Ābu Ḥanīfah Āḥmad ibn Dawūd Dīnawarī
Persian: ابوحنيفه دينوری
Born212–213 A.H /815 CE
Died282–283 A.H/ 896 (aged 80–81)
EraIslamic Golden Age
Main interest(s)botanist, historian, geographer, metallurgy, astronomer and mathematician
OccupationMuslim scholar

Abū Ḥanīfah Aḥmad ibn Dāwūd Dīnawarī (815–896 CE, Persian: ابوحنيفه دينوری‎) was an Iranian Islamic Golden Age polymath, astronomer, agriculturist, botanist, metallurgist, geographer, mathematician, and historian. His ancestry came from the region of Dinawar, in Kermanshah in modern-day western Iran. He was instructed in the two main traditions of the Abbasid-era grammarians of al-Baṣrah and of al-Kūfah. His principal teachers were Ibn al-Sikkīt and his own father.[n 1] He studied grammar, philology, geometry, arithmetic, and astronomy and was known to be a reliable traditionist.[1] His most renowned contribution is Book of Plants, for which he is considered the founder of Arabic botany.[2] Dinawari was said to have been of Persian origin.[3][4][5][6][7] Although he was also said to have been Kurdish,[8] or Arab of Persian ancestry.[9][10] He may have studied astronomy in Isfahan.[citation needed].


The tenth century biographical encyclopedia, "al-Fihrist" of Al-Nadim, lists sixteen book titles by Dinawari:[1]

Mathematics and natural sciencesEdit

  1. Kitâb al-kusuf ("Book of Solar Eclipses")[n 2]
  2. Kitāb an-nabāt yufadiluh al-‘ulamā' fī ta’līfih (كتاب النبات يفضله العلماء في تأليفه), ‘Plants, valued by scholars for its composition'
  3. Kitāb Al-Anwā (كتاب الانواء) 'Tempest' (weather)
  4. Kitāb Al-qiblah wa'z-zawāl[n 3] (كتاب القبلة والزوال) "Book of Astral Orientations"
  5. Kitāb ḥisāb ad-dūr (كتاب حساب الدور), "Arithmetic/Calculation of Cycles"
  6. Kitāb ar-rud ‘alā raṣd al-Iṣbhānī (كتاب الردّ على رصدٌ الاصفهانى) Refutation of Lughdah al-Iṣbhānī[n 4]
  7. Kitāb al-baḥth fī ḥusā al-Hind (كتاب البحث في حسا الهند), "Analysis of Indian Arithmetic"
  8. Kitāb al-jam’ wa'l-tafrīq (كتاب الجمع والتفريق); "Book of Arithmetic/Summation and Differentiation"
  9. Kitāb al-jabr wa-l-muqabila (كتاب الجبر والمقابلة), "Algebra and Equation"
  10. Kitāb nuwādr al-jabr (كتاب نوادرالجبر), "Rare Forms of Algebra"

Social sciences and humanitiesEdit

  1. Kitāb al-akhbār al-ṭiwāl (كتاب الاخبار الطوال), "General History" [n 5][12]
  2. Kitāb Kabīr (كتاب كبير) "Great Book" [in history of sciences]
  3. Kitāb al-faṣāha (كتاب الفصاحة), "Book of Rhetoric"
  4. Kitāb al-buldān (كتاب البلدان), "Book of Cities (Regions) (Geography)"
  5. Kitāb ash-sh’ir wa-shu’arā’ (كتاب الشعر والشعراء), "Poetry and the Poets"
  6. Kitāb al-Waṣāyā (كتاب الوصايا), Commandments (wills);
  7. Kitāb ma yulahan fīh al’āmma (كتاب ما يلحن فيه العامّة), How the Populace Errs in Speaking;
  8. Islâh al-mantiq ("Improvement of Speech")[n 6]
  9. Ansâb al-Akrâd ("Ancestry of the Kurds").[n 7]

Editions & TranslationsEdit

His General History (Al-Akhbar al-Tiwal) has been edited and published numerous times (Vladimir Guirgass, 1888; Muhammad Sa'id Rafi'i, 1911; Ignace Krachkovsky, 1912;[13] 'Abd al-Munim 'Amir & Jamal al-din Shayyal, 1960; Isam Muhammad al-Hajj 'Ali, 2001), but has not been translated in its entirety into a European language. Jackson Bonner has recently prepared an English translation of the pre-Islamic passages of al-Akhbar al-Tiwal.[14]

