Al-fuṣūl al-sanīya fī al-filāḥa al-madanīya,
‘Sublime Chapters on Madinan Agriculture’
The author of the short work entitled Al-Fuṣūl al-sanīya fī al-filāḥa al-madanīya,
‘Sublime chapters on the agriculture of Madina’, is the Madinan historian and scholar Al-Sayyid Muḥammad Kibrīt ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn Muḥamma al-Ḥusaynī al-Mūsawī al-Madanī, who died about AH 1070/AD 1659-60. Kibrīt al-Ḥusaynī was evidently from a respected family for unlike other contemporary Sunnis in Madina he was not criticized (or at least not as severely) for maintaining ties with the local Shī‘a community, to whom he bequeathed two gardens (Ende 1997, p. 89). He is best known as the author of a number of mainly historical treatises (especially his Al-Jawāhir al-thāmina fī maḥāsin al-Madīna
), as well as an account describing his journey to Istanbul (Riḥlat al-shitā’ wa-al-ṣayf
) and commentaries on mystical works. According to Serjeant, he authored, apart from Al-Fuṣūl al-sanīya
, another agricultural treatise entitled Falāḥ al-fallāḥ
(Serjeant, 1950, p. 599), which may or may not be the same as the work with this title ascribed to Khayr ad-Dīn Tāj ad-Dīn Iliyās Zādah
(Ṣālihīyya, 1984). Kibrīt al-Ḥusaynī himself mentions other works of his on the same subject, namely Miftāḥ al-falāḥ fī najāḥ al-fallāḥ
and Minaḥ al-fattāḥ fī ṣalāḥ al-Fallāḥ
, neither of which are known.
Further biographical details can be found in Muḥibbī, pp. 29-31, and apparently also in Ḥamdān, 1986, pp. 77-80. Cf. also Brockelmann, Gesch. II, p. 393 & Gesch. Supp. II, p. 538.
According to Serjeant, 1950, p. 600, Al-Fuṣūl al-sanīya fī al-filāḥa al-madanīya
is “mainly a list of plants, vegetables, and fruits grown by cultivators, the times of planting, properties if eaten or used in other ways, the optimum conditions and methods of planting, and the different varieties of particular species. At the beginning are some general directions for planting and notes on the seasons according to the Star year”. Typical of the subject matter is the following extract (which reads in translation):
“Wild carrots and cultivated carrots – red, green-to-yellow, white and yellow ones. They should be sown when the sun stands in the sign of Libra, or shortly before or after, and must be kept away from water. They are hot, moist and soothing to the humours and therein is found an inspiring power that stimulates the desire for intercourse, yet their seeds are stronger. Their leaves are a good bandage for gangrenous sores and (the leaves? carrots?) cut through phlegm. Carrots augmented with honey are good for the digestion. It is beneficial if their seeds are ground with their leaves and placed upon a festering wound. The most excellent carrots are the red ones which incline towards black.”
As far as we know, there are no other works concerning agriculture in the Hijāz so Kibrīt’s works, as late as they are, are of great interest.
The Yemeni manuscript of Falāḥ al-fallāḥ
is divided into 15 bābs
dealing with the following subjects:
(1) Signs of the existence of water under the ground. (2) The construction of wells. (3) Factors affecting the supply of water in wells and rivers. (4) The digging of cisterns. (5) Good soils. (6) Climatic changes. (7) How to foretell the coming of rain. (8) Crops that will do well in a particular year. (9) Anti-pest measures applied to trees and crops. (10) The planting of trees and vegetables. (11) Suitable times for sowing, etc. (12) Anti-insect measures. (13) Spells and antidotes for poisons. (14) How to get fruit-stains out of clothing. (15) Songs of the well-workers. It concludes with a khātima on the genealogy of the Al-Ḥasan Saiyids (Serjeant 1950, p. 599)
Note: These chapter headings are identical to those in the Riyadh manuscript of Khayr al-Dīn ibn Tāj al-Dīn Ilyās’
treatise Falah al-Fallah and we must conclude that Serjeant is mistaken in ascribing this particular work to Kibrīt al-Ḥusaynī.
Published Editions & Translations
Al-Ḥuṣarī, Adīb ʿUmar (ed.). Al-Fuṣūl al-sanīyah fī al-filāḥa al-madanīya.
1416/1995. No place, no publisher.
- Cairo, Dār al-kutub wa-wathā’ik al-qawmiyya, no. 54, Zirā‘ah Taymūr. The ms. is only mentioned by Ṣālihīyya, 1984, p. 570
- Leiden, University Library no. 7102. folios 1v-22r. The ms. is dated to 1312/1895 (cf. Voorhoeve, 1980, p. 85; Ṣālihīyya, 1984, p. 570)
- Personal copy, formerly in the possession of ‘Alī ibn Sālim ibn Aḥmad ibn Ḥasan al-‘Aṭṭās, the Qāḍī of Ḥurayḍah, Yemen. The ms. has 41 pages, with 23 lines per page, written in a good hand. The ms. is bound together in one volume with a ms. of Falāḥ al-fallāḥ, which consists of 200 pages, 20 lines to each page. Copied 1124/1712. (Serjeant, 1950, p. 599f.)
Brockelmann, C. (1898-1902). Geschichte der Arabischen Literatur (2 volumes). Weimar. Gesch. II, p. 393.
Brockelmann, C. (1937-1949). Geschichte der Arabischen Literatur. Supplementband (3 volumes). Leiden: Brill. Gesch. Supp. II, p. 538.
Ende, Werner (1997). ‘The Nakhāwila, a Shiite Community in Medina Past and Present’. In: Die Welt des Islam 37, pp. 263-348.
Ḥamdān, ‘Āṣim ‘Alī Ḥamdān al-Ghāmidī (1986). The Literature of Medina in the Twelfth Century A.H. (Eighteenth Century A.D.) examined from contemporary sources (2 parts). Unpublished PhD Thesis, Manchester, pp. 77-80.
Al-Muḥibbi, Muḥammad ‘Amīn ibn Faḍl Allāh (1284/1867-68). Khulāṣat al-Athar fī A‘yān al-Qarn al-ḥādī ‘Ashar (4 volumes). Cairo: al-Maṭba‘ah al-Wahbīyah, pp. 29-31.
Ṣālihīyya, M.‘I. (1984). ‘Mulāḥazāt ‘alā makhṭūṭāt al-filāḥa: al-taṭbīqīya al-maḥfūza fī ‘l-maktabāt al-‘arabīya wa’l-ajnabīya’. Majallāt Mujma‘ al-Lugha al-‘Arabīya (Revue de l'Académie Arabe de Damas) 59 (3), pp. 566‑586.
Serjeant, R.B. (1950). ‘Materials for South Arabian History: Notes on New MSS from Haḍramawt (Continued)’. BSOAS 13, pp. 581-601.
Voorhoeve, P. (1957, 1980). Handlist of Arabic Manuscrits in the Library of the University of Leiden and other Collections in the Netherlands. Leiden: Brill.