Abu ’l-Hasan ʿAlī ben al-Sh̲aybānī al-Kātib al-Mag̲h̲ribī al-Qayrawānī Ibn Abi ’l-Rid̲j̲āl

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Abu ’l-Hasan ʿAlī ben al-Sh̲aybānī al-Kātib al-Mag̲h̲ribī al-Qayrawānī Ibn Abi ’l-Rid̲j̲āl

Also Known As: "Albohazen", "Alboacen", "Abenragel"
Birthplace: Baghdad, Baghdād, Iraq
Death: circa 1049 (72-90)
Immediate Family:

Son of 'Nathan HaBabli' ben Abu Ishaq Avraham Nasi, 2nd. Exilarca Mar Uqba HaRofeh, Qadi al-Qayraw ben Abu Ishaq Avraham, Exilarch 'Mar Uqba HaRofeh', Qadi al-Qayrawānī and ??? bat Mevorakh ben Eli
Father of Sa'adya ben Mevorakh (Mubārak), Nagid, Nagid, Raʾīs al-Yahūd al-Fustat
Brother of Abu Isḥāq Ibrahim Sahl (abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn al-Nag'hdilah ibn Ata al-Yahudi, haRoffeh) Exilarch, Rosh Golah of Judah ibn al-Nag'hdīlah ibn Ata al-yahūdī, haRoffe al-Galut 'Mar Sahl' and ʿAbd Allāh ben Muḥammad al-Manṣūriyya

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About Abu ’l-Hasan ʿAlī ben al-Sh̲aybānī al-Kātib al-Mag̲h̲ribī al-Qayrawānī Ibn Abi ’l-Rid̲j̲āl

abu ’l-ḥasan ʿalī al-s̲h̲aybānī al-kātib al-mag̲h̲ribī al-ḳayrawānī , was the tutor and astrologer of the Zīrid prince, al-Muʿizz b. Bādīs (407-54/1016-62), who held his court at Ḳayrawān till 449/1057, and a leading official of his administration (H. R. Idris, La Berbérie orientale sous les Zīrīdes , Paris 1962, passim ); he was also the patron of the most distinguished poet at al-Muʿizz’s court, Ibn Ras̲h̲īḳ (d. 456/1064), who dedicated to him his ʿUmda fī maḥāsin . It is unlikely that he is identical with the Abu ’l-Ḥasan al-Mag̲h̲ribī whom al-Ḳifṭī ( Taʾrīk̲h̲ al-ḥukamāʾ , ed. Lippert, 351-3) lists among the witnesses to observations of the summer solstice and the autumn equinox in Bag̲h̲dād in 378/988; and, though his tombstone is said to be dated 426/1034-5 (Idris, 810, n. 197), he must in fact have lived several years longer, as he mentions the death (in 1037) of the Kalbī amīr of Sicily, Aḥmad b. Abī ’l-Ḥusayn ( Kitāb al-Bāriʿ , iii, 22). In the same passage he refers to a Ḥabūs b. Ḥumayd, who may be identical with the governor of Nefta (Idrīs, 197) who was disgraced in 439/1047-8; and to an ʿAbd Allāh b. Muḥammad of al-Manṣūriyya, who may be the son of the ḳāḍī (Idrīs, 560) who fled to Egypt in or shortly after 440/1049.

The Kitāb al-Bāriʿ fī aḥkām al-nud̲j̲ūm which contains these references is Ibn Abi ’l-Rid̲j̲āl’s most important scientific work. It is a vast compendium in eight books on four types of astrology: interrogations (1-3), nativities (4-6), catarchic astrology (7), and general (including political and historical) astrology (8). Besides some two dozen manuscripts of the Arabic text there exists an Old Castilian translation (only the first five books survive) made by Yehudā ben Moshē for Alfonso the Wise in 1254. This Old Castilian version was twice translated into Latin (which in turn was three times turned into Hebrew), and once into Old Portuguese; probably from the Latin are also derived the French and English versions. This prodigious quantity of material in European languages accounts for most of what interest has been shown in Ibn Abi ’l-Rid̲j̲āl in modern times; in fact, however, the Kitāb al-Bāriʿ is largely copied (often inaccurately) from astrological compilations of the 3rd/9th century which still survive in Arabic.

Ibn Abi ’l-Rid̲j̲āl’s other astrological works include an Urd̲j̲ūza fi ’l-aḥkām (the Urd̲j̲ūza fī dalīl al-raʿd may be a part of this), which was commented on by Kamāl al-Tūrakānī in 755/1354 and by Aḥmad b. Ḥasan b. al-Ḳunfūd̲h̲ al-Ḳusṭanṭīnī in 774/1372. His Kitāb fi ’l-rumūz and his zīd̲j̲ entitled Ḥall al-ʿaḳd wa-bayān al-raṣd are lost.

(D. Pingree)


The best (and virtually only) work referring to Ibn Abi ’l-Rid̲j̲āl’s career in and influence on the court of al-Muʿizz is that by Idris cited in the text. His scientific career is even less studied. Some bibliographical and biographical material will be found in Suter, 100

Sarton, i, 715-6

and Brockelmann, I, 256 and S I, 401, which can be supplemented from the articles of Nykl and Hilty mentioned below. The only studies of Ibn Abi ’l-Rid̲j̲āl’s use of sources are both by V. Stegemann: Der griechische Astrologe Dorotheos von Sidon und der arabische Astrologe Abu ¶ ’l-Ḥasan ʿAli ibn abi ’r-Riǧāl, genannt Albohazen, Heidelberg 1935, and Astrologische Zarathustra-Fragmente bei dem arabischen Astrologen Abū ’l-Ḥasan ʿAlī i. abī ’r-Riǧāl (11. Jhdt.), in Orientalia, NS vi (1937), 317-36 (a substantial part of this latter article is reprinted in J. Bidez and F. Cumont, Les mages hellénisés, Paris 1938, ii, 233-40). For the various translations of the Kitāb al-Bāriʿ consult the following: Old Castilian—A. R. Nykl, Libro Conplido en los Juizios de las Estrellas, in Speculum, xxix (1954), 85-99

and G. Hilty, El Libro Conplido en los Iudizios de las Estrellas, Madrid 1954 (edition of the text), and an article of the same title in al-Andalus, xx (1955), 1-74 (contra Nykl)

Latin—the several Latin translations (along with the French and English versions), their many manuscripts, and their numerous editions are listed by F. J. Carmody, Arabic astronomical and astrological sciences in Latin translation, Berkeley-Los Angeles 1956, 150-4

Hebrew—M. Steinschneider, Die hebräischen Übersetzungen, Berlin 1893, 578-80

and Old Portuguese—I. González Llubera, Two old Portuguese astrological texts in Hebrew characters, in Romance Philology, vi (1952-3), 267-72.

Cite this page

Pingree, D.. "Ibn Abi ’l-Rid̲j̲āl." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Brill Online, 2013. Reference. Jim Harlow. 10 September 2013 <http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/encyclopaedia-of-isla...>

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