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The Iranian polymath Mulla Qotb Shirazi

Compiled By: Syed Ali Shahbaz
On 7th of the Islamic month of Rabi as-Sani in 634 AH, the Iranian polymath Qotb od-Din Mahmoud ibn Zia od-Din Masoud Kazerouni, popularly known as Mulla Qotb Shirazi, was born in Kazeroun, near Shiraz. He studied medicine under his father, who practiced and taught medicine at the Muzaffari 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 Tousi, 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 Tousi, 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 judge of the cities of Sivas and Malatya.
It was during this time that he compiled the books “Miftaḥ al-Miftah” on Arabic grammar and rhetoric, and “Ikhtiyaraat al-Muzaffariya” on astronomy. He was later sent as envoy by the first Muslim Ilkhanid Mongol ruler of Iran-Iraq, Ahmad Tekudar, to Saif od-Din Qalawun, the Mamluk ruler of Egypt. During his stay in Cairo he collected various critiques and commentaries on Ibn Sina’s “Qanoun” and used them on his commentary on the “Kolliyaat”.
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. He passed away in Tabriz at the age of 77. 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.

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