ibn Askair refer to S.A. Mourad: Ibn Asakir, in J.W. Meri Editor: Medieval Islamic Civilisation, an Encyclopaedia, Routledge, 2006; pp. 351-2; here at p. 351.

Also see the same author: Suleiman A. Murad for his work: Jihad propaganda in early Crusader Syria, in al Usur al Wusta, 20.1; April, 2008; pp. 1-7, which examines the role of scholars in promoting the notion of jihad, including amongst them Ibn Asakir.

[207] S.A. Mourad: Ibn Asakir; at p. 351.

[208] Ibid.

[209] Ibid.

[210] F. Haddad: Ibn ‘Asakir, at: https://www.sunnah.org/history/Scholars/ibn_asakir.htm, quoted on 16.04.2017.

[211] Zayde Antrim: Ibn Asakir’s representations of Syria and Damascus in the Introduction to Tarikh Madinat Dimashq; in Int. J. Middle East Stud. 38 (2006), 109–129; at p. 112.

[212] Ibid.

[213] S.A. Mourad: Ibn Asakir, op cit; p. 351.

[214] Tarikh: Ibn Asakir, Tarikh madinat Dimashq, vol. 1 and vol. 2 (pt. 1), ed. Salah al-Din al-Munajjid (Damascus: al-Majma al-Ilmi al-Arabi, 1951–54) (henceforth TMD); 1:4.

[215] TMD 2:62–63, 68, 70, 74, 76, 77, 78 (mosques inside walls), 81, 87, 90–91 (mosques outside walls), 154–55 (canals), 74, 162 (baths), 186 (gates), 74, 76–77 (madrasas); N. Elisseeff, Description, 103–4, 116, 120, 131, 136–39 (mosques inside walls), 146–47, 160, 167–68 (mosques outside walls), 258–59 (canals), 130, 278–79 (baths), 299–300 (gates), 131, 136–37 (madrasas). For more on Nur al-Din’s architectural patronage, see Elisseeff, “Les monuments de Nur ad-Din,” Bulletin d’Etudes Orientales 13 (1949–50): 5–43.

[216] Zayde Antrim: Ibn Asakir’s representations; op cit; p. 122.

[217] Yaqut, Mujam al-udaba’, 13:75.

[218] Zayde Antrim: Ibn Asakir’s representations; op cit; p. 122.

[219] F. Haddad: Ibn ‘Asakir, at: https://www.sunnah.org/history/Scholars/ibn_asakir.htm, quoted on 16.04. 2017.

[220] S.A. Mourad: Ibn Asakir, in J.W. Meri Editor: Medieval Islamic Civilisation, an Encyclopaedia, Routledge, 2006; pp. 351-2; at p. 351.

[221] Ibn Asakir: Tarikh Madinat Dimask; 80 vols; ed.; Umar al Umrawi and Ali Shiri, Beirut, Dar al Fikr, 1995-2001.

[222] S.A. Mourad: Ibn Asakir, op cit; p. 351.

[223] Ibid.

[224] Ibid.

[225] Zayde Antrim: Ibn Asakir’s representations; op cit; p. 121.

[226] Ibid.

[227] Tarikh Madinat Dimashq 2:154–64; Nikita Elisseeff, La description de Damas d’Ibn Asakir (Damascus: Institut Francais de Damas, 1959); 257–85.

[228] Zayde Antrim: Ibn Asakir’s representations; op cit; p. 121.

[229] Tarikh Madinat Dimashq 2:185–87; Nikita Elisseeff, La description de Damas d’Ibn Asakir; op cit; 297–301.

[230] Zayde Antrim: Ibn Asakir’s representations; op cit; p. 121.

[231] Ibid.

[232] S.A. Mourad: Ibn Asakir, op cit; p. 352.

[233] Ibid

[234] D. Campbell: Arabian Medicine and its Influence on the Middle Ages; Philo Press; Amsterdam; 1926; p. 83.

[235] G. Sarton: Introduction; op cit; vol 2; p. 685.

[236] Ibid.

[237] D. Campbell: Arabian Medicine; p. 83.

[238] G. Sarton: Introduction; op cit; vol 2; p. 685.

[239] Ibid.

[240] Ibid.

[241] Ibn Abbi Usaybiya: Uyun l’Anba fi Tabaqati’l Atiba edited by Imru-l-Qais Ibn al-Tabban; Cairo; 1882.

[242] Ibn abi Usaybi’ah: UYun al-Anba fi Tabaqat al-Atibba, ed; in 2 vols by August Müller, Konigsberg, 1884.

[243] Ubn Abi Usaybia: Uyun al-Anba fi Tabaquat al-Attiba, Beirut, 1957.

[244] G. Sarton: Introduction; op cit; vol 2; p. 685.

[245] Ibid; p. 1120.

[246] Ibid.

[247] Ibn Khallikan:  Wafayat al-Ayan wa-Anba Abna al-Zaman, Maymunyah Press, Cairo, 1888.

Ibn Khalikan’s biographical Dictionary, tr., M. De Slane Duprat, Paris and Allen & Co., London, 1843.

[248] Ibn Khallikan:  Wafayat al-Ayan wa-Anba….

[249] G. Sarton: Introduction; op cit; vol 2; p. 1120.

[250] Ibid.

[251] Ibid; p. 1120-1.

[252] For the latest and excellent outline on the works and findings of Ibn Nafis there is nothing better than the works by J.B. West:

West J.B. (2008). Ibn al-Nafis, the Pulmonary Circulation and the Islamic Golden Age. Journal of Applied Physiology.

