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Tile illustrating Marvels of Things Created and Miraculous Aspects of Things Existing, Iran, 19th century

Abu Yahya Zakariya' ibn Muhammad al-Qazwini (أبو يحيئ زكريا بن محمد القزويني) (born 1203 - died 1283), was a Persian physician, astronomer, geographer and proto-science fiction writer.

Born in the Persian town of Qazvin, he is descended from Anas ibn Malik, Zakariya' ibn Muhammad al-Qazwini served as legal expert and judge (qadhi) in several localities in Persia and at Baghdad. He travelled around in Mesopotamia and Syria, and finally entered the circle patronized by the governor of Baghdad, ‘Ata-Malik Juwayni (d. 1283 CE).

It was to the latter that al-Qazwini dedicated his famous Arabic-language cosmography titled 'Aja'ib al-makhluqat wa-ghara'ib al-mawjudat عجائب المخلوقات و غرائب الموجودات ("Marvels of Creatures and Strange Things Existing"). This treatise, frequently illustrated, was immensely popular and is preserved today in many copies. It was translated into Persian and Turkish.

Qazwini was also well-known for his geographical dictionary, Athar al-bilad wa-akhbar al-‘ibad اثار البلاد واخبار العباد ("Monument of Places and History of God's Bondsmen"). Both of these treatises reflect extensive reading and learning in a wide range of disciplines.

Al-Qazwini also wrote a futuristic proto-science fiction Arabic tale entitled Awaj bin Anfaq, about a man who travelled to Earth from a distant planet.[1]

See also


  1. ^ Achmed A. W. Khammas, Science Fiction in Arabic Literature


  • T. Lewick, 'Kazwini' in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd edition, ed. by H.A.R. Gibbs, B. Lewis, Ch. Pellat, C. Bosworth et al., 11 vols. (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1960-2002), vol. 4, pp 865-7
  • L. Richter-Bernburg, 'al-Qazwini, Zakariyya' ibn Muhammad', in Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature, ed. by Julie Scott Meisami and Paul Starkey (London: Routledge, 1998), vol. 2, pp 637-8.
  • Islamic Medical Manuscripts at the National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD.

His cosmography has been edited by F. Wüstenfeld, ‘Aja'ib al-makhluqat (Göttingen, 1849), and a partial German translation by A. Giese, Al-Qazwini, Die Wunder des Himmels und der Erde (Stuttgart and Vienna, 1986).

His geographical dictionary was edited by Wüstenfeld as Athar al-bilad (Göttingen, 1848).



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