His full name is Ala Al-Din Abu’I-Hasan Ali ibn Ibrahim ibn al-Shatir. He was a scientist from Damascus who was an expert in astronomy who was born in 1304 AD and died in 1375 AD He was an Arab Muslim astronomer, mathematician, mechanical engineer and inventor. He is also one of the new astronomers who led humans to a new picture of the universe. More than that, he has also succeeded in paving the way for the growth of the seeds of civilization in the outer space era as we know it in modern times as it is today. As has been commonly known by the public. Western civilization often claims Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 – 543 AD) as the originator of the theory of heliocentrism or the sun as the center of the solar system. However, historians of astronomy discovered the fact that the mathematical ideas in Copernicus’s book ‘De Revolutionibus’ had something in common with a book that was written a hundred years earlier by an Arab Muslim scientist named Ibn AI-Shatir. The book which became the reference for Copernicus itself is entitled The Book of Nihayat Al-Sul Fi Tashih al-Usul. It can be concluded that al-Shatir’s thought had influenced Copernicus’s thought.
Ibn Al-Shatir then overhauled the geocentric theory which was coined by Claudius Ptolemy or Ptolemy (90 BC – 168 BC). Mathematically, al-Shatir has introduced the existence of a complicated epicycle (circle in a circle system). Al-Shatir has also tried to explain how the planet Mercury moves if the earth becomes the center of the universe and if Mercury moves around the earth. Ibn al-Shatir’s model of Mercury’s form shows the multiplication pattern of epicycle using the Tusi-Couple which criticizes Ptolemy’s theory more or less.
George Saliba in his work entitled A History of Arabic Astronomy: Planetary Theories During the Golden Age of Islam, said that the Book of Nihayat Al-Sul Fi Tashih al-Usul is the most important astronomical treatise of Ibn Al-Shatir. In the book, he drastically reforms the model of the sun, moon and planets in the Ptolemaic system. By introducing his own non-Ptolemaic model that eliminates epicycle in the solar model, which eliminates the notion of eccentric and equant positions, the model of Ibn al-Shatir’s geocentric solar system is the first truly superior work beyond the Ptolemaic solar system because this model is better and according to empirical observations.
Ibn al-Shatir also succeeded in separating philosophy from astronomy and rejecting the Ptolemic empirical model compared to basic philosophy. Unlike previous astronomers, Ibn al-Shatir did not really care about maintaining the principle theory of cosmology or natural philosophy (or Aristotelian physics). He prefers to produce a model that is more consistent with empirical observations. The model itself is much better in accordance with empirical observations than the models produced before.
Saliba also added that Ibn al-Shatir’s work was an important work in astronomy, which could be considered a “scientific revolution before the Renaissance”.
Ibn al-Shatir was also the first astronomer to introduce experiments in planetary theory to empirically test the basic model of the Ptolemaic solar system. When examining the Ptolemaic model, Ibn al-Shacir described “Test of Ptolemaic Values” regarding the shape and size of the sun using observations during a lunar eclipse. Thus, it is possible that the model of Ibn al-Shatir had been adapted by Copernicus to compile his heliocentric solar system.