West J.B. (2015). Essays on the History of Respiratory Physiology. Washington, D.C.: American Physiological Society/Springer.

West J.B. (2011). The Human Pulmonary Circulation: Historical Introduction, in Jason. X.J. Yuan, Joe. G.N. Garda and Charles A. Hall. Textbook of Pulmonary Vascular Disease, Springer, 2011; pp. 3-12.

[253] A.K. Chehade, Ibn-al-Nafis, et la Découverte de la circulation Pulmonaire, Damascus, 1955.

[254] S. I. Haddad and A. A. Khairallah: A Forgotten Chapter in the History of the Circulation of the Blood,” Annals of Surgery. Vol. 404 (July, 1936), pp. 1-8.

[255] A. Whipple: The Role; op cit; p. 47.

[256] G. Sarton: Introduction; op cit; vol ii; p. 1099.

[257] A K Chehade, Ibn-al-Nafis, op cit, 1955.

[258] A. Whipple: The Role; op cit; p. 47.

[259] A K Chehade, Ibn-al-Nafis, op cit.

 [260] M. Meyerhof: Ibn Nafis; op cit.

[261] A. Whipple: The Role; op cit; p. 47.

[262] A K Chehade, op cit.

[263]A. Whipple: The Role; op cit; p. 48.

[264] Ibid.

[265] Ibid.

[266] Ibid.

[267] S. I. Haddad and A. A. Khairallah: A Forgotten Chapter; op cit; pp. 1-8.

[268] Ibn Nafis in S. I. Haddad and A. A. Khairallah: A Forgotten Chapter, pp. 1-8.

[269] A. Whipple: The Role; op cit; p. 51.

[270] M. Ben Cheneb: Ibn Taymiyya; in Encyclopaedia of Islam; 1st series; vol 2; 1927; pp. 421-3; at p. 421.

[271] H. Laoust: Ibn Taymiyya; Encyclopaedia of Islam; New Series; vol 3; 1971; pp. 951-5; at p. 951.

[272] Ibid.

[273] C. Hillenbrand: The Crusades; Islamic Perspectives; Edinburgh; 1999. p. 243.

[274] Ibid.

[275] Ibid.

[276] Ibn Taymiyya, Majmut fatawa Shaykh al-Islam Ahmad b. Taymiyya, Riyadh, 1383H, vol. XXVIII, pp. 441-4.

[277] Ibid, p. 442.

[278] C. Hillenbrand: The Crusades; Islamic Perspectives; op cit; p. 243.

[279] H. Laoust: Ibn Taymiyya; op cit; p. 954.

[280] Ibid.

[281] M. Ben Cheneb: Ibn Taymiyya; op cit; p. 422.

[282] Ibid.

[283] Ibid.

[284] The account of Ghazan Khan’s conversion is reported by al-Jazari, on the authority of ʿAlam al- Dīn al-Birzālī, in his “Jawāhīr al-Sulūk” (Bibliothèque nationale MS arabe 6739, fols. 155v–157v), and by the Persian sources, particularly Rashīd al-Dīn, who gives a very different version; see C. Melville, “Pādishāh-i islām,” The Conversion of Sulṭān Maḥmūd Ghāzān Khān,” Pembroke Papers 1 (1990): 159–77.

[285] D. Aigle: The Mongol Invasions of Bilād al-Shām by Ghāzān Khān and Ibn Taymīyah’s Three “Anti-Mongol” Fatwas; in Middle East Documentation Center. The University of Chicago, pp. 89-120; at p. 93.

[286] Ibid.

[287] Ibid.

[288] Charles Melville, “‘The Year of the Elephant’ Mamuk-Mongol Rivalry in the Hejaz in the Reign of Abū Saʿīd (1317–1335),” Studia Iranica 21 (1992): 207.

[289] D. Aigle: The Mongol Invasions of Bilād al-Shām by Ghāzān Khān; op cit; at p. 92.

[290] Angus D. Stewart, The Armenian Kingdom and the Mamluks (Leiden, 2001), 136–46. The author emphasizes the role played by the Armenians.

[291] Al-Juwaini: Tarikh JihanKushai (or History of the World Conqueror); Persian Ms; Bibliotheque Royale de Paris. See extracts of his praise of the Mongols, and justifications of mass slaughter of Muslims in G. D’Ohsson: Histoire; vol 1; pp. xvii ff.

[292] For the best analysis of Mamluk Golden Horde relations, see A.A. Khowaiter: Baibars the First; The Green Mountain Press; London; 1978; pp. 43 ff.

[293] John of Plano Carpini: History of the Mongols; IV; tr. by a nun of Stanbrook Abbey in The Mongol Mission, C. Lawson; New York; Sheed and Ward; 1955.

F. Nau, L’expansion nestorienne en Asie, Musée Guimet, tom. 40, 1913-14. There are two brief German studies: W. Barthold, Zur Geschichte des Christentums in Mittel-Asien, Tubingen, and E. Sachau, Zur Ausbreitung des Christentums in Asien, Berlin, 1919. See also K.S. Latourette, A History of the Expansion of Christianity, vol. II, London, 1939, ch. V.

C. Brunel: David Ashby, auteur meconnu des ‘faits des tartares’ in Romania, LXXIX, 1958, pp. 39-46.

[294] J.M. Fiey: Chretiens Syriaques; op cit. J.J. Saunders: Aspects of the Crusades; University of Canterbury; 1962; J. Richard: La Papaute et les Missions d’Orient au Moyen Age; Ecole Francaise de Rome; Palais Farnese; 1977

[295] For details, see D’Ohsson: Mongols; Pelliot: Mongols; Curtin: Mongols; (various refs above cited).

[296] On the relations between the Ilkhans and the West, see Jean Richard, “Le début des relations entre la papauté et les Mongols de Perse,” Journal asiatique 237 (1949): 291–97, reprinted in Les relations entre l’Orient et l’Occident au Moyen Age: Etudes et documents (London, 1977); idem, “D’Älğigidaï à Gazan: la continuité d’une politique franque chez les Mongols d’Iran,” in L’Iran face à la domination mongole, ed. Denise Aigle (Tehran, 1997), 57–69, reprinted in Francs et Orientaux dans le monde des croisades (London, 2003); idem, “La politique orientale de Saint Louis: La croisade de 1248,” in Septième centenaire de Saint Louis: Actes des colloques de Royaumont et de Paris (17–21 mai 1970) (Paris, 1976), 197–207, reprinted in Les relations entre l’Orient et l’Occident au Moyen Age. For a survey of Ilkhanid-European relations, see John A. Boyle, “The Il-Khans of Persia and the Princes of Europe,” Central Asiatic Journal 20 (1976): 25–40; Karl Ernst Lupprian, Die Beziehungen der Päpste zu islamischen und mongolischen Herrschernein 13. Jahrhundert anhand ihres Briefwechsels, Studi e testi no. 291 (Vatican City, 1981), 67–82. For Hülegü’s letter of 1262, see Paul Meyvaert, “An Unknown Letter of Hulagu, Il-Khan of Persia, to King Louis IX of France,” Viator 11 (1980): 245–59; Denise Aigle, “The Letters of Eljigidei, Hülegü and Abaqa: Mongol Overtures or Christian Ventriloquism?” Inner Asia 7, no. 2 (2005): 143–62.

[297] See Jean Richard, “Chrétiens et Mongols au concile: la papauté et les Mongols de Perse dans la seconde moitié du XIIIe siècle,” in 1274, année charnière, mutations et continuités, Lyon-Paris, 30 septembre–5 octobre 1974, Colloques internationaux du CNRS, no. 558 (Paris, 1977), 30–44; Aigle, “The Letters of Eljigidei, Hülegü and Abaqa,” 152–54.

[298] See Histoire de Mar Jab-Alaha, Patriarche et de Raban Sauma, ed. Paul Bedjan (Leipzig, 1895); French translation by J. B. Chabot, Histoire de Mar Jabalaha III, Patriarche des Nestoriens (1281–1317) et du moine Rabban Çauma, Ambassadeur du roi Argoun en Occident (1287) (Paris, 1895).

[299] Arghūn sent a letter in Latin, dated 18 May 1285 in Tabriz, to Pope Honorius IV. It is reproduced in Lupprian, Die Beziehungen der Päpste zu islamischen und mongolischen Herrschern, 244–46. A letter in Mongol, dated the fifth of the new moon of the first month of the Year of the Tiger (14 May 1290) in Urmiya, was sent to Pope Nicholas IV. It has been published and translated with a commentary by Antoine Mostaert and Francis W. Cleaves, “Trois documents mongols des Archives Secrètes du Vatican,” Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 15, no. 3–4 (1952): 445–67.

[300] Text and commentaries in Les lettres de 1289 et 1305 des ilkhans Argun et Öljeitü à Philippe le Bel, ed. Antoine Mostaert and Francis W. Cleaves (Cambridge, MA, 1962), 17–53. Arghūn’s letter was an answer to a promise made by the king of France to send an army should the Ilkhan launch a war against the Mamluks.

[301] In spring 1302, Ghāzān Khān sent a letter to this pope in Mongol script. Text and commentaries in Mostaert and Cleaves, “Trois documents mongols,” 467–78.

[302] Text and commentaries in Les lettres de 1289 et 1305 des ilkhans Argun et Öljeitü à Philippe le Bel, 55–85. In parallel with this pursuit of an alliance with the Christian West, the Ilkhans sent a series of letters and embassies to the Mamluk sultans inviting them to submit: Hülegü to Quṭuz in 1260; Abāqā to Baybars in 1268 and 1277; Geikhetü to al-Malik al-Ashraf Khalīl in 1293. Ghāzān Khān in turn wrote to al-Nāṣir Muḥammad ibn Qalāwūn in 1300 and 1302, again ordering the Mamluks to submit. On these letters, see Reuven Amitai-Preiss, “An Exchange of Letters in Arabic between Abaga Īlkhān and Sultan Baybars (A.H. 667/A.D. 1268–69),” Central Asiatic Journal 38, no. 1 (1994): 11–33; idem, “Mongol Imperial Ideology,” 57–72, where several of these letters are the subject of a commentary.

[303] W. Fischel tr: A New Latin Source on Tamerlane’s Conquest of Damascus (1400/1401): (B. de Mignanelli’s “Vita Tamerlani” 1416)
Author(s): in Oriens, Vol. 9, No. 2 (Dec. 31, 1956), pp. 201-232; Published by: Brill; p. 201.

[304] Al-Makrizi: Sultans (Quatremere); p. 33; p. 35.

[305] S. Runciman: A History; op cit; pp. 391-2.

[306] Al Maqrizi: Sultans; op cit; p. 35.

