A map of Arabia from a manuscript of Istakhri (south on top)


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Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-Hamdani:
Sifat Jazirat ul-Arab
(Geography of the Arabian Peninsula)
(d945) Yemen


Taken from:
-The Berbers in Arabic literature by H. T. Norris
-AI-Yaman and the Hadramawt: Translations from medieval
Arabic geographers and analysis; Bevens, Walter Bascom





Chapter on the knowledge of the best of Inhabited lands
(the sun throws a shadow) on the inhabitants of the earth except those who are on the equator, a region of Middle-earth, they are the first residents to fill southern China and southern India and the country of Zinj and Al-Dybajat…
Hermes says that in that part (the southern part of the globe) there are climates that resemble these once (from the North), but that what makes it impossible for the people to get there is the big stretched ocean and the agitated violent sea, the power of the wind, the size of the waves and the far distance to make. Except that the ships also are at high risqué in the gulfs and sea arms, like the sea of Zinj and the Oriental Sea. But these are far from being the most important once, as the biggest obstacles consist, even in favourable times, of the distance and its wideness.
According to Hermes, the wise, the seven climates are: India, the Hijaz and Yemen, the land of Egypt, the land of Babylon, Land of the Romans, Gog and Magog, the land of China. They are grouped around the forth climate, the one of Babylon and in such a way that the first climate touches the seventh.

…The sea unites Oman to Jeddah the places of Yemen to the land of Zinj and Abyssinia…
…in north India and Sindh where we will meet the green sea – To go to the Sea Al-Zenj - and the Sea of Basra, and get to the Arabian Peninsula, Mecca and the Hijaz, the sea of Qulzoum and Upper Egypt…


He then describes different systems to divide the 7 climes as seen on this map of the seven climes from this manuscript.

Chapter on Differences in Opinions on Longitude and Latitude.
As to latitude; there are those who count the first clime from the equator till its northern boundary. Others make of the sea of the Zindj something separate between the first climate and the equator, this is then at 8deg 25min. There are there no days longer than 12.5 hours.
… northern Maghreb the land of Rum that is west and north, in the Orient Khorasan and east and south, in the Orient Sindh and India, and eastern and southern Maghreb by Habash and Zinj …

Chapter on what is reported by Claudius Ptolemaeus about the Nature of the Inhabitants of the inhabited land, in details.

Section between Maghreb and the South: The fourth quarter to the south of Maghreb, the country of Sudan Zinj the Abyssinians, the Beja, the Nuba, the Fezzan, the land of al-Qayrawan; and from Ifriqiyya, al-Qayrawan, the Sus, the lands of the naked blacks and Ghana which are called by other names such as Numidia and Gaetuli in the Greek tongue, it faces the triangle of Cancer. It is ruled by Venus and Mars…
As for the Nuba and all the Abyssinians, the Zinj and those adjacent to them from southern India, they resemble in nature both Scorpio and Mars. For that reason their moral conduct has become more like that of savage beasts than that of men. They have become people who squabble, who harbour enmities and disputes and things which are hateful and abhorrent. They deem life to be of little worth and they are not compassionate among one another. They do not show care and affection for each other and sometimes they are cruel to themselves; they destroy each other by burning, by throttling and by destruction in the pit……….

Chapter on the Islands in the Sea

The island (peninsula) of Barbara is a piece from the edge of the coasts of al-Yaman extending into the sea at Adan from about the rising point of Canopus and going east from it and in what is adjacent to Adan. Facing it is Mount Dakhkhan and the island of Suqu.tra. Ascribed to it is Suqu.tri aloes. It and the island of Barbara are among what lies established on the route between Adan and the land of Zanj. When one leaves Adan to go to the country of Zanj, he would take a way as if he wanted to go to Uman and the island of Suqu.tra, heading parallel to it on the south until it comes to an end. Then he turns in the direction of the Sea of Zanj. The length of this island is eighty parasangs, and in it are representatives of all the tribes of Mahrah and in it are some 10,000 warriors who are Christian. It is mentioned that a people from the land of Rum (Byzantine Empire) were banished to it by Kisra. Subsequently, tribes of Mahrah settled with them and some of them became Christians. In Suqutra are many date palms and ambergris reaches it. In it also is Dragon's Blood which is a tree called ayda, and many aloe plants.