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"Astronomy in the Service of Islam" Lecture by Professor David A. King

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Al-Furqan headquarters in London

22A Old Court Place

London

W8 4PL

United Kingdom

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Lecture by Professor David A. King

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AL-FURQAN ISLAMIC HERITAGE FOUNDATION

The Centre for the Study of Islamic Manuscript

requests the pleasure of your company and guest at a public lecture entitled

"Astronomy in the Service of Islam"

Lecture by Professor David. A. King

Emeritus Professor of the History of Science at the J.W. Goethe University, Frankfurt

The Evening’s Programme:

5.30 - 6.00 Reception and Networking

6.00 - 6.10 Welcoming words

6.10 - 7.00 Lecture by Professor David A. King on Astronomy in the Service of Islam

7.00 - 7.30 Discussion

7.30 Closing of the event

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Abstract

Orientalists and historians of science have been working on the Islamic scientific heritage for some 200 years, and this undertaking continues to this day. The sources – manuscripts and instruments – are in abundant supply and the secondary literature is extensive. In all of these studies the emphasis is invariably on what the Muslims achieved, and what they did not achieve – there is always a tendency to judge their activities and demonstrate how much or how little of their learning was transmitted to Europe. The speaker has been interested in Islamic science for its own sake, regardless of whether or not it was brilliant, and regardless of whether or not it was transmitted anywhere. In particular he has documented for the first time the ways in which the Muslim astronomers were involved with:

the organization of the lunar calendar;

the determination of the sacred direction toward the Kaaba in Mecca; and

the regulation of astronomically-defined times of the five daily prayers.

It turns out that within the limits of medieval folk science (the fuqahâ’) and mathematical science (the astronomers), solutions were found to these problems that varied between the mundane and the totally brilliant, the approximate and the exact. These are now documented, and the speaker will present some examples.

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David A. King is a British-born orientalist who after a long academic career continues to be active: his latest publication is “Astronomy in medieval Jerusalem”. He studied at Cambridge (Mathematics, 60-63) and Oxford (Education, 63-64) and then worked for the Sudan Government Ministry of Education (64-67). Thereafter he studied at Yale (Near Eastern Languages and Literatures, 68-72) and directed the Smithsonian Institution Project in Medieval Islamic Astronomy at the American Research Center in Egypt (72-79). He was Professor of Near Eastern Languages at New York University (79-85) and Professor of History of Science at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt (since 85). His numerous publications include five Variorum volumes: Islamic mathematical astronomy; Islamic astronomical instruments; Astronomy in the service of Islam; Medieval Islamic astronomy and geography; and Astrolabes from medieval Europe. His major works are World-Maps for finding the direction to Mecca (1999, in part published by Al-Furqan Foundation), and In Synchrony with the Heavens – Astronomical timekeeping and instrumentation in Islamic civilization (2004-05). His publications can be downloaded at davidaking.academia.edu

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Date and Time

Location

Al-Furqan headquarters in London

22A Old Court Place

London

W8 4PL

United Kingdom

View Map

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