Ibn Kemal

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al-Mu'allim al-Awwal (The First Teacher)[1]

Ibn Kemal
Şemseddin Ahmed

Died14 April 1536(1536-04-14) (aged 67–68)
Main interest(s)Aqidah, Tafsir, Tasawwuf, Hadith, Fiqh, Usul, Ma'aani, Mantiq, Falsafa, Ottoman history
Notable work(s)Tevarih-i Al-i Osman ("The Chronicles of the House of Osman")
OccupationIslamic scholar, Historian

Şemseddin Ahmed (1469–1534), better known by his pen name Ibn Kemal or Kemalpaşazâde ("son of Kemal Pasha"), was an Ottoman historian,[4] Sheikh ul-Islam, jurist[4] and poet.[5]

He was born into a distinguished military family in Edirne[4] and as a young man he served in the army and later studied at various madrasas and became the Kadı of Edirne in 1515.[6] He had Iranian roots on his mother's side.[7] He became a highly respected scholar and was commissioned by the Ottoman ruler Bayezid II to write an Ottoman history (Tevārīh-i Āl-i Osmān, "The Chronicles of the House of Osman"). During the reign of Selim I, in 1516, he was appointed as military judge of Anatolia and accompanied the Ottoman army to Egypt. During the reign of Suleiman I he was appointed as the Sheikh ul-Islam, i.e. supreme head of the Muslim ulema, a post which he held until his death.

Kemalpaşazâde was a crucially important figure in the codification of the Hanafi school of thought in its Ottoman iteration.[8]


He "authored around 200 works in Turkish, Persian, and Arabic. His works include commentaries on the Qur'an, treatises on hadith, Islamic law, philosophy and theology (kalam), logic, Sufism, ethics, history, several books on Arabic and Persian grammar, literature, and a small diwan of poetry."[9]

His most famous history work is the Tevarih-i Al-i Osman ("The Chronicles of the House of Osman"), a history of the Ottoman Empire which provides the most original and important source material now extant on the reigns during which he himself lived.[6] Although best known as a historian, Kemalpaşazâde was also a great scholar and a talented poet. He wrote numerous scholarly commentaries on the Quran, treatises on jurisprudence and Muslim theology and philosophy, and during his stay in Egypt he translated the works of the Egyptian historian Abu al-Mahasin ibn Taghribirdi from Arabic. He also wrote in Arabic, a philological work entitled Daqaʿiq al-Haqaʿiq ("The Subtleties of Verities"). His best poetical works include the Nigaristan ("The Picture Gallery"), written in Persian and modeled upon the Būstān and the Golestān of Saadi; a poem, Yusuf ü Züleyha, in rhymed couplets retelling the story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife; and Divān ("Collected Poems"), consisting mainly of lyrics. In philosophy and theology, he was a Maturidi theologian philosopher who followed some opinions of Ibn 'Arabi and anticipated some theories of Mulla Sadra.[10] Kemalpaşazâde also wrote a famous history of the Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence entitled Risāla fī Ṭabaqāt al-Mujtahidīn [The Treatise regarding Biographies of Jurists].[11]


  1. ^ Atâullah, Nev‘îzâde. Hadâiku'l-hakāik fî tekmileti'ş-Şekāik. Abdülkadir Özcan. p. 185.
  2. ^ Ibn, Kemal (1304). Resail. İkdam Matbaası. pp. 231–233.
  3. ^ Çelebi, Âşık. Tezkire. Millet Ktp., Ali Emîrî Efendi, Tarih, nr. 772. pp. vr.53a.
  4. ^ a b c Kemalpashazade, Franz Babinger, E. J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913–1936, Vol.4, ed. M. Th. Houtsma, (Brill, 1993), 851.
  5. ^ The Reigns of Bayezid II and Selim I 1481–1520, V.J. Parry, A History of the Ottoman Empire to 1730, ed. M.A. Cook, (Cambridge University Press, 1976), 78.
  6. ^ a b History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, Stanford J. Shaw, page 145, 1976
  7. ^ Inan, Murat Umut (2019). "Imperial Ambitions, Mystical Aspirations: Persian Learning in the Ottoman World". In Green, Nile (ed.). The Persianate World: The Frontiers of a Eurasian Lingua Franca. University of California Press. p. 83. A preeminent scholar and madrasa professor, Kemalpaşazade was born into a distinguished family with Iranian roots on his mother's side.
  8. ^ Burak, Guy. The Second Formation of Islamic Law: The Hanafi School in the Early Modern Ottoman Empire. Cambridge Studies in Islamic Civilization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. doi:10.1017/CBO9781316106341.
  9. ^ Ibrahim Kalin, "Ibn Kemal (873–940 / 1468–1534)" in Oliver Leaman (ed.), "The Biographical Encyclopedia of Islamic Philosophy", Bloomsbury Publishing (2015), p. 198
  10. ^ Ibrahim Kalin, "Ibn Kemal (873–940 / 1468–1534)" in Oliver Leaman (ed.), "The Biographical Encyclopedia of Islamic Philosophy", Bloomsbury Publishing (2015), p. 199
  11. ^ Burak, The Second Formation of Islamic Law, 72.