An illustrated manuscript detailing the constellations.
What is in the manuscript?
The manuscript contains an illustrated description by ‘Abd al-Raḥmān al-Ṣūfī of the forty-eight classical constellations discussed by Ptolemy in his Almagest. The text contains labelled illustrations of these constellations as viewed on a celestial globe and as viewed in the sky, along with supporting tables of individual stars within each constellation listing their Arabic names, celestial coordinates and magnitudes.
In a marginal note (dated 1279 or 80) of this famous manuscript of ‘Abd al-Raḥmān al-Ṣūfī’s Book of the Constellations of the Fixed Stars (Kitāb ṣuwar al-kawākib al-thābitah) is a geometrical diagram for determining the direction of the qiblah. The arrow is pointing towards Mecca.
What is the qiblah?
When performing prayer, all Muslims are obliged to face towards the direction of the Ka‘bah in Mecca. This is commonly known as the qiblah. To determine the direction of Mecca, charts, diagrams and maps were created with the coordinates of towns and cities.
View images of the entire manuscripts via the Qatar Digital Library website.
- Article by:
- Amjad M Hussain
- Islam, Devotional texts
Prayer is one of the five pillars of Islam. This article by Dr Amjad Hussain explains common features of Islamic prayer, such as the call to prayer, daily timings and the direction of prayer. He also explores the linguistic, geographic and sectarian diversity of prayer in Islam.