Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, JoAnn Palmeri, Daniel W. E. Green

Ashraf: al-Malik al-Ashraf (Mumahhid al-Dīn) ҁUmar ibn Yūsuf ibn ҁUmar ibn ҁAlī ibn Rasūl

  • Petra G. Schmidl
Reference work entry


Died (Yemen), 22 November 1296

al-Ashraf ҁUmar, the third of the Rasulid sultans in Yemen, was a prolific scholar who wrote a number of works with astronomical content. The date of al-Ashraf ҁUmar’s birth is uncertain, and only a few details of his life are recorded. In 1266–1267, al-Ashraf ҁUmar commanded a military mission for his father, al-Muẓaffar Yūsuf, to the northern town of Ḥajja. Later, he became governor of al-Mahjam along Wādī Surdud in the coastal region of Yemen. In 1295, his father appointed him coregent. Four months later al-Ashraf ҁUmar succeeded him on the throne. In the same year the sultan visited al-Dumluwa and later the coastal town of Zabīd. He reigned in Yemen for about 2 years until his death in 1296. al-Ashraf ҁUmar was buried in the Ashrafiyya school he had founded in Taҁizz. He left behind six sons and two daughters, both married to sons of al-Ashraf ҁUmar’s brother, al-Muʾayyad Dāwūd, who succeeded him on the throne.

In contrast to his...

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Selected References

  1. King, David A. (1983). Mathematical Astronomy in Medieval Yemen: A Biobibliographical Survey. Malibu: Undena Publications. (On al-Ashraf ҁUmar in the context of Yemeni astronomy.)Google Scholar
  2. — (1985). “The Medieval Yemeni Astrolabe in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.” Zeitschrift für die Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften 2: 99–122, with a supplement in ibid. 4 (1987–88): 268–269. (Reprinted in id., Islamic Astronomical Instruments, II. London: Variorum Reprints, 1987, updated in id., In Synchrony with the Heavens. Studies in Astronomical Timekeeping and Instrumentation in Medieval Islamic Civilization. Volume Two: Instruments of Mass Calculation (Studies X-XVIII). Islamic Philosophy, Theology and Science. Texts and Studies ed. by H. Daiber and D. Pingree. Vol. 55. E. J. Brill: Leiden, XIVa. (On al-Ashraf ҁUmar’s actual astrolabe and the treatise on its construction.)Google Scholar
  3. Schmidl, Petra G. (1996–97). “Two Early Arabic Sources on the Magnetic Compass.” Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies 1: 81–132 (available on (On the magnetic compass in al-Ashraf ҁUmar’s instrument book.)
  4. — (2011). “The Planets and their Corresponding Colours in Astrology – an example from 13th century Yemen”. In Colours in Culture and Science, edited by Gudrun Wolfschmidt. Nuncius Hamburgensis – Beiträge zur Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften. Vol. 22. Tredition: Hamburg. (Mainly based on chapter 8 of al-Ashraf ҁUmar’s Tabṣira.)Google Scholar
  5. — (2012). “Magic and Medicine in a Thirteenth-century. Treatise on the Science of the Stars. In Herbal Medicine in Yemen: Traditional Knowledge and Practice, and Their Value for Today’s World, edited by Ingrid Hehmeyer and Hanne Schönig with the collaboration of Anne Regourd. Islamic History and Civilization. Studies and texts ed. by S. Günther and W. Kadi. Vol. 96. E. J. Brill: Leiden.Google Scholar
  6. Varisco, Daniel Martin (1994). Medieval Agriculture and Islamic Science: The Almanac of a Yemeni Sultan. Seattle: University of Washington Press. (On al-Ashraf ҁUmar’s almanac in chapter 32 of his Tabṣira.)Google Scholar
  7. — (1995). “The Magical Significance of the Lunar Stations in the 13th Century Yemeni Kitāb al-Tabṣira fīҁilm al-nujūm of al-Malik al-Ashraf”. Quaderni di Studi Arabi 13 (1995): 19–40.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Petra G. Schmidl
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Orient und Asienwissenschaften Abteilung Islamwissenschaft, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms Univeristät BonnBonnGermany