Pourahmad, Ahmad, and Simin Tavallai. 2004. The contribution of Muslim geographers to the development of the subject. Geography 89 (2): 140-144.

Synopsis

The Muslim geographers and scholars have made a significant contribution to the evolution and development of the science of geography. Ahmad Pourahmad and Simin Tavallai state in their “The contribution of Muslim geographers to the development of the subjectthat the Muslims got the interest in geography because of the following influences: (140)

  • the Quran’s inspiration regarding a geographical inquiry,
  • the challenges presented by the physical environment of traditional Arab homelands,
  • the history of the conquest of and by the Arabs,
  • the nomadic way of life,
  • the pilgrimage to Mecca,
  • and the expansion over centuries of the vast Muslim empire with the consequent need for geographical information and knowledge about new lands and ways of reaching them.

The contribution of Muslim scholars and geographers is not limited to the early ages; their contributions continued to the pre-medieval times and even today. They published many books, namely Almagest, Solatolarz, Tetrabiblon, Timael, Decaeloa, and Metaphysics; established research centers in Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad; widened their studies to size, geometry and puerility of the Earth, the oceans, and the creation and use of various tools—especially maps, which paved the way for both the development and the diffusion of scientific thoughts, particularly in Western Europe (141). Similarly, Ahmad and Tavallai state that the “Islamic ideology follows the doctrine of monotheism where they believe there is no God except the sublime God—and the notion that the whole world and all that exists, including physics and metaphysics, is a manifestation of God (142). It was a Muslim geographer Idrisi (1100c-1156c) who constructed a silver plan sphere showing the world, as well as a 70-part world map” (140).In conclusion, Ahmad and Tavallai write, “Muslim geographers made a significant contribution to the evolution of their subject” (144). They proposed, and more importantly, diffused, different concepts and doctrines, among the most significant being concerned with the spheroid nature of the Earth. Their works such as geographical exploration and inquiry, conducting fieldwork, developing mapping techniques and producing invaluable travel reports have proven to be a milestone for contemporary geographical studies.

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