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Contribution of Arab Geographer in geographical thought UPSC

The thought of the early Arab geographer was highly influenced by the ideas of the Greek geographers such as:
  • Earth spherical theory
  • Latitudinal theory
  • Earth centrality principle [ Earth is in the center of the universe]
During the medieval period [tenth and eighteenth centuries] Arab geographers contributed their new ideas to geography.

The following are some prominent Arab geographers:
  • Al-Masudi (896–956)
  • Al-Muqaddasi ( 945–1000)
  • Ibn Hawqal (10th century)
  • Al-Idrisi (1100–1165)
  • Ibn Jubayr (1145–1217)
  • Ibn Battuta (1304–1377)
  • Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406)

Al-Masudi ( 896–956): 
Al-Masudi was an Arab historian and geographer who wrote the "Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems." This work contained a wealth of geographical information, describing different cultures, customs, and landscapes he encountered during his travels.
Al Masoodi, during his visit to India, named monsoon, which is derived from the Arab word "Mausam" which means the reversal of winds.

Al-Muqaddasi ( 945–1000): 
Al-Muqaddasi gave details about various regions of the Islamic world. It included detailed geographical and cultural information.

Ibn Hawqal (10th century): 
Ibn Hawqal was the author of "Kitab al-Masalik wa al-Mamalik" (The Book of Routes and Realms), a travelogue that offered insights into the geography, cultures, and trade routes of the medieval Islamic world.

Al-Idrisi (1100–1165): 
Al-Idrisi is known for his work "Tabula Rogeriana," a world map and accompanying text that compiled geographical knowledge of the time. His map was notable for its accuracy and comprehensive representation of various regions.

Ibn Jubayr (1145–1217): 
Ibn Jubayr was a traveler and geographer, Ibn Jubayr's account of his pilgrimage from Spain to Mecca in the 12th century provided valuable insights into the social, cultural, and geographic aspects of the lands he visited.

Ibn Battuta (1304–1377): 
Although primarily known as a traveler and explorer, Ibn Battuta's extensive journeys contributed to the understanding of medieval geography. His detailed accounts of the lands he visited provided valuable information about various regions of the world during his time.

Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406): 
Ibn Khaldun is often considered a pioneer in the fields of historiography and sociology, but his work also had significant geographical insights. His "Muqaddimah" discussed the interplay between geography, environment, and human societies.

The contribution of Arab geographers to geographical development is as follows:

In the field of geomorphology:

Contribution of Al Biruni:
  • Al Biruni gave the reason for the spherical shape of rocks. He explains that when the rocks fall from the mountains and when it moves through the river valleys, the stone takes a circular shape.
  • Al Biruni also gave the names of the alluvial soil and said that it was found far away from the mountain.
  • Al Biruni explained the effects of climate on vegetation.
Another Arab geographer pointed out that mountain peaks are made of hard rocks that are resistant to erosion.

In oceanography:
  • Arab geographers pointed out the main reason for the tides to be the attraction power of the moon and the sun, due to which the seawater rises.
  • Al Masoodi pointed out that due to the presence of salinity in the seawater, the color of the water is salty and the main source of salinity of the oceans is the land. The salt from the land goes to seawater.

In the field of climatology:
  • The Indian monsoon was described by Al Masoodi, an Arab geographer.
  • Al Masoodi, during his visit to India, named monsoon, which is derived from the Arab word "Mausam" which means the reversal of winds.
  • Al Balakh prepared the world's first climate atlas (Kitab-ul-Ashkal).
  • Al Magadisi divided the world climate into 14 regions on the basis of vegetation and climate change.

In the field of human geography:
  • Arab geographers pointed out that both climate and vegetation contribute to the development of region-specific societies and influence their forms.
  • Ibn-Khaldun pointed out that people in warmer regions tend to be more sentimental than colder regions, and thus Ibn-Khaldun gave rise to location-specific geography.
  • Ibn-Khaldun also pointed out that the Northern Hemisphere is a more densely populated region than the Southern Hemisphere. And the area near the equator is sparsely populated and the area with fertile land is very densely populated.
  • Ibn Battuta  (1304–1377) mentioned the human settlement of the desert area. He told that there is a different way of building a house in the desert and the construction material used to build the house is also mentioned.
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Click here for Comments
23 August 2020 at 00:03 ×

Can u give full notes of geography please..

6 December 2021 at 11:44 ×

Can we get references, and also more notes