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Abū al-Hasan 'Alī ibn Muhammad al-Madā'inī was an important early historian. He was bom and grew up in Basra at the beginning of the 'Abbāsid period, lived for a time in al-Madā'in (Ctesiphon), and settled finally in Baghdad. There he enjoyed the patronage of the famous musician Ishāq ibn Ibrāhīm al-Mawsili, in whose house he died, aged over 90. He is said to have written more than 200 books on mainly historical topics, but hardly any have been preserved as separate works.