[307] Ibid.

[308] I.M. Lapidus: Muslim Cities in the later Middle Ages: Harvard University Press; Cambridge Mass; 1967.pp.19-20. p. 13.

[309] Ibid.

[310] W. Fischel tr: A New Latin Source on Tamerlane’s Conquest of Damascus (1400/1401); op cit; p. 201.

[311] C. Melville: The Year of the Elephant: Mamluk Mongol rivalry in the Hejaz in the reign of Abu Sa‘id (1317 1335)”, Studia Iranica 21/ii (1992), pp. 197-214; p. 200.

[312] D. Aigle: The Mongol Invasions of Bilād al-Shām; op cit; p. 112.

[313] Majmūʿ Fatāwá Shaykh al-Islām Aḥmad ibn Taymīyah, ed. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Muḥammad ibn Qāsim al-Najdī al-Ḥanbalī (Riyadh/Mecca, 1381–86/1961–67, repr. 1417/1995). Old edition, also not critical: Ibn Taymīyah, Kitāb Majmūʿ al-Fatāwá (Cairo, 1326–29/1908–11). In this edition, the anti-Mongol fatwas are located in vol. 4, Kitāb al-Jihād, 289–302. here 28/542.

[314] D. Aigle: The Mongol Invasions of Bilād al-Shām; op cit; at p. 113.

[315] Majmūʿ Fatāwá, 28:521–22.

[316] The Mamluk historian al-ʿUmarī (d. 1349) reports this legend, which undoubtedly circulated orally in the Muslim East and whose origin is to be found in the Secret History of the Mongols; see al-ʿUmarī, Das Mongolische Weltreich: al-ʿUmarī’s Darstellung der mongolischen Reiche in seinem Werk Masālik al-abṣār wa mamālik al-amṣār, ed. Klaus Lech (Wiesbaden, 1968), Arabic text: 2–3. On the development of this myth, see Denise Aigle, “Les transformations d’un mythe d’origine: l’exemple de Gengis Khan et de Tamerlan,” in Figures mythiques de l’Orient musulman, ed. D. Aigle, Revue des Mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée 89–90 (2000): 151–68. Ibn Taymīyah muddles Alan-Qʾoa, the mythic ancestor of the Mongols, with Chinggis Khan’s mother.

[317] D. Aigle: The Mongol Invasions of Bilād al-Shām; op cit; p. 114.

[318] Majmūʿ Fatāwá, 28:525.

[319] D. Aigle: The Mongol Invasions of Bilād al-Shām; op cit; at p. 118.

[320] Ibid.

[321] For more on Ibn Taymiya and the Mongols, the article by D. Aigle: The Mongol Invasions of Bilād al-Shām; op cit; is the first port of call, and from it most of the above has been derived. It is recommended to everyone.

[322] G. Sarton: Introduction; op cit; vol 2; p. 632.

[323] L.A. Mayer: Islamic astrolabists and their works; Albert Kundig; Geneva; 1956; at p. 62.

[324] Ibid.

[325] G. Sarton: Introduction, op cit; vol 2; p. 631.

[326] Ibid.

[327] Ibid.

[328] L.A. Mayer: Islamic astrolabists; op cit; at p. 61.

[329] Ibid.

[330] Ibid.

[331] Ibid.

[332] G. Sarton: Introduction; op cit; vol 3; pp. 696-7.

[333] H. Suter: Die mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber und ihre Werke; Ehrlangen; 1900; pp. 165; 227.

[334] The Life and Work of Ibn al-Shatir; Edited by E.S. Kennedy and I. Ghanem; Institute for the History of Arabic Science; University of Aleppo; 1976; p. 13.

[335] L.A. Mayer: Islamic astrolabists; op cit; p. 40.

[336] Ibid.

[337] The Life and Work of Ibn al-Shatir; op cit; p. 13.

[338] L.A. Mayer: Islamic astrolabists; op cit; p. 41.

[339] Ibid.

[340] The Life and Work of Ibn al-Shatir; op cit; p. 13.

[341] D. King Ibn al Shatir in Encyclopaedia (Selin ed); p. 1098.

[342] The Life and Work of Ibn al-Shatir; op cit; p. 14.

[343] For one of the best and most succinct outlines, see David King: Ibn al Shatir, op cit; pp. 1097-8.

[344] The Life and Work of Ibn al-Shatir; op cit; p. 14.

[346] The Life and Work of Ibn al-Shatir; op cit; p. 14.

[347] Ibid.

[348] D. King: Ibn al Shatir; op cit; p. 1098.

[349] Al-Badrī, ʻAbd Allāh Ibn Muḥammad, (d.894/1498). Nuzhat al-Anām fī Maḥāsin al-Shām. Edited by Ibrāhīm Ṣāliḥ. Dimashq: Dār al-Bashāir, 2006.

[350] The following outline is derived from the excellent thesis by Georgina: Hafteh: Gardens of Damascus:
Landscape and the Culture of Recreation in the Early Modern Period; A Thesis Submitted to the University of Adelaide in fulfilment of the requirement for the degree of Master of Landscape Architecture; School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Urban Design Centre for Asian and Middle Eastern Architecture (CAMEA) Faculty of Professions;
The University of Adelaide

Georgina Hafteh is also the author of first class article on the subject of Damascus gardens: The Garden Culture of Damascus: New Observations Based on the Accounts of ʻAbd Allāh al-Badrī (d. 894/1489) and Ibn Kannān al-Ṣāliḥī (d. 1135/1740); Bulletin d’Etudes Orientales (2012); pp. 297-325.

