Home » Islam » Islamic History » Muslim Scientists of Andulus
   About Us
   Islamic Sites
   Special Occasions
   Audio Channel
   Weather (Mashhad)
   Islamic World News Sites
   Yellow Pages (Mashhad)
   Souvenir Album

Muslim Scientists of Andulus

Ibn Jubayr
Abu ‘l-Husayn Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Jubayr was born in 1145 A.C to a good family in Valencia, Muslim Spain. It is recorded that he was the descendant of Abd al-Salam ibn Jubayr of the tribe of Kinanah near Makkah, who had entered Spain in 740 A.D with the army sent by the Caliph of Damascus under the general Balj ibn Bishr al-Qushayri to quell the Berber insurrection in his Spanish provinces. During the time of Ahmad ibn Jubayr the Berber dynasty of the Almohades had established themselves as independent rulers of Muslim Spain.
Ahmad ibn Jubayr had distinguished himself by his learning and character and attained the post of a secretary to the Moorish Governor of Granada, then the wealthiest and most splendid city of all Spain. He was a sincere Muslim who emulated the temperance of the Holy Prophet

Ibn Battuta
Abou Abdallah Muhammad ibn Abdallah ibn Muhammad Ibnou Ibrahim said Ibn Battuta Born in Tangier into a traditional family of judges, ibn-Batuta was 21 years old when he set out to make a pilgrimage to Mecca and complete his studies of the law. On his way to Mecca he became fascinated with the people and places he visited. By the time he reached Mecca, he had decided to devote himself to travel instead of studying the law. From that point on, he carefully avoided traveling the same route twice, enabling him to see new routes and places.
Ibn-Batuta traveled all over the Arab peninsula, down the Red Sea, to Ethiopia, and along the east coast of Africa. He confirmed what ibn-Haukal had said about the torrid zone below the equator being populated when he traveled the coast and visited Arab trading markets.
He later traveled east and north to Baghdad, Persia, the Black Sea, the Russian steppes, eventually reaching Bukhara and Samarkand. He received a job from the Mongol emperor in Delhi and traveled through the mountains of Afghanistan. While at his post in Delhi he received the opportunity to travel widely in India.
Ibn-Batuta later was appointed to become the ambassador to China by the Mongol emperor. On his way to China he received the opportunity to see Indonesia, traveling to the Maldive Islands, Ceylon, Sumatra, and finally China.
After spending time in China, ibn-Batuta returned home in 1350. He traveled to Fez, the capitol of Morocco. He made a trip north into Spain, and he later made a trip south across the Sahara to Timbuktu. There he learned about the black Muslim tribes of West Africa.
Upon his return in 1353, he decided to settle in Fez and wrote accounts of his travels by order of the Sultan  mérinide, Abu ‘Inan. He wrote about the many different places he had traveled to in his book Rehla (Travels). In the book he notes the different climates, peoples, and customs. Ibn-Batuta was the most traveled person of his time, traveling an estimated 75,000 miles.

Al-Qalasadi (or al-Kalasadi, as it is sometimes written) was born in Bastah, a Moorish city in Andalusia, now a part of Spain. Andalusia was derived from the Arabic name al-Andalus which was originally applied by the Muslims to the whole of present day Spain and Portugal, an area which they occupied from the 8th century. In the 11th century Christians began to retake the area, slowly moving down from the north and east. Andalusia was then the name applied to the region remaining under Muslim rule.
The Christian reconquest took four hundred years. Andalusia had prospered during the 13th century and the Alhambra, a wonderful palace and fortress of the rulers of Granada, was largely completed by 1360. The Christian kingdom of Castile to the north had suffered civil strife through the 14th century, so Andalusia had prospered but, in 1407, five years before al-Qalasadi was born, Castile began a major push to conquer the whole of Spain and Portugal.
Al-Qalasadi was a Muslim who was brought up in Bastah which is north-east of Granada city. It must have been a difficult period in which to live in Bastah, with a steady, yet intermittent, encroachment of Castile towards the city. Al-Qalasadi began his education in Bastah, studying law, the Qur'an and the science of fixed shares in an estate. He moved south, away from the war zone, to Granada where he continued his studies, in particular philosophy, science and Muslim law.
