‘Hermes is the Same as Idris’ References to Hermes Trismegistus in Medieval Arabic Texts


“Sa’id al-Lagawi (al-Andalusi), in his book The Generations of Nations, reported that all the sciences known before the Flood were first taught by Hermes, who lived in Upper Egypt. This Hermes was the first to ponder celestial substances and the movement of the stars. He was the first to build temples to worship God. He occupied himself with science and medicine, and he wrote well-measured poems for his contemporaries about things terrestrial and celestial. It is also said that he was the first to predict the Flood and anticipate that a celestial cataclysm would befall the earth in the form of fire or water, so, fearing the destruction of knowledge and the disappearance of the arts, he built the pyramids and temples of Upper Egypt. Within these, he included representations of the arts and instruments, including engraved explanations of science, in order to pass them on to those who come after him, lest he see them disappear from the world. This Hermes is the same as Idris…Abu’l-Faraj Muhammad bin Is’haq al-Nadim, the stationer, in his book entitled The Index, said about Hermes al-Baheli: There is no agreement about him. It was said he was one of the seven guards responsible for monitoring the seven temples (the planets) and was assigned to guard the temple of Atared (Mercury), whose name he took, as Atared in the Chaldaic language means Hermes. It is said that for some reason he moved to Egypt where he reigned and had children including Tat, Sa, Ashmun, Atrib, and Qoft. He was the wisest of his time, and after his death he was buried in the monument at Masr known under the name Abu Hermes, but which most Greeks give the name of Al-Haraman (the two pyramids), because one of them is his tomb and the other the tomb of his wife. According to others, it is the tomb of the son of Hermes, the son who would have succeeded him after his death….One of these pyramids is the tomb of A’adimun (Agathodaemon) and the other of Hermes. Between these two figures there are nearly a thousand years, A’adimun being the older of the two. The inhabitants of Egypt, that is to say the Copts, argue that these two characters were two prophets who appeared before the coming of Christianity. This view is consistent with that professed by the Sabeans about prophets, but not with the regard that one must have for the great prophets. But for the Copts, the two prophets in question were pure souls, holy, free from corruption, and equipped with heavenly and terrestrial inspiration. They also knew events before they had occurred ​​and knew of the secrets of the world. Among the Arabs of Yemen, some consider the two pyramids to be the tombs of Shaddad ben ’Ad and another of their kings who conquered Egypt in the past. These are pure Arabs of the tribes of Amalek and others. But, from what we have said of the doctrine of the Sabeans, they are the tombs of pure bodies. Abu Zayd al-Balkhi found in the middle of inscriptions traced on the pyramid certain lines that were translated into Arabic and meant: “These two pyramids were raised when the Eagle was in conjunction with Gemini.” Calculation of the time that had elapsed from that time until the Hegira of the Prophet found it to be twice 36,000 solar years, that is to say 72,000 solar years….Abu al-Rayhan al-Biruni, in the book Traces Remaining of Centuries Past, says the Persians and Magi deny the Flood; however, some Persians admit it, but they claim that this disaster, which occurred at the time of Timhurts, had no effect in Syria and the West, and did not extend to the whole inhabited earth. According to them, it would not have passed (to the east) the Wadi of Helwan and would leave intact the empires of the East. The Westerners, warned of the disaster by their elders, built high buildings in the style of the Egyptian pyramids, to take refuge when the cataclysm came. Traces of the Flood and the heights reached by its waters are still seen midway up on the pyramids, a limit the waters could not exceed. It is said that when the waters of the Flood receded, there was found the village of Nahavand, which had remained absolutely the same as it was before, and the pyramids and temples of Egypt. They were built by the first Hermes, whom the Arabs call Idris, whom God had inspired with the science of the stars. By consulting the stars, he foresaw the disaster that threatened the land, that only a few people would survive, and that scientific knowledge was necessary. Therefore, helped by the people of Egypt, he erected the pyramids and temples where he engraved a record of all sciences….Some believe that the first Hermes, whom they call the Thrice Great because of the three gifts he possessed: prophecy, kingship and wisdom, is the same as him the Hebrews call Enoch ben Jared ben Mahalalel ben Fatian (Kenan) ben Seth ben Enos ben Adam, who is also the same as Idris. He foresaw, from the position of the planets, the arrival of a Flood that would submerge the whole earth; therefore he built a large number of pyramids in which were deposited treasures, science books, and everything he feared would be destroyed and disappear from view….In the year 579 AH (1183-1184 CE) the house of Hermes was discovered in the territory of Busir, province of Giza. The qadi, Ibn al-Shahrzuri opened it and pulled out all sorts of things: rams, monkeys, frogs in fibrous balls, vases of daheng, and bronze statues…Between the stones is spread blue clay of an unknown nature and composition, and on the surface of the stones are drawn inscriptions in an ancient and unknown language; no person in Egypt has heard of anyone who could understand them. These entries are so numerous and so extensive that if we wrote them on paper, they would cover ten thousand leaves. I read in some old books of the Sabeans that one of these pyramids was the tomb of Adamun (Agathodaemon) and the other the tomb of Hermes. According to them, these two personages were great prophets and Adamun was the greater. The Sabeans made ​​a pilgrimage to the pyramids, and the people came from the far corners of all countries”.

