Yāqūt Shihāb al-Dīn ibn-‘Abdullāh al-Rūmī al-Hamawī;
(1179–1229) (Arabic: ياقوت الحموي الرومي) is famous for his great “geography”, Mu’jam ul-Buldān, an encyclopedia of Islam written in the late Abbāsid era and as much a work of biography, history and literature as a simple work of geography.
Yāqūt (ruby or hyacinth) was the kunya of Ibn Abdullāh (“son of Abdullāh”). He was born in Constantinople, and as his nisba “al-Rumi” (“from Rūm”) indicates he had Byzantine Greek ancestry. Yāqūt was “mawali” to ‘Askar ibn Abī Naṣr al-Ḥamawī, a trader of Baghdad, Iraq, the seat of the Abbasid Caliphate, from whom he received the laqab “Al-Hamawī”. As ‘Askar’s apprentice, he learned about accounting and commerce, becoming his envoy on trade missions and travelling twice or three times to Kish in the Persian Gulf. In 1194 ‘Askar stopped his salary over some dispute and Yāqūt found work as copyist to support himself. He embarked on a course of study under the grammarian Al-‘Ukbarî. Five years later he was on another mission to Kish for ‘Askar. On his return to Baghdad he set up as a bookseller and began his writing career.