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Importance of a good shaykh by Shaykh Abd'al-Qadir al-Jilani Radi Allahu anhu

Al Ghawth al-Adham Shaykh Sayyad Abd'al-Qadir al-Jilani Radi 'Allahu anhu said: You must work hard to ensure that your hearts are not locked out of the door of His nearness. Be sensible! You are getting nowhere. You must seek the company of a Shaykh who is learned in the law [hukm] and knowledge ['ilm] of Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He), and who will show you the way toward Him. Without seeing the successful [muflih], one cannot succeed. If a person does not seek the company of scholars who put their knowledge into practice ['ulama 'ummal], he is a chicken from an egg abandoned by the rooster and the mother hen.

Seek the fellowship of those who enjoy fellowship with the Lord of Truth (Almighty and Glorious is He). What each of you should do, when the night has grown dark and people have gone to bed and their voices are silent, is get up, take an ablution [yatawadda'], perform two cycles of ritual prayer [yusalli rak'atain] and say: "O my Lord, guide me to one of Your righteous servants near to You, so that he may guide me toward You and make me familiar with Your path." The instrument [sabab] is necessary. Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) was quite capable of guiding [His servants] to Him without the Prophets [anbiya']. Be sensible! You are getting nowhere. You must awaken from your heedless folly. As the Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam has said: If someone relies entirely on his own subjective judgement, he will go astray. Try to find someone who will be a mirror for the face of your religion [din], just as you look in the mirror to check the appearance of your outer face, your turban and your hair. Be sensible! What is this crazy foolishness? You say, "I don't need anyone to teach me," and yet the Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam has said: The believer is the believer's mirror [al-mu'minu mir'atu 'l-mu'min].

When the believer's faith is sound, he comes to be a mirror for all creatures. They behold their religious faces [wujuh adyanihim] reflected in the mirror of his speech, every time they see him and get close to him. What is this craziness? Not a moment goes by without your begging Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) to provide you with more than you already have to eat, to drink, and to wear, with more sexual opportunities and more income. These are not things that could increase or decrease, even if you were to be joined in your plea by every supplicant whose prayers are answered [da 'in mujab].

Supplication [da 'wa] will neither increase one's sustenance by so much as an atom, nor reduce it by an atom. This is a foregone conclusion [mafrugh minhu]. You must devote your attention to doing what you have been commanded to do, and to avoiding what you have been forbidden to do. You should not worry about that which is bound to come your way, because He guarantees that it will come to you. Allotted shares [aqsam] arrive at their appointed times, whether they be sweet or bitter, whether you like them or dislike them.

The people [of the Way] attain to a condition in which they no longer have any prayer of supplication [du'a] or request [su'al] to make. They do not beg [in their prayers] to gain advantages, nor to get rid of disadvantages. Their supplication comes to be a matter concerning their hearts, sometimes for their own sake and sometimes for the sake of all creatures, so they utter the prayer of supplication without conscious premeditation [fi ghaiba].
"O '' Allah, endow us with good behaviour in Your company under all circumstances!
[When the believer's faith is sound], fasting [sawm], prayer [salat], remembrance [dhikr] and all acts of obedience [ta 'at] become second nature to him, mingled with his flesh and blood. Then he receives protection from Allah (Almighty and Glorious is He) under all circumstances. The restraint of the law [hukm] does not desert him, not for an instant, while he is on this course. The law comes to be like the vessel in which he sits, as he travels over the ocean of the power [qudra] of his Lord (Almighty and Glorious is He). He goes on traveling over it until he arrives at the shore of the hereafter, at the shore of the ocean of grace and the hand of nearness. Thus he is sometimes in the company of creatures and at certain times in the company of the Creator. His work and toil are with creatures, while his relaxation is with the Creator.
From Shaykh 'Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, "The Sublime Revelation (Al-Fath ar-Rabbani)," translated by Muhtar Holland (Al-Baz Publishing, Houston, 1992), p. 426-8.
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah r.a., who said that Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. said: Allah SWT said:

Whosoever shows enmity to someone devoted to Me, I shall be at war with him. My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it. I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate about [seizing] the soul of My faithful servant: he hates death and I hate hurting him. (It was related by al-Bukhari)

“Allah! There is no God save Him, the Alive, the Eternal. Neither slumber nor sleep overtaketh Him. Unto Him belongeth whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is in the earth. Who is he that intercedeth with Him save by His leave? He knoweth that which is in front of them and that which is behind them, while they encompass nothing of His knowledge save what He will. His throne includeth the heavens and the earth, and He is never weary of preserving them. He is the Sublime, the Tremendous.”

Wednesday, May 28, 2008



Ayat al-Kursi is verse 255 of the second chapter (Surah) of the Holy Quran, Surat al-Baqarah (The Chapter of the Cow)

Below is the Arabic text, the transliteration, and the English translation and then some of the benefits of reciting this verse, the Verse of the Throne:

AllaHu laa ilaaha illaa huwal-Haiyyul-Qaiyyum Laa ta' khu-zhuhuu sinatunwalaa nauum LaHu maa fissamaawaati wa maa fil-'ard Man dzal-ladzii yashfa'u 'indaHu illa bi-idz-nih Ya'lamu maa baina aidiHim wa ma khalfaHum wa la yuhii-thuuna bi shai'in min 'ilmiHii illa bimaa shaa' Wasi'a kursiyyuhussamaawaati wal ard wa laa ya'uduHu hifdhuHuma wa Hu wal 'Aliyyul-Adziim

"Allah! There is no god but He - the Living, The Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him Nor Sleep. His are all things In the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede In His presence except As he permitteth? He knoweth What (appeareth to His creatures As) Before or After or Behind them. Nor shall they compass Aught of his knowledge Except as He willeth. His throne doth extend Over the heavens And on earth, and He feeleth No fatigue in guarding And preserving them, For He is the Most High. The Supreme (in glory)." [Surah al-Baqarah 2: 255]

Virtues of reciting Ayat al Kursi

Ubayy bin Ka'b (radiAllahu anhu) reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "Abu Mundhir! Do you know which Ayah in Allah's Book is the greatest? I said:

'Allah and His messenger know best.'

He (peace be upon him) again said: 'Do you know which Ayah in Allah's Book, according to you, is the greatest?' I (Abu Mundhir) replied: ‘It is 'Allah la ilaha illa Huwal-Hayyul-Qayyum'.[2:255].

Thereupon he (peace be upon him) patted me in the chest and said, ' Rejoice by your knowledge, O Abu Mundhir! (i.e, may this knowledge be a source of respect, honour and benefit to you)'." [Muslim]

Asma' bint Yazid (radiAllahu anhu) reported, 'I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) say about these two following Ayahs, i.e, verses: "Allah! There is no god but He - the Living, The Self-subsisting, Eternal. [2:255], And, Alif Lam Mim, Allah! There is no god but He - the Living, The Self-subsisting, Eternal [3:1-2], That they contain Allah's Greatest Name." [Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal in his Musnad]

It was narrated that Abu Umamah Al-Bahili (radiAllahu anhu) said: The Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said: "Whoever recites Ayat al-Kursi immediately after each prescribed Prayer, there will be nothing standing between him and his entering Paradise except death." [an-Nasa'i, Ibn Hibban, ibn Sunni, at-Tabarani, ibn Hibban - Sahih]

Abu Dhar (radiAllahu anhu) said; O Messenger of Allah, what is the greatest thing that has been revealed to you?’ He said, Ayat al-Kursi, 'Allah! La ilaha illa Huwa' [an-Nasa'i]

When you lie down in your bed, recite ayat al-Kursi, Allah! La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the Ever Living, the One Who sustains and protects all that exists… [al-Baraqah 2:255] until the end of the ayah, then you will have a protector from Allah and no shaytan (devil) will come near you until morning comes [Sahih al-Bukhari]

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah (RadiAllahu anhu) that the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said: "In Surat Al-Baqarah there is a verse which is the best of all the verses of the Qur’an. It is never recited in a house but Shaitan leaves: Ayat Al-Kursi."

Everything has its pinnacle and the pinnacle of the Qur’an is Surah al-Baqarah. In it there is an ayah which is the greatest in the Qur’an: Ayat al-Kursi [at-Tirmidhi]

It is reported by way of Abu Hurairah (radiAllahu anhu) that someone used to come upon him and take from the charity – which the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) had made him guardian over – night after night, so on the third night, he said: "I will report you to the Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam), the man said: 'Let me teach you some phrases with which Allah will cause you benefit’ – they were very eager for good – so he said: 'When you go to, read Ayat al-kursi (Verse 255 of Surah Al-Baqarah) completely, for there is still upon you from Allah a guardian, and no shaitan can get close to you until you enter upon morning.' Then he (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said: "He told you the truth and he is a liar, (that was a shaitan). [Sahih Al-Bukhari]

Ali ibn abu Talib (RadiAllahu anhu) narrates, "I cannot understand how a person, who is a Muslim, and owner of reason (intellect) can spend the night without reading Ayat al Kursi. If you knew the benefits of it, then you will never discard it under any condition".

Abdullah bin Mas'ud (radiAllahu anhu) narrates that a person said to Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam): "O Messenger of Allah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam), teach me something through which Allah I will give me benefit." He said: "Continue reciting Ayatul Kursi. This will be a means of protection for you, your children and even those houses which are near your house."

It is reported from Anas (radiAllahu anhu) that the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) asked a certain companion if he was married. He replied. "I do not have so much money as to get married." RasulAllah (peace and blessings be upon him) said "Do you know Surat al-Ikhlas?" He replied: "Yes". RasulAllah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) remarked: "That equals to a quarter of the Qur’an. Do you know Surat al-Kafirun?" He replied: "Yes." RasulAllah (peace and blessings be upon him) said "it equals to a quarter of the Qur'an". He further asked “do you know Surat al-Zilzal?” He replied, “yes.” RasulAllah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said: "That equals to a quarter of the Qur’an. Do you know Surat al-Fath?" He replied: "Yes". RasulAllah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said: "That equals to a quarter of the Qur’an. Do you know Ayat al-Kursi?" He replied: "Yes". RasulAllah (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said: "That equals to a quarter of the Qur’an. Get married, get married, get married!"

Abu Umamah (radiAllahu anhu) reported that the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said that the ismullahi al- a'dham (The Greatest Name of Allah), through which Allah assuredly fulfils people's needs, is contained in three surahs in the Qur'an: al-Baqarah, Al Imran and Taha. Abu Umamah (radiAllahu anhu) says that when he searched for the ismullahi al- a'dham, he found it to be in Ayat al-kursi (2:255); and in Surah Al-’Imran (3:2); and in Surah Taha (20:111). [al-Hakim, ibn Majah, at-Tabarani, at-Tahawi, and others]

It is reported by at-Tabarani that the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) said: "The one who recites Ayat al-kursi after the conclusion of an obligatory prayer, he is under the care of Allah until the next prayer commences." [at-Tabaraani’s At Targheeb wat-Tarheeb (2:435)]

Tuesday, May 27, 2008



Demak Grand Mosque


Demak’s origins are uncertain although it was apparently founded in the last quarter of the fifteenth century by a foreign Muslim, probably a Chinese who was perhaps named Cek Ko-po.[1] It is thought that perhaps it was his son to whom the Portuguese gave the name 'Rodim', which most likely meaning 'Badruddin' or 'Kamaruddin', and he is thought to have died c. 1504.[1] Rodim’s son, or possibly his brother, was the founder of the Demak’s brief domination in Java. Known as Trenggana, later Javanese traditions say he gave himself the title Sultan. It appears Trenggana had two reigns—c 1505–1518 and c 1521–1546—between which his brother in law, King Yunnus of Jepara filled in.[1] One of Wali Songo, Sunan Kalijaga was the teacher of Raden Patah and had great influence on the philosophy of the Kingdom. Raden Patah was a Chinese descendant - his Chinese name was Jin Bun ('strong man'), Babad Tanah Jawa(or the Javanese Chronicle) recorded him as Jimbun.

Trenggana spread Demak’s influence east and west and c 1527, during his second regin, he conquered the last Javanese Hindu-Buddhist state, Majapahit of East Java. Majapahit had been in decline since the later fifteenth century and was in an advanced state of collapse at the time of the Demak’s conquest.[1] Majapahit's heirlooms were brought to Demak and adopted as Demak's royal icons.[citation needed] Demak was able to subdue other major ports and its reach extended into some inland areas of East Java that are not thought to have been Islamised at the time. Although evidence is limited, it is known that Demak's conquests covered much of Java: Tuban, an old Majapahit port mentioned in Chinese sources from the eleventh century, was conquered c. 1527;

Raden Patah was succeeded by Pati Unus (1518 - 1521), known best for his two attempts in 1511 and 1521 to seize the port of Malacca from the control of Portuguese. This campaign attempt ended with a loss of the King's life.

The King's brother-in-law, Trenggana (1522 - 1548), crowned by Sunan Gunung Jati (one of Wali Songo), became the Third and the greatest King of Demak. He conquered the Hindu based ressistance in Central Java, Banten, Sunda Kelapa (which will become Jakarta) in the future, and ended his campaign as he was killed in Panarukan, [East Java] in 1548.

Timeline of Islamic Scientists (700-1400)


This chart depicts the lifes of key Islamic Scientists and related writers, from the 8th to the end of the 13th century. By placing each writer in a historical context, this will help us understand the influences and borrowing of ideas.

701 (died) - Khalid Ibn Yazeed - Alchemy

721 - Jabir Ibn Haiyan (Geber) - (Great Muslim Alchemist)

740 - Al-Asmai - (Zoology, Botany, Animal Husbandry)

780 - Al-Khwarizmi (Algorizm) - (Mathematics, Astronomy)

787 - Al Balkhi, Ja'Far Ibn Muhammas (Albumasar) - Astronomy, Fortune-telling

796 (died) - Al-Fazari,Ibrahim Ibn Habeeb - Astronomy, Translation

800 - Ibn Ishaq Al-Kindi - (Alkindus) - (Philosophy, Physics, Optics)

808 - Hunain Ibn Is'haq - Medicine, Translator

815 - Al-Dinawari, Abu-Hanifa Ahmed Ibn Dawood - Mathematics, Linguistics

836 - Thabit Ibn Qurrah (Thebit) - (Astronomy, Mechanics)

838 - Ali Ibn Rabban Al-Tabari - (Medicine, Mathematics)

852 - Al Battani ABU abdillah (Albategni) - Mathematics, Astronomy, Engineering

857 - Ibn MasawaihYou'hanna - Medicine

858 - Al-Battani (Albategnius) - (Astronomy, mathematics)

860 - Al-Farghani (Al-Fraganus) - (Astronomy,Civil Engineering)

884 - Al-Razi (Rhazes) - (Medicine,Ophthalmology, Chemistry)

870 - Al-Farabi (Al-Pharabius) - (Sociology, Logic, Science, Music)

900 - (died) - Abu Hamed Al-ustrulabi - Astronomy

903 - Al-Sufi (Azophi - ( Astronomy)

908 - Thabit Ibn Qurrah - Medicine, Engineering

912 (died) - Al-Tamimi Muhammad Ibn Amyal (Attmimi) - Alchemy

923 (died) - Al-Nirizi, AlFadl Ibn Ahmed (wronge Altibrizi) - Mathematics, Astronomy

930 - Ibn Miskawayh, Ahmed Abuali - Medicine, Alchemy

932 - Ahmed Al-Tabari - Medicine

936 - Abu Al-Qasim Al-Zahravi (Albucasis) - (Surgery, Medicine)

940 - Muhammad Al-Buzjani - (Mathematics, Astronomy, Geometry)

950 - Al Majrett'ti Abu-alQasim - Astronomy, Alchemy, Mathematics

960 (died) - Ibn Wahshiyh, Abu Baker - Alchemy, Botany

965 - Ibn Al-Haitham (Alhazen) - Physics, Optics, Mathematics)

973 - Abu Raihan Al-Biruni - (Astronomy, Mathematics)

976 - Ibn Abil Ashath - Medicine

980 - Ibn Sina (Avicenna) - (Medicine, Philosophy, Mathematics)

983 - Ikhwan A-Safa (Assafa) - (Group of Muslim Scientists)

1019 - Al-Hasib Alkarji - Mathematics

1029 - Al-Zarqali (Arzachel) - Astronomy (Invented Astrolabe)

1044 - Omar Al-Khayyam - (Mathematics, Poetry)

1060 - (died) Ali Ibn Ridwan Abu'Hassan Ali - Medicine

1077 - Ibn Abi-Sadia Abul Qasim - Medicine

1090 - Ibn Zuhr (Avenzoar) - Surgery, Medicine

1095 - Ibn Bajah, Mohammed Ibn Yahya

1097 - Ibn Al-Baitar Diauddin (Bitar) - Botany, Medicine, Pharmacology

1099 - Al-Idrisi (Dreses) - Geography, World Map (First Globe)

1091 - Ibn Zuhr (Avenzoar) - ( Surgery, Medicine)

1095 - Ibn Bajah, Mohammad Ibn Yahya (Avenpace) - Philosophy, Medicine

1099 - Al-Idrisi (Dreses) - (Geography -World Map, First Globe)

1100 - Ibn Tufayl Al-Qaysi - Philosophy, Medicine

1120 - (died) - Al-Tuhra-ee, Al-Husain Ibn Ali - Alchemy, Poem

1128 - Ibn Rushd (Averroe's) - Philosophy, Medicine

1135 - Ibn Maymun, Musa (Maimonides) - Medicine, Philosphy

1140 - Al-Badee Al-Ustralabi - Astronomy, Mathematics

1155 (died) - Abdel-al Rahman AlKhazin - Astronomy

1162 - Al Baghdadi, Abdellateef Muwaffaq - Medicine, Geography

1165 - Ibn A-Rumiyyah Abul'Abbas (Annabati) - Botany

1173 - Rasheed AlDeen Al-Suri - Botany

1184 - Al-Tifashi, Shihabud-Deen (Attifashi) - Metallurgy, Stones

1201 - Nasir Al-Din Al-Tusi - (Astronomy, Non-Euclidean Geometry)

1203 - Ibn Abi-Usaibi'ah, Muwaffaq Al-Din - Medicine

1204 (died) - Al-Bitruji (Alpetragius) - (Astronomy)

1213 - Ibn Al-Nafis Damishqui - (Anatomy)

1236 - Kutb Aldeen Al-Shirazi - Astronomy, Geography

1248 (died) - Ibn Al-Baitar - ( Pharmacy, Botany)

1258 - Ibn Al-Banna (Al Murrakishi), Azdi - Medicine, Mathematics

1262 (died) - Al-Hassan Al-Murarakishi - Mathematics, Astronomy, Geography

1273 - Al-Fida (Abdulfeda) - ( Astronomy, Geography)

1306 - Ibn Al-Shater Al Dimashqi - Astronomy, Mathematics

1320 (died) - Al Farisi Kamalud-deen Abul-Hassan - Astronomy, Physics

1341 (died) - Al-Jildaki, Muhammad Ibn Aidamer - Alchemy

1351 - Ibn Al-Majdi, Abu Abbas Ibn Tanbugha - Mathematics, Astronomy

1359 - Ibn Al-Magdi,Shihab-Udden Ibn Tanbugha - Mathematic, Astronomy



Jabir Ibn Haiyan (Geber) - Chemistry - (Died 803 C.E).

Ali Ibn Rabban Al-Tabari - Medicine, Mathematics, Calligraphy - (838-870)

Al-Farabi (Al Pharabius) - Sociology, Logic, Philosophy, Political Science, Music -(870-950)

Al-Razi (Rhazes) - Medicine, Ophthalmology, Smallpox , Chemistry, Astronomy - (864-930)

Abu Al-Qasim Al-Zahravi (Albucasis) - Surgery, Medicine - (936-1013)

Nasir Al-Din Al-Tusi - Astronomy, Non-Euclidean Geometry - (1201-1274)

Omar Al-Khayyam - Mathematics, Poetry - (1044-1123)

Ibn Al-Nafis Damishqui - Medicine - (1213-1288)

Muhammad Al-Buzjani - Mathematics, Astronomy - (940-997)

Ibn Al-Haitham (Alhazen) - Physics,Optics, Mathematics - (965-1040)

Ibn Sina (Avicenna) - Medicine, Philosophy, Mathematics, Astronomy - (986-1037)

Abu Raihan Al-Biruni - Astronomy, Mathematics, determined Earth's circumference - (973-1048)

Omar Al-Khayyam - Mathematics, Poetry - (1044-1123)



Based on the book Introduction to the History of Scienceby George Sarton
(provided with photos and portraits) Edited and prepared by Prof. Hamed A. Ead

The Time of Omar Khayyam
(Second Half Of Eleventh Century)

The most original creations of this time were made in the field of mathematics by Muslims, and the most original genius among those to whom we owe these creations was the Persian Omar Khayyam. It is thus very appropriate to call this time the Time of Omar Khayyam, as Omar is already very well known to a large number of readers. It is probable that his name is more familiar to them than that of any other Muslim scientist. It will thus be relatively easy to remember the title, and I trust that this remembrance will reach to some extent the contents of the following pages. The time of Omar Khayyam was the end of the golden age of Muslim science.

A new Muslim sect, that of the Assassins, an off-shoot of the Ismailiya movement, originated in Cairo about 1080.

They took possession of the fortress of Alamut, which remained their main stronghold for a century and a half. Alamut seems to have been also a center of learning.
The Muslim philosopher who has obtained the largest following in the West, in fact the only one who has become at all popular, is the persian poet and sufi Omar Khayyam. On the other hand, one of Omar's contemporaries, al-Ghazzali, was the greatest theologian of Islam. He might be compared to Thomas Aquinas, to whom he was in many ways superior. Al-Ghazzali was also a Persian and spent part of his life in Omar's native place, Nishabur. While Omar Khayyam is the most popular fingure of mediaeval times, al-Ghazzali is probably the noblest.

