Division for the History of Science and Technology (IUHPST)

Division of History of Science and Technology

Obituary Professor S. M. Razaullah Ansari

Obituary written by Syed Zillur Rahman

It is sad to inform you all that Professor S. M. Razaullah Ansari has recently died after a brief illness. He was admitted in the hospital after an attack of myocardial infarction (MI) and died on the night of 24 February 2023.

Dr. Ansari was a well-known historian of science, physicist, astronomer and author from India. He was born in Delhi on April 8, 1932 and did his B.Sc. (Honours) in 1953 and M.Sc. in Physics in 1955 from the Delhi University. He secured a research fellowship of Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Bonn, Germany) in 1959 and worked at the Institute of Theoretical Physics. Later on, he was shifted to Eberhard Karl University at Tübingen (Germany), from where he completed his D.Sc. (Dr. rer. nat.) in 1966 in Mathematical Physics. During his sojourn in Germany, he also specialized in the history of exact science in India and Islamic countries. He researched during 1966–1969 as a research scholar/associate of the German Council of Research in various capacities.

In 1969, he was invited by the Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh to join the Physics Department as a Reader in theoretical physics. There he established a research group of astrophysics. His astrophysical work in Solar physics and Interstellar Matter was recognized both nationally and internationally by his election as a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (UK) in 1972 and as a Member of International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 1973. Besides joining IAU Commissions of his specialty, Ansari also joined IAU Commission 41 (History of Astronomy) in which he became so active that he was elected as its Vice-president for 1991–1994, and President for 1994–1997. Ansari was the first Indian/Asian President of Commission 41 since its inception. He authored and edited a few books, specially on topics like Zij, Avempace, Qotb al-Din Shirazi.

He was associated with many learned societies. In Aligarh, he assisted me in establishing the Ibn Sina Academy of Medieval Medicine and Sciences, of which he remained the secretary till his last breath. He edited 88 issues of the Newsletter of Ibn Sina Academy (NISA).

He left behind his wife and four children.

To know more about Prof. Ansari and his work, please visit https://razaullahansari.com/