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The Precious Book on Noteworthy Dates
This short work, entitled Kitāb al-yawāqīt fī ma‘rifat al-mawāqīt, and copied by an anonymous scribe in Shawwāl in June-July 1775 (AH 1168), is attributed to Ḥusayn (or Ḥasan) b. Zayd b. ‘Alī al-Jaḥḥāf, who is said to have dedicated it to Abū ‘Alī Manṣūr al-Ḥākim bi Amr-Allāh, the sixth Fāṭimid ruler (died 996). The manuscript lists the 12 months of the year, each on one sheet, in the form of an almanac. The last page is a one-page guide to the interpretation of dreams, reportedly prepared at the behest ...
Treatise on the Craft of Weight Measurement
This work is a treatise on the construction and use of the weighing balance (qabān, also qapān). It brings together geometric, mechanical, and arithmetic knowledge needed to construct and utilize measuring devices for weighing heavy and irregularly-shaped objects. The author’s name is unknown, but excerpts from another work by an already-deceased Shaykh ‘Abd al-Majīd al-Shāmulī al-Maḥallī are quoted in the treatise. The last page of the manuscript contains a sheet of verses that describe the basics of using a weighing balance, in a form that is easy to remember ...
Guide to Operations on Irrational Radicals for Neophytes
This mathematical treatise by Muḥammad b. Abi al-Fatḥ Muḥammad b. al-Sharafī Abi al-Rūḥ ‘Īsā b. Aḥmad al-Ṣūfī al-Shāfi‘ī al-Muqrī, was written in 1491-92 (897 AH). It begins with a "General Introduction," followed by two main parts, with a concluding section on the study of cubes and cube roots. Part I, "Operations on Simple Irrational Radicals," is divided into four chapters. Chapter 1 covers simplification of radicals. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 deal respectively with the multiplication, addition and subtraction, and division of radicals. Part II, on "Operations with Compound ...
On Keeping Shop: A Guidebook for Preparing Orders
This highly informative work, compiled by a Jewish apothecary in 13th century Cairo, provides a wealth of information on his craft as practiced at the time. The author, Abu al-Munā Ibn Abī Nasr Ibn Hafāż, known as Cohen al-Isra’ī'lī al-Hārūnī, completed the work in 1260 (AH 658), shortly after the Mongol sacking of Baghdad in 1258, an event that reverberated throughout the Arab world. The manuscript contains notes by the author, to be passed to his son and descendents, who would be taking over the apothecary shop after ...
Book of Royal Gemstones
This work, by Abu al-‛Abbās Ahmad b. Yūsuf al-Qaysī al-Tīfāshī, a 13th-century writer and mineralogist who was born in Tunisia and worked in Egypt, describes precious gems found in the treasuries of kings and rulers. The author lists 25 gemstones and dedicates a chapter to each. They include the ruby (yāqūt), emerald (zumurrud), topaz (zabarjad), diamond (almās), turquoise (fīrūzaj), magnetite (maghnātīs), agate (‛aqīq), lapis lazuli (lāzward), coral (marjān), and quartz (talq). In each chapter, the author discusses the causes of the gemstone’s formation, provenance, criteria for appraisal of ...
The Book of Remedies from Deficiencies in Setting Up Marble Sundials
This work is a treatise for timekeepers (singular muwaqqit), and discusses the telling of time from such astronomical observations as the sun’s angle of inclination (mayl), altitude (irtifā‛), as well as the direction (samt) and length of cast shadows (zill). In 14 chapters, the author goes through methods for the computation of these factors, determination of the direction of prayer (qibla), and time of the day. He observes that using instruments (ālāt), such as markings on the ruler (mistara) and the compass (bargār, from the Persian pargār), and geometric ...
Seasonal Almanac Based on the Coptic Calendar
The author of this work, Shaykh al-Islām Ahmad al-Bashtakī, lived in Bashtak near central Cairo. The work goes through the 13 months of the Coptic calendar: Tūt (Thout), Bāba (Paopi), Hātūr (Hathur), Koihak (Koiak), Tūba (Tobi), Imshīr (Meshir), Baremhāt (Paremhat), Barmūda (Paremoude), Bashons (Pashons), Bawna or Būna (Paoni), Ibīb (Epip), Misurī (Mesori), and the Days of Nasī (ayyām al-nasī; also known as the Little Month, Pi Kogi Enavot, or El Nasii). The work gives the corresponding months in the Roman and Persian calendars, notes the astrological significance of days, and ...
A Guide for the Perplexed on the Drawing of the Circle of Projection
The author of this work, Ibn al-Majdī (1366-1447 [767-850 A.H.]), was a renowned mathematician, geometrician, and astronomer. He was linked with the influential Marāgha School through his teacher, Jamāl al-Dīn al-Māridīnī, who in turn had studied with Ibn al-Shātir al-Dimashqī’. As a descendant of a powerful local family with Mamlūk ties, Ibn al-Majdī served as the official astronomer and timekeeper at Al-Azhar. The work is divided into three chapters and a conclusion. Chapter 1 covers the procedure for projecting the circle of projection (fadl al-dā’ir) onto planes that ...
Comprehensive Reference on Algebra and Equations
This manuscript is a didactic work on arithmetic and algebra, composed in versified form, as a qasīda of 59 verses. It was composed by Ibn al-Hā’im al-Fardī in 1402 (804 A.H.). The beginning of the work also names ‛Alī b. ‛Abd al-Samad al-Muqrī al-Mālikī (died Dhu al-Ḥijja 1381 [782 A.H.]), a scholar and teacher who had come to Egypt and taught at the ‛Amr b. ‛As madrasa for several years. The main part of the qasīda begins by introducing and defining key terms in arithmetic and algebra ...
Arithmetic Conventions for Conversion Between Roman [i.e. Ottoman] and Egyptian Measurement
This treatise, written on ten folio pages for an Ottoman official and patron of books known as Ismā‘īl Afandī, is on the inter-conversion of units of measurement. It is a useful guide for merchants and others engaged in the measurement of quantities. It provides instructions for converting arṭāl (plural of raṭl) into uqaq (plural of auqiya), and back; darāhim (plural of dirham) into mathāqīl (plural of mithqāl) and back; and converting the number of Ottoman (referred to as Roman, rūmī) loading bags into the number of Egyptian loading bags ...
Sakhāqī’s Book [of Arithmetic]
This work is a tutorial text on elementary arithmetic, in 20 folios. It is divided into an introduction, 11 chapters, and a conclusion. In the beginning, the sign for zero is introduced, along with the nine Indian numerals, written in two alternative forms. This is followed by a presentation of the place system. The first four chapters cover, respectively, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Chapter five introduces operations on non-whole numbers. The remaining six chapters discuss fractions and operations on them.
Treatise for Observers on Constructing the Circle of Projection
This work is a treatise on the important subject of timekeeping. It is a work of technical astronomy, in 19 folios, that begins by emphasizing the religious significance of knowledge of time. It is divided into an introduction, two chapters, and a conclusion. Comprehensive procedures for the construction of tables and their use are provided. The work was completed in 1473 (878 A.H.).
Easing the Difficulty of Arithmetic and Planar Geometry
This work is a comprehensive tutorial guide on arithmetic and plane geometry, in 197 folio pages. It also discusses monetary conversion. The work is composed in verse form, and is meant as a commentary on existing textbooks. The author gives the following personal account of the writing of this guide: In Rajab 827 A.H. (May 1424) he traveled from Damascus to Quds al-Sharīf (in Palestine), where he met two scholars named Ismā‘īl ibn Sharaf and Zayn al-Dīn Māhir. There he took lessons on arithmetic, using an introductory book ...
Compendium on Using the Device Known as the Almucantar Quarter
This work, by a timekeeper at the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, is an important and comprehensive textbook on timekeeping. It introduces the useful device of dividing a quarter of a circle of projection into sections known as almucantars (muqanṭarāt). The work, comprising 100 folio pages, contains 30 chapters and a conclusion. The work was composed in 1440-1 (844 A.H.) and was copied in 1757 (1170 A.H.).
The Light of the Eyes and the Enlightened Landscape of Vision
This work is a noteworthy treatise on optics that covers such basic topics as direct vision, reflection and refraction, and the length of shadows. It discusses convex and concave mirrors and the physiology of vision, and has a section on optical illusions. It is a cogent work on geometrical optics. It is particularly significant because it was written under the Ottoman sulṭān, Murāt ibn Selīm (reigned 1574-95 [982-1003 A.H.]). The name of the author is illegible on the front page, and seems to have been deliberately wiped off for ...
The Travelers Guide on Drawing the Circle of Projection
This is a work on timekeeping and the determination of the direction of prayer (qibla), particularly intended for people who travel. The author, Abu al-‛Abbās Shihāb al-Dīn Ahmad b. Zayn al-Dīn Rajab b. Tubayghā al-Atābakī, known as al-Majdī or Ibn al-Majdī (1366-1447 [767-850 A.H.]), was descended from a powerful family with ties to Mamlūk rulers and was a renowned and prominent mathematician, geometrician, and astronomer. He served as the timekeeper of the Al-Azhar Mosque. This work is an abridgment of his other major book, Irshād al-ḥā’ir ilā ...
Maximum Benefit from the Knowledge of Circles of Projection on the 30 Degree Northern Latitude
This work, a treatise on practical astronomy, deals with such issues as timekeeping and determining the proper direction of prayer. The work begins with a brief introduction, but the bulk of the manuscript contains tables used to determine time. The introductory section contains illustrative examples on how to use the tables.
Deliverance from Error on Knowledge of Times of Day and the Direction of Prayer
This work on elementary knowledge of practical astronomy begins by emphasizing the religious significance of knowing how to keep the time and how to determine the proper direction of prayer (qibla). It describes the conventional correspondence between ordinal numbers and the letters of the Arabic alphabet. It then enumerates, and goes through, the names of the months in the lunar Arabic calendar and in the solar Coptic calendar. It highlights certain important dates, such as the beginning of the New Year, and introduces the 12 zodiacal signs. The front page ...
The Book of Instruction on Deviant Planes and Simple Planes
This manuscript is a work on practical astronomy and the drawing of the circle of projection and related concepts from spherical trigonometry. It is rich with geometric diagrams, tables of empirical observations, and computations based upon these observations. An interesting feature of the manuscript is the appearance on the margins of the cover, and on several pages in the manuscript, of edifying verses, proverbs, and witty remarks. One reads, for example, “It is strange to find in the world a jaundiced physician, a dim-eyed ophthalmologist, and a blind astronomer.” Most ...
A Friendly Gift on the Science of Arithmetic
This treatise deals specifically with basic arithmetic, as needed for computing the division of inheritance according to Islamic law. It contains 48 folios and is divided into an introduction, three chapters, and a conclusion. The introduction discusses the idea of numbers as an introduction to the science of arithmetic. Chapter I discusses the multiplication of integers. Chapter II is on the division of integers and the computation of common factors. Chapter III deals extensively with fractions and arithmetic operations on them. The author, an Egyptian jurist and mathematician, was the ...
The Book on the Properties of Precious Gems
The title page identifies this manuscript as a copy of Kitab khawas al-jawāhir (The book on the properties of precious gems), written by Yaqūb ibn Ishāq al-Kindī in the ninth century. The work has 25 chapters, which are titled “On the knowledge of gems in general,” “On knowledge of rubies,” “On knowledge of emeralds,” “On knowledge of lapis,” and so forth. Each of these chapters gives basic information about these precious stones and their properties, as understood at the time. Information on the pricing of gems and the location of ...