Ibn al-Raqqām

Kitāb khulāṣat al-ikhtiṣāṣ fī ma‘rifat al-qūwā wa’l-khawāṣṣ

Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Ibrāhīm ibn (Muḥammad ibn) ‘Alī ibn Aḥmad ibn Yūsuf ibn al-Raqqām al-Mursī al-Andalusī al-Tunisī al-Awsī, generally known as Ibn al-Raqqām, was a well-known mathematician, astronomer and physician. Although born presumably in or around Murcia in about 1250, he also lived in several places in North Africa, as is proven not only by his nisbas but by the fact that some of his astronomical works include tables computed for the coordinates of North African localities. At the invitation of the Nasrid ruler Muḥammad II he relocated to Granada, where he lived until his death in AH 715/AD 1315 (cf. Casulleras 2007). According to his biographer, Ibn al-Khaṭīb, he wrote many books, of which three astronomical works are extant as well as his agricultural treatise.

Ibn al-Raqqām’s Kitāb khulāat al-ikhtiā fī marifat al-qūwā wa’l-khawāṣṣ, ‘Book of the quintessence of competence in knowing faculties and particulars’, is really an abridgement of Ibn Waḥshīya’s celebrated Al-Filāa al-Nabaīya, ‘Nabataean Agriculture’, made at the behest of one of the Nasrid emirs of Granada, most probably Abū ’l-Juyūsh Nasr (ruled AH 708 to 713/AD 1309 to 1314), who wanted the work purged of all that was pagan in origin. According to Fahd (1993-98, p.15) the book begins with a table of contents followed by 15 chapters that introduce the general principles of agronomy: water, weather and climate, farming operations and the seasons, winds, rains, soils, manures, weeds, sowing, grafting, propagating, pruning, the ‘masculinization’ (takīr) of trees, plant sympathies and antipathies (mutawāfiqa wa-mutanāfira), and the preservation of grains, fruits and vegetables. There follows an account of 307 plants, with their actions and properties, following the order of the chapters in the Filāa al-Nabaīya in the first part but somewhat muddled in the second part, with numerous omissions, especially among those plants with foreign names in Arabic transliteration.

Published Editions & Translations

There are no known critical editions or translations.

  • Phoebe Luckyn-Malone, PhD candidate at Cambridge University, whose research topic is Arabic Agronomical Manuals and the Agriculture of Islamic Spain, is currently working on Ibn Luyūn and Ibn al-Raqqām and plans to produce an Arabic edition and English translation of their works.


  • Cambridge University Library, no. 342 (Qq. 54)
    125 folios (126 acc. to Browne), 21.5 x 16.3 cm., in clear naskhī, 23 lines per folio, with rubrications (Browne, 1900, pp. 66-67; Fahd, 1993, p. 15; Sezgin, Gesch., IV, p. 329). According to Fahd (ibid), the clarity of writing in this ms. may help to elucidate unclear passages in Al-Filāḥah al-Nabaṭīyah. He also points out that the title is misspelled as Kitāb khulāsat al-ikhtiṣār in Brockelmann, Sezgin and the catalogues.
  • Birmingham University, Mingana Collection, Islamic Arabic Ms. no. 933 (1485)
    With the (slightly mistaken) title Khulāṣat al-ikhtiṣār …; undated, written probably 18th century AD, written in naskhī script with red headings, index at the end, but last folio is missing. Size 318 x 220mm, 57 folios, 23 lines per folio (cf. Gottschalk, 1950, p. 172)
  • Landesbibliothek Gotha, no. 2119 (Ar. 31)
    231 folios, dated to 1092/1681 (Sezgin, Gesch., IV, p. 329; Fahd, 1993, p. 15 n.18 [French part])
  • Istanbul, Bagdatli Vehbi, no. 2238
    201 folios, dated to 1198/1784 (Sezgin, Gesch., IV, p. 329)
  • Bibliothèque Générale (al-Maktabah al-Waṭanīyah/al-‘Āmmah) Rabat, no. 2464 (1681d)
    Taqyīd min kitāb al-filāḥat an-Nabaṭiyya minma jamaa Abu Abd Allah, ‘Extracts from the book of Nabataean Agriculture collected by Abu ‘Abd Allah’ (Ṣāliḥīyah, 1984, p. 574).

    The same ms. is recorded for Al-Maktabah al-Waṭanīyah, Rabat, no. 1681d, in well-executed Andalusian script, 18 lines per page, measurements 190/260, in a majmū‘ together with other works of Ibn al-Raqqām, pages 181-188, entitled Taqyīd min kitāb al-filāḥah al-nabaīyah, i.e. ‘Notes from the Nabataean Agriculture’ (cf. Allouche and Regragui, 1958, p. 275)


Allouche, I.S. & Regragui, A. (1958). Catalogue des Manuscrits Arabes de Rabat (Bibliothèque Générale et Archives du Maroc), Deuxième série (1921-1953). Rabat: Éd. Techniques Nord‑Africaines.
Browne, E.G. (1900). A Hand-List of the Muhammadan Manuscripts, Including All Those Written in the Arabic Character, Preserved in the Library of the University of Cambridge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 66-67.
Casulleras, Josep. (2007). ‘Ibn al-Raqqām’. In: Thomas Hockey et al. (eds.). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, Springer Reference. New York: Springer, 2007, pp. 563-564.
Fahd, Toufic (ed.) (1993-1998). Al-Filāah al-Nabaṭīyah. Al-tarjamah al-manḥūlah ilá Ibn Washīyah, Abū Bakr Aḥmad ibn Alī ibn Qays al-Kasdānī. Damascus: Insititut Français de Damas, 3rd edition. (This edition includes most of Fahd’s articles on authenticity and authorship of the work).
Gottschalk, H.L. (1950). Catalogue of the Mingana Collection of Manuscripts. Volume IV: Islamic Arabic Manuscripts. Fascicle II. Birmingham: The Selly Oak Colleges Library.
Ṣālihīyya, M.‘I. (1984). ‘Mulāḥazāt ‘alā makhṭūṭāt al-filāḥa: al-taṭbīqīya al-maḥfūza fī ‘l-maktabāt al-‘arabīya wa’l-ajnabīya’. Majallāt Mujmaal-Lugha al-Arabīya (Revue de l'Académie Arabe de Damas) 59 (3), pp. 566‑586.
Sezgin, Fuat. (1967-). Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums. Leiden: Brill (quoted Gesch. I, II, etc.)