Muslim Mathematics and Astronomy

Important astronomical work was done at Cordova. Ibn Said, aided by other Muslim and Jewish astronomers, made a number of observations. These observations were used by al-Zarqaili (Arzachel), for the compilation of new tables, the so-called Toledan tables, which obtained considerable authority in western Europe. Al-Zarqaili invented a new kind of astrolabe and proved the movement of the solar apogee; unfortunately, he confirmed the erroneous theory of the "trepidation" of the equinoxes. His tables were preceded, as usual, by an elaborate trigonometrical introduction.

The philosopher al-Ghazzali wrote a treatise on the motion and nature of stars and an astronomical summary; he had some knowledge of magic squares. The Bagdadite Muhammad ibn Àbd al-Baqí wrote a commentary on the tenth book of Euclid.

The activity of Muslim geographers, which had been so intense during the ninth and tenth centuries, abated during the present century. For the second half of this century two men will be recorded, one in the West and the other in the East. The western one, al-Bakri, is of special importance, become the road-book which the compiled in the traditional manner is the oldest one of its kind due to a Spaniard. He also compiled a dictionary of ancient (i.e., Arabian) geography. The Eastern one is also a very arresting personality. Nasir-I-Khusraw was an Ismaili missionary who, starting from Egypt, traveled extensively in the Near East and as far east as Persia.

He wrote in Persia an account of his travels, which is equally valuable from the geographical and from the historical point of view.

The contributions of Islam may seem small, but they were still of a very high quality.

In spite of Anselm, Psellos, and Constantine, in spite of the Chanson de Roland, in spite of Alfasi, Rashi, and Nathan, Islam was still at the vanguard of humanity. There was nowhere else in the world, in those days, a philosopher who could at all compare with al-Ghazzali, neither an astronomer like al-Zarqali, neither a mathematician like Omar Khayyam. These men were to towering far above their contemporaries.

If we proceed to examine more carefully the intellectual condition of Islam, we discover, in the first place, that some of the most important contributions were due to Persians; this was not novelty, but what is more starting, they were written in Persian.

Al-Ghazzali was the only Persian who wrote in Arabic; al-Hasan ibn al-Sabbah, Omar Khayyam, Nasir-I-Khusraw, Zarrin Dast, Nidham al-Mulk, and Asadi wrote in Persian.
The city of the caliphs gave us still a number of scientists but none of great distinction - Muhammad ibn Àbd al-Baqí, Ibn Jazla (of Christian origin), Sa'íd ibn hibat Allah, al-Khatíb al-Baghdadí, and al-Mawardí. The only center of intellectual progress in Islam was Spain, but the heyday of Cordova was already over. Indeed, of the seven scientists and scholars who make us think of the Muslim Spain of those days with gratitude, only one can be connected with Cordova, the geographer al-Bakrí.

The greatest of them all, al-Zarqali, flourished in Toledo, and so did the original historian Ibn Sa'íd. Yusuf al-Mutamin lived in Saragossa; Abu 'Umar ibn Hajjaj in Seville. Ibn Sída, was born in Murcia and died in Denia.

But the development of astronomy by al-Zarqal and of algebra by Omar Khayyam were definite steps forward.

A great orientalist went so far as to say : "The fourth century is the turning-point in the history of the spirit of Islam".



In Latin : Arzachel. Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Yahya al-Naqqash, the engraver. Better known as Ibn al-Zarqali. From Cordova, lived from c.1029 to c.1080. Astronomer. The best observer of his time (observations dated 1061, 1080).

He invented an improved astrolabe called safiham (saphaea Arzachelis); his description of it was translated into Latin, Hebrew, and many vernaculars. He was the first to prove explicitly the motion of the solar apogee with reference to the stars; according to his measurements it amounted to 12.04" per year (the real value being 11.8").

On the other hand, comparing his observation of the obliquity of the ecliptic with previous ones, he concluded that it oscillated between 23o 33' and 23o 53', thus reenforcing the erroneous belief in the "trepidation" of the equinoxes. He edited the so-called Toledan Tables, planetary tables based upon the observations made by him and probably other Muslim and Jewish astronomers in Toledo (notably Ibn Sa'íd).
These tables were translated into Latin by Gherardo Cremonese and enjoyed much popularity. The trigonometrical introduction (Canones sive regulae tabularum astronomiae) was al- Zarqali's own work; it explains the construction of the trigonometrical tables.


Of the tribe of the Banu Hud; king of Saragossa from 1081 to 1085. His father, Ahmed al-Muqtadir Billah, king from 1046 to 1081, was also a student and a patron of students. Hispano-Muslim mathematician and patron of science.

He wrote a mathematical treatise, Istikmal (Bringing to perfection), of which it was said that it should be studied together with Euclid, the Almagest, and the "middle books."p

No copy of Yusuf's treatise is known; it is strange that a work believed to be so important and written by a king should be lost.

Stanley Lane Poole: Mohammedan Dynasties (26,1893)
H.Suter: Mathematiker (108,1900).


Abu-l-Fath 'Umar ibn Ibrahím al-khayyamí - the tentmaker - Ghiyath al-dín. Born in or near Níshabur c. 1038 to 1048, died there in 1123-24.

Persian mathematician, astronomer, and poet. One of the greatest mathematicians of mediaeval times. His Algebra contains geometric and algebraic solutions of equations of the second degree; an admirable classification of equations, including the cubic; a systematic attempt to solve them all, and partial geometric solutions of most of them (he did not consider negative roots and his failure to use both branches or halves of a conic caused him to miss sometimes one of the positive roots). His classification of equations is very different from our own; it is based on the complexity of the equations (the number of different terms which they include).
Of course the higher the degree of an equation the more different terms, or combinations of terms, it can contain. Thus Omar recognizes 13 different forms of cubic equation. (The modern classification based primarily upon the degree dates only from the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century).

Binomial development when the exponent is a positive integer. Study of the postulates and generalities of Euclid.

In 1074-75 the saljuq sultan Malikshah, Jalal al-dín, called him to the new observatory of Ray (or Níshabur, or Isfahan?) to reform the old Persian calendar:
(30x12)d.+5d.=365 d. The latter had been temporarily replaced by the Muslim calendar after the conquest. Omar's calendar was called al-ta'rikh al-Jalal.

Its era was the 10th Ramadan 471=16 March 1079. There are many interpretations of Omar's reform and to each corresponds a certain degree of accuracy, but at any rate, Omar's calendar was very accurate, probably more so than the Gregorian calendar.
The correct interpretation is probably one of the three following, the second being the most probable of them. I quote for each, the authority, then the gist of the change, and finally the resulting error:

According to al-Shirazi (d.1449), 15 intercalary days in 62 years; error, 1 day in about 3,770 years.

Moden interpretation, 8 intercalary days in 33 years; error, 1 day in about 5,000 years.

(The Gregorian calendar leads to an error of 1 day in 3,330 years).

Methods for the determination of specific gravity.

It is impossible not to mention the Ruba'iyat (quatrains) of Omar Khayyam, which have become, especially since 159 (when Edward Fitzgerald published the first instalment of his English paraphrase), one of the most popular classics of the world literature. Omar Khayyam was probably not a sufi, but rather an agnostic.

Comparisons of his thought with that of Lucretius and that of Voltaire are suggestive but indaequate.


Abu Bakr(?) Muhammad ibn 'Abd al-Baghdadi. Flourished c. 1100.

Possibly the author of a commentary on the tenth book of Euclid, which was very popular because of its numerical applications. It is entitled "Liber judei super decimum Euclidis" in the translation by Gherardo Cremonese.



Abu 'ali Yahya ibn Isa Ibn Jazla. Latin forms: Bengesla, Buhahylyha, Byngezla, etc.
Flourished in Bagdad, died in 1100. Christian physician, who embraced Islam in 1074. His most important work is a medical synopsis, wherein 44 tables of two pages each contain the description and outline the treatment of 352 diseases (8 in each table); it was probably modeled upon similar work of Ibn Butlan (q .v; first half of eleventh century) and is called "Tables of the Bodies with regard to their constitutions" (Taqwim al-abdan fi tadbir al-insa; dispositio corporum de constitutions hominis). He wrote for al-Muqtadi (caliph from 1075 to 1094) an alphabetical list of simple and compound medicines called "The Pathway of Explanation as to that which Man Uses" (Minhaj al-bayan fi ma yasta 'miluhu al-insan; methodica dispositio eorum, quibus homo uti solet).


Abu-I-Hassan Sa'id ibn Hibat Allah ibn al-Hasan. Flourished in Bagded under al-Muqtadi, caliph from 1075 to 1094, died in 1101-2. Physician and philosopher.
Author of a synopsis of medicine, Al-mughni fi tadbir al-amrad wa ma 'rifat al-'ilal wal-a'rad (Sufficiens de cura morborum et eognitione causarum et symptomarum) and of a treatise on physiology and psychology called "Discourse on the creation of Man", Maqala fi khalq al-insan (De constitutione hominis), dealing with such subjects as reproduction, gestation, parturition, growth, decay, survival of the soul, etc.


Abu Ruh Muhammad ibn Mansur ibn abi 'Abdallah ibn Mansur al-Jamani (or al-Jurjani). Zarrin Dast means the Golden Hand, a good name for an eye surgeon.

Flourished under the Saljuq sultan Abu-l-Fath Malikshah ibn Muhammad, ruling from 1072-73 to 1092-93. Persian oculist. He completed in 1087-88, a very comprehensive and very remarkable treatise on ophthalmology entitled "The Light of the Eyes" (Nur al-ayun) (in Persian).

Hirschberg: Geschichte der Augenheilkunde bei den Arabern (57 sq., Leipzig, 1905).

Adolf Fonahn: Quellenkunde der persischen Medizin (38-41, 1910. Includes summary of the treatise, based upon Hirschberg).



Based on the book 'Introduction to the History of Science' by George Sarton (provided with photos and portraits) Edited and prepared by Prof. Hamed A. Ead

The Time of Abu-l-Wafa
Second Half of Tenth Century

The period which we have just tried to analyze, and then to reconstruct, was on the whole one of comparative rest. There was no retrogression, but the advance of mankind, which had been so vigorously accelerated during the ninth century through the youthful energy of Islam, was then distinctly slowed up. It is not the first time that we thus witness a momentary quieting down of human activity; on the contrary, we have already had occasion to observe many such periods of fallow. e. g., the first half of the second century B. C., the second half of the fifth, the second half of the sixth, the second half of the seventh, the first half of the eighth. But in each case the slowing up was followed by a new acceleration.

In other words, when we study the creative activity of the mankind as a whole, we find that humanity behaves very much as an individual man would do, that period of unusual achievements are generally followed by depressions, and periods of rest and fallow by new efforts. The intellectual progress of mankind would not be correctly represented by a constantly increasing function, but rather by a sort of sinusoidal curve moving steadily upward. But how do we account for human tiredness, considering that the burden is periodically taken up by new generations? Leaving out of the question political and other external factors which must necessarily influence human energy, we may explain the periodical slowing up in two ways. In the first place, the original flame of enthusiasm, which stimulates intellectual advance, is bound to die out gradually unless new men of genius appear from time to time to keep it alive; of course, there are no means of predicting when and where such men will appear. In the second place, the very progress of knowledge is certain to fill the more conservative minds with a growing anxiety, and finally to determine an orthodox reaction. For example, in the first half of the tenth century an intellectual reaction was led, very successfully, by al-Ash'ari. Man kind does not go forward as a united body; on the contrary, each advance has to be paid a protracted struggle between those who long for more light and those who are afraid of it. The latter are far more numerous than the former, but less intelligent, and thus bound to be beaten in the end, this accounts at once for the sinusoidal advance and its upward tendency, or, in other words, for the slowness, but also for the continuity of human progress.