[351] Muḥammad Ibn ʻAbd al-Raḥmān al-Sakhāwī, (d.902/1497), al-Ḍawʾ al-Lāmiʻ li-Ahl al-Qarn al-Tāsiʻ, 12 vols. (Bayrūt: Dār al-Jīl, 1992), 11: 40; Khayr al-Dīn al-Ziriklī, (d.1310/1893), al-Aʻlām: Qāmūs Tarājim li-Ashar al-Rijāl wa-l-Nisāʾ min al-ʻArab wa-l-Mustaʻribīn wa-l-Mustashriqīn, 8 vols. (Bayrūt: Dār al-ʻIlm li-l-Malāyīn, 1979), 2: 66.

[352] Abī al-Faḍl Muḥammad Khalīl al-Murādī, Silk al-Durar fī Aʻyān al-Qarn al-Thānī ʻAshar, ed. Muḥammad ʻAbd al-Qādir Shāhīn, 4 vols. (Bayrūt: Dār al-Kutub al-ʻIlmiyya, 1997), 4: 85.

[353] Ibn Kannān, al-Mawākib al-Islāmiyya, 1: 176.

[354] Ibid; I; 222.

[355] There are so many Damascene beauties that it becomes ―difficult to count, al-Badrī said. See also for discussion on the same point: Al-Nābulusī, Burj Bābil, 103.

[356] Georgina Hafteh, ―The Garden Culture of Damascus: New Observations Based on the Accounts of ʻAbd Allāh al-Badrī (d.894/1498) and Ibn Kannān al-Ṣāliḥī (d.1135/1740), Bulletin d’Etudes Orientales (2012).

[357] Ibn Kannān, al-Murūj al-Sundusiyya al-Fasīḥa fī Talkhīṣ Tārīkh al-Ṣāliḥiyya, ed. Muḥammad Aḥmad Duhmān (Dimashq: Maṭbaʻat al-Taraqqī, 1947).

[358] Shams al-Dīn Muḥammad Ibn ʻAlī Ibn Ṭūlūn, (d.953/1529), al-Qalāʾid al-Jawhariyya fī Tārīkh al- Ṣāliḥiyya, ed. Muḥammad Aḥmad Duhmān, 2 vols. (Dimashq: Maṭbū‘āt Majma‘ al-Lugha al- ̳Arabiyya 1949-56?).

[359] We are still relying on the excellent outlines by G. Hafteh cited above.

[360] Najm al-Dīn al-Ghazzī, (d.1061/1651), al-Kawākib al-Sāʾira bi-Aʻyān al-Māʾa al-ʻĀshira, 3 vols. (Bayrūt: Dār al-Kutub al-‛Ilmiyya, 1997).

[361] Muḥammad Amīn al-Muḥibbī (d.1111/1699), Khulāṣat al-Athar fī Aʻyān al-Qarn al-Ḥādī ʻashar, ed. Muḥammad Ḥasan Ismāʻīl, 4 vols (Bayrūt: Dār Ṣādir); Abī al-Faḍl Muḥammad Khalīl al-Murādī, (d.1206/1791), Silk al-Durar fī Aʻyān al-Qarn al-Thānī ʻAshar, ed. Muḥammad ʻAbd al-Qādir Shāhīn, 4 vols. (Bayrūt: Dār al-Kutub al-ʻIlmiyya, 1997).

[362] Al-Ziriklī, al-Aʻlām, 7: 63.

[363] Al-Murādī, Silk al-Durar, 1: 3-5

[364] Georgina: Hafteh: Gardens of Damascus
Landscape and the Culture; op cit; pp. 33-4.

[365] In A. Gunny: Images of Islam in eighteenth century writing; Grey Seal, London, 1996; p. 95.

[366] D. Diderot: Oeuvres Completes; Vol VIII, Paris; 1975; at p. 230.

[367] A. Gunny: Images of Islam; op cit; 168.

[368] J.D. Bate: The Claims of Ishmael; London; W. Allen; 1884; p. 301.

[369] G.E. Von Grunebaum: Islam, Greenwood Press, Publishers, 1961; p. 118.

[370] T.E. Huff: The Rise of Early Modern Science, Cambridge University Press, 1993; pp. 52-3.

[371] See also E. Renan: Averroes et l’Averroisme, in Discours et Conference, Paris, Calman Levy, 1919; p. iii;

E. Ashtor: A Social and Economic History of the Near East in the Middle Ages; Collins; London; 1976; etc.

 [372] See, for instance: P. Pelliot: Mongols and Popes; 13th and 14th centuries; Paris; 1922.

[373] See Baron G. D’Ohsson: Histoire des Mongols, in four volumes; Les Freres Van Cleef; la Haye and Amsterdam; 1834; vol 3, above all.

[374] J. J. Saunders: A History of Medieval Islam; Routledge; London; 1965; p. 182.

[375] Jean Richard: La Papaute et les Missions d’Orient au Moyen Age; Ecole Francaise de Rome; Palais Farnese; 1977; p. 99.

[376] See Baron G. D’Ohsson: Histoire des Mongols, in four volumes; Les Freres Van Cleef; la Haye and Amsterdam; 1834; vol 3, above all.

[377] Ibid.

