A Representative of the Samarqand and Mathematical and Astronomical School: Fathullah Shirwanī

by Professor Salim Ayduz, BMHC

Fathullah Shirwanī (c.1417 – February 1486), Astronomer, mathematician, philosopher and linguist.

His full name was Fatḥullah b. Abū Yazīd b. ‘Abd al-‘Azīz b. Ibrahim al-Shaberānī al-Shirwānī al-Shamakhi. Although he is more famously known and recognised by the name of Shāḥ Fatḥullāh, he was well known as Fatḥullah al-Shirwānī. He was born in the city of Shamakhi (also, Schemacha, Shamakhy, Şamaxı and Shemakha is a city in and the capital of the Shamakhi Rayon of Azerbaijan) which was close to Shirwan, the capital city of Ilkhanid State. He began his education under the teachings of his father and continued in Sarakhs and Tus. In Tus, he took lessons from Shia scholar Sayyid ‘Abu Tālīb. He then went to Samarqand and studied in Ulugh Beg Madrasah (1435), and formed a close relationship with Ulugh Beg (1449). He was the pupil of Sa’ad al-Dīn Mas’ud ibn ‘Umar ibn Abd Allah Taftazānī (1390) and Qāḍī Zāda al-Rūmī (1364-1436).

Fatḥullah al-Shirwānī underwent the study of usul-i fiqh, jadal, kalam, astronomy, geometry and a variety of subjects in the field of mathematical sciences from Qāḍī Zāda al-Rūmī and received ijāza (13 September 1440). After completing his five-year education in Samarkand, he returned to Shirwan (1440), where he taught in madrasas for a while and undertook official duties before leaving for Anatolia to enter the service of the Ottomans following the advice of Qāḍī Zāda (before 1451).

Fatḥullah al-Shirwānī’s first visit was to the capital of Candaroğulları Principality. He gained the authority of Candaroğlu İsmail Bey and began to teach in madrasas there. Among his students were scholars, such as, Muhy al-Dīn Muḥammad b. İbrahim Niksarī and Kamal al-Dīn Mas’ūd b. Huseyn al-Shirwanī. After teaching there for ten years, he left for Bursa when Muḥammad II (1451-1481) started the Istanbul siege. It is believed that Fatḥullah al-Shirwānī went to Bursa to attend the conquest of Istanbul. Whilst he was there he formed a close relationship with grand vizier and offered his work Majalla fī al-musīqa to Muḥammad II. After the conquest, he became isolated as a result of the execution of his protector Grand Vizier Chandarli Khalīl Pasha (1439-1453) and decided to return back to Kastamonu. He wrote al-Farāid wa al-fawāid and offered this to Muḥammad II in an attempt to part with the Ottomans however this did not happen as he’d anticipated.

Fatḥullah al-Shirwānī then went on a pilgrimage through Iraq in 1465. He remained there as a guest and engaged with knowledge in Baderaiye town of Vasit. He taught lessons there to scholars such as Najm al-Dīn b. Qādī Ajlun. After his pilgrimage, he stayed at Makka for some time in 1467 and continued teaching. In his return journey, he visited Cairo in 1475 and after a while, he continued in Istanbul to seek and engaged with scientific studies there. After a while, he returned to Shirwan (1478) and passed away at his birthplace (1486).

The process of his studies made Fatḥullah al-Shirwānī knowledgeable in the field of sharia and rational sciences, Arabic language and literature, mathematics, astronomy and geography. He was accepted as a scholar of the school of Samarqand, as he had completed the basis of his education in the Samarqand Madrasa. Shirwānī was a scholar who spread positive sciences in Anatolia like Ali Qushjī. His reputation was spread over Anatolia, Iraq, Hijaz and Egypt.

