Muhammad Ibn Kathir Al-Farghani (Scholar of Stars & Planets)

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(Scholar of Stars & Planets)


Muhammad Ibn Kathir Al-Farghani was born in Farghana, Trans-oxania in the year 832, AD, Al Farghani made massive investigations in the field of Astronomy, his principal works are still available that he compiled in Arabic. The works were later translated in many languages. Ibn Kathir’s collective works on Astronomy are most comprehensive, and significant. His intense informative inscription under the title of ‘Jawami ILm- Najum Wal- Hark at Al- Samaywyys’ (the book on Celestial Motion and thorough Science of the Stars) is a Masterpiece.  Among his other works where he explains in detail the movements of the Stars in their Orbits, with a particular significance,  he also determined the Diameter of the Earth to be 6,500 Miles, and also the Diameters of the planets he described in detail. Al Farghani’s  acknowledged ’ Ptolemy’s Theory, and the importance of the Precession, where he stressed on the point that it not only affected the Stars but also the Planets. The influence of Al Farghani’s  investigations on Medieval Europe is clearly justified by the presence of his innumerable Latin Manuscripts in European Libraries. References to it by Medieval Writers are many, and there is no doubt that his works were   greatly responsible for spreading knowledge of Ptolemaic Astronomy which later  extended till ‘Sacrobosco’s Sphere’.

This renowned compilation by Ibn Kathir Al Farghani is available in the library of Princeton University even today . The book of great knowledge with a title  ‘Kitab al- Fusal Al- Thalathin’ was translated in Latin in the 12th Century, one of the translations of this book was arranged by a great intellectual  John Seville in the year 1135, AD, and another translation of the same book was done by ‘Gerrard of Cremona’, somewhere around 1175 AD. However, the printed published works with their translation appeared at Farghana in the year 1493, in Nuremberg it was published in the year 1537 AD, and  in Paris, in 1546 AD. Much later these works were published  at ‘Berkeley’s in 1943. The translation by ‘Gerrard of Cremona’ was not published till 1910, but later it was published and was  highly acknowledged on grand scale. Al-Farghani’s best-known and most influential works, that are best known in Europe as ‘The Elements” were greatly utilized for Innovative Methods for Astronomy.  Abd al-Azizal-Qabisi, in 967 AD, wrote a commentary on it, which is conserved in the Istanbul Scripts. Al Farghani’s further compiled thesis were published  under the title of  ‘Fi Sanal Al-Asturlab’. The original text by Al Farghani is widely existent in Berlin, Germany and Paris, France, these intricate studies by Al- Farghani exercised great influence upon European Astronomy before Regiomontanus. ‘The Elements’ of Al-Farghani perpetually influenced, and Sacrobosco’s Sphere was clearly obliged for his genius.

It was from “The Elements” (in Gerard’s translation) that ‘Dante’ derived the Astronomical Knowledge that he displayed in the “Vitanuova”. Ibn Khatir also served as a competent and a highly regarded astronomer for the Caliph Al – Mamun,  who reigned in Baghdad, Iraq, from 813 till 833 AD. Farghani mainly supervised the construction of ‘Nilo meter’ at Fustat, he completed the project in 861 AD, and soon after the finalization of the ‘Nilo Meter Project’, the ‘Caliph Al Mutawakil’ who was a great Patron for this particular Crucial Arrangement died. However Ibn Al Khatir Al Farghani continued his investigations for further developments while stationed in Cairo, Egypt, where in the year 903 AD, his Soul finally departed.

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