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Attic figure al-Masudis by Emmerich Alexius Swoboda in the Natural History Museum of Vienna

Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn al-Husain al-Masʿūdī ( Arabic أبو الحسن علي بن الحسين المسعودي, DMG Abu 'l-Ḥasan ʿAlī b. al-Ḥusain al-Masʿūdī ; * at 895 in Baghdad ; † September 957 in Fustat ) was an important Arab philosopher, geographer and historian.


Al-Masʿūdī came from a respected family from Kufa , who traced their lineage to ʿAbdallāh ibn Masʿūd , a companion of the Prophet Mohammed . At a young age he made extensive trips to many parts of Asia, to Armenia, Georgia, the Caucasus, Arabia, western parts of India, possibly to China and Sri Lanka, as well as several times to East Africa. After living temporarily in Antioch and Damascus , he finally moved to Fustat (Old Cairo ) and there began to write down his experiences. As a geographer and traveler, his work Die Goldwiesen und Edelsteingruben is still a highly regarded source about Asian, African and Eastern European countries and their societies in the 10th century.

Masʿūdī stands entirely in the literary tradition of al-Jahiz 'and embodies like him the type of Adīb , an educated, well-read man with courtly manners who is also a good companion. In addition, he often expresses his admiration for the histories of at-Tabarī and ad-Dīnawarī .

As you can see from his name, he was probably a follower of the Shia . In addition, he shows great sympathy for the 12 Schia in his works. But it was also shaped by the views of the Muʿtazila , who had a great influence in the 10th century.


Al-Masʿūdī probably wrote 36 literary works. This can be reconstructed from the only two surviving books.

  • Kitāb at-Tanbīh wa-'l-ischrāf
  • Murūdsch adh-dhahab wa-maʿādin al-dschauhar (مروج الذهب ومعادن الجوهر / 'The gold meadows and gemstone mines'), originated between 943 and 946/47. It begins with the creation of the world and ends with the reign of Caliph al-Muti . Al-Masʿūdī is devoted to various topics of geography , religion , philosophy , history and politics . He also reported on Slavic tribes in Central and Eastern Europe. His detailed information about life in the individual countries at that time is a valuable source of information today, he was the first to report on windmills . The current scientific edition was published in 1979 by Charles Pellat in Beirut.

Text output

  • Gernot Rotter (Ed.): To the limits of the earth. Excerpts from the "Book of Gold washes" . Tübingen / Basel 1978, ISBN 3-7711-0291-X . (Library of Arabic Classics, Vol. 3)
  • Gernot Rotter (transl., Arr.): Al-Mas'ûdî, To the limits of the earth. Goldmann Verlag, Munich 1988, ISBN 3-442-08775-9 .
  • Mas'ūdī: Les Prairies d'Or . Texts and traduction by Barbier de Meynard and Pavet de Courteille. 9 vols. Paris 1861–1877.
  • Charles Pellat (Ed.): Masʿūdī: Les Prairies dʾOr . Publications de l'Université Libanaise, Beirut 1979.


Lexicon article
Further secondary literature
  • Tariff Khalidi: Islamic Historiography: The Histories of Masʿūdī . Albany, State University of New York Press, 1975.
  • Ahmad Shboul: Al-Masʿūdī and His World: A Muslim Humanist and His Interest in Non-muslims. Ithaca Press, 1978, ISBN 0-903729-34-2 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. (the 3rd edition appears online)