Al-Khitat of Al-Maqrizi (1364-1442 CE) translated by Jason Colavito


“They differ concerning him that built the Pyramids. Some say Joseph, some say Nimrod, some Dalukah the queen, and some that the Ægyptians built them before the flood. For they foresaw that it would be, and they carried thither their treasures; but it profited them nothing. […] Coptites (or Ægyptians) report, that these two greater Pyramids, and the lesser, which is coloured, are sepulchres. In the East Pyramid is king Saurid, in the West Pyramid his brother Hougib, and in the coloured Pyramid Fazfarinoun, the son of Hougib. The Sabaeans relate, that one of them is the sepulchre of Shiit, (that is, Seth) and the second the sepulchre of Hermes, and the coloured one the sepulchre of Sab, the son of Hermes, from whom they are called Sabæans. They go in pilgrimage thither, and sacrifice at them a cock, and a black calf, and offer up incense”.

Sibt ibn al-Jawzi, Mir’at al-zaman (before 1256 CE)Translated by John Greaves in Pyramidographia (1646)

“The Pyramids. These were built by Hermes, the wise, the threefold in wisdom, who by his knowledge of the secrets of nature, invented the art of alchemy, and was able to make substances. His birthplace was Memphis. He is said to have been the same as Idris, who is related to have been ‘raised up to a high place’ [Qur’an 19:57]. The Sabaeans make pilgrimages to the two great pyramids, and say that Hermes is buried in one of them, and Agathodaemon [in the other]. The Sabaeans come to the pyramids from Harran, on pilgrimage. There is not on the face of the earth a structure erected by the hand [of man], stone upon stone, higher than these two pyramids, which are the tombs of Hermes and Agathodaemon. It is said that the area covered by each of the two great pyramids is twelve feddans; and in each of them there is a well, the site of which is not known”.

Abu Al-Makarim, History of Churches and Monasteries (13th century CE) Translated by B. T. A. Evetts in 1895.

“..all the sciences that existed before the Flood were written down by Hermes the Elder, who lived in Upper Egypt and was called Khonodkh (this is the same figure as Idris, or Enoch). In their view, he was the first who discoursed on celestial movements and the higher substances, the first who built temples and there glorified the divine. He predicted the Flood to men, and fearing the loss of science and the destruction of the arts, he built the pyramids and temples on which he represented all the industrial arts and their equipment, and recorded the sciences so that they might be preserved forever”.

Ibn Battuta, The Journey (c. 1356)

Translated by Jason Colavito from the 1853 French edition of Charles Defrémery and Beniamino Sanguinetti.

All references from http://www.jasoncolavito.com/medieval-pyramid-lore.html