To come back to the second half of the tenth century, we shall see presently that it was a period of renewed activity in almost every field; the partial fallowness of the first half of the century was thus amply rewarded by more abundant crops and mankind was able to make a few more leaps forward.

Cultural background: Mohammed ibn Ahmed al-Khwarizmi wrote "The Key of the Sciences."

Muslim Mathematics and astronomy: All of the creative work was done in Islam. Muslim mathematicians were so numerous that, for the sake of clarity, I must divide them into three groups - arithmeticians, algebraists, and geometers; astronomers and trigonometricians; astrologers.

Arithmeticians, algebraists, and geometers: It is well to begin this section with a brief account of the progress of the Hindu numerals. By the middle of the tenth century a special form of them, the so called dust (ghubar) numerals, was already used in Muslim Spain. The eastern Arabic form was represented in an Egyptian grafitto, dated 960-61. Mutahhar ibn Taher wrote a number of 10 figures by their means. The earliest Latin example of these numerals is found in a manuscript written in 976 near Logrono, in the Christian part of Spain.

Abu Ja'far al-Khazin wrote commentaries on the tenth book of Euclid and other works and solved al-Mahani's cubic equation. Al-Shaghani investigated the trisection of the angle. Nazif ibn Yumn translated the tenth book of Euclid. The great astronomer Abu-l-Wafa wrote commentaries on Euclid, Diophantos, and al-Khwarizmi, arithmetical and geometrical treatises, and solved a number of geometrical and algebraical problems. Abu-l-Fath improved the Arabic translation of Apollonios's Conics and commented upon the first five books. Al-Kuhi was especially interested in the Archimedian and Apollonian problems leading up to higher equations and discovered some elegant solutions. which he discussed. Al-Sijzi worked along the same lines; he made a special study of the intersections of conics and found a geometrical means of trisecting angles. Al-Khujandi, better known as an astronomer, proved that the sum of two cubic numbers can not be a cubic number. Maslama ibn Ahmed composed a commercial arithmetic and studied an amicable number. (This would confirm that he was acquainted to the writings of the Brethren of Purity, for these were very much interested in the theory of numbers - a natural consequence of their Neoplatonic tendencies.)

Astronomical and trigonometricians: At the very beginning of this period we meet one of the best Muslim astronomers: Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi, who compiled an illustrated catalogue of stars, based upon his own observations. Ibn al-A'lam was also a famous observer and published astronomical tables. Al-Shaghani invented and constructed astronomical instruments. The Buwayhid rulers, especially Sharaf al-dawla, were deeply interested in astronomy; Sharaf built a new observatory in Bagdad. The instruments were probably made by al-Shaghani, and the great mathematician, al-Kuhi, was the leader of the astronomers.

The foremost of the astronomers employed by Sharaf was the Persian Abu-l-Wafa. It is true he was once believed to be; he did not discover the variation of the moon, but he continued in a masterly way the elaboration of trigonometry. Taken all in all, the fame of Abu-l-Wafa is more solidly based upon his mathematical than upon his astronomical contributions, but I placed him here because, in those days, trigonometry was considered a branch of astronomy.

Al-Khujandi made astronomical observations in Ray. Abu Nasr improved the Arabic text of Menelaos's Spherics and dealt with trigonometrical subjects. Maslama ibn Ahmed edited and revised al-Khwarizmi's astronomical tables, and wrote a commentary on Ptolemy's Planisphere.

Astrologers: The main astrologers were al-Qabisi in Syria and Rabi ibn Zaid in Spain; the latter was a Christian, Bishop of Cordova under al-Hakam II.

Muslim Alchemy and Technology

The earliest scientific treatise in modern Persian (hitherto the Muslim Persians had written in Arabic) happens to be one of the most chemical works written by a Muslim until that time. It is really a treatise on materia medica, but it contains abundant information upon the preparation and properties of mineral substances. It is obvious that its author; Abu Mansour Muwaffak, was unusually stepped in chemistry. More may be learned about the chemical knowledge of those days, in the Eastern Caliphate, in the encyclopaedic works dealt with in Section III.

As to the Muslim West, the medical treatise of Abu-l-Qasim contains also various items of chemical interest; it explains the preparation of drugs by sublimation and distillation. two important alchemic writings have been ascribed to Maslama ibn Ahmed, but they are possibly a little later.

Muslim Medicine

The subtitle of this section is a little misleading, for the many adjectives tend to be the fact that everything was done by the Muslims alone.

Muslim physicians were so numerous that it is necessary to divide them into groups, and the most expedient division is, this time, a regional one. Thus I shall deal successively with the physician who flourished in the Eastern Caliphate (reserving a separate place for one of them who wrote in Persian), in Egypt, in Spain, and in North Africa.

The first group is the most numerous, as we would expect it. Ahmed al-Tabari wrote a medical treatise called Hippocratic treatments. Ali ibn Abbas (Hally Abbas), who flourished a little later, was one of the greatest physicians of Islam. He compiled a medical encyclopedia, "The Royal Book", which was very valuable but superseded by Avicenna's Qanun. It contains a number of original observations, under the patronage of Adud-al-Dawla, a new hospital was established in Bagdad in 979. Al-Husain ibn Ibrahim improved the Arabic text of Dioscorides. Abu Sahl al-Masihi, who was, as his name indicates, a Christian, wrote a number of medical treatises. He shares with al-Qumri the fame of having been one of the teacher of Avicenna, the prince of mediaeval physicians. It is even possible that one of Abu Sahl's treatises gave Avicenna the first idea of composing his Qanun.

Note that all of those were Persians, but all wrote, as far as we know, in Arabic. Another Persian, Abu Masour Muwaffak, had the idea of compiling a great medical treatise in Persian. That treatise dealt with materia medica and contains a general outline of pharmacological theory. Its intrinsic value is great, but it has also a considerable extrinsic importance, because it is the oldest prose work in modern Persian.

Two distinguished physicians of that time flourished in Egypt, al-Tamimi and al-Baladi. The former is chiefly known because of his medical guide (Murshid), the latter wrote a treatise on the hygiene of pregnancy and infancy.

Medical activity in Muslim Spain, was almost of the same level as that which obtained in the Eastern Caliphate; in some respects it was even superior. One of the most distinguished of the Spanish physicians, however, was not a Muslim, but a Jew, the great Hasdia ibn Shaprut. He translated Dioscorides into Arabic with the aid of the Greek monk Nicholas. Arib ibn Sa'd wrote a treatise on gynecology, obstetrics, and pediatrics. Abu-lQasim (Abulcasis) was the greatest Muslim surgeon; he exerted a very deep influence upon he development of the European surgery down to the Renaissance. Ibn Juljul wrote a commentary on Dioscorides and added a supplement to it, and he compiled a history of the Hispano-Muslim physicians of his time.

The last Muslim country to be considered, Tunis, nutured also a great physician, Ibn al-Jazzar (Algizar), author of a medical vade-mecum which obtained considerable success throughout the Middle Ages.

Muslim Mathematics and Astronomy


Mutahhar ibn Tahir al-Maqdisi (or al-Muqaddasi), i. e., the native or inhabitant of the Holy City. From Jerusalem, flourished in Bust, Sijistan, c. 966. Encylcopaedist. Author of the book of the Creation and of History (Kitab al-bad'wal-tarikh), a summary of the knowledge of his day based not simply on Muslim, but also on Iranian and jewish sources. He quoted as a curiosity a very large number, 4,320,000,000 (representing the duration of the world in years according to the Hindus), in Hindu or Devanagari numerals.

Cl. Haurt: Leveritable auteur du Libre de la creation et de lhistoire (Journal Asiatique (9), vol. 18, 16-21, 1901. Concludind that Mutahhar was the author); Arabic literature (284, 291, London, 1903).


Alkhazin means the treasurer or the librarian. Born in Khurasan, died between 961 and 971. Mathematician, astronomer. Author of a commentary on the Tenth book of Euclid and of other mathematical and astronomical writings. He solved by means of conic sections the cubic equation which had baffled al-Mahani's efforts, the so-called al-Mahani's equation (q. v., second half of the ninth century.)

Fihrist (p. 266, 282); Suter's translation (p. 17, 39).


Nazif ibn Yumn (or Yaman?) al-Qass means the priest (particularly, the Christian priest). Flourished under the Buwayhid sultan Adud al-dawla; died c. 990.

Mathematician and translator from Greek into Arabic. He thus translated the Tenth book of Euclid.

H. Suter: Mathematiker (68, 1900).


Abu-l-Fath Mahmud ibn Mohammed ibn Qasim ibn Fadl al-Isfahani. From Ispahan, flourished probably c. 982. Persian mathematician. He gave a better Arabic edition of the Conics of Apollonios and commented on the first books.

The Conics had been translated a century before by Hilal al-Himsi (books 1-4) and Thabit ibn Qurra (books 5-7) (see second half of ninth century).

H. Suter: Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber (98, 1900).


Abu Sahl Wijan (or Waijan) ibn Rustam al-Kuhi. Of Kuh, Tabaristan, flourished in Bagdad c. 988. Mathematician, astronomer. Many mathematical and astronomical writings are ascribed to him. He was the leader of the astronomers working in 988 at the observatory built of the Buwayhid Sharaf al-dawla. He devoted his attention to those Archimedian and Apollonian problems leading to equations of a higher degree than the second; He solved some of them and discussed the conditions of solvability. These investigations are among the best of Muslim geometry.

M. Steinschnieder: Lettere intorno ad Alcuhi a D. Bald. Boncompagni (Roma, 1863). Suter: Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber (75-76, 1900).


Abu Sa'id Ahmed ibn Mohammed ibn Abd al-Jalil al-Sijzi (short for al-Sijistani). Lived from c. 951 to c. 1024. Mathematician who made a special study of the intersections of conic sections and circles. He replaced the old kinematical trisection of an angle by a purely geometric solution (intersection of a circle and an equilateral hyperbola.)

Suter: Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber (80-81, 224, 1900).


Abu-l-Husan Abd al-Rahman ibn Omar al-Fufi al-Razi. Born in Ray 903, died 986. One of the greatest Muslim astronomers. Friend and teacher of the Buwayhid sultan Adud al-dawla. His main work is the "Book of the Fixed Stars" illustrated with figures "Kitab al-kawakib al-thabita al-musawwar", one of the three masterpieces of Muslim observational astronomy (the two others being due to Ibn Yunus, first half of the eleventh century, and Ulugh Beg, first half of the fifteenth century).

Fihrist (284). Suter: Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber (62, 1900).


Abu-l-Qasim Ali ibn al-Husain al-Alawi, al-Sharif al-Hisaini. Flourished at the Buwayhid court under Adud al-dawla (q. v.,); died at Bagdad in 985. Muslim astronomer. The accuracy of his observations was praised; he compiled astronomical tables which obtained much favor during at least two centuries.

