From: Thomas Hockey et al. (eds.). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, Springer Reference. New York: Springer, 2007, pp. 1-2

Courtesy of

ʿAbbās Wasīm Efendi

Salim Aydüz

BornBursa, (Turkey), 1689

DiedIstanbul, (Turkey), 1760

ʿAbbās Wasīm Efendi was a scholar who made many valuable contributions to Ottoman astronomy. These included writing a Turkish commentary on the famous astronomical handbook (Zīj) of Ulugh Beg as well as translating ʿAbd al‐ʿAlī al‐Bīrjandī's work on solar and lunar eclipses into Turkish. In addition to being an astronomer, he was a physician, a calligrapher, and a poet; he was also a member of the Khalwatiyya and Qādiriyya religious orders. Besides knowing Turkish, ʿAbbās Wasīm Efendi knew a number of languages that included Arabic, Persian, Latin, French, and ancient Greek.

ʿAbbās Wasīm Efendi, whose father's name was ʿAbd al‐Ramān and whose grandfather's name was ʿAbdallāh, was known as Kambur (Humpback) Vesim Efendi and as Dervish ʿAbbās abīb. He pursued his education with eminent scholars; apparently his teachers appreciated his cleverness, aptitude, and open‐minded attitude. His studies and research took him to Damascus, to Egypt, and to Mecca and Medina (where he performed the ajj or pilgrimage). Upon his return to Istanbul, ʿAbbās Wasīm Efendi opened a pharmacy and a clinic at the Yavuz Selīm Bazaar in the Fati district of Istanbul, where he treated patients for almost 40 years. He wrote and translated many works on medicine and pharmacology, incorporating the information he obtained through his many contacts with European physicians coming to Istanbul. From these contacts ʿAbbās Wasīm Efendi was able to learn Latin and French, translate Italian medical texts into Turkish, and closely follow advancements in medical science in Europe.

ʿAbbās Wasīm Efendi's main contribution to Ottoman astronomical literature is his translations and commentaries. Without any doubt, his most important work is his Turkish commentary on Ulugh Beg's Zīj (astronomical handbook), which was originally written in Persian and was used as the main reference book by the chief astronomers and timekeepers of the Ottoman State for their astrological and astronomical studies. ʿAbbās Wasīm Efendi began working on this book in 1745, at the request of the historian and astronomer Amad Mirī, who convinced him of the importance of a Turkish translation. Upon completion, ʿAbbās Wasīm Effendi presented it to the Ottoman Sultan Mamūd I (reigned: 1730–1754). His commentary is written in clear Turkish, in the same style as Mīram Chelebī's (died: 1525) commentary on the same work. The examples given in the book are all based on ʿAbbās Wasīm Effendi's own calculations for the longitude and latitude of Istanbul. He has included findings from ancient Turkish, Hebrew, and Roman Calendars, which were not in the original. He has also explained Ulugh Beg's method for finding the sine of 1°, which was based on the work of Jamshīd al‐Kāshī. One may deduce that ʿAbbās Wasīm Effendi was interested and well‐informed on astrology since he dedicates a separate and large section of the book to the subject.

A valuable work on solar and lunar eclipses that ʿAbbās Wasīm Efendi also translated into Turkish was Chapter Ten of Bīrjandī's āshiyaʿala shar al‐Mulakhkha fī al‐hayʾa (which was a supercommentary on Jaghmīnī's elementary astronomical textbook). He titled his book Tarjamat kitāb al‐Bīrjandī min al‐khusūf wa‐ʾl‐kusūf.

Another astronomical work concerns lunar crescent visibility, which is important for religious observance. ʿAbbās Wasīm Efendi also wrote a work entitled Risāla al‐wafq dealing with prognostication and astrology.

Selected References

Adıvar, A. Adnan (1982). Osmanlı Türklerinde İlim. Istanbul: Remzi Kitabevi, pp. 187–197.

Ahmet Cevdet Paşa (1892). Tarih‐i Cevdet. Vol. 7, p. 98. Istanbul: Matbaa‐i Osmaniye.

Akıncı, Sırrı (1961). “Hekim Abbas EfendiIstanbul Tip Fakultesi Mecmuası 24: 695–700, (Istanbul Üniversites).

Baltaci, Cahit (1989). “Abbas Vesim Efendi.” In Diyanet İslâm Ansiklopedisi. Vol. 1, pp. 29–30. Istanbul: Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı.

Bursalı, Mehmed Tahir (1923). Osmanlı Müellifleri. Vol. 3, pp. 242–243. Istanbul: Matbaa‐i Âmire, 1342 H.

İzgi, Cevat (1997). Osmanlı Medreselerinde İlim. Vol. 1, p. 419; Vol. 2, pp. 35–38. Istanbul: İz Yayıncılık.

Kurdoğlu, Veli Behçet (1967). Şâir Tabîbler. Istanbul: İstanbul Fetih Derneği, pp. 203–206.

Müstakimzade Süleyman Sadeddin (1928). Tuhfe‐yi Hattatin. Istanbul: Türk Tarih Encümeni, pp. 668–669.

Şevki, Osman (1925). Beş Buçuk Asirlik Türk Tababeti Tarihi. Istanbul: Matbaa‐i Âmire, pp. 169–170.

Uzunçarşılı, İsmail Hakkı (1988). Osmanlı Tarihi. Vol. 4, pt. 2, pp. 530–531. Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu.