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Al Idrisi

Birth:1099

Death:1166

The greatest geographer and cartographer of the Middle Ages. Idrisi spent much of his early life in travelling in north Africa, Spain, Portugal, France, Atlantic Coast and Southern England to gather geographical data -visited Asia Minor when he was only 16 years old. The Muslim geographers by his time had already made accurate measurements of the earth surface, and several maps of the whole world were available. Al-Idrisi combined this available knowledge to his own findings. It is for this comprehensive knowledge of all parts of the known world; he became famous and began to get the attention of European sea navigators and military planners. Al-Idrisi's fame and competence eventually led to the attention of Roger II, the Norman King of Sicily who, in 1145, invited him to produce an up-to-date world map for him. Al-Idrisi procured a ball of silver weighing approximately 400 kilograms and meticulously recorded on it the seven continents with trade routes, lakes and rivers, major cities, and plains and mountains. He also included such information as the distance, length and height as appropriate. His globe was accompanied by his book 'Al-Kitab al-Rujari' (Roger's Book). He also made a representation of the known world on a disc. Al-Idrisi was more popular in Europe. Christopher Columbus used the map, which was originally taken from al-Idrisi's work. Al-Idrisi's book 'Nuzhat al-Mushtaq fi Ikhtiraq al-Afaq' (The Delight of Him Who Desires to Journey Through The Climates) is a geographical encyclopaedia, which contains detailed maps and information on European countries, Africa and Asia. Later, he compiled a more comprehensive encyclopaedia, entitled 'Rawd-Unnas wa-Nuzhat al-Nafs' (Pleasure of Men and Delight of Souls). Al-Idrisi also made major contributions in the science of medicinal plants and wrote several books including 'Kitab al-Jami-li-Sifat Ashtat al-Nabatat' which is most popular. He contributed his material to the subject of botany with emphasis on medicinal plants. Al-Idrisi describes the names of the medicinal plants and associated drugs in several languages including Berber, Syriac, Persian, Hindi, Greek, and Latin. He also wrote on zoology and fauna. Al-Idrisi was born Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Ibn Idrisi As-Sharif in Ceuta, Spain. He is also known by his short name al-Sharif al-Idrisi al-Qurtubi.

Compiled by:M. Nauman Khan / Ghulam Mohiuddin

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