Thābit ibn Qurra

Last updated
Thābit ibn Qurra
Born210-211 AH/220-221 AH / 826 or 836 AD
Harran, the Jazira (Upper Mesopotamia) (now in Şanlıurfa Province, Turkey)
DiedWednesday, 26 Safar, 288 AH / February 19, 901 AD
Baghdad (now Iraq)
Academic background
Influences Banu Musa, Archimedes, Apollonius, Nicomachus, Euclid
Influenced al-Khazini, al-Isfizari, Na'im ibn Musa [1]

Thābit ibn Qurra (full name: Abū al-Ḥasan ibn Zahrūn al-Ḥarrānī al-Ṣābiʾ, Arabic : أبو الحسن ثابت بن قرة بن زهرون الحراني الصابئ, Latin : Thebit/Thebith/Tebit); [2] 826 or 836 – February 19, 901, [3] was a polymath known for his work in mathematics, medicine, astronomy, and translation. He lived in Baghdad in the second half of the ninth century during the time of the Abbasid Caliphate.

Contents

Thābit ibn Qurra made important discoveries in algebra, geometry, and astronomy. In astronomy, Thābit is considered one of the first reformers of the Ptolemaic system, and in mechanics he was a founder of statics. [4] Thābit also wrote extensively on medicine and produced philosophical treatises. [5]

Biography

al-Jazira region and its subdivisions (Diyar Bakr, Diyar Mudar, and Diyar Rabi'a) during the Abbasid Caliphate Al-Jazira.svg
al-Jazira region and its subdivisions (Diyar Bakr, Diyar Mudar, and Diyar Rabi'a) during the Abbasid Caliphate

Thābit was born in Harran in Upper Mesopotamia, which at the time was part of the Diyar Mudar subdivision of the al-Jazira region of the Abbasid Caliphate. Thābit belonged to the Sabians of Harran, a Hellenized Semitic polytheistic astral religion that still existed in ninth-century Harran. [6]

As a youth, Thābit worked as money changer in a marketplace in Harran until meeting Muḥammad ibn Mūsā, the oldest of three mathematicians and astronomers known as the Banū Mūsā. Thābit displayed such exceptional linguistic skills that ibn Mūsā chose him to come to Baghdad to be trained in mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy under the tutelage of the Banū Mūsā. Here, Thābit was introduced to not only a community of scholars but also to those who had significant power and influence in Baghdad. [7] [8]

Thābit and his pupils lived in the midst of the most intellectually vibrant, and probably the largest, city of the time, Baghdad. Thābit came to Baghdad in the first place to work for the Banū Mūsā becoming a part of their circle and helping them translate Greek mathematical texts. [9] What is unknown is how Banū Mūsā and Thābit occupied himself with mathematics, astronomy, astrology, magic, mechanics, medicine, and philosophy. Later in his life, Thābit's patron was the Abbasid Caliph al-Mu'tadid (reigned 892902), whom he became a court astronomer for. [9] Thābit became the Caliph's personal friend and courtier. Thābit died in Baghdad in 901. His son, Sinan ibn Thabit and grandson, Ibrahim ibn Sinan would also make contributions to the medicine and science. [10] By the end of his life, Thābit had managed to write 150 works on mathematics, astronomy, and medicine. [11] With all the work done by Thābit, most of his work has not lasted time. There are less than a dozen works by him that have survived. [10]

Translation

Pages from Thabit's Arabic translation of Apollonius' Conics Conica of Apollonius of Perga fol. 162b and 164a.jpg
Pages from Thābit's Arabic translation of Apollonius' Conics

Thābit's native language was Syriac, [12] which was the Middle Aramaic variety from Edessa, and he was fluent in both Medieval Greek and Arabic. [13] He was the author to multiple treaties. Due to him being trilingual, Thābit was able to have a major role during the Graeco-Arabic translation movement. [10] He would also make a school of translation in Baghdad. [11]

Thābit translated from Greek into Arabic works by Apollonius of Perga, Archimedes, Euclid and Ptolemy. He revised the translation of Euclid's Elements of Hunayn ibn Ishaq. He also rewrote Ishaq ibn Hunayn's translation of Ptolemy's Almagest and translated Ptolemy's Geography.Thābit's translation of a work by Archimedes which gave a construction of a regular heptagon was discovered in the 20th century, the original having been lost.[ citation needed ]

