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145-193

Copyright © 1995 Cambridge University Press

FOR FINDING THE DIRECTION OF THE QIBLA

BY CALCULATION

AHMAD S. DALLAL

INTRODUCTION

on a treatise by Abu 'All al-Hasan b. al-Hasan b. al-Haytham on

finding the azimuth of the qibla by calculation. The treatise has

never been studied before in modern times.

Ibn al-Haytham was born in 965 in Basra. He spent most of

his professional life in Baghdad and later in Cairo, where he

died in 1040. He wrote on many subjects, but the extant works

for which he was mostly known are on physics, astronomy,

mathematics, and optics.1

The qibla is the sacred direction which Muslims face during

prayer and other ritual acts.2 Finding the direction of the qibla

was a favorite problem for medieval astronomers, and it was

treated in separate works, in sections of zijes and astronomical

handbooks, or in manuals for time-keeping. Some of the great-

est minds among the Muslim astronomers turned their atten-

tion to this problem and devised for this purpose solutions of

1

On the life and work of Ibn al-Haytham see the latest analysis in R. Rashed, Les

mathematiques infinitesimales du IXe au XIe siecle. Vol II: Ibn al-Haytham (London,

1993). In the introduction to this work, Rashed resolves a long standing ambiguity in

the biographical studies on Ibn al-Haytham, and proves that there are in fact two his-

torical figures by this name; these are al-Hasan ibn al-Hasan, and Muhammad ibn al-

Hasan. The former is the most famous of the two, and is the author of the work stud-

ied here, while the later is a philosopher and physician. For an earlier account of Ibn

al-Haytham's life and work see A. I. Sabra, "Ibn al-Haytham," Dictionary of Scientific

Biography, 18 vols. (New York, 1970-90), vol. 6 (1972), pp. 189-210. For lists of his

works and available manuscripts, see F. Sezgin, Geschichte des arabischen

Schrifttums, 9 vols. (Leiden, 1967 Onwards), especially Band V, Mathematik (1974),

pp. 358-73, and Band VI (1978), Astronomie, pp. 251-61.

2

On the sacred direction see D. A. King, "Kibla," Encyclopaedia of Islam, second

edition, 6 vols. to date (Leiden, 1960 to present) vol. V, pp. 82-8. See also D. A. King,

"The sacred direction in Islam: A study of the interaction of religion and science in

the Middle Ages," Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 10 (1985): 315-28.

146 AHMAD S. DALLAL

considerable sophistication. The development of methods

reflected a development in the use of mathematical techniques;3

the earliest and least complex methods were approximations;

next, solid geometry was used to accurately calculate the direc-

tion of the qibla* various analemmas were then employed to

solve the problem of the qibla graphically, by orthogonal projec-

tion of the space figure onto a single plane, thence rotating

oblique planes 5down into it to obtain the true dimensions of

their contents; finally, using spherical trigonometry, specifi-

cally the theorem of Menelaos or the simpler sine theorem, the

direction of the qibla could be derived by using entities on the

surface of the sphere.6 Moreover, numerous tables giving the

3

On the standard approximation method of al-Battani see King, "Kibla," p. 84; also

see D. King, "Al-Khalili's qibla table," Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 34.2 (1975):

81-121, p. 82. For discussion of three approximate computational methods and one

approximate cartographic construction see D. King, "The earliest Islamic mathemat-

ical methods and tables for finding the direction of Mecca," Zeitschrift fur Geschichte

der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften, 1 (1986): 97-109. For tables based on

approximate methods see King, "Al-Khalili's qibla table," pp. 120-2, and King,

"Earliest," pp. 108-12.

4

For exact solutions of the problem of the qibla using rectilinear configurations

inside the sphere see J. Ali, The Determination of the Coordinates of Cities: al-

Biruni's Tahdid al-Amakin (Beirut, 1967), pp. 243-52; E. S. Kennedy, A

Commentary upon al-Biruni's Kitab Tahdid al-Amakin (Beirut, 1973), pp. 202-9; and

King, "Earliest," pp. 112-15.

5

On different analemmas used for solving the qibla problem see E. S. Kennedy and

Y. Id, "A letter of al-Blrum: Habash al-Hasib's analemma for the qibla," in E. S.

Kennedy, Colleagues and Former Students, Studies in the Islamic Exact Sciences

(Beirut, 1983), pp. 621-9; Ah', Biruni's Tahdid, pp. 255-6; Kennedy, Commentary upon

al-Biruni's Tahdid, pp. 209-11; For a comparison of four analemmas including, in addi-

tion to the above two by Habash and Biruni, one analemma from Biruni's Al-Qanun al-

Mas'udi and one by Ibn al-Haytham see J. L. Berggren, "A comparison of four

analemmas for determining the azimuth of the qibla," Journal of the History of Arabic

Science, 4 (1980): 69-80. Also, on the analemmas of Habash and Ibn al-Haytham, see

King, "Kibla," p. 85, and King, "Earliest," pp. 115-18. For tables based on analemmas

see King, "Kibla," p. 87, and King, "Al-Khalili's qibla table," pp. 101-8,110-11.

6

For spherical trigonometric methods see Biruni's first and fifth methods in Ali,

Biruni's Tahdid, pp. 241-3, 252-5, and Kennedy, Commentary upon al-Biruni's

Tahdid, pp. 198-200, 211-14. For a comparison and discussion of the development of

such methods in the works of Habash al-Hasib (9th century), Ibn Yunus, Abu al-

Wafa' al-Buzjani, al-Quhi, Kushyar ibn Labban, al-Biruni, and the anonymous author

of the Zij al-Shamil (10th and 11th centuries), and Jamshid al-Kashi (15th century),

see J. L. Berggren, "On al-Biruni's 'Method of the zijes' for the qibla," Proceedings of

the 16th International Congress for the History of Science (Bucharest, 1981), pp. 237-

45, and J. L. Berggren, "The origins of al-Biruni's 'Method of the Zijes' in the theory

of sundials," Centaurus, 28 (1985): 1-16. Also on the methods of al-Biruni and al-

Nayrizi see King, "Kibla," pp. 85-6. For the earnest exact method using spherical

trigonometry see King, "Earliest," pp. 115-18. For tables based on such methods see

King, "Kibla," pp. 87-8; King, "Earliest," pp. 118-29; and King, "Al-Khalili's qibla

table."

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 147

direction of the qibla for different localities were computed on

the bases of each of the above methods.7

Ibn al-Haytham composed three different treatises on finding

the direction of the qibla by three different methods:

1) "Qawl fi samt al-qibla bi-al-hisab" (On (Finding) the

Azimuth of the Qibla by Calculation).8 This is the work that

forms the subject of the present study.

2) "Qawl (or maqala) fi istikhraj samt al-qibla" (On the

Determination of the Azimuth of the Qibla).9

3) A third treatise listed in Ibn al-Haytham's autobiography is

entitled "Maqala fi istikhraj samt al-qibla fijamV al-maskuna

bi-jadawil wada'tuha wa lam urid al-burhdn 'aid dhalik" (On

Finding the Azimuth of the Qibla in all the Inhabited (Lands)

by (Using) Tables Which I Compiled Without Giving the Proof).

This treatise is apparently lost.10

Several studies of the mathematics of the11

qibla determination

were produced in the past three decades. With the exception of

the references by King,12 however, the two extant treatises by

Ibn al-Haytham were often confused, and as a result only his

analemma method was given proper consideration and treat-

ment. In Band V (Mathematik), F. Sezgin lists four copies of the

first treatise, "Qawlfisamt al-qibla bi-al-hisdb," in the libraries

of Istanbul and Tehran. For this study I have not been able to

consult any of these four copies, but have used two other manu-

scripts; the first is Berlin Oct. 2970/1 (fols. 4 r -ll v ), copied by

Qadlzadeh. This copy is mistakenly listed in Sezgin's Band V

(Mathematik) under the second treatise "Qawl fi istikhraj samt

al-qibla," but the error is corrected in Band VI (Astronomie).

7

See, in addition to references listed in the above footnotes, King, "Earliest," pp.

130-41. It should be noted that the working inside the sphere, analemmas, and work

on the surface of the sphere all started in Hellenistic times, but these methods were

greatly augmented in the Islamic Middle Ages.

8

For a list of available manuscripts see Sezgin, Geschichte, Band V, # 15, p. 368,

and Band VI, # 18, p. 259. Also for a reference to this treatise see Sabra, "Ibn al-

Haytham," p. 205.

9

For a list of available manuscripts see Sezgin, Geschichte, Band V, # 16, p. 368,

and Band VI, # 19, p. 259.

10

For an edition of Ibn al-Haytham's autobiography see Anton Heinen, "Ibn Al-

Haytams Autobiographie In Einer Handschrift Aus Dem Jahr 556 H./1161 A.D.," Die

islamische Welt zwischen Mittelalter und Neuzeit: Festschrift fur Hans Robert Roemer

zum 65. Geburtstag (Beirut, 1979), pp. 254-77. For a reference to the third treatise

see p. 263 of the autobiography. For the second treatise see p. 276.

11

See footnotes 3-7 above.

12

See King, "The sacred direction," p. 317, and King, "Earliest," p. 116.

148 AHMAD S. DALLAL

Therefore, the manuscript Berlin, Oct. 2970/1 is not a copy of

Ibn al-Haytham's "istikhraj samt al-qibla," which is a solution

of the problem of the qibla by using an analemma construction,

and which was studied by Schoy in the first13 serious modern

examination of the mathematics of the qibla., Furthermore, in

his biography of Ibn al-Haytham, Sabra lists only one work on

the qibla, namely the "Qawl fi samt al-qibla bi-al-hisdb," and

mistakenly indicates that this is the same work translated into

German by Schoy.14 The confusion may have resulted from the

opening statement in the second treatise "Qawl fi istikhraj

samt al-qibla," which reads:

Kunna allafna maqala fi istikhraj samt al-qibla fijami' al-mawadi' min al-

ard shamaliha wajanubiha bi-tariq al-hisab wa al-barahin...

We have already composed a treatise on the extraction of the azimuth of

the qibla in all northerly and southerly localities on the earth using compu-

tational methods and proofs...

a short treatise for the northerly localities only, and will use a

non-computational method.15 The cataloguer of this manuscript

may have noticed the clause "istikhraj samt al-qibla ... bi-tariq

al-hisab" in the above statement and assumed, without further

examination, that the two treatises are the same.

The second manuscript consulted for this work is not listed in

Sezgin. It is MS Cairo, Dar al-Kutub K 3823/3, (fols. 14V-18V),

copied ca. 900 AH (ca. 1500 AD) from a copy by the hand of

Qadizadeh.16

I know only of one reference to this work by Ibn al-Haytham

in the later scientific literature, namely in the treatise on

instruments by the fourteenth-century Aleppo astronomer Ibn

al-Sarraj, who says:

13

See C. Schoy, "Abhandlung des al-Hasan ibn al-Hasan ibn al-Haitam (Alhazen)

uber die Bestimmung der Richtung der Qibla," Zeitschrift der Deutschen

Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft, 75 (1921), pp. 242-53. Also see C. Schoy, "Kibla,"

Encyclopaedia of Islam, first edition, 4 vols. (Leiden, 1913-34) vol. II, pp. 988-9.

14

See Sabra, "Ibn al-Haytham," p. 205.

15

See Schoy, "Abhandlung," p. 244.

16

For a catalogue reference to this manuscript see D. A. King, A Catalogue of The

Scientific Manuscripts in the Egyptian National Library (in Arabic), (Cairo, 1981), p.

317. Also see D. A. King, A Survey of the Scientific Manuscripts in the Egyptian

National Library (Malibu, Ca., 1985), # B.77-(3.3.1). On Qadizadeh see Hamit

Dilgan, Dictionary of Scientific Biography, vol. 11 (1975), pp. 227-9.

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 149

Abu al-Hasan ibn al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham has done a brilliant job in solv-

ing this (qibla) problem by articulating it in sixteen figures (accompanied) by

proofs.17

al-Haytham is accurate. So far, however, the importance of this

solution has not been recognized in the literature on either Ibn

al-Haytham or the mathematics of the qibla. In his comparative

study of the exact spherical-trigonometric methods used for

solving the problem of the qibla, Berggren18 examines, among

others, the methods of al-Biruni19 (11th century), al-Quhi20 (10th

century), Abu al-Wafa' al-Buzjani21 (10th century), Kushyar ibn

Labban22 (10th century), the anonymous author of the Zij al-

Shamil,23 and Jamshid al-Kashi24 (15th century). Berggren uses

three criteria for comparing these methods, namely, the values of

the computed auxiliary arcs, the extent to which the possibilities

of the positions of Mecca relative to various localities are elabor-

ated, and the names given to the various computed auxiliary arcs.

The methods developed in the above works involve computing

a series of auxiliary arcs culminating in the arc which measures

the azimuth of the qibla. Although the methods of computation

may differ25, the arcs calculated in these methods are closely

17

Ibn al-Sarraj is quoted in King, "Sacred direction," p. 317. The text, taken from

MS Dublin Chester Beatty 4833, reads: "Laqad abda'a Abu al-Hasan ibn al-Hasan

ibn al-Haytham fi tahrir hadhihi al-mas'ala idh sawwaraha fi yet' waw (16) shaklan

mubarhanan." On Ibn al-Sarraj see King, Survey, # C26.

18

See Berggren, "Biruni's 'Method'," pp. 237-45, and Berggren, "Origins," pp. 1-16.

19

On al-Biruni see E. S. Kennedy, "Al-Biruni," Dictionary of Scientific Biography,

vol. 2 (1970), pp. 147-58.

20

On al-Quhi see Y. Dold-Samplonius, "Al-Quhi," Dictionary of Scientific

Biography, vol. 11 (1975), pp. 239-41.

21

On Abu al-Wafa' see A. P. Youschkevitch, "Abu al-Wafa' al-Buzjani," Dictionary

of Scientific Biography, vol. 1 (1970), pp. 39-43.

22

On Kushayr see A. S. Saidan, "Kushyar ibn Labban," Dictionary of Scientific

Biography, vol. 7 (1973), pp. 531-3.

23

On this and other zijes see E. S. Kennedy, "A survey of Islamic astronomical

tables," Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 46 (1956): 123-77.

24

On al-Kashi see A. P. Youschkevitch and B. A. Rosenfeld, "Al-Kashi," Dictionary

of Scientific Biography, vol. 7 (1973), pp. 255-62.

25

For example, Biruni proposes in his al-Qanun al-Mas'udi a refined computa-

tional method in which he uses the rule of four quantities, and the law of sines for

spherical triangles instead of the cumbersome application of the theorem of

Menelaos. See King, "Kibla," p. 86, and Berggren, "Origins," pp. 14-15. On the rule

of four and other developments in Islamic trigonometry see Kennedy, "The history of

trigonometry," in Kennedy, Colleagues and Students, Studies in the Islamic Exact

Sciences, pp. 3-29.

150 AHMAD S. DALLAL

related, and the arcs calculated by Ibn al-Haytham are no

exception.

The second criterion used by Berggren is to examine the

"elaboration of the method to deal with a wider variety of cases

of the position of Mecca relative to the locality in question."26

Wlaereas tYve earliest exact metYio&s Yiad no sucYi refinements,

the question of the direction in which the azimuth of Mecca

should be measured is already considered in the Zij al-Shamil,

and in works by BirunI and Kushayr ibn Labban.27

Furthermore, Berggren argues that "this elaboration reached

its culmination in the works of Jamshid al-Kashi... who, in his

Zij al-Khaqanl, elaborated and supplemented the method to

deal with worshippers at any location on the earth's surface and

thereby created from the "method of the zijes" a universal solu-

tion of the qibla problem."28 The present work by Ibn al-

Haytham, however, provides a "universal" solution of the prob-

lem of the qibla some four centuries prior to the work of al-

Kashi.

Berggren also points out that whereas some of the examined

works use the names "modified longitude/latitude" (tul

mu'addal, 'ard mu'addal), or the "correction of longitude/

latitude" (ta'dll al-tul, ta'dll al-'ard), others use 29

the names "the

first quantity" and "the second quantity," etc. According to

Berggren, the mathematical procedures, as well as the language

used in the first set of solutions, indicate that these solutions of

the qibla problem employed a double transformation of coordi-

nates, and the measurement of the longitude and the latitude

with respect to the meridian. Berggren thus concludes that the

roots of the method of the zijes is in the theory of sundials.30

King has noted, however, that the language and computations

of the earliest exact method are independent of the methods

used in traditional sundial theories.31 The present work by Ibn

al-Haytham, seems to combine elements of the above two tradi-

tions, such that the computed arcs are measured with respect to

the meridian, but the names "the first arc," and "the second

26

See Berggren, "Origins," p. 16.

27

See Berggren, "Birunl's 'Method'," p. 245, and Berggren, "Origins," pp. 5-6, 8-9.

28

See Berggren, "Origins," p. 16.

29

For the earliest extant method where the arcs are called "the first quantity," etc.,

see King, "Earliest," pp. 112-15.

30

See Berggren, "Origins," pp. 11-14.

31

See King, "Earliest," p. 117.

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 151

arc," etc., rather than "modified" or "corrected" longitudes and

latitudes are used.

Ibn al-Haytham's computational method for finding the direc-

tion of the qibla is thus important for two reasons: it represents

an important juncture in the history of the development of the

mathematics of the qibla, and it augments our knowledge of the

contributions of one of the most important scientists of

medieval Islam. It is surprising that in the computational

method of this treatise Ibn al-Haytham confines himself to the

use of the old-fashioned Menelaos theorem, and that he disre-

gards the developments in trigonometry that took place

between the ninth and the eleventh centuries. Ibn al-Haytham,

however, was not unique in this regard. His contemporary al-

Biruni, for example,32

solved the qibla problem by using several

different methods, including one which employs the more ele-

gant sine theorem. Biruni also solved the qibla problem using

the Menelaos theorem. It is apparent, therefore, that the persis-

tence on using the Menelaos theorem does not reflect the

author's incompetence in the more developed techniques of

trigonometry. My tentative explanation of Ibn al-Haytham's

use of this cumbersome theorem in the earliest extant compre-

hensive mathematical treatment of the qibla problem is that

this work addressed a broad audience which had some knowl-

edge of astronomy and trigonometry, but was not necessarily

versed in the latest technical developments in these fields.

Should this hypothesis be true, the present work by Ibn al-

Haytham may shed some light on the range of scientific activity

and its dissemination in medieval Islamic societies.

Critical apparatus:

In the margins of the edited Arabic text I have marked the MS

sigla and folio numbers of the two manuscripts used. I have

employed square brackets to indicate the sequential paragraph

numbers which are obviously not part of the original text. As

for the English translation and commentary, the paragraphs

of each chapter were numbered following the numbering of

the Arabic text. These numbers appear inside square brackets.

Words in parentheses have been added to the translation in

order to conform to English idiom as much as possible, and to

clarify the meaning. Thefigureswere reconstructed and inserted

32

On Biruni's methods see footnotes 4-6 above.

152 AHMAD S. DALLAL

in the Arabic original and the translation. Figures that do not

appear in the original have been inserted in the commentary.

TRANSLATION

[2] An essay on (finding) the azimuth of the qibla by calcula-

tion, (written) by al-Hasan ibn al-Haytham.

[3] The azimuth of the qibla is that direction which, when faced

by a person, it will be as if he is looking towards the diameter of

the world passing through the ka'ba. The (person's) line of

vision along this azimuth will fall in the plane of the great circle

which passes through his local zenith and through the zenith of

the ka'ba. This azimuth, I mean, the azimuth of the qibla, is

demarcated by the straight line which is the intersection

between the horizon of the locality at which the azimuth is

required, and the (plane of the) great circle which passes

through the pole of that horizon and through the pole of the

horizon of the ka'ba.

[4] This line is determined by finding the longitudes and lati-

tudes of the two localities; I mean by the two localities: that of

the ka'ba, and the locality at which we want to extract the

azimuth. So if we wanted to determine the azimuth for any

desired locality we find the longitude and latitude of the locality,

and the longitude and latitude of Mecca. We then consider (the

following cases): if the two longitudes were equal, I mean, if

both localities fell on the same meridian circles, then the

azimuth line will be the meridian line. If the locality was north

of the locality of the ka'ba, I mean, if the northerly latitude of

the locality was more than the latitude of Mecca, then the

azimuth will be on the southern side of the meridian line. If,

however, the locality was south of the locality of the ka'ba, then

the azimuth will be on the northern side of the meridian line. If

the difference between their longitudes was a semicircle, and if

(the locality) was diametrically opposite the position of the

ka'ba, I mean, if it (the locality) was south of the equator on the

(great) circle which passes through the zenith of the ka'ba, and

if its southerly latitude was equal to the latitude of Mecca -

which is (true) if the difference between their latitudes was also

a semicircle - then each of the two sides of the meridian line will

be the azimuth of the qibla for that locality. If, however, it (the

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 153

locality) was not diametrically opposite (the ka'ba), and if the

shorter of the two arcs (of the great circle) that passes through

both of them was the one which passes through the north pole,

I mean, if the locality was north, on, or south of the equator,

such that its latitude was less than the latitude of Mecca, then

the azimuth of the qibla will be on the northern side of the

meridian line. If the shorter (arc) was the one which passes

through the south pole, I mean, if the locality was south of the

equator, and if the latitude (of the locality) was more than the

latitude of Mecca, then the azimuth will be on the southern side

of the meridian line. If, (on the other hand,) the two longitudes

were different, and if the difference between them was less than

a semicircle, then the azimuth is determined by extracting the

arc of the horizon (circle which falls) between the meridian line

and the (great) circle that passes through the zeniths of the two

localities. This arc is called the azimuth arc.

[5] The determination of this arc is as I describe (in what fol-

lows): if the difference between the two longitudes was less or

more than a quadrant, but less than a semicircle, then we mul-

tiply the sine of the difference between the two longitudes by

the sine of the complement of the latitude of Mecca. We then

divide the product by sixty, if the sine table was calculated for a

diameter of one hundred and twenty (units). If (the sine table

was) calculated for some other number, then we divide by half

of this number. We enter the result (of the above computation)

into the sine table and find its arcsine, which we call the first

arc. We then subtract it from ninety, compute the sine of the

remainder, and save it. Next we, multiply the sine of the lati-

tude of Mecca by sixty, and divide it by the sine we had saved;

we then find the arcsine of the result, and call the outcome the

second arc.

[6] Next we consider (the following cases): If this (second) arc

was equal to the latitude of the locality at which the azimuth is

required, and if the latitude was north of the equator, and the

difference between the two longitudes was less than a quadrant,

then the azimuth of the qibla will fall on the east-west line - if

the locality was east of the locality of the ka'ba, then (the

azimuth will be) on the west side (of the east-west line), and if

the locality was to the west, then (the azimuth will be) on the

east side. If, however, this (second) arc was equal to the latitude

(of the locality), and if the latitude was south of the equator,

and the difference between the two longitudes was more than a

154 AHMAD S. DALLAL

quadrant, then the azimuth of the qibla will be on the east-west

line, also to the same side on which the ka'ba falls.

[7] If this arc, which we designated the second was equal to the

complement of the latitude (of the locality), and if the latitude

was northerly, and the difference between the two longitudes

was greater than a quadrant, then the arc which we designated

the first will be the azimuth arc, and it will be northerly. If the

second arc was equal to the complement of the latitude, and if

the latitude was southerly, and the difference between the two

longitudes was less than a quadrant, then the first arc will be

the azimuth arc, and it will be northerly.

[8] If the latitude was northerly, and the difference between

the two longitudes was greater than a quadrant, we measure

the second arc against the complement of the latitude: if it was

smaller than the complement of the latitude, then we subtract

it from this complement, find the sine of the remainder, and call

it the auxiliary sine {al-jayb al-muhassal, literally the resultant

sine). If it was greater than the complement of the latitude,

then we subtract the complement from it, find the sine of the

remainder, and this will be the auxiliary sine. If the second arc

was greater or smaller than the latitude, and if the latitude was

northerly, and the difference between the two longitudes was

less than a quadrant, then we add the second arc to the comple-

ment of the latitude. We then find the sine of the sum, and this

will be the auxiliary sine.

