Sahl ibn Bishr

Sahl ibn Bishr al-Israili (c. 786–c. 845), also known as Rabban al-Tabari and Haya al-Yahudi ("the Jew"), was a Jewish[1]Syriac Christian[2][3] astrologer,[4] astronomer and mathematician from Tabaristan. He was the father of Ali ibn Sahl the famous scientist and physician, who became a convert to Islam.[5]

He served as astrologer to the governor of Khuristan and then to the vizier of Baghdad. He wrote books on astronomy, astrology, and arithmetic, all in Arabic.[6]

His worksEdit

Sahl is believed to be the first who translated the Almagest of Ptolemy into Arabic.

Sahl ibn Bishr wrote in the Greek astrological tradition. Sahl's first five books were preserved in the translation of John of Seville (Johannes Hispanus) (c. 1090 – c. 1150). See the English translation by Holden. The sixth book deals with three thematic topics regarding the influences on the world and its inhabitants was translated by Herman of Carinthia. The work contains divinations based on the movements of the planets and comets.

  • The Introduction to the Science of the Judgments of the Stars. Translated by James Herschel Holden (Tempe, Az.: A.F.A., Inc., 2008)ix, 213 pp.

There are some books by Sahl ibn Bishr in Arabic such as:

  • Ahkam fi al-Nujum ("Laws of the Astrology")
  • Kitab al-ikhtiyarat 'ala al-buyut al-ithnai 'ashar ("Book of elections according to the twelve houses").
  • al-Masa'il al-Nujumiyah ("The astrological problems")


  1. ^ Astronomy and the Jewish Community in Early Islam January 2001, Aleph Historical Studies in Science and Judaism 1(1):17-57 Bernard R. Goldstein
  2. ^ Prioreschi, Plinio (2001-01-01). A History of Medicine: Byzantine and Islamic medicine. Horatius Press. p. 223. ISBN 9781888456042. Retrieved 29 December 2014. Ali ibn Sahl Rabban al-Tabari, the son of a Syriac Christian scholar living in Persia on the Caspian Sea...
  3. ^ Meyerhof, Max (July 1931). "Alî at-Tabarî's "Paradise of Wisdom", one of the oldest Arabic Compendiums of Medicine". Isis. 16 (1): 7–8. doi:10.1086/346582. JSTOR 224348. Ibn al-Qiftî (4) renders the title Rabban correctly but with a false explanation, taking it for the Jewish title of Rabbi. So 'Alî b. Rabban passed into all historical works, until quite recently, as a Muslim of Jewish origin, although 'Alî himself, in the preface to his work, explains this title Rabban as being the Syriac word for "our Master" or "our Teacher". The late Professor Horovitz told me and wrote to me several years ago, that this was a Christian title; A. Mingana gave the proof of this in print for the first time in I922. 'Alî says in his apologetic tract "The Book of Religion and Empire", which he wrote about 855 A.D., that he himself was a Christian before he was converted to Islam, and that his uncle Zakkâr was a prominent Christian scholar.
  4. ^ "Astrology in Medieval Judaism - My Jewish Learning". Archived from the original on 29 December 2014. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  5. ^ Meyerhof (1931), p. 7.
  6. ^ Roth, Norman, ed. (2003). Medieval Jewish Civilization: An Encyclopedia. New York: Routledge. p. 385. ISBN 978-0-415-93712-2.