Masha'allah ibn Atharī (c.740-d.815 AD) was an eighth century Persian Jewish ["Islam and Science", by M. H. Syed, p. 212] astrologer and astronomer from the city of Basra (now located in modern day Iraq) who became the leading astrologer of the late 8th century [David Pingree: "Māshā'allāh", Dictionary of Scientific Biography 9 (1974), 159-162.] . The Arabic phrase "ma sha`a allah" indicates acceptance of what God has ordained in terms of good or ill fortune that may befall a believer. His name is usually Latinized as Messala or Messahalla. The Messala crater, on the Moon, is named after him.

As a young man he participated in the founding of Baghdad in 762 by working with a group of astrologers led by Naubakht the Persian to pick an electional horoscope for the founding of the city. He wrote over twenty works on astrology, which became authoritative in later centuries at first in the Middle East, and then in the West when horoscopic astrology was transmitted back to Europe beginning in the 12th century.

Mashallah wrote works on "Astral sympathies", otherwise known as astrology. The task of astrologers such as him and Naubakht was to optimize such influences.

His real name was probably "Manasseh" or "Jethro", and Latin translators named him Messahala (with many variants, as "Messahalla" "Messala", "Macellama", "Macelarma", "Messahalah"). He flourished under the Caliph al-Mansur, and became one of the earliest astronomers and astrologers of the Islamic era. Science historian Donald Hill writes that Mashallah was originally from Khorasan. [Donald R. Hill. "Islamic Science and Engineering", 1994. p10. ISBN 0-7486-0457-X]

Of his over 20 works, few remain. Only one of his writings is still extant in its original Arabic [David Pingree: "Māshā'allāh: Greek, Pahlavī, Arabic, and Latin Astrology", in Perspectives arabes et médiévales sur la tradition scientifique et philosophique grecque. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 79. Leuven-Paris 1997. 123-136.] , but there are many medieval Latin [Lynn Thorndike: "The Latin Translations of Astrological Works by Messahala", Osiris 12 (1956), 49-72.] , Byzantine Greek [David Pingree: "The Byzantine Translations of Māshā'allāh on Interrogational Astrology", in The Occult Sciences in Byzantium. Ed. Paul Magdalino, Maria V. Mavroudi. Geneva 2006. 231-243.] [David Pingree: "From Alexandria to Baghdād to Byzantium: The Transmission of Astrology", International Journal of the Classical Tradition, Summer 2001, 3-37.] and Hebrew translations. One of his most popular books in the Middle Ages was the "De scientia motus orbis", translated by Gherardo Cremonese. Mashallah's treatise "De mercibus" ("On Prices") is the oldest extant scientific work in Arabic. [Durant, Will (1950). "The Age of Faith: A History of Medieval Civilization - Christian, Islamic, and Judaic - from Constantine to Dante A.D. 325-1300", p. 403. New York: Simon and Schuster]

He also wrote treatises on Astrolabes [ (p 10)] . The "De scientia motus orbis" is probably the treatise called in Arabic "the twenty-seventh," printed in Nuremberg in 1501, 1549. The second edition, "De elementis et orbibus coelestibus", contains 27 chapters. The "De compositione et utilitate astrolabii" was included in Gregor Reisch: "Margarita phylosophica" (ed. pr., Freiburg, 1503; Suter says the text is included in the Basel edition of 1583). Other astronomical and astrological writings are quoted by Suter and Steinsehneider.

An Irish astronomical tract also exists based in part on a medieval Latin version. Edited with preface, translation, and glossary, by Afaula Power (Irish Texts Society, vol. 14, 194 p., 1914). The notable 12th century scholar and astrologer Abraham ibn Ezra translated two of Mashallah's astrological treatises into Hebrew: "She'elot" and "Ḳadrut" (Steinschneider, "Hebr. Uebers." pp. 600-603). One work is available in English: "On Reception," translated by Robert Hand [Robert Hand [translator] . "On Reception" by Masha'allah. ARHAT (Archive for the Retrieval of Historical Astrological Texts), 1998. [] ] from the Latin edition by Joachim Heller of Nuremberg in 1549.


* "De cogitatione"
* "Epistola in rebus eclipsis"
* "De revolutionibus annorum mundi"
* "De significationibus planetarum in nativitate"
* "Liber receptioni"



* [ Jewish Encyclopedia - Mashallah]
*James Holden, "A History of Horoscopic Astrology", American Federation of Astrologers, Tempe, AZ, 1996. ISBN 0-86690-463-8 Pgs. 104-107

*"An Irish Astronomical Tract" translates by unknow, Two-thirds of the tract are part paraphrase and part translation of a Latin version of an Arabic treatise by Messahalah. University College of Cork in Ireland (Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh)

* [ "An Irish Astronomical Tract"]

ee also

*List of Iranian scientists
*Jewish views of astrology
*Arab and Persian astrology

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