Al-Qalasadi chose to remain in the Islamic world and he left Granada and travelled widely throughout Islamic. In particular he spent much time in the North Africa, living in Islamic countries which had supported Andalusia, both with political and with military aid in its resistance to the Christian attacks. He spent some time in Tlemcen (now in northwestern Algeria, near the Moroccan border) where he studied under teachers who taught him arithmetic and its applications. Form there al-Qalasadi went to Egypt where again he studied with some of the leading scholars. Eventually al-Qalasadi reached Mecca, the purpose of his pilgrimage, and returned to Granada.
Things were in a bad way when al-Qalasadi returned to Granada. The last remaining parts of the Muslim state were under severe attack from the Christians of Aragon and Castile. However, al-Qalasadi taught and wrote some of his major works during this period but eventually the advancing Christian armies made life impossible for him. Al-Qalasadi [5]:-
Courageously ... exerted himself in trying to organise resistance, but he was soon forced to join the Andalusian hordes of refugees that were spreading over the Maghrib.
The defeat of the whole Muslim state in Granada finally took place until 1492, six years after al-Qalasadi's death in North Africa, when the city of Granada fell to the Christian Castile.
In [2] al-Qalasadi is described as a specialist in the apportioning of inheritances who took the first steps toward the introduction of algebraic symbolism. His contributions to algebraic symbolism were in using short Arabic words, or just their initial letters, as mathematical symbols.
Al-Qalasadi wrote several books on arithmetic and one on algebra. Some of these are commentaries such as his commentary on the Talkhis amal al-hisab (Summary of arithmetical operations) by ibn al-Banna. Ibn al-Banna was a Moroccan who had died over 100 years before al-Qalasadi wrote his commentary but, perhaps surprisingly, ibn al-Banna himself had written a commentary on his own work.
Certainly al-Qalasadi wrote original works. His major treatise was al-Tabsira fi'lm al-hisab (Clarification of the science of arithmetic). This was a difficult text and, perhaps to some extent following the example of ibn al-Banna, al-Qalasadi followed it up by writing a simpler version which he called Unveiling the science of arithmetic. Even this he must have considered to be too difficult to be used as a teaching book, for he wrote yet a third version Unfolding the secrets of the use of dust letters.
The title of this work needs some explanation. The early methods of calculating with Hindu numerals involved the use of a dust board. A dust board was used because the methods required the moving of numbers around in the calculation and rubbing some out as the calculation proceeded. The dust board allowed this in the same sort of way that one can use a blackboard, chalk and a blackboard eraser. However, al-Uqlidisi in the tenth century had showed how to modify arithmetical techniques so that pen and paper could be used instead of the dust board. In his arithmetic texts al-Qalasadi computed n2, n3 and used the method of successive approximation to determine square roots.
Both of the simpler versions of al-Qalasadi's arithmetic treatise proved popular in teaching arithmetic in North Africa and the works were in use for over 100 years. It is now certain that, despite being popular teaching books, there was little original in al-Qalasadi's work. For example, the sequences  n2 and  n3 had been studied by al-Samawal and al-Baghdadi, and methods for computing square roots were known to the Babylonians.
However, this was poorly understood by the historians of the 19th century who first tried to understand the contributions to mathematics by the Muslims. The difficulty was that al-Qalasadi, being one of the last of the mathematicians associated with the major mathematical contributions by the Muslims and Arabs, was better known than many of the earlier contributors. Ignorance of the earlier contributions led historians to give too much credit to al-Qalasadi who in many ways displayed the same characteristics as the later ancient Greek mathematicians.
Once established, however, ideas are harder to overturn than one might imagine. J Samso-Moya, reviewing [6]. writes:-
The author analyses the work of the mathematicians of the Maghrib as if they were entirely independent of their predecessors in Eastern Islam. This leads him to stress the importance of the algebraic symbolism used by al-Qalasadi (1412-1486) without taking into consideration similar previous attempts both in Eastern and in Western Islam, a fact which was already known - in the second half of the 19th century - by F Woepcke.
The book [2] is a reprint of Woepcke's 19th
century treatise refered to by Samso-Moya. Again reviewing [3] J Samso-Moya writes:-
The author seems to believe that algebraic symbolism was first developed in Islam by the Spanish-Arabic mathematicians Ibn al-Banna (d. 1321, a Moroccan) and al-Qalasadi (d. 1486): the extreme rarity of algebraical symbolism in the parts dedicated to algebra in medieval Italian books on the abacus and arithmetic is possibly due to the fact that Leonardo Fibonacci (d. after 1240), whose "Liber abaci" was extremely influential in medieval Italy, was not aware of the work of Andalusian mathematicians.
Certainly symbols were not the invention of al-Qalasadi. Perhaps even more telling is that the particular symbols he used were not even his own invention since the same ones had been used by other Muslim mathematicians in North Africa 100 years earlier. Symbols had been used in the east of the Muslim empire even earlier than that. We should not, however, let any of this argument detract from al-Qalasadi's contribution. We must stress that he does not clam originality - this was the incorrect invention of historians 400 years later.

Abu Abdallah Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Abdallah Ibn Idris al-Qurtubi al-Hasani, was bom in Ceuta, Spain, in 1099 A.D. He was educated in Cordova. Later he travelled far and wide in connection with his studies and then flourished at the Norman court in Palermo. The date of his death is controversial, being either 1166 or 1180 A.D.
Biographical notes on him are to be found rathe rararely, and according to F. Pons Boigues the underlying reason is the fact that the Arab biographers considered al-Idrisi to be a renegade, since he had been associated with the court of a Christian king and written in praise of him, in his work. The circumstances which led him to settle in Sicily at the court of Roger II are not on record.
His major contribution lies in medicinal plants as presented in his several books, specially Kitab al-Jami-li-Sifat Ashtat al-Nabatat. He studied and reviewed all the literature on the subject of medicinal plants and formed the opinion that very little original material had been added to this branch of knowledge since the early Greek work. He, therefore, collected plants and data not reported earlier and added this to the subject of botany, with special reference to medicinal plants. Thus, a large number of new drugs plants together with their evaluation became available to the medical practitioners. He has given the names of the drugs in six languages: Syriac, Greek, Persian, Hindi, Latin and Berber.
In addition to the above, he made original contributions to geography, especially as related to economics, physical factors and cultural aspects. He made a planishere in silver for King Roger II, and described the world in Al-Kitab al-Rujari (Roger's Book), also entitled Nuzhat al-Mushtaq fi Ikhtiraq al-Afaq (The delight of him who desires to journey through the climates). This is practically a geographical encyclopaedia of the time, containing information not only on Asia and Africa, but also Western countries.
Al-Idrisi, later on, also compiled another geographical encyclo- paedia, larger than the former entitled Rawd-Unnas wa-Nuzhat al-Nafs (Pleasure of men and delight of souls) also known as Kitab al- Mamalik wa al-Masalik.
Apart from botany and geography, Idrisi also wrote on fauna, zoology and therapeutical aspects. His work was soon translated into Latin and, especially, his books on geography remained popular both in the East and the West for several centuries.

Muhyi l'din al-Maghribi
Muhyi l'din al-Maghribi was an eminent astronomer who was born in Spain, but who first worked in Damascus in Syria. His life seems to have been greatly affected by the wars of the period and he seems to have found favour with the winning side eventually working with al-Tusi at the Mongol observatory at Maragha, Iran.
In 1256 the castle of Alamut was attacked by the forces of the Mongol leader Hulegu, a grandson of Genghis Khan, who was at that time set on extending Mongol power in Islamic areas. Some claim that al-Tusi, who was in the castle at this time, betrayed the defences of Alamut to the invading Mongols. Certainly Hulegu's forces destroyed Alamut and since Hulegu was himself interested in science, he treated al-Tusi with great respect. Hulegu attacked Baghdad in 1258, laid siege to the city, and entered it in February 1258. Hulegu, however, had made Maragha, in the Azerbaijan region of northwestern Iran, his capital.
