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The Light of the Glitter in Mathematics
This work is a versified treatise on arithmetic (‘ilam al- ḥisāb), and specifically the art of dividing inheritance (farā’iḍ), which has application in Islamic law. After a standard expression of praise for the Prophet, his companions, and later followers, the text introduces the system of place values and explains multiplication of multi-digit whole numbers and simple and compound fractions. The text presents multiple examples that are described in verbal terms. As noted at the end of the manuscript, which was completed on Monday, 20 Rabī‘ I of the year ...
The Book of the New Chemical Medicine
This important text presents a detailed exposition of the harmony-based non-Galenic medicinal system of Paracelsus, i.e., Phillip von Hohenheim (1493-1541), the famous Renaissance author who advocated a new approach to the use of chemicals and minerals in medicine. The treatise, comprising more than 100 folio sheets, is divided into an introduction and several chapters. In the introduction, the author derives the word kīmīyā from the Greek χημεία. He attributes the foundation of the discipline to Hermes, but credits Paracelsus with shifting the discipline toward the art of medicine and ...
World's Marvels and Substances Book
This text contains sections extracted from the second part of the well-known and highly popular work of cosmography known as ʻAjāʼib al-makhlūqāt, written in the 13th century (7th century AH) by Abū Yaḥyā Zakarīyā al-Qazwīnī. The work begins with a section on the sources and properties of gems and stones, followed by sections on herbs, seeds, nuts and fruits, spices, the body parts of animals, and so forth. It also contains geographical information, for example the names and locations of major bodies of water such as the Mediterranean Sea ...
The Precious Necklace Regarding Weigh Scales
This treatise on scales, measures, and weighing instruments is by a prominent member of the Jabartī family, a distinguished clan of Somali-Egyptian Ḥanafī ‘ulamā’ in Ottoman-ruled Egypt. The author, Ḥasan al-Jabartī, was the father of the famous historian ‘Abd al-Rahmān al-Jabarti (1753-1826 [1167-1241 AH]). Ḥasan al-Jabartī married into wealthy military families and also inherited substantial wealth. His relatives included merchants and ship owners, and he spent part of his life in business. He had a reputation for deep learning and was credited with restoring Egypt’s prestige as a center ...
A Light Note on the Science of Writing and Inks
This manuscript in 20 folios contains two works. The first is a treatise by Muḥammad ibn ʻĪsā al-Ṭanṭāwī on writing tools and the craft of making ink. The work is organized in seven chapters. In the first chapter, the author briefly discusses the best type of reed pens to select for writing. In subsequent chapters, he explains ways to make red, black, and other kinds of ink, including how to write in gold. The treatise was completed on Friday, 1 Rabī‘ II 1268 AH (January 24, 1852). The second work ...
The Breakthrough in Remedying all Ailments and Complaints
This important work is a long but well-organized and clearly-written treatise on medicine, hygiene, diet, and the art of preserving good health. It focuses on simple and composite medicinal remedies. With the aid of tables, diagrams, and numerous examples, it presents a comprehensive, but accessible, synopsis of medical knowledge and medicinal treatments known at the time of its composition. The work is by the son of the well-known man of letters Nūr al-Dīn Ibrāhīm Ibn Sa‘īd al-Maghribī al-Gharnātī (1214-86 [610-85 AH]), and is dedicated to Shams al-Dīn Abū ‘Abd-Allāh ...
Commentary by Islam's Sheikh Zakariyya al-Ansari on Ibn al-Hā’im's Poem on the Science of Algebra and Balancing Called the Creator's Epiphany in Explaining the Cogent
This work is a commentary on a versified, 59-line introduction to algebra, entitled Al-Muqni‘ fī al-jabr wa al-muqābila, by the prolific and influential mathematician, jurist, and man of letters Abū al-‘Abbās Shihāb al-Dīn Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī al-Maqdisī al-Shāfi‘ī, known as Ibn al-Hā’im (circa 1356-1412 [circa 753-815 AH]). It clarifies the nomenclature and explains the basic concepts of algebra, and provides succinct examples. The manuscript, completed on Thursday night, 8 Sha‘bān 1305 AH (March 21, 1888), is in the hand of Tāhā ibn Yūsuf.
A Treatise on Zodiacal Signs and Constallations: Unique Jewels on the Benefits of Keeping Time
This work is an introductory, but well-organized, treatise on the elements of time-keeping and reckoning. The treatise is divided into seven sections and a conclusion. It introduces the Arabic, Coptic, and Syriac (or Alexandrian) calendars, and comments on the Persian, Roman, and Hebraic calendars. The work gives the names and lengths of the months in various calendars, explains the different methods for ascertaining the beginnings of years and months, discusses the signs of the zodiac and their relation to the four seasons, and describes the apparent motion of the sun ...
Glosses of al-Hifnī on the Yāsamīnīyya
This work is an elaboration of the commentary written by the Egyptian mathematician Sibṭ al-Māridīnī (i.e., a commentary on another commentary), on the versified introduction, or urjūzah, to the science of algebra, originally composed by the Berber mathematician and man of letters Abū Muḥammad ‘Abd-Allāh al-Ishbīlī al-Marrakushī, also known as Ibn al-Yāsamīn (died 1204 [600 AH]). Ibn al-Yāsamīn’s work has not been examined in detail by scholars, so the apparent inclusion in this treatise of original lines by Ibn Yasamīn is of great importance in studying his contribution ...
The Benefits from Knowing the Basics and Rules of Seafaring
This work is a collection of eight treatises related to the science of seafaring and navigation by Ibn Mājid al-Julfārī al-Sa‘dī, the most renowned Muslim navigator of the 15th century (9th century AH). It was originally assembled in 1490. The works are bound together in one large tome and include information about the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea, and other major bodies of water known to the author. The work meticulously lists and describes sea routes, harbors, and other points of interest to ...
The Lifting of the Veil in the Operations of Calculation
The establishment of the Berber-Muslim dynasty of the Almohads in North Africa and Andalusia in the 12th century coincided with the decline in scientific advances in many fields of knowledge, including medicine. This was not the case with mathematics, and the treatise preserved in this manuscript together with other works by the same author stand as clear proof of the liveliness of this field under the rule of the Almohads and of the Marinid dynasty that followed. Abū ‛Abbās Ahmad Ibn al-Bannā was born in the second half of the ...
The Desire of the Students for an Explanation of the Calculator's Craving
This manuscript offers a clear example of the liveliness of the North African mathematical tradition under the Muslim-Berber dynasties that ruled over the Islamic West from the 12th century to the first half of the 17th century. They were the Almohads (12th–13th centuries), the Marinids (13th–15th centuries), the Wattasids (15th–16th centuries), and the Saadis (16th–17th centuries). While there was little scientific advance in other fields in this period, the mathematical sciences kept on developing, as reflected both in the composition of original works and in commentaries ...
Glosses of al-Hifnī on the Yāsamīnīyya
The mathematical tradition that developed in North Africa during the Middle Ages continued to attract the interest of scholars in subsequent centuries. Medieval treatises were extensively read and made the subject of commentaries. In many cases, these commentaries became the object of other works—or supercommentaries—aimed at further clarifying the subject of the original treatises. This manuscript is an example of this phenomenon. In the 12th century, the North African mathematician ‘Abdallāh ibn Hajjāj ibn al-Yāsamīn summarized his mathematical knowledge in a versified treatise known as Yāsamīnīyya (The treatise ...
Facts on the Calculation of Degrees and Minutes
This manuscript by Badr al-Dīn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn al-Ġazal (1423–1506) contains a commentary on, and abridgement of, the astrological treatise on the calculation of the movement of stars and planets, Kašf al-haqā’iq fī hisāb al-daraj wa-al-daqā’iq (The uncovering of the facts regarding the calculation of degrees and minutes), by the Egyptian astronomer and mathematician Ahmad ibn Rağab ibn al-Mağdī (1366–1447). Ibn al-Mağdī was a disciple of the famous ‘Abdallāh al-Māridīnī (or al-Mārdīnī), who was the grandfather of the author of this ...
Small Treatise on the Calculation of Tables for the Construction of Inclined Sundials
The challenge of calculating the positions and movements of celestial bodies for the purpose of preparing astronomical tables helped to stimulate the development of very sophisticated mathematical tools at least as far back as the Middle Ages. The link between mathematics and astronomy was so strong that important authors in the field of astronomy were often distinguished mathematicians and vice versa. This was the case with Badr al-Dīn Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn al-Ġazal (1423–1506), also known as Sibt al-Māridīnī, who, according to contemporary sources, produced ...
Quintessence of Calculation
The author of this mathematical treatise, Bahā' al-Dīn Al-‘Amilī (1547–1621), is considered one of the leading intellectuals of 17th-century Safavid Persia (present-day Iran). He was born in Baalbek (present-day Lebanon) but moved to Persia in his youth where he devoted his entire life to study. He excelled in various fields, leaving a legacy of more than 80 books on a wide variety of subjects that included theology and mysticism, astronomy, mathematics, poetry, and architecture. He wrote in both Persian and Arabic. He was the teacher of Mulla Sadra ...
The Abridged Commentary on "The Apple in the Science of Measurement"
This manuscript is a commentary on the treatise Al-Tuffāḥa fi ‘ilm al-Misāḥa (The apple in the science of measurement), which was written at the beginning of the 12th century by the mathematician Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad al-Ašh‘ari. The study of measures and measurement techniques (‘ilm al-misāha) was of great interest to Arabic mathematicians during the Middle Ages, both from theoretical and practical points of view. The ability to calculate the dimensions of landholdings was extremely important when it came to determining the correct amounts for inheritances and to calculating taxes ...
Commentary on "The Compendium of Plain Astronomy"
The author this commentary, Ṣalāh al-Din Musa ibn Muḥammad, also known as Qādī Zāda (the son of the judge), was born in Bursa (present-day Turkey) in 1364 and died in Samarkand (present-day Uzbekistan) in 1436. His first teacher, al-Fanāri, suggested that he move to the scientific centers of the time, Herat in Khorasan (present-day Afghanistan) or Bukhara or Samarkand in Transoxiana, in order to develop his extraordinary ability in the mathematical and astronomical sciences. Following this advice, Qāḍī Zāda presented himself to the Samarkand court of the very promising Ulugh ...
The Illumination of Inheritance Calculation
Islamic law goes into great detail on the subject of the division of inheritances (farā'id) among heirs. For this reason, inheritances have received extensive treatment in books of fiqh (Islamic law) and been a subject of study for mathematicians as well. Qabas al-Daw' fī al-Hisāb (The illumination of inheritance calculation) was copied by its author, ‘Abd al-Raḥman ibn Aḥmad ibn 'Ali al-Ḥamidi, in this 1589 manuscript. The work, which he dedicated to the son of the Šāf‘ī jurist Šams al-Dīn Muhammad al-Bahwašī, is an example of a genre ...
Commentary on the Comprehensive Book on the Management of Horses
The legal scholar ‘Umar ibn Raslān al-Bulqīnī was from a renowned family of Egyptian scholars of Palestinian origin. In his Muqaddima (Introduction), the great Arab historian and historiographer Ibn Khaldūn (1332–1406) praised al-Bulqīnī as the most celebrated jurist of his era, even though Al-Bulqīnī did not gain the prestigious title of Šayh al-Islām until later in life. Al-Bulqīnī's erudition and deep knowledge of Islamic tradition are reflected in this work, Qaṭr al-Sayl fi Amr al-Hayl (Commentary on the comprehensive book on the management of horses), which is an ...
The Abridged Amusement of the Calculator from "The Guide"
Much traditional scholarship holds that the period after about 1250 saw a decline in the production of scientific and philosophical works in the Arab world. This view is challenged by the impressive number of manuscripts written after that date in different Arabic-speaking countries that contain original treatises and commentaries. The work preserved in this manuscript, Nuzhat al-Hussāb al-Muhtasara min al-Muršida (The abridged amusement of the calculator from The guide), is a shorter version of Muršida fī Sina’at al-Gubar (The guide to the art of the numerals), an extensive treatise ...