The Islamic geographer and biographer, Yaqout ibn Abdullah ar-Rumi al-Hamawi
Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On 20th of the Islamic month of Ramadhan in 626 AH, the Islamic geographer and biographer, Yaqout ibn Abdullah ar-Rumi al-Hamawi, passed away at the age of 51 in Aleppo, Syria. Renowned for his encyclopedic writings, the epithet "ar-Rumi" refers to his Roman or more properly Greek Byzantine origin, while "al-Hamawi" is taken from the family name of his master who was from Hama in Syria but settled in Baghdad, Iraq. “Ibn-Abdullah” means “son of the servant of God, since the name of his Greek father was rather difficult to pronounce in Arabic.
His master taught him accounting, trading and other sciences before releasing him. Yaqout, in addition to his native Greek and Latin, mastered Arabic, Persian and Turkish, and dedicated himself to scholarly tasks. He was one of the last scholars who visited the famous Islamic libraries east of the Caspian Sea before the devastating Mongol invasion of Central Asia. For instance, he spent two years in the libraries of the Khorasani city of Merv which is currently in the Republic of Turkmenistan.
His two famous voluminous works are “Kitab Mu'jam al-Boldaan (Encyclopedia of Lands) and “Kitab Mu'jam al-Udaba”, (Encyclopedia of Writers).