His journeys took him to most of the Persian provinces, Armenia , Georgia and other regions of the Caspian Sea ; as well as to Arabia , Syria and Egypt. He also travelled to the Indus Valley , and other parts of India, especially the western coast; and he voyaged more than once to East Africa. Little is known of his means and funding of his extensive travels within and beyond the lands of Islam, and it has been speculated that like many travelers he may have been involved in trade. The author of this work compares himself to a man who, having found pearls of all kinds and colours, gathers them together into a necklace and makes them into an ornament that its possessor guards with great care. My aim has been to trace the lands and the histories of many peoples, and I have no other.

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Edit Al-Masudi tells us that he was born in Baghdad. He was a descendant of Abdallah Ibn Masud, a companion of Muhammad. However, we know little else about his early years. He mentions his association with many scholars in the lands through which he travelled. However, most of what we know of him comes from the internal evidence of his own works.

He also travelled to the Indus Valley, and other parts of India, especially the western coast; and he voyaged more than once to East Africa.

Lunde and Stone in the introduction to their English translation p. In Syria al-Masudi met the renowned Leo of Tripoli.

Leo was a Byzantine admiral who converted to Islam. From him the historian received much of his information about Byzantium. He spent his last years in Syria and Egypt. We know little for sure about how he supported himself during such extensive travels within and beyond the lands of Islam. Lunde and Stone speculate that like many travellers he may have been involved in trade.

This seems to have been an encyclopaedic world history, taking in not only political history but also many facets of human knowledge and activity. A manuscript of one volume of this work is said to be preserved in Vienna; if this manuscript is genuine, it is all that has remained of the work.

A manuscript in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, may possibly be one volume of it. The work is in chapters.

While it often makes interesting reading because of its vivid description and entertaining anecdotes, this part of the book is superficial.

It is seldom read now, as much better accounts can be found elsewhere, particularly in the writings of Muhammad. Shboul pp. The extant version is only an earlier draft from , not the revised edition. Lunde and Stone note that al-Masudi in his Tanbih states that the revised edition of the Meadows of Gold contained chapters.

The prevalence of books and their low price was the result of the introduction of paper to the Islamic world by Chinese papermakers captured at the Battle of Talas in Very soon afterwards there were paper mills in most large towns and cities. The introduction of paper coincided with the coming to power of the Abbasid dynasty, and there is no doubt that the availability of cheap writing material contributed to the growth of the Abbasid bureaucracy, postal system and lively intellectual life" p.

They note that Masudi often encourages his readers to consult other books he has written, expecting these to be accessible to his readership. They also note the stark contrast between contemporary European conditions confronting say the author of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and this highly literate Islamic world.

Ahmad Shboul p. This enabled the society of the day to manifest a knowledge seeking, perceptive and analytical attitude. There was a natural association of scholarly minded people in this highly civilized atmosphere, and al-Masoudi very much took part in this energizing activity. Al-Masudi was a pupil or junior colleague of a number of prominent Iraqi intellectuals, including the philologists al-Zajjaj, ibn Durayd, Niftawayh and ibn Anbari.

He was acquainted with famous poets, including Kashajim, whom he probably met in Aleppo. He was well read in philosophy, knowing the works of al-Kindi and al-Razi, the Aristotelian thought of al-Farabi and Platonic writings. In addition he was familiar with the medical work of Galen, with Ptolemaic astronomy, with the geographical work of Marinus and with the studies of Islamic geographers and astronomers. He indicates training in jurisprudence. He met a number of influential jurists and was aware of the work of others.

He met Zahirites in Baghdad and Aleppo. These include ibn Jabir and Niftawayh. However, Shboul points out that his extant works do not specifically state that he was. Al-Masudi and pre-Islamic history Edit The first half of Muruj is of enormous value, although somewhat sprawling and confused in its design. It starts with the creation of the world and Jewish history. Among particularly interesting sections are those on pearl diving in the Persian Gulf, amber found in East Africa, Hindu burial customs, the land route to China, and navigation, with its various hazards, such as storms and waterspouts.

The relative positions and characteristics of the seas are also explained. Al-Masudi included the history of the ancient civilizations that had occupied the land upon which Islam later spread.

He mentioned the Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians and Persians among others. Persia was a vast empire with a history ancient before the arrival of Islam. He had access to the harvest of translations, by such as ibn al-Muqaffa, into Arabic from Pahlavi. He also in his travels personally consulted Persian scholars and Zoroastrian priests. He thus had access to much material, factual and mythical. As all Arabic historians he was unclear on the Achaemenid dynasty, though he knew of Kurush, Cyrus the Great.

His wide ranging interest included the Greeks and the Romans. Again, as all Arabic historians, he was unclear on Greece before the Macedonian dynasty that produced Alexander the Great. He is aware that there were kings before this, but is unclear on their names and reigns. He also seems unfamiliar with such additional aspects of Greek political life as Athenian democratic institutions. The same situation holds for Rome prior to Caesar. He is, though, the earliest extant Arabic author to mention the founding myth of Romulus and Remus.

