|Biographical detail : ||Arab zoologist.
Al-Jahiz’s earliest writing on the ‘Institution of the Caliphate’ was well received at the court of Baghdad where he moved in around 815. He continued to write on a variety of subjects and was well respected at the Caliph’s court.
Al-Jahiz wrote more than two hundred works but only thirty are extant. His work included zoology, Arabic grammar, poetry, rhetoric and lexicography. His most famous book Kitab al-Hayawan (Book of animals), an encyclopaedia of seven volumes discussing the theories of evolution, adaptation and animal psychology – amazing array of scientific information that was not to be fully developed until the first half of 20th century.
Eighty-seven folios of the ‘Book of Animals’ (about one-tenth of the original text of al-Jahiz) are preserved in Ambrosiana Library in Milan.
Al-Jahiz, whose full name was Abu Usman Amr Ibn Bakr al-Kinani al-Fuqaimi al-Basri al-Jahiz, returned to Basra, where he was born, after spending more than fifty years in Baghdad. He died in Basra as a result of an accident in which he was crushed to death by a collapsing pile of books in his private library.