H. Suter: Die Mathematiker der Araber (62, 1900).


Abu Hamid Ahmed ibn Mohammed al-Saghani al-Asturlabi, i. e., the astrolabe maker of Saghan, near Merv, flourished in Bagdad, died 990. Mathematician, astronomer, inventor and maker of instruments. He worked in Sharaf al-dawla's observatory and, perhaps, constructed the instruments which were used there. Trisection of the angle.

Suter: Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber (p. 65, 1900).


Abu-l-Wafa Mohammed ibn Mohammed ibn Yahya ibn Isma'il ibn al-Abbas al-Buzjani. Born in Buzjan, Quhistan, in 940, flourished in Bagdad, where he died at 997 or 998. Astronomer and one of the greatest Muslim mathematicians. One of the last Arabic translators and commentators of Greek works. He wrote commentaries on Euclid, Diophantos, and al-Khwarizimi (all lost); astronomical tables (zij al-wadih) of which we have possibly a later adaptation; a practical arithmetic; "the complete book" (Kitab al-kamil), probably a simplified version of the Almagest. The book of applied geometry (Kitab al handasa) is probably in its present form, the work of a disciple.
His astronomical knowledge was hardly superior to Ptolemy's. He did not discover the variation, the third inequality of the moon. He simply spoke of the second eviction, the Ptolematic, essentially different from the variation discovered by Tycho Brahe.
Solution of the geometrical problems with one opening of the compass. Construction of a square equivalent to other squares. Regular polyhedra (based on Pappos).

Approximative construction of regular heptagon (taking for its side half the side of the equilateral triangle inscribed in the same circle). Constructions of parabola by points. Geometrical solution of

x4 = a and x4 + ax4 = b.

Abu-l-Wafa contributed considerably to the development of trigonometry. He was probably the first to show the generality of the sine theorem relative to spherical triangles. He gave a new method for constructing sine tables, the value of sin 30` being correct to the eighth decimal place. He knew relations equivalent to ours for sin (a + b) (though in an awkward form) and to

2sin2a/2 = 1 - cos a sin a = 2 sin a/2 cos a/2.

He made a special study of the tangent; calculated a table of tangents; introduced the secant and cosecant; knew those simple relations between the sic trigonometric lines, which are now often used to define them.

Fihrist (I, 266, 283, Suter's translation, p. 39).


Abu Muhamid Hamid ibn al-Khidr al-Khujandi. Of Khujanda, on the jax artes, or Sir Daria, Transoxania, died c. 1000. Astronomer, mathematicain. He made astronomical observations, including a determination of the obliquity of the ecliptic, in Ray in 994. He proved (impefectly) that the sum of two cubic numbers cannot be a cubic number> He may be the discoverer of the sine theorem relative to spherical triangles.
Suter : Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber (74, 213, 1900).


Abu Nasr Mansur ibn Ali ibn Iraq. Teacher of al-Bairuni; still active in 1007. Muslim mathematician and astronomer; one of three to whom the discovery of the sine theorem relative to spherical triangles is ascribed. He gave in 1007-8 an improved edition of Menelaos's Spherica. Various other writings on trigonometry are ascribed to him.
H. Suter : Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber (81, 255, Leipzig, 1900).


Abu-l-Qasim Maslam ibn Ahmed al-Majriti. Of Madrid, flourished in Cordova, died in or before 1007. Astronomer, mathematician, occulist. The earliest Hispano-Muslim scientist of any importance. He edited and corrected the astronomical tables of al-Khwarizmi, replacing the Persian by the Arabic chronology. He wrote a treatise on the astrolabe (translated into Latin by Joan. Hispalensis); a commentary on Ptolemy's Planisphaerium translated by Rudolph of Bruges (q. v., first half of twelfth century); a commercial arithmetic (al-mu'amalat); a book on the generation of animals (?). He may have introduced into Spain the writings of the Prethren Purity, or else this was done later by one of his disciples, al-Karmani. He spoke of the erotic power of amicable numbers (220, 284). Two alchemic writings, the "Sage's step" (Rutbat al-hakim) and the "Aim of the Wise", (Ghayat al-hakim), are ascribed to him. The second is well known in the Latin translation made in 1252 by order of King Alfonso under the title Picatrix; the original Arabic text dates probably from the middle of the eleventh century.

Ibn Khaldun: Prolegmenes. F. Wustenfeld: Geschichte der arabischen Aerzte (61, 1840).


Abu-l-Saqr Abd al-Aziz ibn Uthman ibn Ali al-Qabisi. Pupil of al-Imrani (q. v. , first half of tenth century) in Mosul; after the latter's death in 955-56 he was patronized by the Hamdanid sultan Sayf al-dawla, who died in 966-67. Famous Muslim astrologer. His main writings are his introduction to the art of astrology (al-madkhal ila sina'at (ahkam) al-nujum) and treatise on the conjunctions of planets; both were translated into Latin by Joannes Hispalensis (first half of twelfth century). He, or his patron Sayf al-dawla, wrote a poem on the rainbow.

H. Suter : Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber (60, 1900; Nachtrag, 165, 1902).


Rabi ibn Zaid al-Usquf. Meaning the bishop (from the Greek). He was Bishop of Cordova and Elvira under al-Hakam II. Flourished at Cordova c. 961. Spanish Christian writing n Arabic. He coposed various astronological treatises and dedicated to Hakam II a calendar (Kitab al-anwa', liber anoe) entitled "The Division of times and the Good of bodies."

Suter : Mathematiker (96, 212, 1900).

Muslim Medicine


Abu-l-Hasan Ahmed ibn Mohammed al-Tabari. Of Tabaristan; was physician to the Buwwayhid Rukn al-dawla, c. 970. Persian Physician. Author of compendium of medicine, called Hippocratic treatments, in ten books. Was it written in Persian or in Arabic? It is extant only in Arabic, Kitab al-mu'alaja al-buqratiya.

F. Wustenfeld: Arabschen Aerzte (56, 1840).


Ali ibn Abbas al-Majusi, that is, the Magian, which means that he, or his father was of the Zoroastrian faith. Latin name: Ali Abbas or Hall Abbas. Born in Ahwaz, southwestern Persia; flourished under thw Buwayhid Adud al-dawla; died in 994. One of the three greatest physicians of the Eastern Caliphate. He wrote for Adud aldawla a medical encyclopedia called "the Royal Book" (Kitab al-Maliki, Liber regius, regalis dispositio; also called Kamil al-sana 'a al-tibbiya), which is more systematic and consice than Razi's Hawi, but more practical than Avicenna'a Qanun, by which it was superseded. The Maliki is divided into 20 discourses, of which the first half deal with theory and the other with the practice of medicine. the best parts of it are those devoted to dietetics and to materia medica. Rudimentary conception of the capillary system. Interesting clinical observations. Proof of the motions of the womb during parturition (the child does not come out; it is pushed out).

Wustenfeld: Geschichte der arabischen Aerzte (59, 1840).


Al Husain ibn Ibrahim ibn al-Hasan ibn Khurshid al-Tabari al-Natili. Flourished c. 900-91. Translator from Greek into Arabic. He dedicated, in 990-91, an improved translation of Dioscorides to the Prince Abu Ali al-Samjuri.

C. Brockelmann: Arabische Litteratur (189, 207).


Abu Masur al-Hasan ibn Nuh al-Qumri. From Qum in Jibal. Flourished probably at Bagdad, about the end of the tenth century, and the begining of the eleventh. Muslim Physician. Teacher of Avicenna. He wrote a treatise on medicine, largely based upon al-Razi, called the book of life and death (Kitab Ghina wa mana'), divided into three parts (internal diseases, external diseases, fevers).

C. Brockelmann: Arabische Litteratur (vol. 1, 239, 1808).


Abu Sahl Isa ibn Yahya al-Masihi al-Jurjani, i. e., the Christian, from Jurjan, east of the Caspian Sea; died at the age of fourty in 999-1000. Christian physician writing in Arabic. Teacher of Avicenna. He wrote an encyclopaedic treatise on medicine in a hundred chapters (al-Kutub al-mi'a fi-l-sana'a al-tibbiya), which is one of the earliest Arabic works of its kind and may have been in some respects the model of the Qanun. He wrote a various smaller treatises: on measles, on the plague, on the pulse, demonstration of God's wisdom as evidenced in the creation of man, etc.

C. Brockelmann: Arabische Litteratur (vol. 1, 138, 1898).


Abu Mansur Muwaffak ibn Ali al-Harawi. Flourished in Herat under the Samanid prince Mansur I ibn Nuh, who ruled from 961 to 976. Persian pharmacologist. He was apparently the first to think of compiling a treatise on materia medica in Persian; he travelled extensively in Persia and India to obtain necessary information. He wrote between 968 and 977, the "Book of the Remedies" (Kitab al-abnyia 'an Haqa'iq al-adwiya), which is the oldest pose work in modern Persian. It deals with 585 remedies (of which 466 are derived from plants, 75 from minerals, 44 from animals), classified into four groups according to their action. Outline of a general pharmacological theory. Abu mansur distinguished between sodium carbonate (natrun) and potassium carbonate (qli); he had some knowledge abot arsenious oxide, cupric oxide, silicic acid, antimony; he knew the toxilogical effects of copper and lead compounds, the depilatory vertue of quicklime, the composition of plaster of Paris and its surgical use.

E. G. Browne: Arabian Medicine (92, Cambridge, 1921).


Abu Abdallah Muhammed ibn Ahmed ibn Sa'id al-Tamimi al-Muqaddasi (meaning, the native or the inhabitant of the Holly City). Born in Jerusalen; he moved, c. 970, to Egypt and was still living there in 980. Palastinian physician. He made pharmaceutical experiments and wrote various medical works, chiefly on materia medica. His main work is a guide (Murshid) on materia medica, which contains valuable information on plants, minerals, etc. Kitab al-murshid ila jawahir al-aghdhiya wa quwa-lmufradat; guide toward (the understanding of) the substances of food-stuffs and (of) the simple drugs.

C. Brockelmann: Arabische Litteratur (vol. 1, 237, 1898).


Ahmed ibn Mohammed ibn Yahya al-Baladi. Flourished in Egypt under the Wazir Ya'qub ibn Kils, who died in 990-91. Egyptian physician. Author of a treatise on the hygiene of pregnant women and the babies (Kitab Tadbir al-habala wal-atfal).

C. Brockelmann: Arabische Litteratur (vol. 1, 237, 1898).


Alias shaprut, Shafrut, Bashrut, Shaprot. Abu Yusuf Isaac ibn Izra. Born c. 915 at Jaen, Andalus; flourished at Cordova at the court of Abd al-Rahman III; died in 970 or 990 at Cordova. Hispano-Jewish physician, translator of Greek into Arabic, Patron of science. Physician to the caliph. He discovered a panacea called al-faruq (the best).

A manuscript of Dioscorides having been presented in 948-49 to Abd al-Rahman III by the emperor Constantinos VII, Hasdai undertook to translate it with the assistance of the Greek monk Nicholas. This monk had been sent to Cordova by the emperor upon the caliph's request, in 951.

He wrote a Hebrew letter to the King of the Khazars discribing Andalus. He was a great patron of jewish science and it was partly due to his initiative and activity that the intellectual center of Israel was finally transfered from academies of Babylonia to Spain.

