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Al-Samawal al-Maghribi

Samauʼal Al-Maghribī
Bornc. 1130
Diedc. 1180
Academic background
Academic work
EraIslamic Golden Age
Main interestsMathematics, Medicine

Al-Samawʾal ibn Yaḥyā al-Maghribī (Arabic: السموأل بن يحيى المغربي‎, Hebrew: שלמה בן יחיא אלמוגרבי‎; c. 1130 – c. 1180), commonly known as Samau'al al-Maghribi, was a mathematician, astronomer and physician.[1] Born to a Jewish family, he concealed his conversion to Islam for many years in fear of offending his father, then openly embraced Islam in 1163 after he had a dream telling him to do so.[2] His father was a Rabbi from Morocco.[3]


Al-Samaw'al wrote the mathematical treatise al-Bahir fi'l-jabr, meaning "The brilliant in algebra", at the age of nineteen.

He also used the two basic concepts of mathematical induction, though without stating them explicitly. He used this to extend results for the binomial theorem up to n=12 and Pascal's triangle previously given by al-Karaji.[4]


He also wrote a famous polemic book in Arabic debating Judaism known as Ifḥām al-Yahūd (Confutation of the Jews) or in Spanish Epistola Samuelis Maroccani and later known in English as The blessed Jew of Morocco.[5][6]


  1. ^ A Jewish Encyclopedia
  2. ^ UIMATH: Islamic Mathematics (Algebra)
  3. ^ Medieval Cultures in Contact, By Richard Gyug, pg. 123
  4. ^ Katz (1992), p. 242:

    "Like the proofs of al-Karaji and ibn al-Haytham, al-Samaw'al's argument contains the two basic components of an inductive proof. He begins with a value for which the result is known, here n = 2, and then uses the result for a given integer to derive the result for the next. Since al-Samaw'al did not have any way of stating the general binomial theorem, however, he cannot be said to have proved it, by induction or otherwise. What he had done was provide a method acceptable to his readers for expanding binomials up to the twelfth power..."

  5. ^ Perlmann, Moshe (1964). "Samau'al al-Maghribī Ifḥām Al-Yahūd: Silencing the Jews / إفحام اليهود: تأليف السموءل المغربي (القرن السادس الهجري)". Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research. 32: 5. doi:10.2307/3622414. JSTOR 3622414.
  6. ^ Samau'al al-Maghribi: Ifham Al-Yahud: Silencing the Jews by Moshe Perlmann, Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research, Vol. 32, Samau'al Al-Maghribi Ifham Al-Yahud: Silencing the Jews (1964)


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