Said al-Andalusi

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Abū al-Qāsim Ṣāʿid ibn Abū al-Walīd Aḥmad ibn Abd al-Raḥmān ibn Muḥammad ibn Ṣāʿid ibn ʿUthmān al-Taghlibi al-Qūrtūbi, often referred to as Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, (1029–July 6,1070; 420- 6th Shawwal, 462)[1] was an Andalusian-Arab[2] Muslim Qadi. He was born in Almería, Spain during the Banu Dhiʼb-n-Nun dynasty[1], and died in Toledo, Spain. He belonged to the Arab tribe of Taghlib.[3]

Ṣāʿid al‐Andalusī was a historian, philosopher of science and thought, mathematical scientist, and biographer-bibliographer encyclopedist with a special interest in astronomy. As an acclaimed Qadi in the functionary court at Toledo, he assembled a well-educated group of young, precision instrument makers, astronomers and scientists, the most renowned of whom was Al-Zarqali. He authored several scholarly works and contributed to the Tables of Toledo.[1]

Life in Toledo[edit]

Upon arriving in Toledo to conduct his studies, he met some of his teachers: Abū Muḥammad al-Qāsim Abū al-Fatiḥ Muḥammad ibn Yūsuf, Hishām al-Kinānī (Abū Walīd or al-Waqshi), and Abū Isḥaq Ibrahim ibn Idris al-Tajibī. Although not well documented, he "seems to have completed"[4] his education in 1046, at the age of eighteen, in Toledo. Due to the scholars located at Toledo and his upbringing, he studied law, Islamic religion, Arabic language, and Arabic literature. His teacher Abū Isḥaq Ibrahim ibn Idris al-Tajibī directed him towards mathematics and astronomy, in which he came to excel. On completing his education, he chose to stay in Toledo to conduct his research and act as a Qāḍi for the governor of Toledo at the time, Yaḥyā al-Qādir. While serving as a Qāḍi and conducting his own research, he also taught. The Ṭabaqāt al-ʼUmam is his only surviving text, yet the titles of other works are known, which it can be assumed due to his short life, were written while teaching, conducting research and acting as Qāḍi. Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī encouraged his students to invent and their research contributed to the Tables of Toledo. One student, Al-Zarqali, became celebrated in the field of astronomy and instrument making.[5] He wrote his Ṭabaqāt al-ʼUmam in 1068, just two years before his death.


  • Rectification of Planetary Motions and Exposition of Observers' Errors; An astronomical treatise.
  • Ṭabaqāt al-ʼUmam ('Categories of Nations'); The only complete work extant.
  • Jawāmiʿ akhbār al‐umam min al‐Arab wa‐l Ajam ('Compendious History of Nations – Arab and Non‐Arab')[n 1]
  • Maqālāt ahl al‐milal wa-l-nihal ('Doctrines of the Adherents of Sects and Schools'),[6]
  • Iṣlāh Ḥarakāt an-Najūn ('Corrections of the Movement of Stars').[1]
  • Kitāb al-Qāsī (كتاب القاصى), 'Book of Minor'[n 2][7]

Ṭabaqāt al-ʼUmam (Categories of Nations)[edit]

Described as his "history of science"[8] of 1068. The bulk of the Tabaqāt treats scientists and the accomplishments of eight nations Ṣāʿid deemed contributers to science and cultivators of learning. Among the "nations" listed are the Indians, Persians, Chaldeans, Egyptians, Greeks, Byzantines, Arabs and Jews (in contrast to others not disposed, such as Norsemen, Chinese, Africans, Russians, Alains and Turks). He discusses each individual achievement from within this field of nations such as arithmetic, astronomy, and medicine, among many others; and the earliest innovators of scientific advance, from the Greek philosophers Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle - whom Ṣāʿid singles out for particular praise saying of him: "No one can object if Allah/Assembled the world in one individual".[9] Following the Greeks Ṣāʿid covers the Romans and the Christian scholars of the ninth and tenth centuries in Baghdad, while in the second half of the book he discusses the Arab-Islamic contributions in the fields of logic, philosophy, geometry, as well as their development of Ptolemaic astronomy and observational methods, and in calculations in trigonometry and mathematics to determine the length of the year, the eccentricity of the suns orbit, and constructed astronomical tables among other things.[9]

Throughout time, the Ṭabaqāt al-ʼUmam has been transcribed and translated into many different languages by different cultures. The original document does not exist today which has created problems for historians because of the discrepancies between the different translations. This includes the real title of the book, as it has been referred to by many names.[8] The content of the book also shows discrepancies throughout the different documents with some even leaving out entire sections of the book, let alone leaving out words, sentences, or paragraphs. Some of the remarks made in his book could have caused different "nations" to omit points that were made in this book because they didn't align with the translators knowledge or beliefs. Parts could have been left out due to errors made by the translator, or because there was not a direct translation of the words or phrases between the languages which is a linguistic phenomenon seen even today.


  1. ^ These three titles on history and astronomy are mentioned among his works in Tabaqāt.
  2. ^ Mentioned by al-Qifṭī in the account of the astronomer al-Battānī in his Ta’rīkh al-Ḥukamā’ .


  1. ^ a b c d Khan, M.S. (17 August 1995). "Tabaqat Al-Umam of Qadi Sa-id Al-Andalusi (1029-1070)" (PDF). Indian Journal of History of Science. 30: 2–4.
  2. ^ Selin, Helaine (2008). Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures. Springer Science & Business Media.
  3. ^ Selin, Helaine (2008). Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 1911."As his name indicates, he was a member of the tribe of Taghlib, one of the largest tribes of Arabia."
  4. ^ Khan, M.S. (17 August 1995). "Tabaqat Al-Umam of Qadi Sa-id Al-Andalusi (1029-1070)" (PDF). Indian Journal of History of Science. 30: 2–4.
  5. ^ 1932-, De Weever, Jacqueline, (1988). Chaucer name dictionary : a guide to astrological, Biblical, historical, literary, and mythological names in the works of Geoffrey Chaucer. New York: Garland. ISBN 9780815323020. OCLC 26673949.
  6. ^ Richter‐Bernburg, Lutz (2007). "Ṣāʿid al‐Andalusī: Abū al‐Qāsim Ṣāʿid ibn abī al‐Walīd Aḥmad ibn ʿAbd al‐Raḥmān ibn Muḥammad ibn Ṣāʿid al‐Taghlibī al‐Qurṭubī". In Thomas Hockey; et al. The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers. New York: Springer. pp. 1005–6.
  7. ^ Qifṭī, p. 280.
  8. ^ a b 1029-1070., Andalusī, Ṣāʻid ibn Aḥmad, (1991). Science in the medieval world : book of the Categories of nations. Salem, Semaʻan I., 1927-, Kumar, Alok, 1954- (1st ed.). Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0292704690. OCLC 23385017.
  9. ^ a b Scott, Bruce L. (1997). "Review of Science and the Medieval World: "Book of the Categories of Nations" by". Journal of Near Eastern Studies. 56 (3): 218–220. JSTOR 545654.
  • Ṣāʻid al-Andalusī (1935). Livre des catégories des nations. Régis Blachère (trans.). Larose Éditions.

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