Teaching the Mathematical Sciences in Islamic Societies Eighth–Seventeenth Centuries

  • Sonja Brentjes


This chapter surveys important aspects of teaching the mathematical sciences in different Islamic societies between the eighth and seventeenth centuries. It explains the historical concept and classification of the mathematical sciences that were valid in the previous epochs but are yet different from current understanding. Following the historical sequence of institutions, this chapter at first focuses on teaching activities at courts and later on madrasas and similar institutions, using the lens of biographical dictionaries, teacher registers, and educational literature. A third focus of this chapter is how scholars in different periods represented their mathematics education in autobiographies. Further themes outlined are ideas about how one could become a productive mathematician, which mathematical discipline was considered legitimate for earning a living, and which textbooks became bestsellers of mathematics education. The conclusions raise historiographical questions about the possibility or impossibility of constructing one single history of mathematics education for all Islamic societies and the adequate evaluation of an increasing number of elementary mathematical texts in postclassical Islamic societies; this suggests that the so-far dominant macro-historical and long-term approach to the history of mathematical societies should be replaced by medio- and microscale studies.


Mathematical Education Mathematical Knowledge Mathematical Science Thirteenth Century Mathematical Text 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for the History of ScienceBerlinGermany

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