al-maʻrūf bi-: "Known As" in Arabic Names
Basil Dragonstrike

In some cultures names may have an element stating that a person is known by another name. These are introduced by a key phrase, whether "known as," "alias," "dictus," "dit," or something else. In Arabic, the introductory phrase is al-maʻrūf bi-; "the (one) known by/as". This is not common, but it is not extremely rare. I intend in this article to show it happens often enough to be a legitimate part of a name for SCAers, re-enactors, etc.

Quick note: bi- has a hyphen for the same reason al- does; as a convenience for readers of the Roman alphabet. In Arabic, both bi and al are prefixes, attached directly to the word modified. Further, when bi is followed by a word starting with al, the "a" of al disappears from spoken Arabic {though not in the written form}; how this is treated in romanized Arabic varies from one romanization method to another. The Arabic is
المعروف ب.
Before a word starting with a vowel, it looks like
لمعروف با.

For my first example of al-maʻrūf bi-, we turn to The Best Divisions for Knowledge of the Regions by Al-Muqaddasī, translated by Basil Collins. Here, the author's full name is given, in the first paragraph of the Preface, as Shams al-Dīn Abū ʻAbd Allāh Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Abī Bakr al-Bannāʼ al-Shāmī al-Muqaddasī al-maʻrūf bi [known as] al-Bashshārī {The lack of dotted letters, use of "bin," and interpolation are the translator's doing}. Although this man is usually called al-Muqaddasī by historians, he was known as al-Bashshārī in his lifetime, and probably for a while after. He lived in the 900's CE.

Another example is in al-Muntaqā min al-Kitāb al-Jāmiʻ li-quwan al-adwiyah wa-al-aghdhiyan (Selections from the Comprehensive Book on the Efficacies of Medicaments and Foodstuffs). The name of the author is given as "Khidr ibn ʻIsá, known as (al-maʻruf bi-) al-Khaymi". (Italics as in the original.) The description of this book can be seen here . Notice that the first time the name is given, it is followed by the Arabic form; this allows us to be sure the name should've been romanized as Khidr ibn ʻĪsā al-maʻrūf bi-al-Khaymī. Unfortunately, on this page there are macrons only on the italicized romanizations. He lived in the late 15th century CE.

We find, in Islam and Tibet--Interactions along the Musk Routes, edited by Anna Akasoy, Charles Burnett, and Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim, (Google Book) in a footnote on page 92, a name given as "Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm ibn Muḥammad al-Fārīsī al-Iṣṭakhrī al-ma‘rūf bi'l-Karkhī ['known as al-Karkhī']." (Italics and square brackets as in the original.) He died sometime after 987 CE.

In fact, we find the phrase outside of Islamic writings. In the 13th century CE, in Baghdād, there lived a Jewish philosopher most often called Ibn Kammūna. The book A Jewish Philosopher of Baghdad: ʻIzz al-Dawla ibn Kammūna (d. 683/1284) and his Writings by Reza Pourjavady & Sabine Schmidtke covers his life. Although these authors refer to the subject of their work as "Ibn Kammūna" throughout, there is evidence he was known as al-maʻrūf bi-ibn Kammūna, based on the titles of various of his works cited:
from page 20:
Sharḥ al-Talwīḥ li-l-Shaykh al-fāḍil al-muḥaqqiq ʻIzz al-Dawla Saʻd b. Manṣūr al-maʻrūf bi-Ibn Kammūna al-Isrāʼīlī
Sharḥ al-Talwīḥāt li-l-ḥakīm al-muḥaqqiq ʻIzz al-Dawla Saʻd b. Manṣūr al-maʻrūf bi-Ibn Kammūna al-Isrāʼīlī
Sharḥ al-Ishārāt mimmā allafahū mukammil ʻulūm al-awwalīn wa-l-ākharīn qudwat al-muḥaqqiqīn ʻIzz al-Dawla Saʻd b. Manṣūr b. Saʻd al-maʻrūf bi-Ibn Kammūna al-Isrāʼīlī
from page 73:
Sharḥ al-Talwīḥāt al-Suhrawardiyya Saʻd b. Manṣūr b. Saʻd al-maʻrūf bi-Ibn Kammūna
Sharḥ al-Talwīḥāt li-l-ḥakīm al-muḥaqqiq ʻIzz al-Dawla Saʻd b. Manṣūr al-maʻrūf bi-Ibn Kammūna al-Isrāʼīlī {This is a repeat of the second one from page 20}
from page 76:
Sharḥ al-Talwīḥāt al-Shaykh Shihāb al-Dīn al-maqtūl li-l-Shaykh al-maʻrūf bi-Ibn Kammūna
from page 91:
Kitāb fī l-ḥikma taṣnīf al-shaykh al-fāḍil al-ʻAllāma Saʻd b. Manṣūr al-maʻrūf bi-Ibn Kammūna
Emphases added. NB: book titles sometimes contain al-maʻrūf bi- to indicate an alternate title; one must be careful to make sure that (as in all the titles I cited) it is the author who is referred to.

