Ibn al-Awwam the agricultural scientist in Andalusia

The Islamic heritage is rich in its scientific treasures, as it is rich in its literary treasures. Books on medicine, botany, agriculture, chemistry, mathematics, and Arabic astronomy were particularly famous among these scientific treasures, for their preciousness and novelty during the Middle Ages. 

 The books on agriculture have also received a lot of appreciation and respect, because they are characterized in those ages by a scientific character that was not known before, but rather they still today, retain much of their novelty and scientific value.

Many Muslim agricultural scholars in Andalusia

It is worth noting that most of the Muslim botanists and agriculturalists excelled in Andalusia, and that agriculture did not reach in any other country in the Islamic world, rather in the rest of the known world at that time, what it reached in Andalusia in terms of progress and prosperity, and this is due first to the nature of the peninsula Iberia, the abundance of its rivers, valleys, fertile lands and the diversity of its territory and soil, and secondly to the genius of the people of Andalusia in the agricultural arts and their perfect ingenuity in cultivating the land, planting it and extracting its fruits.

The progress of agriculture in Andalusia and its causes

Yes, the people of Andalusia were among the most brilliant peoples of the earth in cultivating the land, raising livestock, planting gardens, organizing irrigation and drainage methods, knowing the conditions of the ocean, and everything related to the arts of agriculture and the properties of plants, and their gardens and farms were examples of quality and growth. 

The Arabs from the East and North Africa transported to Spain many agricultural crops and trees, such as cotton, rice, sugar cane, saffron, and palm trees, which still adorn the southern Spanish gardens and cities, and olives, which later became, and until today, the greatest crops of Spain.

The plains of the Spanish Peninsula in their days were a lush garden, and the wheat fields, olive forests, orange and pomegranate gardens, and vineyards were among the most beautiful things the eye could see in the valleys and meadows of Andalusia


As for the genius of the Muslims of Andalusia in organizing the means of irrigation, drainage, water extraction and distribution by technical and engineering methods, their remaining traces still bear witness to it in the valleys of Andalusia from the arches and streams, and there are still many areas, especially in the Valencian and Murcia regions, which are based in their cultivation on the old Andalusian irrigation projects. 

The people of Andalusia had a special reputation for planting and organizing gardens. The gardens of Al-Rusafa, Al-Zahra, Toledo, and Seville were masterpieces that testify to their abundance of ingenuity, and this ingenuity is still today a sign of the beauty of Andalusian gardens.

How often did the Andalusian geographical sources talk about the great agricultural renaissance in this country, and about the skill of its people in deriving trees and fruits that were proverbial in its days.

The sources say that one of the characteristics of the city of Cintra, near Lisbon, is that wheat and barley are grown in it and harvested when months have passed since its cultivation, and that there are apples in it, each of which is 3 inches or more.

And we must not forget that the agricultural arts were transmitted by the Muslim pioneers who transported wheat seeds to France, who also transported the palm seedlings that still adorn the shores of the Riviera.

And if the Andalusian botanists are the greatest in this field, and in the Islamic world - it is sufficient to mention in that Abu Abbas Ibn Rumiyyah al-Ishbili, who died in the year 637 AH 1229 AD, and his student Ibn al-Bitar, who died in the year 646 AH 1248 AD, and they are considered the greatest botanists and herbalists in the Middle Ages.

The most important Muslim agricultural scientists in Andalusia


Among these pioneers, we have several Andalusian scholars whose writings in this field have reached us. We mention among them: Ibn al-Awwam, who is Abu Zakariya Yahya Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ahmad Ibn al-Awwam al-Ishbili, but we know little about his life and upbringing, rather we do not know when he lived exactly, and all What we know is that he lived in Seville at the end of the twelfth century AD. 

In this era when the sun of the Muslims in Andalusia began to set, after it reached the peak of intellectual and civilizational progress, and the agricultural arts flourished in a special way in that region, the Grand Valley region, and it is still today characterized by its abundance of crops, fertility and freshness, and Ibn al-Awwam studied science Agricultural and put his book farming.


