Al Masudi - Arab Herodotus

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 30, 2022, 9:13

Al Masudi was an Arab historian, geographer, and explorer. He was a prodigious author who wrote on a wide range of subjects such as religion, history, natural science, geography, philosophy, and others.

Al Masudi was known as the "Arab Herodotus" at times. He was born in Baghdad and is related to Prophet Muhammad's associate Abdullah Ibn Masud.

Al-Masudi's Life (AD 896 - AD 956)

  • Al-Masudi was born in Baghdad, Iraq, near the end of the ninth century, before 896 CE.
  • Al Masudi was a descendant of Prophet Muhammed's friend, Abdullah Ibn Masud.
  • In addition to enriching geography and history, Al-Masudi made contributions to cosmology, oceanography, landform studies, astronomy, meteorology, Islamic law, and Arabic folklore.
  • The titles of more than 20 works ascribed to him are known, including some on Islamic ideas and cults and one on poisons, but most of his publications have been lost.
  • Among the most renowned Al Masudi books are Akhbār al-zamān ('The History of Time'), Kitāb al-awsaṭ ('Book of the Middle'), Murūj al-dhahab wa maʿādin al-jawāhir ('The Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems'), Kitab at-Tanbih wa-l-Ishraf ('Book of Admonition and Revision'), Kitāb Murūj al-Dhahab wa-Maādin al-Jawhar, and Kitāb al-tanbīh wa al-ishrāf ('The Book of Notification and Verification').
  • Masudi was a voracious traveller. His journeys took him to Syria, the Caspian Sea, Iran, Armenia, the Indus Valley, India, Sri Lanka, the east coast of Africa, Oman, and possibly as far south as Zanzibar. His visits to Persia, India, East Africa, and China, on the other hand, are rarely challenged.
  • Having travelled to different regions throughout his youth, he eventually landed in Fustat (modern Cairo) around 947 CE. In 956 CE, he died there.
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Al Masudi's Visit to India

  • Al Masudi travelled from Baghdad to Mansura, Sind Province's capital, and Multan (now Pakistan). He travelled to India and saw the Indus Valley, among other sites. His visit to India dates from the 10th century AD.
  • He went on a journey from Mansura to Surat, Gujarat. The young wanderer got to know the Hindu civilisation closely that produced Aryabhatta's wonders here. He also paid a visit to Khambhat, a Gujarat port town in western India.
  • Masudi arrived in Malabar on India's western coast after travelling further south. He visited Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Malaysia's modern-day Malacca.
  • He mentioned that trade between India's eastern coast and Malacca was robust. The Malacca Straits operated as a shipping route from the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea.
  • Al-Masudi referred to the Atlantic Ocean as the Dark-Green Sea, and he believed that the Atlantic and Indian Oceans were connected.
  • After retracing his journey around the Indian Ocean's rim, Al Masudi continued south to Madagascar.
  • Al Masudi travelled to the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, the Mediterranean, and the Caspian Sea.
  • According to him, Turks who immigrated to India lost their cultural identities and gained new ones that were better adapted to their new environment.

Al-Masudi, the legendary geographer and historian known as the "Herodotus of the Arabs," is considered the most celebrated scholar among the early Arab voyagers to India. He was the first Arab writer to write works that united history with scientific geography.

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FAQs on Al Masudi

Q.1. When did Al Masudi visit India?

His voyage to India goes back to the 10th century AD. Al Masudi travelled from Baghdad to Mansura (the capital of Sind province) and Multan (now Pakistan). He then reached the Indus Valley and travelled to other parts of India.

Q.2. What were the subjects of Al Masudi's books?

Al-Masudi's works contributed to history, geography, cosmology, meteorology, oceanography, landform studies, astronomy, Islamic law, and Arabic folklore.

Q.3. Al Masudi belonged to which country?

Al Masudi was born in Baghdad, Iraq, near the end of the ninth century, before 896 CE. He descended from Prophet Muhammed's friend Abdullah Ibn Masud.

Q.4. Why is Al Masudi known as the Arab Herodotus?

He was a polymath, philosopher and prolific author of over twenty works on religion, history (Islamic and universal), geography, natural science, and philosophy. As a result, Al Masudi is known as the Arab Herodotus.