‘Imād al-Dīn Muhammad ibn Muhammad, known as al- Kātib al-Isfahānī, was a historian and kātib (secretary- scholar) born in Isfahan in Persia and educated in Baghdad.
In 1157, he caught the attention of the vizier Ibn Hubayra, who appointed him as his naib (representative) at Wasit and Basra. When Ibn Hubayra died in 1165, al-Isfahānī lost his position, but two years later he became a kātib in the service of Nūr al-Dīn and soon rose in prominence. After the death of Nūr al-Dīn (1174), al-Isfahānī was supplanted by rivals and eventually fled to Mosul. There he fell ill, but he recovered, and upon hearing that Saladin was advancing on Damascus, he sent the sultan greetings in the form of a poem. He passed into Saladin’s service, eventually becoming both his official secretary and close companion. He remained in almost constant attendance upon his master until the latter’s death in 1193, after which he settled in Damascus and spent the rest of his life on literary work.
Al-Isfahānī wrote several important works, including a chronicle of the years from 1187 to just after the death of Saladin, al-Fath al-Qussīfī’l-Fath al-Qudsī(Qussian Eloquence on the Conquest of Jerusalem) and an autobiographical account of the sultan’s military expeditions, al-Barq al-Shāmī (The Syrian Lightning). He also collected a great anthology of the Arab poets of the twelfth century, Kharīdat al-Qasr wa- Jarīdat Ahl al-‘Asr ( The Pearl of Selection and Roll of the People of the Age), and wrote other historical chronicles.