Fuat Sezgin (24 October 1924 – 30 June 2018) was a Turkish orientalist who specialized in the history of Arabic-Islamic science. He was professor emeritus of the History of Natural Science at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany and the founder and honorary director of the Institute of the History of the Arab Islamic Sciences there.[1] He also created museums in Frankfurt and Istanbul with replicas of historical Arabic-Islamic scientific instruments, tools and maps.[2] His best known publication is the 17-volume Geschichte des Arabischen Schrifttums, a standard reference in the field.[3]

Fuat Sezgin
Born(1924-10-24)24 October 1924
Bitlis, Turkey
Died30 June 2018(2018-06-30) (aged 93)
Istanbul, Turkey
Alma materIstanbul University
OccupationScience historian academic
SpouseUrsula Sezgin
AwardsKing Faisal International Prize
Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
Presidential Culture and Arts Grand Awards


Sezgin earned his PhD from Istanbul University under the German Orientalist Hellmut Ritter in 1950. His thesis titled "Buhari’nin Kaynakları"[4] (The Sources of Al-Bukhari) argued that, contrary to the common belief among European orientalists, Al-Bukhari's edition of collected Hadiths was based on written sources dating back to the 7th century as well as oral history. He obtained a position at Istanbul University, but was dismissed in the wake of the 1960 coup. He moved to Germany in 1961 and started working as a visiting professor at the University of Frankfurt.[5] He was appointed professor at the university in 1965. His research in Frankfurt focused on Islam's Golden Age of Science. In 1982, Sezgin established the Institute of the History of the Arab Islamic Sciences. Today the Institute houses the most comprehensive collection of texts on the history of Arabic-Islamic science in the world. In 1983 Sezgin also founded a unique museum within the institute, bringing together more than 800 replicas of historical scientific instruments, tools and maps, mostly belonging to the Golden Age of Islamic science. A very similar museum was opened in 2008 in Istanbul.[2]

In 1968, Sezgin found four previously unknown books of Diophantus' Arithmetica at the shrine of Imam Rezā in the holy Islamic city of Mashhad in northeastern Iran.


Fuat Sezgin was the author and editor of numerous publications. His 17-volume work Geschichte des Arabischen Schrifttums (1967-2000) is the cornerstone reference on the history of science and technology in the Islamic world. The 5-volume Natural Sciences of Islam documents the items in the Frankfurt museum. He had, since 1984, edited the Journal for the History of Arabic-Islamic Science.

Sezgin had argued that Muslim seafarers had reached the Americas by 1420, citing as evidence the inscription on a map and the fact that the high longitudinal precision of early maps of the Americas would not have been attainable using Western navigational technology.[6]


Sezgin received several awards, including the King Faisal International Prize of Islamic Studies in 1978[5] and Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. He is member of the Turkish Academy of Sciences,[7] the Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco and academies of Arabic Language in Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad.


On 24 September 2012, Melih Gökçek, Mayor of Municipality of Metropolitan Ankara, announced that a square in Ankara was named in honor of Fuat Sezgin. A relief of him created by artist Aslan Başpınar at the square was revealed the same day in the presence of Fuat Sezgin and his spouse Ursula by the mayor.[8]


  1. ^ "UKM to confer honorary doctorate on Prof Fuat Sezgin". New Straits Times. 8 January 2007.
  2. ^ a b "Islam History of Science and Technology Needs to Speak". Turkish Daily News. 27 December 2008. The utility of a museum of replicas in an antiquarian field contaminated by fakes is discussed by Prof. Nir Shafir at the Internet web site Aeon in 2018 at https://aeon.co/essays/why-fake-miniatures-depicting-islamic-science-are-everywhere
  3. ^ Gerhard Endreß (26 October 2004). "Tradition und Aufbruch". Frankfurter Rundschau (in German).
  4. ^ M.Fuad SEZGİN, Buhari'nin Kaynakları Hakkında Araştırmalar, Ankara Üniversitesi İlahiyat Fakültesi, ANKARA, 1956.
  5. ^ a b Richard Covington (May–June 2007). "The Third Dimension". Saudi Aramco World.
  6. ^ Fuat Sezgin (2006), The Pre-Columbian Discovery of the American Continent by Muslim Seafarers
  7. ^ "Turkish Academy of Sciences". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 20 February 2010.
  8. ^ "Prof. Dr. Fuat Sezgin Adına Yapılan Anıtı Kendisi Açtı". Son Dakika (in Turkish). 24 September 2012. Retrieved 24 September 2012.

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