Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, JoAnn Palmeri, Daniel W. E. Green

Abū Maҁshar Jaҁfar ibn Muḥammad ibnҁUmar al-Balkhi

  • Keiji YamamotoEmail author
Reference work entry

Alternate Name


BornBalkh, (Afghanistan), possibly 787

DiedWāsiṭ, (Iraq), possibly 886

Abū Maҁshar is best known for his astrological writings; however, he also wrote on other branches of the science of the stars, including astronomical tables. There is some question about his dates of birth and death because the former is based solely on an anonymous horoscope cited in his Book of the Revolutions of the Years of Nativities, while the latter comes from Ibn al-Nadīm, the tenth-century bookseller. But  Bīrūnī tells us in his Chronology of the Ancient Nations that Abū Maҁshar made an observation in 892, and there is a reference by Abū Maҁshar himself in the Book of Religions and Dynasties to stellar positions due to trepidation dated 896/897. Both would have been made when Abū Maҁshar was well over 100 if the birth date is to be believed.

Ibn al-Nadīm reports in his Fihrist that Abū Maҁshar was at first a scholar of ḥadīth(prophetic traditions), was antagonistic toward the...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Selected References

  1. Abū Maҁshar (1994). The Abbreviation of the Introduction to Astrology. Together with the Medieval Latin Translation of Adelard of Bath, edited by Charles Burnett, Keiji Yamamoto, and Michio Yano. Leiden: E. J. Brill.Google Scholar
  2. — (1995–1996). Liber introductorii maioris ad scientiam judiciorum astrorum, edited by R. Lemay. 9 Vols. Naples: Istituto Universitario Orientale.Google Scholar
  3. — (2000). Abū Maҁšhar on Historical Astrology: The Book of Religions and Dynasties (On the Great Conjunctions), edited by Keiji Yamamoto and Charles Burnett. 2 Vols. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  4. Gutas, Dimitri (1998). Greek Thought, Arabic Culture: The Graeco-Arabic Translation Movement in Baghdad and EarlyҁAbbāsid Society (2nd-4th/8th-10th centuries). London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Ibn al-Nadīm (1970). The Fihrist of al-Nadīm: A Tenth-Century Survey of Muslim Culture, edited and translated by Bayard Dodge. 2 Vols., Vol. 2, pp. 656–658. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Ibn Tāwūs (1948 or 1949). Faraj al-mahmūm fī ta’rīkhҁulamā’ al-nujūm. Al-Najaf: Manshūrāt al-matbaҁa al-haydariyya, 1368 H.Google Scholar
  7. Pingree, David (1968). The Thousands of Abū Maҁshar. London: Warburg Institute.Google Scholar
  8. — (1970). “Abū Maҁshar.” In Dictionary of Scientific Biography, edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie. Vol. 1, pp. 32–39. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.Google Scholar
  9. Sezgin, Fuat (1979). Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums. Vol. 7, Astrologie - Meteorologie und Verwandtes, bis ca. 430 H pp. 139–151. Leiden: E. J. Brill.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kyoto Sangyo UniversityKyotoJapan