Al-Jahiz

Born on 776

Died on 868

Abū ʿUthman ʿAmr ibn Baḥr al-Kinānī al-Baṣrī;

(Arabic: أبو عثمان عمرو بن بحر الكناني البصري‎), commonly known as al-Jāḥiẓ (Arabic: الجاحظ‎; born 776; died December 868/January 869) was an Arab prose writer and author of works of literature, Mu’tazili theology, and politico-religious polemics.

While still in Basra, al-Jāḥiẓ wrote an article about the institution of the Caliphate. This is said to have been the beginning of his career as a writer, which would become his sole source of living. It is said that his mother once offered him a tray full of notebooks and told him he would earn his living from writing. He went on to write two hundred books in his lifetime on a variety of subjects, including on the Quran, Arabic grammar, zoology, poetry, lexicography, and rhetoric. Of his writings, only thirty books survive. Al-Jāḥiẓ was also one of the first Arabic writers to suggest a complete overhaul of the language’s grammatical system, though this would not be undertaken until his fellow linguist Ibn Maḍāʾ took up the matter two hundred years later.

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