Abū Ḥanīfah Aḥmad ibn Dāwūd Dīnawarī
(815–896 CE, Arabic: أبو حنيفة الدينوري) was an 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. He studied grammar, philology, geometry, arithmetic and astronomy and was known to be a reliable traditionist. His most renowned contribution is Book of Plants, for which he is considered the founder of Arabic botany. Dinawari was said to have been of Persian origin. Although he was also said to have been Kurdish, or Arab of Persian ancestry. He may have studied astronomy in Isfahan.
The tenth century biographical encyclopedia, al-Fihrist of Al-Nadim, lists sixteen book titles by Dinawari:
Mathematics and natural sciences
Kitâb al-kusuf (Book of Solar Eclipses)
Kitāb an-nabāt yufadiluh al-‘ulamā' fī ta’līfih (كتاب النبات يفضله العلماء في تأليفه), ‘Plants, valued by scholars for its composition'
Kitāb Al-Anwā (كتاب الانواء) 'Tempest' (weather)
Kitāb Al-qiblah wa'z-zawāl[n 3] (كتاب القبلة والزوال) Book of Astral Orientations
Kitāb ḥisāb ad-dūr (كتاب حساب الدور), Arithmetic/Calculation of Cycles
Kitāb ar-rud ‘alā raṣd al-Iṣbhānī (كتاب الردّ على رصدٌ الاصفهانى) Refutation of Lughdah al-Iṣbhānī
Kitāb al-baḥth fī ḥusā al-Hind (كتاب البحث في حسا الهند), Analysis of Indian Arithmetic
Kitāb al-jam’ wa'l-tafrīq (كتاب الجمع والتفريق); Book of Arithmetic/Summation and Differentiation
Kitāb al-jabr wa-l-muqabila (كتاب الجبر والمقابلة), Algebra and Equation
Kitāb nuwādr al-jabr (كتاب نوادرالجبر), Rare Forms of Algebra
Social sciences and humanities
Kitāb al-akhbār al-ṭiwāl (كتاب الاخبار الطوال), General History
Kitāb Kabīr (كتاب كبير) Great Book [in history of sciences]
Kitāb al-faṣāha (كتاب الفصاحة), Book of Rhetoric
Kitāb al-buldān (كتاب البلدان), Book of Cities (Regions) (Geography)
Kitāb ash-sh’ir wa-shu’arā’ (كتاب الشعر والشعراء), Poetry and the Poets
Kitāb al-Waṣāyā (كتاب الوصايا), Commandments (wills);
Kitāb ma yulahan fīh al’āmma (كتاب ما يلحن فيه العامّة), How the Populace Errs in Speaking;
Islâh al-mantiq (Improvement of Speech)
Ansâb al-Akrâd (Ancestry of the Kurds).
Editions & Translations
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; '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), however, their works, 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.