Muhyi l'din went to Maragha in 1258 as a guest of Hulegu. Al-Tusi and Muhyi l'din were involved in the construction of an Observatory. Work began in 1259 west of Maragha, and traces of it can still be seen there today. The observatory at Maragha became operational in 1262. There is a unique manuscript by Muhyi l'din in which he lists precise observations made at the Maragha Observatory between 1262 and 1274. The author of [4] discusses the three observations of the sun and the mathematical methods which Muhyi l'din used to find the solar eccentricity and apogee.
Perhaps Muhyi l'din is most famous for his work on trigonometry. He wrote Book on the theorem of Menelaus and Treatise on the calculation of sines. In this second work he used interpolation to calculate an approximate value for the sine of one degree. He did this by two different methods, then compared the values he obtained achieving an accuracy of 4 places. A more accurate value was not obtained until the work of Qadi Zada and al-Kashi. In doing this work Muhyi l'din also found an approximate value for   which he compared with the bounds obtained by Archimedes using 96 inscribed and circumscribed polygons.
Muhyi l'din also considered the classical problem of doubling the cube which he approached by Hippocrates' method of finding two mean proportionals between two given lines.
Another important aspect of Muhyi l'din's work was the critical commentaries which he produced on some of the classic Greek works such as Euclid's Elements, Apollonius's Conics, Theodosius's Spherics, and Menelaus's Spherics. A particularly important commentary by Muhyi l'din is that on Book XV of the Elements (which was not written by Euclid). Hypsicles added a Book XIV to the Elements which dealt with the mensuration of the regular dodecahedron and icosahedron. Later Book XV was written in Arabic by an unknown author, perhaps using Greek works which are now lost. Book XV has common features with Book XIV by Hypsicles but contains considerably more.
The original Arabic version of Book XV is lost but there are four surviving manuscripts containing Muhyi l'din's commentary on it. We know that there was more than one version of the Arabic Book XV, for recently a Hebrew translation of Book XV has been discovered which has been translated from a different version to that which Muhyi l'din used for his commentary. Muhyi l'din's Book XV contains [3]:-
... the ratios of (1) the edges, (2) the faces, (3) the surface areas, (4) the perpendicular distances from the centre to a face and (5) the volumes of the five regular polyhedra inscribed in one sphere.

 Ahmed ibn Majid
Shehab Al Din Ahmed ibn Majid was born in Julfar (today’s Ras Al Khaimah) in the early 1430s. One of the greatest Arabian navigators throughout history, he called himself "The Lion of the Sea".
Historical accounts show that Ibn Majid aided the famous Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama in his travels by directing him towards India, which he reached via Cape Horn in August 1498. Ibn Majid descended from a long line of navigators and scholars. He was the son and grandson of professional navigators and compiled some 40 manuals of seafaring, incorporating works of the early 10th century as well as those of his own family.
Perhaps the most important of these manuals is an accurate knowledge of the currents and winds in the seas in which he sailed such as the winds of the monsoons that helped carry vessels to India.
He was educated by his father and memorized the Holy Koran at an early age, in the traditional manner of Islamic schooling. Along with his navigation skills, which he learned from his ancestors, he also studied geography, astronomy, and Arabic literature.
He was one of the most famous compilers of seafaring manuals. In 895 AH (1489 AD), Ibn Majid completed his famous book "The Benefits and Principles of Oceanography" which is divided into 12 sections. The book covers the origins of navigation, compasses, naval routes, astronomical meteorology, information on the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea, and the Indian Ocean as well as information on islands such as Madagascar and the Comoros.
Ibn Majid’s rich contribution benefited the sciences of geography and oceanography in a unique way. A pioneer in the realm of navigation, his name is, and will remain, the pride of all Arabs.

Ibn Tufayl
Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn 'Abd al-Malik Ibn Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Tufayl al-Qaysi is known to the West as Abubacer. It can be estimated that he was born in the first decade of the sixth century ah (twelfth century ad), based on the fact that he was in his sixties when he met Ibn Rushd in ah 564/ad 1169. Born in Wadi Ash (Guadix), a small town in Spain about sixty kilometres northeast of Granada, he died in Morocco in ah 581/ad 1185. Ibn Tufayl was the second most important Muslim philosopher in the West, the first being Ibn Bajja.