[9] If the latitude was southerly, and the difference between

the two longitudes was greater than a quadrant, and if the sec-

ond arc was greater or smaller than the latitude, then we add

the second arc to the complement of the latitude. We then find

the sine of the sum, and this will be the auxiliary sine. If the lat-

itude was southerly, and the difference between the two longi-

tudes was less than a quadrant, then we measure the second arc

against the complement of the latitude: if it was less than the

complement of the latitude, then we subtract it from this com-

plement, find the sine of the remainder, and this will be the aux-

iliary sine. If, however, it was greater than the complement of

the latitude, then we subtract the complement from it, find the

sine of the remainder, and this will be the auxiliary sine.

[10] If the locality was on the equator, and the difference

between the two longitudes was less or more than a quadrant,

then we subtract the second arc from ninety (degrees), find the

sine of the remainder, and this will be the auxiliary sine.

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 155

[11] Next, we multiply the auxiliary sine by the sine which we

had saved, and divide the product by sixty; we then enter the

result into the sine table and find its arcsine; we subtract this

arc from ninety, find the sine of the remainder, and save it.

Next we multiply the sine of the first arc by sixty, and divide it

by the last sine which we had saved. We enter the product into

the sine table and find its arcsine. The result will be the

azimuth arc.

[12] If, (on the other hand,) the difference between the two lon-

gitudes was a quadrant, and the latitude was northerly or

southerly, then we multiply the sine of the latitude of the local-

ity at which the azimuth is required by the sine of the latitude

of Mecca, and divide the product by sixty; we then find the arc-

sine of the result and subtract it from ninety, find the sine of

the remainder, and save it. Next, we multiply the sine of the

complement of the latitude of Mecca by sixty, and divide it by

the sine which we have just saved. We find the arcsine of the

result, and this will be the azimuth arc.

[13] If the difference between the two longitudes was a quad-

rant, and the locality was on the equator, then the azimuth arc

will be the complement of the latitude of Mecca.

[14] Once we determine this (azimuth) arc we consider (the fol-

lowing cases): if the latitude of the locality at which the azimuth

is required was northerly, and the difference between the two

longitudes was not less than a quadrant, then the azimuth arc

will be to the north of the locality. If, (on the other hand,) the

latitude was northerly, and the difference between the two lon-

gitudes less than a quadrant, then we consider the arc which we

designated the second: if it was greater than the latitude of the

locality, then the azimuth arc will be northerly. If, however, the

second arc was smaller than the latitude of the locality, then the

azimuth arc will be southerly. If the latitude was southerly, and

the difference between the two longitudes was not greater than

a quadrant, then the azimuth arc will be northerly. If, (on the

other hand,) the latitude was southerly, and the difference

between the two longitudes was greater than a quadrant, then

we consider the second arc: if it was smaller than the latitude,

then the azimuth arc will be southerly. If, however, it was

greater than the latitude, then the azimuth arc will be

northerly. Next we consider (the following cases): if the locality

at which the azimuth is required was east of the locality of the

ka'ba, then the azimuth arc will be westerly. This will be (true)

156 AHMAD S. DALLAL

if the longitude of the locality was more than the longitude of

Mecca, and the longitude was measured from the west side, or if

the longitude of Mecca was more than the longitude of the local-

ity, and the longitude was measured from the east side. If, (on

the other hand,) the locality was west of the locality of the

ka'ba, then the azimuth arc will be easterly. This will be (true)

if the longitude of the locality was more than the longitude of

Mecca, and the longitude was measured from the east, or if the

longitude of Mecca was more than the longitude of the locality,

and the longitude was measured from the west side.

[15] Once we are done with all of these (considerations), we

adjust a plane parallel to the horizon, draw a circle in it, and

draw the meridian line which passes through its center. We

divide the circle into quadrants. Then, having determined

whether the direction of the azimuth arc is northerly or

southerly, and whether it is easterly or westerly, we consider

the quadrant which (falls) in this direction. We divide this quad-

rant into ninety equal degrees. Of these (ninety degrees) we sep-

arate a portion measured from the meridian line, and equal to

the value which we extracted by the above mentioned calcula-

tions and called the "azimuth arc." We then join by a straight

line the (point) marking the end of the degrees (of the azimuth

arc) and the center of the circle. This will be the required

azimuth. (Alternatively,) we can, if we wish, superpose over the

plate which is parallel to the horizon (another) plate in which a

quadrant is divided into ninety degrees. Let the diameter (of the

superposed plate) coincide with the meridian line. Next, place

the calibrated quadrant on the side where the azimuth arc falls,

and (measure), from the extremity of the diameter, an amount

of degrees equal to the azimuth arc, which was extracted by cal-

culation. We join by a straight line the resulting point and the

center of the plate. We then issue, in the plane parallel to the

horizon, a straight line which extends along the line (con-

structed above). This will be the azimuth line.

[16] Now, let us present the proof for the verity of these calcu-

lations. Let the meridian circle for the locality at which the

azimuth is required be ABG [Fig. A]; the zenith: point B; the

horizon: circle AEG; the equator circle: ZDE, with point L as its

north pole; and the meridian circle of Mecca: LHM. Let the

zenith of the ka'ba be H. Also, let the difference between the

two longitudes be less or more than a quadrant, and let the

azimuth (samtiyya) circle which passes through the zeniths of

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 157

Figure A

azimuth arc. Imagine the great circle passing through the

points E (and) H, which is circle EHK. Since the two arcs EK

(and) LM intersect between the two arcs LD (and) DE at point

H, the ratio of the sine of arc DE to the sine of arc DM is com-

pounded of the ratio of the sine of arc EK to the sine of arc KH,

and the ratio of the sine of arc HL to the sine of the arc LM. But

each of ED (and) EK equals a quadrant, since point E is the pole

of circle ABG; therefore, the ratio of the sine of arc ED to the

sine of arc DM is compounded of the ratio of the sine of arc ED

to the sine of arc KH, and the ratio of the sine of arc HL to the

sine of arc LM. Also, the ratio of the sine of arc ED to the sine

of arc DM is compounded of the ratio of the sine of arc ED to the

sine of arc KH, and the ratio of the sine of arc KH to the sine of

arc DM. So the ratio of the sine of arc KH to the sine of arc DM

is as the ratio of the sine of arc HL to the sine of arc LM. So, if

we multiply the sine of arc DM by the sine of arc HL, and divide

by the sine of arc LM, we will obtain the sine of arc KH. But the

sine of arc DM is the sine of the difference between the two lon-

gitudes, arc HL is the complement of the latitude of Mecca, and

arc LM is a quadrant whose sine is sixty. So, if we multiply the

sine of the difference between the two longitudes by the sine of

158 AHMAD S. DALLAL

the complement of the latitude of Mecca, and divide (the prod-

uct) by sixty, we will obtain the sine of the arc HK. Now if we

find the arcsine (of this last quantity), then the (resulting) arc

will be arc KH, which we designated the first arc. If then we

subtract (this arc) from ninety, then the remainder will be arc

EH. Thus, arc EH is the one whose sine we have found and

saved.

[17] Moreover, arcs EK (and) LM intersect between arcs LD

(and) DE. Therefore, the ratio of the sine of arc DL to the sine

of arc DK is compounded of the ratio of the sine of arc LM to the

sine of arc MH, and the ratio of the sine of arc EH to the sine of

arc EK. (But) each of the arcs LM (and) LD is equal to a quad-

rant, since L is the pole of circle DEZ which is the equator.

Therefore, the ratio of the sine of arc LD to the sine of arc DK

is compounded of the ratio of the sine of arc LD to the sine of

arc MH, and the ratio of the sine of arc HE to the sine of the arc

KE. Also, the ratio of the sine of arc LD to the sine of arc DK is

compounded of the ratio of the sine of arc LD to the sine of arc

MH, and the ratio of the sine of arc MH to the sine of arc DK.

So the ratio of the sine of arc MH to the sine of arc DK is as the

ratio of the sine of arc HE to the sine of arc EK. So, if we multi-

ply the sine of arc MH by the sine of arc EK, and divide by the

sine of arc EH, we will obtain the sine of the arc DK. If then we

find the arcsine (of this last quantity), it will be arc DK, which

is that which we designated the second arc. Now, arc MH is the

latitude of Mecca; arc EK is a quadrant, whose sine is sixty; and

arc EH is that whose sine we have saved. So, if multiply the sine

of the latitude of Mecca by sixty, and divide (the product) by the

sine which we saved, we will obtain the sine of arc DK. If then

we find the arcsine of (this last quantity), we will obtain arc DK,

which we have designated the second arc.

[18] Moreover, if the difference between the two longitudes was

less or more than a quadrant, or if it was a quadrant, then arcs

BT (and) EK intersect between arcs DL (and) AE at point H.

Therefore, the ratio of the sine of arc BA to the sine of arc AK is

compounded of the ratio of the sine of arc BT to the sine of arc

HT, and the ratio of the sine of arc HE to the sine of arc EK.

(But) each of BT and BA is a quadrant, since point B is the pole

of circle AG which is the horizon; therefore, the ratio of the sine

of arc BA to the sine of arc AK is compounded of the ratio of the

sine of arc BA to the sine of arc HT, and the ratio of the sine of

arc HE to the sine of arc EK. Thus, in a (manner) similar to

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 159

what has preceded, the ratio of the sine of arc TH to the sine of

arc AK will be as the ratio of the sine of arc HE to the sine of arc

EK. So, if we multiply the sine of arc AK by the sine of arc EH,

and divide (the product) by the sine of arc EK, we obtain the

sine of arc HT. (But) arc AK is that whose sine is the auxiliary

sine - or it is the latitude of the locality if the difference between

the longitudes of the two localities was a quadrant; arc EH is

the one whose sine we saved - or it is the latitude of Mecca if the

difference between the two longitudes was a quadrant; and arc

EK is a quadrant, the sine of which is sixty. So, if we multiply

the auxiliary sine by the sine which we have saved - or the lati-

tude of the locality by the latitude of Mecca, this being the case

if the difference between the two longitudes is a quadrant - and

divide the product by sixty, then we obtain the sine of arc HT. If

then we find the arcsine of (this last quantity), we will obtain

arc HT. If we subtract it from ninety, the remainder will be arc

HB. So, arc HB is the one whose sine we have found and saved.

[19] Finally, and additionally, arcs BT (and) EK intersect

between arcs BA (and) AE at point H. Therefore, the ratio of the

sine of arc EA to the sine of arc AT is compounded of the ratio

of the sine of arc EK to the sine of arc KH, and the ratio of the

sine of arc HB to the sine of arc BT. (But) each of the arcs EK

and EA is a quadrant; so the ratio of the sine of arc EA to the

sine of arc AT is compounded of the ratio of the sine of arc EA

to the sine of arc KH, and the ratio of the sine of arc HB to the

sine of arc BT. So, if we multiply the sine of arc KH by the sine

of arc BT, and divide the product by the sine of arc HB, the

result will be the sine of arc AT. (But) arc KH is the arc which

we designated the first - or is the complement of the latitude of

Mecca; arc BT is a quadrant whose sine is sixty; and arc HB is

the last one whose sine we found and saved. So, if we multiply

the sine of the first arc - or the sine of the complement of the

latitude of Mecca, this being the case if the difference between

the two longitudes was a quadrant - by sixty, and divide by the

sine which we have saved last, then the result will be the sine of

arc AT. If then wefindthe arcsine of (this last quantity), we will

obtain arc AT, which is the azimuth arc. This is what we wanted

to clarify.

[20] Now if the latitude of the locality at which the azimuth is

required was northerly, and the difference between the two lon-

gitudes less than a quadrant, and if the arc which we designated

the second was equal to the latitude of the locality at which

160 AHMAD S. DALLAL

G-North G-North

Figure 1 Figure 2

T,H

A-North A-North

Figure 3 Figure 4

A-North

Figure 5

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 161

G A

A-North G-North

Figure 6 Figure 7

G-North A-North

Figure 8 Figure 9

G-North G-North

Figure 10 Figure 11

162 AHMAD S. DALLAL

GrNorth A-North

Figure 12 Figure 13

A-North A-North

Figure 14 Figure 15

will be the first figure. The azimuth will then be the east-west

line, because arc AE is a quadrant, and arc BH is the latitude

circle which passes through the zeniths of the two localities.

[21] If the latitude was southerly, and the difference between

the two longitudes more than a quadrant, and if the second arc

was equal to the latitude, then the (corresponding) configura-

tion will be the second figure. The azimuth will then be the east-

west line, because arc AE is a quadrant, and arc DEHK is the

latitude circle, and because the difference between the two lon-

gitudes is DM, whose sine is equal to the sine of DM.

[22] If the latitude was northerly, and the difference between

the two longitudes greater than a quadrant, and if the second

arc was equal to the complement of the latitude, then the (cor-

responding) configuration will be the third figure. The azimuth

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 163

arc will then be AT, which is the one we designated the first,

and it will be northerly.

[23] If the latitude was southerly, and the difference between

the two longitudes less than a quadrant, and if the second arc

was equal to the complement of the latitude, then the (corre-

sponding) configuration will be the fourth figure. The azimuth

arc will then be AT, which is the one we designated the first,

and it will be northerly.

[24] If the latitude of the locality at which the azimuth is

required was northerly, and the difference between the two lon-

gitudes greater than a quadrant, and if the second arc was not

equal to the complement of the latitude, then the (correspond-

ing) configuration will be the fifth figure. This is (true) because

the difference between the two longitudes is arc DM, whose sine

is the sine of arc DM; (moreover,) the latitude circle which

passes through the zenith, which is the upper point A, also

passes through the diametrically opposite lower point {nadir) B.

The azimuth arc will then be AT, and it will be northerly.

[25] If the latitude was northerly, and the difference between

the two longitudes was a quadrant, then the (corresponding)

configuration will be the sixth figure. The azimuth arc will then

be AT, and it will be northerly.

[26] If the latitude was northerly, and the difference between

the two longitudes less than a quadrant, and if the second arc

was greater than the latitude of the locality, then the (corre-

sponding) configuration will be the seventh figure. The azimuth

arc will then be AT, and it will be northerly.

[27] If the latitude was northerly, and the difference between

the two longitudes less than a quadrant, and if the second arc

was smaller than the latitude, then the (corresponding) configu-

ration will be the eighth figure. The azimuth arc will then be

AT, and it will be southerly.

[28] If the latitude was southerly, and the difference between

the two longitudes less than a quadrant, and if the second arc

was not equal to the complement of the latitude, then the (cor-

responding) configuration will be the ninth figure. The azimuth

arc will then be AT, and it will be northerly.

[29] If the latitude was southerly, and the difference between

the two longitudes was a quadrant, then the (corresponding)

configuration will be the tenth figure. The azimuth arc will then

be AT, and it will be northerly.

[30] If the latitude was southerly, and the difference between

164 AHMAD S. DALLAL

the two longitudes greater than a quadrant, and if the second

arc was greater than the latitude, then the (corresponding) con-

figuration will be the eleventh figure. (This is true) because DB

is equal to the latitude. The azimuth arc will then be AT, and it

will be northerly.

[31] If the latitude was southerly, and the difference between

the two longitudes greater than a quadrant, and if the second

arc was less than the latitude, then the (corresponding) configu-

ration will be the twelfth figure. The azimuth arc will then be

AT, and it will be southerly.

[32] If the locality was on the equator, and the difference

between the two longitudes was less than a quadrant, then the

(corresponding) configuration will be the thirteenth figure. The

azimuth arc will then be AT, and it will be northerly.

[33] If the locality was on the equator, and the difference

between the two longitudes was greater than a quadrant, then

the (corresponding) configuration will be the fourteenth figure.

The azimuth arc will then be AT, and it will be northerly.

[34] If the locality was on the equator, and the difference

between the two longitudes was a quadrant, then the (corre-

sponding) configuration will be the fifteenth figure. The

azimuth arc will then be AT", which is the complement of the lat-

itude of Mecca, and it will be northerly.

[35] As for arc AK, if the latitude was northerly, and the second

arc greater or smaller than the latitude of the locality, and if the

difference between the two longitudes was less than a quadrant,

then it is apparent from the seventh and eighth figures that the

sine of this arc, I mean arc AK, will be the sine of the comple-

ment of the latitude plus arc DK, which is the second arc: in the

eighth figure, arc AK is the sum of the complement of the lati-

tude, which is AD, and arc DK. In the seventh figure, arc GK is

the sum of the complement of the latitude, which is GD, and arc

DK, which is the second arc; the sine of their sum is the sine of

arc AK.

[36] If the latitude was northerly, and the difference between

the two longitudes greater than a quadrant, and if the second

arc was less or greater than the complement of the latitude of

the locality, then it is apparent from the fifth figure that: if the

second arc was less than the complement of the latitude, then

the sine of arc AK will be (equal to) the sine of the complement

of the latitude minus the second arc DK. If, (on the other hand,)

the second arc was greater than the complement of the latitude,

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 165

then the sine of arc AK will be (equal to) the sine of arc DK

minus the complement of the latitude.

[37] If the latitude was southerly, and the difference between

the two longitudes greater than a quadrant, and if the second

arc was greater or smaller than the latitude, then it is apparent

from the eleventh and twelfth figures that the sine of the arc AK

will be the sine of the complement of the latitude plus arc DK,

which is the second (arc): in the twelfth figure, arc AK is the

sum of the complement of the latitude, which is AD, and arc

DK, which is the second (arc). In the eleventh figure, arc GK is

(the sum of) the complement of the latitude, which is GD, and

arc DK, which is the second arc; the sine of their sum, which is

(arc) GK, is the sine of AK.

[38] If the latitude was southerly, and the difference between

the two longitudes less than a quadrant, and if the second arc

was smaller or greater than the complement of the latitude,

then it is apparent from the ninth figure that: if the second arc,

which is DK, was less than the complement, then the sine of arc

AK will be (equal to) the sine of the complement of the latitude

minus the second arc DK. If, (on the other hand,) the second arc

was greater than the complement of the latitude, then the sine

of arc AK will be (equal to) the sine of arc DK minus the com-

plement of the latitude.

[39] If the locality was on the equator, and the difference

between the two longitudes was smaller or greater than a quad-

rant, then it is apparent from the thirteenth and fourteenth fig-

ures that arc AK will be what remains after subtracting arc DK,

which is the second (arc), from ninety.

[40] It is thus apparent, that the arc which we found by means

of the above mentioned calculation is the azimuth arc. In each

of the (above) configurations, this (arc) will be arc AT.

Moreover, We have found the sine of this arc in all (the above)

diagrams. It is apparent that if the locality was east of the ka'ba,

then the arc will be west of the locality, and if (the locality) was

west of the ka'ba, then the arc will be east of it. It is also appar-

ent that if, on the circle which falls in the plane of the horizon,

we mark away from the meridian line an arc equal to this

(azimuth) arc, in the direction which was established in the fig-

ures, and if we connect by a straight line the end (mark of this

arc) and the center of the circle, which is the locality at which

the azimuth is required, then this line will be the intersection

between the plane of the horizon and the altitude circle which

166 AHMAD S. DALLAL

passes through the zeniths of the two localities - I mean the

zenith of the ka'ba, and the zenith of the locality at which the

azimuth is required. This will be the line which demarcates the

azimuth of the qibla.

[41] It is therefore apparent that: if we found the azimuth arc

by means of the above mentioned calculation; if we adjust a

plane parallel to the horizon, draw a circle in it, and construct

in it the meridian line which passes through its center; if we

mark on the circumference of the circle an arc equal to the arc

which we found by means of calculation, in the direction which

was established in the figure; and if we connect by a straight

line the end (mark of this arc) and the center of the circle, then

this line will be the one that demarcates the azimuth of the

qibla. This is what we intended to clarify.

[42] It is also possible to extract the azimuth by using an

instrument. This can be (done) by (using) an armillary sphere

(dhdt al-halaq), if it has a ring that corresponds to the latitude

circle, and another ring which corresponds to the horizon (cir-

cle). (First,) we move the pole of the armillary sphere above its

horizon through an amount equal to the altitude of the pole in

the locality where the azimuth is required. We then rotate one

of the rings of the (armillary) circle around the pole of the equa-

tor until it reaches the point of the equator whose distance from

the second meridian ring is equal to the (difference in) degrees

between the two longitudes - 1 mean the longitude of Mecca and

the longitude of the locality at which the azimuth is required.

Next, we rotate the ring that corresponds to the latitude circle

until it reaches the point on the ring around the pole of the

equator whose distance from the equator circle is (equal to) the

latitude of Mecca. We mark the point where this ring, (that

corresponds to the latitude circle,) intersects the ring that cor-

responds to the horizon. We then determine the arc between

this point and the meridian circle, and the direction of this arc.

This arc will be the azimuth arc for the locality at which the

azimuth is required. This is what we wanted to clarify.

[43] The essay on (finding) the azimuth of the qibla is com-

pleted. Praise be to God, the Lord of all creations.

MATHEMATICAL COMMENTARY

terrestrial coordinates of any locality and of Mecca is a problem

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 167

of spherical geography. This problem, however, was treated by

Ibn al-Haytham, as by many other medieval astronomers, as a

problem of spherical astronomy. The equivalent astronomical

problem is to consider the zeniths of the locality and of Mecca,

and to determine the azimuth of Mecca measured along the

horizon circle. The azimuth is usually measured from the south

point, although, when it is more convenient, it may be measured

from the north point.

Ibn al-Haytham starts by denning the azimuth of the qibla as

the intersection between the local horizon and the great circle

passing through the zeniths of Mecca and the locality (§ [3]).

Ibn al-Haytham then gives a summary of the different ways by

which he proposes to find this azimuth. He first lists five special

cases in which both zeniths fall on the same meridian circle (§

[4]). He then considers the general case, and lists all possibili-

ties that may arise, as well as the value of the azimuth arc and

its direction in each case. He also indicates how to determine

whether the arc is easterly or westerly (§ [5]-[14]). I propose

now to survey these procedures using modern mathematical

symbols to represent what Ibn al-Haytham describes completely

in words, as was standard in medieval scientific writing.

Denote the latitude of the locality by (p, that of Mecca by <pm,

and the difference between the longitudes of the two by AL. Ibn

al-Haytham defines the following arcs:

The first arc = a = arcSin —

R

in m

The second arc =B = arcSin ^ _—

Since

where cpm is the complement of <pm, and a is the complement of

a. Moreover, Sin a = R sin a, where R is the radius of the base

circle for which the sine is calculated, and is equal to 60.33

Finally, The auxiliary sine = Sin y where y is a function of <p

and a (see below).

Denoting the longitude of the locality by L, that of Mecca by

Lm, and the azimuth arc by q, the first part of Ibn al-Haytham's

essay (§ [4]-[14]) can be summarized in the following tables:

33

On the use of base 60 see Kennedy, "The history of trigonometry," pp. 3-29; also

on the use of R see Otto Neugebauer, A History of Ancient Mathematical Astronomy,

3 vols. (New York, 1975), Part 3, pp. 1115-6.

168 AHMAD S. DALLAL

a. Special cases: This table gives the direction of the azimuth of

the qibla (column 6) as a function of the position of the locality

relative to Mecca.

Case <P A<p AL Shortest Distance Between Azimuth of the Qibla

the Locality and Mecca

ka'ba

2 South of *0 0 Meridian Line - Northerly

ka'ba

3 South of 180° 180° Any Direction

Equator

4 South of <180° 180° Passes through the North North part of the Meridian

Equator Pole Line

5 South of > 180° 180° Passes through the South South part of the Meridian

Equator Pole Line

three entries in a row. The fifth column indicates the direction

of the azimuth arc, and the sixth column gives its value. Since

negative values were not used, column 4 indicates the absolute

value of arc AK = y which should be substituted in each case in

the equations of column 6.

