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Abu Yahya Zakariya' ibn Muhammad al-Qazwini (أبو یحیی زکریاء بن محمد القزویني) or Zakariya Qazvini (Persian: زکریا قزوینی) ‎(1203–1283) was an Arab[1][2] or Persian[3][4][5] physician, astronomer, geographer and proto-science fiction writer. He belonged to a family of jurists who had long before settled in Qazvin. He was a descendant of the Medina sahabi Anas bin Malik.


Born in Qazvin, Persia, Zakariya Qazvini served as a legal expert and judge in several localities in Persia and at the city of Baghdad. He travelled around in Mesopotamia and the Levant, and finally entered the circle patronized by the governor of Baghdad, ‘Ata-Malik Juwayni (d. 1283 CE).

It was to the latter that Qazvini dedicated his famous Arabic-language cosmography titled 'Aja'ib al-makhluqat wa-ghara'ib al-mawjudat (عجائب المخلوقات وغرائب الموجودات) ("Marvels of Creatures and Strange Things Existing"). This treatise, frequently illustrated, was immensely popular and is preserved today in many copies. It was translated into his native Persian language, and later also into Turkish.

Qazvini was also well known for his geographical dictionary "Monument of Places and History of God's Bondsmen" (آثار البلاد وأخبار العباد). Both of these treatises reflect extensive reading and learning in a wide range of disciplines.

Qazvini also wrote a futuristic proto-science fiction Arabic tale entitled Awaj bin Anfaq[6] (أوج بن أنفاق), about a man who travelled to Earth from a distant planet.[7]

Qazvini mentioned how alchemists dubbed "swindlers" claimed to have carried out the transmutation of metals into gold; he states:
…they ruined the development of the science of chemistry, by fooling powerful rulers such as Imad ad-Din Zengi and thus many scholars and various colleagues turned against alchemy thus resulting in the isolation of the science.

See alsoEdit


  1. Al-Qazwīnī, Zakariyā Ibn Muḥammad Ibn Maḥmūd, Abū Yaḥyā." Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography. 2008. 10 Apr. 2013
  2. Al-Kawini, T. Lewicki, The Encyclopaedia of Islam, Vol. IV, ed. E. van Donzel, B. Lewis, C. Pellat, (Brill, 1997), 865.
  3. ĀṮĀR AL-BELĀD, C. E. Bosworth, Encyclopaedia Iranica; "Ātar Al-Belad: the title of a geographical work composed in Arabic during the 7th/13th century by the Persian scholar Abū Yaḥyā Zakarīyāʾ b. Moḥammad Qazvīnī".
  4. Iranian Entomology: An Introduction, Volume I, ed. Cyrus Abivardi, (Springer, 2001), 495.
  5. Bernard Lewis, A Middle East Mosaic: Fragments of Life, Letters and History, (Random House, 2000), 439.
  6. Close encounters of the Arab kind, BBC News, 9 October 2013
  7. Achmed A. W. Khammas, Science Fiction in Arabic Literature
  8. "E. J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936 - Google Books". Retrieved on 2013-08-10.


  • T. Lewick, 'Kazwini' in The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd edition, ed. by H.A.R. Gibbs, B. Lewis, Ch. Pellat, C. Bosworth et al., 11 vols. (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1960–2002), vol. 4, pp 865–7
  • L. Richter-Bernburg, 'al-Qazwini, Zakariyya' ibn Muhammad', in Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature, ed. by Julie Scott Meisami and Paul Starkey (London: Routledge, 1998), vol. 2, pp 637–8.
  • Islamic Medical Manuscripts at the National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD.
  • His cosmography has been edited by F. Wüstenfeld, ‘Aja'ib al-makhluqat (Göttingen, 1849), and a partial German translation by A. Giese, Al-Qazwini, Die Wunder des Himmels und der Erde (Stuttgart and Vienna, 1986).
  • Zakarija ben Muhammed ben Mahmud el-Cazwini's: Kosmographie .. (1848) Volume: 1
  • His geographical dictionary was edited by Wüstenfeld as Athar al-bilad (Göttingen, 1848).

External links Edit

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