The International Kâtip Chalabi Symposium

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Muhammed Haron



The Constantinople-born Mustafa bin Abdullah Kâtip Chalabi (popularly
known as Haji Khalifa [1609–57]) was one of the most notable Muslim scholars
of his time. Kâtip Chalabi, as he is known as in Turkish circles, was a reformist
scholar known for his intellectual contributions to the social sciences
(viz., [Ottoman] history, geography, and economics) and his invaluable biobibliographical
text Kashf al-Zunūn, which contains over 14,000 entries. He
is generally considered as one of Ottoman Turkey’s most productive authors,
for his writings provided an invaluable input to “the classification of knowledge”
systems. For this reason, the Istanbul Foundation for Research and Education
(ISAR;, the Turkish Centre for Islamic
Studies (ISAM;, and the Cairo-based Institute of Arabic
Manuscripts (MSC; decided to co-host a
March 6-8, 2015, symposium to celebrate and address his contributions.
The joint Committee for the International Kâtip Chalabi Symposium
chose “Bibliography and the Classification of Knowledge in Islamic Civilization”
as its main theme and set numerous goals, among them to (a) raise basic
issues related to the Islamic classification of knowledge and bibliography, (b)
reveal how this tradition can be reconsidered with respect to the discipline of
bibliography, which has shifted into a new phase due to theoretical and practical
developments in today’s world; (c) provide the necessary basis for discussing
his scholarly achievements; and (d) offer foundations for future
research that would build upon his bibliographic encyclopedia Kashf al-Zunūn
‘an Asāmī al-Kutub wa al-Funūn (The Removal of Doubt from the Names of
Books and the Arts).
Since it is beyond the scope of this brief report to comment on each presentation,
most of which were delivered in Arabic and Turkish with simultaneous
translations, I have decided to provide a general overview of a selection
of papers from each thematic session.
Ahmad Shawqi Benbin (Al-Khazanat al-Malakiyyah al-Hasaniyyah, Morocco),
one of the first speakers, addressed “Kashf al- Zunūn and International
Bibliography,” which related directly to the symposium’s general theme of
“Kâtip Chelebi: Philosophy of the Sciences of Bibliography and Classification.”
While offering a historical context within which to view Chalabi’s intellectual
output, he traced the science of bibliography back to Abu al-Faraj ...

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