al-Qanūn al-Masʿūdī القانون المسعودي Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad بيروني، محمد بن أحمد

Or 1997

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The record is made up of Codex A collection of pages, usually gathered into quires, and bound between covers. ; ff. iii+262+iii. It was created in Rabī‘ I 570. It was written in Arabic. The original is part of the British Library: Oriental Manuscripts.

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An early and complete copy of the comprehensive astronomical work, or Canon , by Abū al-Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-Bīrūnī (أبو الريحان محمد بن أحمد البيروني, ca 973-1048). The al-Qanūn al-M asʿūdī was dedicated to Sultan Mas‘ūd of Ghaznī (reg. 1030-1040), and summarises the astronomy of the Almagest (كتاب المجسطي) of Ptolemy (Claudius Ptolemaeus; c 90-c 168) and brings it up to date by adjusting stellar longitudes to account for the almost nine centuries elapsed between the two authors, and by adding astronomical advancements drawn from Arabic, Persian and Sanskrit sources.

The copy was completed in Rabī‘ I 570/Sept.-Oct. 1174 in Baghdad by an anonymous scribe.

The text is divided into 11 treatises (مقالات) subdivided into chapters (أبواب) and then sections (فصول). A detailed table of contents is found on ff. 2r-5r.


  • Treatise One (المقالة الأول), eleven introductory chapters (ff. 5v-17v);
  • Treatise Two (المقالة الثاني), twelve chapters on calendars and chronologies (ff. 18r-51r);
  • Treatise Three (المقالة الثالثة), ten chapters on trigonometry (ff. 52r-65v);
  • Treatise Four (المقالة الرابعة), twenty-six chapters on spherical astronomy (ff. 66r-91r);
  • Treatise Five (المقالة الخامسة), eleven chapters on geodesy (ff. 91v-109r);
  • Treatise Six (المقالة السادسة), eleven chapters on solar motion and time (ff. 109v-131r);
  • Treatise Seven (المقالة السابعة) eleven chapters on lunar motion. (ff. 131v-158r);
  • Treatise Eight (المقالة الثامنة) seventeen chapters on eclipses (ff. 158v-179r);
  • Treatise Nine (المقالة التاسعة) nine chapters on the fixed stars (ff. 179v-211v);
  • Treatise Ten (المقالة العاشرة) thirteen chapters on the planets (ff. 212r-242r);
  • Treatise Eleven (المقالة الحادي عشر) eleven chapters on astrology (ff. 242v-262r).

Begins (f. 1v, lines 2-5):

القانون المسعودي

عمل أبي الريحان محمد بن أحمد البيروني رحمه الله

المسعود من سعد بالله وتفرد تباييده اياه عن الأشكال والأشباه فلا واضع لمن رفع ولا واجد لما منع واني كان يبلغ ملك

الإسلام مشارق الأرض المعمورة ومغاربها وينتاهي خبره إلى أباعدها بعد أقاربها لو لا أظهاره تعالى العزة لرسوله وللمرسـ[ـلين]

Ends (f. 262, lines 10-12):

... وإن توكل متوكله عليه (أمرًا حاحًا بين ؟) حوله وبين به ونفتح له عددًا وأعدادًا مسومين

فالبرول إليه يشري في حنره (؟) وما النصر الأمن عند الله فمن نصره الله فلا غالب له وجوب الله

لهم الغالبون والعاقبة للمتقين

Colophon Section at the end of a manuscript text. (f. 262, lines 13-18):

تمت المقالة الحادية عشر

وتم بتمامها القانون المسعودي تصنيف

أبي الريحان البيروني ولله الحمد والمنة

بمدينة السلم بغداد في شهر ربيع

الأولى من سنة سبعين وخمس مائة هجرية

والحمد لله رب العالمين

Collation note next to colophon Section at the end of a manuscript text. (f. 262)

قوابل بها مما (؟) نقلت منه في

محرم سنة إحدى وسبعين

وخمس مائة هجرية عربية (؟) والسلم

Extent and format
Codex A collection of pages, usually gathered into quires, and bound between covers. ; ff. iii+262+iii
Physical characteristics

Material: Paper

Dimensions: 334 x 215 mm leaf [260 x 180 mm written; the left margin is often not respected]

Foliation: British Museum foliation in pencil; eastern Arabic foliation in black ink

Ruling: Misṭarah ; 31 lines per page; vertical spacing 12 lines per 10 cm

Script: Naskh

Ink: Black ink, with headings, overlinings, figures and diagrams in red

Binding: British Museum binding in red leather with gilt tooled features in Islamic style

Condition: Minor waterstains to upper outer corner, wormholes many repaired, margins of ff. 1, 2, 261 and 262 have been repaired

Marginalia: Few

Seals: ff. 1r, 262v

Written in
Arabic in Arabic script

Archive information for this record

Access & Reference

Original held at
British Library: Oriental Manuscripts
Access conditions

Restrictions to access apply please consult British Library staff

Archive reference
Or 1997

History of this record

Rabī‘ I 570 (AH, Hijri qamari)
Context of creation


  • Sir Henry Miers Elliot, K.C.B., his bookplate (front paper iii recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. );
  • Semi-legible seal, accomanying inscription dated Dhū al-Qa‘dah 1064/September-October 1654 (f. 1r, upper left-hand corner);
  • Semi-legible seal, undated (f. 1r, middle left-hand margin);
  • Semi-legible seal, undated, with inscription of ‘Ināyat Mawlānā Nīyār Aḥmad Ṣāḥib (عنايت مولانا نيار أحمد صاحب; f. 1r, middle left-hand margin);
  • Muḥammad Ghāzī (محمد غازي), chief architect (معمور خان), his seal dated 1125 (AD 1713-14), with inscription dated 1 Dhū al-Qa‘dah 1126/8 November 1714 (f. 1r, lower left-hand margin);
  • Semi-legible seal, undated (f. 262v).
Immediate source of acquisition

Purchased from the son of Sir Henry M. Elliot 13 April 1878

Related material

Finding aids

Rieu, Charles, Supplement to the Catalogue of the Arabic Manuscripts (London: The British Museum 1894), Item 756, pp. 513-19

Select Bibliography


  • Bīrūnī, Abū Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Kitāb al-Qānūn al-Mas‘ūdī , 3 vols (Ḥaydar Ābād al-Dakan: Maṭbaʻat Majlis Dāʾirat al-Maʻārif al-ʻUthmānīyah, 1954-56)


  • Kennedy, Edward Stewart, 'Al-Bīrūnī's Masudic Canon', al - Abhāth , 24 (1971), 59–81 (Reprinted in David A. King and Mary Helen Kennedy (eds.), Studies in the Islamic Exact Sciences by E.S. Kennedy, Colleagues, and Former Students [Beirut: American University of Beirut, 1983] pp. 573–95)
  • Sezgin, Fuat, Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums , vol. 6 (Leiden: Brill, 1978). pp. 265-66
  • Yano, Michio, 'Bīrūnī: Abū al-Rayḥān Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-Bīrūnī' in Thomas Hockey et al. (eds.), The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers , Springer Reference. New York: Springer, 2007, pp. 131-33

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al-Qanūn al-Masʿūdī القانون المسعودي Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad بيروني، محمد بن أحمد, British Library: Oriental Manuscripts, Or 1997, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 21 June 2024]

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