From: Thomas Hockey et al. (eds.). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, Springer Reference. New York: Springer, 2007, p. 990

Courtesy of

Rudānī: Abū ʿAbdallāh Muammad ibn Sulaymān (Muammad) al‐Fāsī ibn āhir al‐Rudānī al‐Sūsī al‐Mālikī [al‐Maghribī]

Salim Ayduz

BornTārūdānt, (Morocco), circa 1627

DiedDamascus, (Syria), 1683

Rudānī, also known as al‐Maghribī, was a 17th‐century scholar who lived in the Ottoman territories and was known for his work on astronomical instruments. In addition to astronomy, he was a poet and also wrote on mathematics, hadith (traditions of the Prophet), Qurʾān interpretation, and grammar. There is no information about Rudānī's elementary education or about his family background. He received his education in the madrasas (schools) of Morocco and Algeria. Then he traveled to the east, visiting Egypt, Damascus, and Istanbul and receiving education from eminent scholars along the way. Eventually, Rudānī moved to the ijāz in Arabia, where he became one of the most respected scholars in the area, and was appointed governor. But due to a conflict, he was exiled to Damascus.

In the field of astronomy, Rudānī wrote works on instruments, timekeeping, and the qibla (direction to Mecca). He sought practical solutions and ways to simplify the calculations. With these purposes in mind, Rudānī invented a sphere, called al‐jayb al‐jāmiʿa, which was a spherical device in which another sphere (painted blue) with a different axis was attached to it. This second sphere was divided into two parts in which the zodiacal signs with their sections and regions were drawn. The purpose of this device was to facilitate timekeeping with the use of this one instrument. The device, easily constructed, was a universal instrument (i. e., it could be used for different longitudes and latitudes). Unfortunately, there is no existing sample of this device, but Rudānī wrote a book describing it, in Arabic, entitled al‐Nāfiʿa fī ʿamal al‐jāmiʿa. It was written in Medina in 1662 and contains 45 parts and a conclusion. Rudānī's best‐known work in the field of astronomy is Bahja al‐ullāb fī al‐ʿamal bi‐ʾl‐asurlāb, a book written in Arabic on how to make and use an astrolabe. There are 13 extant copies of this particular work. Interestingly, Rudānī also wrote three other works on the same subject. Other astronomical works by Rudānī include one on prayer times and another on the calendar in rhyme.

Selected References

Al‐ʿAyyāshī, Abū Sālim ʿAbdallāh ibn Muammad (1899). Rilat al‐Shaykh al‐Imām Abi Sālim al‐ʿAyyāshī. Vol. 2, p. 30. Fez.

Al‐Kattānī, ʿAbd al‐ayy ibn ʿAbd al‐Kabīr (1982). Fihris al‐fahāris. Beirut, p. 317.

Al‐Muibbī, Muammad (1966). Khulāat al‐athar fī aʿyān al‐qarn al‐ādī ʿashar. Vol. 4, pp. 204–208. Beirut.

Al‐ Ziriklī, Khayr al‐Dīn (1980). al‐Aʿlām. Vol. 6, pp. 151–152. Beirut.

Brockelmann, Carl. Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur. 2nd ed. Vol. 2 (1949): 610–611; Suppl. 2 (1938): 691. Leiden: E. J. Brill.

Dalān, Amad ibn Zaynī (1887). Khulāat al‐kalām fī bayān umarāʾ al‐balad al‐arām. Egypt, pp. 102–104.

Ibn Sūdah, ʿAbd al‐Salām ibn ʿAbd al‐Qādir (1950). Dalil muʾarrikh al‐Maghrib. Tetouan, p. 340.

İhsanoğlu, Ekmeleddin, et al. (1997). Osmanlı Astronomi Literatürü Tarihi (OALT) (History of astronomy literature during the Ottoman period). Vol. 1, pp. 317–321. Istanbul: IRCICA.

İzgi, Cevat (1997). Osmanlı Medreselerinde İlim. Vol. 1, pp. 118–119. Istanbul.

Kaḥḥālah, ʿUmar Riā (1985). Muʿjam al‐muʾallifīn. Vol. 11, p. 221. Beirut.

Suter, Heinrich (1981). Die Mathematiker und Astronomen der Araber und ihre Werke. Amsterdam: APA‐Oriental Press, p. 203 (no. 527).