Canada Research Chair in the History of Science in Islamic Societies
My graduate training was as a historian of science (Harvard, PhD, 1982), but I have had strong interests in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies since my days as an undergraduate (BA, Anthropology of the Middle East, 1972; MA, Near Eastern Studies, 1973; both at the University Michigan). After a number of post-docs and short-term teaching positions, I was a professor in the Department of the History of Science at the University of Oklahoma from 1990 until 2006, at which time I moved to the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill where I have held a Canada Research Chair since 2007. Before coming to McGill, my main teaching was in the history of science; in recent years I have focused more on science in premodern Islam and the interactions of science and religion. This has run parallel to my increasing research interest in broader questions of Islamic intellectual history, which have been stimulated and advanced by my colleagues and visiting researchers here at the Institute.
My research program aims to transform the conventional view of pre-1800 Islamic intellectual history by providing concrete and verifiable evidence that a nonreligious cosmology was integrated into the worldview of a substantial number of Muslim intellectuals and educated laypeople, and that this worldview found a place within both religious and secular institutions. Another aspect of this research is tracing the transmission of scientific objects, ideas, and ideals between various cultural regions in the premodern period. An outcome of this latter investigation has challenged our understanding of early modern European science by showing that a number of its salient features usually taken to prove European exceptionalism had, in fact, Islamic roots.
To accomplish this research, my students and I engage in the close study of texts, the examination of scientific objects, and the use of a sophisticated database with which to analyze information gathered from those close readings and examinations.
At present, these are the main areas of our research interests:
1. The Rise and Development of hayʾa (theoretical astronomy)
The hayʾa astronomical genre allowed Islamic astronomers to provide a picture of the universe, a kind of scientific cosmology, based upon the mathematical models developed from observations of the various celestial motions but also including information on the sublunar realm (i.e. the Earth’s geography and its atmosphere). The roots of this genre lie in Greek antiquity, but it was pursued with increased vigor among Islamic scholars. A good deal of my research has focused on this genre, in terms of its importance as a venue for criticisms of Ptolemaic astronomy but also as an indication of a “scientific cosmology” that became widespread throughout Islamic lands. Thus a prime focus of our future research will be to study the genre as a whole (consisting of at least 100 titles produced over a millennium), aided by our database, and pay particular attention to selected texts that I will edit and translate. A new departure will be studying the as yet untapped geographical information contained in these texts, which is the subject of the PhD research of one of our students.
2. Criticism of Ptolemy and the Proposal of Alternative Models
Up to now, the main interest in hayʾa texts has been in those in which authors proposed new models. These alternative models were meant to replace those of Ptolemy in which there were violations of the rule that all celestial motion should be uniform and circular. Again one of the main motivations for this research has been the similarity of these models with those of Copernicus. What is needed is a comprehensive understanding of these models and their motivations as well as the reasons for their proliferation from one astronomer to another. Why were earlier models considered inadequate? Why did some authors allow for certain types of devices (e.g. epicycles and eccentrics) while others disallowed one or another? This comprehensive survey will be critical in understanding this important tradition of criticism and reform in Islamic astronomy and its subsequent adoption by European astronomers such as Copernicus.
3. Motivations and Infrastructure for Precise Observation
One of the interesting and puzzling aspects of early Islamic astronomy is the emphasis on careful and precise observation, something that marks it as significantly different than earlier Greek observations. I have argued that this can be connected to Islamic religious doctrines, in particular the imperative to learn about God’s “created world” and several of my students are expanding this research by looking at religious literature (theological works and commentaries on the Qurʾān) to find more evidence. Several students are also doing research on astronomical instruments and observations and how these latter came to be incorporated into handbooks called zījes.
4. Separation of Mathematical Astronomy from Philosophical Cosmology
I have claimed in various publications that mathematical astronomy in Islam, and in particular hayʾa, came more and more to be conceived as independent of Aristotelian natural philosophy. This has usually been seen as a hallmark of European exceptionalism, but recent work has shown that religious considerations among several Islamic scientists were at work in their separation of astronomy and the other mathematical sciences from philosophy. This has important implications for the way we conceive of the development of modern science and its philosophical underpinnings. This research will proceed in several ways. Students working under my supervision are examining astronomical passages in a Qurʾān commentary, another is studying the work of al-Sayyid al-Sharīf al-Jurjānī, and Robert Wisnovsky and I will conduct (in Winter 2015) a seminar on ʿAlī Qushjī’s fifteenth-century theological treatise.
