Müneccimbaşı, Ahmed Dede

▪ Ottoman writer
born 1631, Salonika, Macedonia [now Thessaloníki, Greece]
died Feb. 27, 1702, Mecca, Arabia [now in Saudi Arabia]

      Ottoman astrologer, writer, and historian.

      After 15 years with the Mawlawī dervishes, Müneccimbaşı took up astronomy and astrology and in 1665 became the müneccimbaşi (court astrologer, hence his name) for Sultan Mehmed IV. Falling out of favour with the court in 1687, however, he was exiled to Egypt and went to Medina and Mecca, where he spent the rest of his life.

      Müneccimbaşı's great work, written in Arabic, was titled Jāmiʿ al-duwal (“The Compendium of Nations”). Sahaif-ül-Ahbar . . . (“The Pages of the Chronicle”), a Turkish summary translation made by the poet Ahmed Nedin, is the only published version. The work is a universal history that starts with Adam and ends in the year 1672. It covers in detail the Muslim dynasties, particularly the Ottoman house, but it also treats pre-Muslim and non-Muslim dynasties. Müneccimbaşı's pre-Muslim accounts suggest that he used Roman and Jewish sources, and his chapter on the Franks indicates that he made use of European chronicles. Furthermore, he touched upon dynasties never before dealt with by Islāmic historiographers, such as the Babylonians, the Seleucids, and the Assyrians. He tells of his use of Armenian chronicles for his discussion of the Armenian kings and even includes sections on India and China. Müneccimbaşı also wrote commentaries on the Qurʾān, translated the works of Persian writers, and composed a Dīvān (“Collected Poems”) in Turkish on mystical themes under the pen name of Âşık.

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Universalium. 2010.

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