Multi-piece Nasabs
by Basil Dragonstrike

Please note: this article, more than most of mine, refers particularly to SCA name submissions. However, I believe non-SCA re-creators can benefit from it, particularly the examples and the conclusion.

Consider the (invented) name Maryam bint Aḥmad al-Baghdādī. There are some in the SCA's College of Arms who say it should be al-Baghdādiyya, because this is a woman's name. Others say it's fine as is, because it is Maryam's father, Aḥmad, who is described as "al-Baghdādī". I have wondered which is right. That is, can a woman's name end with a masculine form of a byname (like al-Baghdādī) in right of her father, or must any byname (or bynames) at the end of an Arabic name point back to the ism, to the person her/himself?

It was once held in the SCA, by a rigid interpretation of the rules and out-of-date research, that a byname using two elements of a progenitor's name was impossible, because none such had been documented, and that "Maryam bint Aḥmad al-Baghdādī" and the like were not registerable. Lately, there's been a shift to a more reasonable attitude that there's no documentation such never occurred, and therefore the benefit of the doubt could be given. However, I'm not sure that a name using more than one element of a progenitor's name not at the end of a name would be accepted; that is, I have doubts a name like the invented Aḥmad ibn Yūnus al-Wāsiṭī ibn Muḥammad would be accepted.

I have long hoped to produce documentation for names of the first type. This is, I've looked for documented historical women's names with a "masculine" byname at the end. There aren't many women's names in period works, and few works in English translation, so it's no suprise I've found nothing (so far!). However, it occurred to me that if there are examples of multiple name phrases in one generation of a string of nasabs, then that would support the idea that Maryam (in my example above) might have a nasab using her father's ism and his byname. That is, something in historical works like the invented name Muḥammad ibn ʻAlī al-Qurtubī ibn Aḥmad al-Ḥarīrī would give support to the invented Maryam bint Aḥmad al-Baghdādī (and, of course, directly support the invented Aḥmad ibn Yūnus al-Wāsiṭī ibn Muḥammad ). I believe I have found enough examples of multiple name phrases in a single generation of a nasab-string to support my contention.

Notice, I'm not referring to the fairly common use of ibn Abī___, (by itself) where someone in a nasab-string is called "the son of the father of____". No, what I'm looking for is a use of two distinct and separate name phrases to designate a single person in a list of predecessors (though that might include an "ibn Abī____" as well as an ism or a  byname, etc.).

Let me give you an example of what I mean: Ibn Baṭṭūṭa, volume 1, p154 has Shihāb al-Dīn Aḥmad b. Abū Ṭālib b. Abu’l-Nu‘m b. Ḥasan b. ‘Alī b. Bayan al-Dīn Muqri’ al-Ṣāliḥī. This has a "titular name" (Bayan al-Dīn) and an ism (Muqriʼ) in the same generation. The "al-Ṣāliḥī" may refer to Aḥmad, which still leaves both Bayan al-Dīn and Muqriʼ referring to the same person, which helps support my contention. On the other hand, if "al-Ṣāliḥī" refers to Muqrīʼ, that's three name phrases for the same person in a nasab-string. But then, that's what I'm trying to prove, isn't it?

The Encyclopaedia of Islam Second Edition (hereafter EI2), volume 1, sn Abū Firās al-Ḥamdānī, has the name al-Ḥarith b. Abī al-ʻAlāʼ Saʻid b. Ḥamdān al-Taghlibī. Later, his father is referred to as Saʻid. Clearly, then, the part b. Abī al-ʻAlāʼ Saʻid, must refer to a single individual (Abū al-ʻAlāʼ Saʻid). Here we have a kunya (Abū al-ʻAlā) and an ism (Saʻid) in one generation of a nasab. Although this contains an ibn Abī___, it also contains an ism referring to the same person.

Ibn Munqidh on page 128 has ‘Ali ibn Shams al-Dawlah Sālim ibn Mālik. This is a "titular name" plus an ism, both referring to the same person.

Going back to EI2, volume 1, sn ʻAbd al-Razzāḳ, the subject of the article has the full name ʻAbd al-Razzāḳ Kamāl al-Dīn b. Djalāl al-Dīn Isḥāḳ al-Samarḳandī. This is another "titular name," and an ism.

In Arab Navigation in the Indian Ocean Before the Coming of the Portuguese, page 7 and page 69, is the full name of the author of the translated work (Kitāb al-Fawāʼid fī uṣūl al-baḥr wa'l-qawāʼid). It is Shihāb al-Dīn Aḥmad b. Mājid b. Muḥammad b. ʻUmar b. Faḍl b.  Duwaik b. Yūsuf b. Ḥasan b. Ḥusain b. Abī Maʻlaq al-Saʻdī b. Abī Rakāʼib al-Najdī. This puts, within one generation, a kunya and a byname. The byname is based on the name Saʻd, which implies being among the descendants of someone with that name. Such "member of a family" bynames are not uncommon. And it is a byname, no question; al-Saʻdī is not an ism itself.

However, none of these examples show an ism followed by a byname, and only the last uses a byname at all. But all is not lost---there are a few examples of an ism followed by a byname. We start with:

The Travels of Ibn Jubayr which, on page 38, mentions al-Qasim ibn Muhammad ibn Jaʻfar al-Sadiq ibn Muhammad ibn ʻAli Zayn al-ʻAbidin. Notice Jaʻfar al-Sadiq is an ism and a byname in one generation. The phrase Zayn al-ʻAbidin means "The Ornament of the Worshippers" and is something kinda-sorta like a titular name. This is important in considering the cousin of this al-Qasim, mentioned on the same page: Muhammad ibn ʻAbdullah ibn Muhammad al-Baqir ibn ʻAli Zayn al-ʻAbidin ibn al-Husayn ibn ʻAli. Here we have an ism and a byname (Muhammad al-Baqir), along with an ism plus a --- well, whatever it is (ʻAli Zayn al-ʻAbidin). These two persons give us two examples of an ism and a byname clearly within one generation of a nasab-string.

Another such example is from EI2, volume 3, page 950, sn Ibn Ṭabāṭabā, which gives the entire name as Ibn Ṭabāṭabā, Abū ʻAbd Allāh Muḥammad b. Ibrāhīm b. Ismāʻīl al-Dībādj b. Ibrāhīm al-Ghamr b. al-Ḥasan al-Muthannā. That's two examples of ism plus byname in the same name.

Well, I don't want to go on and on and on and...  I consider this a work in progress, since I'm looking for more examples of ism + byname; even more so, for a masculine byname as the last name phrase of a woman's name. I will update this, and state it's updated, if I find any more. If you know of any more, please contact me through the SCA-HRLDS mailing list; I will greatly appreciate it.

NOTE: this has been updated since first published, but only to correct a couple of typos, and to expand my explanation of what I've set out to do. There are no new examples.

The Encyclopaedia of Islam, second edition, 1986, volumes 1 and 3, E. J. Brill.
The Travels of Ibn Battuta, volume 1, translated by Sir Hamilton Gibb, The Hakluyt Society, 1958, The University Press, Cambridge.
An Arab-Syrian Gentleman and Warrior in the Period of the Crusades: Memoirs of Usāmah Ibn-Munqidh, translated by Philip K. Hitti, copyright 1929; I used the reprint published by Princeton University Press, 1987.
Arab Navigation in the Indian Ocean Before the Coming of the Portuguese, translated by Gerald Randall Tibbetts, 1971, Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
The Travels of Ibn Jubayr, translated by R. J. C. Broadhurst, 1952, Jonathan Cape.