5. Integration of Scientific Cosmology within Cultural/Religious Institutions of Islamic Societies
This will be in conjunction with our Islamic Scientific Manuscripts Initiative and the post-doctoral work of Sally Ragep, who is a senior researcher at McGill. Contrary to the
standard narrative, we are finding many examples in manuscripts and other sources that theoretical astronomy was taught in religious institutions (madrasas). Because of the vast numbers of manuscript witnesses we have catalogued, and their widespread dissemination, we are in a position to use quantitative data to show that the scientific cosmology inherent in hayʾa texts had become the standard cosmology taught in religious schools. This surprising and counter-intuitive conclusion will need to be properly presented and documented, so in the next phase of the project we plan to use query and presentation tools developed here at McGill in cooperation with our partners at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin to buttress our claims in preparation for publication.
6. Transmission to Europe, South Asia and East Asia
In addition to studying hayʾa as a part of Islamic scientific history, another part of the project has been to deal with its transmission to other cultural areas. Obviously the connection to
Copernicus has been a major part of this research, and I am now completing a book project (sponsored by the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin) on the multicultural background to the Copernican Revolution that has discovered new transmission routes through Byzantium and Jewish intermediaries. In addition to transmission to Europe, intercultural scientific exchanges occurred between Islam and South and East Asia, and we plan to collaborate with various partners to examine these exchanges more closely.
Before Copernicus: The Cultures and Contexts of Scientific Learning in the Fifteenth Century. Edited by Rivka Feldhay and F. Jamil Ragep. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2017.
Epistles of the Brethen of Purity: On Astronomia: An Arabic Critical Edition and English Translation of Epistle 3. Edited and Translated by F. Jamil Ragep and Taro Mimura. Oxford: Oxford University Press in association with The Institute of Ismaili Studies, London 2015.
The Herbal of Al-Ghāfiqī : A Facsimile Edition of MS 7508 in the Osler Library of the History of Medicine, McGill Universtiy, with Critical Essays (co-edited with Faith Wallis and with the assistance of Adam Gacek and Pamela Miller). Montreal & Kingston: Published for the Osler Library of McGill University by McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2014.
Water in the Middle East: Cooperation and Technological Solutions in the Jordan Valley (co-edited with K. David Hambright and Joseph Ginat). Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2006.
Tradition, Transmission, Transformation: Proceedings of Two Conferences on Premodern Science Held at the University of Oklahoma (co-edited with S. P. Ragep and with the assistance of Steven J. Livesey). Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1996.
Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī’s Memoir on Astronomy (al-Tadhkira fī ʿilm al-hayʾa). Edition, Translation, Commentary and Introduction. 2 vols. Sources in the History of Mathematics and Physical Sciences. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1993. | PDF
A Translation, Edition and Study of the Risālah-i Muʿīniyya and the Ḥall-i Muʿīniyya, two Persian astronomical treatises by Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī (in collaboration with Wheeler Thackston, Harvard University). To be published in 2017 or 2018.
“Khiyūniyādis” [Chioniades].” In Dāʾirat al-Maʿārif-i Buzurg-i Islāmī (Iran) [Great Islamic Encyclopedia], vol. 23, pp. 355-358. Tehran: Markaz-i Dāʾirat al-Maʿārif-i Buzurg-i Islāmī, 1396  [in Persian].
“From Tūn to Turun: The Twists and Turns of the Ṭūsī-Couple.” In Before Copernicus: The Cultures and Contexts of Scientific Learning in the Fifteenth Century, edited by Rivka Feldhay and F. Jamil Ragep, pp. 161-197. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, June 2017.
“Ibn al-Shāṭir and Copernicus: The Uppsala Notes Revisited.” Journal for the History of Astronomy 47 (Nov. 2016): 395-415.
“Archimedes Among the Ottomans: An Updated Survey” (with İhsan Fazlıoğlu). In From Alexandria, through Baghdad : Surveys and Studies in the Ancient Greek and Medieval Islamic Mathematical Sciences in Honor of J.L. Berggren, edited by Nathan Sidoli and Glen Van Brummelen, pp. 239-253. New York: Springer, 2014. | PDF
“New Light on Shams: The Islamic Side of Σὰμψ Πουχάρης.” In Politics, Patronage, and the Transmission of Knowledge in 13th - 15th Century Tabriz, edited by Judith Pfeiffer, pp. 231-247. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2014. | PDF
“Islamic Culture and the Natural Sciences.” In The Cambridge History of Science, edited by David Lindberg and Michael Shank, vol. 2, pp. 27-61. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. | PDF
“Shīrāzī’s Nihāyat al-idrāk: Introduction and Conclusion.” Tarikh-e Elm (Tehran, Iran) 11 (2013): 41-57.
“The Origins of the Ṭūsī Couple Revisited.” In Proceedings of the “Scientific and Philosophical Heritage of Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī” Conference, 23-24 Feb. 2011. Tehran, Iran: Miras Maktoob [in press].
“Die Macht der Vernunft – eine Wissensperspektive.” In Vielfalt der Moderne – Ansichten der Moderne, edited by Hans Joas, pp. 67-90. Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer Verlag, 2012. [In German; the English version, “The Power of Reason – Views of Knowledge,” is here].
“Astronomy in the Fanārī-Circle: The Critical Background for Qāḍīzāde al-Rūmī and the Samarqand School.” In Uluslararası Molla Fenârî Sempozyumu (4-6 Aralık 2009 Bursa) (International symposium on Molla Fanārī, 4-6 December 2009 Bursa), edited by Tevfik Yücedoğru, Orhan Koloğlu, U. Murat Kılavuz, and Kadir Gömbeyaz, pp. 165-176. Bursa: Bursa Büyükşehir Belediyesi, 2010.
“Islamic Reactions to Ptolemy’s Imprecisions.” In Ptolemy in Perspective, edited by Alexander Jones, pp. 121-134. Dordrecht; New York: Springer-Verlag, 2010. | PDF
“The Khilāṣ kayfiyyat tarkīb al-aflāk of al-Jūzjānī: A Preliminary Description of Its Avicennian Themes.” In Avicenna and his Legacy: A Golden Age of Science and Philosophy, edited by Y. Tzvi Langermann, pp. 303-308.Turnhout: Brepols, 2010.
“Astronomy.” In Encyclopaedia of Islam, 3rd ed., part 1, pp. 120-150. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2009. | Read online
“The Islamic Scientific Manuscript Initiative (ISMI): Towards a Sociology of the Exact Sciences in Islam” (with Sally P. Ragep). In A Shared Legacy: Islamic Science East and West. Homage to Professor J. M. Millàs Vallicrosa, edited by Emilia Calvo, Mercè Comes, Roser Puig, and Monica Rius, pp. 15-21. Barcelona: University of Barcelona, 2008. | PDF
“Quṭb al-Dīn…al-Shīrāzī.” In New Dictionary of Scientific Biography, edited by Noretta Koertge, vol. 6, pp. 187-189. Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons/Thomson Gale, 2008.
“When Did Islamic Science Die (and Who Cares)?” Newsletter of the British Society for the History of Science 85 (Feb. 2008): 1-3. | PDF
“Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī.” In Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, pp. 1153-1155. New York: Springer, 2007. | PDF
“Quṭb al-Dīn al-Shīrāzī.” In Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, pp. 1054-1055. New York: Springer, 2007. | PDF
“Qāḍīzāde al-Rūmī.” In Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, p. 942. New York: Springer, 2007. | PDF
“al-Ādamī” (with Marvin Bolt). In Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, p. 12. New York: Springer, 2007. | PDF
“Copernicus and His Islamic Predecessors: Some Historical Remarks.” History of Science 45 (2007): 65–81. [updated from 2004] | PDF
“On Dating Jaghmīnī and His Mulakhkhaṣ.” In Essays in Honour of Ekmeleddin Ihsanoğlu, edited by Mustafa Kaçar and Zeynep Durukal, pp. 461-466. Istanbul: IRCICA, 2006.
