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Top Muslim Travelers

6 - Muhammad al-Muqaddasi (c.945-1000)


Muhammad al-Muqaddasi is probably the most notable Muslim traveler of the tenth century. His intellectual life began when he performed the Hajj at the age of twenty. After his trip to Makkah, al-Muqaddasi decided to devote his life to the study of geography. For more than twenty years, he traveled to nearly every Muslim country in the world. His journals would later be published as the Ahsan at-Taqasim fi Ma`rifat il-Aqalim (The Best Divisions for Knowledge of the Regions), and represent his most famous work. One of the most cited components of the book is its depiction of Jerusalem, the author’s native city. The work is considered an epic piece of both literature and geographic study, and is still referred to widely today.


Go to countries visited by al-Muqaddasi:

All Middle East Destinations

7 - ibn Nusair and Tariq ibn Ziyad (8th century)


Musa ibn Nusair and Tariq ibn Ziyad are credited with the conquest of Spain under the Umayyad Caliphate in the first half of the eighth century. Ibn Ziyad was a Berber Muslim general who initiated the conquest of Spain, while ibn Nusair served as a governor for the Caliph in Northern Africa and followed ibn Ziyad to help complete the conquest of Spain. The two men led separate fleets and ultimately reached the rendez-vous point of Toledo. They subsequently returned to Damascus, where they were welcomed as heroes.


Visit Spain and Damascus to relive the conquest:

Barcelona, Madrid, Damascus


8 - Ibn Jubair (1145-1217)


Ibn Jubair was born in Valencia, Spain. He was well-educated and an expert in the fields of law and Qur’anic studies. He ultimately became the governor of his hometown, where he later became secretary to the ruler of Grenada. A particular incident spurred Ibn Jubair’s decision to travel, and the story is told in the author’s introduction to his famous journals. According to Ibn Jubair, the leader of Grenada had forced him (under the threat of death) to drink seven glasses of wine. Although the ruler was later remorseful, Ibn Jubair was filled with shame for what he called his “Godless act.” As a result, Ibn Jubair decided to perform the Hajj. He stopped at many destinations along his journey, taking careful notes of his observations of the local population. He returned to Grenada after several years.


Trace Ibn Jubair’s journey on - for a great Mediterranean tour, trace his footsteps at the following locations:


Barcelona, Beirut, Makkah, Damascus


9 - Muhammad ibn Hawqal (10th century)

9-bMuhammad ibn Hawqal was born in Turkey and was a writer and geographer. He spent the last thirty years of his life traveling the world. He documents his trip in his most famous work, “The Face of the Earth” (Surat al-Ardh). During his travels, Ibn Hawqal reached remote areas of Asia and Africa, noting that people lived in regions that Ancient Greeks had once claimed were uninhabitable. His travel logs were very useful to subsequent travelers, and included in-depth depictions of Muslim-held Spain, Italy, and areas of France with notable Muslim populations (Fraxinet, in Provence, being the best example). He also traveled through the Byzantine Empire, Eastern Europe, and what is now Pakistan.


Muhammah ibn Hawqal traveled to nearly every continent and major site on; tracing his footsteps could take a lifetime! For those of us who want to plan shorter trips, here are a few suggestions:


Nairobi, Karachi, Lahore, Nice


10 - Ahmad ibn Fadlan (10th century)

10-bIbn Fadlan is famous for his travels to Scandinavia, where he produced one of the earliest and most influential accounts of Viking culture. Ibn Fadlan described the Vikings as having beautiful bodies but poor hygiene; perhaps his most famous contribution was his description of a traditional burial of a Viking chieftain. He left Baghdad and after crossing the Caspian Sea reached the valley of the Volga river where he encountered the Volga Bulgars. He traveled extensively throughout Northern Europe.


Ibn Fadlan has also made his way into popular culture, serving as the inspiration for Michael Crichton’s book, “Thirteenth Warrior.



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