IBN al-NADIM, Abu 'l-Faradh Muhammad b. Abi Ya'qub Ishaq al-Warraq al-Baghdadi,
author of the well-known Kitab al-Fihrist, an 'Index' of Arabic books, completed according to
the author's own statement (p. t, line 1t; 38, t8; 87, 19; cf. also 13t, 7 and t19, 7) in
377/987-8. Of his life very little is known. He died on t0 Sha'ban 385/17 September 995
according to Ibn al-Nadhdhar, Dhayl Ta'rikh Baghdad (see Flügel's edition, i, XII, n. t) or according
to others in 388/998 (see Ibn Hadhar, Lisan al-Mizan, v, 7t, where 38 is apparently a misprint);
dates later than 385 (e.g., 87, 6; 169, 13, both lacking in codex B) are additions made by copyists;
cf. 193, 17, where the author invites his readers to fill in the lacunae in his lists of books. At t37,
6 he mentions that in 340/951-t he made the acquaintance of a certain scholar, so we may
infer that he was born in 3t5/936-7 at the latest. Of his family nothing is known; there is no
reason to connect him with Ishaq [q.v.] b. Ibrahim al-Mawsili al-Nadim or with Yahya b.
al-Nadim, a pupil of al-Baladhuri; nor do we known to whom the byname al-nadim (i.e., the
companion of a grandee of the realm or even of the caliph) refers. He was a bookseller (warraq,
one who copies manuscripts and sells them, see Dozy) like his father (see p. 303, t4; 318, 7; 351,
14). He lived in Baghdad (see e.g., p. 337, t6 f.; 349, 7 where dar al-Rum means the quarter of the
Byzantines in Baghdad). Sometimes he mentions a stay in Mosul (p. 86, 1t; 190, t; t65, t5 and
probably 197, 4, because al-‘afwani was, according to tusi, t71, a judge of Mosul). Of his
teachers he mentions al-Sirafi ([q.v.] d. 368/978-9), 'Ali b. Harun b. al-Munadhdhim (d. 35t/963)
(p. 144, 11), and the philosopher Abu Sulayman al-Mantiqi [q.v.] (p. t41, 13); he also heard
traditions (p. t4, 14, etc.). He belonged to the circle of 'Isa b. 'Ali (b. 30t/914-5, d. 391/1000-1,
a son of 'Ali b. 'Isa [q.v.] the 'Good Vizier' of the Banu 'l-Dharrah), whom he praises (p. 1t9) for
his profound knowledge of the logic and the sciences of the Greeks, Persians and Indians
(al-'ulum al-qadima). Ibn al-Nadim met in his house the Christian philosopher Ibn al-khammar (p.
t45, 1t). With these men, none of whom was an orthodox Sunni, he shared an admiration for
philo-qsophy and especially for Aristotle (see p. t47, 4-14) and the sciences generally, the
broadness of their outlook and their tolerance in religious matters. It did not escape his
biographers that he was a Shi'i (Ibn Hadhar, l.c.); he uses khassi instead of shi'i, 'ammi instead of
sunni (p. t33, t), al-hashwiyya for the "Sunnis" (p. t1, 16; 179, 10; t31, tt), ahl al-hadith
instead of ahl al-sunna (p. tt5, 1). He puts the eulogy for prophets (taslim) after the names of the
Shi'i Imams and the ahl al-bayt (p. 173, 3; tt0, 16; ttt, 6; t35, 1t). He calls the Imam
al-Rida mawlana (p. tt1, 6). He asserts that al-Waqidi [q.v.] was a Shi'i but concealed this fact by
taqiyya (p. 98, t1). He claims most of the (orthodox) 'traditionists' for the Zaydiyya (pp. 178 f.;
194, 15). He speaks of the Mu'tazila as ahl al-'adl (p. 180, tt), calls the Ash'aris al-mudhbira (p. 179,
10; 180, 7; 181, lines t, 5, tt; cf. al-idhbar p. 181, 6). That he belonged to the Imamiyya (Twelver
Shi'a) is shown by his distaste for the doctrines of the Sab'iyya (p. 189, 10) and by his criticisms in
dealing with their history (p. 186, t5 and 188, 30). He remarks (p. 197, 3 and t14, 13) that a
certain Shafi'i scholar was secretly an Imami. He mentions Shi'is among his acquaintances, e.g.,
Ibn al-Mu'allim [see al-mufid], the da'i Ibn Hamdan (p. 190, t) and the author khushkunanadh
(sic!) (p. 139, t4). To the same circle belonged the Jacobite Yahya b. 'Adi (d. 363/973) who
instructed 'Isa b. 'Ali in philosophy and who was, like Ibn al-Nadim, a copyist and bookseller (p.
t64, 8).

