This thesis research aims to contribute to the study of medieval Arabic autobiographies by examining the autobiography of one of fifteenth-century Mamluk scholars, Muḥammad Ibn ʿabd al-Raḥmān al-Sakhāwī (1428/831 AH - 1497/902 AH).

The objective of this research is to understand more about the art of writing an autobiography during the late Mamluk period and how it relates to broader Islamic tradition. This will be done by considering al-Sakhāwī’s autobiography in the context of other similar concurrent texts written during the late Mamluk period to detect possible links and investigate how a medieval autobiography can be shaped by the character and ideology of its author. Then, the thesis tries to analyze the context that led to the emergence of many autobiographies during the time of al-Sakhāwī to understand why this genre became prevalent. The research suggests several intellectual and social changes that might have fostered a flourishing environment for this type of writing. The final objective of this thesis is to show how an autobiography such as al-Sakhāwī can reveal some aspects related to family conditions and dynamics. This will be done by examining the portrayal of al-Sakhāwī’s family as presented in the autobiography in terms of socio-economic background as well as marriage and divorce conditions.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences


Arab & Islamic Civilizations Department

Degree Name

MA in Arabic Studies

Graduation Date

Winter 2-15-2022

Submission Date


First Advisor

Nelly Hanna

Committee Member 1

Eleonra Fernandes

Committee Member 2

Hoda El Saadi


170 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Not necessary for this item