The Illumination of Inheritance Calculation


Islamic law goes into great detail on the subject of the division of inheritances (farā'id) among heirs. For this reason, inheritances have received extensive treatment in books of fiqh (Islamic law) and been a subject of study for mathematicians as well. Qabas al-Daw' fī al-Hisāb (The illumination of inheritance calculation) was copied by its author, ‘Abd al-Raḥman ibn Aḥmad ibn 'Ali al-Ḥamidi, in this 1589 manuscript. The work, which he dedicated to the son of the Šāf‘ī jurist Šams al-Dīn Muhammad al-Bahwašī, is an example of a genre likely to seem unusual to the modern reader: the mathematical poem. The tradition of versifying on scientific subjects can be traced back to the late Umayyad and early Abbasid periods, in the eighth century, and was widespread in the Islamic world. The work deals mainly with the multiplication of whole and fractional numbers and, given its didactic scope, aims to simplify and embellish its mathematical content in poetic form. The different sections of the poem are identifiable by the presence of rubricated words at the beginning of chapters and paragraphs.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

قبس الضوء في الحساب

Type of Item

Physical Description

7 leaves (17 lines), bound : paper ; 21 x 16 centimeters


  • Paper: yellowed cream with watermarks; brown stains at bottom of leaves; leaves repaired near spine. Text is principally in black ink with some words in red. Occasional diacritical marks; catchwords on rectos. Naskhī script; 17 lines in written area, 15 x 10 centimeters.


Last updated: March 16, 2012