The importance of Ibn al-Awwam's book Al-Falaha (the farming)

Ibn Al-Awwaml's book, an agriculture encyclopedia of more than a thousand pages, is primarily a compilation of the writings of other authors.

In this book, he presents an extensive review of the agricultural arts, which he collected from the books of the previous ones in this art.

He advises those who want to take this art as their profession, so they should read this book to help them work in this field. 

In his book, Ibn al-Awwam reviews the comprehensive meaning of farming, such as reforming the land, planting trees, cultivating the grains that are customary to grow in it, fixing that and supplying it with what benefits it, controlling pests from it, knowing the good and bad land from it, knowing what is suitable to be planted or planted from trees, grains and vegetables, and choosing The good kind, knowing the appropriate time to plant each variety, and how to cultivate it with care and attention.

Ibn al-Awwam divides his book into two large parts, which contain 35 chapters. The first chapter deals with knowledge of the choice of land, fertilizers, water, work description in planting, installation and related matters, and the second includes agriculture and what is in it and animal cultivation, or in other words, what is related to livestock breeding and treatment.

Under the first section, a number of important agricultural issues are involved, such as studying the soil and knowing its minerals, and choosing what is suitable to be cultivated in each type of it, with an explanation of fertilizers and methods of their preparation and a statement of their benefits to the land and trees, and watering trees and vegetables, then establishing orchards, and choosing trees and types of fruits and times of their planting , grafting and pollinating trees, treating them from pests, storing grains, green and dry fruits, and so on, and Ibn al-Awwam benefited in the section on orchards and planting them from the opinions and experiences of those who preceded him from botanists.

The second section of Ibn Al-Awamws book deals with raising and treating livestock, studying its anatomical characteristics, treating each of its members, and each of its diseases. During this study, a chapter is devoted to horses, their characteristics, how to raise them, and how to ride them with or without weapons, and then talks about poultry, their breeding, and care. In it, then about bees, apiaries, and hives, and he shows a lot of understanding, accuracy, and clarity in all of that.

The author of Ibn al-Awwam drew the attention of European scholars, and was destined for him to see the light in an early age, so it was published in 1802 AD in the city of Madrid, quoting from his manuscript copy preserved in the Ascorbal Library.

Ibn al-Awwam mentioned the honorable hadiths of the Prophet, such as (Seek sustenance in the secrets of the earth) and his saying (may God bless him and grant him peace) (Whoever plants a tree or sows crops, then a person / bird or seven eats from it, but it is for him alms for it).

Ibn Al-Awam was the first to invent drip irrigation

The first invented the drip irrigation method that spread in modern times and called it the "irrigation method by jars", where he used a group of small pottery jars that he fixed inside the ground beside tree trunks, so that the water reaches the tree drop by drop. It has replaced pottery jars and this method saves more than (70%) of the water needed for agriculture. 

They said about him

Many scholars, orientalists, and historians expressed their great admiration for Ibn al-Awwam's style, scientific approach, and his many achievements, including:

1-- French orientalist Lucien Leclerc:

((Ibn Al-Awwam was a giant in the field of agriculture, as he provided humanity with the applied knowledge that it needs))





2- Max Meyerhof describing the book (Andalusian farming)

((This book should be considered the best Arabic book on natural sciences, especially botany)).

3- George Sarton

((All European translations of the book “Al-Falaha” (farming)  are unsatisfactory, although Ibn al-Awwam remained the most famous scholar of agriculture, especially Andalusian, for many centuries))

4- The orientalist Aldomelli in his book “Science among the Arabs and its Impact on the Development of Global Science”:

((Ibn Al-Awwam is one of the healers of Andalusia because of his talk about medicinal herbs and animal treatment))

5 - The orientalist Myrne

((He wrote a summary of this book, and in the National Library in Paris I found the original copy of the book and it was translated into French by Clement Mollet in 1865))

6- The Orientalist Banquery

((The book of Andalusian Agriculture was published in Arabic with a Spanish translation in 1803))

In the Arab world, many researchers paid attention to Ibn al-Awam, including:

7-- Ahmed Issa 

in the book “The History of Plants in the Arabs”

8-- Abdul Halim Montaser 

in the book “History of Science and the Role of Arab Scientists in Its Progress”









































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