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Shihab al-Din al-Nuwayri
Native name أحمد بن عبد الوهاب النويري
Born (1279-04-05)April 5, 1279
Akhmim, Egypt
Died June 5, 1333(1333-06-05) (aged 54)
Cairo, Egypt

Al-Nuwayrī, full name Shihāb al-Dīn Ahmad bin 'Abd al-Wahhāb al-Nuwayri (Arabic: شهاب الدين أحمد بن عبد الوهاب النويري‎, born April 5, 1279 in Akhmim, present-day Egypt[1] – died 1333) was an Egyptian Muslim historian and civil servant of the Bahri Mamluk dynasty. He is most notable for his compilation of a 9,000-page encyclopedia of the Mamluk era, titled The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition (نهاية الأرب في فنون الأدب, Nihayat al-arab fī funūn al-adab), which pertained to zoology, anatomy, history, chronology, amongst others.[2] He is also known for his extensive work regarding the Mongols' conquest of Syria. Al-Nuwayri started his encyclopedia around the year 1314 and completed it in 1333.[3]


The name Al-Nuwayri is a nisba referring to the village of al-Nuwayra in present-day Beni Suef Governorate. Al-Nuwayri studied at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, where he specialized in the study of the hadith and the sira, in addition to history. Skilled in calligraphy, he reportedly made a copy of Sahih al-Bukhari which he sold for 1000 dinars. He worked as a civil servant in the administration of An-Nasir Muhammad, and was in contact with the army of Tripoli.


Al-Nuwayri's encyclopedia, The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition, covered five subjects:

  • Geography and astronomy
  • Man, and what relates to him
  • Animals
  • Plants
  • History

The first four subjects comprised 10 volumes, while the last filled 21 volumes.


  1. ^ Al-Nuwayri, Shihab Al-Din (2016). The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition. Penguin Books. pp. XV. ISBN 978-0-14-310748-4. 
  2. ^ Collison, Robert L. "The Arab World". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 
  3. ^ Armstrong, Lyall. "The Making of a Sufi: al-Nuwayri's Account of the Origin of Genghis Khan" (PDF). Middle East Documentation Center. University of Chicago. Retrieved 10 June 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • The Historiography of Islamic Egypt (c. 950-1800), "Al-Nuwayrī as a historian of the Mongols", p. 23 and seq. Reuven Amitai. Online