ʿALĪ QŪŠJĪ (QŪŠJŪ), ʿALĀʾ-AL-DĪN ʿALĪ MOḤAMMAD, theologian and scientist (d. 879/1474). His father was falconer (qūščī) for the Timurid prince Uluḡ Beg.

i. Life and Theological Works

ii. Works on the Exact Sciences


i. Life and Theological Works

His early education was in Samarqand, where he seems to have specialized in mathematics and astronomy under Qāżī-zāda Rūmī and Uluḡ Beg. He then quietly moved to Kermān, where he studied with several ʿolamāʾ and wrote a commentary (later known as al-Šarḥ al-ǰadīd) on the famous theological work of Ḵᵛāǰa Naṣīr-al-dīn Ṭūsī, al-Taǰrīd. Upon his return to Samarqand, he justified his prolonged absence to Uluḡ Beg by saying that he had gone to acquire additional learning; he also presented him with Resāla fī ḥall aškāl al-qamar, concerning the problems of the moon’s motion. When Uluḡ Beg constructed his famous observatory at Samarqand, Qūšǰī succeeded his teacher and father-in-law Qāżī-zāda as its director. After a great deal of painstaking astronomical observation, he produced, most probably with Uluḡ Beg’s cooperation, the “Zīǰ of Uluḡ Beg,” known also as Zīǰ-e Gūrakānī.

After Uluḡ Beg’s assassination (853/1449), his successor was unwilling to support scholars and scientists at Samarqand and Qūšǰī left, apparently with the purpose of performing the pilgrimage to Mecca. On reaching Tabrīz, he was warmly and generously welcomed by the Āq Qoyunlū ruler Uzun Ḥasan, who is said to have bestowed generous gifts upon him and to have requested him to undertake an ambassadorial mission to Istanbul. His reception in Istanbul was even warmer and Sultan Moḥammad II the Conqueror asked him to stay. After completing his mission in Tabrīz, he returned to Istanbul and presented the sultan with a treatise named Moḥammadīya in his honor. In Istanbul he was appointed professor of natural sciences in the madrasa of Aya Sofīa at two hundred aqčas per day; his sons, relatives, and nearly two hundred companions were also given appropriate appointments. During Sultan Moḥammad’s military campaign against Uzun Ḥasan, Qūšǰī accompanied the Sultan and composed a treatise in commemoration of the Sultan’s victory, al-Fatḥīya. Through his pupils and commentators, Qūšǰī left important and enduring influence in Turkey.

In his al-Šaqāʾeq al-noʿmānīya, Tašköprülü-zāda graphically describes how, on his arrival in Turkey, Qūšǰī was welcomed enthusiastically by the Ottoman ʿolamāʾ. The then qāżī of Istanbul, Moṣleḥ-al-dīn Moṣṭafā, known as Ḵᵛāǰa-zāda, held a long meeting with him during which topics such as the relative scholarly merits of Saʿd-al-dīn Taftāzānī (d. 792/1390) and Mīr Sayyed Šarīf Jorǰānī (d. 816/1414) were discussed. Qūšǰī defended the former, while the qāżī took the side of Jorǰānī; upon reading a work by the qāżī on the relative merits of the two, Qūšǰī was converted to the qāżī’s view. Later Qūšǰī gave his daughter in marriage to the qāżī’s son, while his own maternal grandson, Qoṭb-al-dīn, married Qāżī-zāda’s daughter. ʿAlī died in Istanbul; his magnificent tombstone is in the graveyard of Ayyūb Anṣārī.

Among ʿAlī’s major works are the following: The commentary on Ṭūsī’s Taǰrīd referred to above; this work, which was studied in Ottoman madrasas, criticizes Ṭūsī’s specifically Shiʿite doctrines, like the necessity for the imamate; Qūšǰī’s arguments were noted by later Shiʿite commentators. A commentary on the Resāla fi’l-ʿaqāʾed of ʿAżod-al-dīn-Ījī. A commentary on Jorǰānī’s super-commentary on Qoṭb-al-dīn Rāzī’s commentary on the famous work on logic titled Maṭāleʿ al-anwār. A partial commentary on the Koran. Commentaries in Persian on Ebn Ḥāǰeb’s al-Kāfīa and al-Šāfīa on syntax and grammar.


Tašköprülü-zāda, al-Šaqāʾeq al-noʿmānīya, pp. 180-84.

A. Ünver, Āli Qushje, Hayatı ve Eserleri, Istanbul, 1948.

W. Barthold, Ulugh Beg und seine Zeit, Leipzig, 1935, pp. 164-67.

A. Adnan Adivar, La science chez les Turcs Ottomans, Paris, 1939, p. 33.

Idem, Osmanlı Türklerinde Ilim, Istanbul, 1943, pp. 32-35.

Abū Bakr Tehrānī, Tārīḵ-eDīārbakrīya, Ankara, 1962-64, p. 564.

Kašf al-ẓonūn III, pp. 430-31.

(F. Rahman)

ii. Works on the Exact Sciences

Resāla fī ḥall aškāl al-qamr (“Epistle on the shapes of the moon”) (Kašf al-ẓonūn III, pp. 430-31). An extant commentary on the Zīǰ-e solṭānī of Uluḡ Beg, perhaps entitled Sollam al-samāʾ (“Ladder of heaven”) (Kašf al-ẓonūn III, p. 560; Storey, II, p. 70). Resāla dar ʿelm-e ḥesāb (“Epistle on the science of computation”), extant and published (Storey, II, pp. 9-10). The Arabic version is the extant al-Resālat al-Moḥammadīya dedicated to Sultan Moḥammad II (Kašf al-ẓonūn III, p. 438; Brockelmann, GAL II, p. 305, Supp. II, p. 330). Resāla dar hayʾa (“Epistle on astronomy”), extant and published (Storey, II, pp. 75-77). There are Turkish translations written by Sīdī ʿAlī in 956/1549 (the Ḵolāṣat al-hayʾa) and by Mollā Parvīz for the vizier Ebrāhīm Pasha in 987/1579-80 (the Merqāt al-samāʾ; Kašf al-ẓonūn III, p. 458); a Sanskrit version is embedded in the Hayatagrantha (D. Pingree, “Islamic Astronomy in Sanskrit,” Journal of the History of Arabic Science 2, 1978, pp. 315-30). The Arabic version is entitled al-Resāla fi’l-hayʾa or al-Resālat al-fatḥīya in honor, apparently, of Sultan Moḥammad II’s defeat of Uzun Ḥasan; extant (Kašf al-ẓonūn III, p. 458; Brockelmann, GAL II, p. 305, S. II, p. 330). Sharḥ al-toḥfat al-šāhīya fi’l-hayʾa (“Commentary on the "shah’s gift concerning astronomy" [by Qoṭb-al-dīn Šīrāzī],” extant (Brockelmann, GAL II, p. 274). Masarrat al-qolūb fī dafʿ al-korūb (“Delight of hearts in repelling grief”), on astronomy, lost (Kašf al-ẓonūn V, p. 528).

Bibliography: Given in the text.

(F. Rahman, D. Pingree)

Originally Published: December 15, 1985

Last Updated: August 1, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 8, pp. 876-877

Cite this entry:

F. Rahman, D. Pingree, “ʿALĪ QŪŠJĪ,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/8, pp. 876-877, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ali-qusji-qusju-ala-al-din-ali-mohammad-theologian-and-scientist-d(accessed on 30 December 2012).