The Fihrist, which, according to the short preface, is intended to be an index of all books written
in Arabic either by Arabs or non-Arabs, exists in two editions or recensions, both of the year
377/938: the larger edition contains ten 'discourses' (maqalat). The first six of them deal with
books on Islamic subjects: 1. the Holy Scriptures of Muslims, Jews, and Christians, with
emphasis on the qur'an and qur'anic sciences; t. grammar and philology; 3. history, biography,
genealogy and kindred subjects; 4. poetry; 5. scholastic theology (kalam); 6. law (fiqh) and
tradition. The last four discourses deal with non-Islamic subjects, viz. 7. philosophy and the
'ancient sciences'; 8. legends, fables, magic, conjuring etc.; 9. the doctrines (maqalat) of the
non-monotheistic creeds (‘abi'ans, Manicheans, and other dualists, the Hindus, Buddhists and
Chinese); 10. alchemy. The shorter edition contains (besides the preface and the first section of
the first discourse on the scripts and the different alphabets) only the last four discourses, in other
words, the Arabic translations from Greek, Syriac and other languages, together with Arabic
books composed on the model of these translations. Of the larger edition the first half (pp.
t-17t, 7, Flügel) is extant in the manuscripts P = Paris (de Slane no. 4457) written in
617/1tt0-1, and B = Chester Beatty, described by A. J. Arberry, in Islamic Research Association
Miscellany, i (I.R.A. Series no. 1t, 1948, 19-45); B contains not only the text of pp. t-17t
(Flügel), with the exception of pp. 14,tt-t9,13 owing to the loss of some leaves, but also the
beginning of the fifth discourse giving the text of the first section up to the article on al-Nashi'
al-Kabir (see bibl.). The second half of the larger edition (pp. 17t,11-360, Flügel) is extant in the
manuscript S = Istanbul, ”ehit Ali Paâa 1934 (see H. Ritter in Isl., xvii, 15-t3). The shorter
edition (pp. t-t1,t3 and t38,5-360, Flügel) is preserved in codex K = Istanbul, Kkprülü 1135,
written in 600/1t03-4 (see Ritter, l.c., who shows that Flügel's manuscripts H, V, and C are also
directly or indirectly derived from the Istanbulqmanuscripts. In the larger edition the preface
and the list of contents correspond with pages t-4,6, Flügel. In the preface of the shorter
edition, however, we read instead of Flügel's text t,9: 'This is the register of the books of the old
sciences composed by Greeks, Persians, and Indians of which there exist (translations) in the
Arabic language and script', and the list of contents is shortened accordingly. Both prefaces
have the same date, 377/987-8, yet the shorter one may have been, as suggested by Ritter, the
first edition and the printed text an enlargement, especially as manuscript S, by its many blanks
left vacant for later additions of dates, names, book-titles and even whole articles, gives the
impression of being an unfinished draft. Both prefaces have also after the word al-nufus (p. t,5)
the following dedication (omitted by Flügel on purpose, see vol. ii, 1): atala 'llahu baqa'a 'l-sayyidi
'l-fadil, which may refer to 'Isa b. 'Ali (cf. p. t44, 6) or else to some other influential person
belonging to the circle of the philosophers. Hadhdhi khalifa (ii, t11) lists the shorter edition under
the title fawz al-'ulum, which promises the reader the 'attainment of success' in these sciences,
and is more suitable than the unpretentious 'index'. There is also a marked difference between
the two editions. The last five discourses are much more elaborate than the preceding ones; they
contain sections on the beginning of philosophy, on the lives of Plato and Aristotle, the origin of
the Arabian Nights, the pyramids etc. The sections on the Manichaeans, the ‘abi'ans and other
religious communities give unique information about their beliefs and doctrines. He also
occasionally expresses his opinion about, e.g., white and black magic, sorcery, superstition, and
alchemy. The first five sections, on the other hand, are comparable to a bibliography, giving the
list of the works of the writer or poet in question and adding as a rule only the briefest
information about his life. Being himself a bookseller, he is interested first and foremost in the
books and not in the authors, especially as there existed already books (tabaqat) dealing with the
biographies of poets, etc. He gives the titles only of those books which he had seen himself or
whose existence was vouchsafed by a trustworthy person. Often he mentions the size of a book,
especially in the section of the modern poets, where he adds to the name of each of them the
numbers of pages (of a given size and a fixed number of lines) of his diwan; this he does because
often a copyist cheated his customer by selling him an incomplete copy (p. 159, 17 ff.). He refers
often to copies written by famous calligraphers, e.g., Ibn al-Kufi, Ibn Muqla, Abu 'l-tayyib akhu
'l-Shafi'i, al-Tirmidhi (p. 61, 5), Ibn 'Ammar, who specialized in copying modern poetry (p. 160,
3), and others; he mentions bibliophiles and their libraries (p. 40, 18 f.; t65, t3) and speaks of an
auction (p. t5t, t7 f.) and of the trade in books (p. 70, 5 and 8; 77, 14; 79, t3; t71, 5; 359, t0).
In the opening section of his work (p. 4,7-t1,t4) he deals with the alphabets of 14 peoples (Arabs
and non-Arabs) and their manner of writing, and also with the writing-pen, paper and its
different varieties.

