Maize (corn) is one of the things Europeans brought back from their early voyages to the Americas in the 15thcentury. A few of us wondered how fast it spread when we came across the word ذرة in Shaykh al-Islam Zakariya al-Ansari’s Tuhfat al-tullab.
Zakariya al-Ansari passed away in 925 AH, around 1519 CE. The word is also mentioned in al-Fayyumi’s Al-Misbah al-munir, where he describes it as ‘a known grain’.3 al-Fayyumi passed away in 770 AH, around 1368 CE. Seeing how the book is a dictionary of the difficult and odd vocabulary found in Imam al-Rafi’i’s Al-Sharh al-kabir, it is likely that the word was known to the Arabs prior to the European ‘discovery’ of the Americas.
1 see ‘Maize’ on wikipedia
2 al-Ansari, Zakariya. Tuhfat al-Tullab published in the margins of al-Sharqawi’s meta-commentary of the same text. Maktabat al-Babi al-Halabi. (2:34)
3 Ahmad bin Muhammad bin ʿAli al-Fayyumi. al-Misbah al-Munir. Dar al-Fikar. p79