Jafar Muhammad Banu Musa

Quick Info

about 800
Baghdad, Iraq
after 873

Jafar Muhammad Banu Musa was one of the three Bana Musa brothers. He wrote about conics.


The three Banu Musa brothers are almost indistinguishable and most of the information is at THIS LINK. However, there is some information specific to the eldest: Jafar Muhammad ibn Musa ibn Shakir.

It certainly appears that of the three brothers, he was the best mathematician. In addition to making perhaps the major contribution to the geometry text described above, Jafar Muhammad also wrote Premises of the book of conics which was a critical revision of Apollonius's Conics.

However, Jafar Muhammad was also the most politically active of the brothers, particularly in the last part of his life when the Turks were gaining control of the empire. It appears that his dispute with al-Kindi coloured Jafar Muhammad actions and he opposed anyone who had been a friend of al-Kindi's. For this reason he campaigned successfully to have al-Musta'in become Caliph. However, there were internal struggles and al-Musta'in's brother besieged Baghdad with his army. In fact Jafar Muhammad was sent by al-Musta'in to negotiate the terms of his surrender with the besieging forces.

References (show)

  1. Al-Dabbagh, Biography in Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York 1970-1990). See THIS LINK.
  2. D El-Dabbah, The geometrical treatise of the ninth-century Baghdad mathematicians Banu Musa (Russian), in History Methodology Natur. Sci., No. V, Math. Izdat. (Moscow, 1966), 131-139.
  3. Banu Musa, The Encyclopaedia of Islam VII (Leiden, 1993), 640-641.
  4. Banu Musa, Encyclopaedia Iranica III (London, 1989), 716-717.
  5. R Rashed, Archimedean learning in the Middle Ages : the Banu Musa, Historia Sci. (2) 6 (1) (1996), 1-16.
  6. T Sato, Quadrature of the surface area of a sphere in the early Middle Ages - Johannes de Tinemue and Banu Musa, Historia Sci. No. 28 (1985), 61-90.

Additional Resources (show)

Other websites about Jafar Muhammad Banu Musa:

  1. Dictionary of Scientific Biography

Written by J J O'Connor and E F Robertson
Last Update November 1999