Al-Qabisi

This sub-page on Al-Qabisi (or Alcabitius) was contributed by Graciela Melegatti, Rachel Denny, Marina Soodan, Kristen Baird, Jackson Monroe, James Dock and Daniel Torres, who took HSCI 3013 in the spring semester of 2915.

Al-Qabisi was an Islamic astrologer who lived during the tenth century AD. He worked in the court of the Hamdanid Emir of Aleppo as an astrologer and adviser to the prince. He wrote many pieces on astrology and mathematics, though only two of his astrological works are extant, which were written for the assessment and instruction of other astrologers. His piece The Book on the Introduction to the Craft of Astrology was so influential that it was used up until the 18th century as a textbook in universities for the study of astrology. His Introduction detailed the influence the heavenly bodies held on the future. They discussed the various effects of mixing planets, as well as their effects when they are alone in the sky. He cited both Dorotheus and Massa’allah – a title reserved for God – in his work. Not only did he believe himself to be an authority on the subject, but also he was regarded by his contemporaries as knowledgeable in the area of astrology. However, the ephemeral nature of the skies combined with the uncertainty of the future led some to question the validity of astrology as a hard science. Al-Qabisi dedicated some of his time to defending the “science” of astrology against those who doubted it. In addition, he wrote a piece filled with astrological questions and their respective answers, so the prince could asses which astrologers were truly educated in the science, and which were practicing under the guise of being real astrologers. Al-Qabisi’s work was influential in both the sciences of the time and in influencing the future of the study of the night skies.

Sources:

Burnett, Charles. “The Certitude of Astrology: The Scientific Methodology of Al-Qabisi and Abu Ma’shar.” Early Science and Medicine 7 (2002): 198-213. Accessed 15 February 2015. History of Science, Technology & Medicine, EBSCOhost.

Casulleras, Josep. “Mathematical Astrology in the Medieval Islamic West.” Zeitschrift Für Geschichte Der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften 18 (2008): 241-268. Accessed 15 February 2015. History of Science, Technology & Medicine, EBSCOhost.

Uthman, Abd al-Aziz Ibn, Charles Burnett, Keiji Yamamoto, and Michio Yano. Al-Qabīṣī (Alcabitius): The Introduction to Astrology: Editions of the Arabic and Latin Texts and an English Translation. London: Warburg Institute, 2004.

Yamamoto, Keiji. “Qabisi: Abu al-Saqr ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn ‘Uthman ibn ‘Ali al-Qabisi.” The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers 4 (2007): 308-309. Accessed 15 February 2015. <http://islamsci.mcgill.ca/RASI/BEA/Qabisi_BEA.pdf&gt;.

 

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