Who is Mohammed Idrisi?

Who is Mohammed Idrisi?

June 26, 2021 Off By Felso

Known by his short names İdrisi and Muhammed İdrisi, Abu Abdullah Muhammed b. Muhammad Sharif al-Idrisi is an Arab traveler and geographer who is thought to have lived between 1100 and 1166. Idrisi is also known as §erîf el-Idrisi.


Born in Septe, Andalusia in 1100, İdrisî received education in Cordoba, then continued his education in a field that included Anatolia, North Africa, Spain, France and England, and died in Sicily in 1166 (Picture 19). His most important work, Nüzhetü’l-Müştâk fi İhtirâkı’l-Âfâk, is in the form of a Geography book and a catalog of maps.

Idrisî, who envisioned the world as a sphere, drew a very detailed World map consisting of 70 maps (Picture 20). He has also mapped different parts of the world in detail at larger scales. El-Câmi’ li-Şıfâtı Eştâti’n-Nebât ve Durûbi Envâci’l-Müfredât Mine’l-Eşcâr Ve’s-Simâr Ve’l-Hasâ’is increased their recognition by writing the equivalents of plants in 12 languages.

Topkapi Palace Collection
1340 copy of the world map commissioned by the Abbasid Caliph Me’mun in the 9th century
On the world map that was created at the order of al-Ma’mun, the main lands of the earth were surrounded by the ocean, Africa could be navigated by sea, and the Indian Ocean was an open sea.

His works were translated into Latin and remained popular for many years. Christopher Columbus always kept an original Idrisî book with him while traveling three centuries after him. In the work called Ünsü’l-Mühec and Rawzü’l-Ferec, he mentions an eighth climate south of the equator, in addition to the seven climates (macro geographical region) known at that time.

Starting from his youth, Idrisi traveled many countries, continents and geographies such as Spain, Portugal, France, England, Africa for many years, and at the age of 16, he stopped by Anatolia for travel purposes. Idrisi, who collected invaluable geographical and scientific data during these research trips, produced important works in the field of geography and played an active role in transferring the geographical findings that Muslim scholars could reach to the Western civilization through the Normans settled in Sicily.

Idrisi was born in Sicily in 1145 by King II. She entered the service of Roger and spent the rest of her life with him in the palace in Palermo. When the king’s death date of 1154 was approaching, he completed his famous work “Roger’s Book” with a silver Earth globe and presented it to the king.

The 70-sheet World map prepared for this book is a comprehensive study aiming to give an excellent description of the Earth known up to that time and therefore occupies an important place in the history of cartography. When these maps are examined, it is seen that the Earth is divided into 70 parts by seven climatic belts from the equator to the north and ten longitude lines that cut them perpendicularly. Geographical features, mines, plants, animals, roads, etc. of the countries covered by each piece. It has been explained in detail and the information given about the Mediterranean region and the Balkans is very valuable.

While Idrisi was preparing this book, besides his own observations, Ibn Havkal and King II. He made use of reports prepared for Roger by travelers and traders.

İdrisi describes Roger’s request for this atlas to be prepared as follows:

“When Italy obeyed the king, the king decided to learn the state and conditions of the state. HE IS; He wanted to know the borders, roads, the climate of each province, the seas and gulfs there, as well as the situation of other countries. He ordered that a book be written that included the full description of cities and lands, mountains and plains, seas and valleys, apart from the culture of his people. In this book, he also wanted to explain in detail the types and characteristics of cereals, fruits and plants grown in every country, the arts and professions in these countries, the number of workers, the import and export of each country, their customs, traditions and clothing, religion and language.”

In order to fulfill this request, Idrisi started his work. He gathered information from travelers and ship captains. Organized group trips to distant lands. Thus, he tried to combine the information he collected with each other. Gathered and evaluated previous geography information. His travels took fifteen years and he finally completed his magnificent work in 1145. This work prepared; In terms of accuracy, breadth and scope of vision, it far surpassed Ptolemy’s world map.

Idrisi named his work “Kitab-ur-Rüşandi”. In this work, he divided the 180-degree longitude world into seven climates and divided each climate into sixteen parts. The book also provides information about Finland, Poland and Russia, which are not found in other Arabic books. He introduced Scotland, Salisburg, Winchester, Southampton, Shoreham, Dover, Hasting, Tondon, Durham, Dorchester and some English cities in great detail.

World map of İdrisî
On maps used today