Ibn 'Asakir of Damascus

Pages: 160
Subject: Middle East, History, Religion: Islam
Series: Makers of the Muslim World
Imprint: Oneworld Academic

Ibn 'Asakir of Damascus

Champion of Sunni Islam in the Time of the Crusades

Suleiman A. Mourad

A towering figure in the history of Islamic scholarship, who shaped biographical literature and the emerging genre of city histories
9780861540471 (5 Aug 2021)
RRP £25.00 / US$30.00

The Book

‘Ali ibn ‘Asakir (1105-1176) was one of the most renowned experts on Hadith and Islamic history in the medieval era. His was a tumultuous time: centuries of Shi‘i rule had not long ended in central Syria, rival warlords sought control of the capital, and Crusaders had captured Jerusalem.

Seeking the unification of Syria and Egypt, and the revival of Sunnism in both, Ibn ‘Asakir served successive Muslim rulers, including Nur al-Din and Saladin, and produced propaganda against both the Christian invaders and the Shi‘is. This, together with his influential writings and his advocacy of major texts, helped to lay the foundations for the eventual Sunni domination of the Levant - a domination which continues to this day.

Additional Information

Subject Middle East, History, Religion: Islam
Series Makers of the Muslim World
Pages 160
Imprint Oneworld Academic


About the Author

Suleiman A. Mourad is Professor of Religion at Smith College in Massachusetts, USA, and former Director of the Nantes Institute for Advanced Study in France. He specialises in Islamic history and religious thought, and how the challenges of modernity have led to major changes in Muslims' perception of and attitude towards their own history and classical thought.


‘Hyperbole notwithstanding, to understand the Levant's sense of self and perception of history, one should look no further than Ibn ‘Asakir, whose intellectual efforts rehabilitated the past to canonise a blessed Sunni and Crusader-free Bilad al-Sham. Suleiman Mourad garners his intimate knowledge of the scholar, his numerous and voluminous works, and the contemporary intellectual and political context to expose the significance and extent of the phenomenon of Ibn ‘Asakir through to the end of twentieth century in the Syrian Republic.'

- Dana Sajdi, Associate Professor of History, Boston College

Table of Contents




1  The World of Ibn ‘Asakir

Damascus in the fifth/eleventh century

The Burids

Nur al-Din

Status of Religious Scholarship

Back to Ibn ‘Asakir


2  Life & Career


Education & Travels

First Trip

Second Trip

Return to Damascus

Teaching & Character




3  Scholarship & Activism

Political unity and Revivification of Sunnism

Trustee of Hadith

The College of Hadith

In Defense of Ash‘arism

Tabyin kadhib al-muftari

Preaching of Jihad

Al-Arba‘un hadith fi al-hathth ‘ala al-jihad

Others Books on Jihad?

Religious Merits of Towns and Places

Fadl ‘Asqalan

Ibn ‘Asakir as Theologian and Historian

Was Ibn ‘Asakir a Theologian?

Was Ibn ‘Asakir a Historian?


Ta'rikh Dimashq

The Idea

The Book

Rehabilitation of Past Figures and Islamic Unity

Arrangement and Divisions




Modern Editions


5  The ‘Asakir Extended Family

Direct Descendants of Ibn ‘Asakir

Descendants of Ibn ‘Asakir's Sister

Descendants of Ibn ‘Asakir's Brother Muhammad

Other Members of the ‘Asakir Family

The ‘Asakir Family Tree


6  Medieval Legacy

Ibn ‘Asakir's Notable Students

Ibn ‘Asakir's Legacy through his Ta'rikh


7  Modern Legacy, Syrian Nationalism & Islamic Nationalism

The Late-Nineteenth- to Early-Twentieth-Century Context

The Late-Twentieth-Century Context