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. The author of the work in this manuscript, Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Ġāzī (circa 1437–1513), was born in the town of Meknes (present-day Morocco). Ibn Ġāzī composed works in the fields of both belles-lettres and mathematics. He is known to historians for a two-volume history of Meknes, and he wrote a poetical commentary on the mathematical treatise Talhīs ‘amal al-hisāb (The abridgement of the operations of calculation) by Abū ‛Abbās Ahmad Ibn al-Bannā Ibn Bannā (1256–1321). The verses of this commentary, which was given the title Muniyat al-Hussāb (The craving of the calculators), constitute the core of the present text and have been highlighted in red ink by the copyist. Given the complexity of the subject of the Muniyat, Ibn Ġāzī decided to provide a further prose commentary on his own verses. He thus wrote the Buġiyat al-Tullāb ‘alā [Šarh] Muniyat al-Hussāb (The desire of students for an [explanation of] the calculator’s craving) to clarify the meaning of his own poem and to expand his comments on Ibn Bannā’s work. The contents of the supercommentary Buġiyat al-Tullāb are visible here in black ink.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

هذا بغية الطلاب على منية الحساب

Type of Item

Physical Description

115 leaves (26 lines), loose: paper ; 17 x 11 centimeters


  • Paper: yellowed cream, with watermarks, in moderate condition; leaves loose from spine. Text of poem in red ink with gloss in black. Only a few diacritical marks. Marginal notes, catchwords on rectos. Poem written in rajaz meter. Marginal notes indicate that the manuscript was compared with another copy of the same text. Nastaʼliq script. Binding: modern cardboard covered with cloth, leather spine.


Last updated: August 29, 2017