The Commentary on “The Little Sparkles on the Science of Calculation”


The treatise in this manuscript is a commentary on a mathematical treatise by Šihāb al-Dīn Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad Ibn al-Hā’im (circa 1355–1412). Ibn al-Hā’im taught mathematics and Islamic jurisprudence, subjects on which he wrote extensively. The erudite Badr al-Dīn Muhammad Sibt al-Māridīnī (circa 1423–1506), who was at the time working as muwaqqit (timekeeper) at the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, composed this short commentary less then 60 years after the death of Ibn al-Hā’im. Following widespread tradition in Islamic lands, Sibt al-Māridīnī included in the title of his work a reference to the title of the work on which he was elaborating, Al-Luma‘ al-Yasīra fī ‘ilm al-Hisāb (Little sparkles on the science of calculation). In the opening section, Sibt al-Māridīnī states that the aim of his commentary is to provide useful guidance in solving problems relating to the calculation of inheritances (farā'id). This topic has very strong religious and social implications, and mathematicians in Islamic lands devoted extensive attention to it. Sibt al-Māridīnī emphasizes that it is impossible to understand the calculation of inheritances without a broader knowledge of mathematics, and of fractions in particular. In this copy, the content of paragraphs and the most important passages of Sibt al-Māridīnī's explanations are rubricated in order to provide a handy index for students.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

كتاب شرح اللمع في الحساب

Type of Item

Physical Description

19 leaves (25 lines) : paper ; 21 x 15 centimeters


  • Paper: yellowed cream with watermarks, first leaf repaired, brown stains on some pages, termite damage. Black and red ink on title paper, text of al-Lumʻah in red and the author's commentary in black. Some sentences on leaf 18 are underlined in red. Marginal notes throughout in different hands. Catchwords on rectos. Naskhī script; 25 lines in written area, 15 x 10 centimeters

Last updated: August 15, 2012