From: Thomas Hockey et al. (eds.). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, Springer Reference. New York: Springer, 2007, pp. 584-585
Jaghmīnī: Sharaf al‐Dīn Maḥmūd ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿUmar al-Jaghmīnī al‐Khwārizmī
Sally P. Ragep
Flourished Khwārizm (Uzbekistan), first half of the 13th century
Jaghmīnī is the author of the ubiquitous elementary astronomical text al‐Mulakhkhaṣ fī al‐hayʾa al‐basīṭa (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 Mulakhkhaṣ and used as supplements for more advanced teaching texts.
The Mulakhkhaṣ 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‐Mulakhkhaṣ 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 Ṭūsī, Kharaqī, and ʿUrḍī.) 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 Ṭalʿat 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 Mulakhkhaṣ 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 Naṣīr al‐Dīn al‐Ṭūsī since maximum daylight times in some copies of Jaghmīnī's text clearly derive from Ṭūsī's Tadhkira (see Ragep, 2: 470–471). However, this simply represents an excellent example of how the Mulakhkhaṣ, 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 Ṭūsī'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 Mulakhkhaṣ 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 Qāḍīzāde al‐Rūmī, who dedicated his commentary, written in 1412, to Ulugh Beg. Qāḍīzāde'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 Mulakhkhaṣ 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.
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——— (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.
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