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By describing Ibn al-Qalnis as an adb Ibn Askir indicates that he was a master of adab; in its broadest interpretation, this term indicates cultural refinement and good breeding, encompassing encyclopaedic knowledge of etiquette, customs and a range of literature including religious texts and doctrine, historical traditions and poetry. Probably the best-known exponent of such a range of knowledge in the crusading period was Usma ibn Munqidh d.

Whichever Ibn Askir means in this case, it is clear that he regarded Ibn al-Qalnis as a literary as well as political figure.

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They were also involved in urban defence and, as a focus for local sentiment, could be influential in resisting or seeking to influence the Seljq rulers or their appointees who governed the city. However, he was pp. It is here worth underlining that Gibbs translation of the text is partial; only episodes related to the struggles with the Franks are rendered into English, while those to do with the internal politics of Damascus and the rest of the Muslim world are ignored.

This means it is not possible to fully understand the situation in the city from his translation, and so scholars should refer instead to the full French translation for this period by Le Tourneau: Damas de , tr. Le Tourneau Damascus, Hitti Princeton NJ, ; repr. Beirut, ; tr. Gabrieli, Adab, in EI2. For a useful discussion of the origins and development of adab, see M. Berlin, , pp. Ab Yal amza ibn Asad ibn Muammad al-Tamm said However Ibn al-Qalnis himself felt, the incident reminds us of how influential the ras and adth could be in the fortunes and politics of their communities in Syria at this time.

However, Nr al-Dns takeover led to a decline in the influence of the ras and adth, as under his rule power was transferred into the hands of the shina military governor and the ib al-shura chief of police , and the ras and adth would disappear completely during the Ayybid and Mamlk periods.

In being involved in the negotiations to hand Damascus over to Nr al-Dn, members of Ibn al-Qalniss family were instrumental in altering the power structures within Damascus, and as members of the adth and former ras were actually helping to bring about the downfall of those institutions through which they had wielded power. The first of these is a love poem, but the second and third are exhortations to steadfastness in the face of calamities, and while the third is directed at an unspecified reader, the second is aimed at the nafs [self or soul] of the poet himself:.

The dating of Ibn al-Qalniss time as ras therefore hinges on whether the opening statement of this paragraph is the work of the copyist or of Ibn al-Qalnis himself, with the latter referring to himself in the third person. Ibn al-Qalnis, Tarkh Dimashq: , ed. Zakkr Damascus, , p. On the unusual nature of Ibn al-Qalniss reticence see page lm of the introduction to Zakkrs edition.

O nafs! Do not worry about calamities that have increased, nor put more faith in [earthly] joy than the God of mankind. How many calamities have appeared and become great, but their effects on wealth and the heart have passed away afterwards? On the basis of statements in later sources, however, it is safe to assume that he is referring to the Dhayl tarkh Dimashq.

Qsiyn outside the city of Damascus, and records that he was present for the prayer over the deceased.

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A small amount of additional information can be gleaned from scattered references in later works; for example, it is from Ibn al-Qalniss Aleppan contemporary Muammad ibn Al al-Am d. However, he remains an enigmatic figure. Ibn al-Qalnis wrote his history in a complex political and intellectual environment. Like many Muslim chroniclers, he augments his account of each year with notices on important figures of his time.

XV, pp. Zarr Damascus, , p. In this account he notes the arrival in the city of the famous poet Muammad ibn Nar ibn al-Qaysarn and the philosopher-shaykh Abul-Fut ibn al-al both of whom died in the same year , and also reports the death of Burhn al-Dn Al al-Balkh, the head of the anaf school in Damascus. Ibn al-Qaysarn was one of a number of Muslim poets who wrote on the topic of the military jihad against the Franks.

Thus, in order to maintain its independence and to flourish the city was forced to engage in a delicate balancing act, forming alliances with one power or another as circumstances dictated, the overall goal of which was to preserve Damascus autonomy and influence in the face of repeated attempts by others to take control of it, most notably the Franks and Zengids. This independent spirit is reflected in Ibn al-Qalniss own writings, which celebrate rulers who contribute to the success of the city and criticise those believed to have acted in a manner which put the citys independence at risk.

A and M. A, 19 vols Beirut, , vol. XVII, p. Sivan, LIslam et la croisade: Idologie et propagande dans les ractions musulmanes aux croisades Paris, , p. Mourad and J. Ibn al-Qalnis was certainly well placed to make comments on this subject. As noted above, he filled a number of high-ranking administrative positions, including twice being ras of the city.

This latter role is a reminder of another factor in the political life of the city: the relations of the rulers with its people. The rulers of Damascus were, to its inhabitants, foreigners, Turks imposed on the local population from outside or at least tacitly approved by distant figures like the Great Seljq sultan. Figures like the ras were representatives of the people in an uneasy relationship with their foreign rulers, a relationship that the rulers neglected or abused at their peril; Ibn al-Qalnis notes, for example, the involvement of the people of Damascus in the deposition of Shams al-Mulk Isml r.

This does not mean, however, that we can take Ibn al-Qalniss depictions of the rulers of Damascus and other figures as being objectively accurate portraits; he was, like any author of the time, strongly aware of the need to maintain the goodwill of the rulers about whom he wrote, particularly those who were still alive. Thus, for example, he frequently describes Nr al-Dn in positive terms, despite the latters having repeatedly deployed forces against Damascus and eventually starved the city into submission.

While it could be suggested that the Brids had by then ceased to be effective rulers of the city, and thus the possibility of a ruler who would prove more so was something to be welcomed, Ibn al-Qalniss favourable presentation of Nr al-Dn still smacks of concern to avoid attracting the ire of those in authority. His position and experience would certainly have made him sensitive to the limits of free speech at the time.

Amedroz in and the second by S. Zakkr in The chronicle is a dhayl continuation , but what it is a continuation of is unclear. This assumption is based on a comment to this effect by Ibn Khallikn d. Cahen demonstrates that the differences between Ibn al-Qalniss work and the surviving parts of Hill al-bis, both in terms of content and methodology, outweigh the similarities, and proposes that while Ibn al-Qalnis may have used Hill al-bis chronicle as a source, his continuation is instead of another unknown work.

News arrived from Amedroz Leiden, ; and idem, Tarkh.


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Al-Jlw is of the same opinion; see al-Jlw, Ibn al-Qalnis, pp. Makdisi ed.

Gibb Leiden, , Ibn al-Qalnis claims to have made the utmost effort to ensure that his work is accurate: I have completed the narrative of events set forth in this chronicle, and I have arranged them in order and taken precautions against error and rashness of judgment and careless slips in the materials which I have transcribed from the mouths of trustworthy persons and have transmitted after exerting myself to make the fullest investigations so as to verify them, down to this blessed year [].

However, Ibn al-Qalniss dedication to the anonymity of his sources is not entirely complete. It is likely that Ibn al-Qalniss professional position enabled him to make use of a wide range of sources, including earlier histories we have already mentioned the chronicle of Hill ibn al-Muassin al-bi above , official correspondence, and other government and archival documents.

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Cahen notes that Ibn al-Qalniss written sources seem to have been principally from Egypt and Syria, with his information on Iraq and places further east being rather more patchy. Such comments could, however, be a literary topos; investigation into such is required before these can be taken at face value.

Medieval Muslim Historians and the Franks in the Levant

It is unfortunate that we know so little about the author and his day-to-day life, since that would give us more insight into the extent to which his personal experiences have informed his narrative. Despite its limitations, Ibn al-Qalniss chronicle received considerable recognition for its importance as a historical work about the Levant in the Middle Ages; we find the Dhayl used as a source by numerous other Muslim writers, including Ibn al-Athr d.

It is also held in high esteem by modern historians of the Crusades, for a number of reasons. It is one of the few extant works by a contemporary Muslim historian covering the early crusading period, and, within that, it is one of the even fewer works that have been translated into western languages.

Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia

Consequently, his work is valuable because it is both rare and intimately acquainted with many of the events described within its pages. The question of how Ibn al-Qalnis presents the Franks in the Dhayl will now be examined in more detail.


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Unsurprisingly, Ibn al-Qalnis presents a largely negative image of the Franks, an attitude which is mostly founded on the religious differences between them and the Muslims. He is aware that they are Christians, but like most Muslim authors of the crusading period he focuses on the differences rather than the similarities between the two faiths.

The Franks are frequently described as mushrikn polytheists , thus accused of the worship of multiple deities rather than adherence to the one true God, a traditional Muslim accusation against Christians which has its basis in the Christian doctrine of the Holy. Trinity, which is itself specifically refuted in the Quran. Wars against the Franks are normally described as jihad, further marking the Franks as a religious enemy against whom Muslims are obliged to fight, and victories against them are described as gifts from God, thus proclaiming that He is undoubtedly on the side of the Muslims in the openly religious struggle.

Another commonly-mentioned feature is their untrustworthiness, for they frequently break agreements made with the Muslims. In Ibn al-Qalniss account of the Second Crusade we see these features combined with Frankish arrogance. He notes that the Franks malicious hearts were so confident of capturing [Damascus] that they already planned out the division of its estates and districts. Yet Ibn al-Qalniss presentation of the Franks is not always entirely negative, and at times he expresses what seems to be a grudging respect for some of them.

The Muslim World in the Age of the Crusades

After him there was none left amongst them possessed of sound judgment and capacity to govern. Given Ibn al-Qalniss clear hostility to the Franks, this does call into question how he would have reacted to the various truces and alliances that a number of Muslim rulers made with them. As indicated above, by the time of Nr al-Dns last siege of Damascus he seems to have become unhappy with the citys dependence on Frankish support, and it is striking how Nr al-Dns treaties with the Franks, at least, are presented as being made out of necessity rather than desire, suggesting that the author sought to excuse Nr al-Dn for making such agreements with them.

Other than in these cases, however, Ibn al-Qalnis is on the whole studiously neutral in his descriptions of negotiations conducted between Muslim rulers and the Frankish enemy. If there is a hero in Ibn al-Qalniss chronicle, it is the first Brid ruler of Damascus, hir al-Dn ughtegn.