Abu Abdullah Al-Bakri

For the lunar crater, see Al-Bakri (crater).

Abū ʿUbayd ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz al-Bakrī, or simply Al-Bakri (Arabic: أبو عبيد عبدالله بن عبد العزيز البكري‎) (c. 1014–1094) was an Andalusian Muslim geographer and historian.

Life

Al-Bakri was born in Huelva, the son of the sovereign of the short lived principality of Huelva.[1] When his father was deposed by al-Mu'tadid he moved to Córdoba where he studied with the geographer al-Udri and the historian Ibn Hayyan. He spent his entire life in Al-Andalus, most of it in Seville and Almeria. He never travelled to the locations of which he wrote.[2]

Works

Al-Bakri wrote about Europe, North Africa, and the Arabian peninsula. Only two of his works have survived. His Mu'jam mā ista'jam contains a list of place names mostly within the Arabian peninsular with an introduction giving the geographical background. His most important work is his Kitāb al-Masālik wa-al-Mamālik ("Book of Highways and of Kingdoms"). This was composed in 1068, based on literature and the reports of merchants and travellers, including Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Warraq (904-973) and Abraham ben Jacob.[2][3] It is one of most important sources for the history of West Africa and gives crucial information on the Ghana Empire, the Almoravid dynasty and the trans Saharan trade.[3] Although the material borrowed from Yusuf al-Warraq dated from the 10th century, he also included information on events that occurred close to the time that he wrote.[3]

Al-Bakri mentions the earliest urban centers in the trans Saharan trade to embrace Islam, late in the 10th century, Gao was one of the very few along the Niger River to have native Muslim inhabitants. Very soon other kingdoms along the serpentine bends of the great river eventually followed: Takrur (Senegal); Songhay (Mali); Kanem-Bornu (Chad); and Hausa-territories (Nigeria). By the 11th century, he reports of these and other flourishing Islamic cities made their way north to Al-Andalus in southern Spain, the aristocratic geographer and historian Al-Bakri writes in his Kitab al-Masalik wa al-Mamalik (Book of Highways and Kingdoms)":

"The city of Ghana consists of two towns situated on a plain", "One of these towns, which is inhabited by Muslims, is large and possesses twelve Mosques in one of which they assemble for the Friday prayer. There are salaried Imams and Muezzins, as well as Jurists and Scholars."[4]

His works are noted for the relative objectiveness with which they are presented. For each area, he describes the people, their customs, as well as the geography, climate, and main cities. That information was also contained in his written geography of the Arabian Peninsula, and in the encyclopedia of the world in which he wrote. He also presents various anecdotes about each area. Unfortunately, parts of his main work have been lost, and of the surviving parts, some have never been published.[3]

Legacy

The crater Al-Bakri on the Moon is named after him.

See also

Notes

References

  • .
  • . First published in 1981. Pages 62–87 contain an extract from "The Book of Routes and Realms" describing West Africa.
  • .

Further reading

  • . Revised edition with corrections (1913), Tangiers: Adolphe Jourdan. Available from Gallica.
  • . Al-Bakri's dictionary mentioned on page 75.
  • .

External links

  • .

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.