Al-Tifashi, Shihab Al-Din Abu’l-?Abbas A?mad Ibn Yusuf
AL-TīFāSHī, SHIHāB AL-DīN ABU’L-ʿABBāS AḥMAD IBN YūSUF
(b.Tī̅fāsh, 1184; d. Cairo, 1253/1254)
AL-Tīfāshī began his education in Tīfāsh, three days’ journey from Kairouan. At a very early age, he went to Cairo, where one of his teachers was the physican ʿAbd al-Latīf al-Baghdādī After further studies in Damascus, he returned to Tīfāshī and obtained a judgeship. He later settled in Cairo, where he died.
Al-Tīfāshī’s book on precious stones bears various names in the manuscripts: the generally accepted title is Azhār al-afkār fi jawāhir al-ahjār (“Blossoms of Thoughts on Precious Stones”). It treats twenty-five stones in as many chapters. No critical edition of the book has produced, but a text with Italian translation was printed in 1818. The work exists in a longer version, however, in a number of the surviving manuscripts, a fact established by J. J. Clé-Mullet, who used the treatise as a pricipal source for his Essai sur la minéralogie arabe. Although he had the opportunity, Clé-MullentUnforunately did not prepare a critical edition and omitted from his book much of the important information he had gathered.
Al-Tīfāshī states that he intends to treat stones from five points of view: the generation of the stones at the place of deposit; locations of deposits; types, qualities, and marks of genuineness; magical properties and uses; and prices, Clément- Mullent reproduced only those portions of the manuscripts relating to the first three topics, and even this was done unsystematically. J. Ruska was the first to offer longer selections from the text, based on various recensuions in order to show that al-Ti̅fāshī had drawn on the so-called Book of Stones by Arisotole and the Book of Causes (or Secret of the Creation) arrtibuted to Apollonius of Tyana (Balīnūs)
Al-Tīfāshī also wrote a book on sense perception, of which only the title of the original work is known. An extract is preserved in a manuscript by the fourteenth-century lexicographer Ibn Manzu̅r, but it has not been carefully studied.
Al-Tīfāshī also produced three books on sexual relations. One of these, which discuses the restoration of potency in old men, was reprinted serval times and even appeared in an anonymous English translation. The first part deals with the sex organs, sexual hygiene, and aphrodisiacs, and inciudes quotations from a number of ancient and Islamic physicians. The second part is a sort of erotic guide for men. A second book, apparently more oriented toward hygiene, has not yet been studied. The third book comprise obscene anecdotes; several stores of this type also appear in the second part of the first of the books mentioned above.
I. Original Works. The text of the Azhār, with Italian trans. is A. R. Biscia, Fior di pensieri sulle pietre preziose di Ahmad Teifascite (Florence, 1818), Italian versions also printed separately (Bologna, 1906). J.J Clément-Mullet reproduces portions of the MS in his Essai sur la minéralogie arabe (Paris , 1868). One of his books on sexual relations appeared as The Old Man Young Again, Translated From the Arabic by an English Bohemian (Paris, 1898). J. Ruska includes selections from the Azhā in his Das Steinbuch des Aristoteles (Heidelberg, 1912), 23-31; and Tabula Smaragdina (Heidelberg, 1926).
II. Secondary Literature. See C. Brockelmann.
Geschichte der arabischen Literatur, I (Weimar, 1898). 495; and supp., I (Leiden, 1937), 904, and III (1942), 1243; IBN Farḥūn, Al-Dībāj al-mudhahhab fi maʿrifait aʿyān ʿulmāʾ al-madhhab (Cairo,m a.h. 1356 [a.d. 1937/1938]); G. Sarton, Introduction to the History of Science, II (Baltimore, 1931), 650; M. Steinschneider, “Arabische Lapidarein,” in Zeitschrift der Deutschen mokrgenländischen Gesellschaft,49 (1895), 254 ff.; and M. Ullmann, Die Medizin im Islam (Leiden, 1970), 196 f.