Al Idrisi

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Al Idrisi (1099–1166) or Abu Abd Allah Muhammad al-Idrisi al-Qurtubi al-Hasani al-Sabti (Arabic: أبو عبد الله محمد الإدريسي القرطبي الحسني السبتي‎; Latin: Dreses) was a Muslim geographer, cartographer, Egyptologist and traveller who lived in Sicily, at the court of King Roger II.

Muhammed al-Idrisi was born in Ceuta, then belonging to the Moroccan Almoravids, and died in Sicily. Al Idrisi was a descendant of the Idrisids, who in turn were descendants of Hasan bin Ali, the son of Ali and the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.[1]

Early life

Al-Idrisi was born into the large Hammudid family of North Africa and Al-Andalus, which claimed descent from the Idrisids of Morocco and ultimately the prophet Muhammad.[2]

Al-Idrisi was born in the city of Ceuta, where his great-grandfather had been forced to settle after the fall of Hammudid Malaga to the Zirids of Granada.[3] He spent much of his early life travelling through North Africa and Al-Andalus and seems to have acquired detailed information on both regions. He visited Anatolia when he was barely 16. He is known to have studied in Córdoba

His travels

Apparently his travels took him to many parts of Europe including Portugal, the Pyrenees, the French Atlantic coast, Hungary, and Jórvík also known as York, in England.

Al-Idrisi inspired Islamic geographers such as Ibn Battuta, Ibn Khaldun and Piri Reis. His map also inspired Christopher Columbus and Vasco Da Gama.

Description of Chinese trade: Al-Idrisi mentioned that Chinese Junks carried leather, swords, Iron and Silk. He mentions the glassware of the city of Hangzhou and labels Quanzhou's silk as the best.[4]

Introduction to Al Idrisi by Sir H. M. Elliot

Sir H. M. Elliot[5] writes that ABÚ 'ABDU-LLAH MUHAMMAD was born at Ceuta, in Morocco, towards the end of the 11th century. He was member of a family which descended from an ancestor named Idrís, and so came to be known by the name of Al Idrísí. This family furnished a line of princes for Morocco in the 9th and 10th centuries, and the branch from which Idrísí sprung ruled over the city of Malaga. Idrísí travelled in Europe, and eventually settled in Sicily at the court of Roger II. It was at the instance of this prince that he wrote his book on geography.

Source: He cites in his preface the various authors whose works he had employed in the compilation of the book. Further information was derived from travellers, whose verbal statements he compared and tested; and M. Reinaud quotes the Biographical Dictionary of Khalílu-s Safadí to the effect that men of intelligence were specially commissioned to travel and collect information for his use. The full title of the work is, Nuzhatu-l Mushták fi Ikhtiráku-l Áfák, "The Delight of those who seek to wander through the regions of the world."

Jat History

  • Al Idrisi mentions that The greatest king of India is the Balhará, which signifies "king of kings." After him comes the Makamkam, whose country is Sáj. Next the king of Sáfan or Tában, then the king of Jába, then the king of Juzr, and then the king of Kámrún, whose states touch China.[6]
  • Mámhal is situated between Sind and India. Upon the confines of the desert just mentioned there dwells a hardy race called Mand (Med). They graze their flocks to within a short distance of Mámhal. These people are numerous. They have many horses and camels, and they extend their incursions as far as Dur (Alor) upon the banks of the Mihrán, and sometimes they penetrate even as far as the frontiers of Makrán. [7]


  1. Encyclopædia Britannica Online
  2. Pierre Herman Leonard Eggermont (1 January 1975). Alexander's Campaigns in Sind and Baluchistan and the Siege of the Brahmin Town of Harmatelia. Peeters Publishers. pp. 7–. ISBN 978-90-6186-037-2.
  3. Helaine Selin (16 April 2008). Encyclopaedia of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Non-Western Cultures. Springer. pp. 128–. ISBN 978-1-4020-4559-2.
  5. The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians/VIII. Al Idrísí,pp.74-75
  6. Sir H. M. Elliot: The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians/VIII. Al Idrísí,pp.75-76
  7. Sir H. M. Elliot: The History of India, as Told by Its Own Historians/VIII. Al Idrísí,pp.79

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