Talk:Astronomy in the medieval Islamic world

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Former good article Astronomy in the medieval Islamic world was one of the History good articles, but it has been removed from the list. There are suggestions below for improving the article to meet the good article criteria. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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January 3, 2008 Good article nominee Not listed
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Current status: Delisted good article
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Early comments[edit]

Here is some material for the article:

In astronomy the Muslims integrated the astronomical traditions of the Indians, Persians, the ancient Near East and especially the Greeks into a synthesis which began to chart a new chapter in the history of astronomy from the 8th century onward. The Almagest of Ptolemy, whose very name in English reveals the Arabic origin of its Latin translation, was thoroughly studied and its planetary theory criticized by several astronomers of both the eastern and western lands of Islam leading to the major critique of the theory by Nasir al-Din al-Tusi and his students, especially Qutb alDin al-Shirazi, in the 13th century. The Muslims also observed the heavens carefully and discovered many new stars. The book on stars of 'Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi was in fact translated into Spanish by Alfonso X el Sabio and had a deep influence upon stellar toponymy in European languages. Many star names in English such as Aldabaran still recall their Arabic origin. The Muslims carried out many fresh observations which were contained in astronomical tables called zij. One of the acutest of these observers was al-Battani whose work was followed by numerous others. The zij of al-Ma'mun observed in Baghdad, the Hakimite zij of Cairo, the Toledan Tables of alZarqali and his associates, the ll-Khanid zij of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi observed in Maraghah, and the zij of Ulugh-Beg from Samarqand are among the most famous Islamic astronomical tables. They wielded a great deal of influence upon Western astronomy up to the time of Tycho Brahe. The Muslims were in fact the first to create an astronomical observatory as a scientific institution, this being the observatory of Maraghah in Persia established by al-Tusi. This was indirectly the model for the later European observatories. Many astronomical instruments were developed by Muslims to carry out observation, the most famous being the astrolabe. There existed even mechanical astrolabes perfected by Ibn Samh which must be considered as the ancestor of the mechanical clock. Astronomical observations also had practical applications including not only finding the direction of Makkah for prayers, but also devising almanacs (the word itself being of Arabic origin). The Muslims also applied their astronomical knowledge to questions of time-keeping and the calendar. The most exact solar calendar existing to this day is the Jalali calendar devised under the direction of 'Umar Khayyam in the 12th century and still in use in Persia and Afghanistan.

--Striver 22:10, 2 December 2005 (UTC)

I have an article in preparation for this page. It will be ready for posting by mid-december.--Zereshk 03:20, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

Thanks. But do please mention that Tusi, Khayyam, Avecinna, and Shirazi they were all Iranians whose religion might have been Islam. If Pascal, Newton, Da Vicini, Copernicus, etc were all Christian do you refer to them as Christian Scientist and their invention as Christian inventions? or do you give them the rightful credit that Da Vinci was Italian and Newton was British, etc? Please be fair! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:10, 31 January 2012 (UTC)

Islam and the age and origin of the universe?[edit]

Does Islam make any claims on the details of the age of the universe or on the origin of life on Earth? Is belief in Islam compatible with belief in a universe billions of years old and belief in the process of evolution by natural selection? Aaron McDaid (talk - contribs) 18:01, 11 February 2006 (UTC)

Yes there are details about that in the Qur'an. This source [1] can help understand origins. About the Islamic view of evolution it does not support that man evolved from apes but it is known that the Qur'an has referred to three different stages involved in creation of man from which a different evolution can be supported, but not of natural selection in my opinion.

He, Who perfected everything that He created - He started the creation of man from clay then he inculcated in him [i.e. man] the potential to reproduce through a drop of humble fluid then He embellished and fashioned him in due proportion; and breathed into him of His spirit and [thereby] developed in you [the abilities of] listening, vision and feeling. (Al-Sajadah 32:7) --a.n.o.n.y.m t 18:12, 11 February 2006 (UTC)

Does the Koran say the Earth is flat?[edit]


I am no expert on the Koran. But Sura 18:86 seems to say that the sun sets in a pond of murky water. That would make the earth flat. Since Islam teaches that the Koran is the infallible word of God dictated to Muhammad, shouldn't any article dealing with "Islamic Astronomy" reference this?

I have to admit that I find the phrase "Islamic Astronomy" deeply troubling. The scriptures of virtually all religions include stories such as the pond of murky water. The stories of Xenu and the Galactic Confederacy may perhaps constitute "Scientologist Astronomy", if this is what we mean by the "astronomy" of different belief systems.

The essence of the scientific method is: an astronomical observation, such as, say, Herschel's discovery of Uranus, or an astronomical theory, such as Copernicus's, can be either true or false. But its truth or falsehood should be evaluated independently of the religious (or other) beliefs of the observer/theorist. That there were great astronomers who happened to be Muslims is beyond doubt. But turning this fact into an "-ism" within science is unscientific. It would be absurd to describe Victor Safronov's theory of planetary accretion as "Marxist-Leninist Astronomy", for instance. But if so, how is describing the work of middle eastern astronomers as "Islamic Astronomy" any less absurd? If your article is intended to be no more than a record of the scientific achievements of astronomers who happened to be Muslims, then fair enough. But I think this point requires clarification.

I hope Muslim flat-earth theories would answer your questions. -- Szvest 10:59, 14 July 2006 (UTC) Wiki me up™
  • You said it yourself, you are not an expert in Qur'an. Almost all Tafseer writers of the Qur'an agreed that the earth is round. eg, Ibn Taimia (born 1263 CE), Ibn Hazm (born 994 CE)--BelalSaid (talk) 22:46, 24 October 2012 (UTC)

Is there such a thing as "Islamic astronomy"?[edit]

Thank you. Having read the article on "Muslim flat earth theories" and the controversy surrounding it, I am happy to see the "pool of murky water" kept out of this article. I withdraw my comments on that matter completely.

However, I still feel that this article is really about "the contributions of muslims to astronomy"; and that there is really no such science as "Islamic astronomy", any more than there is a science of "Islamic geology" or "Islamic seismology". The article makes clear that astronomers who happened to be muslims were happy to build on the work of astronomers who happened to be infidels: and astronomers who happened to be infidels in turn built on the work of astronomers who happened to be muslims. This suggests we are dealing with a single subject - astronomy.

I hope my point will not be taken as a sneaky way of attacking Islam or its adherents. I don't see, for instance, how there could be such a science as "Gay astronomy" or "Socialist astronomy", even though I'm sure there have been astronomers who were gay and/or socialists.

On the whole, i agree w/ you. There is no religious aspect to be atributed to the article except that the contributors were Muslims. However, i can't think of any more accurate title. "Contributions of Muslims to Astronomy" sounds good but let us wait for other thoughts from other wikipedians.
P.S. Don't take me wrong but could you please sign your comments George? Cheers -- Szvest 13:55, 15 July 2006 (UTC) Wiki me up™

Yeah. The article's title could be better. "Astronomy in Islam" or "Astronomy in Islamic tradition" can also be some possibilities.--Zereshk 00:42, 16 July 2006 (UTC)

Hi Zereshk. I believe that Muslim astronomers had nothing to do w/ the religion except that Islam led to the developement of many sciences including astronomy. "Astronomy in Islam" or "Astronomy in Islamic tradition" are innacurate. I prefer "Muslim astronomy" though. -- Szvest 21:59, 16 July 2006 (UTC) Wiki me up™
Well, they did use astronomy and trigonometry for such calculations as the prayer directions, prayer times, etc. But then again, I dont think this is that big of an issue. "Muslim astronomy" is good too.--Zereshk 02:29, 17 July 2006 (UTC)

So, since we are talking about the common factors perhaps we should mention that Pascal, Newton, Da Vinci, Copernicus, etc. they were all Christian and therefore their science and art is Christian Science and Art and does not belong to any particular nation such as England or Italy etc, right? You would be ok with that? Because for us Iranians we are NOT ok with that. Most of our scientist such as Avicenna, Khayyam, Farabi, etc. were 100% against Islam. You can see it in their poetry were they condemn inequality between men and women in Islam and praised drinking of wine which is forbidden in Islam! Look at Iranians today, they are fighting Islamic Republic for one reason: Islam! and this has been gong on for 1400 years. Islamic Republic of Iran is a dictatorship because minority who are fanatic Muslims are running the country. These are the same people as Taliban, Al-Qade or Wahabi Arabs. They support Hizbolah, and Palestinian cause. They support every single terrorist act on the surface of this planet. Iranian people have been trying to get rid of them for 1400 years. Do a google search and you will literary see millions of anti-Islam websites made by Brave Iranians. Salman Rushdi's book is nothing next to those websites! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:07, 31 January 2012 (UTC)

  • I am sorry but your comment is filled with ignorance, Avicenna was not anti-Islam. Avicenna was a devout Ismaili Muslim, He was anti-Sunni kind of guy. Khayyam was a Sufist Muslim, He even uses Quranic verses in his works. Al-Farabic had a Platon-like religious view. The word "Islamic" is used because the country used to be called "Dar-al-Islam"(the house of Islam), similar to calling Europeans, Africans, Mexicans, etc born in America, Americans. And please, the current Muslim World can't be used as an example of the old Islamic World.

Side note: There are 1.6 billion Muslims, and there are 1.6 billion views of Islam. There are even Muslims who think that drinking alcohol is not a sin.--BelalSaid (talk) 22:30, 24 October 2012 (UTC)

Proposal to move this page to Islam and astronomy[edit]

This title implies that some astronomy is somehow "islamic" which is a POV. I think it would be better to call it Islam and astronomy, because that would not make any implications that astronomy is either Islamic, yet at the same time, it would mantain the connection between the two.--Sefringle 01:54, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

  • No objection. -- FayssalF - Wiki me up® 22:07, 23 May 2007 (UTC)
  • I strongly object per the arguments already given at Islamic mathematics and Islamic medicine: Islamic astronomy is the common name used in academic literature and the title "Islam and astronomy" implies a connection between Islam and astronomy which isn't there at all. —Ruud 20:22, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
Everytime Sefringle argues about articles' titles they forget about the common usage in academic literature. However, i showed no objection here as both of your opinions remain valid though leaning toward keeping the actual title. Sefringle, please read again the lead. -- FayssalF - Wiki me up® 21:13, 24 May 2007 (UTC)
There are some issues such as "Moon sighting" which are related to Islam, as Imam Sadiq says about fasting in Ramadan. Therefor we can speak about especial astronomy which relates to Islam. There is another kind of astronomy which is forbidden in Islam i.e. try to know future by using astronomy. --Seyyed(t-c) 12:18, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Some feedback[edit]

Great read. It is not an area I am familiar with so would be better to get someone more knowledgeable in Astronomy, but I can tell you that you should combine many of 1-3 sentence paras together. eg. in ;;Islamic_astronomy#Dials|Dials]] and Mural instruments below it. If the sections are that short it looks and reads better if they are continuous. I'd also change 'corpus' to 'body' in the lead, and make more note of the fact that many many star proper names are arabic. Good luck. cheers, Casliber (talk · contribs) 04:51, 31 December 2007 (UTC)

Failed GA[edit]

I'm sorry, this was very, very close, but I failed it for three reasons:

  1. The entire lead is completely devoid of citations.
  2. Despite the enormous amount of citations, the article's subject is broad enough (for example, this number of citations would have been more than enough to supply a biography such as Joseph Louis Lagrange, but not this) so that there happen to be many unsourced areas. This relates to number three:
  3. Everything on the Almagest is unsourced, and furthermore, there is very little on it to begin with.

If I've overlooked something, feel free to correct me. Cheers, Nousernameslefttalk and matrix? 21:29, 3 January 2008 (UTC)

"this was very, very close," So we address the the three issues, you'll pass it for GA status?
1. Muhammad Ali Jinnah has a completely unsourced lead. Yet it's a featured article. (One would think that the criteria for featured articles ought to be higher and tougher than that for good articles).
2. Astronomy, which is a good article, has 56 citations. This article has 127 citations, more than double the amount. Astronomy is definitely broader in coverage than "Islamic astronomy". This is because astronomy not only includes "Islamic astronomy", "Indian astronomy" etc. but also many astronomical concepts not covered by these articles.
3. This is a valid point, though Ptolemy, the author of Almagest, lived and died centuries before Islamic astronomy came into existence.Bless sins (talk) 04:05, 4 January 2008 (UTC)
  1. I wouldn't have supported its FAC then. The lead should have at least one citation.
  2. Astronomy is actually a shorter article for some reason, but that's a valid point. I'll cross off number 2.
  3. The Almagest was still a very major work. If a section on it was expanded, and the lead was given a citation, I would definitely support this being a good article. It looks nearly featured material to me except for those two things.

Nousernameslefttalk and matrix? 17:31, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

Ok thanks for your input, it was helpful.Bless sins (talk) 20:19, 4 January 2008 (UTC)
Actually, I just sourced the lead myself. I'll also add some more on the Almagest now. Nousernameslefttalk and matrix? 18:23, 5 January 2008 (UTC)
I think this should be tried on FAC directly; skipping the Good Article process. I'll list it as A for now. Nousernameslefttalk and matrix? 18:59, 5 January 2008 (UTC)
Nominated here. Feel free to co-nominate. Nousernameslefttalk and matrix? 20:48, 5 January 2008 (UTC)
It's a bit early to nominate it for FA, but I think you've withdrawn the nomination. I think it should go through the GA process, from B class to A class looks like a jump. Thoughts?Bless sins (talk) 07:11, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the improvements you've both made to the article. I agree with Bless sins that the article should at least be nominated for Good Article status before being nominated for Featured Article status. Jagged 85 (talk) 08:22, 13 January 2008 (UTC)

GA renomination[edit]

This article failed a GA review, for reasons stated in the preceding section. The reviewer (Nousernamesleft) then proceeded to fix the article up (along the lines of the weaknesses pointed out when failing for GA. The user then promoted the article to A-class, where it was previously B-class, skipping the GA process.

I'm a bit uncomfortable with that. I'd like to see the article pass a GA process. Thus I've renominated it.Bless sins (talk) 05:14, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

Well, yes, I decided that it should be changed back to B class afterwards, but temporarily forgot about it (at that time I was trying to GA another article). Sorry about that. Nousernamesleftcopper, not wood 22:08, 20 January 2008 (UTC)

Notes section[edit]

It's pretty aweful... for many sources there is no way to find it once the link goes dead (you haven't written out full reference or included retrieval date), at least one is dead already (the palestinian geocities page).Narayanese (talk) 13:12, 12 January 2008 (UTC)

Can you specify the note number so I can fix it?Bless sins (talk) 18:08, 12 January 2008 (UTC)
Ok I fixed it. If there's any other problems, please tell me.Bless sins (talk) 18:12, 12 January 2008 (UTC)
10-12, 82, 84, 87-91. Narayanese (talk) 04:29, 14 January 2008 (UTC)
I've just added the full references and access dates for those references you mentioned. I've also redirected the broken link. Jagged 85 (talk) 12:55, 15 January 2008 (UTC)
Additionally, what's "Rashed (2007)"? If someone could provide a link to a page with information about that book, that would be appreciated. Nousernamesleftcopper, not wood 22:10, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
The full title for the footnote "Rashed (2007)" is actually already in the Islamic astronomy#References section, but I've just linked the two together through the Template:Harvard reference format to avoid any confusion. Jagged 85 (talk) 00:12, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
Okay; thanks! What about Reference #73, which is nothing but "Y. M. Faruqi wrote:". It looks very similar to 74, and they cite the same statement, so I'll just remove it until further notice. Also, shouldn't each of the bold and italics subheadings be a section header? It's pretty annoying having to go back to the faraway timeline header to edit something deep into the article. Nousernamesleftcopper, not wood 02:56, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
They were sub-sections originally, but we changed them to bold headings because the contents table was becoming too large. Now I've found a way around this with the Template:TOClimit, so I've changed those headings back into sub-sections now. Jagged 85 (talk) 04:18, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
(resetting indent) More on notes: Could you provide a full citation for Kennedy 1960 and Kennedy 1961? Thanks. Nousernamesleftcopper, not wood 01:13, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
Kennedy 1961 already links to the full citation when you click on it. I can't really seem to find any Kennedy 1960 reference though? Jagged 85 (talk) 02:32, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

New efforts in Moon sighting[edit]

In recent years there are new efforts in some Muslim countries to see New moon[2][3]. Basically it has religious usage but it also lead to new scientific activity. [4][5] For example in Iran Ali Khamenei, Supreme leader, has established a Moon Observation Committee. Every month numerous astronomers who are try to find new moon.[6] They even use new technology and instruments[7][8] There are similar activities in other countries.[9][10]

There is also a compete for "Moon sighting record"[11]. This record is old and has been broken by another Muslim[12].

I was not familiar with the structure of the article, thus please add this issue wherever you prefer.--Seyyed(t-c) 12:09, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Islam and astronomy[edit]

In regard to former criticisms such as Is there such a thing as "Islamic astronomy"? I propose adding a section at the beginning of the article which discuss about the relationship between Islam and astronomy. There are especial issues such as Moon sighting and Navigating by stars which are suggested or ordered by Islam and some others like Fortune telling which are forbidden. --Seyyed(t-c) 12:25, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

So you mean a section that discusses astronomy in the Qur'an and sunnah of the prophet? Yes, I agree there should be such a section.Bless sins (talk) 16:39, 20 January 2008 (UTC)
Not necessarily. Quran says pray toward Kabaa. This obliged Muslims to use astronomy and even improve. --Seyyed(t-c) 13:28, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Successful good article nomination[edit]

I am glad to report that this article nomination for good article status has been promoted. This is how the article, as of January 21, 2008, compares against the six good article criteria:

1. Well written?: Passes
2. Factually accurate?: Passes, earlier issues reported by another reviewer were fixed by himself and Bliss Sins.
3. Broad in coverage?: Passes
4. Neutral point of view?: Passes, but little improvements are needed.
5. Article stability? Passes
6. Images?: Weak Pass , more images are needed for the purpose of illustrating instruments used, observations, etc.

A good article that might be an FA as well if some of these issues are addressed. I would encourage the editors to go for an FAN now. If you feel that this review is in error, feel free to take it to Good article reassessment. Thank you to all of the editors who worked hard to bring it to this status, and congratulations.— Λua∫Wise (talk) 11:22, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Thank you for taking the time to review the article.Bless sins (talk) 05:32, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

Astronautics and space exploration[edit]

I think this part is not relevant to this article. We can't gather all of the efforts which a Muslim participate in it in an article and call it "Islamic astronomy". This part refers to Muslim's participation in western astronomy. You see, It has neither been inspired with Islam nor been directed by Muslims community. --Seyyed(t-c) 11:59, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Islamic school of astronomy in India and China[edit]

I think we've neglected of the Islamic astronomy in India which was active even after 1450. You can refer to these books and complete the article:

In China:

--Seyyed(t-c) 17:02, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

World view tag[edit]

I doubt about This statement:

"This is the period of stagnation, when the traditional system of astronomy continued to be practised with enthusiasm, but with decreasing innovation. It was believed there was no innovation of major significance during this period, but this view has been questioned by historians of astronomy in recent times."

The article focused on what happened in Uttoman empire where we didn't have any innovation.

In Iran a philosophical turning point happened. I mean Mulla Sadra introduced new philosophy which wasn't related to especial physical and astronomical interpretation. As you know most of the pre-modern philosophical schools are based on especial understanding about the "Aflak". Even Avicennism was related to especial understanding. Mulla Sadra's innovation had two effects. On one side the astronomy lost its former position, on the other side philosophy could survive without any need to astronomy. This explains why Islamic philosophy survived in Iran even after collapse of former astronomy which was geocentric. Furthermore it explains why later Iranian philosophers haven't pay attention to astronomy as Avicennian philosophers had.

In India, we had good efforts. I don't know whether Muslims had innovations or not, but we should investigate more.--Seyyed(t-c) 05:04, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

I am aware of Mulla Sadra's role in the Iranian philosophical Renaissance, but how is he related to the history of Islamic astronomy? The section on 1450-1900 does not only focus on the Ottoman Empire, but also on astronomers from Persia (i.e. Shams al-Din al-Khafri) and Samarkand (i.e. Ali al-Qushji). The only thing missing from that section is any mention of Indian or Chinese developments in Islamic astronomy. Jagged 85 (talk) 23:44, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Dubious reference for Ja'far al-Sadiq[edit]

The information in the article about Ja'far al-Sadiq all comes from a single highly dubious source, about which I have already raised concerns on the Heliocentrism talk page.

As a self-published work, the book is almost impossible to find in any library, and the editor responsible for placing the citation (now removed) in the articles on Heliocentrism and Ja'far al-Sadiq has acknowledged that he has not consulted a copy of the book. Instead, he obtained his information about it from a web-site containing extracts from it. If that is also the case here, it is the web-site where the information came from, rather than the book, which should be cited directly. But in any case, in my opinion, neither the indicated web-site, nor the book itself, can by any stretch of the imagination be considered to satisfy Wikipedia's criteria for reliable sources. Therefore, unless a reliable source can be found for the information, I believe it should be deleted. —David Wilson (talk · cont) 12:55, 1 March 2008 (UTC)

Since no-one has supplied a reliable source for this material, I have now removed it.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 13:21, 15 May 2008 (UTC)

FA nomination?[edit]

Back on 21 January, Nousernamesleft, the reviewer who promoted this article to GA status, suggested that this article was good enough to be nominated for FA status. Not much has changed since then, besides the addition and removal of some bits here and there, and the renaming of the article. Now that it has been exactly eight months since then, is everyone still up for nominating this article to FA status? Jagged 85 (talk) 22:23, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

I can see a couple of problems with the article as it stands. In my opinion, these are sufficiently serious to disqualify it from being considered a featured article.
  • The article currently states:
"In the tenth century, the Brethren of Purity published the Encyclopedia of the Brethren of Purity, in which a heliocentric view of the universe is expressed"
As I have already pointed out on the Heliocentrism talk page this claim is flatly contradicted by the source cited, and the sentence quoted as supposedly supporting it is in fact taken badly out of context. It is certainly clear from the excellent source cited that a brief account of the astronomical theories of the Brethren of Purity should be included in the article. However, this must be an accurate representation of what the source actually says, rather than anything like the execrable misrepresentation currently given in the article.
  • A claim that Ja'far al-Sadiq proposed a heliocentric theory, which I had removed in May because it was inadequately sourced (see comments above), has now been reinserted without any source at all. It most certainly needs one. I have performed a thorough search for any mention of Ja'far al Sadiq in scholarly works on the history of astronomy, including ones with extensive sections on Islamic astronomy, but have been unable to find a single one.
I have therefore tagged these claims with appropriate templates.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 16:43, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
I've now removed both of these disputed claims. I don't currently have access to Nasr's book, so I won't be able to elaborate on the Brethren of Purity's astronomical theories in the mean time. Now that the disputed claims are no longer present in the article, do you think the article should be nominated for FA? Jagged 85 (talk) 01:03, 1 October 2008 (UTC)
I wouldn't be prepared to say that the article should be nominated for featured article status, because I'm not confident I have a sufficient grasp of the criteria it needs to satisfy. However, I can't see anything else in it that would appear to me to make it obviously ineligible. In my opinion, it would be nice to have a few sentences about the cosmology of the Brethren of Purity. But on my reading of Nasr's exposition, the value of including that is very much a matter of subjective judgement anyway, so I don't think its omission is much of a defect. In short, it now seems to me that a nomination for featured article status wouldn't be at all unreasonable.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 13:14, 2 October 2008 (UTC)

Alhazen and the telescope[edit]

Removed to talk:

The foundations of telescopic astronomy can also be traced back to Ibn al-Haytham, due to the influence of his optical studies on the later development of the modern telescope.[1]

and laid the theoretical foundations for modern telescopic astronomy.]]

Alhazen had an influence on the history of Optics but did he have a specific influence on the invention of the telescope above the many other thinkers in optical history such as Abbas Ibn Firnas, Nicholas of Cusa, Robert Grosseteste, John Dee, Thomas Digges, Euclid, Pappus, Hero of Alexandria, Claudius Ptolemy, Abu 'Abd Allah Muhammad ibn Ma'udh, Aristotle, Avicenna, Averroes, al-Kindi, Tideus, Constantine the African, John Pecham, and Witelo? The two articles that keep being used as support for this are the O. S. Marshall 1950 "Alhazen and the Telescope" Astronomical Society of the Pacific Leaflet and the Richard Powers "Best Idea; Eyes Wide Open" April 18, 1999 New York Times article. They suffer from the problem of (A) - Being written from the POV of Alhazen, and (B) - not being very reliable. Richard Powers specificaly not a reliable source since it is an opinion piece being used for a statement of fact (WP:SOURCES). And the entire claim is contradicted by this. Fountains of Bryn Mawr (talk) 17:38, 11 February 2009 (UTC)


Istambul observatory in 1577. Per Honor et Gloria  13:07, 3 January 2010 (UTC)


The intro adds aliases:

Arabic astronomy or Iranian Astronomy

which are inferior aliases. F.ex. Ulugh Beg was pretty much a mongol. The common factor of all these astronomers was Islam, and the Islamic cultural sphere. It is worth mentioning the international character of "Islamic astronomy" (Moon calendars) and "Islamic culture promoted astronomy" (the rest), but I think it should be moved down and be mentioned in some subsequent sections of the intro, and I think we should stress that "Persian" or "Arabic" astronomy are just parts of Astronomy in medieval Islam. Rursus dixit. (mbork3!) 13:19, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

So, since we are talking about the common factors perhaps we should mention that Pascal, Newton, Da Vinci, Copernicus, etc. they were all Christian and therefore their science and art is Christian Science and Art and does not belong to any particular nation such as England or Italy etc, right? You would be ok with that? Because for us Iranians we are NOT ok with that. Most of our scientist such as Avicenna, Khayyam, Farabi, etc. were 100% against Islam. You can see it in their poetry were they condemn inequality between men and women in Islam and praised drinking of wine which is forbidden in Islam! Look at Iranians today, they are fighting Islamic Republic for one reason: Islam! and this has been gong on for 1400 years. Islamic Republic of Iran is a dictatorship because minority who are fanatic Muslims are running the country. These are the same people as Taliban, Al-Qade or Wahabi Arabs. They support Hizbolah, and Palestinian cause. They support every single terrorist act on the surface of this planet. Iranian people have been trying to get rid of them for 1400 years. Do a google search and you will literary see millions of anti-Islam websites made by Brave Iranians. Salman Rushdi's book is nothing next to those websites! — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:05, 31 January 2012 (UTC)

Reliability of Covington 2007[edit]

Editor Syncategoremata (see here) has recently queried the reliability of this reference by science writer Richard Covington. I strongly concur with Syncategoremata's opinion that this reference is not a reliable source for historical details of past astronomical systems. Covington does not appear to be a professional or trained historian, and his description of how al-Tusi used his eponymously named couple to model the orbit of the Moon bears almost no resemblance to that given in the genuinely reliable source, History of the Planetary Systems from Thales to Kepler (pp.268-70) by J.L.E. Dreyer.

In the cited reference, Covington writes:

"In his comprehensive encyclopedia of astronomy, Kitab al-qanun al-Mas’udi, or the Canon Mas’udicus, dedicated in 1031 to Mahmud’s son and successor, Mas’ud, al-Biruni also observed that the planets revolved in apparent elliptical orbits, instead of the circular orbits of the Greeks, although he failed to explain how they functioned. It was not until the 13th century that al-Tusi conceived a plausible model for elliptical orbits."

And then, further on:

"“Al-Tusi’s couple” consists of one large circle representing the orbit of the moon and, inside it, a smaller circle, half the radius of the larger circle, that represents the orbit of a planet. Both circles, the “couple,” revolve in tandem around the Earth. As the couple orbits the Earth, the moon rotates in the same direction on its own orbit and the planet spins twice as fast on its inside orbit in the opposite direction. Using this model, both the moon and the planet appear to revolve around the Earth in elliptical orbits with oscillating centers. In this mind-bending way, al-Tusi tried to reconcile the irregular movements of the sun, moon and planets, yet preserve Ptolemy’s geocentric circular orbits."

Although there is insufficient detail in this account to be completely sure of what Covington was trying to describe, there is certainly enough to establish that—whatever it was—its description has been badly garbled. In the diagram of the Tusi couple at the right, the point M and the centre C of the smaller circle revolve anticlockwise with the same constant angular velocity about the centre D of the larger circle. The point P revolves clockwise about the center C of the smaller circle so that the angle MCP increases at twice the rate of the angle MDB. This has the consequence that the point P oscillates with simple harmonic motion along the line AB. Covington's description appears to be saying that in al-Tusi's model the point M represents the Moon, the point P a planet, and the point D revolves around the Earth in the same direction as the moon revolves around D (i.e. anticlockwise in this case). There are all sorts of problems with this. In particular:

  • It's nothing at all like the description of al-Tusi's lunar model given by Dreyer in the above-cited reference. In Dreyer's account, the Moon is not located at M but on an epicycle centred on the point P, and there's no mention at all of any planet's being part of the model, let alone one being located at P;
  • The paths of the points M and P are not elliptical, regardless of the rate of revolution of the point D about the Earth.

