Ābu Ḥanīfah Āḥmad ibn Dawūd Dīnawarī (815–896 CE, Arabic: أبو حنيفة الدينوري) was an Islamic Golden Age polymath, astronomer, agriculturist, botanist, metallurgist, geographer, mathematician, and historian. He was born in the region of Dinawar, halfway between Hamadan and Kermanshah in modern-day western Iran. He studied astronomy, mathematics and mechanics in Isfahan and philology and poetry in Kufa and Basra. He died in Dinawar. His most renowned contribution is Book of Plants, for which he is considered the founder of Arabic botany. There is no consensus regarding his ethnic background among scholars. Ludwig Adamec considers him to be of Kurdish descent, while Encyclopedia of Islam classifies him as an Arab philologist and scientist, however, Encyclopaedia Iranica lists him as Persian. Encyclopædia Britannica Online classifies him to be of Persian or kurdish origin.
He is the author of about fifteen works
Mathematics and natural sciences
- Kitâb al-jabr wa'l-muqâbalah ("Book of Algebra")
- Kitâb al-nabât ("Book of Plants")
- Kitâb al-kusuf ("Book of Solar Eclipses")
- Kitâb al-radd alâ rasad al-Isfahâni ("Refutation of al-Isfahani's Astronomical Observations")
- Kitâb al-hisâb ("Book of Arithmetic")
- Bahth fi hisâb al-Hind ("Analysis of Indian Arithmetic")
- Kitâb al-jam' wa'l-tafriq ("Book of Arithmetic")
- Kitab al-qibla wa'l-zawāl ("Book of Astral Orientations")
- Kitâb al-anwâ' ("Book of Weather")
- Islâh al-mantiq ("Improvement of Speech")
Social sciences and humanities
- Kitâb al-akhbâr al-tiwâl ("General History")
- Kitâb al-kabir ("Grand Book" in history of sciences)
- Kitâb al-fisâha ("Book of Rhetorics")
- Kitâb al-buldân ("Book of Geography")
- Kitâb al-shi'r wa'l-shu'arâ ("Book of Poetry and Poets")
- Ansâb al-Akrâd ("Ancestry of the Kurds").
His General History (al-Akhbar al-Tiwal) has been edited and published numerous times (Vladimir Guirgass, 1888; Muhammad Sa'id Rafi'i, 1911; '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.
Book of Plants
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.
Many of the Muslim early Botanical works are lost, such as that of Al-Shaybani (d.820), Ibn Al-Arabi (d.844), Al-Bahili (d.845) and Ibn as-Sikkit (d.857), but their works, however, are extensively quoted in later books by Abu Hanifa Al-Dinawari.
Astronomy and meteorology
Parts of al-Dinawari's Book of Plants deals with the applications of Islamic astronomy and meteorology to agriculture. It describes the astronomical and meteorological character of the sky, the planets and constellations, the sun and moon, the lunar phases indicating seasons and rain, the anwa (heavenly bodies of rain), and atmospheric phenomena such as winds, thunder, lightning, snow, floods, valleys, rivers, lakes, wells and other sources of water.
Parts of al-Dinawari's Book of Plants deals with the Earth sciences in the context of agriculture. He considers the Earth, stone and sands, and describes different types of ground, indicating which types are more convenient for plants and the qualities and properties of good ground.