Being the work of an Imami author, the Fihrist contains statements offensive to an orthodox
reader, e.g., the claim that the Prophet received the Mu'tazili doctrine through divine revelation
(see Arberry, l.c., p. t9). No wonder, therefore, that the earliest quotations are to be found in the
Fihrist kutub al-Shi'a by al-tusi [q.v.]. A generation before al-tusi a new edition of the Fihrist had
been made by al-qWazir al-Husayn b. 'Ali al-Maghribi ([q.v.] d. 418/10t7), who had strong Shi'i
leanings, being the son of one of al-Hakim's viziers. The first to make an extensive use of the first
four discourses is Yaqut (d. 6t6/1tt8); he quotes from al-Maghribi's edition in his Irshad al-arib (see
Bergstraesser, in ZS, ii, 185); but he also used Ibn al-Nadim's autograph, which may simply
mean that he used a manuscript which, like the manuscripts B and S and Flügel's edition (see i,
XV f. and Ritter, l.c., tt f.) purported to be a reproduction (hikaya) of the author's autograph.
The same claim is made by the lexicographer al-‘aghani (d. 650/1t5t) in his 'Ubab (see khizanat
al-adab, iii, 83). The Fihrist is used also by Ibn al-qifti, Ibn Abi Usaybi'a, Ibn Hadhar, Hadhdhi
khalifa, and others. Ibn al-Nadim wrote also a Kitab al-Awsaf wa 'l-tashbihat (Fihrist, p. 1t, t) which
has not survived.
(J.W. Fück)

in addition to the references in the article: Kitab al-Fihrist mit Anmerkungen hrsg. von Gustav
Flügel, t vols., Leipzig 1871-t

reprints (1) Cairo 1348 (contains also the Leyden Fragments published by Houtsma, in
WZKM, iv, t17 ff.)

(t) Beirut 1964

Persian translation by R. Tajadod, Teheran 1965. J. Fück, Neue Materialien zum Fihrist, in
ZDMG, xc, t98-3t1

idem, Some hitherto unpublished texts on the Mu'tazilite movement (from ms. B), in Prof. M.
Shafi' presentation volume, Lahore 1956, 51, 76

A. J. Arberry, New material in the Kitab al-Fihrist, in Islamic Research Association Miscellany, i,
1948, 35-45 (the article on al-Dhahiz from ms. B). Some of the longer chapters of the Fihrist
are dealt with by, e.g., A. Müller, Die griechischen Philosophen in d. arab. Überlieferung, Halle 187t

H. Suter, Das Mathematikerverzeichnis im Fihrist, in Abhandlungen zur Gesch. d. math. Wiss., vi

idem, ibid., x (1900) and xiv (190t)

M. Steinschneider, Die arabischen Übersetzungen a. d. Griech. (see ZDMG, l, 371)

Kessler, Mani, Berlin 1889, i, 331 ff.

Berthelot, La chimie au moyen-age, Paris 1893, iii, t6 ff.

G. Ferrand, Relation de voyages etc., i, 1913, 118-36 (with reference to pp. 16 and 345, t0 ff.,

J. Fück, The Arabic literature on Alchemy ..., in Ambix, iv (1951), 81-144. See also Brockelmann, I,
147; S I, tt6.

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Source: from the Encyclopedia of Islam --© 1999 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands