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Hasan Tahsini

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Title: Hasan Tahsini  
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Hasan Tahsini

Hasan Tahsini
Born 1811
Filiates, Ottoman Empire
Died 1881
Istanbul, Ottoman Empire
Residence Preveza, Shkodër, Paris, Istanbul
Nationality Albanian
Fields astronomy, psychology
Alma mater University of Paris
Influenced Jamal-al-Din Afghani, Abdülhak Hâmid Tarhan

Hasan Tahsini (1811 – 1881) also known as Hoxha Tahsin was an Albanian astronomer, mathematician and philosopher. He was the first rector of Istanbul University and one of the founders of the Central Committee for Defending Albanian Rights. Tahsini is regarded as one of the most prominent scholars of the Ottoman Empire of the 19th century.[1]

Early life

Hasan Tahsini was born in 1811 in the village of Ninat, Sarandë District (then part of the Ottoman Empire).[2] His father Osman Efendi Rushiti was a member of the ulama. When he was young he worked as tutor to the sons of Hayrullah Efendi, Minister of Education of the Ottoman Empire. Hayrullah Efendi later appointed Tahsini to the staff of the Ottoman school of Paris, where Tahsini taught Turkish and religious sciences, while also being the imam of the Ottoman embassy and a student of mathematics and natural sciences at the University of Paris.[3] He studied in Paris for twelve years after being sent there by Resid Pasha, who was trying to create a Westernized ulama elite. In 1869 Tahsini returned in the Ottoman Empire to accompany the body of Fuad Pasha who had died in Nice.

Istanbul University

In 1870 he became the first rector of the newly established Istanbul University, where he gave lectures on physics, astronomy and psychology. The government appointed Tahsini as rector as it was believed that he could establish a balance between western European and Islamic methods and ideologies.[4] However, at that time Tahsini's scientific research, unreserved liberalism and alleged relations to freemasonry led to him being frequently attacked by conservative ulama circles[3] The attacks against Tahsini began when he conducted experiments in order to illustrate the notion of vacuum to his students.[5] Tahsini placed a pigeon underneath a glass bell, emptied the receptacle and the pigeon eventually suffocated proving Tahsini's theory. The conservative circles considered Tahsini's experiment as evidence of witchcraft and performance of magic.[5] After the experiment he was declared a heretic through a fatwa, dismissed from the university, and disallowed to give lectures.[5] The university was also closed for a period because Jamal-al-Din Afghani, another professor influenced by Tahsini, supported his theories.[5]


Tahsini wrote the first Turkish language treatise on psychology titled Psychology or the Science of Soul, a work influenced by modernism and the first book whose title contained the word psychology.[3][6] He also wrote the first Turkish-language book on modern astronomy being also the first popular science book in Turkish.[3] Other works of Tahsini in the Turkish language include a translation of Constantin François de Chassebœuf's Loi Naturelle.[3] Along with Sami Frasheri, one of the most important figures of the Albanian National Awakening he developed a unique alphabet of the Albanian language.[2] According to Tahsini the alphabet was developed in such way that each letter required the least hand movements to be written.
Tahsini was a prominent member of the Central Committee for Defending Albanian Rights established in Istambul, 1877.[7]


  1. ^ Tziovas, Demetres (2003). Greece and the Balkans: identities, perceptions and cultural encounters since the Enlightenment. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 63.  
  2. ^ a b Gawrych, George (2006). The crescent and the eagle: Ottoman rule, Islam and the Albanians, 1874-1913. I.B.Tauris. p. 184.  
  3. ^ a b c d e Keddie, Nikki (1972). Scholars, saints, and Sufis: Muslim religious institutions in the Middle East since 1500.  
  4. ^ İhsanoğlu, Ekmeleddin (April 2004). Science, technology, and learning in the Ottoman Empire: Western influence, local institutions, and the transfer of knowledge. Ashgate/Variorum. p. 44.  
  5. ^ a b c d Mardin, Şerif (2000). The genesis of young Ottoman thought: a study in the modernization of Turkish political ideas. Syracuse University Press. p. 223.  
  6. ^ Shouksmith, George (1990). Psychology in Asia and the Pacific: status reports on teaching and research in eleven countries. Unesco Principal Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. p. 10. 
  7. ^ Elsie, Robert (January 2006). Albanian literature: a short history. I. B.Tauris & Company, Limited. pp. 75–76.  
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