“Juft-i Ṭūsī (the Ṭūsī Couple)” (with B. Hashemipour). In The Encyclopaedia of the World of Islam, vol. X, pp. 472-475. Tehran: Encyclopaedia Islamica Foundation, 2006. [in Persian]
“ʿAlī Qushjī and Regiomontanus: Eccentric Transformations and Copernican Revolutions.” Journal for the History of Astronomy 36/4 (2005): 359-371. | PDF
“Copernicus and His Islamic Predecessors: Some Historical Remarks.” Filozofski vestnik 25/2 (2004): 125–142.
“Ibn al-Haytham and Eudoxus: The Revival of Homocentric Modeling in Islam.” In Studies in the History of the Exact Sciences in Honour of David Pingree, edited by Charles Burnett, Jan P. Hogendijk, Kim Plofker, and Michio Yano, pp. 786-809. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2004.
“Ḳāḍīzāde Rūmī.” In The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., vol. XII, p. 502. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2004.
“The Astronomical and Cosmological Works of Ibn Sīnā: Some Preliminary Remarks” (with S. Ragep). In Sciences, techniques et instruments dans le monde iranien (Xe–XIXe siècle), études réunies et présentées par N. Pourjavady et Ž. Vesel, pp. 3–15. Tehran, 2004.
“The Tadhkira by al-Ṭūsī.” In The Encyclopaedia of the World of Islam, vol. VI, pp. 790-793. Tehran: Encyclopaedia Islamica Foundation, 2002. [in Persian]
“Zuḥal” (Saturn) and “Zuhara” (Venus). In The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., vol. XI, pp. 555-556. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2002.
“Ṭūsī and Copernicus: The Earth’s Motion in Context.” Science in Context 14, nos. 1-2 (2001): 145-163. [Persian trans. as “Ṭūsī wa Kūpirnīk: ‘ḥarakat zamīn’ dar mutūn nujūmī”, Farhang 20, nos. 61-62 (2007): 31-56.]
“Freeing Astronomy from Philosophy: An Aspect of Islamic Influence on Science.” Osiris 16 (2001): 49-71. | Read online
“The Persian Context of the Ṭūsī Couple.” In Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī: Philosophe et Savant du XIIIe Siècle, edited by N. Pourjavady and Ž. Vesel, pp. 113-130. Tehran: Institut français de recherche en Iran/Presses universitaires d’Iran, 2000.
“Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī” (with H. Daiber). In The Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed., vol. X, pp. 750-752. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 2000.
“al-Hāshimī,” “Hayʾa,” and “Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī” (3 separate articles). In Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures, edited by Helaine Selin, pp. 394-397, 757-758. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1997.
“Arabic/Islamic Astronomy.” In History of Astronomy: An Encyclopedia, edited by J. Lankford, pp. 17-21. New York: Garland, 1997.
“Al-Battānī, Cosmology, and the Early History of Trepidation in Islam.” In From Baghdad to Barcelona. Essays on the History of the Islamic Exact Sciences in Honour of Prof. Juan Vernet, edited by Josep Casulleras and Julio Samsó, pp. 267-298. Barcelona: Universidad de Barcelona. Facultad de Filología, 1996.
“Sonne Astronomie [sun, astronomical].” In Lexikon des Mittelalters, 9 vols. Stuttgart: J.B. Metzler, 1999. [In vol. 7; originally published by LexMa Verlag (Munich), 1995.]
“Duhem, the Arabs, and the History of Cosmology.” Synthese 83 (1990): 201-214.
“The Two Versions of the Ṭūsī Couple.” In From Deferent to Equant: Studies in Honor of E.S. Kennedy, edited by David King and George Saliba, pp. 329-356. Vol. 500 of The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1987.
“A Description of Ẓāhiriyya (Damascus) MS 4871: A Philosophical and Scientific Collection” (with E. S. Kennedy). The Journal for the History of Arabic Science 5 (1981): 85-108.
“Review of An Eleventh-Century Egyptian Guide to the Universe: The Book of Curiosities, edited by Yossef Rapoport and Emilie Savage-Smith.” Journal for the History of Astronomy 47 (Nov. 2016): 428-429.
“Review of Al-Ghazālī’s Philosophical Theology by Frank Griffel.” Isis 101, no. 4 (Dec. 2010): 867-868.
“Review of The Beginnings of Western Science by David C. Lindberg, 2nd edition. Isis 100, no. 2 (2009): 383-385.
“Review of A Brief Introduction to Astronomy in the Middle East by John M. Steele.” Journal for the History of Astronomy 40 (August 2009): 346-347.
“Review of Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance by George Saliba.” Renaissance Quarterly (Spring 2008).
“Review of Islam and Science by Muzaffar Iqbal.” Studies in Contemporary Islam, vol. 10, numbers 1-2 (Spring and Fall 2008): 161-164.
“Review of History of Islamic Philosophy, edited by S.H. Nasr and O. Leaman.” Isis 95 (2004): 336-337.
“Review of World-maps for Finding the Direction and Distance to Mecca by David A. King.” Journal for the History of Astronomy 32,2 (May 2001): 171-172.
“Essay Review of The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy by James Evans.” Early Science and Medicine 5,4 (2000): 394-395.
“Review of Astronomy and Astrology in the Medieval Islamic World by Edward S. Kennedy.” Middle East Studies Association Bulletin 34,2 (Winter 2000): 257-258.
“Essay Review of Planets, Stars, and Orbs: The Medieval Cosmos, 1200-1687 by Edward Grant.” Speculum 75,1 (Jan. 2000): 184-186.
“Essay Review of An Islamic Response to Greek Astronomy: Kitāb taʿdīl hayʾat al-aflāk of Ṣadr al-Sharīʿa by Ahmad S. Dallal (ed. and trans.).” Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Arabisch-Islamischen Wissenschaften, vol. 11 (1997): 365-369.
“Review of A History of Arabic Astronomy: Planetary Theories during the Golden Age of Islam by George Saliba.” Isis 87 (March 1996): 154-155.
“Review of Studies on Gersonides: A Fourteenth-Century Jewish Philosopher Scientist, edited by Gad Freudenthal.” The British Journal for the History of Science 28 (March 1995): 103-105.
“Review of An Introduction to Islamic Cosmological Doctrines by Seyyed Hossein Nasr.” Isis 85 (September 1994): 504-505.
“Review of Ṣāʿid al-Andalusī, Science in the Medieval World, translated by Semaʿan I. Salem and Alok Kumar.” Isis 85 (March 1994): 145-146.
“Essay Review of Thābit Ibn Qurra: Œuvres d’Astronomie, edited and translated by Régis Morelon.” Journal for the History of Astronomy 23 (1992): 61-63.
“Review of Islamic Mathematical Astronomy by David A. King.” Nuncius 6 (1991): 211-213.
“Review of Über eine anwāʾ-Tradition mit bisher unbekannten Sternnamen by Paul Kunitzsch.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 108.3 (1988): 496.
“Review of Studies in the Exact Sciences in Medieval Islam by Ali A. al-Daffa and John J. Stroyls.” Speculum 62 (April 1987): 493-494.
“Review of Islamic Calendar, Times & Qibla by Mohammad Ilyas.” Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada 80 (1986): 299-301.
“Review of Medieval Islamic Medicine by Michael W. Dols and Adil S. Gamal.” Middle East Studies Association Bulletin 19 (July 1985): 112-113.
“Review of Islamic Cosmology by Anton Heinen.” The Journal for the History of Astronomy 16 (June 1985): 146-149.
“Review of al-Hāshimī’s ʿIlāl al-Zījāt, trans. and comm. by E. S. Kennedy, David Pingree and Fuad Haddad.” Isis 76 (March 1985): 123-124.
“Review of Planispheric Astrolabes from the National Museum of American History by S. Gibbs with G. Saliba.” Archaeoastronomy 8 (1985): 174-175.
“Review of Al-Bīrūnī: Commemorative Volume.” The Journal for the History of Astronomy 14 (June 1983): 144-146.
Major Talks and Keynote Addresses
“Around the World in 800 Years: The Incredible Journey of Scientific Knowledge to and from Islamic Lands,” School of Languages, Linguistics, Literatures & Cultures, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, 23 March 2018 (invited talk)
“Tales of Transmission: Scientific Exchanges in the Premodern Period,” Keynote address for the “The 2018 Morris W. Offit Symposium on Muslims, Christians, and Jews around the Mediterranean,” Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, 9 March 2018
Introductory talk at the “International Symposium on Science Teaching in Transition During the 18th-19th Century Islamic World, Istanbul, Turkey, 14-15 December 2017. Co-sponsored by Medeniyet University and the McGill Centre for Islam and Science.
"Golden Age Redux: Can the Past Inform the Present?” Keynote address for the Conference: “Science Education in the Muslim World,” Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Doha, Qatar, 9-10 December 2017
"Thoughts on the Clash of Civilizations: Evidence from Premodern Science,” invited talk at the Oakley Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences, Williams College, 14 November 2017
"Science and Religion in Islam: Conflict or Creative Engagement?, lecture at the Aga Khan Museum (Part of the "Inspired by Signs" Lecture Series produced in partnership with the Pontifical Institute), Toronto, 20 April 2016
“Continuity, Contiguity, Contingency: Islam and Copernicus Reconsidered,” the annual Richmond Lecture on the history and philosophy of science, Williams College (Massachusetts), 14 April 2015
“Ibn al-Shāṭir and Copernicus on Mercury,” invited talk at a workshop held at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, NYU, New York, 15 March 2016
“To Explain Copernicus: The Islamic Scientific and Religious Contexts,” invited presentation at the panel “The Author in Dialogue: Steven Weinberg’s ‘To Explain the World’,” American Physical Society meeting, Baltimore, 14 March 2016
“Copernicus and His Islamic Predecessors,” invited lecture, University of California Berkeley, 19 March 2015
“Religion as Agency in the Transmission and Transformation of Greek Astronomy within Islam,” invited lecture at the Symposium “Science Before Science,” Bowdoin College (Maine), 27 February 2015
“The Changing Face (hayʾa) of Astronomy 1200-1500 CE”, Keynote address at the “International Conference of Ottoman Scholarship from Sahn-ı Seman to Darülfünun: Scholars, Institutions and Intellectual Products I: From the Conquest of Istanbul to the Establishment of the Süleymaniye Medreses,” Istanbul University, Faculty of Theology, 19-21 December 2014
“What’s in a School? Maragha and its Historiographical Implications” (with S. P. Ragep), Keynote address at the Conference “Maragha and its Scholars: The Intellectual Culture of Medieval Maragha, ca. 1250-1550,” Istanbul, 6-8 December 2013
“The Astronomical Genre of Hay’a: Cosmology without Philosophy,” Cornell University, 21 November 2013 (also led “Medieval Cosmologies Seminar” on 22 November 2013)
“Islam at the Crossroads: Reflections on the History and Historiography of Astronomical Transmission” and “The Other Transmission, or How Did Muslims Manage to Transfer Astronomical Knowledge over Fifty Generations?” (with S. P. Ragep). 2 Keynote addresses at the Biennial History of Astronomy Workshop, Notre Dame Univ., 12–16 June 2013
“Continuity, Contiguity, Contingency: Islam and Copernicus Reconsidered,” Johns Hopkins University, 28 February 2013 and Notre Dame University, 15 November 2011
“Astronomical Treasures from Golius’s Collection(s),” Leiden University, 28 February 2012
“The Power of Reason – Views of Knowledge” at “Forms of Modernity – Views of Modernity: Wisdom and the Pursuit of Knowledge,” sponsored by Dr. Horst Köhler, President of Germany, Berlin, Germany, 20-21 October 2008
“Science in Islamic Civilization and Connections with India,” the Tattvabodha Lecture, Delhi, India, Dec. 2007
“From Samarqand to Vienna: Mathematical Humanism in the Fifteenth Century.” Keynote address at the Renaissance Society of America meeting, Miami, March 2007
“What Can the History of Islamic Science Teach Us about Science?” Sarton Lecture, American Association for the Advancement of Science, St. Louis, Feb. 2006
“New Perspectives on the Connection between Islamic Astronomy and Copernicus” (in Arabic), al-Quds University, Jerusalem, November 2005
Courses and Supervision
Courses Taught at McGill University:
