Al-I'lan bi al-Taubikh li-man Dhamma Ahl al-Tarikh
AN OPEN DENUNCIATION OF ADVERSE CRITICS OF THE HISTORIANS
Available in Arabic Manuscript
A Short Introduction about the Author:
Shams al-Din Muhammad b. Abd al-Rahman al-Sakhawi, whose family originally belonged to the village of Sakha in Egypt, was born in Cairo in 831 AH. / 1427 and died in Madinah in 902 AH / 1497. He was a widely travelled scholar of great repute and excelled in the knowledge of Hadith, Tafsir, History and Literature. He authored about 200 works in these subjects.
It was in 881 AH that he wrote an important book unique in its theme, in defence of historians and history entitled Al-I'lan bi al-Taubikh li-man Dhamma Ahl al-Tarikh (An Open Denunciation of Adverse Critics of the Historians). It is an advance work on historiography, much more comprehensive than any earlier work on the subject.
The Significance of his Work:
According to Rosenthal: "In the I'lan, the author has erected a worthy monument to Arabic Historiography." However, as no other comparative work is to be found in any other language prior to the I'lan , it becomes a worthy monument to the science of Historiography. The Muslim scholars took to history as a Qur'anic subject, and produced a variety of historical literature not then available in any other language and culture; eventually they created a highly developed discipline 'Ilm al-Tarikh, 'The Science of History'.
A number of eminent scholars recorded their opinions on history and its objectives and methodology, while others wrote on 'Ilm al-Tarikh or Historiography itself. Besides Sakhawi, 2 other authors who wrote specifically on historiography and whose works have come to light were Muhammad b. Ibrahim al-'Iji who composed his Tuhfat al-Faqir ila Sahib al-Sarir (The Gift of the Humble For the Master of the Throne) in 783 AH. / 1381, and Muhyiddin Muhammad b. Sulayman al-Kafiyaji who wrote his treatise al-Mukhtasar fi 'Ilm al-Tarikh (A Brief Compendium on Historiography) in 867 AH. / 1463.
A Short Description of the Book:
Sakhawi's work which represents a more complete and systematic treatment of Historiography covers the following 13 main topics on the subject: