Elements of Geometry


This copy of Mabādi' al-handasa (Elements of geometry) is a second edition of a work by Rifā‘ah Rāfi‘ al-Ṭahṭāwī (1801−73), a leading intellectual and a pioneer of the 19th century Egyptian enlightenment. In his introduction, the author refers to an edition of 1842−43, written for students at the Madrasa al-Ṭubjīa, the military school founded by Muḥammad ʻAlī Bāshā (1769−1849) in Ṭura, Egypt. He also mentions the celebrated 1794 geometry textbook by A.M. Legendre, Eléments de géométrie (Elements of geometry). Al-Ṭahṭāwī says that this new 1854 edition was made with the help of scholars at the Muhandis-khāna school (founded in 1816 by Muḥammad ʻAlī) who "corrected errors [and] changed unsuitable expressions." Although al-Ṭahṭāwī's work may have drawn in part on Legendre’s book, it also contains much new material, mostly in the last section of the book on applied geometry and surveying techniques. The work commences with a glossary of terms and a table of contents. A list of figures is in the appendix. 1854 was a fateful year for al-Ṭahṭāwī, marking his return to Cairo after four years in de facto exile in Khartoum, ordered by the Ottoman viceroy, ʻAbbās Ḥilmī I, grandson of Muḥammad ʻAlī, who may have been less than enthusiastic about al-Ṭahṭāwī's progressive ideas on governance and rulers. In the introduction, al-Ṭahṭāwī mentions ʻAbbās as a benevolent ruler, with a "strong desire for civilizing the Egyptian province." As it happened, ʻAbbās was assassinated on July 13, 1854, just a few days after the publication of the second edition of al-Ṭahṭāwī's Elements of Geometry.

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Muhandis-khāna Press, Egypt


Title in Original Language

مبادئ الهندسة

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130 pages ; 24 centimeters

Last updated: July 21, 2014