From: Thomas Hockey et al. (eds.). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, Springer Reference. New York: Springer, 2007, pp. 788-789

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Mīram Čelebī: Mamūd ibn Qub al‐Dīn Muammad ibn Muammad ibn Mūsā Qāīzāde

İhsan Fazlıoğlu

BornIstanbul, (Turkey), 1475

DiedEdirne, (Turkey), 1525

Mīram Čelebī, one of the most important Ottoman mathematicians and astronomers, attempted to reconcile the mathematical (Ptolemaic) and natural philosophical (Aristotelian) traditions concerning astronomy, while writing astronomical texts that were widely used in the Ottoman Empire.

Mīram Čelebī's grandfather Muammad was īzāde's son; he married ʿAlī Qūshjī's eldest daughter in Samarqand. His father, the scholar Qub al‐Dīn Muammad, came with his grandfather ʿAlī Qūshjī to Istanbul, where Qub al‐Dīn married Mīram Čelebī's mother, who was the daughter of Khōja‐zāde, a famous scholar and philosopher of that time. His father, who had been a teacher at the Manāstır madrasa (school) in Bursa, died at a young age, and so Mīram Čelebī was raised by his grandfather Khōja‐zāde. Mīram was educated not only by his grandfather but also by other leading scholars of the time such as Sinān Pasha. Upon his graduation, he taught at several madrasas (the Gelibolu, the Edirne ʿAlī Bey, and the Bursa Manāstır), becoming the most prominent figure of his time in the mathematical sciences. Indeed Sultan Bāyazīd II (died: 1512) asked him to be his teacher. Mīram Čelebī was appointed as Qāī ʿaskar (a high official in the Ottoman judiciary) of Anatolia during the reign of Yavuz Sultan Selīm I (reigned: 1512–1520); however, shortly thereafter he was dismissed from his post and retired. Towards the end of his life, he went on the pilgrimage to Mecca; upon his return he settled in Edirne. He was buried in the courtyard of the Qāsīm Pasha Mosque.

Mīram Čelebī, most famous for his many works in astronomy, optics, and astrology, was also well known in the fields of history and literature. (He even wrote an important work on hunting.) He wrote in Arabic and Persian (the scientific languages of his time) as well as in Turkish. Among his many students were Muṣṭafā ibn ʿAlī al‐Muwaqqit and the famous philosopher and historian ashköprülüzāde.

Mīram Čelebī inherited the scientific tradition of the Samarqand School of mathematics and astronomy represented by his great‐grandfathers Qāīzāde and ʿAlī Qūshjī. He was also greatly influenced by Ibn al‐Haytham's methodology in the field of optics (ʿilm al‐manāir) and tended to favor his approach of combining mathematics and natural philosophy over the more mathematical approach of both great‐grandparents. In addition, Mīram Čelebī was well informed of the opinions of Kamāl al‐Dīn al‐Fārisī, Ibn Sīnā, and Fakhr al‐Dīn al‐Rāzī, among others.

One of Mīram Čelebī's most important astronomical works is his commentary on the Persian Zīj‐i Ulugh Beg, also known as Dustūr al‐ʿamal fī taṣḥī al‐jadwal, which was completed in 1499 and dedicated to Sultan Bāyazīd II. Mīram Čelebī incorporated findings from Jamshīd al‐Kāshī's Zīj‐i Khāqānī and ʿAlī Qūshjī's Shar Zīj‐i Ulugh Beg. The work, written in a didactic style, provided five examples of solutions for calculating the sine of 1°. More than 30 extant copies of the Dustūr attest to its widespread use by Ottoman astronomers. Mīram Čelebī's mathematical bent is also indicated by a work in which he calculated the ratio of the highest mountain in the world to the diameter of the Earth, a problem going back to Naīr al‐Dīn al‐ūsī.

