The Commentary of the Šayḫ, the Head, the Extremely Knowledgeable Aḥmad al-Šāfiʻī al-Janājī al-Mālikī on the Commentary on the Yāsamīniyya on the Science of Algebra and Equations by Sibṭ al-Māridīnī


This supercommentary (commentary on a commentary) by Aḥmad Muhammad al-Šāfiʻī al-Janājī al-Mālikī testifies to the liveliness and endurance of the Arabic mathematical tradition and demonstrates the continuous exegetical effort in which Arabic scientists commented upon previous works with the aim of expanding and clarifying their contents. The North African mathematician ‘Abd Allāh ibn Ḥajjāj ibn al-Yāsamīn (died 1204) conveyed his mathematical knowledge in a poem known as Yāsamīnīyya (The treatise by al-Yāsamīn). Al-Yāsamīn’s verses became the subject of a prose commentary, the Lum‘a al-Maridinīyya fī Šarḥ al-Yāsamīnīyya (The shimmer of al-Maridinī in the explanation of the treatise by al-Yāsamīn), by Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad Abū ‘Abd Allāh Badr al-Dīn (1423–1506), who was known as Sibṭ al-Māridīnī from the name of his maternal grandfather, also a mathematician. Sibṭ al-Māridīnī is most commonly remembered for the description of the periodicity of the sexagesimal fractions, his main original contribution to the field. In the present manuscript, al-Mālikī touches upon the themes of the Yāsamīnīyya, as explained by Sibṭ al-Māridīnī. The work encompasses the 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 ninth century, and the treatment of the algebraic operations of restoration, comparison, multiplication, and division of monomials. Copied in 1888 by scribe Ṭaha ibn Yūsuf, the manuscript is in Nasta’liq script in black ink framed by double red lines, with the outer margins used for subheadings and on yellowed cream paper. It was previously in the collection of Shaykh Maḥmūd al-Imām al-Manṣūrī, professor of religion at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, which was purchased by the Library of Congress in 1945.

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Title in Original Language

حاشية العالم العلامة الشيخ الإمام أحمد محمد الشافعي الجناجي المالكي على شرح السبط المارديني على الياسمينية في علم الجبر والمقابلة

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Physical Description

36 leaves (23 lines), bound : paper ; 23 x 17 centimeters


Last updated: July 16, 2013