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ancient astronomy at the law school:
All over the internets one can find this claim uncritically repeated:
The ulama at the Islamic university of Al-Azhar in Cairo taught the Ptolemaic astronomical system (in which the sun circles the earth) until compelled to adopt the Copernican system by the Egyptian government in 1961.
It's usually attributed to Daniel Pipes, In the Path of God, p.113, if at all. It's actually on page 112, "Thus did 'ulama at the Islamic university of al-Azhar in Cairo go on teaching Ptolemaic astronomical system (in which the sun circles the earth) until compelled to adopt the Copernican system by the Egyptian government in 1961", thrown out there, as, it seems, the rest of the book, without any reference or footnote, presumably from Pipes' ass, like much the rest of his work on the general topic.
This is a very strange claim, to start with, since Muslim astronomers like al-Farghani improved on Ptolemy by 850, rejected Ptolemy by 1028, and completed much or all of Copernicus' mathematical model of the heavens decades before Copernicus, and, as I understand it, properly understood to have surpassed Copernicus by actually offering an iota of evidence of the earth's movement, rather than merely asserting it, in the fashion that the comet of 1577 etc. influenced the heliocentrism of Mastlin and Kepler. Observing comets passing through supposed celestial spheres without refraction would, presumably, call into doubt their substance, and suggest that one might organize the heavens in whatever manner still accords to the observed geometry. In any case, the earth's movement remained in doubt enough that it was still being confirmed at Harvard as late as 1903, having only been experimentally demonstrated in 1851.
In so far as I can find any independent confirmation of Pipes' assertion that al-Azhar was so backwards that it was still teaching astronomy that had been in part overturned at al-Azhar many centuries prior to 1961, a contemporaneous account of instruction, written that year, Al-Azhar, A Millennium of Muslim Learning, has appendices on the curriculum prior to Nasser's secular reform of the school. It was by that time a seminary and legal school and little else. The totality of its offerings in astronomy were 2 lecture hours a week in the first year of the law school, which is to say that at the time of the reforms al-Azhar didn't, in any meaningful way, teach astronomy at all.