BESṬĀMĪ (Basṭāmī), ʿABD-AL-RAḤMĀN b. Moḥammad b. ʿAlī, al-Ḥanafī, al-Ḥorūfī (d. 858/1454), Ottoman polymath of Khorasanian ancestry. Some recent sources attribute to him a birth in Besṭām (Dehḵodā, s.v.; Moḥammad-ʿAlī Modarres, Rayḥānat al-ādab, Tabrīz, n.d., I, p. 267), but it seems certain he was born in Anṭākīa (Antioch). He studied in Cairo and then settled in Bursa, where he remained until the end of his life. His works—all in Arabic—cover a wide range of subjects. Some relate to the classification of the sciences, including Dorrat al-ʿolūm wa jawharat al-fonūn and al-Fawāʾeḥ al-meskīya fi’l-fawāteḥ al-makkīya. Besṭāmī embarked on the latter work in 795/1393, intending to make of it an encyclopedia of all the sciences, divided into one hundred chapters, but he abandoned it in 844/1440 with only thirty chapters complete (Kašf al-ẓonūn, Istanbul, cols. 1293-94). According to Brockelmann (GAL II, p. 232), Besṭāmī dedicated al-Fawāʾeḥ al-meskīya to Sultan Morād III, but this is impossible for chronological reasons. A second major division of his writings is concerned with jafr, the esoteric significance of the letters of the Arabic alphabet; this includes Kašf asrār al-ḥorūf wa waṣf maʿāni ’l-ẓorūf and Šams al-āfāq fī ʿelm al-ḥorūf wa’l-awfāq (Kašf al-ẓonūn, col. 1061). The third distinct category of his work is formed by writings on medicine: al-Dorra al-lāmeʿa fi’l-adwīa al-šāfīa, a book consisting of ten chapters on the properties of different drugs (Kašf al-ẓonūn, col. 743); Dorrat al-fonūn fī roʾyat qorrat al-ʿoyūn on ophthalmology (Kašf al-ẓonūn, col. 742); and Waṣf al-dawāʾ fī kašf āfāt al-wabāʾ, a book in four chapters on the treatment of cholera (Kašf al-ẓonūn, col. 2013). The only work of Besṭāmī that has been printed appears to be Manāhej al-tawassol fī mabāhej al-tarassol, a work of adab containing forty-six anecdotes (laṭāʾef), each with an edifying moral. It was published in Cairo in 1299/1882 in the margins of Ṣalāḥ-al-Dīn Ṣafadī’s Janān al-jenās. Finally, Besṭāmī has some works of necrology and chronology.
Given in the text. See also Adnan Adıvar, Osmanlı türklerinde ilim, Istanbul, 1970, p. 12.
Brockelmann, GAL II, pp. 231-32.
“Bistami,” in İA II, p. 650.
Originally Published: December 15, 1989
Last Updated: December 15, 1989
This article is available in print.
Vol. IV, Fasc. 2, pp. 182-183