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Jalīl Aḫawān Zanjānī

Jahān-i Dāniš. Šaraf al-Dīn Muḥammad b. Mas⁽ūd Mas⁽ūdī, ta’līf 549 be hijrī qamarī, Moqaddima, taḥqīq wa taṣḥīḥ Jalīl Aḫawān Zanjānī, Tehrān, Mirāṯ-i Maktūb, 1382/2003, 58 pp. + 196 pp.

Compte-rendu réalisé par Sonja Brentjes

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1The book consists of a substantial introduction by the editor (58 pp.) and the edited Persian text on mathematical cosmography (“⁽ilm al-hay’a”) by Šaraf al-Dīn Mas⁽ūdī (176 p.) who lived in the 6th century Hijra while the precise dates of his life are unknown.

2Šaraf al-Dīn Mas⁽ūdī was born and grew up in Samarqand. There he apparently also wrote the text edited here. Furthermore, he produced at least eleven other works. The edited Persian text is said to be the translation of an earlier, but lost Arabic book on mathematical cosmography (Al-Kifāya fī hayat al-⁽ālam = Al-Kifāya fī ⁽ilm al-hay’a). The remaining ten works touch upon various topics and disciplines such as meteorology, tawḥīd, algebra, arithmetic, astrology, and possibly law and philosophy or kalām, if judged by the titles given by Zanjānī (Al-Hādī fī al-furū⁽ ; Al-Mabāḥith wa’l-šukūk; p. 17, introduction).

3The edition of the Jahān-i Dāniš is based on four manuscripts (Berlin, Paris (two), London). The apparatus is modest. It focuses on orthographic and grammatical errors in the used manuscripts, but omits any precise reference to manuscript numbers, folios, and lines. In between such corrections, the apparatus also points to historical lexicography as found in major dictionaries (see, for instance, p. 5, footnote 2). The principle of the edition is to use one of the two manuscripts preserved in the BNF, Paris and to add expressions from the three remaining manuscripts if the author deemed such an emendation necessary or useful (see, for instance, p. 4, footnote 4). Unfortunately, he rarely explains his choices. The introduction presents briefly the four manuscripts, Mas⁽ūdī’s life, and some points the editor found important such as the production of ephemeredes since the Abbasids, the spring solstice, or the names of the Canaries. The enumeration of the foreign literature used for these purposes is, as a rule, full of typographic errors.

4In contrast, the edited text itself enriches our knowledge of both, the evolution of the genre of “⁽ilm al-hay’a” in Persian and what may be special ideas and attitudes held by the author. The Jahān-i Dāniš consists of two main chapters which each comprise a good number of sections (chapter 1: 23 sections; chapter 2: 14 sections). The first chapter is devoted to astronomy. It discusses technical terms, the parts of the heavens, the spherical shape of the universe, the earth, and the simple bodies (the elements), the earth as the unmoving centre of the universe, the principle movements observable in the heavens, and the orb, size, and movements of the individual planets. The second chapter deals with the earth as an object of geography and astrology.

5Some of the interesting aspects of this text are its integration of astrological themes, of elements from the “Zīj” literature, and the treatment of burhān, dalīl, and ḥikāya as terms of apparently equal meaning and relevance. The two first aspects contradict positions held by Saliba and Ragep of the relationship between the genre of “⁽ilm al-hay’a” and astrology. The third aspect stands in conflict with common convictions about the substantial epistemological differences between a rational, philosophical, or mathematical proof (burhān), a legal demonstration (dalīl), and a story (ḥikāya). Hence, the editor deserves thanks for having brought this interesting work to the general public.

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Sonja Brentjes. Jalīl Aḫawān Zanjānī, « Jahān-i Dāniš. Šaraf al-Dīn Muḥammad b. Mas⁽ūd Mas⁽ūdī, ta’līf 549 be hijrī qamarī, Moqaddima, taḥqīq wa taṣḥīḥ Jalīl Aḫawān Zanjānī, Tehrān, Mirāṯ-i Maktūb, 1382/2003, 58 pp. + 196 pp. », Abstracta Iranica [En ligne], Volume 26 | 2005, document 325, mis en ligne le 07 décembre 2005, consulté le 19 août 2019. URL :

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