In the 10th century AD, an Arab woman in Syria made astrolabes so innovate that she was employed by the ruler. Her designs were far superior to others in her trade due to the intricate details, which made her instruments more accurate to use.
An astrolabe is an tool used to determine the position of the sun and the planets, historically in the fields of astronomy, astrology, and horoscopes. Muslims at that time in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) also used it to find the Qibla, the direction of Mecca for daily prayers, and to determine the starting days of their lunar calendar.
Her name was Mariam al-Astrulabi or Al-‘Ijliyah bint al-‘Ijli al-Asturlabi (In Arabic it is written as العجلية بنت العجلي الأسطرلابي).
On November 14th, 2016, the main-belt asteroid 7060 Al-‘Ijliya, discovered by Henry E. Holt at Palomar Observatory in 1990, was named in her honor.
Traditionally, the quest for knowledge has always been elevated in the MENA region, with Arab women having graduation rates higher then their female counterparts in the Western world. For example, in Bahrain, 74% of graduates in science were women, while in the US, it was only 43%. If you follow this blog, you’ll remember that I wrote about the very first university in the world that was invented by an Arab woman, Fatima Al-Fihriyya.
It is then no surprise to learn that Mariam’s father was an apprentice to a famous astrolabe maker, who encouraged her to learn the trade.
In our own family I see this with my husband, who has a passion for building robots and rockets. He has taken his skills and coached two of our three daughters in robotics leagues the last three years. I’m sure he’s also looking forward to teaching our youngest when she enters Middle School. It’s wonderful to see his love of engineering and math being passed on to them.
I hoped you enjoyed learning about Mariam al-Astrulab. Stop by my 99 Arab American Women post to learn about Arab American women making strives in science. To learn about other women in history, visit the Multicultural Kid Blog series on Women’s History Month.
Join us for our annual Women’s History Month series, celebrating the contributions and accomplishments of women around the world. Follow along all month plus link up your own posts below! Don’t miss our series from 2016 and 2015, and find even more posts on our Women’s History board on Pinterest:
modernmami on Multicultural Kid Blogs: 3 Reasons Why We Celebrate Women’s History Month
The Jenny Evolution: More Children’s Books About Amazing Women
Colours of Us: 32 Multicultural Picture Books About Strong Female Role Models
A Crafty Arab
MommyMaestra on Multicultural Kid Blogs
Crafty Moms Share
Bookworms and Owls
Creative World of Varya
La Cité des Vents on Multicultural Kid Blogs
Pura Vida Moms
Melibelle in Tokyo
All Done Monkey
Family in Finland
the piri-piri lexicon
Let the Journey Begin