Article by Rabbi Meyer Kayserling in Jewish encyclopaedia, vol. 6, 248, 1904.


Arib ibn Sa'd al-Khatib (the secretary) al-Qurtubi. Flourished at Cordova at the court of Abd al-Rahman IIi and al-Hakim II, who died in 976. Hispano-Mislim historian and physician. Originally Christian. He wrote a chronicle of Muslim Spain and Afric some time between 961-976. This chronicle was extensively used by Ibn al-Idhari (q. v., second half of thirteenth century). He wrote also a treatise on gynaecology, hygiene of pregnant women and infants, and on obstetric (Khalq al-janin, Creation of the embryo, in 964-65), and a calender (Kitab al-anwa').

C. Brockelmann: Arabische Litteratur (vol. 1, 236, 1898).


Latin names: Abulcasis, Albucasis, Alsaharavius. Khalaf ibn Abbas al-Zahrawi, from Zahra, near Cordova, where he flourished and died c. 1013. The greatest Muslim surgeon. Physician to al-Hakam II (961 to 976). His great medical encyclopedia in 30 sections, al-Tasrif (Vade-mecum) contains interesting methods of preparing drugs by sublimation and distillation. but its most important part is the surgical, in three books, largely based upon Paulos Aegineta. Great importance attached to cauterization and styptics. Parts of the surgery are devoted to obstetrics and to the surgical treatment of the eyes, ears, and teeth. This work was illustrated with views of the surgical instruments. It was early translated into Latin (by Gherardo Cremonese), Provencal and Hebrew. Muslim prejudices against surgery stifled Abu-l-Qasim's fame in Islam, but in the Christian world his prestigue was soon immense.

Wustenfled: Geschichte der Arabischen Aerschen (p. 85, 1840).


Abu Da'ud Suliman ibn Hasan ibn Juljul. Physician to the Spanish Umayyad Hisham II, Mu'aiyad billah, caliph from 976 to 1009. Hispano-Muslim physician. He wrote, at Cordova, in 982, a commentary on Dioscorides, and later a supplement to it, and a history of the physicians and philosophers of his time in Spain (Ta'rikh al-atibba wal-falasifa), often quoted by Ibn abi Usaibi'a (q. v., first half of the thirteenth century).

The aim of the commentary was to determine the drugs dealt with by Dioscorides; the supplement was a list of drugs not mentioned by Dioscorides. As to the origin of these Dioscoridian studies, see my notes on Hasidai ibn Shaprut. It would seem that Ibn Juljul and others assisted in the translation of Dioscorides into Arabic.

C. Brockelmann: Arabische Litteratur (t. 1, 237, 1898).


In Latin: Algizar, AlJazirah. Abu Ja'far Ahmed ibn Ibrahim Ibn Abi Khalid Ibn alJazzar. Flourished in Qairawan, Tunis, died in 1009, being more than 80 years old. Physician. Pupil of Ishaq al-Isra'ili (q. v., first half of the tenth century). Of his many writings, the most important because of its enormous popularity, was his "Traveller's Provision" (Zad al-Musafir) which was translated into Latin by Constantinus Africanus, into Greek by Synesios, and into Hebrew - the titles of these translations being: Viaticum pergrinantis; Zedat al-Derachim. It contains remarkable descriptions of smallpox and measles. He wrote also on the coryza, on the cuases of plague in Egypt, etc.

C. Brockelmann: Arabische Litteratur (vol. 1, 238, 1898).



Based on the book Introduction to the History of Science by George Sarton (provided with photos and portraits)Edited and prepared by Prof. Hamed A. Ead

The Time of Al-Mas'udi
First Half of Tenth Century

The overwhelming superiority of Muslim culture continued to be felt throughout the tenth century. Indeed, it was felt more strongly than over, not only the foremost men of science were Muslims, but also because cultural influences are essentially cumulative. By the beginning, or at any rate by the middle of the century, the excellence of muslim science was already so well established, even in the West, that each new arabic work benefited to some extent by the prestige pertaining to all. To be sure, other languages, such as Latin, Greek, or Hebrew were also used by scholars, but the works written in those languages contained nothing new, and in the field of science, as in any other, when one ceases to go forward, one already begins to go backward. All the new discoveries and the new thoughts were published in arabic. strangely enough, the language of the Qur'an had thus become the international vehicle of scientific progress.

The development of Muslim culture was fostere in Spain by the eighth Umayyad caliph of the west, Abd al-Rahman II, the advances of Muslim science continued to take place almost extensively in the east.

Muslim Mathematics and Astronomy

Practically all the writings of this period were arabic. Let us consider these Arabic writings first. The mathematical production of this period was less abundant and on whole less brilliant than that of the previous one, but it was, for the first time exclusively Muslim, and there were at least two very distinguished mathematicians, Abu Kamil and Ibrahim ibn Sinan. Ibn al-Adami and Ibn Amajur compiled astronomical tables; the latter was said to be one of the best Muslim observers; he made a number of observations between 885 and 933, being aided by his son Ali and a slave called Moflih. Abu Kamil perfected al-Khwarizmi's algebra; he made a special study of the pentagon and decagon and of the addition and subtraction of radicals; he could determine and construct the two (real) roots of a quadratic equation. Abu Othman translated Book X of Euclid, together with Pappos's commentary upon it. Al-Balkhi and the physician Sinan ibn Thabit wrote various treatises on mathematical, astronomical, and astrological subjects. Al-Hamdani compiled astronomical tables for Yemen, and his great work on archaeology of his country contains much information on the scientific views of the early Arabs. Ibrahim ibn Sinan was primarily a geometer; he wrote commentaries on Apollonios and on Almagest and his determination of the area of a parabola was one of the greatest achievements of Muslim mathematics. Al-Imrani wrote astrological treatise and a commentary on Abu Kamil's algebra.

Muslim Physics and Alchemy

Ibn Wahshiya who will be dealt with more fully below, was primarily an alchemist and an occultist. His works do not seem to have any chemical importance, but they may help to understand alchemical symbolism.

Muslim Medicine

The newer medical ideas were, all of them, published in Arabic, but not necessarily by Muslims. The greatest physician of the age was a Jew, Ishaq al-Isra'ili (Isaac Judaeus). We owe him, for instance, the main mediaeval treatise on urine.
Two of the Muslim mathematicians dealt with above, Abu Othman and Sinan ibn Thabit, became famous as organizers of hospitals; Sinan took pains to raise the scientific standards of the medical profession; Abu Othman translated Galenic writings into Arabic.

Muslim Mathematicians


Mohammed ibnal-Husain ibn Hamid. Flourished at the end of the ninth century or the beginning of the tenth. Muslim astronomer. He compiled astronomical tables which were completed after his death by his pupil al-Qasim ibn Mohammed ibn Hisham al-Madani. They appeared in 920-21 under the title Nazm al-iqd (Arrangement of the Pearl Necklace"), together with a theoretical introduction (lost!).

H. Suter: Mathematiker (44, 1920).


Abul-Qasim Abdallah Ibn Amajur (or Majur?) al-Turki. He originated from Fargana, Turkestan, and flourished c. 885-933. Muslim astronomer. One of the greatest observers among the Muslims. He made many observations between 885 and 933, together with his son Abu-Hasan Ali and emancipated slave of the latter, named Muflih. Father and son are often called Banu Amajur. Some of their observations are recorded by Ibn Yunus. Together they produced many astronomical tables: the Pure (alkhalis), the Girdled (al-Muzannar), the Wonderful (al-badi), tables of Mars according to Persian chronology, etc.

H. Suter: Mathematiker (49, 211, 1900; 165, 1902).


Abu Kamil Shuja ibn Aslam ibn Mohammed ibn Shuja al-hasib al-Misri, i. e., the Egyptian calculator. He originated from Egypt and flourished after al-Khwarizmi, he died c. 850, and before al-Imrani, who died 955. We place him tentatively about the beginning of the tenth century. Mathematician. He perfected al-Khawarizimi's work on algebra. Determination and construction of both roots of quadratic equations. Multiplication and division of algebraic quantities. Addition and subtraction of radicals (corresponding to our formula

(a) + (b) = [ a + b + (2ab) ] ).

Study of the pentagon and decagon (algebraic treatment). His work was largely used by al-Kakhi and Leonardo de Pisa.

H. Suter: Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber (43, 1900; Nachtrage, 164, 1902).


Abu Othman Sa'id ibn Ya'qub al-Dimashqi, (i. e., the Damascene). Flourished at Bagdad under al-Muqtadir, Khalifa from 908 to 932. Muslim physician and mathematician. He translated into Arabic works of Aristotle, Euclid, Galen (on temperaments and on the pulse), and porphyry. His most important translation was that of Book X of Euclid, together with Pappos's commentary on it which is extant only in Arabic. The supervision of hospitals in Bagdad, Mekka, and Medina was intrusted to him in 915.

L. Leclerc: Medicine arabe (vol. 1, 374, 1876. Only a few lines). H. Suter: Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber (49, 211, 1900).


Abu Zaid Ahmed ibn Sahl al-Balkhi. Born in Shamistiyan, province of Balkh, died in 934. Geographer, mathematician. A member of the Imamiya sect; disciple of al-Kindi. Of the many books ascribed to him in the Fihrist, I quote: the excellency of mathematics; on certitude in astrology. His "Figures of the Climates" (Suwar al-aqalim) consisted chiefly of geographical maps.

The "Book of the Creation and History" formerly ascribed to him was really written in 966 by Mutahhar ibn Tahir al-Maqdisi (q. v., next chapter).

M. J. de Goeje: Die Istakhri-Balkhi Frage (Z. d. deutschen morgenl. Ges., vol. 25, 42-58, 1871). H. Suter: Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber (211, 1900).


Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Sinan ibn Thabit ibn Qurra. Born in 908-9, died in 946. Grandson of Thabit ibn Qurra (q. v. second half of ninth century); his father Sinan, who embraced Islam and died in 943, was also a distinguished astronomer and mathematician (see medical section below). Muslim mathematician and astronomer. He wrote commentaries on the first book of "Conics" and on the "Almagest", and many papers on geometrical and astronomical subjects (for example, on sundials). His Quadrature of the parabola was much simpler than that of Archimedes, in fact the simplest ever made before the invention of the integral calculus.

H. Suter: Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber (53, 1900).


Ali ibn Ahmed al-Imrani. Born at Mosul in Upper Mesopotamia; he flourished there and died in 955056. Muslim mathematician and astrologer. He wrote a commentary on Abu Kamil's algebra and various astrological treatises. One of these, on the choosing of (Auspicious) days, was translated by Savasodra at Barcelona in 1131 or 1134 (De electiobus) (q. v. first half of twelfth century).

H. Suter: Mathematiker (56, 1900; 165, 1902).

Muslim Agriculture


Abu Bakr Ahmed (or Mohammed) ibn Ali ibn al-Wahshiya al-Kaldani or al-Nabati. Born in Iraq of a Nabataean family, flourished about the end of the third century H., i. e., before 912. Alchemist. Author of alchemistic and occult writings (quoted in the Fihrist). He wrote c. 904 the so-called "Nabataean agriculture" (Kitab al-falaha al-nabatiya), an alleged translation from ancient Babylonain sources, the purpose of which was to extol the Babylonian-Aramean-Syrian civilization (or more simply the "old" civilization before the hegira) against that of the conquering Arabs. It contains valuable information on agriculture and superstitions.

