This page is devoted to biographical dictionaries, a genre of literature that flourished in the Arabic-Islamic tradition from the very beginnings of its formation. Texts on this page are arranged in chronological order, by death date of author, given in Gregorian (CE)/Hijri (AH).
A biographical dictionary of important political and religious figures in early Islam by Ibn Sa'd (d. 845/230), arranged according to generation, documenting the first centuries of Islam.
Volume 1, Part 1 -- Muhammad's Life up to the Hijra
Volume 1, Part 2 -- Muhammad's Life in Medina
Volume 2, Part 1 -- Muhammad's Campaigns
Volume 2, Part 2 -- Muhammad's Last Days and Death
Volume 3, Parts 1 and 2 -- Muhammad's Companions in the Battle of Badr
Volume 4, Parts 1 and 2 -- Pt 1: The Muhajirun and Ansar; Pt 2: Willing Converts to Islam
Volume 5 -- Muhammad's Successors and Companions in Medina and Arabia
Volume 6 -- The Kufans
Volume 7, Parts 1 and 2 -- The Basrans and Hadith Folk in Other Lands
Volume 8 -- Biographies of Women
Volume 9, Part 1 -- Index of Persons
Volume 9, Part 2 -- Indices of Places, Tribes, Hadith, Poetry, and Qur'an Verses
A biographical dictionary of Arabic poets by Iraqi poet and hadith scholar Abū ‘Abd-Allāh Muḥammad ibn Sallām al-Jumaḥī (d. 845-846/231-232). The preferred edition of the text is the Cairo 1973-1974 edition edited by Maḥmūd Muḥammad Shākir (Find a Copy on Worldcat).
An unfinished masterpiece of cultural history documenting the lives of singers, songwriters, poets and their milieu from pre-Islamic times up to the Abbasid period by Abū al-Faraj ‘Alī ibn al-Ḥusayn al-Iṣfahānī (d. after 971/360 AH). Arranged according to lists of favorite songs. The preferred critical edition was published by Maṭbaʻat Dār al-Kutub al-Miṣriyya from 1927-1974. (Find a Copy on Worldcat).
Index Vol. 1 (Internet Archive) -- Poets' Names, End Rhymes, and People's names from letter alif through zaay
Index Vol. 2 (Internet Archive) -- People's Names from letter sin through waw, Geographical index
Volume 1 *For vols. 2-23 click "View Related Titles" at top of left sidebar
A biographical dictionary of notable people who lived in and around Damascus by Damascene scholar Thiqat al-Dīn Abū al-Qāsim ‘Alī ibn Abī Muḥammad, known by his family name Ibn al-‘Asākir (d. 1176/571 AH). Arranged alphabetically. The preferred version of this text is the edition published in 80 vols. by Dār Fikr, Beirut from 1995–2001 (Find a Copy on Worldcat).
A biographical dictionary of literary figures by Baghdadi historian and philologist ‘Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Anbārī (d. 1181/577 AH).
A biographical dictionary giving information on the lives of important figures in Islamic history, arranged alphabetically by name. The author, Ibn Khallikān (d. 1282/681 AH), was born in Irbil, Iraq, but lived and worked in Damascus and Cairo under the Mamluks. The preferred edition of this work is that edited by Iḥsān ‘Abbās and published by Dār Ṣādir, Beirut, 1968-1972 (Find a Copy on Worldcat).
A work combining historical chronicle and biography, giving the history of a decade first and then a number of obituaries of famous persons who died during that decade at the end of the section. By Shams al-Dīn Abū ‘Abd-Allāh Muḥammad ibn ‘Uthmān al-Dhahabī (d. 1348/748 AH or 1352-3/753 AH). The standard scholarly edition of this text is edited ‘Umar Tadmurī, and published by Dār al-Kitāb al-‘Arabī, Beirut, 1988-2003 (Find a Copy on Worldcat).
Volume 1 (Arabic Collections Online) *For vols. 2-6 click "View Related Titles" at top of left sidebar
Biographical dictionary of historical figures up to the lifetime of the author, Salāḥ al-Dīn Khalīl ibn Aybak al-Ṣafadī (d. 1363/764 AH). Organized alphabetically by name.
Volume 1 (Arabic Collections Online) *For vols. 2-30, click "View Related Titles" at top of left sidebar
Encyclopedic biographical dictionary of the ninth hijri century (fifteenth CE) by Shams al-Din Abū al-Khayr Muḥmmad ibn ‘Abd al-Raḥmān al-Sakhāwī (d. 1497/902 AH).
Volumes 1-2 (Arabic Collections Online) *For vols. 3-12, click "View Related Titles" at top of left sidebar
In the early twentieth century, the historian and literary scholar Khayr al-Dīn Ziriklī (d. 1976) compiled a broad survey of Arabic authors and their works titled al-A‘lām. This work is a valuable tool for brief, modern biographies of individuals that can serve as a supplement for larger modern sources like Encyclopedia of Islam or Fuat Sezgin’s Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums. The first edition of the book (3 vols., Cairo: al-Maṭba‘a al-‘Arabiyya, 1927-1928) has been digitized and is available on Arabic Collections Online: