The prominent Iranian physician, mathematician, physicist, astronomer, poet and philosopher, Mulla Qotb Shirazi
Compiled by: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On 24th of the Islamic month of Ramadhan in 710 AH, the prominent Iranian physician, mathematician, physicist, astronomer, poet and philosopher, Qotb od-Din, Mahmoud bin Zia od-Din Masoud Kazerouni, popularly known as Mulla Qotb Shirazi, was born in the southern Iranian city of Kazeroun. He studied medicine under his father, who practiced and taught medicine at the Mozaffari hospital in Shiraz.
He also studied the al-Qanoun fi’t-Tibb or the Canon of Medicine of the Iranian-Islamic genius, Abu Ali ibn Sina, along with its commentaries. In particular he read the commentary of Fakhr od-Din Razi on this book and raised many issues of his own. This led to his decision to write his own commentary, where he resolved many of the issues of this book, especially in the company of the famous genius of his age, Khwaja Naseer od-Din Tusi, who established the observatory at Maragha in northwestern Iran. Ten years later, he quit his medical profession, came to Maragha to devote his time to further education under the guidance of Naseer od-Din Tusi, who taught him astronomy in addition to Ibn Sina’s masterpiece on remarks and admonitions titled “al-Isharaat wa'l-Tanbihaat”.
One of the important scientific projects was completion of the new astronomical table or Zij. Qotb od-Din Shirazi subsequently traveled to Khorasan in the company of Naseer od-Din Tousi where he stayed to study under Najm od-Din Katebi Qazvini in the town of Jovayn and become his assistant. Later he journeyed to Qazvin, Isfahan, Baghdad, and Qonya in Anatolia or modern day Turkey, where he studied the “Jam'e al-Osoul” of Ibn Atheer with Sadr od-Din Qonawi. The governor of Qonya, appointed him as the judge of the cities of Sivas and Malatya. It was during this time that he compiled the books the “Meftah al-Meftah” on Arabic grammar and rhetoric, and Ikhtiyaraat al-Mozaffariya on astronomy.
He was later sent as envoy by the Ilkhanid ruler of Iran and Iraq, Ahmad Takudar, to Sayf od-Din Qalawun, the Mamluk ruler of Egypt. During his stay in Egypt he collected various critiques and commentaries on Ibn Sina’s Qanoun and used them on his commentary on the “Kulliyaat”. The last part of Qotb ad-Din Shirazi's active career was teaching the Qanoun and the “Kitab ash-Shefa” the philosophical magnum opus of Ibn Sina in Syria. Later he left for Tabriz and died shortly after.
He wrote in both Arabic and Persian on a wide variety of topics including medicine, astronomy, geography, mathematics, philosophy and religion. Among his works is “Nihayat al-Idraak fi Dirayaat al-Aflaak” on the movement of planets, and he identified observations by Ibn Sina on the transits of Venus and Mercury, centuries before European scientists.