<p AL r Direction of the 9

Azimuth Arc jj_

Northerly ALOW P= 9 E-W Line: Locality East of Mecca => q to the West

Southerly 90°<^<180° P = V E-W Line: Locality West of Mecca => q to the East

Sina x60

p<tp 9+P Southerly

Southerly 4L<90° p< ~y 9-P Northerly

p> ~q> P-9 Northerly

North or AL-90"

Sm(90 - arcSin '-)

South ou

On Equato AL=90° i = 9n

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 169

c. East and west directions of the azimuth of the qibla:

Longitude is Measured

procedure for finding the actual direction to face, once the

azimuth arc q has been determined by calculation (§ [15]). This

is done simply by projecting the results of calculation on a plane

which is leveled parallel to the horizon. Ibn al-Haytham then

proceeds to prove his propositions (§ [16]-[19]). In this proof,

Ibn al-Haytham uses the "theorem of six quantities," which is

the name given by Arab astronomers to the Menelaos theo-

rem.34 No three dimensional diagram is provided in the manu-

scripts for the proof of the general case, and Figure A has been

constructed based on the text. This figure shows the celestial

sphere as seen in the locality for which the azimuth is required.

The great circle EAZG is the local horizon, and its pole B is the

zenith of the locality. Circle ADKBLG is the local meridian.

Point L is the north pole and circle EMDZ is the celestial equa-

tor. Point H is the zenith of Mecca, and circle LHM is the merid-

ian of Mecca. The great circle passing through E, H and Z inter-

sects the local Meridian at K. Finally, circle BUT is the altitude

circle of Mecca which passes through the zeniths of the locality

and of Mecca, and which is perpendicular to the local horizon.

In this diagram, arc LG = arc BD = <p, which is the latitude of

the locality, and arc LB = arc DA = <pj arc HM = cpm, which is

the latitude of Mecca, and arc LH = q>m; arc DM is the differ-

ence AL between the longitude of Mecca and that of the locality.

Finally, arc AT (= q) is the azimuth arc which defines the

required direction of Mecca on the horizon plane.

Following is the proof exactly as Ibn al-Haytham presents

it, but written using modern mathematical notation. Remarks

in square brackets are not in the original but were added for

clarity.

34

On the Menelaos theorem see Neugebauer, A History of Ancient Mathematical

Astronomy, Part 1, pp. 26-9; also see Kennedy, "The history of trigonometry," pp. 12-15.

168 AHMAD S. DALLAL

a. Special cases: This table gives the direction of the azimuth of

the qibla (column 6) as a function of the position of the locality

relative to Mecca.

Case f Aq> AL Shortest Distance Between Azimuth of the Qibla

the Locality and Mecca

ka'ba

2 South of *0 0 Meridian Lane - Northerly

ka'ba

3 South of 180° 180° Any Direction

Equator

4 South of <180° 180° Passes through the North North part of the Meridian

Equator Pole Line

5 South of >180° 180° Passes through the South South part of the Meridian

Equator Pole Line

three entries in a row. The fifth column indicates the direction

of the azimuth arc, and the sixth column gives its value. Since

negative values were not used, column 4 indicates the absolute

value of arc AK = y which should be substituted in each case in

the equations of column 6.

AL , - , r Direction of the •

Azimuth Arc q

Northerly 4L<90° P=<P E-W line: Locality East of Mecca => q to the West

Southerly 90°<4L<180° P=V E-W line: Locality West of Mecca =» q to the East

P> V P-V Northerly

_. r Since x 60 .

p<<p 9+P Southerly n • ,n,i o- Since xSiny^

Northerly 4L<90° p>(f> V+P Northerly

Southerly 4L<90° p< <p (P-P Northerly

P> V P-9 Northerly

Sin<pnx6Q

North or AL--S0*

?• too s' S'n(PxS'ny\

South 60

On Equato AL=90°

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 169

c. East and west directions of the azimuth of the qibla:

Longitude is Measured

procedure for finding the actual direction to face, once the

azimuth arc q has been determined by calculation (§ [15]). This

is done simply by projecting the results of calculation on a plane

which is leveled parallel to the horizon. Ibn al-Haytham then

proceeds to prove his propositions (§ [16]-[19]). In this proof,

Ibn al-Haytham uses the "theorem of six quantities," which is

the name

34

given by Arab astronomers to the Menelaos theo-

rem. No three dimensional diagram is provided in the manu-

scripts for the proof of the general case, and Figure A has been

constructed based on the text. This figure shows the celestial

sphere as seen in the locality for which the azimuth is required.

The great circle EAZG is the local horizon, and its pole B is the

zenith of the locality. Circle ADKBLG is the local meridian.

Point L is the north pole and circle EMDZ is the celestial equa-

tor. Point H is the zenith of Mecca, and circle LHM is the merid-

ian of Mecca. The great circle passing through E, H and Z inter-

sects the local Meridian at K. Finally, circle BUT is the altitude

circle of Mecca which passes through the zeniths of the locality

and of Mecca, and which is perpendicular to the local horizon.

In this diagram, arc LG = arc BD = <p, which is the latitude of

the locality, and arc LB = arc DA = <p; arc HM = q>m, which is

the latitude of Mecca, and arc LH = q>m; arc DM is the differ-

ence AL between the longitude of Mecca and that of the locality.

Finally, arc AT (= q) is the azimuth arc which defines the

required direction of Mecca on the horizon plane.

Following is the proof exactly as Ibn al-Haytham presents

it, but written using modern mathematical notation. Remarks

in square brackets are not in the original but were added for

clarity.

34

On the Menelaos theorem see Neugebauer, A History of Ancient Mathematical

Astronomy, Part 1, pp. 26-9; also see Kennedy, "The history of trigonometry," pp. 12-15.

170 AHMAD S. DALLAL

1) Applying the Menelaos theorem to the spherical triangle

HEM, with DEL as the transversal of this triangle we obtain:

SinED SinEK SinHL

x

SinDM SinKH SinLM

but

EK = ED = 90°

therefore,

SinED SinED SinHL

__ v^

and

SinED _ SinED SinKH

SinDM ~ SinKH SinDM''

therefore,

SinKH _ SinHL

SinDM ~ SinLM'

SinDM x SinHL

SinKH =

SinLM

and SinDM x SinHL

KH = arcSin

SinLM

but

DM = AL, = ffl , &LM = 90°,

therefore,

„„ _. SinALxSinq>Ymm

KH = arcSin—

60

EH = 90° - KH, therefore, EH = a.]

2) Applying the Menelaos theorem to the spherical triangle

LKH, with DME as the transversal of this triangle we obtain:

SinDK SinMH SinEK

but

LM = LD = 90°,

therefore,

SinLD SinLD SinHE

v

SinDK SinMH SinKE

and

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 171

SinLD SinLD SinMH

SinDK SinMH x- SinDK

therefore,

SinHE _ SinMH

SinKE ~ SinDK'

SinMH x SinKE

SinDK =

SinEH

and

_. SinMH x SinKE _. Sinmx 60

DK = arcSin : : = arcSin——

SinEH Sina

AK = q> + DK, which is denned by Ibn al-Haytham as the auxil-

iary sine y.]

3) Applying the Menelaos theorem to the spherical triangle

BKH, with ETA as the transversal of this triangle we obtain:

SinAB _ SinBT SinHE

SinAK ~ SinHT SinEK'

but

BT = BA = 90°,

therefore, SinBA SinBA SinHE

SinAK SinHT SinEK

and

SinBA SinBA SinTH

SinAK SinTH SinAK '

therefore,

SinHE SinTH

SinEK SinAK'

and

c. irrr SinAKxSinEH

SinHT = ,

but SinEK

therefore, SinAK = Siny, EH = a, and EK = 90°

irr c.

Siny x Sina

and HT = arcSin = h,

60

BH = 90°-HT = ~h~.

