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Abu al-Ḥasan ʿAlī ibn al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī al-Masʿūdī

أبو الحسن علي بن الحسين بن علي المسعودي

  • One of the leading intellectual innovators was the historian Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali ibn al-Husayn al-Mas’udi, born in Baghad in about 895 CE.

Earlier and more traditional Muslim historians such as al-Tabari, whom al-Mas’udi greatly admired, collected vast quantities of material and set it down in roughly chronological order. Each piece was supported by its chain of transmission—”I had it from x, who had it from y, who was present at z when such and such happened”—exactly as was done with hadith, the “traditions” of the actions and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. Such compilations were comprehensive but unreadable. The “new school” of al-Dinawari and al-Ya’qubi, two other ninth-century scholars, improved on this method, favoring a continuous, selective narrative. Al-Mas’udi built on their ideas, adding as much first-hand knowledge as he could, particularly with regard to foreign countries and contemporary events. More than any other Muslim historian, al-Mas’udi tried to keep his books lively with stories and anecdotes, and this gave him great appeal to readers in his day.


All of these zij have since been lost except for the material which was appropriated from them by later authors for use in their own work; writers such as al-Masudi[4] and Abu ‘Abdallah Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr al-Zuhari (sixth century hijri).

There were also works on astronomical, physical, human and economic geography by writers such as Ibn Khurdadhdhbih, al-Yaqubi, Ibn al-Faqih and Qudamah ibn Jafar al-Masudi. This group is often known as the ‘Iraqi School’ since most of the works were produced in Iraq and the majority of the geographers were Iraqi.

He [Sipahizâde Mehmed bin Ali (d. 1588)] is also the translator of Qanun al-Masudi and other works in Arabic.



  • Al-Masudi’s mapAbu al-Ḥasan ʿAlī ibn al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAlī al-Masʿūdī was an Arab historian and geographer. The image below is sadly of a replica of his map.

Al-Masudi’s atlas of the world 10th Cent.

  • Reconstructed Map of the world by Al-Mas’udi, “Ard Majhoola”refers to the Americas

Oriented with South at the top (Source)


Biographies and Refences

Al-Masudi, Kitab al-Tanbih wa al-Ishraf (Leiden) 1967.