The most noteworthy work written by Mīram Čelebī on the subject of theoretical astronomy is a commentary on ʿAlī Qūshjī's work al‐Fatiyya fī ʿilm al‐hayʾa. Unlike his great‐grandfather, who sought to eliminate Aristotelian natural philosophy from astronomy, Mīram Čelebī sought to reconcile the mathematical and the natural philosophical in astronomy as he had done in optics. He completed it in 1519 following the request of many of Mīram Čelebī's students when he was teaching al‐Fatiyya. The commentary was both practical and theoretical and was used as a supplementary textbook in the Ottoman madrasas. Mīram Čelebī stated his intention to write an appendix to his commentary in which he would analyze the problems pertaining to the models of Mercury and the Moon. Although there is no extant copy of this appendix, it is an indication of the importance of the subject as well as an example of a continuous astronomical tradition to solve difficulties related to Ptolemy's planetary models.

Many of Mīram Čelebī's other astronomical works deal with instruments, including a variety of quadrants. His Risāla dar Shakkāzī wa Zarqāla az ālāt‐i raadiyya (in Persian) examines two astronomical instruments invented by Zarqālī and their use in astronomical observations. He also wrote on the calendar, the determination of the direction to Mecca (qibla), and various other astronomical problems. His Risāla fī samt al‐qibla is a comprehensive study on the determination of the qibla using astronomical and mathematical calculations. Moreover, in accordance with the tendencies of his time, he wrote original works in the field of astrology, such as al‐Maqāsid fī al‐ikhtiyārāt and Masāʾil‐i Mīram Čelebī (in Turkish).

Throughout his work, Mīram Čelebī placed great importance on rational and empirical evidence for the subjects he investigated. His work in theoretical astronomy was an extension of the Samarqand tradition that his great‐grandfather ʿAlī Qūshjī continued with his colleagues and students in Istanbul. Mīram Čelebī especially enriched its mathematical character. His relationships with other members of the Samarqand School who came to Istanbul (such as Sayyid Munajjim and ʿAbd al‐ʿAlī al‐Birjandī) await further research. More information is also needed on his contribution to studies on observations conducted in Istanbul at the time of Sultan Bāyazīd II.

Selected References

Brockelmann, Carl. (1949 and 1938) Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur. 2nd ed. Vol. 2: 593; Suppl. 2: 665. Leiden: E. J. Brill.

Bursalı, Mehmed Tāhir (1923). Osmanlı Müellifleri. Vol. 3, pp. 298–299. Istanbul, 1342 H. Matbaa‐i & Mire.

Ihsanoğlu, Ekmeleddin, et al. (1997). Osmanlı Astronomi Literatürü Tarihi (OALT) (History of astronomy literature during the Ottoman period). Vol. 1, pp. 90–101 (no. 47). Istanbul: IRCICA.

Kātib Čelebī, Kashf al‐unūn ʿan asāmī al‐kutub wa‐ʾl‐funūn. Vol. 1 (1941), cols. 866, 867, 870, 872, 881; Vol. 2 (1943), cols. 966, 1236. Istanbul: Milli Egition Babanlīgi Yayinlan.

Mehmed Mecdī Efendi (1989). adāʾiq al‐shaqāʾiq. Istanbul, pp. 338–339. Gag‐ri Yayinlare.

Saliba, George (1994). A History of Arabic Astronomy: Planetary Theories during the Golden Age of Islam. New York: New York University Press, pp. 282–284.

Salih Zeki (1913/1914). Asar‐i bakiye. Vol. 1, pp. 199–200. Istanbul: 1329. Matbaa‐i & Mire.

Storey, C. A. (1958). Persian Literature. Vol. 2, pt. 1. A. Mathematics. B. Weights and Measures. C. Astronomy and Astrology. D. Geography. London: Luzac and Co., pp. 79–80.

Suter, H. (1981). Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber und ihre Werke. Amsterdam: APA‐Oriental Press, p. 188 (no. 457).

Tashköprüzāde (1985). Al‐Shaqāʾiq al‐nuʿmāniyya fī ʿulamāʾ al‐dawlat al‐ʿuthmāniyya, edited by Ahmed Subhi Furat. Istanbul, pp. 327–328. Istanbul Ūniversitesi, Edebiyal Falailtesi Yayinlare.