Al-Fazari

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[p. 49]

AL-FAZĀRĪ

(before 800 A.D.)

Muḥammad b. Ibrāhīm al-Fazārī, an astronomer, allegedly wrote K. az-Zīj (Astronomical Tables), of which only fragments have been preserved: Mas'ūdī, Mūrūj, IV, pp. 37-40; Al-Bakrī, K. al-mamālik, MS 2216, Bibl. Nat. Paris), p. 11.

T.: MC 510 v A: 1


The territory of the Beja (ʿamal al-buja) is two-hundred parasangs by eighty.

The territory of the Nuba (ʿamal an-nūba) under the rule of the Najāshī is one thousand and five hundred parasangs by four hundred, and the territory of the Zanj, to the east, is seven thousand and six-hundred parasangs by five hundred. (MC fol. 510 v).


Bibliographic updates and remarks

Bibliographic updates and remarks by R. Seignobos (24 Jan 2014)

Al-Fazārī

Muḥammad b. Ibrāhīm al-Fazārī

fl. second half of the 8th cent.

On the author : DSB, s.v. « Al-Fazāri, Muḥammad Ibn Ibrāhīm » (D. Pingree).

Editions : Al-Masʿūdī, Mūrūǧ al-ḏahab wa maʿādin al-ǧawhar, ed. Ch. Barbier de Meynard, A. Pavet de Courteille (ed.), Ch. Pellat (revised ed.), t. II, Beirut, 1966, p. 377.

Translations :

French translation in Ch. Barbier de Meynard, A. Pavet de Courteille (transl.), Ch. Pellat (revised transl.), Les prairies d’or, Paris, Société asiatique, t. II, p. 520.

English translation of the fragment included in al-Masʿūdī’s Mūrūǧ with a short commentary : D. Pingree, « The Fragments of the Works of Al-Fazārī », Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 29/2, 1970, pp. 116-117 (available on Jstor).

Further references : D. Pingree, « The Fragments of the Works of Al-Fazārī »... see above ; T. Lewicki, Arabic external sources for the history of Africa to the south of Sahara, London, Curzon Press, 1974, pp. 13-15.

External links :

Remarks : this extract belongs to a longer list enumerating the countries of the world and their dimensions that was first reproduced in al-Masʿūdī’s Mūrūǧ al-ḏahab (ca. 943). According to D. Pingree, this list was not taken from al-Fazārī’s most famous work, the Zīǧ al-Sindhind (an Arabic translation of an Indian astronomical treaty) but from his second Zīǧ composed about 790 and intitled Zīǧ ʿalā sinī al-ʿArab (Astronomical Tables according to the Years of the Arabs). The Andalusian author al-Bakrī (d. 1094), gives the same text in his Kitāb al-masālik wa-l-mamālik[1] but it was most likely borrowed from al-Masʿūdī, which is one of his main sources, rather than directly copied on al-Fazārī’s lost Zīǧ. It is worth noting that the words "in the West” (bi-l-maġrib), which follows immediately “al-Naǧāshī" in the Arabic text, have been omitted in Vantini’s translation. Accordingly, the translation of this passage should read as follows :

The district (ʿamal) of the Buǧa : 200 farsakh by 80 farsakh.

The district (ʿamal) of the Nūba [under the rule] of the Naǧāshī in the West : 1,500 farsakh by 400 farsakh.

The district (ʿamal) of the Zanǧ in the East : 7,600 farsakh by 500 farsakh.

Concordance :

MC, fol. 510 v = Barbier de Meynard, Pavet de Courteille, Pellat, 1966, p. 377.


  1. A.P. Van Leeuwen, A. Ferré (eds.), Kitāb al-Masālik wa-l-Mamālik d’Abū ʿUbayd al-Bakrī. Édition critique avec introduction et indices, Carthage, Beit al-Hikma, 1992, p. 495.