The Shimmer of Al-Māridinī in the Explanation of the Treatise by al-Yāsamīn


The mathematical tradition that flourished in North Africa and Andalusia during the Middle Ages did not undergo the same decline that many scholars claim occurred in the sciences after the first half of the 13th century. The present work supports this point. The manuscript is a very elegant copy of a mathematical text by Badr al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Ġazal, best known as Sibṭ al-Māridīnī ("the son of al-Māridīnī’s daughter") from the name of his famous maternal grandfather, who was himself a mathematician. Sibṭ al-Māridīnī's mathematical knowledge—acquired during his extensive years of study and during his activity as muwaqqit (timekeeper) at the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo—is applied here to the verses of a late 12th century mathematical poem composed by the Maghrebi mathematician al-Yāsamīn. The copyist of the manuscript drew a clear graphical distinction between the text of al-Yāsamīn's poem and al-Māridīnī's commentary: the verses of the former are highlighted in red ink, while the latter runs for 11 folio pages, in which is found a definition of the elements of algebra known at the time (number, root and sequence); the description of the six canonical equations already identified by al-Ḫwārizmī during the 9th century; and a treatment of the algebraic operations of restoration, comparison, and multiplication and division of monomials.

Last updated: August 29, 2017