Abu al-Fath Abd al-Rahman Mansour al-Khāzini or simply Abu al-Fath Khāzini (Arabic: أبو الفتح الخازني, Persian: ابولفتح خازنی) (flourished 1115–1130) was a Muslim astronomer of Greek ethnicity from Merv, then in the Khorasan province of Persia (located in today's Turkmenistan). Merv was known for its literary and scientific achievements.
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Abd al-Rahman al-Khazini
|Era||Islamic Golden Age|
Al-Khazini was a slave in Marw. He was the pupil of Umar Khayyam. He got his name from his master al-Khanzin. His master is responsible for his education in mathematics and philosophy. Al-Khazini was known for being a humble man. He refused thousands of Dinar for his works, saying he did not need much to live on because it was only his cat and himself in his household. Al-Khazini is one of the few Islamic astronomers to be known for doing original observations. His works are used and very well known in the Islamic world, but very few other places around the world acknowledge his work.
Al Khazini seems to have been a high government official under Sanjar ibn Malikshah and the sultan of the Seljuk Empire. He did most of his work in Merv, where they are known for their libraries. His best-known works are “The Book of the Balance of Wisdom”, “Treatise on Astronomical Wisdom”, and “The Astronomical Tables for Sanjar”.
“The Book of the Balance of Wisdom” is an encyclopedia of medieval mechanics and hydrostatics composed of eight books with fifty chapters. It is a study of the hydrostatic balance and the ideas behind statics and hydrostatics, it also covers other unrelated topics. There are four different manuscripts of “The Book of the Balance of Wisdom” that have survived. The balance al-Khazini built for Sanjar’s treasury was modeled after the balance al-Asfizari, who was a generation older than al-Khazini, built. Sanjar’s treasurer out of fear destroyed al-Asfizari’s balance; he was filled with grief when he heard the news. Al-Khazini called his balance “combined balance” to show honor towards Al-Asfizari. The meaning of the balance was a “balance of true judgment”. The job of this balance was to help the treasury see what metals were precious and which gems were real or fake. In “The Book of the Balance of Wisdom” al-Khazini states many different examples from the Koran ways that his balance fits into religion. When al-Khazini explains the advantages of his balance he says that it “performs the functions of skilled craftsmen”, its benefits are theoretical and practical precision.
The "Treatise on Astronomical Wisdom" is a relatively short work. It has seven parts and each part is assigned to a different scientific instrument. The seven instruments include: a triquetrum, a dioptra, a “triangular instrument,” a quadrant, devices involving reflection, an astrolabe, and simple tips for viewing things with the naked eye. The treatise describes each instrument and their uses.
“The Astronomical Tables for Sanjar” is said to have been composed for Sultan Sanjar, the ruler of Merv and his balance was made for Sanjar’s treasury. The tables in “The Astronomical Tables for Sanjar” are tables of holidays, fasts, etc. The tables are said to have the latitudes and longitudes of forty-three different stars, along with their magnitudes and (astrological) temperaments. It is said that al-Khazini’s observations for this work were probably done in Merv in various observatories with high quality instruments.
- Al-Khāzinī, Abu’l-Fath ‘Abd Al-Raḥmān [Sometimes Abū Manṣūr ’ Abd Al-Raḥmān or ’Abd Al-Rahmān Manṣūr]., Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography., 2008, pp. 335–351.
- Rosenfeld, B. (1994), Book reviews: Middle ages & renaissance., Journal Of The History Of Science In Society, pp. 85(4), 686.