From: Thomas Hockey et al. (eds.). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, Springer Reference. New York: Springer, 2007, p. 12 Courtesy of Springer.

F. Jamil Ragep and Marvin Bolt

Ādamī: Abū ʿAlī al‐Ḥusayn ibn Muḥammad al‐Ādamī

FlourishedBaghdad (Iraq), circa 925

Ādamī is noted for his work on instruments. Ibn al‐Ādamī, presumably his son, wrote an influential astronomical handbook with tables (zīj) that was based on Indian sources. The father is mentioned in Ibn al‐Nadīm's Fihrist (dating from the 10th century), where he is called al‐Ādamī. Because of the similarity in names, the two have often been confused in modern sources.

According to the Fihrist, Ādamī is the author of a work on sundials, and indeed there is an extant Paris manuscript by him that deals with vertical sundials and contains universal auxiliary tables that are used to simplify calculations. These enabled the drawing of lines for vertical sundials inclined to the local meridian at any desired angle for any latitude. Bīrūnī tells us in his great work on astrolabes (the Istīʿāb) that Ādamī was the first person to construct a “disc of eclipses” for demonstrating solar and lunar eclipses.

The son, Ibn al‐Ādamī, was famous for a zīj entitled Naẓm al‐ʿiqd, which was completed after his death by his student al‐Qāsim ibn Muḥammad ibn Hishām al‐Madāʾinī, who published it in 949/950. This nonextant work is referred to by several later authors, including Ibn Yūnus (died: 1009) and āʿid al‐Andalusī (died: 1070). From the latter we learn that Ibn al‐Ādamī's zīj was based on the Indian methods contained in the so‐called Sindhind, a Sanskrit work translated into Arabic by Fazārī. Ṣāʿid also provides crucial evidence that the theory of variable precession (or trepidation) that became known in Europe under the name of Thābit ibn Qurra may instead have had its source in the zīj of Ibn al‐Ādamī, who himself may have gotten the theory from Thābit's grandson Ibrahīm ibn Sinān. Ṣāʿid also informs us that Ibn al‐Ādamī was a source for the story of how Indian astronomy came to Baghdad in the early 770s by way of an ambassador to the court of Manṣūr.

Selected References

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, p. 663. New York: Columbia University Press.

Kennedy, E. S. (1956). “A Survey of Islamic Astronomical Tables.” Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, n.s., 46, pt. 2: 121–177.

King, D. A. (1987). “Universal Solutions in Islamic Astronomy.” In From Ancient Omens to Statistical Mechanics: Essays on the Exact Sciences Presented to Asger Aaboe, edited by J. L. Berggren and B. R. Goldstein. Vol. 39, pp. 121132. Acta Historica Scientiarum Naturalium et Medicinalium, Copenhagen: Copenhagen University Library.

——— (1993). “Mizwala.” Encyclopaedia of Islam. 2nd ed. Vol. 7, pp. 210211. Leiden: E. J. Brill.

Ragep, F. J. (1993). Nasīral‐Dīn al‐Ṭūsī's Memoir on Astronomy (al‐Tadhkira fīʿilmal‐hayʾa). 2 Vols., Vol. 2, pp. 400408 New York: Springer‐Verlag.

Rosenfeld, B. A. and Ekmeleddin, Ihsanoğlu (2003). Mathematicians, Astronomers, and Other Scholars of Islamic Civilization and Their Works (7th–9th c.). Istanbul: IRCICA, pp. 43, 62.

Ṣāʿid al‐Andalusī (1912). KitābṬabaqāt al‐umam, edited by P. L. Cheikho. Beirut: Imprimerie Catholique, pp. 4950, 5758. (French translation with notes by Régis Blachère (1935) as Livre des catégories des nations. Paris: Larose.)