The author of this work was the well-known 9th/15th century Islamic scholar and judge Rāḍī al-Dīn Abū al-Faḍl Muḥammad ibn Rāḍī al-Dīn Abū al-Barakāt Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad ibn ‘Abd Allāh ibn Badr al-Ghazzī al-Dimashqī al-‘Āmirī al-Qurashī al-Shāfi‘ī, whose life spanned the end of Mamluk and the beginning of Ottoman rule in Syria. Although Al-Ghazzī himself was born in Damascus on the 10th of Dhū al-Qa‘dah 862 (28th of September 1458), his family originally came from Gaza. After losing his father before he was two years old, Al-Ghazzī was brought up and educated by the head of the Shāfi‘ī school of law in Damascus. After studying Qur’ān, ḥadīth, Islamic law and Arabic grammar, Al-Ghazzī was appointed as deputy judge before the age of twenty and promoted to full judgeship during the reign of Sultan Selim I. (1512-1520). He passed away in Shawwāl 935/June-July 1529 (cf. Zuhayr al-Bābā, 1990, no page no.; Ibn ʿImād, 1406/1986, Vol. 10, pp. 291-293).
In addition to the present treatise on agriculture, Al-Ghazzī authored a number of works on Sufism, medicine, grammar, Islamic ‘aqīda and other topics in both verse and prose. He is known to have visited the Hijaz, Palestine and Egypt, making many personal observations especially regarding the agricultural and botanical practices of the localities he visited, which in addition to information he gained through the different political and religious offices he held formed the basis of his first hand knowledge in agriculture. In addition, he refers to a number of different sources such as Galinus, Al-Rāzī, Ḥunayn, Ibn Waḥshīyah and Ibn al-‘Awwām, and he makes extensive use of Andalusi works, especially Ibn Baṣṣāl, Ibn Ḥajjāj and Abū al-Khayr al-Ishbīlī (Cf. Aḥmad Bik, 1944, p. 111; Zuhayr al-Bābā, 1990, no page no.).
As pointed out by Zuhayr al-Bābā (1990, no page no.), a critical study of three of the known copies of this treatise and comparison of its contents with the Andalusi agronomical works at the hands of Ibtisām Fānī revealed that Al-Ghazzī’s book unites many important agricultural and botanical observations and studies of his age with regard to theory and praxis. According to Zuhayr al-Bābā (1990, no page no.), excluding a few cases such as the use of talismans or the metamorphosis of plants into animals, the present treatise is “deeper, more comprehensive and closer to modern scientific agronomic works when compared to similar works that emerged in Al-Andalus”. According to Hamarneh, Al-Ghazzī “achieved the highest rank attainable in good farming and horticulture in the entire region during the late Mamluk and early Ottoman periods in Islam” (Hamarneh 1978, pp. 223-263). Certainly Al-Ghazzī was much admired in his own land, for no less than three explanations or summaries of his treatise were written in the late-17th and 18th centuries: the first was the Kitāb ‘alam al-malāḥa fī ‘ilm al-filāḥa, ‘Book of the mark of elegance in the science of agriculture’, by ‘Abd al-Ghanī al-Nābulusī (1641-1731); then followed the Risālat al‑bayān wa-al‑ṣarāḥa bi-talkhīṣ kitāb al-malāḥa fī ‘ilm al-filāḥa, ‘Explanation and summary of the book of elegance in the science of agriculture’, by Muḥammad ibn ‘Īsá ibn Kannān (1663/4-1740/1) of Damascus; and finally the ‘Umdat al‑ṣinā‘a fī ‘ilm al‑zirā‘a, ‘The reliance of skill in the knowledge of agriculture’, by ‘Abd al‑Qādir al-Khalāṣī (d. 1785/6?) (Maalouff 1923, p. 362).
Al-Ghazzī al-‘Āmirī’s Jāmi‘ farā’id al-milāḥa fī jawāmi‘ fawā’id al-filāḥa consists of an introduction followed by eight chapters, each of which contains three to seven sub-chapters. The first chapter deals with the soil and knowledge of its different types and discusses how to plough and improve it, especially by applying different types of dung, ashes and straw. Chapter two is dedicated to questions of irrigation, including the digging of wells, ways of discovering water, different methods of irrigation and how to determine the condition of the land according to the abundance and paucity of rain. The following chapter discusses trees, planting, pruning, pollination and other horticultural operations. Chapter four deals with different methods of grafting, mentioning which trees can be joined with each other before discussing compatible, incompatible and contrary trees as well as the treatment of their diseases. The remainder of the chapter covers the shaping of fruits and how, among other things, they acquire strange attributes. The fifth chapter treats seeds, herbs and vegetables, the times for their sowing and harvesting and how to choose soil for the growing of seeds used for the preparation of foods and medicines. Chapter six is rather short and deals with various kinds of aromatic plants and their cultivation. The seventh chapter is concerned with topics such as talismans and fumigations and discusses their use to accelerate the growth of trees and to protect them against the influence of birds, reptiles, vermin, and harmful weeds. It further mentions the days, months, seasons and discusses the duties of the farmer throughout the year. The last chapter treats the storing of fruits, grains, seeds, of dry and fresh fruits, legumes and some vegetables. It further covers the production of pickles, vinegar, appetizers, grape juice, olive oil, rose water and other perfumes and how to conserve them. The chapter concludes by outlining the attributes of living plants and the vital powers that dwell in them and ends with a comparison between flora and fauna with regard to the senses of touch and pain (Cf. Aḥmad Bik, 1944, pp. 110-111; Zuhayr al-Bābā, 1990, no page no.).