Sufficient Book for the Beneficiary Regarding the Judgement of the Nativities


Ghunyat al-mustafīd fī al-ḥukm ʻalā al-mawālīd (Sufficient [book] for the beneficiary regarding the judgement of the nativities) is a book on judicial astrology. It is divided into three chapters, each of which describes the effects of the celestial bodies in various configurations on the life of the native, i.e., the person whose horoscope is under consideration. The author, Muhyi al-Din Yahya ibn Muhammad ibn Abu al-Shukr al-Maghribi al-Andalusi (died circa 1281) was born in the Maghrib, where he learned jurisprudence, geometry, and astronomy. He then moved to the Ayyubid kingdom, where he worked as astronomer in the court of al-Nasir Yusuf (ruled 1236–60). He witnessed firsthand the Mongol irruption into Syria and the defeat of al-Nasir at the hand of Genghis Khan’s grandson Hülegü (died 1265). In his Chronography, 13th century scholar Bar-Hebraeus quotes Muhyi al-Din’s account of how members of al-Nasir’s entourage were ambushed and put the sword, and how Muhyi al-Din narrowly escaped with his life by professing his knowledge of astronomy and requesting an audience with the Mongol warlord. Having been spared by virtue of his quick thinking, Muhyi al-Din moved to Maragha in northwestern Persia, where he was one of the most well-known astronomers working at the celebrated observatory in that city under the guidance of Nasir al-Din Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Tusi (1201‒74). Several of Muhyi al-Din’s works on astronomy and mathematics have survived, including his Taḥrīr ʼuqlīdus fī ashkāl al-handasa (Redaction of Euclid on figures of geometry), and Tāj al-azyāj wa ghunyat al-muḥtāj (The crown of zijes [i.e., planetary tables] and the sufficient [book] for the needy). This copy of Ghunyat al-mustafīd fī al-ḥukm ʻalā al-mawālīd is undated although, based on the calligraphy, it can be dated to the 18th or 19th centuries. The nastaʻliq script used for the work and marginal notes in Persian suggest that it was produced and used somewhere within the Persian sphere of cultural influence.

Last updated: August 15, 2017