[378] See, among many others, Ibn al-Athīr, Al-kāmil fī l-tārīkh; Al-Yūnīnī, Dhayl mirʾāt al-zamān (Antranig Melkonian, Die Jahre 1287–1291 in der Chronik al-Yūnīnīs (Freiburg: Universitätsverlag Becksmann, 1975); Li Guo, Early Mamluk Syrian Historiography. Al-Yūnīnī’s Dhayl Mirʾāt Al-Zamān, volumes I–II (Leiden; Boston; Köln: Brill, 1998), II.); Shāfiʿ ibn ʿAlī, Al-faḍ l almaʾthūr min sīrat al-sultan al-malik al-Mansur (Paulina B. Lewicka, Šāfi‘ Ibn ‘Alī’s Biography of the Mamluk Sultan Qalāwūn (Warsaw: Dialog, 2000).); Ibn ʿAbd al-Ẓāhir, Al-rawd al-zāhir fī sīrat al-malik al-Ẓāhir, ed. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz al-Khuwaytir (Riyadh, ̣ 1976); Ibn Taymiyya (see for example Denise Aigle, “The Mongol Invasions of Bilād al-Shām by Ghāzān Khān and Ibn Taymīyah’s Three ‘Anti-Mongol’ Fatwas”, Mamlūk Studies Review 11/2 (2007): 89–120.); Al-Maqrīzī, Al-sulūk li-maʿrifat duwal al-mulūk, ed. Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Ḵāliq ʿAbd al-Qādir ʿAtạ ̄, volumes I-VIII (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 1997); Ibn ʿArabshāh, ʿAjāʾib al-maqdūr. Thomas Herzog, “La mémoire des invasions mongoles dans la Sīrat Baybars: Persistances et transformations dans l’imaginaire populaire arabe”, in Le Bilād al-Šām face aux mondes extérieurs: La perception de l’autre et la représentation du souverain, ed. Denise Aigle (Damascus: Presses de l’Ifpo, 2012), pp. 345–63.)

[379] J. Aubin: Comment Tamerlane Prenait les Villes; in Studia Islamica; vol 19; pp. 83-122.

[380] E.S. Creasy: History of the Ottoman Turks; Khayats; Beirut; 1961; pp. 44-6.

[381] Ibn Khaldūn, Kitāb al-ʿibar, III: 535. The Mongols are here referred to as al-tatar.

[382] Ibid, V: 113.

[383] Ibid, 111 ff.

[384] Ibid, 120 ff.

[385] Ibn Khaldūn: Al-taʿrīf, 374.

[386] Ibid 380.

[387] D. Vaughan: Europe and the Turk; Liverpool University press; 1954; p. 205.

[388] Rodrigo de Zayas: Les Morisques et le racisme d’etat; Ed Les Voies du Sud; Paris, 1992; p. 135.

[389] Ibid.

[390] Edwin Pears: The Ottoman Turks to the fall of Constantinople. In The Cambridge Medieval History, Cambridge University Press, 1923; vol IV: Edited by J. R. Tanner, C. W. Previte; Z.N. Brooke, 1923; pp. 653-705; at pp. 679-80.

[391] P. Wittek: The Ottoman Turks-from an emirite of march warriors to an empire: in The Islamic World and the West: editor A. R. Lewis; John Wiley and Sons; London; 1970; pp. 106-118; p. 115.

[392] Edwin Pears: The Ottoman Turks; op cit; p. 682.

[393] William Miller: The Balkan States; The Cambridge Medieval History, Vol IV: Edited by J. R. Tanner et al; op cit, pp. 552-593; p. 562.

[394] R. De Zayas: Les Morisques; p. 136.

[395] Ibid.

[396] N. Smith: A History of Dams, The Chaucer Press, London, 1971; p. 86.

[397] E.R. Wolf: Europe and the People Without History; University of California Press; Berkeley; 1982; p. 45.

[398] Ibid.

[399] W. Fischel tr: A New Latin Source on Tamerlane’s Conquest of Damascus (1400/1401): (B. de Mignanelli’s “Vita Tamerlani” 1416)
Author(s): in Oriens, Vol. 9, No. 2 (Dec. 31, 1956), pp. 201-232; Published by: Brill; p. 201.

[400] Ibid; p. 202.

[401] Edwin Pears: The Ottoman Turks; op cit; pp. 679-80.

[402] Ibid; p. 684.

[403] E. Gibbon: The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Chapter LXV; Part II.

[404] Walter J. Fischel, “A New Latin Source on Tamerlane’s Conquest of Damascus”, Oriens 9 (1956): 202–203;

Ibn al-Athīr, Al-Kāmil fī l-tārīkh, volume XII (Beirut: Dār al-Ṣādir, 1965); for Timur, see for instance Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad Ibn ʿArabshāh, ʿAjāʾib al-maqdūr fī nawāʾib Timūr (Calcutta: s.n., 1818), or the list of scholars mentioned in Fischel, “New Latin Source”.

[405] W. Fischel tr: A New Latin Source on Tamerlane’s Conquest of Damascus (1400/1401); account is at pp. 209-230.

[406] Johann Schiltberger: The Bondage and Travels of Johann Schiltberger, a Native of Bavaria, in Europe, Asia, and Africa, 1396-1427; tr. from the Heildelberg Ms. Edited in 1859 by Friedrich Neumann; London, the Hakluyt Society; 1879; pp. 27-8.

Ahmed Ibn Arabshah: Tamerlane or Timur the Great Amir, tr. From The Arabic Life by J.H. Sanders; London, Luzac and Co; London; 1936; pp. 156-162.

