History of Sciences Related to the Arabic Language

Originally posted on the Light of the Furqan blog.

The following is a table that documents some of the major scholars and works written, in the fields of Arabic morphology, grammar and rhetoric. I prepared this table as an introduction to the sciences of the Arabic language because I believe that understanding the history of this scholarly tradition can offer a lot of insight to the material that is typically studied to learn Arabic morphology, grammar and rhetoric.

For example, it helps to understand that most of Arabic grammar as we know it today is heavily influenced by the Basran school and that this school incorporated a lot of philosophical lines of reasoning into their conclusions on the rules of Arabic grammar. There are certain discussions in Arabic grammar that are heavily influenced by ideas on causality, or more specifically, the idea that one effect can only have one cause.

I accompanied this table with a lot of discussion focusing on the differences between the different schools, introducing important works etc. when teaching, however here I have just posted the table with a few interesting notes here and there. For some further discussion on the history and development of Arabic grammar, this post on Iqra Online might be helpful although it is a little technical.

Below is the table, please note all death dates are approximate.

Name Death (Hijrī) School Works Notes
Al-Akhfash (Al-Akbar) 157 Baṣrī
Al-Khalīl Bin Aḥmad al-Farāhidī 174 Baṣrī Kitāb al-‘Ain (Dictionary), Al-Jumal fī al-Naḥw Teacher of Al-Sībaway
Al-Sībaway 180 Baṣrī Al-Kitāb Teacher of Al-Sībaway
Yūnus Bin Ḥabīb bin ‘Abd al-Raḥmān 183 Baṣrī Teacher of Al-Sībaway
Al-Kisāī 189 Kūfī He is one of the 7 Qurrā and is considered one of the main scholars from the Kūfī school
Quṭrub 206 Baṣrī He was a mu’tazalī, studied under al-Sībaway. He taught al-Kisāī.
Al-Farrā 207 Kūfī Ma’ānī al-Qurān
Al-Akhfash (Al-Awsaṭ) 208 Baṣrī Ma’ānī al-Qurān He is known to be the most knowledgable of al-Sībaway’s students. He narrated al-Sībaway’s book to his students such as Al-Māzinī.
Ibn al-Sikkīt 244 Kūfī Kitāb al-Alfāẓ He was famous for being Shia and was apparently killed by al-Mutawakkil for this same reason.
Al-Māzinī 249 Baṣrī Al-Taṣrīf
Al-Mubarrad 285 Baṣrī Al-Kāmil fī al-Lughah wa al-Adab, Al-Muqtaḍab He is from amongst the most famous students of al-Māzinī. Some would even say that he was the most knowledgeable in Arabic grammar after al-Sībaway. He is the teacher of al-Zujāj
Tha’lab 291 Kūfī
Abū Isḥāq Ibrāhīm al-Zujāj 311 Baṣrī Tafsīr Asmā Allah al-Ḥusnā
Abū Sa’īd al-Sīrāfī 368 Baṣrī
Abū ‘Alī al-Fārsī 377 Baghdādī Ta’līqāt on al-Kitāb
Ibn Jinnī 392 Baghdādī Al-Khaṣāiṣ, Al-Munṣif
‘Abd al-Qāhir al-Jurjānī 474 Balāghīyūn Dalāil al-I’jāz Largely written to develop the discussion on why the Quran was a miracle
Jār Allah Al-Zamakhsharī 538 Baghdādī Al-Mufaṣṣal, Al-Kashshāf
Ibn al-Anbārī 577 Kūfī Al-Inṣāf fī Masāil al-Khilāf
Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī 606 Balāghīyūn Nihāyat al-Ījāz fī Dirāyat al-I’jāz He wrote an abridged version of al-Jurjānī’s work in which he tried to refine, polish and develop newer ideas on top of the concepts that al-Jurjānī had proposed
Al-Sakkākī 626 Balāghīyūn Miftāḥ al-‘Ulūm This book is very comparable to the idea of a Latin trivium which would typically comprise of grammar, logic and rhetoric
Ibn al-Ḥājib 646 Miṣrī Al-Shāfīyah, Al-Kāfīyah Some attribute al-Hidāyah fī al-Naḥw to Ibn al-Ḥājib or apparently to his daughter
Ibn ‘Uṣfūr 663 Andalūsī Al-Mumta’ fī al-Taṣrīf
Ibn Mālik 672 Andalūsī Alfīyyah
Raḍī al-Dīn al-Astarābādī 686 Commentary on al-Shāfīyah and al-Kāfīyah
Khaṭīb al-Qazwīnī 739 Balāghīyūn Talkhīs al-Miftāḥ Talkhīs al-Miftāḥ was an abridged and refined version of Miftāḥ al-‘Ulūm
Abū Ḥayyān 745 Andalūsī Al-Baḥr al-Muḥīṭ
Ibn Hishām 761 Miṣrī Sharḥ Qaṭr al-Nidā, Mughnī al-Labīb, Awḍaḥ al-Masālik fī Sharḥ Alfīyat Ibn Mālik
Ibn ‘Aqīl 769 Miṣrī Sharḥ Ibn ‘Aqīl ‘alā Alfīyat Ibn Mālik He was a student of Abu Ḥayyān
Al-Taftāzānī 792 Balāghīyūn Sharḥ Kitāb al-Taṣrīf, Al-Muṭṭawwal, Mukhtaṣar al-Ma’ānī Al-Muṭṭawwal is a commentary on Talkhīs al-Miftāḥ.
Niẓām (/Naẓẓām) al-Dīn al-Nīsapūrī 850 Sharḥ al-Naẓẓām(/Niẓām) ‘alā al-Shāfīyah
Al-Suyūṭī 911 Miṣrī Ham’ al-Hawāmi’, Al-Bihjat al-Marḍīyah
Shaykh Bahāī 1030 Al-Ṣamadīyah
‘Abbās Ḥasan 1399 (1979 AD) Al-Naḥw al-Wāfī