46 Facts About Al-Mas'udi


Al-Mas'udi was an Arab historian, geographer and traveler.

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Al-Mas'udi's 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.

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Al-Mas'udi travelled to the Indus Valley, and other parts of India, especially the western coast; and he voyaged more than once to East Africa.

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Al-Mas'udi sailed on the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, the Mediterranean and the Caspian.

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Al-Mas'udi presumably gathered information on Byzantium from the Byzantine admiral, Leo of Tripoli, a convert-to-Islam whom he met in Syria where his last years were divided between there and Egypt.

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Al-Mas'udi lived at a time when books were available and cheap.

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Al-Mas'udi often refers readers to his other books, assuming their availability.

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Al-Mas'udi was a pupil, or junior colleague, of a number of prominent intellectuals, including the philologists al-Zajjaj, ibn Duraid, Niftawayh and ibn Anbari.

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Al-Mas'udi was acquainted with famous poets, including Kashajim, whom he probably met in Aleppo.

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Al-Mas'udi was well-read in philosophy, the works of al-Kindi and al-Razi, the Aristotelian thought of al-Farabi and the Platonic writings.

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Al-Mas'udi 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.

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Al-Mas'udi mentions meeting a number of influential jurists and the work of others and indicates training in jurisprudence.

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Al-Mas'udi met Zahirites in Baghdad and Aleppo such as Ibn Jabir and Niftawayh; modern scholarship leans toward the view that Al-Mas'udi was an adherent of the latter school.

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Al-Mas'udi knew leading Mu'tazilites, including al-Jubba, al-Nawbakhti, ibn Abdak al-Jurjani and Abu'l Qasim al-Balkhi al-Ka'bi.

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Al-Mas'udi included the history of the ancient civilizations that had occupied the land upon which Islam later spread.

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Al-Mas'udi is the only Arab historian to refer to the kingdom of Urartu, when he speaks about the wars between the Assyrians (led by the legendary Queen Semiramis) and Armenians (led by Ara the Beautiful).

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Al-Mas'udi was aware of the influence of ancient Babylon on Persia.

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Al-Mas'udi had access to a wealth of translations by scholars such as ibn al-Muqaffa from Middle Persian into Arabic.

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Al-Mas'udi thus had access to much material, factual and mythical.

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Al-Mas'udi was much clearer on the more recent dynasties and his estimation of the time between Alexander the Great and Ardashir is much more accurately depicted than it is in al-Tabari.

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Al-Mas'udi is aware that there were kings before this, but is unclear on their names and reigns.

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Al-Mas'udi seems unfamiliar with such additional aspects of Greek political life as Athenian democratic institutions.

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Al-Mas'udi was aware of the progression of Greek philosophy from the pre-Socratics onward.

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Al-Mas'udi was keenly interested in the earlier events of the Arabian peninsula.

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Al-Mas'udi recognized that Arabia had a long and rich history.

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Al-Mas'udi 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 Middle Persian and Indian books to the Thousand and One Nights.

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Al-Mas'udi described the geography of many lands beyond the Abbasid Caliphate, as well as the customs and religious beliefs of many peoples.

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Al-Mas'udi perceived the significance of interstate relations and of the interaction of Muslims and Hindus in the various states of the subcontinent.

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Al-Mas'udi 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.

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Al-Mas'udi surveyed the vast areas inhabited by Turkic peoples, commenting on what had been the extensive authority of the Khaqan, though this was no longer the case by al-Mas'udi's time.

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Al-Mas'udi conveyed the great diversity of Turkic peoples, including the distinction between sedentary and nomadic Turks.

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Al-Mas'udi spoke of the significance of the Khazars and provided much fresh material on them.

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Al-Mas'udi's account of the Rus is an important early source for the study of Russian history and the history of Ukraine.

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Al-Mas'udi informed the Arabic reader that the Rus were more than just a few traders.

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Al-Mas'udi noted their independent attitude, the absence of a strong central authority among them and their paganism.

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Al-Mas'udi was very well informed on Rus trade with the Byzantines and on the competence of the Rus in sailing merchant vessels and warships.

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Al-Mas'udi was aware that the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea are two separate bodies of water.

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Al-Mas'udi was very well informed about Byzantine affairs, even internal political events and the unfolding of palace coups.

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Al-Mas'udi recorded the effect of the westward migration of various tribes upon the Byzantines, especially the invading Bulgars.

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Al-Mas'udi has some knowledge of other peoples of eastern and western Europe, even far away Britain and Anglo-Saxon England.

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Al-Mas'udi obtained a copy of a list of Frankish rulers from Clovis to his own time.

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Al-Mas'udi makes several references to people interpreted as Vikings, described by him as Majus, they came to Al-Andalus from the North.

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Al-Mas'udi was well aware of peoples in the eastern portion of the continent.

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Al-Mas'udi knows less of West Africa, though he names such contemporary states as Zagawa, Kawkaw and Ghana.

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Al-Mas'udi described the relations of African states with each other and with Islam.

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Al-Mas'udi provided material on the cultures and beliefs of non-Islamic Africans.

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