|Biographical detail : ||Historian, traveller and geographer.
Al-Masu’di was a Mutazilite Arab who explored distant lands – to Syria, Iran, India, Ceylon, Indo-China and China, and proceeded via Madagascar, Zanzibar and Oman to Basra and here he completed his Muruj al-Thahab wa Maadin al Jawahir (The Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems), the book that made him famous.
Al-Masu’di has described in his book in a most absorbing manner his experiences of various countries, its peoples and their climates and his personal contacts with the Jews, Iranians, Indians and Christians. The book was completed in 947.
From Basra al-Masu’di moved to Syria and from there to Cairo, where he wrote his second extensive book Muruj al-Zaman in thirty volumes. In this book he has described in detail the geography and history of the countries that he had visited. Only one volume out of thirty is preserved in Vienna.
Al-Masu’di also prepared a supplement, called ‘Kitab al-Ausat’ in which he compiled historical events chronologically and this last book was completed the year when he died. This book is preserved at the Bodlein Library, Oxford.
In the last years of his life, he wrote ‘Kitab al-Tanbih wa al-Ishraf’ in which he has given a summary of his earlier book as well as an errata. Furthermore, he made a systematic study of history against a perspective of geography, sociology, anthropology and ecology.
Al-Masu’di’s scientific and analytical approach gives an account of the causes of the earthquake of 955 and the discussions of the water of the Red Sea. He is the first author to make mention of windmills, which were invented by the Muslims of Sijistan.
Al-Masu’di whose full name was Abul Hasan Ali Ibn Husain Ibn Ali al-Masu’di was born in Baghdad, settled in Damascus in 945 and died at Cairo.