Shihab al-Din Abu L-Qasim Abu Shama – Excerpts from The Book of the Two Gardens

Bibliographic Information


Medieval Title: 

The Book of the Two Gardens



Shehab al-Din Abu L-Qasim Abu Shama [the man with a mole on his face]



Early twelfth century



Abu Shama was born in Damascus in 599 (1203 C.E.). He studied philosophy and jurisprudence in Alexandria before becoming returning to his home town and becoming a professor.

His most important work was a history of both Nūr al-Dīn and Salāh al-Dīn.

He was killed by a mob in 655 (1268 C.E.).

(The following has been translated by Hisham Al Khatib. Summarized from: Konrad Hirschler, Medieval Arabic Historiography Authors as Actors, (London: Routledge, n.d, 2006), pp. 10-12)

Abu Shama’s earliest historical work was the Dhayl, an annalistic chronicle from the year following Salah al-Din’s death up to the year of Abu Shama’s death. Although it was entitled Dhayl to the Rawdatayn, it was rather a work which predated and paralleled the Rawdatayn. Abu Shama’s second historical work was an abridgement of Ibn Asakir’s (d. 571/1175) biographical work, The History of Damascus. Towards the end of his life Abu Shama abridged his Rawdatayn in a small volume called ‘Uyun al-Rawdatayn (The Essence of the Two Gardens). In it he omitted most of the poetry, which he had cited extensively in the Rawdatayn and occasionally integrated the different sources into a shorter narrative.

It is the Rawdatayn, which has been the most popular of all his historical writings. Abu Shama wrote the Rawdatayn during the mid-640s/late 1240s. He started to teach it at the latest in 649/1251–2, but two years later revoked the versions previously taught and declared the new version to be the only authoritative one. The Rawdatayn was widely disseminated, as is evident from the nearly twenty extant manuscripts.


Textual Information

Brief Summary:

This passage gives a brief description of the True Cross coated with gold.


Relics Appearing in Text:

True Cross


Manuscripts, Editions, and Translations



List of Editions of the Medieval Text: 



List of Translations of the Medieval Text: 

Abu Shama, Shihab al-Din Abu L-Qasim. “The Book of the Two Gardens.” Recueil des Historiens des Croisades: Historiens Orientaux. V. 5. Paris Imperimerie Nationale, 1976.


Original Editions/Translations We Have Produced: 

Description of the True Cross by Mohammed Bin Al-Kadesi – Translated by Hisham Al Khatib (click here)


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