From: Thomas Hockey et al. (eds.). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, Springer Reference. New York: Springer, 2007, p. 1058

Courtesy of

Sib al‐Māridīnī: Muammad ibn Muammad ibn Amad Abū ʿAbd Allāh Badr [Shams] al‐Dīn al‐Mi al‐Dimashqī

Gregg De Young

Bornpossibly Damascus, (Syria), 1423

Diedpossibly Cairo, (Egypt), circa 1495

Sib al‐Māridīnī was a prolific author of astronomical texts, which were still being used and studied into the 19th century. Little is known with certainty about his life. It is thought that he grew up in Damascus, where his maternal grandfather, ʿAbd Allāh ibn Khalīl ibn Yūsuf Jamāl al‐Dīn al‐Māridīnī (died: 1406), was the muwaqqit (timekeeper in charge of regulating the daily rituals of the Islamic community) of the Umayyad Mosque. Later he traveled to Cairo, where tradition places him as the student of Ibn al‐Majdī.

Sib al‐Māridīnī wrote extensively on mathematics and mathematical astronomy. Like his grandfather, he was especially interested in astronomical instruments. The bio–bibliographical sources list some 25 treatises, many of which exist today in multiple copies. According to the historian al‐Jabartī (died: 1822), Sib al‐Māridīnī's works on mīqāt (ritual timekeeping) and on astronomical instruments were still being studied in the curriculum of Cairo's al‐Azhar, one of the preeminent educational institutions in the Islamic world, at about the beginning of the 19th century.

Among Sib al‐Māridīnī's works related to astronomy and instruments are: (1) Risāla fī al‐ʿAmal bi‐ʾl‐rubʿal‐mujayyab (on using the sine quadrant); (2) Raqāʾiq al‐aqāʾiq (on calculating with degrees and minutes); (3) Zubd al‐raqāʾiq (this may be an extract from the previous treatise); (4) Muqaddima (introduction) to sine problems and spherical relations; (5) al‐uruq al‐saniyya (on sexagesimal calculations); (6) al‐Nujūm al‐āhirāt (on the muqanarāt quadrant); (7) Qaf al‐āhirāt (apparently an extract from the previous treatise); (8) Hāwī al‐mukhtaarāt (another discussion of the muqanarāt quadrant); (9) Iẓḥār al‐sirr al‐mawūʿ (use of a specialized quadrant); (10) Hidāyat al‐ʿāmil (on another kind of specialized quadrant); (11) Hidāyat al‐sāʾil (on the quadrant mentioned in the previous entry); (12) al‐Malab (on the sine quadrant); (13) al‐Tufa al‐manūriyya (on quadrants); (14) Muqaddima (introduction to construction of sundials); (15) a treatise on the equatorial circle; and (16) a treatise on the quadrant, astrolabe, and calendar.

Selected References

King, David A. (1975). “Al‐Khalīlī's Qibla Table.” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 34: 81–122. (Reprinted in King, Islamic Mathematical Astronomy, XIII. London: Variorum Reprints, 1986.) (A discussion of Māridīnī's method for finding the qibla direction and translation of a crucial passage appears on pp. 111–115.)

——— (1983). “The Astronomy of the Mamluks.” Isis 74: 531–555. (Reprinted in King, Islamic Mathematical Astronomy, III. London: Variorum Reprints, 1986.) (A general survey of Islamic astronomical activities at the time of Māridīnī.)

——— (1986). “Ḳibla: Astronomical Aspects.” In Encyclopaedia of Islam. 2nd ed. Vol. 5, pp. 83–88. Leiden: E. J. Brill. (Reprinted in King, Astronomy in the Service of Islam, IX. London: Variorum, 1993.)

Schmalzl, Peter (1929). Zur Geschichte des Quadranten bei den Arabern. Munich: Druck der Salesianischen Offizin. (Outdated, but still the most comprehensive general study of quadrants in Islamic culture.)

Schoy, Karl (1924). “Sonnenuhren der spätarabischen Astronomie.” Isis 6: 332–360. (A discussion of Arabic sources for the mathematical aspects of sundial construction, including tables computed for the latitude of Cairo.)