Astronomy

Thābit is believed to have been an astronomer of Caliph al-Mu'tadid. [14] Thābit was able to use his mathematical work on the examination of Ptolemaic astronomy. [10] The medieval astronomical theory of the trepidation of the equinoxes is often attributed to Thābit.[ citation needed ] But it had already been described by Theon of Alexandria in his comments of the Handy Tables of Ptolemy. According to Copernicus, Thābit determined the length of the sidereal year as 365 days, 6 hours, 9 minutes and 12 seconds (an error of 2 seconds). Copernicus based his claim on the Latin text attributed to Thābit. Thābit published his observations of the Sun.[ citation needed ] In regards to Ptolemy's Planetary Hypotheses, Thābit examined the problems of the motion of the sun and moon, and the theory of sundials. [10] When looking at Ptolemy's Hypotheses, Thābit ibn Qurra found the Sidereal year which is when looking at the Earth and measuring it against the background of fixed stars, it will have a constant value. [15]

Thābit was also an author and wrote De Anno Solis. This book contained and recorded facts about the evolution in astronomy in the ninth century. [14] Thābit mentioned in the book that Ptolemy and Hipparchus believed that the movement of stars is consistent with the movement commonly found in planets. What Thābit believed is that this idea can be broadened to include the Sun and moon. [14] With that in mind, he also thought that the solar year should be calculated by looking at the sun's return to a given star. [14]

Mathematics

In mathematics, Thābit derived an equation for determining amicable numbers. His proof of this rule is presented in the Treatise on the Derivation of the Amicable Numbers in an Easy Way. [16] This was done while writing on the theory of numbers, extending their use to describe the ratios between geometrical quantities, a step which the Greeks did not take. Thābit's work on amicable numbers and number theory helped him to invest more heavily into the Geometrical relations of numbers establishing his Transversal (geometry) theorem. [11] [16]

Thābit described a generalized proof of the Pythagorean theorem. [17] He provided a strengthened extension[ clarification needed ] of Pythagoras' proof which included the knowledge of Euclid's fifth postulate. [18] This postulate states that the intersection between two straight line segments combine to create two interior angles which are less than 180 degrees. The method of reduction and composition[ clarification needed ] used by Thābit resulted in a combination and extension[ clarification needed ] of contemporary and ancient knowledge on this famous proof. Thābit believed that geometry was tied with the equality and differences of magnitudes of lines and angles,[ clarification needed ] as well as that ideas of motion (and ideas taken from physics more widely) should be integrated in geometry. [19] [ clarification needed ]

The continued work done on geometric relations and the resulting exponential series allowed Thābit to calculate multiple solutions to chessboard problems. This problem was less to do with the game itself, and more to do with the number of solutions or the nature of solutions possible. In Thābit's case, he worked with combinatorics to work on the permutations needed to win a game of chess. [20]

In addition to Thābit's work on Euclidean geometry there is evidence that he was familiar with the geometry of Archimedes as well. His work with conic sections and the calculation of a paraboloid shape (cupola) show his proficiency as an Archimedean geometer. This is further embossed[ clarification needed ] by Thābit's use of the Archimedean property in order to produce a rudimentary approximation of the volume of a paraboloid. The use of uneven sections, while relatively simple, does show a critical understanding of both Euclidean and Archimedean geometry. [21] Thābit was also responsible for a commentary on Archimedes' Liber Assumpta. [22]

Physics

In physics, Thābit rejected the Peripatetic and Aristotelian notions of a "natural place" for each element. He instead proposed a theory of motion in which both the upward and downward motions are caused by weight, and that the order of the universe is a result of two competing attractions (jadhb): one of these being "between the sublunar and celestial elements", and the other being "between all parts of each element separately". [23] and in mechanics he was a founder of statics. [24] In addition, Thābit's Liber Karatonis contained proof of the law of the lever. This work was the result of combining Aristotelian and Archimedean ideas of dynamics and mechanics. [11]

One of Qurra's most important pieces of text is his work with the Kitab fi 'l-qarastun. This text consists of Arabic mechanical tradition. [25] Another piece of important text is Kitab fi sifat alwazn, which discussed concepts of equal-armed balance. Qurra was reportedly one of the first to write about the concept of equal-armed balance or at least to systematize the treatment.

Qurra sought to establish a relationship between forces of motion and the distance traveled by the mobile. [25]

Medicine

Thābit was well known as a physician and produced a substantial number of medical treatises and commentaries. His works included general reference books such as al-Dhakhira fī ilm al-tibb ("A Treasury of Medicine"), Kitāb al-Rawda fi l–tibb ("Book of the Garden of Medicine"), and al-Kunnash ("Collection"). He also produced specific works on topics such as gallstones; the treatment of diseases such as smallpox, measles, and conditions of the eye; and discussed veterinary medicine and the anatomy of birds. Thābit wrote commentaries on the works of Galen and others, including such works as On Plants (attributed to Aristotle but likely written by the first-century BC philosopher Nicolaus of Damascus). [5]

One account of Thābit's work as a physician is given in Ibn al-Qiftī's Ta’rikh al-hukamā, where Thābit is credited with healing a butcher who was presumed to be certain to die. [5]

Works

Only a few of Thābit's works are preserved in their original form.

Additional works by Thābit include:

Eponyms

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ibn al-Haytham</span> Arab physicist, mathematician and astronomer (c. 965 – c. 1040)

Ḥasan Ibn al-Haytham was a medieval mathematician, astronomer, and physicist of the Islamic Golden Age from present-day Iraq. Referred to as "the father of modern optics", he made significant contributions to the principles of optics and visual perception in particular. His most influential work is titled Kitāb al-Manāẓir, written during 1011–1021, which survived in a Latin edition. The works of Alhazen were frequently cited during the scientific revolution by Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Christiaan Huygens, and Galileo Galilei.

Menelaus of Alexandria was a Greek mathematician and astronomer, the first to recognize geodesics on a curved surface as natural analogs of straight lines.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Science in the medieval Islamic world</span> Science developed and practised during the Islamic Golden Age

Science in the medieval Islamic world was the science developed and practised during the Islamic Golden Age under the Umayyads of Córdoba, the Abbadids of Seville, the Samanids, the Ziyarids, the Buyids in Persia, the Abbasid Caliphate and beyond, spanning the period roughly between 786 and 1258. Islamic scientific achievements encompassed a wide range of subject areas, especially astronomy, mathematics, and medicine. Other subjects of scientific inquiry included alchemy and chemistry, botany and agronomy, geography and cartography, ophthalmology, pharmacology, physics, and zoology.

The Sabians, sometimes also spelled Sabaeans or Sabeans, are a mysterious religious group mentioned three times in the Quran, where it is implied that they belonged to the 'People of the Book'. Their original identity, which seems to have been forgotten at an early date, has been called an "unsolved Quranic problem". Modern scholars have variously identified them as Mandaeans, Manichaeans, Sabaeans, Elchasaites, Archontics, ḥunafāʾ, or as adherents of the astral religion of Harran. Some scholars believe that it is impossible to establish their original identity with any degree of certainty.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">House of Wisdom</span> 8th–13th-century library in Baghdad, modern Iraq

The House of Wisdom, also known as the Grand Library of Baghdad, was a major Abbasid public academy and intellectual center in Baghdad and one of the world's largest public libraries during the Islamic Golden Age. The House of Wisdom was founded either as a library for the collections of the Caliph Harun al-Rashid in the late 8th century or was a private collection created by al-Mansur to house rare books and collections of poetry in Arabic. During the reign of the Caliph al-Ma'mun, it was turned into a public academy and a library.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Al-Khwarizmi</span> 9th-century mathematician and astronomer

Muḥammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī, or al-Khwarizmi, was a polymath from Khwarazm, who produced vastly influential works in mathematics, astronomy, and geography. Around 820 CE, he was appointed as the astronomer and head of the library of the House of Wisdom in Baghdad.

al-Battani Islamic astronomer and mathematician (died 929)

Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Jābir ibn Sinān al-Raqqī al-Ḥarrānī aṣ-Ṣābiʾ al-Battānī, usually called al-Battānī, a name that was in the past Latinized as Albategnius, was an astronomer, astrologer and mathematician, who lived and worked for most of his life at Raqqa, now in Syria. He is considered to be the greatest and most famous of the astronomers of the medieval Islamic world.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ibn Sahl (mathematician)</span> Mathematician (c. 940-1000)

Ibn Sahl was a Persian mathematician and physicist of the Islamic Golden Age, associated with the Buyid court of Baghdad. Nothing in his name allows us to glimpse his country of origin.

This timeline of science and engineering in the Muslim world covers the time period from the eighth century AD to the introduction of European science to the Muslim world in the nineteenth century. All year dates are given according to the Gregorian calendar except where noted.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mathematics in the medieval Islamic world</span> Overview of the role of mathematics in the Golden Age of Islam

Mathematics during the Golden Age of Islam, especially during the 9th and 10th centuries, was built on Greek mathematics and Indian mathematics. Important progress was made, such as full development of the decimal place-value system to include decimal fractions, the first systematised study of algebra, and advances in geometry and trigonometry.

