Bad weather in baghdad: Al-Ṭurṭūshī and the “eclipse” of 478/1085-1086

Translated title of the contribution: Bad weather in baghdad: Al-Ṭurṭūshī and the “eclipse” of 478/1085-1086

David J. Wasserstein*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The article discusses an autobiographical passage in the life of al-Ṭurṭūshī (ca. 451/1059-520/1126, or Jumādā I 525/April 1131) contained in the Siyar A‘lām al-Nubalā’ of al- Dhahabī (673/1274-748/1348). The text reports a remarkable set of meteorological phenomena during al-Ṭurṭūshī’s visit to Baghdad in 478/1085-86. Fierro interpreted the story as a description of an eclipse, and as lying at the origin of al-Ṭurṭūshī’s turn to asceticism, paralleling a similar story about the earlier Muḥammad Iḅn Waḍḍāḥ. I show here, based on astronomical records, that there was no eclipse at that time in Baghdad, consequently that what al-Ṭurṭūshī experienced could not have been one. Further, al-Ṭurṭūshī did not understand it as having been one. It could not, therefore, have been the cause of his turn to asceticism. The description points more naturally instead to a dust-storm, or simoom. There is therefore no link, literary or other, between this aspect of the life of al-Ṭurṭūshī and that of Muḥammad Iḅn Waḍḍāḥ.

Translated title of the contributionBad weather in baghdad: Al-Ṭurṭūshī and the “eclipse” of 478/1085-1086
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-236
Number of pages18
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Al-Dhahabī
  • Al-Ṭurṭūshī
  • Baghdad
  • Dust-storm
  • Eclipses
  • Muḥammad Iḅn Waḍḍāḥ
  • Simoom


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