[407] Ibn Khaldūn: Kitāb al-ʿibar, V: 506. See also Ibn Khaldūn, Al-taʿrīf, 382. In Al-taʿrīf, Ibn Khaldūn also refers to Timur and his troops as mughul numerous times, including when he writes: “Al-Malik al-Ẓāhir (…) went out with his Turkish troops in order to try and defeat the Mongols (mughul) and their king Timur” (Ibn Khaldūn, Al-taʿrīf, 365). We also find them as altaṭaṛ/al-tatar in numerous places (e.g. Ibn Khaldūn, Al-taʿrīf, 366, 380, 381, 382).

[408]  Ibn Khaldūn, Al-taʿrīf, 365.

[409] Ibid; 366, 380, 381, 382.

[410] Ahmed Ibn Arabshah: Tamerlane or Timur the Great Amir, tr. From The Arabic Life by J.H. Sanders; London, Luzac and Co; London; 1936; for just a general view, see table of contents of titles, and names used to refer to Timur.

[411] Forbes Manz, Rise and Rule, 17.

[412] Anne F. Broadbridge, Kingship and Ideology in the Islamic and Mongol Worlds; Cambridge University Press, 2008), pp. 170–97.

[413] Forbes Manz, “Temür”, 195; Forbes Manz, Rise and Rule, 17

[414] Sylvester de Sacy: Memoire sur une correspondence inedited entre Tamerlan et Charles VI; Extrait du Moniteur; No 226; 1812; pp. 7-8; A.S. Atiya: The Crusade in the Later Middle Ages; op cit; pp. 256-7.

[415] J.H. Wylie: History of England under Henry IV; Longman; London; 1884; p. 315.

[416] Ibid. p. 313.

[417] Ibid. p. 314.

[418] P. Jackson: The Mongols and the West, 1221-1410; Pearson Education Ltd; London; 2005; 242.

[419] Texts in Baron Silvestre de Sacy, ‘Memoire sur une correspondance inedite de Tamerlan avec Charles VI, MAIBL 6 (1822), pp. 470-523 (pp. 473-4, Persian text; pp. 478-9., Latin trans.; pp. 479-80, Miran Shah’s letter;

pp. 521-2, Charles VI’s reply to Timur).

[420] Ibid. Wylie pp. 313- 4.

[421] For Genoese attitudes, see Michel Balard, La Romanie genoise, 2 vols with continuous pagination (Genova, 1978). For much of what follows, see P. Jackson: The Mongols and the West, 1221-1410; Pearson Education Ltd; London; 2005.

[422] Venetian report of 10 Sept. 1401, in N. Iorga, N., ‘Notes et extraits pour servir a l’histoire des croisades au XV” siècle ROL (Revue de l’Orient Latin) 4 (1896), pp. 25-118, 226-320, 503-622., at p. 245. Byzantine relations with Timur are discussed in John W. Barker, Manuel II Palaeologus 1391-1425. A Study in Late Byzantine Statesmanship (New Brunswick, NJ, 1969), pp. 504-8 (appendix XVIII).

[423] Timur to [John VII] the regent of Constantinople, 15 May 1402, in Alexandrescu-Dersca, M.M., La campagne de Timur en Anatolie (1402) (Bucarest, 1942, repr. London, 1977); pp. 123-4. Letter of Gerardo Sagredo, 12 Oct. 1402, ibid, p. 131. Clavijo, p. 93 (tr. Le Strange, p. 135).

[424] Hippolyte Noiret, ed., Documents inedits pour servir a l’histoire de la domination Venitienne en Crete de 1380 a 1485 (Paris, 1892), pp. 129-30. Letter of Giovanni Cornaro, 4 Sept. 1402, in Alexandrescu-Dersca, M.M., La campagne; pp. 125-6.

[425] R.De Zayas: Les Morisques et le Racisme d’Etat; Les Voies Du Sud; Paris; 1992; p. 136.

[426] See J. Delaville Le Roulx, Rapports de Tamerlan avec les Chretiens, in: La France en Orient au XIVe Siecle, Paris, 1886, Vol. I, pp. 384-396, in: Bibliotheque des Ecoles Frangaises d’Athenes et de Rome, Vol. XIV. See also Aziz Suryal Atiya, Europe and the Tatars, in: The Crusades in the Later Middle Ages, London, 1938, pp. 256-259.

[427] H. Moranville, Memoire sur Tamerlan et sa cour par un Dominicain, en 1403, BBC 55 (1894), pp. 441-64 (here p. 453). 65. Ibid., p. 454. Chronographia regum Francorum, III, p. 220.

[428] Beltramo da Mignanelli, ‘Vita Tamerlani’ (1416), in Et. Baluze, ed., Miscellanea novo ordine digesta et non paucis ineditis monumentis opportunisque animadversionibus aucta, new ed by J.D. Mansi, N (Lucca, 1764), p. 138; partial tr. Waiter J. Fischel, ‘A new Latin source on Tamerlane’s conquest of Damascus (1400/1401)’, Oriens 9 (1956), pp. 201-32 (here p. 229).

[429] Chronographia regum Francorum, III, p. 205 (ascribing the information to John). Chronique du Religieux de Saint-Denys, xxiii, 10, ed. Bellaguet, III, p. 46. Conrad von Jungingen to Timur and to Miran Shah, 20 Jan. 1407, in Forstreuter, Forstreuter, Kurt, ‘Der Deutsche Orden und Siidosteuropa’, Kyrios. Vierteljahresschrift fur Kirchen- und Geistelfeschichte Osteuropas 1 (1936), pp. 245-72. p. 270. Alexandrescu-Dersca, La campagne, p. 82, seems to accept the release of the Christian captives as genuine, but cites no source. Schmieder, Europa, p. 186.

