Arabian encyclopaedic writer
Born 1445 Died 1505
Abu al-Fadhl'Abd ur-Rahman ibn Abi Bakr Jalal ud-Din al-Suyuti, was the son of a Turkish slave woman. His father, who was of Persian descent, had been cadi in Suyuti (Upper Egypt) and professor in Cairo, but died before his son was six years old. The boy's training was taken in hand by a Sufi friend of the father. He was precocious and is said to have known the Koran by heart before he was eight years old. In 1462 he was already a teacher; in 1464 he made the pilgrimage to Mecca; in 1472 he became a professor, and in 1486 was promoted to a chair in the mosque of Bibars. Here, however, he provoked a revolt among the students and in 1501 was discharged for maladministration of trust funds. Two years later he was offered the same post again, but declined, and worked in seclusion at Raula, an island of the Nile, and there died in 1505.
He was one of the most prolific writers of the East, though many of his works are only pamphlets and some are mere abridgments of the work of others. We know of 561 separate titles of his works, and over 316 exist in manuscript. A list of these is given in C. Brockelmann's Gesch. der Arabischen Litteratur, ii. 144-158 (Berlin, 1902). They deal with almost every branch of Moslem science and literature. Among the best known are the Itqan fi Ulum al-Quran (on the exegetic sciences of the Koran), published with an analysis by A. Sprenger (Calcutta, 1852-1854) and often in Cairo; the commentary on the Koran, known as the Tafsir al-Jalalayn, begun by Jalal ud-Din al-Maljalli (1389-1459) and finished by Suyuti, published often in the East; and the history of the caliphs, published at Calcutta (1858) and elsewhere. (G.W.T.)
Being the entry for SUYUTI in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.