The three brothers Abū Jaʿfar, Muḥammad ibn Mūsā ibn Shākir ; Abū al‐Qāsim, Aḥmad ibn Mūsā ibn Shākir and Al-Ḥasan ibn Mūsā ibn Shākir, were Persian scholars who lived and worked in Baghdad. They are collectively known as the Banū Mūsā.

Ibrahim ibn Sinan was a mathematician and astronomer who belonged to a family of scholars originally from Harran in northern Mesopotamia. He was the son of Sinan ibn Thabit and the grandson of Thābit ibn Qurra. Like his grandfather, he belonged to a religious sect of star worshippers known as the Sabians of Harran.

Abū Saʿīd Sinān ibn Thābit ibn Qurra, c. 880–943, was a medieval scholar who served as the court physician of the Abbasid caliphs al-Muqtadir, al-Qahir, and al-Radi.

Abūʾl-Ḥusayn Hilāl b. Muḥassin b. Ibrāhīm al-Ṣābīʾ was a historian, bureaucrat, and writer of Arabic. Born into a family of Sabian bureaucrats, al-Ṣābi converted to Islam in 402-403 A.H/1012 AD. First working under the Buyid amir Ṣamṣām al-Dawla, he later became the Director of the Chancery under Baha' al-Daula's vizier Fakhr al-Mulk.

Na‘īm ibn Mūsā was a mathematician of the Islamic Golden Age and a pupil of Thabit Ibn Qurra. Na'im was from Baghdad and lived in the second half of the 9th century. He was the son of Muḥammad ibn Mūsā ibn Shākir, the oldest of the three brothers Banu Musa.

Roshdi Rashed, born in Cairo in 1936, is a mathematician, philosopher and historian of science, whose work focuses largely on mathematics and physics of the medieval Arab world. His work explores and illuminates the unrecognized Arab scientific tradition, being one of the first historians to study in detail the ancient and medieval texts, their journey through the Eastern schools and courses, their immense contributions to Western science, particularly in regarding the development of algebra and the first formalization of physics.

Yusuf al-Khuri, also known as Yusuf al-Khuri al-Qass, was a Christian priest, physician, mathematician, and translator of the Abbasid era.

Abu al-Hasan al-Harrani, Thabit ibn Ibrahim ibn Zahrun al-Ḥarrani, was a 10th-century physician and translator who lived and worked in Baghdad at the court of its Buyid rulers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Harran University (Middle Ages)</span> Medieval university

The Harran University, also known as the Madrasa of Harran, was a medieval institution of higher learning in Harran, active from the 8th to at least the 12th century and later briefly again in the 16th century. The university was the first Islamic institution of its kind, had a liberal intellectual environment and made Harran renowned as a center of science and learning. Translation activity at the university, particularly the translations of documents from Syriac and Greek into Arabic, was historically important in regard to the transmission and preservation of classical Greek and Syriac learning.

<i>Book on the Measurement of Plane and Spherical Figures</i> Mathematical treatise by the Banū Mūsā

The Book on the Measurement of Plane and Spherical Figures was the most important of the works produced by the Banū Mūsā. A Latin translation by the 12th century Italian astrologer Gerard of Cremona was made, entitled Liber trium fratrum de geometria and Verba filiorum Moysi filii Sekir. The original work in Arabic was edited by the Persian polymath Naṣīr al‐Dīn al‐Ṭūsī in the 13th century. The original work in Arabic is not extant, but its contents are known from later translations.

References

  1. Panza, Marco (2008). "The Role of Algebraic Inferences in Na'īm Ibn Mūsā's Collection of Geometrical Propositions". Arabic Sciences and Philosophy. 18 (2): 165–191. CiteSeerX   10.1.1.491.4854 . doi:10.1017/S0957423908000532. S2CID   73620948.
  2. For the Arabic name, see Rashed & Morelon 1960–2007; for the nisba al-Ṣābiʾ applied as a family name, see De Blois 1960–2007; for the Latin name, see Latham 2003 , p. 403.
  3. Rashed 2009d , pp. 23–24; Holme 2010.
  4. Holme 2010.
  5. 1 2 3 Rosenfeld & Grigorian 2008 , p. 292.
  6. De Blois 1960–2007; Hämeen-Anttila 2006 , p. 43, note 112; Van Bladel 2009 , p. 65; Rashed 2009b , p. 646; Rashed 2009d , p. 21; Roberts 2017 , pp. 253, 261–262. Some scholars have also suggested that he adhered to Mandaeism, a Gnostic baptist sect whose members were likewise called 'Sabians' (see Drower 1960 , pp. 111–112; Nasoraia 2012 , p. 39).
  7. Gingerich 1986; Rashed & Morelon 1960–2007.
  8. Rashed 2009c , pp. 3–4.
  9. 1 2 "Thābit ibn Qurrah | Arab mathematician, physician, and philosopher". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2020-11-20.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 "Thabit ibn Qurra". islamsci.mcgill.ca. Retrieved 2020-11-26.
  11. 1 2 3 4 Shloming, Robert (1970). "Thabit Ibn Qurra and the Pythagorean Theorem". The Mathematics Teacher. 63 (6): 519–528. doi:10.5951/MT.63.6.0519. ISSN   0025-5769. JSTOR   27958444.
  12. Rashed & Morelon 1960–2007; "Thabit biography". www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk. The sect, with strong Greek connections, had in earlier times adopted Greek culture, and it was common for members to speak Greek although after the conquest of the Sabians by Islam, they became Arabic speakers. There was another language spoken in southeastern Turkey, namely Syriac, which was based on the East Aramaic dialect of Edessa. This language was Thābit ibn Qurra's native language, but he was fluent in both Greek and Arabic.
  13. Rashed & Morelon 1960–2007.
  14. 1 2 3 4 Carmody, Francis J. (1955). "Notes on the Astronomical Works of Thabit b. Qurra". Isis. 46 (3): 235–242. doi:10.1086/348408. ISSN   0021-1753. JSTOR   226342. S2CID   143097606.
  15. Cohen, H. Floris (2010). "Greek Nature-Knowledge Transplanted". GREEK NATURE-KNOWLEDGE TRANSPLANTED:: THE ISLAMIC WORLD. Four Civilizations, One 17th-Century Breakthrough. Amsterdam University Press. pp. 53–76. doi:10.2307/j.ctt45kddd.6. ISBN   978-90-8964-239-4. JSTOR   j.ctt45kddd.6 . Retrieved 2020-11-27.{{cite book}}: |work= ignored (help)
  16. 1 2 Brentjes, Sonja; Hogendijk, Jan P (1989-11-01). "Notes on Thabit ibn Qurra and his rule for amicable numbers". Historia Mathematica. 16 (4): 373–378. doi: 10.1016/0315-0860(89)90084-0 . ISSN   0315-0860.
  17. Sayili, Aydin (1960-03-01). "Thâbit ibn Qurra's Generalization of the Pythagorean Theorem". Isis. 51 (1): 35–37. doi:10.1086/348837. ISSN   0021-1753. S2CID   119868978.
  18. "Thabit ibn Qurra". islamsci.mcgill.ca. Retrieved 2022-11-19.
  19. Sabra, A. I. (1968). "Thābit Ibn Qurra on Euclid's Parallels Postulate". Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes. 31: 12–32. doi:10.2307/750634. JSTOR   750634. S2CID   195056568 . Retrieved 2022-11-19.
  20. Masood, Ehsan (2009). Science & Islam : a history. Library Genesis. London : Icon. ISBN   978-1-84831-040-7.
  21. "Wilbur R. Knorr on Thābit ibn Qurra: A Case-Study in the Historiography of Premodern Science | Aestimatio: Sources and Studies in the History of Science". 2021-10-19.{{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  22. Shloming, Robert (1970-10-01). "Historically Speaking—: Thabit Qurra and the Pythagorean Theorem". The Mathematics Teacher. 63 (6): 519–528. doi:10.5951/MT.63.6.0519. ISSN   0025-5769.
  23. Mohammed Abattouy (2001). "Greek Mechanics in Arabic Context: Thabit ibn Qurra, al-Isfizarı and the Arabic Traditions of Aristotelian and Euclidean Mechanics", Science in Context14, p. 205-206. Cambridge University Press.
  24. Holme 2010.
  25. 1 2 3 4 Abattouy, Mohammed (June 2001). "Greek Mechanics in Arabic Context: Thābit ibn Qurra, al-Isfizārī and the Arabic Traditions of Aristotelian and Euclidean Mechanics". Science in Context. 14 (1–2): 179–247. doi:10.1017/s0269889701000084. ISSN   0269-8897. S2CID   145604399.
  26. 1 2 Van Brummelen, Glen (2010-01-26). "Review of "On the Sector-Figure and Related Texts"". MAA Reviews. Retrieved 2017-05-12.
  27. Rosenfeld & Grigorian 2008 , pp. 292–295.

Sources used

Further reading