Ali Kuşçu (1403 - 16 December 1474) was a Turkish astronomer, mathematician,
physicist and scientist. He is best known for his contributions to Uluğ Bey's
famous work Zij-i-Sultani, his efforts in founding Sahn-ı Seman University which
is one of the first Ottoman universities, his separation of astronomy from
natural philosophy, and his discussions on the Earth's motion.
Early life and works
He was born in 1403 on an unknown date in Samarkand which is today in
Uzbekistan. His full name was Aleaddin Ali bin Muhammed el-Kuşçu. His family
gained this last name after the official title of his father Muhammed who was
the doğancıbaşı of Ulug Beg at that time.
He attended the courses of Bursali Kadizade Rumi, Giyaseddin Cemşid and
Muinuddin Kaşi. He moved to Kerman, Iran and there he conducted some researches
on the storms of Oman sea. He completed Hall-ü Eşkal-i Kamer (Explanations of
the Periods of the Moon) and Şerh-i Tecrid in Kirman. He moved to Herat and
taught Molla Cami about astronomy (1423). After professing in Herat for a while
he went back to Samarkand and herald his works about moon to Uluğ Bey. Uluğ Bey
was fascinated with the works and read the entire work while standing up. Uluğ
Bey assigned him to Ulugh Beg Observatory which was called "Samarkand
Observatory" at that time. He worked there till Uluğ Bey was assassinated.
After Uluğ Bey's death, he went to Herat, Taşkent and finally Tabriz, Iran.
While he was in Tabriz, Uzun Hasan the Khan of Ak Koyunlu sent him as a delegate
to Fatih Sultan Mehmed (about 1470). At that time Sultan Baykara had come to
reign in Herat but Kuşçu preferred İstanbul rather than Herat because of Fatih
Sultan Mehmed's attitude toward scientists and intellectuals.
When he came to İstanbul, his grandson Kutbuddîn Muhammed had a son Mirim Çelebi
who would be a great mathematician and astronomer in the future. Kuşçu extended
his studies in İstanbul. He wrote "Şerh el-risâlat el-vad'iyye" on Adududdîn
İ'ci's famous study called "Fâi'de fî el-vad" which is the first work on
linguistics. Kuşçu's work made a great impact on the scientific community. The
work has thousands of copies in handwriting libraries all around the world.
He then finished "Şerh el-tecrid" on Nasir al-Din al-Tusi's "el-Tecrîd fî 'ilm
el-kelâm". That work is called "Şerh-i cedid" in scientific community. It is
considered as the most important philosophical work on metaphysics, physics,
optics and mathematics done within Islamic civilisation.
Contributions to astronomy
In his Concerning the Supposed Dependence of Astronomy upon Philosophy, Kuşçu
rejected Aristotelian physics and completely separated natural philosophy from
Islamic astronomy, allowing astronomy to become a purely empirical and
mathematical science. This allowed him to explore alternatives to the
Aristotelian notion of a stationery Earth, as he explored the idea of a moving
Earth instead. He found empirical evidence for the Earth's rotation through his
observation on comets and concluded, on the basis of empiricism rather than
speculative philosophy, that the moving Earth theory is just as likely to be
true as the stationary Earth theory.
Kuşçu also improved on Nasir al-Din al-Tusi's planetary model and presented an
alternative planetary model for Mercury.
Şerh-i Zîc-i Uluğ Bey
Risâle fî Halli Eşkâli Mu‘addili’l-Kamer li'l-Mesîr (Fâide fî Eşkâli ‘Utârid)
Risâle fî Asli'l-HâricYumkin fî's-Sufliyyeyn
Şerh ‘ale't-Tuhfeti'ş-Şâhiyye fî'l-Hey'e
Risâle der ‘İlm-i Hey'e
el-Fethiyye fî ‘İlmi'l-Hey'e
Risâle fî Halli Eşkâli'l-Kamer
Concerning the Supposed Dependence of Astronomy upon Philosophy
Risâle der İlm-i Hisâb: Süleymaniye
Kelâm and Usûl-i Fıkıh
Unkud-üz-Zevahir fi Nazm-ül-Cevahir
Tezkire fî Âlâti'r-Ruhâniyye
El-Unkûdu'z-Zevâhir fî Nazmi'l-Cevâhir
Risâle fî Beyâni Vadi'l-Mufredât
Fâ'ide li-Tahkîki Lâmi't-Ta'rîf
Risâle mâ Ene Kultu
Risâle fî İlmi'l-Me'ânî
Risâle fî Bahsi'l-Mufred
Risâle fî'l-Fenni's-Sânî min İlmihal-Beyân
Tefsîru'l-Bakara ve Âli İmrân
Mahbub-ül-Hamail fi keşif-il-mesail
1. Osmanlı imparatorluğunun doruğu 16. yüzyıl teknolojisi, Editor Prof. Dr. Kazım
Çeçen, Istanbul 1999, Omaş ofset A.Ş.
2. (Ragep 2001a)
3. F. Jamil Ragep (2001), "Freeing Astronomy from Philosophy: An Aspect of
Islamic Influence on Science", Osiris, 2nd Series, Vol. 16, Science in Theistic
Contexts: Cognitive Dimensions, p. 49-64, 66-71.
4. Edith Dudley Sylla, "Creation and nature", in Arthur Stephen McGrade (2003),
p. 178-179, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521000637.
5. George Saliba, "Arabic planetary theories after the eleventh century AD", in
Rushdī Rāshid and Régis Morelon (1996), Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic
Science, p. 58-127 [123-124], Routledge, ISBN 0415124107.
6. Osmanlı Astronomi Literatürü Tarihi (Ed. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu), İstanbul 1997,
7. Seyyid Ali Paşa, Mir’âtu’l-Âlem (Haz. Yavuz Unat), Kültür Bakanlığı, Ankara
8. Sevim Tekeli, 16’ıncı Asırda Osmanlılarda Saat ve Takiyyuddîn’in “Mekanik Saat
Konstrüksüyonuna Dair En Parlak Yıldızlar” Adlı Eseri, Ankara 1966.
9. Musa Yıldız, Bir Dilci Olarak Ali Kuşçu ve Risâle fî’l-İsti‘âre’si, Kültür
Bakanlığı Yayınları, Ankara 2002, s.10-14.
Ragep, F. Jamil (2001a), "Tusi and Copernicus: The Earth's Motion in Context",
Science in Context (Cambridge University Press) 14 (1-2): 145–163
Istanbul Ali Kuşçu Amatör Astronomi Topluluğu; AKAT