This Website is discontinued. We changed to Parstoday English
Monday, 29 September 2014 06:45

Iranian Notables, Sources of Global Honor (17)

We continue our last week discussions about the prominent Iranian mathematician and astronomer, Kharazmi. The famous historian, George Sarton, in this book on history of science referred to the first half of 9th Century AD as the Era of Kharazmi.


Kharazmi Festival is a scientific festival in Iran, which aims to honor the scientific services rendered by Abu Jafar Mohammad bin Mousa Kharazmi, in two pupil and student sections. Also, on the calendar, October 26 has been marked as the Day of Al-Jabra in a bid to commemorate Kharazmi’s scientific status and works.

As a reminder, we said that Kharazmi catapulted into fame due to his major works in the domain of mathematics, especially Al-Jabra, and he has also been known as the Father of Al-Jabra.

One of the scientific mathematical works which have been penned by Kharazmi is a preliminary treatise on calculus. This was the first book which elaborated on the spatial value system of numbers in a principled manner. Only the Latin translation of this treatise has remained to this day, which is kept in the library of Cambridge University. In this treatise, this renowned scientific figure details deducing, adding, doubling, halving, multiplying, dividing, and radicalizing whole numbers. Kharazmi calculated the square root of whole numbers based on the approach of the 5th Century Indian mathematician and astronomer, Aryabhata. This treatise of Kharazmi has been translated into Latin by Robert of Chester.

One of the important works of Kharazmi has been the combination of Greek and Indian sciences for the first time in the World of Islam. In this era, Iran and Islamic countries bonded the Eastern and Western worlds. Given the far distance of the East from the West, and the difficult conditions for traveling and transferring cultures and sciences; the importance of this resounding achievement of Kharazmi is sensed more than ever. This acclaimed and prominent Iranian scientist has also carried out a number of other scientific feats. He authored two books on astrolabes, prepared an atlas of Earth, and improved the geographical maps drawn by Ptolemy. The title of the scientific tome of Kharazmi on astronomy is ‘Zij Al-Sindh Hind”. The original text of this book is in Sanskrit language, which was transferred to the World of Islam by a political dignitary throughout the reign of Abbasid caliph, Mansour.  “Zij” referred to a group of astronomical tables.

The translated text of this book of Kharazmi formed the basis of the scientific tomes penned by Mohammad ibn Ibrahim Fazari, and Yaqoub ibn Tareq, in the waning days of 2nd Century AH. This book is the first astronomical work in Arabic language which has fully remained to this day. Kharazmi, in preparation of his astronomical tables also paid attention to the works of other Iranian astronomers. The most important scientific figure, who has benefited from the mentioned book of Kharazmi, has been Abu Rayhan Birouni, who has even analyzed the scientific work of the former. Meanwhile, in the year 1126 AD, this book of Kharazmi was translated into Latin. The mathematical structure and the fundamental values of all of the tables have been practically studied in this Latin translation. Based on the gained mathematical data, the origin of these tables can be specified.

Two other books on astrolabes have been penned by Kharazmi which are about the terms of usage of this astronomical measurement device. The most important point in regard to these two books on astrolabes; and another book named “Al-Rokhameh” authored by this scientist on horizontal sundials, is that there is no trace of their Arabic copies or their translation texts. The only proof is the references which the contemporaries of Kharazmi have made to these books. The book Al-Rokhameh later formed the basis of spherical trigonometry. Kharazmi has also adopted precise and accurate viewpoints in preparation of another treatise; as an astronomer, geographer, and historian. A hand-written copy of this treatise is kept in India.

Kharazmi has also been known as a historian and geographer. He authored two books under the names of Sorat al-Arz, and Al-Tarikh. In the former book, he has elaborated on the geographical length and width of cities and different regions. The names of many locations mentioned in the book of Ptolemy, have also been referred to, in the book of Kharazmi. The book, Sorat al-Arz, has been translated into Italian by Carlo Alfonso Nallino. According to this Italian translator, the map drawn by Kharazmi has been more accurate than the map made by Ptolemy, and has been prepared upon the order of the Abbasid caliph, Ma’moun. The fact of the matter is that Kharazmi’s map is much more accurate than the map of Ptolemy, especially in regard to lands, which were ruled by Muslims. This book has been penned in six chapters, and enlists cities, mountains, seas, islands, and rivers of different geographical regions.

There is no trace of the book Al-Tarikh. However, a number of historians have referred to it as a reference book on the developments of the Islamic era. It is said that in this book, Kharazmi has interpreted history as a means for practicing astronomical principles. The famous historian, Masoudi, in his book, has named Kharazmi as a renowned historian; while several other historians have also referred to Kharazmi’s historical book.

Add comment

Security code