Al-Jahiz lived, during one of the most exciting times of intellectual history – the period of the transmission of Greek science to the Arabs and the. A Wondrous Journey of Discovery with 9th-century Explorer Al-Jahiz. ‘ Inventions and the Book of Animals’ is an educational initiative. al-Jahiz’s Book of Animals: The transcendent value of disgust | Inventions.

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Even though his family was very poor, it did not stop Al-Jahiz of seeking knowledge and attending lectures on different topics like Arabic poetry, philology and lexicography. The book that best illustrates his method is his Book of Animals — Kitab al-Hayawan — which, even incomplete, runs to seven fat volumes in the printed edition.

He used to gather with a group of other youths at Basra’s main mosque, where they would discuss different scientific subjects. Short feature film from producer Ahmed Salim that explores the animal kingdom through the eyes of Al-Jahiz. Cairo, 27 January Al-Jahiz never lost sight of his readers, and developed a very personal and characteristic style, which blended anecdote, serious subjects and jokes, in an effort to hold their interest. Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Ms.

The rat goes out for its food, and is clever in getting it, for it eats all animals inferior to it in strength”, and in turn, it “has to avoid snakes and birds and serpents of prey, who look for it in order to devour it” and are stronger than the rat. Despite the title, the Book of Animals is by no means conventional zoology, or even a conventional bestiary. It is also difficult to pin al-Jahiz down on a given topic, for he loved to present debates between two social classes — scholars and merchants, mules and horses for instance — in which the merits of each are paraded before the reader.

Al-Jahiz and “The Book of Animals” – MOHA Research Center

These people have a natural talent for dancing to the rhythm of the tambourine, without needing to learn it. One of them will lift huge blocks and carry heavy loads that would be beyond the strength of most Bedouins or members of other races. Strong animals cannot escape being devoured by other animals stronger than they. A late tradition clams that Jahiz Al-Damiri, who lived in the 14th century and wrote a well-known encyclopedia called The Lives of the Animals, used much of the scientific and linguistic information from al-Jahiz, but eliminated the anecdotes, poetry, digressions and jokes.

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It is obviously copied by an educated scribe who has indicated the vowels — not normally written in Arabic — which allow the text to be more accurately understood than heretofore. The book is silent as long as you need silence, eloquent whenever you want discourse.

Besides, the land of the Banu Sulaim has much in common with the land of the Turks, where the camels, beasts of burden, and everything belonging to these people is similar in appearance: After observing animals and insects, al-Jahiz came to the conclusion that there must be some mechanisms which have influence on the evolution of animals, and this years before Darwin did.

But the Book of Animals is not the only great work written by al-Jahiz. The Book of Misers, for example is also very popular.

There are no better singers anywhere in the world, no people more polished and eloquent, and no people less given to insulting language. Captions appear in Persian language. Bagdad was exposed to a new and important influence: Books became readily available, and this made learning easily available. He developed a love for – and expertise in the Arabic language becoming an avid reader and prolific writer.

He had a great bbook of books, and his Book of Animals begins with a long passage in their praise. More importantly, he communicates to us the excitement of an intelligent non-specialist confronted with radical scientific, philosophical and theological speculations. Many of the stories continue to be reprinted in magazines throughout the Arabic-speaking world. It falls in 7 volumes and is full of anecdotes, poetic descriptions and proverbs describing many varieties of animals.

Loving a good story, however, al-Jahiz could never resist passing on the most preposterous yarns of sailors and Bedouin.

Al-Jahiz and “The Book of Animals”

He also attended various lectures given by the most learned men in philologylexicography and poetry. This is doubly important as few manuscripts of the Book of Animals survive, and the Ambrosiana manuscript is among the earliest of those that do. Although the Book of Animals consists of a wide range of subjects, the great amount of scientific information given is of great value.

White and black are the results of environment, the natural properties of water and soil, distance from the sun, and intensity of heat.

The Father of the Theory of Evolution: Al-Jahiz and His Book of Animals | Mvslim

He was reported to have written over two hundred some sources say three hundred plus works, about thirty are extant. Because of overhunting and poaching, or illegal hunting; overfishing; and destruction of habitats, scientists think 25 percent of mammals could become extinct—and others, too.


My books contain above all unusual anecdotes, wise and beautifully expressed sayings handed down by the Companions of the Prophet, sayings which will lead to the acquisition of good qualities and the performance of good works … they also contain stories of the conduct of kings and caliphs and their ministers and courtiers, and the most interesting events of their lives.

East African Swahili Committee. I would have you know that a pebble proves the existence of God just as much as a mountain, and the human body is evidence as strong as the universe that contains our world: Philosophers by century CE.

Paper had been introduced to the Muslim world around AD and al-Jahiz responded to this new technological opportunity by writing large compilations as a way to preserve, defend, and theorise some of those rhetorical debate practices. He was a man of reason and logic, which generated a spirit of life-long independence. Of his writings, only thirty books survive today — enough nevertheless to show the omnivorous curiosity of the author.

The Father of the Theory of Evolution: Al-Jahiz and His Book of Animals

Bolk new characteristics helped species to adapt to environmental conditions and created new species. Views Read Edit View history. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Books became readily available, and this made learning easily available.

The titles, however, give only a faint idea of their contents. Together they present a faithful and lively portrait of Baghdad and Basra during the Golden Age of Islam.

He showed that Arabic was flexible enough to handle any subject with ease, and although he was not personally associated with the House of Wisdom, his linguistic achievement paralleled — indeed surpassed — the efforts of the scholars engaged in rendering Greek scientific texts into Arabic. Guide for parents, teachers and educators full of easy to do hands-on activities and demonstrations that link to the world of animals and create awareness about environmental issues.

He writes of singing girls, vagabonds, scholars, theologians, caliphs and viziers, and a very detailed picture of everyday life in ninth-century Iraq could be extracted from his works. This movement had unanticipated results: