From: Thomas Hockey et al. (eds.). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, Springer Reference. New York: Springer, 2007, pp. 584-585

Courtesy of

Jaghmīnī: Sharaf al‐Dīn Mamūd ibn Muammad ibn ʿUmar al-Jaghmīnī al‐Khwārizmī

Sally P. Ragep

FlourishedKhwārizm (Uzbekistan), first half of the 13th century

Jaghmīnī is the author of the ubiquitous elementary astronomical text al‐Mulakhkha fī al‐hayʾa al‐basīa (Epitome of plain theoretical astronomy). This popular, simplified (i.e., without proofs) introduction to astronomy, written in Arabic, was the subject of an enormous number of extant commentaries and supercommentaries. These commentaries (many written in Persian as well as Arabic) were meant to be studied along with the Mulakhkha and used as supplements for more advanced teaching texts.

The Mulakhkha is an elementary summary of the configuration of the celestial and terrestrial worlds, and the orbs and sublunar levels contained therein. It is composed of an introduction and two sections. The introduction is an explanation of the divisions of the bodies in general; Section 1 is divided into five parts and is an explanation of the celestial orbs and what pertains to them; and Section 2 is divided into three parts, and is an explanation of the Earth and what pertains to it.

It is noteworthy that al‐Mulakhkha lacks any treatment of sizes and distances of the celestial bodies, which one typically finds in other astronomical textbooks of a similar genre. (See, for example, works by ūsī, Kharaqī, and ʿUrī.) Presumably, the difficulty of the subject matter in so elementary a textbook made its placement there inappropriate. Indeed, Jaghmīnī is purported to have written a separate treatise on the subject in a unique manuscript (Cairo, Dār al‐kutub MS alʿat majāmīʿ 429/2, f. 4a–4b).

There has been some confusion regarding Jaghmīnī's dates; he has several times been misdated as living circa 1344/1345 (Suter 1900, p. 164; Suter/Vernet EI2, p. 378; Sezgin 5: 115), in part because of confusion between him and another Jaghmīnī, a physician, who lived at that time. The date of composition of the Mulakhkha is given as circa 618 H./1221–1222 by several sources (C. Storey, D. King, and E. İhsanoğlu). In any event, we can safely place him as living in the early 13th century due to an Istanbul manuscript (Lâleli 2141) that contains a copy dated 644 H./1246–1247.

Furthermore, there has been speculation that Jaghmīnī may have lived after Naīr al‐Dīn al‐ūsī since maximum daylight times in some copies of Jaghmīnī's text clearly derive from ūsī's Tadhkira (see Ragep, 2: 470–471). However, this simply represents an excellent example of how the Mulakhkha, as a textbook “in progress,” was continuously updated and changed by commentators and copyists, especially when they felt more reliable information was available. (In this case ūsī's data were considered more correct than Ptolemy's and were thus substituted for Jaghmīnī's original data.)

The educational tradition represented by the transmission, transformation, commentaries, and study of Jaghmīnī's text was thriving in the Ottoman period well into the 18th century (Ihsanoğlu, History, pp. 586–587). Indeed, the Mulakhkha tradition exists in thousands of extant copies of the original as well as commentaries, supercommentaries, and glosses. There were at least 15 commentators, including Faḍlallāh al-ʿUbaydī, Kamāl al‐Dīn al‐Turkmānī, the theologian al‐Sayyid al‐Sharīf al‐Jurjānī, and īzāde al‐Rūmī, who dedicated his commentary, written in 1412, to Ulugh Beg. Qāīzāde's commentary then became the subject of numerous supercommentaries by such authors as Sinān Pāshā (died: 1486) and ʿAbd al‐ʿAlī al‐Birjandī.

This continuous chain of astronomical learning represented by the Mulakhkha and its commentaries and supercommentaries – one that extended for a period of 500 years – is a significant indication of an active, ongoing educational tradition within Islam.

Selected References

Fazlıoğlu, İhsan (2003). “Osmanlı felsefe‐biliminin arkaplanı: Semerkand matematik‐astronomi okulu.” Dîvân İlmî Arastırmalar 7:1–66.

İhsanoğlu, Ekmeleddin (ed.) (2002). History of the Ottoman State, Society and Civilisation. 2 Vols. Istanbul: IRCICA. (Discusses the tradition of the Mulakhkha in the Ottoman Empire.)

İhsanoğlu, Ekmeleddin, et al. (1997). Osmanlı Astronomi Literatürü Tarihi (OALT) (History of astronomy literature during the Ottoman period). 2 Vols. Istanbul: IRCICA. (A listing of manuscripts of the Ottoman commentators on the Mulakhkha.)

İzgi, Cevat (1997). Osmanlı Medreselerinde İlim. 2 Vols. Istanbul. Vol. 1, pp. 370–392. (On the teaching of the Mulakhkha in the Ottoman madrasas.)

Kātib Čelebī (1943). Kashf al‐unūn ʿan asāmī al‐kutub wa‐ʾl‐funūn. Istanbul. Vol. 2, cols. 1819–1820.

King, David A. (1986). A Survey of the Scientific Manuscripts in the Egyptian National Library. Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, p. 150.

Ragep, F. J. (1993). Naīr al‐Dīn al‐ūsī's Memoir on Astronomy (al‐Tadhkira fī ʿilm al‐hayʾa). 2 Vols. New York: Springer‐Verlag.

——— (2006). “On Dating Jaghmīnī and His Mulakhkhaṣ.” In Essays in honour of Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, ed. Mustafa Kaçar and Zeynep Durukal, pp. 461-466. Istanbul: IRCICA.

Rudloff, G. and A. Hochheim (1893). “Die Astronomie des Mamûd ibn Muammad ibn ʿOmar al‐Ǵaġmînî.” Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 47: 213–275. (German translation of the Mulakhkha.)

Sezgin, Fuat (1974). Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums. Vol. 5, Mathematik. Leiden: E. J. Brill, p. 115.

Storey, C. A. (1972). Persian Literature: A Bio‐Bibliographical Survey. Vol. 2, pt. 1, pp. 50–51. London: Luzac and Co.

Suter, Heinrich (1900). “Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber und ihre Werke.” Abhandlungen zur Geschichte der mathematischen Wissenschaften 10: 164–165.

Suter, Heinrich and rev. by J. Vernet. (1965). “Al‐Djaghmīnī.” In Encyclopaedia of Islam. 2nd ed. Vol. 2, p. 378. Leiden: E. J. Brill.

āshkubrīzade, Amad b. Muṣṭafā (1985). Miftā al‐saʿāda wa‐mi al‐siyāda. 3 Vols. Beirut: Dār al‐kutub al‐ʿilmiyya. Vol. 1, p. 349.