“Science and Religion in Islam" [ISLA 581: Fall 2015]
“Science and Civilization in Islam” [ISLA 345: Fall 2006; Winter 2008; Winter 2009; Winter 2010; Winter 2012; Winter 2013; Fall 2014; Winter 2016; Winter 2017]
“History of Science in Islam” [ISLA 683: Fall 2006 (Ikhwān al-Ṣafāʾ); Spring 2008 (translation movement); Fall 2009 (hayʾa); Fall 2010 (scientific geography); Fall 2011 (science and religion); Fall 2012 (introductions to astronomical and astrological works); Winter 2016; Winter 2017]
Introduction to Research Materials - Islamic Studies [ISLA 603: Fall 2011; Fall 2012]
- "Special Topics in Islamic Thought" [ISLA 788: Winter 2015] with Prof. Robert Wisnovsky
Courses Taught at the University of Oklahoma:
- Seminar on “Fifteenth-Century Science” (Spring 2006)
- “History of Science to Newton” (14 times: 1990-2001)
- “Science and Civilization in Islam” (14 times: 1991-2005)
- Ancient/Medieval Science (“Transmission,” 1997, 2000; “Ancient Astronomy,” 1999, 2005)
- “Arabic Scientific Texts” (3 times: 1997-98)
- Advanced Arabic (2000)
- Seminar on “History of Cosmology” (1996)
- “Science in the Ancient World” (4 times: 1990-2002)
- Seminar on “Copernicus” (1994)
- Seminar on “Nonwestern Science” (2 times: 1993, 1998)
- Seminar on “Islamic Astronomy” (1992)
- Seminar on M. Bernal’s Black Athena (1991 with D. Snell)
Courses Taught at Williams College
- “Science and Civilization in Islam” (Fall 2017 with S. Ragep)
- Seminar on the background to the Copernican Revolution
Student Theses and Dissertations Completed:
M.A. (Islamic Studies, McGill), Philippe Grenon, completed November 2017: “Compete or Complete: A Contextualist Approach on Prophetic Medicine”
M.A. (Islamic Studies, McGill), Takatomo Inoue, completed November 2017: “Avicennian Natural Philosophy and the Alchemical Theory of al-Ṭughrāʾī in Ḥaqāʾiq al-istishhād”
Ph.D. (Graduate School, University of Notre Dame), Moiz Hasan, April 2017: "Foundations of Science in the Post-Classical Islamic Era: The Philosophical, Historical, and Historiographical Significance of Sayyid al-Sharīf al-Jurjānī's (d. 1413) Project"
Ph.D. (Islamic Studies, McGill), Mohammad Hannan Hassan, completed March 2014: “Islamic Legal Thought and Practices of Seventeenth Century Aceh: Treating the Others”
Ph.D. (Islamic Studies, McGill), Damien Janos, completed Feb. 2009: “Intellect, Substance, and Motion in al-Fārābī’s Cosmology” (co-supervisor with Robert Wisnovsky)
Ph.D. (History of Science, Oklahoma), W. Todd Timmons, Spring 2002: “Building the Foundation for an American Mathematical Community: The Bowditch Generation, 1800-1838” (chaired)
M.A. (History of Science, Oklahoma), W. Todd Timmons, Summer 1996: “Edmund Stone and the Calculus Textbook Tradition of Eighteenth-Century England” (chaired)
M.A. (Master Of Liberal Studies, Oklahoma), Steven R. Gullberg, Fall 2002: “The Babylonian Astronomical Diaries: A Contextual Survey and Graphical Analysis of Their Implied Reference System” (chaired)
Graduate and Post-Graduate Advising (Completed and Ongoing):
Ph.D. Supervisor (Islamic Studies, McGill): Fateme Savadi (2009-); Hasan Umat (2012-); Sajjad Nikfahm-Khurbravan (2015-); Osama Eshera (co-supervisor with Robert Wisnovsky) (2015-); external co-supervisor for Moiz Hasan, Notre Dame Univ. (2013-2017)
M.A. Supervisor (Islamic Studies, McGill): Philippe Grenon (2015-2017); Takatomo Inoue (2015-2017)
Pre-Doctoral Supervision for exchange students at McGill: Amir Gamini, Tehran University (Winter/Spring 2012); Margaret Gaida, Univ. of Oklahoma (Fall 2012); Moiz Hasan, Notre Dame Univ. (Winter 2013)
Post-Doctoral Supervision (Transmission, Translation and Transformation in Medieval Textual Cultures): Keren Abbou Hershkovits (2009-2011)