Ash-Shirazi

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[pp. 458-460]

ASH-SHĪRAZĪ

(d. 1312 A.D.)

Quṭb ad-dīn Maḥmud b. Mas'ūd b. Muslih ash-Shīrazī. A Persian astronomer.

At-tuḥfat ash-shahiyya fī-l-Hay'a

MS: Leiden, MS ar. Golius 192.

Exc.: MC 1141 - 1143.

T.: MC A:1


[Peoples of the Red Sea Coast]

On the western leg (ḍulʾ = side) of the [Red Sea] triangle[1] are situated the countries of the infidel [p. 459] Ḥabasha, a part of the Zanj and, toward the east, the country of Muslim Ḥabasha, beginning from Baita and Bāliya, then Kaljūr and Zaylaʿ ... Near its end, not far from the western coast, there is the island of Dahlak, then the island of Sawākin which belongs to the territory of the Ḥabasha, then 'Aydhāb which belongs to the same territory. It is for this reason[2] that the caravans from Miṣr and those of the Ḥabasha[3] and the Barbar pass by here [= ‘Aydhāb] on their way to the Ḥejāz. Between the two gulfs [i.e. the Red Sea and the Green Sea], there is the land of the Beja, who belong to the [race of] Barbar, and part of the land of the Ḥabasha.[4] (MC 1141 v, MS Golius, fol. 123 v).

The other branch[5] of the Nile flows towards the country of the 'Alwa, who are Nūba. Then it passes by Aswān in the Ṣa'īd of Egypt. Its course, as far as this town, is about 1000 parasangs.[6] (MC 1143 r: MS Golius, fol. 128 v).

[p. 460] ... The First Climate, ... after crossing the frontier of the Zanj passes through the plains of the Sūdān, whence are imported the Black eunuchs, then extends north of the Mountains of the Moon and south of the Sūdān of Maghrib until it reaches the Western Sea, called Uqīyānōs. (MC 1143 v; MS Gol., fol. 131 v).

  1. Shīrazī imagined the Red Sea [or “Barbarī” gulf] as a triangle, whose head is at Bāb al-Mandīb and the base at Suez.
  2. I.e. the little distance between the ‘Aydhāb sea-port and the northern end of the Red Sea.
  3. Here are surely meant the Moslem kingdoms of West Africa south of the Maghreb (Barbar).
  4. On the complexion of the inhabitants of the various Climates, Shīrazī says: … The majority of the inhabitants of the First Climate are of black complexion. In the Second Climate they are all between black and brown. In the Third, the majority are brown and in the Fourth they are in between brown and white. For this reason, the majority of Prophets, saints and scientists are from this climate. As for the other Climates, their inhabitants often have some defect mixed with their natural qualities. This is clearly shown in the ugliness of their faces and their bad manners, as can be noticed among the Zanj and the Ḥabasha of the First and the Second (Climates). (MC 1143 v; MS fol. 132 r-v).
  5. The first branch of the Nile, flowing from the equatorial lakes is placed by Shīrazī as ending near “Sufāla”, possibly through confusion with river flowing from South Ethiopia, across Somaliland, to the Sea of Qanbalū [Indian Ocean].
  6. Cf. Ibn Sa’īd al-Andalusī (q.v.), n. 20.