ʿABD-AL-RAḤMĀN B. NAṢR B. ʿABDALLĀH AL-ŠAYZARĪ, Syrian author, a contemporary of Saladin (d. 589/1193). Although his nesba is also given as Šīrāzī, Tabrīzī, etc., his Syrian origin is attested by Ebn Qāżī Šohba (d. 874/1470; see his al-Kawākeb al-dorrīya fiʾ l-sīrat al-Nūrīya, ed. M. Zāyed, Beirut, 1971, pp. 70f.); and he shows a familiarity with north Syrian local units of weight, drugs, and trade conditions. The sparse biographical data in the sources is not beyond doubt. ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān is mentioned as qāżī in Ṭabarīya (Kašf al-ẓonūn [Leipzig] III, p. 510), physician in Aleppo around 565/1169 (F. Wüstenfeld, Geschichte der arabischen Aerzte und Naturforscher, Göttingen, 1840, p. 100), and possibly moḥtaseb (W. Behrnauer in JA 16, 1860, p. 347).

Works. 1. Al-Nahī al-maslūk fī sīāsat al-molūk (with variant titles), a mirror for princes dedicated to Saladin, printed Būlāq, 1256/1840, Cairo, 1326/1908. See also S. Y. Labib, Handelsgeschichte Ägyptens im Spätmittelalter, Wiesbaden, 1965, p. 519; cf. Brockelmann, GAL S. II, pp. 1016, no. 31, 1017, no. 38. 2. Rawżat al-qolūb wa nozhat al-moḥebb waʾ l-maḥbūb, on love (see D. Semah in Arabica 24, 1977, pp. 187-206). 3. Ḵolāṣat al-kalām fī taʾwīl al-aḥlām, on the interpretation of dreams (see T. Fahd, La divination arabe, Leiden, 1966, pp. 354f.). 4. Nehāyat al-rotba (al-ẓarīfa) fī ṭalab al-ḥesba (al-šarīfa), a major compendium on the office of the moḥtaseb and a model for later works on the subject (cf. M. Gaudefroy-Demombynes in JA 230, 1938, pp. 453-57), Cairo, 1365/1946 (see review by J. Sauvaget, JA 236, 1948, pp. 309-11). 5. Al-Īżāḥ fī asrār al-nekāḥ, a popular work to judge by the number of surviving manuscripts. The first part contains ten chapters on “the secrets of men” and discusses various drugs, nutriments, powders, ointments, and electuaries said to stimulate or reduce sexual appetite, strengthen the potentia erectiva, or induce or prevent conception. The second part contains ten chapters on “the secrets of women” and deals with female beauty, intimate cosmetics, perfumes, and the casting of erotic spells by use of talismans and the occult properties of objects (ḵavāṣṣ). Basically a compilation of prescriptions, the work contains quotations of Galen and Hippocrates, as well as of diverse Islamic sources (ed. and tr. of the second part in Krikor Amdja, Das Buch der Aufklärung über die Geheimnisse der Eheschliessung. T. 2 (Kitāb al-īḍāḥ min asrār an-nikāḥ) des aš-Šīrāzī, Diss. med., Erlangen, 1976).

The Īżāḥ was translated into Persian (in 826/1423, according to Kašf al-ẓonūn [Leipzig] V, p. 245) with the title Ganǰ-e asrār or Kanz al-asrār. This version was made for the vizier Moǰīr (al-dawla wa-) al-dīn Abu’l-Maʿālī Moḥammad b. al-Moʿtazz b. Ṭāher (MS. Browne, ḵātema [= part II, chapter 10], fol. 73b, slightly deviating from the moqaddema, and MS. Blochet [see Storey, II/2, p. 213, no. 365]. The translator is called Neẓām-e Motašahhī (MS Blochet) or Neẓām-e Monšī (MS Browne); the latter ms. names his father as collaborator. Neẓām-e Monšī’s translation follows the original arrangement, but about doubles the size of the Īżāḥ by adding prescriptions and observations of his own, without indicating the scope of his own contributions and only rarely naming his sources, mainly an anonymous compendium Jawāmeʿ al-laḏḏāt (see Ullmann, Medizin, p. 195; Brockelmann, GAL S. I, pp. 945-46; Monzavī, Fehrest I, nos. 4771-74) and Manāfeʿ al-aḥǰār (of Pseudo-Ptolemaios?).


Brockelmann, GAL I, p. 461; S. I, pp. 832f.

M. Ullmann, Die Medizin im Islam, Leiden and Köln, 1970, pp. 195f. and index.

Idem, Die Natur- und Geheimwissenschaften im Islam, Leiden, 1972, p. 411.

(H. H. Biesterfeldt)

Originally Published: December 15, 1982

Last Updated: July 14, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 2, p. 143

Cite this entry:

H. H. Biesterfeldt, “'Abd-Al-Rahman Sayzari,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/2, p. 143; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/abd-al-rahman-sayzari (accessed on 16 January 2014).