Fihrist (311-312, 358).

Arabic Medicine


Isaac Judaeus. Isaac Israeli the elder. (Not to be mistaken for the Spanish astronomer Isaac Israeli the younger; q. v., first half of fourteenth century.) Isaac ibn Solomon. Abu Ya'qub Ishaq ibn Sulaiman al-Isra'ili. Born in Egypt; flourished in Qairawan, Tunis, where he died, a centenarian, about the middle of the tenth century (c. 932?). Jewish physician and philosopher. One of the first to direct the attention of the jews to Greek science and philosophy. Physician to the Fatimid caliph "Ubaid Allah al-Mahdi" (909 to 934), he composed at his request many medical writings in Arabic. Translated into Latin in 1087 by Constantine the African, Into Hebrew, and into Spanish, their influence was very great. The main medical writings are: on fevers (Kitab al-Hummayat); the book of simple drugs and nutriments (Kitab al-adwiya al-mufrada wal-aghdhiya; diaetae universales et particulares); on urine (Kitab al-Baul, by far the most elaborate mediaeval treatise on the subject); on deontology, the "Guide of the physician" (lost in Arabic, extant in Hebrew under the title of Manhag (or Musarha-rofe'im). He wrote also a medico-philosophical treatise on the elements (Kitab al-istiqsat), and another on definitions. Isaac was the earliest jewish philosopher (or one of the earliest) to publish a classification of the sciences. This was essentially the Aristotelian one as transmitted and modified by the Muslims.

Wustenfeld: Geschichte der arabischen Aerzte (51-52, 1840).



Based on the book Introduction to the History of Science by George Sarton (provided with photos and portraits)Edited and prepared by Prof. Hamed A. Ead

The Time of Al-Razi
Second Half of Ninth Century

The whole ninth century was essentially a Muslim century. This more clear in the second half than of the first, since all the scientific leaders were Muslims, or at any rate were working with and for Muslims and wrote in Arabic.

Cultural Background

Abbasid Caliph Al-Mutawakkil (847-861) continued to protect men of science, chiefly the physicians, and he encouraged the school of translators headed by Hunain ibn Ishaq.

Da ud al-Zahiri founded a new school of theology, based upon a more literal interpretation of the Qur'an; however, did not survive very long. Muslim published a new collection of traditions, arranged according to legal topics, like Bukhari's, but more theoretical.

The Egyptian Dhul-Nun is generally considered the founder of Sufism, that is, of Muslim mysticism.

Arabic Mathematics and Astronomy

There were so many mathematical and astronomers in Islam that is necessary to divide them into four groups as he did before: geometers; arithmeticians; astronomers and trigometricians; astrologers.

Geometers: Al-Mahani wrote commentaries on Euclid and Archimedes, and tried to vain and divide a sphere into two segments, being in a given ratio. Archimedian problem became a classical Muslim problem; it led to a cubic equation which was called al-Mahani's equation. Hilal al-Himsi translated the first four books of Apolloinos into Arabic. Ahmed ibn Yusuf wrote a book on proportions which are of special importance, because through it Western mathematicians became acquainted with the theorem of Menelaos. Al-Nairizi wrote commentaries on Ptolemy and Euclid. Thabit ibn Qurra made very remarkable measurements of parabolas and paraboids, but is best known as the leader of a school of translators which produced Arabic versions of some of the mathematical classics: Euclid, Archimedes, Apollonios, Theodosios, Ptolemy, Thabit himself was the foremost translator and revised some of the translations made by others. The two most important translators of his school, outside of himself, were Yusuf al-Khuri and Ishaq ibn Hunain. A comparison of this brief account with the similar section in the previous chapter will show that much progress had already been made in geometry since the beginning of the century.

Arithmeticians: I mentioned in the previous chapter the writings of al-Kindi and al-Khwarizmi were in probability the main channels through which the Hindu numerals known in Islam and later in the West. The earliest Muslim documents bearing such numerals date from 874 and 888. The propagation of these numerals may have been accelerated by the fact that the Muslim trade was exceedingly active in those very days and reached every part of the world.

Thabit ibn Qurra developed the theory of amicable numbers. Qusta ibn Luqa translated Diophantos.

Astronomers and Trigonometricians: Al-Mahani made a series of astronomical observations from 855 to 866. Al-Nairizi compiled astronomical tables and wrote an elaborate treatise on the spherical astrolabe; he made systemic use of the tangent. Hamid ibn Ali became famous as a constructor of astrolabes. Thabit ibn Qurra published solar observations; he tried to improve the Ptolematic theory in planetary motions by the addition of a ninth sphere to account for the (imaginary) trepidation of the equinoxes. Qusta ibn Luqa wrote a treatise on the spherical astrolabes. Jabir ibn Sinan, of whom we know nothing, but who may have been al-Battani's father, constructed astronomical instruments, notably a spherical astrolabe.

The greatest astronomer of the age and one of the greatest of Islam was al-Battani (Albategnius). He made a number of observations from 877, on, compiled a catalogue of stars for the year 880, determined various astronomical coefficients with great accuracy, discovered the motion of the solar apsides, and made an elaborate astronomical treatise which remained authoritative until the Sixteen Century. That treatise included naturally a trigonometical summary wherein not only sines, but tangents and cotangents, are regularly used. It contains a table of contangents by degrees and theorem equivalent to our formula giving the cosine of a side of a spherical triangle in function of the cosine of the opposite angle and of the sines and cosines of the other side.

Astrologers: The most famous astrologers were Abu Bakr (Albubather), Ahmed ibn Yusuf, and Ibn Qutaiba.

The whole mathematical and astronomical work was far more original than in the first half of the century and on a relatively high level. It is true, Thabit ibn Qurra introduced an unfortunate error of which a great many later astronomers (including Copernicus!) remained prisoners, but original research always implies the possibility of error. Thabit's error was no discreditable. The elaboration of trigonometry was continued with great skill and originality. Much attention was paid to astronomical instruments and especially to a new one, the spherical astrolabe, al-Battani's masterly work was a fitting climax to this wonderful activity.

Muslim Alchemy and Physics

Al-Jahiz seems to have some chemical knowledge, for instance, he knew how to obtain ammonia from animal offals by dry distillation, but it would be absurd to call him a chemist. On the other hand, the great physician Al-Rhazi was undoubtedly a genuine chemist: he wrote various chemical treatises, described a number of chemical instruments, attempted to classify mineral substances, and even tried to apply his chemical knowledge to medical purposes. He may be considered a distant ancestor of the iatrochemists of the Sixteenth Century. He was also a physicist; he used the hydrostatic balance to make investigations on specific gravity. The mathematician al-Nairizi wrote a treatise on atmospheric phenomena.

Muslim Biology: The Muslims had little interest in natural history; they were certainly not tempted to study it for its own sake, but many of their current views on biological subjects may be found in their literary and historical compilations. The most remarkable example is "The Book of Plants" composed by the historian al-Dinawari. The purpose of that book was primarily philological, but contains much valuable information for the historian of botany. Al-Jahiz's "Book of Animals" is also a mine of information though most of it is folkloric rather than zoological.

Muslim Medicine

So much medical work was accomplished in Islam that is expedient to divide the physicians into two groups: those who were primarily practitioners and those who were primarily scholars and those who were engaged in translating the Greek medical classics into Syriac and Arabic. Of course, those of the second group were, all of them were for foreigners, non Muslims,; but even in the first group, one-half of the physicians was christians. thus the activity was christian rather than Muslim, but we must not forget that by far the greatest of all of them, al-Razi, was a Muslim.
The Persian al-Razi was simply the greatest clinician of Islam and of the whole middle ages; he was also, as we have seen, a chemist and physicist. It would be difficult to choose between him and his contemporary al-Battani: both were very great scientist who would have been conspicuous in any age. I decide to call this period "The Time of al-Razi" because the physician is known to the larger public than the astronomer, and also because his influence can be traced more directly throughout many centuries of human effort, East and West. I have already remarked that al-Razi might be considered to be one of the forerunners of the iatrochemists of the Renaissance. He wrote an immense medical encyclopaedia called Al-hawi ("Continens") and a monograph on measles and smallpox which is the masterpiece of Muslim medicine. Ya'qub ibn akhi Hizam was the author of a treatise on horsemanship, which contains some rudiments of veterinary art, the earliest work of its kind in Arabic.

The greatest of the translators was Hunain ibn Ishaq (Joannitius). He collected great medical manuscripts, translated many of them, supervised the activities of other scholars, and revised their translations. His role as regard to medical literature was very similar to that of Thabit ibn Qurra with regard to the mathematical and astronomical texts. The school of nestorian translators beaded by Hunain must have been quite considerable, for between them they managed to translate the greatest part of the Hippocratic and Galenic writings into Syriac and into Arabic. Hunain wrote also original works, notably a treatise on ophthalmology and the introduction to Galen's Ars parva which was immensely medical writings: Hunain's son Ishaq, Hubaish ibn al-Hassan, Isa ibn Yahia, Stephen son of Basil, Musa ibn Khalid, Thabit ibn Qurra, Yusuf al-Khuri. Hunain was a very great man, but he was more of a scholar than a scientist proper and his activity, which already had begun in the middle of the previous period, ended in the middle of this one; in other words al-Razi and al-Battani were one generation ahead of him. The time of Hunain, extending from 826 to 877, falls just between that of al-Khawarizimi and that of al-Razi.


Abu Abdallah Mohammed ibn Isa al-Mahani, that is, from Mahana, Kirman, Persia. Flourished c. 860, died c. 874 to 884. Mathematician, astronomer. A series of observations of lunar and solar eclipses and planetary conjunctions, made by him from 853 to 866, was used by Ibn Yunus. He wrote commentaries on Euclid and Archimedes, and improved Ishaq ibn Hunain's translation of Menelaos's spherics. He tried vainly to solve an Archimedian problem: to divide a sphere by means of a plane into two segments being in a given ratio. That problem led to a cubic equation, x3 + c2b = cx2, which Muslim writers called al-Mahani's equation.

H. Suter: Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber (26, 1900. His failure to solve the Archimedian problem is quoted by 'Omar al-Khayyami'). See Fr. Woepcke: L'algebra d'Omar Alkhayyami (2, 96 sq., Paris, 1851).


Abu Ja'far Ahmed ibn Yusuf ibn Ibrahim al-Daya al Misri, i.e., the Egyptian. Flourished in Egypt in the second half and died about the Third Century H., c. 912. Mathematician. Secretary of the Tulunids, who ruled in Egypt from 868 to 905. He wrote a book on similar arcs (De Similibus arcubus), commentary on Ptolemy's Centiloquium, and a book on proportions ("De proportione et Proportionalitate"). The latter book is important because it influenced mediaeval thought through Leonardo de Pisa and Jordanus Nemorarius (theorem of Menelaos about the triangle cut by a transversal; al-qatta, sector; hence figura cata, regula catta).
M. Cantor: Ahmed und sein Buch Uber die Proportionen (Bibliotheca Mathematica, 7-9, 1888).