He was aware of the progression of Greek philosophy from the pre-Socratics onward. He also was keenly interested in the earlier events of the Arabian peninsula. He knew this had a long history. He was well-aware of the mixture of interesting facts in pre-Islamic times, in myths and controversial details from competing tribes and even referred to the similarity between some of this material and the legendary and story telling contributions of some Pahlavi and Indian books to the Thousand and One Nights.

Al-Masudi and lands beyond Islam Edit Shboul notes that al-Masudi is distinguished above his contemporaries for the extent of his interest in and coverage of the non-Islamic lands and peoples of his day. Other authors, even Christians writing in Arabic in the Caliphate, had less to say about the Byzantine Empire than al-Masudi. He also described the geography of many lands beyond the Caliphate, as well as the customs and religious beliefs of many peoples.

His normal inquiries of travellers and extensive reading of previous writers were supplemented in the case of India with his personal experiences in the western part of the subcontinent. He demonstrates a deep understanding of historical change, tracing current conditions to the unfolding of events over generations and centuries. He perceived the significance of interstate relations and of the interaction of Muslims and Hindus in the various states of the subcontinent.

He described previous rulers in China, underlined the importance of the revolt by Huang Chao in the late Tang dynasty, and mentioned, though less detailed than for India, Chinese beliefs. His brief portrayal of Southeast Asia stands out for its degree of accuracy and clarity. He conveyed the great diversity of Turkic peoples, including the distinction between sedentary and nomadic Turks.

He spoke of the significance of the Khazars and provided much fresh material on them. Again, while he may have read such earlier Arabic authors as ibn Khurradad, ibn al-Faqih, ibn Rusta and ibn Fadlan, al-Masudi presented most of his material based on his personal observations and contacts made while travelling.

He informed the Arabic reader that the Rus are more than some traders. They are a diverse and varied collection of peoples. He noted their independent attitude, the absence of a strong central authority among them, and their paganism. He was very well informed on Rus trade with the Byzantines and on the competence of the Rus in sailing merchant vessels and warships.

He was aware that the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea are two separate bodies of water. Al-Masudi was very well informed about Byzantine affairs, even internal political events and the unfolding of palace coups.

He recorded the effect of westward migration upon the Byzantines, especially the invading Bulgars. He spoke of Byzantine relations with western Europe. And, of course, he was attentively interested in Byzantine-Islamic relations. He has some knowledge of other peoples of eastern and western Europe, even far away Britain. He names it, though he is sketchy about it. He knows Paris as the Frankish capital.

He obtained a copy of a list of Frankish rulers from Clovis to his own time. He was well aware of peoples in the eastern portion of the continent mentioning interesting details of the Zanj, for example.

He described the relations of African states with each other and with Islam. He provided material on the cultures and beliefs of non Islamic Africans. In general his surviving works reveal an intensely curious mind, a universalist eagerly acquiring as extensive a background of the entire world as possible.

The geographical range of his material and the reach of his ever inquiring spirit is truly impressive. This is in the form of more than two hundred passages, many of these containing amusing and informative anecdotes.

The very first one recounts the meeting of al-Mansur and a blind poet unaware of the identity of his distinguished interlocutor. The poet on two separate occasions recites praise poems for the defeated Umayyads to the Abbasid caliph; al-Mansur good naturedly rewards him. There is the tale p. There is the story of the singer Harun al-Rashid asks to keep singing until the caliph falls asleep. On awakening Harun is told of this and suggests his singer had a supernatural visitation.

Al-Masudi quotes the lines five in English of this remarkable song. These anecdotes provide glimpses of other aspects of these prominent people, sharing, actually, greater realization of their humanity and the human concerns of their officials and ordinary subjects. A dozen leading thinkers provide their definition of love and then a thirteenth, a Magian judge, speaks at greater length on that theme.

Moreover, he utilized information obtained from sources not previously regarded as reliable.



He was not content to learn merely from books and teachers but traveled widely to gain firsthand knowledge of the countries about which he wrote. The titles of more than 20 books attributed to him are known, including several about Islamic beliefs and sects and even one about poisons , but most of his writings have been lost. This seems to have been an encyclopaedic world history, taking in not only political history but also many facets of human knowledge and activity. A manuscript of one volume of this work is said to be preserved in Vienna; if this manuscript is genuine, it is all that remains of the work. A manuscript in the Bodleian Library , Oxford, may possibly be one volume of it.



The history of this challenge and the aftermath of ensuing battles has defined the intellectual landscape of Islam until modern times. An understanding of the political, economic and intellectual milieu surrounding him is helpful in appreciating his time and his work. At the turn of the ninth century, the Islamic world extended from Spainto the borders of India, but it was like a giant banyan tree decaying from within. The Abbasid Caliphs in Baghdad had lost their hold on vast territories.


From the Meadows of Gold

Digami In addition the book is unique in medieval Islamic history for its interest in other cultures and religions as scientific and cultural curiosities. Umm Salama emigrated to Abyssinia with her first husband Abu Salama as part of the early sacred migration hijra. No other nation can compare with meadow in any craft whatsoever. This is in the form of more than two hundred passages, many of these containing amusing and informative anecdotes. Amazon Music Stream millions of songs. Furthermore, according to a sound hadith: Views Read Edit View history. Newer Post Older Post Home.



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