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Knowledge of the Milky Way in the Arabic Cultural Region between the 8th and 15th Centuries


We use a comparison of texts by several Arabic authors from the 8.-15. century in
order to explore the role of Milky Way in the early Islamic civilization until the 15th
century. We refer to texts by Ibn al-Haytham, Ibn Rahiq, Ibn Majid, and al-Marzouqi.
First we discuss the description of the Milky Way given by al-Marzouqi in the 21.
chapter of his Kitab al-Azminah wa al-Amkinah. Al-Marzouqi also points out how the
Milky Way can be used to determine the direction of prayer.
Second we discuss Ibn al-Haytham's finding that in comparison with the Moon the
Milky Way has no measurable parallax, must belong to the realm of the stars.
We compare the situation at Ibn al-Haytham's time to that of the Great Debate in 1920.

Milky Way: role in early Islamic civilization, astronomical description, Great Debate


Milky Way, Early Islamic civilisation, Astronomy , Great Debate on the Milky Way


Author Biography

Mesut Idriz

Prof. Dr. Mesut Idriz (, a native of Macedonia, received his graduate and doctoral
degrees from the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC), International Islamic
University Malaysia (IIUM). Currently he is Professor of Comparative History of Civilizations and
Islamic Civilization courses as well as Chair of the Department of History and Islamic Civilization,
College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Sharjah.


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