With the exception of some fragments of poetry, his only extant work is Hayy Ibn Yaqzan (The Living Son of the Vigilant). The title and names of characters of this work are borrowed from two of Ibn Sina's philosophical treatises, Hayy Ibn Yaqzan and Salaman and Absal, and its framework is borrowed from an ancient eastern tale, The Story of the Idol and of the King and His Daughter. The title is taken from the name of the main character, Hayy Ibn Yaqzan. In the introduction and conclusion, the author addresses the reader directly; in other parts of the work, he uses a 'thin veil', a symbolic form, a story to express his philosophical views.

Ibn Atiyyah
Abd Al-Haqq ibn Ghalib ibn Abd Al-Rahman, who was better known as Ibn Atiyyah, after his seventh grandfather, was born in 481 AH, corresponding to 1088 CE, in Granada in the Andalus, or Islamic Spain. He grew up in a scholarly family. His father was a well-known scholar of Fiqh and Hadith, who traveled to the eastern parts of the Muslim world and learned under many scholars of repute. He was later appointed a judge in Granada, which testifies to his high standing as a scholar.
Ibn Atiyyah thus grew up in a family home frequented by scholars who studied under his father. This motivated him to follow in his father’s footsteps, and he was soon studying under his father and other scholars, benefiting by constant encouragement by the father who was aware that his son was gifted with sharp intelligence. Indeed, Ibn Atiyyah was a meticulous scholar, fond of obtaining books and keen to study so that he could have a grasp of every discipline. He did not confine himself to Islamic studies, but read in all fields, feeling that this would give him a better understanding of the Qur’an. He also traveled to all centers and cities in the Andalus, meeting a large number of scholars and learning from them, and this made him an accomplished scholar, well-known throughout the Andalus, and earning praise from many quarters. He was later to become a judge in Muria, when he gained fine reputation for his keenness to establish justice.
His was a time of much unrest in the Andalus, with unbelievers trying to attack the Muslim areas and sometimes gaining grounds. He joined the army and fought in several battles against unbelievers. He further advocated a strong stand by all Muslims in the Andalus, writing to princes and governors, reminding them of their duty to Islam and encouraging them to support God’s cause. All this ensured for him a good reputation as a scholar and a committed soldier of Islam.
Ibn Atiyyah wrote several books, one of these is Al-Ansab, in which he criticizes a book by one of his contemporaries. A short book called Al-Barnamaj, which contains biographies of a number of his teachers, survives in manuscript form. He wrote poetry, reflecting his thorough knowledge of the Arabic language. However, his main and voluminous work is a commentary on the Qur’an, entitled Al-Muharrar Al-Wajeez, which reflects his broad knowledge in a variety of disciplines and his outstanding achievement. Indeed, this is further reflected by the fact that his students included a number who were to achieve high renown as scholars in their own right.
Ibn Atiyyah’s commentary on the Qur’an is celebrated as one of the best. Scholars of all types have praised it in clear terms. Comparing it with the famous commentary by Zamakhshari, Imam Ibn Taimiyah says: “Ibn Atiyyah’s commentary is far better than that of Zamakhshari, and more accurate in its research and quotation. It is perhaps the most reliable of Qur’anic commentaries.” Ibn Khaldoon describes Ibn Atiyyah’s effort as: “He summed up all Qur’anic commentaries and endeavored to include only the most accurate.” With such testimonies by such high-ranking authorities, we realize that Ibn Atiyyah commanded a truly high position among Qur’anic scholars.
When Ibn Atiyyah decided to pursue his goal of writing a commentary on the Qur’an, he felt that he needed to prepare himself well for this great task. He realized that he needed to be familiar with all branches of knowledge. He then went deep into related disciplines, selecting the most reliable of works in each discipline, particularly Qur’anic commentary, methods of recitation, Islamic law or Fiqh, Arabic linguistics and literature, and theology, making sure to study the original sources of each discipline.
