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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]

Said Al-Andalusi was a historian, philosopher of science and thought, and mathematical scientist 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 was the author of the treatise Rectification of Planetary Motions and Exposition of Observers' Errors and contributed to the Tables of Toledo.[1]

The only work of Ṣāʿid's to survive intact is what has often been called his "history of science": Ṭabaqāt al-ʼUmam (Categories of Nations)[4] of 1068. The "nations" being those who cultivated learning, such as Indians, Persians, Chaldeans, Egyptians, Greeks, Byzantines, Arabs and Jews (in contrast to others not disposed, such as Norsemen, Chinese, Africans, Russians, Alains and Turks. In the Tabaqāt,there are three of Ṣāʿid al‐Andalusī's other works mentioned. The Jawāmiʿ akhbār al‐umam min al‐Arab wa‐l Ajam (Compendious History of Nations – Arab and Non‐Arab), the Maqālāt ahl al‐milal wa-l-nihal (Doctrines of the Adherents of Sects and Schools),[5] and the Iṣlāh Ḥarakāt an-Najūn (Corrections of the Movement of Stars).[1] While these three works have not physically survived the ages, what we know of them shows that Ṣāʿid al‐Andalusī specialized in history and astronomy.


Ṭabaqāt al-ʼUmam (Categories of Nations)Edit

The bulk of the Tabaqāt is concerning the scientists and accomplishments of the eight nations that Ṣāʿid deemed as having contributed to science. He discusses each of them individually, noting the individual achievements of the nations in fields such as arithmetic, astronomy, and medicine, among many others. Additionally, he discusses the people of the nations that brought about this scientific advancement, most notably the Greek philosophers such as Pythagoras, Socrates and Plato. Ṣāʿid singles out Aristotle in this section of his book, stating "No one can object if Allah/Assembled the world in one individual".[6] Later, Ṣāʿid mentions the Romans and the Christian scholars in Baghdad in the ninth and tenth centuries. The second half of the book is devoted to the discussion of Arab contributions to science in fields such as logic, philosophy, geometry, as well as the accomplishments of Arab scientists using Ptolemy's work to further their collective knowledge of space. These scientists determined the length of the year, the eccentricity of the suns orbit, and constructed astronomical tables among other things.[6]

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.[4] 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.

Life in ToledoEdit

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"[7] 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. Abū Isḥaq Ibrahim ibn Idris al-Tajibī was the teacher who brought his attention toward mathematics and astronomy, which he would excel in, in his later years. After he completed 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 began teaching as well. While the Ṭabaqāt al-ʼUmam is his only surviving text, it is known that he wrote other works and because of his short life, the majority of them would have been written while teaching, acting as Qāḍi, and conducting research. As a teacher, he aided his students in their inventions and their research and because of this, he was able to contribute to the Tables of Toledo. one of his students, Al-Zarqali, was extremely successful in the field of astronomy, especially of instrument making.[8] Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī did not write his Ṭabaqāt al-ʼUmam until 1068, two years before his death.


  • Tabaqat al-'Umam - Sa`id al-Andalusi (1 March 1996). Science in the Medieval World. Translated by Sema`an I. Salem; Alok Kumar. University of Texas Press. ISBN 978-0-292-70469-5.


  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. ^ 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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ 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.

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