Abū Hayyān al-Tawhīdī

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Ali ibn Mohammed ibn Abbas
Personal Details
Title Abū Hayyān al-Tawhīdī
Born 923CE
Died 1023CE
Ethnicity Arab
Era Islamic golden age
Region Iraq
Religion Islam
Main interest(s) Literature, and philosophy
Notable work(s) Al-'Imta' wa al-Mu'anasa (Enjoyment and Conviviality)

Ali ibn Mohammed ibn Abbas (923-1023) (Arabic: علي بن محمد بن عباس‎‎) also known as Abū Hayyān al-Tawhīdī (Arabic: أبو حيان التوحيدي‎‎) was one of the most influential intellectuals and thinkers of the 10th century. Yaqut Al-Hamawi described him as "the philosopher of litterateurs and the litterateur of philosophers." However, he was neglected and ignored by the historians of his era. This neglect continued until Yaqut wrote his book Mu'jam Al-'Udaba' (معجم الأدباء), which contained a biographical outline of at-Tawhidi, relying primarily on what al-Tawhidi had written about himself.


There are differing views on the dates of al-Tawhidi's birth and death, and his origins. According to Tarikh-i Sistan, he was born in 923 Near Baghdad, and died in 1023 in Shiraz. Al-Tawhidi had a difficult childhood. He was born into a poor family that sold dates called Tawhid (hence his surname), and spent much of his childhood as an orphan in the care of his uncle, who treated him poorly.


In spite of the incident of burning his books collectively (which was symbolic of course) by himself, he has left a set of literary, philosophical, and Sufi works, which were distinctive in the history of the Arabic literature. Perhaps the most important works are: ِ

  • Al-'Imta' wa al-Mu'anasa
  • Al-Sadaqa wa al-Sadiq
  • Mathalib al-Wazirain
  • Al-Hawamil wa al-Shawamil
  • Al-Basaer wa al-Dhakha'ir
  • Al-Muqabasat
  • Al-Isharat al-Ilahiyya


  • Salah NATIJ, "La nuit inaugurale d'al-Imatâ' wa l-mu'ânasa d'Abu Hayyân al-Tawhidi,une leçon magistrale d'adab", Revue Arabica, Vol. 55, No.2, 2008 = http://maduba.free.fr/Sur_Tawhidi.pdf
  • I. Keilani, Abú Hayyán al-Tawhidi (in French), Beirut, 1950.