Ibn Ḥajjāj

Al-Muqni‘ fī ’l-filāḥa

Abū ‘Umar Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn Ḥajjāj al-Ishbīlī, born into one of the old noble families of Seville, is mentioned in the biographies as wazīr (minister of state), khāṭib (orator/one who delivers the sermon at Friday prayers), and adīb (man of letters), not as an agronomist, though we know he wrote a work entitled Al-Muqni fī ’l-filāḥa, ‘Sufficiency in Farming’, in 466/1073 (Carabaza Bravo & García Sánchez 1998, p. 394). Ibn Ḥajjāj was a contemporary of fellow botanist-agronomists Ibn Baṣṣāl, Ibn al-Lūnquh, Abū’l-Khayr and Al-Ṭighnarī and must certainly have known them and been part of their circle in Seville. That is about all we know of the man.

Concerning his treatise, Al-Muqni‘, no complete copy survives, only some extracts, all nearly identical, on the cultivation of the olive, vine, fig and several garden and aromatic plants. Since it is known that the original work was one of the principal sources used by Ibn al-‘Awwām some one hundred years later it has been possible to verify these fragments and reconstruct a good deal of Ibn Ḥajjāj’s text (Carabaza Bravo & García Sánchez 1998, p. 396). One surprising aspect of his work is that he does not cite any of the other Andalusi agronomists directly, the only Arab sources he uses being botanical or medical authors such as Rāzī, Ishāq ibn Sulaymān, Ṭhābit ibn Qurra and Ad-Dīnawarī (Guzmán Álvarez 2005, p. 108). In contrast, he quotes extensively from the classical agronomical texts, citing a total of 23 authors (not all of them directly), especially Democritos and Yūniyūs/Iūnīus (Junius Moderatus Columella of Cadiz, or, more likely, Vindanius Anatolius of Beirut) (Attié, B. 1980-81, pp. 47-74). In this respect he was much admired by Ibn al-‘Awwām who wrote in the introduction to his own opus: “When I come to discuss the cultivation of lands, I always give precedence to the principles established by the shaykh al-khatib Abū ‘Umar Ibn Ḥajjāj in his book, which has as its subject the theories of the ancients” (Ibn al-‘Awwām 1866, I, p. 9).

While Ibn Ḥajjāj was perhaps the most erudite of the Andalusi agronomists he also possessed considerable practical expertise and we know for example, from Ibn ‘Awwām, that he experimented with olive propagation in the Aljarafe district outside Seville (Fairchild Ruggles 2000, p. 24).

Published Editions & Translations

  • The Arabic text of Al-Muqnī‘is published in Ibn Ḥajjāj, Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad (1982). Al-Muqnī‘ fī ’l-filāḥa. Edited by S. Jarrār & Y. Abū Ṣāfiya. Ammān: Majma‘ al-Luga al-‘Arabiyya al-Urduniyya, pp. 85-123. See more on the Jordanian Edition
  • There is a Spanish translation of the above in Carabaza Bravo, J. M. (1988). Aḥmad b. Moḥammed b. Ḥajjāj al-Ishbīlī: Al-Muqnī‘ fī ’l-filāḥa, doctoral dissertation, University of Granada, 1988, I, 178-281. Dr. Carabaza is working on a new edition and translation that is scheduled for publication in 2010.


There are various manuscripts under the name of Ibn Ḥajjāj although they all also contain other works, among them those of Ibn Wāfid. The folios and pages indicated in the following manuscripts are considered by Carabaza Bravo & García Sánchez (2001) to contain excerpta from Ibn Ḥajjāj’s Al-Muqni fī ’l-filāḥa.

(Source:  Carabaza Bravo & García Sánchez 2001, pp. 101-118, and 2009, n.p.)


Attié, B. (1980). ‘Ibn Hağğāğ était-il polyglotte?’. Al-Qantara 1, pp. 243-261.
Attié, B. (1980-81). ‘La bibliographie de al-Muqni‘ de Ibn Ḥağğāğ’. Hespéris-Tamuda 19, pp. 47‑74.
Carabaza Bravo, J.M. (1988). Amad b. Moammed b. ajjāj al-Ishbīlī: Al-Muqnī‘ fī ’l-filāa, doctoral dissertation, University of Granada, 1988, I, 178-281.
Carabaza Bravo, J.M. (1990). ‘La edición jordana de al-Muqni´ de Ibn Haŷŷāŷ : Problemas en torno a su autoría’. Al-Qantara 11, pp. 71-81.
Carabaza, J.M, García Sánchez, E. & Llavero Ruiz, E. (1991). ‘Obras manuscritas de los geoponos andalusies (siglos X-XII)’. In: Emilio Molina et al. (eds.). Homenaje al Profesor Jacinto Bosch Vila, vol. 2, pp. 1115-1132. Granada: Universidad de Granada.
Carabaza Bravo, J.M. & García Sánchez, E. (1998). ‘Códices Misceláneos de Agronomía Andalusí’. Al‑Qantara 19, pp. 393-416.
Carabaza Bravo, J.M.  & García Sánchez, E. (2001). ‘Estado actual y perspectivas de los estudios sobre agronomia andalusi’. In: Tawfik et al. (eds.). El Saber en al-Andalus: Textos y Estudios 3, pp. 101-118. Sevilla: Universidad de Sevilla.
Carabaza Bravo, J.M. (2006). ‘Fuentes escritas y orales del tratado agrícola de Ibn Hayyay’. In: Tawfik, A. et al. (eds.). El Saber en Al-Andalus: Textos y Estudios 4, pp. 73-94. Sevilla: Universidad de Sevilla.
Carabaza Bravo, J.M. & García Sánchez, E. (2009). ‘Studies on the agronomy of Al-Andalus’. Revue des Mondes Musulmans et de la Méditerranée [Online] 126.
Fairchild Ruggles, D. (2000). Gardens, Landscape, and Vision in the Palaces of Islamic Spain. Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press.
Guzmán Álvarez, J.R. (2005). ‘El compendio de agricultura atribuido a Ibn Wāfid/Al-Nahrāwī: nuevas perspectivas sobre su autoría’. Anaquel de Estudios Árabes 16, pp. 83-124.
Ibn al-‘Awwām (1866). Kitāb al-Filāḥa, Le Livre de l'agriculture (2 volumes). French translation by J.-J. Clément-Mullet. Paris: Librairie A. Franck.
Ibn Ḥajjāj, Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad (1982). Al-Muqnī‘ fī ’l-filāa. Edited by S. Jarrār & Y. Abū Ṣāfiya. Ammān: Majma‘ al-Luga al-‘Arabiyya al-Urduniyya.
Millás Vallicrosa, J.M. (1955). ‘Aportaciones para el estudio de la obra agronómica de Ibn Haŷŷāŷ y de Abū l-Jayr’. Al-Andalus 20, pp. 87‑105. Reprinted (1987) in: Estudios sobre historia de la ciencia española, vol. 2, pp. 153‑81. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas.