Ja'far ibn Muhammad Abu Ma'shar al-Balkhi

Ja'far ibn Muhammad Abu Ma'shar al-Balkhi

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Ja'far ibn Muhammad Abu Ma'shar al-Balkhi'
Start a new discussion about 'Ja'far ibn Muhammad Abu Ma'shar al-Balkhi'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Abū Maʿshar, Jaʿfar ibn Muḥammad al-Balkhī (also known as al-Falakī or Ibn Balkhī, Latinized as Albumasar, Albusar, or Albuxar) (10 August 787 in Balkh
Balkh
Balkh , was an ancient city and centre of Zoroastrianism in what is now northern Afghanistan. Today it is a small town in the province of Balkh, about 20 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital, Mazar-e Sharif, and some south of the Amu Darya. It was one of the major cities of Khorasan...

, Khurasan – 9 March 886 in Wāsiṭ, Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

), was a Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 astrologer, astronomer
Islamic astronomy
Islamic astronomy or Arabic astronomy comprises the astronomical developments made in the Islamic world, particularly during the Islamic Golden Age , and mostly written in the Arabic language. These developments mostly took place in the Middle East, Central Asia, Al-Andalus, and North Africa, and...

, and Islamic philosopher
Early Islamic philosophy
Early Islamic philosophy or classical Islamic philosophy is a period of intense philosophical development beginning in the 2nd century AH of the Islamic calendar and lasting until the 6th century AH...

, thought to be the greatest astrologer of the Abbasid
Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

 court in Baghdad. He was not a major innovator, and his works are practical books for training of astrologers; even as an astrologer he was not intellectually rigorous. Nevertheless, he wrote a number of practical manuals on astrology that profoundly influenced Muslim intellectual history and, through translations, that of western Europe and Byzantium.

Astrology and natural philosophy


Richard Lemay has argued that the writings of Albumasar were very likely the single most important original source of Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

's theories of nature for European scholars, starting a little before the middle of the 12th century.

It was not until later in the 12th century that the original books of Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 on nature began to become available in Latin. The works of Aristotle on logic had been known earlier, and Aristotle was generally recognized as "the master of logic." But during the course of the 12th century, Aristotle was transformed into the "master of those who know," and in particular a master of natural philosophy
Natural philosophy
Natural philosophy or the philosophy of nature , is a term applied to the study of nature and the physical universe that was dominant before the development of modern science...

. It is notable that the work of Albumasar (or Balkhi), in question, is a treatise on astrology. Its Latin title is "Introductorium in Astronomiam", a translation of the Arabic Kitab al-mudkhal al-kabir ila 'ilm ahkam an-nujjum, written in Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 in the year 848 A.D. It was translated into Latin first by John of Seville
John of Seville
John of Seville was the main translator from Arabic into Castilian together with Dominicus Gundissalinus during the early days of the Toledo School of Translators....

 in 1133, and again, less literally and abridged, by Herman of Carinthia
Herman of Carinthia
Herman Dalmatin or Herman of Carinthia , also known in Latin as Sclavus Dalmata, Secundus, was a philosopher, astronomer, astrologer, mathematician, translator and author....

 in 1140 A.D. Amir Khusrav  mentions that Abu Maʿshar came to Benaras (Varanasi) and studied astronomy there for ten years.

Introductions to astrology



  • Kitāb al‐mudkhal al‐kabīr, an introduction to astrology which received many translations to Latin and Greek starting from the 11th-century. It had significant influence on Western philosophers, like Albert the Great.

  • Kitāb mukhtaṣar al‐mudkhal, an abridged version of the above, later translated to Latin by Adelard of Bath
    Adelard of Bath
    Adelard of Bath was a 12th century English scholar. He is known both for his original works and for translating many important Greek and Arabic scientific works of astrology, astronomy, philosophy and mathematics into Latin from Arabic versions, which were then introduced to Western Europe...

    .

Historical astrology

  • Kitāb al‐milal wa‐ʾl‐duwal ("Book on religions and dynasties"), probably his most important work, commented on in the major works of Roger Bacon
    Roger Bacon
    Roger Bacon, O.F.M. , also known as Doctor Mirabilis , was an English philosopher and Franciscan friar who placed considerable emphasis on the study of nature through empirical methods...

    , Pierre d'Ailly
    Pierre d'Ailly
    Pierre d'Ailly was a French theologian, astrologer, and cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church....

    , and Pico della Mirandola.

  • Fī dhikr ma tadullu ʿalayhi al‐ashkhāṣ al‐ʿulwiyya ("On the indications of the celestial objects"),

  • Kitāb al‐dalālāt ʿalā al‐ittiṣālāt wa‐qirānāt al‐kawākib ("Book of the indications of the planetary conjunctions"),

  • Kitāb al‐ulūf ("Book of thousands"), preserved only in summaries by Sijzī.

Genethlialogy 

  • Kitāb taḥāwil sinī al‐mawālīd ("Book of the revolutions of the years of nativities"). translated into Greek in 1000, and from that translation into Latin in the 13th century.

  • Kitāb mawālīd al‐rijāl wa‐ʾl‐nisāʾ ("Book of nativities of men and women"), which was widely circulated in the Islamic world.

Books available in Latin and Greek translations

  • De magnis coniunctionibus, ed.-transl. K. Yamamoto, Ch. Burnett, Leiden, 2000, 2 vols. (Arabic & Latin text)
  • De revolutionibus nativitatum, ed. D. Pingree, Leipzig, 1968 (Greek text)
  • Liber florum Translated by James Herschel Holden in Five Medieval Astrologers (Tempe, Az.: A.F.A., Inc., 2008): 13-66.
  • Introductorium maius, ed. R. Lemay, Napoli, 1995–1996, 9 vols. (Arabic text & two Latin translations)
  • Ysagoga minor, ed.-transl. Ch. Burnett, K. Yamamoto, M. Yano, Leiden-New York, 1994 (Arabic & Latin text)

External links