As another non-Muslim example, note in Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History, Volume 2 (900-1050) edited by David Thomas and Alex Mallett, on page 416, there's the romanization and translation of the long title of a book. The romanized form is Maqālat shaykhinā Abī Zakariyyā Yaḥyā ibn ʻAdī ibn Ḥamīd ibn Zakariyyā fī tabyīn ḍalālat al-Nasṭūrī al-muʻjab bi-kalām Abī l-Ḥusayn Aḥmad (ibn) Muḥammad al-maʻrūf bi-Ramaq (?) al-Miṣrī fī nuṣratihi al-Nasṭūriyya wa-munāqaḍātuhu fī raddīhī ʻalayhim mā yaʻtaqidūhu min anna l-Masīḥ jawharān {emphasis added}. It is translated as "Treatise of our Master Abū Zakariyyā Yaḥyā ibn ʻAdī ibn Ḥamīd ibn Zakariyyā to demonstrate the error of the Nestorian who is pleased with the remarks made by Abū l-Ḥusayn Aḥmad (ibn) Muḥammad, known as Ramaq (?) al-Miṣrī, defending the Nestorians, and (Yaḥyā's) counter arguments in refutation of their belief that Christ is two substanced" {whew!} Notice that while there's some doubt about the name "Ramaq," there's no question about al-maʻrūf bi- meaning "known as". Both these fellows lived, of course, around 900-1050 CE.

To return to Muslim examples, there is a book with the ponderous title Risālat al-ghufrān: wa-hiya al-risālah allatī katabahā Abū al-ʻAlāʼ al-Maʻarrī ilá al-Shaykh al-muḥaddith ʻAlī ibn Manṣūr al-Arīb al-Ḥalabī al-maʻrūf bi-Ibn al-Qāriḥ {emphasis added}, which means "The Epistle of Forgiveness: a letter written by Abū al-ʻAlāʼ al-Maʻarrī in response to the Shaykh, the Muḥaddith, ʻAlī ibn Manṣūr al-Arīb al-Ḥalabī known as Ibn al-Qāriḥ." ʻAlī ibn Manṣūr al-Arīb al-Ḥalabī known as Ibn al-Qāriḥ was a self-righteous fellow, who condemned a number of poets and scholars. Abū al-ʻAlāʼ al-Maʻarrī refuted Ibn al-Qāriḥ, and held him up to ridicule. The Arabic text can be seen here while the translation of ʻAlī ibn Manṣūr al-Arīb al-Ḥalabī's name, including the English phrase "known as" can be seen here

Another one is found in A Soaring Minaret: Abu Bakr al-Wasiti and the Rise of Baghdad Sufism, in the end-notes to chapter one, who is mentioned first as "Aslam b. Sahl al-Razzaz also known as Bahshal" and later as Aslam b. Sahl al-Razzaz al-Wasiti al-Maʻruf bi-Bahshal. Thus we are, once more, given the romanized Arabic and the English translation.

Let's do one last one, with Abū al-Saʻādāt Mubārak ibn Muḥammad al-maʻrūf bi-ibn al-Athīr al-Jazarī, who wrote a book, a copy of which is in Princeton library, and is viewable online, accessed through and described in:the catalog.

Though no details of his life are available there, he is mentioned in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, version 2, s.n. Ibn al-Athīr, in the section on Madjd al-Dīn Abu 'l-Saʻādāt al-Mubārak (that being part of his name, which is given in full, above). Note that while the book linked to was published about 1883, Abū al-Saʻādāt al-Jazarī lived from 1149-1210 CE.

I hope with all these examples that I have convinced you that Arabic nomenclature does indeed have its own "known as" name formation.

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