Latin name: Anaritius. Abu-l-Abbas al-Fadl ibn Hatim al-Nairizi (i.e., from Nairiz, near Shiraz). Flourished under al-Mu'tadid, Caliph from 892 to 902, died c. 922. Astronomer, Mathematician. He compiled astronomical tables and wrote for al-Mu'tadid a book on atmospheric phenomena, He wrote commentaries on Ptolemy and Euclid. The latter were translated by Gherardo da Cermona. Al-Nairizi used the so-called umbra (versa), the equivalent to the tangent, as a genuine trigonometric line (but he was anticipated in this by Habash, q. v., first half of ninth century). He wrote a treatise on he spherical astrolabe, which is very elaborate and seems to be the best Arabic work on the subject. It is divided into four books: (1) Historical and critical introduction; (2) Description of the spherical astrolabe; its superiority over plane astrolabes and all other astronomical instruments; (3 and 4) Applications.

H. Suter: Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber (45, 1900); Nachtrage (164, 1902).


Abu Hassan Thabit ibn Qurra Marawan al-Harrani, that is, from Harran, Mesopotamia, born 826-27 (or 835-36), flourished in Bagdad, died in 901. Harranian physician, astronomer, mathematician. one of the greatest translators from Greek and Syriac into Arabic; the founder of a school of translators, in which many of his own family we remembers. apollonios (Books 5 to 7), Archimedes, Euclid, Theodosios, Ptolemy (geography), Galen, Eutocios were translated by him or under his direction, or translations made by others (e.g., Ishaq ibn Hunain) were revised by him. He published solar observations, explaining his methods. to the eight Ptolemaic spheres he added a ninth one (primum mobile) to account for the imaginary trepidation of the equinoxes (he is chiefly responsible for the introduction of this erroneous theory). His mensurations of parabolas and paraboloids are very remarkable. He improved the theory of amicable numbers (if p = 3.2n - 1; q = 3.2n-1-1; r = 9.22n-1-1; and if p, q, and r are prime together, 2npq and 2nr are amicable numbers). Many mathematical, astronomical, also anatomical and medical, writings are ascribed to him (most of them in Arabic, some in Syriac).

Fihrist (272, and comment. by index). F. Wustenfled: Geschichte der arabischen Aerzte (34-36, 1840. Followed by notices on other members of the same family).


Joseph the Priest. Also called Yusuf al-Qass (same meaning) or al-Sahir (the vigilant). He was still living under the caliphate of al-Muqtafi (902 to 908). Physician and mathematician. Translator from Syriac into Arabic. He translated Archimedes's lost work on the triangles and Galen's "De simlicium temperamentis et facultatibus." That the first translation was revised by Sinan ibn Thabit ibn Qurra (q. v., first half of first century), the second by Ishaq.

H. Suter: Die Mathematiker der Araber (52, 224, 1900). Max Meyerhof: NewLight on Hunain ibn Ishaq (Isis, VIII, 704, 1926).


Abu-l-Rabi Hamid ibn Ali al-Wasiti. From Waist in Lower Mesopotamia. Flourished in the ninth century, probably toward the end. Muslim astronomer. According to Ibn Yunus, Ali ibn Isa and Hamid were the foremost constructors of astrolabes. Ibn Yunus compares them to Ptolemy and Galen! This proves the importance which Muslims attached to good instruments.

H. Suter: Mathematiker (40, 1900).



Flourished at Jundishapur. Died Dec. 3, 860. Christian physician. He wrote an antidotary (Aqrabadhin), divided into 22 books, which was possibly the earliest of its kind to influence Muslim medicine, and other medical works. This antidotary enjoyed much popularity until it was superseded Ibn al-Tilmidh's new one (q. v., first half of twelfth century).

F. Wustenfled: arabische Aerzte (25, 1840).


Separion the elder. Yahya ibn Sarafyun. Flourished in Damascus in the second half of the ninth century. Christian physician who wrote in Syriac two medical compilations (Kunnash, pandects), one in 12 books, the other in 7 books. the latter was translated into Arabic by various writers and into Latin by Gherardo da Cermona (Practica sive breviarium). It was very popular during the middle ages. Its last book deals with antidotes. Ibn Srarfyun attached great importance to venesection and gave subtle prescriptions concerning the choice of the veins to be opened.

Fihrist (29; 303,1. 3; and comm. 296, note 1). Wustenfeld: Geschichte der arabischen Aerzte (49, 1840).


In Latin: Rhazes. Abu Bakr Mohammed ibn Zakaria al Razi. Born in Ray, near Tehran, Persia, about the middle of the ninth century. Flourished in Ray and in Bagdad. died 923-24. Physician, physicist, alchemist. The greatest clinician of Islam and middle ages. Galenic in theory, he combined with his immense learning true Hippocratic wisdom. His chemical knowledge was applied by him to medicine; he might be considered an ancestor of the iatrochemists. Of his many writings, the most important are the "Kitab al Hawi" (Continens), an enormous encyclopaedia containing many extracts from Greek and Hindu authors and also observations of his own; the "Kitab al Mansuri" (Liber Almansoris), a smaller compilation in ten books based largely on Greek science, and finally his famous monograph on smallpox and measles "Kitab al-jadari wal-hasba" (De variolis et morbiliis; de peste, de pestilentia), the oldest description of variola and the masterpiece of Muslim medicine. many contributions to gynaecology, obstetrics, and ophthalmic surgery can be traced back to him.
He made investigations on specific gravity by means of the hydrostatic balance, which he called al-mizan al-tabi'i. Various chemical treatises are ascribed to him, and one of them (Arcandorum liber, apocryphal?) contains a list of 25 pieces of chemical apparatus. He also made an attempt to classify chemical substracts.
The al-Hawi has not been published, and there is not even a single complete manuscript in existence. A latin translation, Liber dictus Elhavi, appeared in Brescia (1486), followed by various Ventian editions. The liber ad Almansurem, in ten books was first published in Milano (1481) and was frequently republished.


In Latin, Joannitius. Abu Zaid Hunain ibn Ishaq al-Ibadi. Born in Hira, 809-10. Flourished at Jundishapur, then in Bagdad, where he died in October 877. Famous Nestorian physician; one of the greatest scholars and of the noblest men of his tome. Pupil of Ibn Masawiah. Employed by the Banu Musa to collect Greek manuscripts and translate them into arabic, he became the foremost translator of medical works. These translations were made partly with the assistance of other scholars.

It is reported that the Abbasid caliph al-Mutawakkil created (or endowed) a school where translations were made under Hunain's supervision. It is not too much to say that the translations made by Hunain and his disciplines marked a considerable progress in the history of scholarship. He took infinite pains to obtain manuscripts of the Greek medical texts; he collated them, examined the existing Syriac and Arabic versions, and translated them as accurately and as well as possible. His methods remind one of modern methods. to appreciate more the value of his efforts, one must realize that the Syriac versions were very unsatisfactory and the Arabic versions already available were hardly better. Hunain carefully compared these versions with the great text to prepare his new arabic translations. His activity was prodigious; it began as early as c.826 and lasted till the end of his days. It is typical of his scientific honesty that he very severely criticized the translations made by himself early in life. As his experience increased, his scientific ideal became more exacting. He translated a great many of Galen's works, also various writings of Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, Dioscordies, and Ptolemy's Quadripartitum. The importance of his activity can be measured in another way by stating that the translations prepared by Hunain and his school were the foundation of that Muslim canon of Knowledge which dominated medical thought almost to modern times.
Various medical and astronomical writings are ascribed to him (e. g., on the tides, on meteors, on the rainbow). His most Important work is his introduction to Galen's "Ars prava" ("Isagoge Johannitii ad Tegni Galeni") which was mensly popular during the Middle Ages and played the same part in the teaching of medicine as Porphyry's "Isagoge" in that of logic. Galenic classification extended and elaborated.

Fihrist (294 f and by index). Ferdinand Wustenfeld: Geschichte der arabischen Aerzte und Naturforscher.


Qusta ibn Luqa al-Ba'labakki, i. e. from Baalbek or Heliopolis, Syria. Flourished in Bagdad, died in Armenia about the end of the third century H., i. e., c. 912. A Christian of Greek origin. Philosopher, Physician, mathematician, astronomer, Translations of Diophantos, Theodosios, Autolycos, Hypsicles, Aristarchos, Heron were made or revised by him, or made under his direction, He wrote commentaries on Euclid and a treatise on the spherical astrolabe.

Fihrist (295 and by index). C. Brockelmann : Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur (Vol. I, 204-205, 512, 1898).


Jaber ibn Sinan al-Harrani is one of the makers of astronomical instruments mentioned in the Fihrist at the end of the mathematical section. Nothing else is said of him, but al-Battani's full name suggests that this Jaber may have been his father. According to al-Biruni, this Jaber was the first to make a spherical astrolabe.

Fihrist (p. 284). Sutre's translation (p. 41). H. Suter : Die Mathematiker (68, 224, 1900).


In Latin: Albategnius, Albatenius. The origin of that nisba is unknown. Abu Abdallah Mohammed ibn Jabir ibn Sinan al-Battani, al-Harrani, al-Sabi, born before 858 in or near Harran. Flourished at al-Raqqa, in the Euphrates, died in 929 near Samarra. Of Sabin origin, though himself a Muslim. The greatest astronomer of his race and time and one of the greatest of Islam. Various astrological writings, including a commentary on Ptolemy's "Tetrabiblon" are ascribed to him, but his main work is an astronomical treatise with tables ("De scientia stellarum," " De numeris stellarum et motibus") which was extremely influential until the Renaissance. He made astronomical observations of remarkable range and accuracy from 877 on. His tables contain a catalogue of fixed stars for the years 880-81 (not 911-12). He found that the longitude of the sun's apogee had increased by 16o47` increase since Ptolemy, that implied the discovery the motion of the solar apsides and of a slow variation in the equation of time. He determined many astronomical coefficients with great accuracy: precession 54.5`` a year; inclination of the ecliptic, 23o35`. He did not believe in the trepidation of the equinoxes. (Copernicus believed in it!)

The third chapter of his astronomy is devoted to trigonometry. He used sines regularly with a clear consciousness of their superiority over the Greek chords. He completed the introduction of the functions umbra extensa and umbera versa (hence our contangents and tangents) and gave a table of contangents be degrees. He knew the relation between the sides and angles of a spherical triangle which we express by the formula
cos a = cos c cos c + sin b sin c cos A.

H. Suter : Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber (45-47, 1900).


In Latin: Albubather. Abu Bakr al-Hassan ibn al-Khasib. Of Persian origin. Flourished probably in the third quarter of the ninth century. astrologer who wrote in Persian and arabic and would hardly deserve to be quoted but for the importance given to him in the middle ages. The work he is best known by ("De nativitatibus") was translated into Latin by one canonicus Salio in Padua 1218; it was also translated into Hebrew.

Fihrist (p. 276 and Commentary, p. 131). H. Suter : Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber (32, 1900); Nachtrage (162, 1902); encycl. of Islam, II, 274, 1916.