Book of PlantsEdit

Al-Dinawari is considered the founder of Arabic botany for his Kitab al-Nabat (Book of Plants), which consisted of six volumes. Only the third and fifth volumes have survived, though the sixth volume has partly been reconstructed based on citations from later works. In the surviving portions of his works, 637 plants are described from the letters sin to ya. He describes the phases of plant growth and the production of flowers and fruit.[2]

The first part of the Book of Plants describes astronomical and meteorological concepts as they relate to plants, including the planets and constellations, the sun and moon, the lunar phases indicating seasons and rain, anwa, and atmospheric phenomena such as winds, thunder, lightning, snow, and floods. The book also describes different types of ground, indicating which types are more convenient for plants and the qualities and properties of good ground.[2]

Al-Dinawari quoted from other early Muslim botanical works that are now lost, such as those of al-Shaybani, Ibn al-Arabi, al-Bahili, and Ibn as-Sikkit.

See alsoEdit


  1. Flügel translates the al-Fihrist as “son" but the Beatty MS has “father”.
  2. Omitted in al-Fihrist
  3. Al-qiblah the direction faced in prayer; here perhaps with astronomical meaning. Al-zawāl "sunset", perhaps also the sun’s absence. See “Kibla,” Enc. Islam, II, 985–89.
  4. Flügel after Yāqūt, Irshād, VI (1), 127 n.2, has raṣd, “observation" (Astronomical), but in the Beatty MS “Lughdah” is probably correct. Abū ‘Alī al-Ḥasan al-Iṣbahānī was called "Lughdah".[11]
  5. Dodge has "Legends in the Ṭiwāl Meter". Title omitted in Beatty MS. Ṭiwāl i.e. “long”.
  6. Omitted in al-Fihrist
  7. Omitted in al-Fihrist


  1. 1.0 1.1 Nadim (al-), Abū al-Faraj M. i. Isḥāq (1970). Dodge, Bayard (ed.). Al-Fihrist. New York & London: Columbia University Press. p. 172.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Fahd, Toufic, Botany and agriculture, p. 815, in Morelon, Régis; Rashed, Roshdi (1996), Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science, 3, Routledge, pp. 813–852, ISBN 978-0-415-12410-2
  3. Nadim (al-) 1970, p. 981, II.
  4. Cahen 2006, p. 198.
  5. Pellat, Charles. "DĪNAVARĪ, ABŪ ḤANĪFA AḤMAD". ENCYCLOPÆDIA IRANICA. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
  6. Cahen, Claude (2006). Young, M.J.L.; Latham, J.D.; Serjeant, R.B. (eds.). Religion, learning, and science in the ʻAbbasid period (1. publ. ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 198. ISBN 978-0521028875. Abu Hanlfah al-DInawarl was a Persian of liberal outlook, who took an interest in botany among other sciences.
  7. Clarke, Nicola (2018). "al-Dinawari". In Nicholson, Oliver (ed.). The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity. Oxford University Press. p. 484. ISBN 978-0192562463.
  8. W. Adamec, Ludwig (2009). Historical Dictionary of Islam. Scarecrow Press. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-8108-6161-9.
  9. Encyclopedia of Islam, ed., Th. Houtsma, Brill Academic, 1993 p. 977
  10. B., Lewin. "al-DĪNAWARĪ". Brill. doi:10.1163/1573-3912_islam_sim_1868. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. Nadim (al-) 1970, p. 1015, II.
  12. Nadim (al-) 1970, p. 172, I.
  13. Dinawari (al-) (1912). Krachkovsky, Ignace (ed.). Kitāb al-Aḥbār aṭ-Ṭiwāl (in Arabic and French). Leiden: E. J. Brill.
  14. "Abu Hanifa Ahmad ibn Dawud ibn Wanand al-Dinawari (A.D. 828–895) – Michael Richard Jackson Bonner". www.mrjb.ca. Retrieved 2013-11-07.


  • Nicholson, Oliver (2018). The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity. Oxford University Press.

External linksEdit

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