His works

  1. Hāshiya ‘alā Sharh al-Mawākif (Arabic). It is a wide commentary of Sayyid Sharīf Jurjānī’s book Sharh al-Mawākif. It is known as Talīkāt ‘alā ‘awaīli sharh al-Mawākif, and it forms first shape of this work, or it forms fore of a missing copy.
  2. Hāshiya ‘alā ilahiyyāti Sharh al-Mawākif (Arabic). This work was written for Bayazid II.’s consideration and dedicated to him (Süleymaniye Library, Fatih, no. 299, 60 fol.).
  3. Sharh Tahzībi al-mantik wa al-kalām (Arabic). This work is the commentary on Taftazānī’s (d. 1390) work.
  4. Al-Farāid wa al-fawāid fī tawzīhi Sharh al-Mulakhkhaṣ (Arabic). It is also known as Talikāt alā Sharh al-Jaghmīnī li-Qāḍī Zāda and Hāshiya alā Sharh al-Jaghmīnī. Shirwanī exploited another explanation for explaining some part of the explanation written by Qāḍī Zāda al-Rūmī in works of al-Jaghmīnī’s al-Mulakhkhaṣ fī al-Hay’a (Compendium of astronomy). This work is a commentary, and he added his personal opinion and information from Qāḍī Zāda al-Rūmī. Shirwānī started his work in Samarkand and then completed it in Anatolia. He dedicated it to Muḥammad II when he collected it into a book (1473) (Topkapi Palace Library, III. Ahmed, MS 3294, 107, fol.).
  5. Sharh al-Tadhkira fī ̒ ilm al-hay’a (Commentary on “Memoir” of al-Ṭūsī’s on Science of Astronomy) (Arabic). This work is the explanation of Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī’s al-Tadhkira fī ̒ ilmi al-hay’a (Memoir on Science of Astronomy) (1474). Shirwānī exploited from explanations which were written before him by Sayyid Sharīf Jurjānī and Nizām al-Dīn Nishābūrī. He improved some subjects in the book and submitted it to his students as a textbook. Fifty-four pages appendix of work are remarkable. These pages include madrasa of Ulugh Beg and part of Shirwānī’s academic year. In addition, these pages are an independent book on optics which begins after the first chapter (Topkapi Palace Library, III. Ahmed, MS 3314, 368 fol., Suleymaniye Library, Damad, MS 847).
  6. Sharh al-Anwār li-̒amal al-abrār (Persian). Shirwānī wrote this work name of Shirwanshah Farruh Yasar in 1478 (Tahran, Kitaphane-i Merkezi-i Danişgāh-ı Tahran, MS 2991).
  7. Interpretation of Āyat al-Kursī /Tafsīr Āyat al-kursī (Arabic). This work is a wide interpretation of Surah al-Baqara’s verse 255. He dedicated the work to Chandarli Halil Paşa in Bursa (February 1453) (Süleymaniye Library, Fatih, MS 167, 97 fol.).
  8. Al-Anwar li-‘amal al-abrār (Persian). This work is the explanation of Jamāl al-Dīn Yusuf b. Ibrahim Ardabalī’s book which is about Jurisprudence of Shafī. He dedicated this to Ulugh Beg.
  9. Sharh al-Irshad fī al-Nahv (Arabic). This work the explanation of Sa’d al-Dīn Taftazānī’s Irshad al-hādī. In the beginning of this piece, he declared visiting of Taftazānī’s grave in the Sarakhs. He gave information about life and works of Taftazānī.
  10. Sharh-i Awāmil (Persian). This work is translation and explanation of al-Sayyid al-Sharif Jurjānī’s (1339–1413) al-Awāmil al-mi ̒a which is about nahv (syntax) (İzmir Milli Library, MS 512, 29 fol.).
  11. Majalla fi al-Mūsīqā. (Codex on Music) (Arabic). This work shows that he is a versatile scholar. This work was written in the tradition of al-‘Urmawī and dedicated to Muḥammad II in 1453. Facsimile edition of the work with introduction in English and Arabic was published by Eckhard Neubauer in Germany (Institute for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, 1986) based on this copy of Topkapi Palace library (Topkapi Palace Library, III. Ahmed, MS. 3449).
  12. Hāshīya alā Sharhi Ashkāl al-tasīs is probably the explanation of Qāḍī Zāda’s Sharh Ashkāl al-tasīs fi al-handasa.
  13. Sharh al-Marāh. This work is the explanation of Ahmad b. Ali b. Masud’s Marāh al-Arwāh which is about sarf (grammar).
  14. Makala fī tabyīni ma’nā al-taksīm (Arabic) (Süleymaniye Library, Şehit Ali Paşa, MS 1661, 3 fol.).

Bibliography

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Images

The first page of Majalla fi al-Mūsīqā. (Codex on Music) Topkapi Palace library (Topkapi Palace Library, III. Ahmed, MS. 3449).

The first page of Majalla fi al-Mūsīqā. (Codex on Music) Topkapi Palace library (Topkapi Palace Library, III. Ahmed, MS. 3449).

A sample page of Majalla fi al-Mūsīqā. (Codex on Music) Topkapi Palace library (Topkapi Palace Library, III. Ahmed, MS. 3449).

A sample page of Majalla fi al-Mūsīqā. (Codex on Music) Topkapi Palace library (Topkapi Palace Library, III. Ahmed, MS. 3449).

A sample page of Majalla fi al-Mūsīqā. (Codex on Music) Topkapi Palace library (Topkapi Palace Library, III. Ahmed, MS. 3449).

A sample page of Majalla fi al-Mūsīqā. (Codex on Music) Topkapi Palace library (Topkapi Palace Library, III. Ahmed, MS. 3449).

A sample page of Majalla fi al-Mūsīqā. (Codex on Music) Topkapi Palace library (Topkapi Palace Library, III. Ahmed, MS. 3449).

A sample page of Majalla fi al-Mūsīqā. (Codex on Music) Topkapi Palace library (Topkapi Palace Library, III. Ahmed, MS. 3449).