Abd al-Ghani's family descended from the Banu Jama'a, which traditionally provided qadis (chief judges) for the Shafi'ifiqh (school of Islamic law) of Sunni Islam for the Mamluk rulers of Syria and Egypt. The Banu Jama'a hailed from Hama before settling in Jerusalem in the 13th century. One of its principal branches remained in Jerusalem, providing the preachers for the al-Aqsa Mosque, while another principal branch relocated to Cairo, the Mamluk capital, under Badr al-Din Muhammad Ibn Jama'a in 1291 after being appointed by Sultan al-Ashraf Khalil as qadi al-qudat (head judge of the sultanate) and shaykh al-shuyukh (head of the Sufi brotherhoods). Badr al-Din died in 1333 and his direct descendants died out in the 15th century. Abd al-Ghani's family descended from Badr al-Din's younger brother Abd al-Rahman, who had remained in Jerusalem. Shortly after the conquest of Mamluk Syria by the Ottoman Empire in 1516, part of Abd al-Rahman's family moved briefly to Nablus then permanently to Damascus, which attracted numerous people from Palestine in the 16th century. The family became known as "al-Nabulsi" after their short stay in Nablus.
The great-grandfather of Abd al-Ghani, Ismai'il al-Nabulsi, was a Shafi'i jurist, the Shafi'i mufti of Damascus and a teacher of the fiqh at the Umayyad Mosque and four madrasas in the city. One of the madrasas, the Darwishiyya Madrasa, was built by the governor Darwish Pasha and endowed specifically for Isma'il and his descendants to teach the Shafi'i fiqh. Isma'il taught there Turkish, Persian and Arabic students, and was fluent in each of the languages. He grew wealthy, owning several villages and farms and gaining connections to the imperial government in Constantinople. He was the founder of the Nabulsi family's wealth and a mausoleum was built for him by Darwish Pasha in the Bab al-Saghir cemetery. Abd al-Ghani's grandfather and namesake inherited wealth from his mother Hanifa bint al-Shihabi Ahmad and owned shops and residences in the Salihiyya neighborhood. He was not known for his scholarship and is remembered by Abd al-Ghani as a generous man.
Abd al-Ghani was born in Damascus in 1641. His father, Isma'il, was a jurist, but switched to the Hanafifiqh, which was the Sunni Muslim school of Ottoman high officialdom. He was a contributor to Arabic literature, wrote on legal matters, taught at the Umayyad Mosque and Damascene madrasas and occupied the post of qadi in Sidon for a certain period. He supervised Abd al-Ghani's early education, but died in 1653, when Abd al-Ghani was 12 years old. Before the age of 20 he was teaching and giving formal legal opinions (fatwa). He joined both the mystical orders Qadiriyya and Naqshbandi, and spent seven years in isolation in his house studying the mystics on their expression of divine experiences. He taught in the Umawi Mosque in Damascus and the Salihiyya Madrasa, becoming renowned throughout the region as an accomplished Islamic scholar. He travelled extensively, seeing Istanbul (1664), Lebanon (1688), Jerusalem (1689), Palestine (1689), Egypt (1693), Arabia (1693), and Tripoli (1700).
He died and was buried in Damascus in 1731 at 90 years of age.
He left over 200 written works. His views on religious tolerance towards other religions were developed under the inspiration of the works of the 13th century Sufi master, Ibn Arabi. He made two visits to Palestine, in 1690, and 1693–4, visiting Christian and Jewish sites, as well as sacred Muslim shrines, and he enjoyed there the hospitality of local Christian monks. Subjects he wrote about include Sufism, Rihla, agriculture, and poetry. He also wrote ethnographic works based on his travels to Tripoli, Egypt, Jerusalem, Lebanon and other areas of the Middle East.
Idâh al-Maqsud min wahdat al-wujud ("Clarifying What is Meant by the Unity of Being")
Jam'u al-Asrâr fi man'a al-Ashrâr 'an at-Ta'n fi as-Sufiyah al-Akhyar (Collection of the secrets to prevent the evils castigate the pious Sufis)
Shifa' al-Sadr fî Fada'il Laylat al-Nisf Min Sha'bân wa Layllat al-Qadr (Curing the heart on the Virtues of the night of Nisfu Sha'ban and The Night of Qadr)
Nafahat al-Azhar 'Ala Nasamat al-Ashar, a badī‘iyya in praise of the Prophet, 'no doubt' inspired by 'A'isha al-Ba'uniyya'sal-Fatḥ al-mubīn fī madḥ al-amīn (Clear Inspiration, on Praise of the Trusted One); both writers accompanied their respective badī‘iyyas with a commentary.
al-Sulh bayn al-ikhwan fi hukm ibahat al-dukhan, an influential legal treatise advocating the lawfulness of smoking tobacco; ed. Ahmad Muhammad Dahman (Damascus, 1924).
Ta‘tir al-anam fi tafsir al-ahlam, ed. Taha 'Abd al-Ra’uf Sa‘d, 2 vols. (Damascus, n.d.)
al-Haqiqa wa al-majaz fi al-rihla ila bilad al-sham wa misr wa al-hijaz, ed by Ahmad 'Abd al-Majid al-Haridi (Cairo, 1986) is the longest rihla. This rihla also goes by the title al-Rihla al-kubra and covers over 500 folios in minuscule. The journey began on Muharram 1005/ September 1693 and ended with the Hajj 388 days later.
al-Hadra al-Unsiyya fî al-Rihla al-Qudsiyya, also called al-Rihla al-wustd focuses on al-Nablusi's trip to Palestine, specifically Jerusalem and Hebron.
Nihayat al-murad fi sharh hadiyyat Ibn al-'Imad, a treatise on the rites of prayer; ed. ‘'Abd al-Razzaq al-Halabi (Limmasol, 1994).
Hillat al-dhahab al-ibriz fi rihlat Ba'albak wa-al-Biqa' al-'aziz, often known as al-Rihla al-Sughrd, was the first of al-Nabulsi's rihla. It describes a 15-day journey to Lebanon in AH 1100/ AD 1688.
al-Tuhfa al-Nabulusiyya ft 1-rihla al-Tarabulusiyya was his second rihla, describing a 40-day trip across Lebanon to Tripoli.
^Iain R. Edgar The Dream in Islam: From Qur'anic Tradition to Jihadist ...2011 0857452363 - Page 58 "However, in Islamic countries, al-Nabulusi's dream encyclopedia still is a popular dream interpretation book."
^Yehia Gouda - Dreams and Their Meanings in the Old Arab Tradition 1419654020 2006- Page 419 According to Al-Nabulsi, in his alphabetical book of dreams the toilet represents the relief, welfare, and largesse of the household or, on the contrary, the hardships, poverty, and stinginess. It also alludes to the wife whom the dreamer takes ...