In my opinion, this reference is worthless as evidence for the claim that "al-Tusi conceived a plausible model for elliptical orbits." Unless a genuinely reliable source can be found to support that claim, I believe it should be deleted from the article.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 16:20, 9 April 2010 (UTC)


Including such a section in this article is a bit of a stretch. I can understand 1450-1900, but the 20th century? Come on. The inclusion of such items as an Azerbaijani cosmonaut is a bit of a joke. This was done with Russian (i.e. western) technology, it has nothing to do with the medieval astronomical tradition. Same goes for Farouk El Baz. Nothing against the guy, but he is hardly "medieval". This article is "Astronomy in medieval Islam", not "Muslim Astronomers throughout the ages". Athenean (talk) 23:37, 10 April 2010 (UTC)

As no one objected, I have removed it. The section was completely farcical to begin with. I also modified the "Early Heliocentric Models" section, which was an exercise in POV-pushing and source falsification by the usual suspect. Athenean (talk) 04:58, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

Muhammed ibn Musa and gravitational attraction[edit]

I have removed the following text from the article:

"In his Astral Motion and The Force of Attraction, Muhammad ibn Musa also proposed that there is a force of attraction between heavenly bodies,[musarefs 1] foreshadowing Newton's law of universal gravitation.[musarefs 2]"
Notes (musarefs)
  1. ^ Waheed, K. A. (1978), Islam and The Origins of Modern Science, Islamic Publication Ltd., Lahore, p. 27 
  2. ^ (Briffault 1938, p. 191)

because it is not supported by the references provided, neither of which could reasonalby be regarded as reliable by Wikipedia's standards anyway.

The Waheed reference is not a historical work at all, but a pamphlet of Islamic apologetic polemics. More specifically, it is devoted to arguing that it was the scholars of the so-called golden age of Islam rather than the ancient Greek philosophers and mathematicians who were responsible for laying the foundations of modern science. The information on Muhammed ibn Musa is contained in the following quotation from The Historians' History of the World, Vol VIII, p.279:

"It was from Alhazen's Twilight that the illustrious Kepler took his ideas of atmospheric refraction; and it may be that Newton himself owes to the Arabs, rather than to the apple in his orchard at Woolsthorpe, the first apperception of the system of the universe; for Muhammed bin Musa (quoted in the Bibliot. arab. Philosophorum) seems, when writing his books on The Movement of the Celestial Bodies and on The Force of Attraction, to have had an inkling of the great law of general harmony." (Source available online here. The cited text appears on page 304 of the electronic copy)

While The Historians' History of the World might be considered a reliable, if somewhat dated, source, this statement comes nowhere near supporting the claim which I have now removed from the article.

The Briffault reference, The Making of Humanity, is a work of popular history which, as far as I can see, provides no citations whatever for anything it says. It certainly doesn't do so for the assertion it makes about Muhammed ibn Musa, which is (p.190-91):

"Although the Ptolemaic system was repeatedly criticised by Moorish astronomers, although Al-Zarkyal[sic] declared the planetary orbits to be ellipses and not circles, although the orbit of Mercury is in [p.191] Al-Farâni's tables actually represented to be elliptical, although Muhammâd Ibn Mûsa glimpsed in his works on Astral Motion and The Force of Attraction the law of universal gravitation, those adumbrations of the truth were not fruitful of any great reform."

But even if Briffault could be regarded as a reliable source, this quotation doesn't support the claim I have removed from the article either.

It may well be that Muhammed ibn Musa said something about gravity which is worth noting in the article, but the above quotations unfortunately give us almost no clue whatever as to what that may have been. It could just as equally be said of Aristotle that in his own theory of gravitation he "had an inkling of the great law of general harmony", or that he "glimpsed ... the law of universal gravitation". In what way did ibn Musa's ideas on gravity differ from Aristotle's? Unfortunately, the above quotations, even if their sources could be considered reliable, give us not the slightest idea.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 02:44, 14 April 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for looking into this claim as it had been worrying me.
As for Briffault (1919), he seems to be reasonably reliable in his use of sources (not that he declares what they are), but since those are mostly tertiary ones (so far as I can tell) and now mostly over a hundred years old, he's not an authoritative source for anything in this area. (By the way: the 1938 date is of a reprint; the original publication is 1919.)
All the best. –Syncategoremata (talk) 08:32, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for pointing out the discrepancy in the dates. It was remiss of me not to check that I had the correct edition (since it's certainly possible that there might have been more than one). The one I consulted was in fact a 1928 reprint of the 1919 edition.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 09:59, 14 April 2010 (UTC)
As far as I have been able to check, there was just a single edition: the books with later dates are just reprints.
All the best. – Syncategoremata (talk) 00:00, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

Experimental astronomy, astrophysics, celestial mechanics[edit]

This section title in the article is misleading, presenting anachronistic terms to give a modern flavor to the topics discussed.

  • Astrophysics is a concept that emerged in the last half of the nineteenth century. The OED defines it as "That branch of astronomy which treats of the physical or chemical properties of the celestial bodies." The breakthrough instrument in astrophysics was the spectrograph, which enabled the observer to identify specific chemical elements in the stars. To quote the oldest citation in the OED (Dunkin, 1869), "As a subject for the investigations of the astro-physicist, the examination of the luminous spectras of the heavenly bodies has proved a remarkably fruitful one." A more traditional term for the kind of concern found in ancient and medieval writers would be cosmology (or perhaps physical cosmology).
  • Celestial mechanics is that part of astronomy that derives the motions of the planets from the application of Newton's laws of motion. Applying that term to the kinematic astronomy of antiquity again confuses the issue.
  • Experimental astronomy is the least objective term, but it's not clear what is meant here since astronomy is fundamentally an observational, not an experimental, science.

How about replacing the title with Physical cosmology, kinematic astronomy, and astronomical observations? Any comments? --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 02:21, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

Sounds like another case of presentism. I endorse your proposed changes. Athenean (talk) 04:45, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

al-Khazini and gravity[edit]

I have removed the following text from the article:

"In 1121, al-Khazini, in his treatise The Book of the Balance of Wisdom, states:[2]

"For each heavy body of a known weight positioned at a certain distance from the centre of the universe, its gravity depends on the remoteness from the centre of the universe. For that reason, the gravities of bodies relate as their distances from the centre of the universe."

"Al-Khazini was thus the first to propose the theory that the gravity or gravitational potential energy of a body varies depending on its distances from the centre of the Earth. This phenomenon was not proven until the 18th century, following Newton's law of universal gravitation.[2]"

because neither the reference actually cited, nor the one which was apparently meant to be cited, contains anything at all about either al-Khazini or about the ideas of any other Muslim scientists on gravity. The source actually cited was this web page, whose citation had already been removed from the bibliography of the article because consensus had determined that it was not reliable. The source which the citation seems to have been intended to refer to is this article on the same web site.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 17:16, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

al-Zarqali's elliptical orbits[edit]

I have recently removed[13][14] the claim that al-Zarqali discovered elliptical orbits. For an extensive discussion of this topic see Talk:History of astronomy/Common misconceptions#al-Zarqali's elliptical orbits. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 18:54, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

article is an exercise in POV-pushing[edit]

I have added a POV tag, as this article is a veritable POV-fest. It suffers from many of the problems outlined in this RfC/U [15] on the main contributor of this article. Specifically:

  • Sources are stretched way beyond what they say. In some cases the sources do not back the claims made in the article.
  • Material is repeated throughout the article for effect.
  • The article suffers from a severe case of presentism, i.e. a deliberate attempt to prove that modern scientific developments were anticipated by ancient astronomers.
  • Reliance on low quality or highly POV sources.
  • Poor sourcing, with no page numbers given, etc...

The article is a total mess and needs major cleanup. The sources used need to be checked one by one as the main contributor to this article has a history of source falsification. Given the large number of sources, this is a Herculean task. Therefore the tags are necessary so that our readers are not misled into relying on the article in its present state. Athenean (talk) 05:22, 8 July 2010 (UTC)

Community GAR[edit]

This article is now being reassessed at WP:Good article reassessment/Astronomy in medieval Islam/1.


Per the ongoing recent efforts of the Jagged 85 Cleanup, I am stubbing this article so that it can be re-worked. In its current form, it is riddled with misrepresented sources, unsourced or poorly sourced claims, outright fabrications and bombast to such an extent that the easiest way to improve the article is by reverting it to its pre-Jagged version. Examples:

  • Misrepresentation of sources: In the 3rd paragraph of the current "Ancient influences and translation movement" section, the claim is made that "though much of the Almagest was incorrect, even in premise, it remained a standard astronomical text in both the Islamic world and Europe until the Maragha Revolution and Copernican Revolution.[32]", sourced to this [16]. Yet, the source doesn't even mention the "Maragha Revolution". An outright fabrication by Jagged.
  • Unsourced statements: "This was the first attempt successful at combining mathematical astronomy with physics and the earliest attempt at applying the experimental method to astronomy and astrophysics." Typical Jaggedian presentism and claim of being the "first", without any source whatsoever.

And it goes on like this. With 905 contribs by Jagged [17], this article is virtually entirely written by him, and with the examples in mind as well as Jagged's history, reverting to the pre-Jagged version is, unfortunately, the best way to improve the article. Athenean (talk) 16:19, 28 April 2011 (UTC)

I restored the lede, because I didn't find anything wrong with it. If other users similarly find that sections of the old version are ok source-wise, they should feel free to restore them as well. Stubbing is a last resort, and it's only because this article was in such a terrible state that I stubbed it. Athenean (talk) 16:30, 28 April 2011 (UTC)

"History" Section and Bibliography[edit]

A few issues at hand here:

First, right now the "history" section has a small paragraph that reads "Pre-Islamic Arabs had no scientific astronomy. Their knowledge of stars was only empirical, limited to what they observed regarding the rising and setting of stars. The rise of Islam provoked increased Arab thought in this field.[13][14]".

This claim is itself dubious, with doubts risen by Dbachmann (talk · contribs) here, and as such exactly what is said by these sources needs to be explicitly stated and that information attributed directly to the source. This is not only due to the sad history this article so far has, but the hostility towards non-monotheistic cultures that Islam, like Christianity, has historically had (i.e. "they had nothing before we came along...").

Second, the bibiolography section now contains a ton of sources not cited in the article. This needs to go; "recommended reading" is entirely arbitrary and if a source isn't citing a claim, it has no place on Wikipedia.

Thanks. :bloodofox: (talk) 04:05, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

I have since rewritten the section in question but the bibliography still needs to be purged. :bloodofox: (talk) 04:39, 15 October 2011 (UTC)
The bibliography section should be structured to "References" (what is currently cited) and "Further reading" (what isn't). That said, the previous discussion with Dbachmann contained many unsubstantiated claims about "Muhammad", which were either contradictory or false. For example, he claims that Muhammad asked his followers "to stop observing the heavens", but still pray, fast, and count the months based on "observing the heavens". I have left many of these claims alone, and only dealt with the issue of intercalation in Arabia. Wiqi(55) 11:58, 15 October 2011 (UTC)

Islamic Science?[edit]

There pretty much is no such a thing as Islamic Science leave alone Islamic Astronomy or Arabic Astronomy. It sounds funny since most of the science invented during and before Islam was done by Persian or Iranian scientists. Some Arabic nations want to take advantage of the fact that because some of these Iranian scientist had converted to Islamic therefor the science is Islamic or Arabic. If Nicolas Copernicus or Leonard da Vinci's science would be referred to as Christian Science how would an Italian feel? Even though they were both practicing Christianity that does not mean that they were Israelis or Armenian etc. What amazes me is that even though some of these Arabic nations want to claim that they had part in the science and especially Astronomy and medicine which were both invented and perfected at the time by Iranians there is not a single trace of those sciences to be found in any Arabic speaking nation! Some Iranian scientist did write their books or invention in Arabic at the time but just like Da Vinci and Copernicus who wrote their invention in Latin but that does not make them Christian Scientist or Greeks does it?