[430] Clavijo, p. 4 (tr. Le Strange, p. 25).

[431] Chronique du Religieux de Saint-Denys, xxiii, 10, ed. Bellaguet, III, p. 48.

[432] Nizam ad-Din Shami, Histoire des Conquetes de Tamerlan intitulee Zafarnama, ed. F. Tauer, Prague, 1937; pp. 230-237; see also F. Tauer, Vorbericht iiber die Herausgabe des Zafarname, in: Archiv Orientalni, Prague, 1932, Vol. IV, pp. 255-256 and Prague, 1937, Vol. VI, pp. 429-465.

[433] The Zafarnamah by Maulana Sharfuddin Ali of Yazd, ed. Mawlawi Muhammad Ilahdad,
 Bibliotheca Indica, 2 vols., Calcutta, 1887-1888; Vol. II, pp. 329-345; French translation by Petis
 de la Croix, L’Histoire du Timur Bec, Vol. III, Paris, 1722, esp. pp. 286-347. See E. G. Browne, Persian Literature under Tatar Dominion, III, pp. 360-365; V. Barthold, Turkistan at the Time of the Mongolian Invasion, London, 1927, pp. 53-56; C. A. Storey, Persian Literature, A Bio-Bibliographical Survey, London, Section II, Fasc. 2 (1936), pp. 283-287.

[434] Subh al-Asha, 14 vols, Cairo, 1913-1919; cf. W. Bjorkmann, Beitrdge zur Geschichte der Staats-kanzlei im islamischen Agypten, Hamburg, 1928.

[435] Kitab as-Suluk, MS Paris, No. 1728. For this and the following MSS, see de Slane, Catalogue des manuscrits arabes dans la Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, 1883-1895.

[436] Adh-Dhail ‘ala Ta’rikh al-Islam, MS Paris, Nos. 1598-1599.

[437] Inbaa al-Ghumr, MS Paris, Nos. 1603-1

[438] Iqd al-Juman, MS Paris, No. 1544.

[439] Al-Manhal as-Safi, MS Paris, Nos. 2069-2071, and an-Nujum az-Zahira, ed. W. Popper, Berkeley, Vol. V, 1932-1936; Vol. VI, 1915-1923; History of Egypt (1382-1411) translated from the Arabic Annals of Ibn Taghri Birdi by W. Popper, University of California Publ. in Semitic Philology, Vols. 13 and 14, Berkeley, 1954.

[440] Ad-Dau’ al-Lami’a, Cairo, 1353, Vol. III, pp. 46-50.

[441] Bada’i az-Zuhur, 3 vols. Bulaq, 1311-1312 A.H

[442] Ibn Khaldūn, Al-taʿrīf, 365

[443] A hundredweight, or hundred ratḷ (from Latin centenarius). The exact weight depended on the weight of the dirham alkayl (weight dirham), which ranged between 3,086 and 3,148 grams, and on what was measured (the ratḷ could take various numbers of darāhim). Consequently, qanātiṛ in medieval Egypt could vary between 45 and 96.7 kg. See Ulrich Rebstock, “Weights and Measures in Islam”, in Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures, ed. Helaine Selin (Berlin: Springer, 2008), pp. 2255–67.

[444] Ibn Khaldūn, Al-taʿrīf, 374.

[445] Johann Schiltberger: The Bondage and Travels of Johann Schiltberger, a native of Bavaria, in Europe, Asia, and Africa, 1396-1427; tr. from the Heildelberg Ms. Edited in 1859 by Friedrich Neumann; London, the Hakluyt Society; 1879; pp. 27-8.

[446] Ibid; p. 23.

[447] The most important references to de Mignanelli’s life and work seem to be in Ugurgieri Azz lini, Le Pompe Sanesi, Pistorius, 1649, Vol. I. Chapt. 21, p. 660; G. Golubovich, Biblioteca Bi Bibliografica della Terra Santa e dell’ Oriente Francescano, Firenze, 1927, Vol. V, pp. 301-304 and in N. Iorga, Notes et Extraits pour Servir a l’Histoire des Croisades au XVe Siecle, Paris, 189 Vol. II, pp. 529-542. Short references to de Mignanelli have been made, at least in footnotes, by the translator of Frescobaldi’s Visit, pp. 174, 176 and recently by E. Strauss in his Toldoth h yehudim b’Mizrayim w’Surya, Jerusalem, 1951, Vol. II, p. XI, pp. 14ff, p. 115.

[448] The manuscript of this treatise from the Biblioteca Comunale degli Intronati in Siena (Ms. XVI. 2, fols. 31r-38 v). Another manuscript is in the Osterr. National-Bibliothek, Wien (Latin N 557, fols. 67a-76b). The text has been published by Stephanus Baluzius, Miscellanea, pp. 134-141, quite faulty in many spots.

[449] Fischel; op cit; p. 208.

[450] De Mignanelli in Vita Tamerlani; tr by W. Fischel; op cit; pp. 209-230.

[451] Ahmed Ibn Arabshah: Tamerlane or Timur the Great Amir, tr. From The Arabic Life by J.H. Sanders; London, Luzac and Co; London; 1936; pp. 156-162.

[452] Ibid.

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