Ibn Atiyyah decided to make his book a comprehensive one, so that Qur’anic commentary should become the top field of Islamic scholarship. Thus, he assigns due importance to each and every aspect of the Qur’an, with precision of style. He includes nothing of the numerous stories, learned from other religions and known as Isaeliyyat, which found their way into earlier commentaries. Thus, Ibn Atiyyah distinguishes himself by his scholarly approach to his meticulous research.
When Ibn Atiyyah quotes from earlier scholars, he looks very critically at what they say, making sure that what he quotes is correct and accurate. In this way, he was able to purge any interpretation that sought to give Qur’anic words or statements anything other than their immediate meanings. He rejects all suggestions that Qur’anic statements may have hidden meanings that could be known only to an elite group of people. To him, the Qur’an is God’s book addressed to all mankind in a direct and straightforward manner. This does not allow any room for hidden meaning.
Ibn Atiyyah explains his methodology stating: “I move in this commentary according to the word order of every verse, explaining its ruling, grammatical position, linguistic function, meaning and pronunciation in different methods of recitation.” Thus, he tackles every word of the Qur’an, according to its word order, without moving from one aspect to another until he has completed its discussion. Thus, he finishes with its linguistic function before speaking about its meaning, and then moves on to its pronunciation. However, he attaches great importance to grammar and linguistics, which makes his book an authority on the subject. This is very logical because it is the key to understanding the Qur’an.
When he speaks of the legal implication of verses and sentences, Ibn Atiyyah does not confine himself to his school of Fiqh, which is the Maliki school, nor does he always support the views of his school. He weighs up the evidence supporting each view and gives greater weight to other views when they have more solid basis. When he discusses a point, he gives it his full attention, treating it fully and arriving at whatever conclusion he determines before he moves on to another point. This keeps his reader focused, able to grasp the subject matter, without being distracted by side issues. Furthermore, Ibn Atiyyah does not discuss in any great detail the finer elements of the Qur’anic style or imagery. It is noticeable that he tries to take Qur’anic words in their real sense, wherever this is possible. Thus, he limits the allegorical scope of Qur’anic texts. Besides, this approach makes him disinclined to include philosophers’ views or scholastic discourse. This adds to the merit of his commentary.
Ibn Atiyyah’s commentary was very influential on Qur’anic commentators in later generations. We see his influence at its clearest in the works of Al-Qurtobi (d. 671), Muhammad ibn Hayyan (d. 745), and Al-Tha’alibi (d. 875).
Despite the fact that Ibn Atiyyah achieved fame as a scholar, we find some controversy concerning the date of his death, although all biographies agree about the year of his birth. Thus, we are told that he died in 541, 542 and 545, but perhaps the first is the most accurate. May God shower His mercy on him.
Abdur-Rahman Al-Ghafiqi
`Abdur-Rahman Al-Ghafiqi, the hero of the Court of Martyrs. He spent two years preparing for fighting against the non-Muslims in European countries. He started such preparations by reforming the interior affairs in Muslim community, so that he could make people unite, Arabs and non-Arabs, Muslims and Copts, under one banner to conquer the enemies of Islam.
He entered the south of France with 100,000 warriors and could conquer them. Hence the European leaders felt threatened by him. So, they gathered under leadership of Sharl Martel with all available forces; but this didn’t stop the Muslim army from conquering the cities of Tours and Poitiers. Then the two opposing armies engaged in fierce battle for seven days, and in the eighth day Muslims had the upper hand over their enemy, and they were about to win the battle when a group of the enemy invaded Muslims’ camp of booties. Hence, in chasing them Muslim army scattered.
In an attempt to unify his army, the great leader, `Abdur-Rahman Al-Ghafiqi was thrown with an arrow that killed him. On losing their leader, chaos prevailed in the Muslim army, and they retreated, leaving the arena for Sharl Martel and his forces. That incident reminds us of what happened during the battle of Uhud, when Muslims left the battle for the booty. This reflects the weak points in human nature

Copyright © 1998 - 2018 Imam Reza (A.S.) Network, All rights reserved.