When you go through this wiki-page on Astronomy you can see that intentionally they keep deleting the Iranian or Persian reference to the following Iranian scientist: Avicenna, Khwarizmi, Khayyam, Muhammad Salih Tahtawi, Nasir din Tusi, Sharaf Dula, Fazari, and the list goes on and on. Also, they try to add the Arabic word "AL" before each Iranian name so that it sounds Arabic, because that's how they call their own names.

If Arabs have any scientists and proof of that do please make Wiki-pages, scan it and load it up and we will gladly support you but do not call Avicenna or Khawrizmi, Khayyam an Arab or Muslim as a matter of fact if one had any knowledge of these gentleman and would have read their poetry they would know that they for their time were 100% anti Arab and Islam which in today's world is not acceptable. So my Arab friends are you surprised? Please go and create your own science, language and poetry, we the people of the world specially Iranians are tired of being referred to as Arabs, or Muslims. Just google the words barabric Islam, killing and Islam, Qoran and rape, all the web pages that will pop-up are made by Iranian people and these are over 1 million web pages where Iranians have translated Qoran into common language where one can see the real face of Islam and it's scientific mind,it's all about kill, rape, women=camels, how to have 4 wives, unlimited concubines, etc. Just read the chapter(soreh in Arabic) of An-Nesah and use your own common sense. Please leave us Iranians alone we are tired of you! — Preceding unsigned comment added by Parsa1975 (talkcontribs) 05:06, 31 January 2012 (UTC)

To be inclusive we could always do what the Met did with its new Islamic Art Gallery, which they named "The New Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia," but something like that seems a bit clumsy for an encyclopedia article title. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 17:09, 31 January 2012 (UTC)

I know you are writing this out of good will but the reality is that there pretty much is no Islamic Art. If you are a historian or someone who understand Iranian Art you will be shocked to find out that it's all Iranian Art with some Arabic inscription of reciting Qoran, etc. It's pretty easy and straight forward logic. If Arabs did have any kind of art and science so how come for the past 1400 years they have not been able to produce a single Art or Invention? They've been trying their best to attach themselves to Iranians and other nations who have converted to Islam, there really is no other explanation.Have you ever heard of a Saudi-Arabian Artist, Scientist, Inventor,etc? Or someone from Kuwait,Bahrain,Qatar, Oman, and UAE? if so please inform us. There is a great country called Egypt where before they became Muslims and changed their native mother language to Arabic they had great Art and Science, but note this: BEFORE is the key word :-) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:55, 31 January 2012 (UTC)

It seems like there are two issues here: whether the astronomy that took place in Islamic territories was properly Islamic (i.e. had any religious connection); and whether it is more proper to talk about astronomers as Islamic, or to give them a territorial (or perhaps linguistic) designation (Arabic, Turkish, Persian, etc.). I don't have a strong feeling about the second one, but there are clearly scholars who think that there was some strong religious motivation for Islamic astronomy (I'm thinking primarily of David King, but there are others). So maybe the 'Astronomy in medieval Islam' title isn't as problematic as it seems on first glance. Omniadisce (talk) 21:31, 29 June 2014 (UTC)

Somali star lore[edit]

A recent edit has added a mention of Somali astronomy, with no further details, to the lede. The addition cites Muusa Galaal's ethnographic/linguistic study of "Somali weather lore, astronomy, and astrology", but does not provide any further details. It appears that Galaal's work deals with modern ethnoastronomical traditions, rather than medieval Islamic astronomy.

I am sympathetic to ethnoastronomy, and would welcome a discussion of this (and other) ethnoastronomical traditions within the Islamic world. This edit, however, does not provide adequate details of the astronomy to belong in the lede, and even if it did provide details, this is not the appropriate article for a discussion of contemporary ethnoastronomical traditions.

I am removing the edit once again. --SteveMcCluskey (talk) 20:11, 21 February 2012 (UTC)

Saliba and Stagnation[edit]

In George Saliba's 2011 'Islamic Science and the Making of the European Scientific Revolution,' he makes a convincing case for revising the interpretation of the post-1450 period as one of unmitigated decline (p. 233ff.). For one, the texts and manuscripts from this period are far too poorly known to allow for any firm interpretation. More than this, though, he argues that there may be reason to think that astronomical activity continued in the period, but that it has been overlooked because it's simply been regarded as a period of decline. Is anyone interested in helping me rework this section to accommodate Saliba's contention?

Also, it seems to me that this article could benefit from some discussion of Saliba's argument that Islamic astronomy influenced early modern astronomy and the Scientific Revolution, and the possible transmission of the Tusi couple, etc. This area of scholarship is developing fairly rapidly (by scholars like Jamil Ragep, Saliba, and also Michael Shank), but it seems like it would merit some discussion. Omniadisce (talk) 21:43, 29 June 2014 (UTC)


Islamic astronomy redirects here, and the article lead begins with bolded Islamic astronomy. The current page-title isn't very fortunate, as it applies the western division medieval to Islam. This is oxymoronic, medieval by definition is the period between classical antiquity and the Rensaissance, and there was neither a period of "ancient Islam" nor one of "Renaissance Islam". The division is not applicable.

So why not just move the page back to Islamic astronomy, which is the topic ostensibly discussed here and which points here already, as it has no other conceivable scope. I am suggesting this to help encourage a proper and meaningful use of the adjective "medieval": the word has an actual meaning and it doesn't just mean "barbaric" or "knights with swords", it means "European history between Late Antiquity and the Renaissance". --dab (𒁳) 09:30, 4 October 2014 (UTC)

It will be an uncontroversial move, I think we should do it. Bladesmulti (talk) 09:34, 4 October 2014 (UTC)