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Ibn Qutayba (880) : Kitab al-ma'arif
(The book of knowledge)
worked in Baghdad

Taken from: David M. Goldenberg: The curse of Ham, Race and slavery in early Judaism



Left Genealogic scheme of the humans with the ancester of the

black people in the right upper corner. (from 17th century Baghdad)



Wahb b. Munabbih said that Ham b. Noah was a white man having a beautiful face and form. But Allah (to Him belongs glory and power) changed his color and the color of his descendants because of his father's curse. Ham went off, followed by his children. They settled on the shore of the sea, and Allah increased them. They are the Sudan. Their food was fish, which used to stick to their teeth. So they sharpened their teeth until these became like needles. Some of Ham's descendants settled in the west. Ham begot Kush b. Ham, Kanan b. Ham and Fut b. Ham. Fut traveled and settled in the land of Hind and Sind, and the people there are his descendants. The descendants of Kush and Kanan are the races of the Sudan: the Nuba, the Zanj, the Qazan, the Zaghawa, the Habasha, the Qibt, and the Barbar. 


The Zanj live of fish, and for this reason sharpen their teeth like needles, so that the fish should not stick to them.


He also states that blacks are ugly and misshapen, because they live in a hot country. The heat overcooks them in the womb and curls their hair.



Left castration from an islamic medical manuscript


Ibn Qutayba: Uyun al-akhbar (Book of useful knowledge)


Taken from: The natural history section from a 9th century Book of useful knowledge the Uyun al-akhbar of Ibn Qutayba.


The Sages say: Hermaphroditism befalls Arabs [as well as] Kurds and Negroes, lunatics and any [other] kind [of human being], except eunuchs; there will never be a hermaphrodite eunuch.

They (further) say: Any creature affected with evil smell and pungent odour – such as the goat’s ram (tays) and its like – will lose its bad odour and its stench will become less after having been castrated; man expected, for his stench will become (even) stronger, his bad odour even more pungent and his sweat and breath loathsome.

The bones of all species of animals become thinner after castration, and when this has come to pass the flesh becomes slack and loosens itself from the bones. (here too) man is an exception, for if he be castrated his bones become longer and thicker.

They (further) say: Eunuchs and women are not affected with baldness, and a eunuch’s food becomes long and coarsened.

I have been informed that Muhammad ibn al-Jahm owned a packhorse (birdhawn) with thin hooves. He gelded it, whereupon its hooves improved. Compare this with (what I just mentioned above) man, (viz:) if he is castrated his feet become bigger.

They (further) say: The tread of a eunuch’s food is heavy, for the insertion of his sinews have become slackened. He is affected with contortion and crookedness of his fingers and toes, his tears come quickly, his skin becomes wrinkled, he is quick to anger but easy to reconcile and incapable of keeping a secret.

Some (among the sages) assert that they (the eunuchs) attain old age on account of their having no sexual intercourse. In their opinion that is also the reason for the long life of mules, whereas …………    


The Sages say: The Negroes (zanj) are the most inferior of creatures and those with the worst constitution; for their country is hot, and therefore the wombs burn them. The same applies to people living in cold regions….


They (further) say; The sun has scorched their (the Negroes) hair and thus made it crisp. Any hair you bring near a fire will (first) become curled, and if you continue (holding it there) it will become crisp (contracted) and afterwards be consumed by the fire.

They [also] say: Of all races the Negroes have the best odour of the mouth, although they do not cleanse their teeth. Any human being with his mouth moist and his saliva abundant has a good- smelling mouth. The corrupt odour of a fasting person's mouth is occasioned by the thickening of the saliva, and so is the bad odour at the end of the night.


The giraffe (zarafa) is (cross-breed) between the wild she-camel, the baqara wahshiyya (the Oryx) and the male hyena (dib’an). Its (Persian) name is ushturgawpalank, viz. between the camel and the rhinoceros (karkand). It ownes its existence to the fact that the male hyena in Abessynia mounts the (wild) she-camel, which then brings forth a young one, the bodily constitution of which  is (something) between the camel and the hyena. The male young one od such a she-camel mounts the wild cow (maha) and begets with it the giraffe. The giraffe is called zarafa because it is (properly speaking) a group although one (animal). It is, so to speak, a camel, a (wild) cow and a hyena (all in one), and in the Arabic language zarafa means group.  


Abu Ubayda said: A scorpion (once) stung an Arab of the desert in Basra, and they feared for his life, so that he became extremely grieved. Then one of his people said : There is nothing better than to cleanse for him the testicle of a negro (zinji), who has sweated; and so it was done. This happened on a sultry night; and when they gave it to him to swallow, he frowned. On being asked: What taste do you find (in it), he replied: I find the taste of a new water-skin.

Taken from:


He said: He who goes from Iraq to the country of Zinj and sadly uses their established drink; Their wine and food of the coconut is wiping out the mind till there is no difference between them and the idiot.


Ibn Qutayba (880): Kitab al-Garatim


Taken from: Einführung in die arabische Zoographie: das tierkundliche Wissen in der arabisch-islamischen Literatur Herbert Eisenstein


In this book in a chapter on animals he treats: Rhino, Giraffe, Elephant, Hippo.