172 AHMAD S. DALLAL

In the special case when AL = 90°, point K will coincide with

point L, and arc AK will be equal to 180° - cp, or Sin AK - Sin

(p. Also arcs KHE and LHM will coincide, therefore, arc EH will

be equal to arc MH, which is the latitude q>m of Mecca. Thus in

this case we will have:

60

4) Applying the Menelaos theorem to the spherical triangle

ETH, with BKA as the transversal of this triangle we obtain:

SinEA SinEK SinHB

— w

but

EK = EA = 90°,

therefore,

SinEA _ SinEA SinHB

SinAT ~ SinKH SinBT'

and

SinEA _ SinEA ^ SinKH

SinAT ~ SinKH X SinAT '

SinKH SinHB

SinAT SinBT

0X1

Arr _. SinKH x SinBT _. 5inax60

AT = q = arcSm = arcSin =—.

SinHB Sinh

In the special case where AL = 90°, KH will be equal to the com-

plement of the latitude of Mecca, and thus the final equation

will be:

Sm<pmx60

Zjn

q = AT = arcSin -= .

Sinh

Finally, if in the last two equations we substitute the values of

h and a which were calculated in steps 1 through 3, we will get

the exact values listed in table (b) above.

After calculating q, Ibn al-Haytham constructs fifteen separate

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 173

diagrams for all the possible positions of the locality with respect

to Mecca, in order to determine the direction of the azimuth arc

(§ [20]-[40]). The figures are completely missing from the Cairo

manuscript, and are not legible in the Berlin one. Therefore the

figures had to be reconstructed following the description pro-

vided in the text. In the following table, the figures mentioned in

the text are rearranged according to the cases rather than the

figure numbers assigned by Ibn al-Haytham. Columns 2, 3 and 4

define each case, and columns 5 (corresponding to column 5 in

table b) and 6 (corresponding to column 4 in table b) are deduced

from the constructed diagrams.

14 On Equator >90° = AT, Northerly P

15 On Equator = 90° = AT= <P~, Northerly

al-Haytham projects the celestial sphere onto the plane of the

local horizon, and finds the position of Mecca relative to the

locality on this plane. To reconstruct the diagrams I first con-

structed the three dimensional diagrams, and then projected

174 AHMAD S. DALLAL

them using approximate mapping on the horizon planes for each

of the given cases. The three dimensional figure presented here

as figure A corresponds to case number 8. Figure 8 is obtained

from figure A by projecting the different circles of the sphere on

the plane of the local horizon EAZG with the zenith B of the

locality as the pole of projection. In figure 8, the local meridian is

perpendicular to the plane of projection and coincides with its

vertical diameter ABG; the horizontal diameter EBZ is the east-

west line; the north pole L falls in the north part of the circle,

which, in accordance with medieval convention, is maintained at

the lower side of the circle. EMDZ is the projection of the equa-

tor, and EHKZ is the projection of the great circle through E, H

and Z. DM marks the projection of the arc on the equator which

is equal to AL, and LHM is the projection of the meridian of

Mecca. LM intersects EKZ at H; therefore, point H is the projec-

tion of the zenith of Mecca on the local horizon, and line BHT is

the intersection between the local horizon and latitude circle

passing through the zeniths of Mecca and the locality. This line

defines the direction of the azimuth of the qibla, while arc AT,

which was calculated in the previous section, defines the value

of this arc. It is apparent that in this case, the azimuth of the

qibla is southerly. Also in figure 8 GL = BD = q>; LB = AD = <p;

DM = AL; KH = a; HM = q>m; LH = <pm; and DK = p.

Now, to illustrate the construction of the other figures, con-

sider figure 1 which represents a special case of figure 8. In case

1, as in case 8, the locality is northerly, and AL is less than a

quadrant. However, in case 1 the second arc P is equal to the lat-

itude q> of the locality. Therefore, DK = BD, and points K and B

will coincide. The projection of circle EHKZ will thus coincide

with the straight line EBZ, and the azimuth arc will fall along

the east-west line.

Similarly, the other cases can be constructed by projecting

each three dimensional configuration into the plane of the cor-

responding local horizon. Depending on the value of AL, and on

the northerly or southerly position of the pole of projection B,

the north point on the local horizon will fall on either point A or

point G. Thus, different characters were used to refer to the

north point in the figures, but it consistently falls in the lower

side of the circle. E always refers to the east point, while Z

refers to the west. The positions of E and Z, however, switch

from the right side to the left side of the figures depending on

the part of the sphere where the pole of projection B falls.

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 175

Paragraph [41] (like § [15]) is on the actual determination of the

direction of the qibla in a specific quadrant, once the value of

the arc and its direction have been theoretically determined.

Ibn al-Haytham then presents a second method for finding the

direction of the qibla by using the instrument known as the

armillary sphere which represents the problem in a three-

dimensional framework (§ [42]). The azimuth arc is found by

aligning the different rings of the instrument so that they cor-

respond to their celestial counterparts. The azimuth arc can

then be read off directly, without any calculation whatsoever.35 *

36

On the use of armillary sphere see E. S. Kennedy, "Al-Kashi's treatise on astro-

nomical observational instruments," in Kennedy et al, Studies in the Islamic Exact

Sciences, pp. 394-404.

The author would like to express his gratitude to Professor F. Sezgin for supply-

ing related material which was of use during the study, and to Professors E. S.

Kennedy and G. Saliba, who read this paper and made valuable comments on it.

Special thanks go to Professor D. A. King who familiarized me with the topic in the

first place, supplied copies of the Cairo and Berlin manuscripts, and guided me

through the study. The author remains, however, solely responsible for any errors

that may appear in this paper.

176 AHMAD S. DALLAL

x]

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I IJ ^

[t]

iiirt*! i a i - ^

fSs*« ~ Jy

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 177

.-LiHj 0

J t * ^ <f>

jjj

U J-iij i£giillM j

OH

\o d\ '

^ *^->-^ J—»»-

Ju L4

178 AHMAD S. DALLAL

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 179

La l.:..,;.^

^* «• • •» •

180 AHMAD S. DALLAL

4-i V ^LUI ^ l ^ l l . j i ^ j l ^ j,U '

l i i 4,..«.VJl

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I ^^^ f ^

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 181

jljJLU U j j J *\j>-\ jL^-!l t.iirt'i Jai- j j J ^ l^-U J.aa'ij . <JJL..T.«

Jo /

i ULJ.(j « j

a I.U1-.I

• j*

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wj Ji" ,jX3. * J

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182 AHMAD S. DALLAL

. Mr (j"i yJ ^ ijrjr /ir . t/\7 ^ U^J" J ,\!. (,f> *

^ t r y v * # **—j i £

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• r ^ t-^y ^"^ ^ ?->*•' C

t r y v^rt-

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IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 183

»\\ i . J » ^-ji y - » . ^ £ ^ ^ y v-e- LiJj-^ ••i^i . tsl • u-jS

-»•;»• <»"'O ( j ^ *-«J^« o I (_>"_jJ <-«;>iw _ ] l I i_i

I«

-* O1^ ol

- [o)j•tv^- IJHJ

184 AHMAD S. DALLAL

'* 'T

I«

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y*—*

^ jlf Ity [^ •] / /

«^j ^-« J i l ^ y a J I cW

JSLiJLi <C

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 185

1 1

186 AHMAD S. DALLAL

AJiJ,

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 187

\r

188 AHMAD S. DALLAL

,> i V^

Ob

JSLiJU . ^ ^ J ! ^UxJ *^L— JJUH u->iJI i i V i j

<i> I >r

j^" ub M

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 189

o^ Jb [v • ]

T t l i - t f - II r • f* - I t I . -N!

» .1 II - tl IS II • II l-f - I II >ll

i]» I >"......11

. •jL- ^T -

190 AHMAD S. DALLAL

» u^j«W?- o^^1 0^ Ob l

IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 191

' l H l a £ 0 O- ^ C f i J ^ 1 OH

I »L

»l£ <U UA^LU d)

^ j l *J' o

JI ^k i J - l dUi

192 AHMAD S. DALLAL

<» \'*\ bl l ^w JJ

JjjlJJI OH

i j .XJ^I j ! r\j>£—\

4_J

(i jL^-JI J

V4•,A*t ^

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IBN AL-HAYTHAM'S UNIVERSAL SOLUTION 193

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