Abū Hayyān al-Tawhīdī

Ali ibn Mohammed ibn Abbas
Title Abū Hayyān al-Tawhīdī
Born 923CE
Died 1023CE
Era Islamic golden age
Region Iraq
Religion Islam
Main interest(s) Literature, and philosophy
Notable work(s) Al-Imtāʿ wa al-Mu’ānasa (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 Muʿjam al-Udabā’ (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 or Fars,[1] 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-Baṣā’ir wa al-Dhakhā’ir
  • Al-Hawamil wa al-Shawamil
  • Al-Imtāʿ wa al-Mu’ānasa, with a chapter on zoology perhaps based on Timotheus of Gaza's book on animals.[2]
  • Al-Isharat al-Ilahiyya
  • Al-Muqabasat
  • Al-Sadaqa wa al-Sadiq
  • Mathalib al-Wazirain


  1. Meri, Josef W. (January 2006). Medieval Islamic Civilization, Volume 1 An Encyclopedia. Routledge. p. 798. ISBN 978-0-415-96691-7. Al-Tawhidi was probably born in Iraq or Fars sometime between AH 310/922 CE and AH 320/932 CE, and he died in Shiraz (Iran) in 414/1023.
  2. Kopf, L. (1956). "The Zoological Chapter of the Kitab al-Imta' wal-Mu'anasa of Abu Hayyan al-Tauhidi (10th Century)". Osiris. 12: 390–466.

  • 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.
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