In the 10th century CE, the Islamic world had a great geographer named Mohammed Abul-Kas Ibn Hawqal, but people used to call him Ibn Hawqal. This Muslim scientist was born in Nisibis, a city in Mardin Province in southeast Turkey, on May 15, 943 AD. His popularity as a geographer grew even more after he successfully launched the Al-Ardh manuscript or ‘map of the earth’. Ibn Hawqal’s adikarya was written in 977 AD and contained a map of the earth he wrote, which is often referred to as Al Masalik wa Al Mamalik.
The Encyclopedia of Ukraine calls Hawqal a famous merchant and explorer from the Arab world. Although Ibn H’awqal was also noted as a prominent Arabic writer, most of his life he was dedicated to developing geography. He spent almost 30 years of his life traveling and traveling around most of the world. At the request of a Muslim geographer named al-Istakhri (951 AD), Hawqal explored as far as Spain. The trip was carried out to improve the maps and explanatory text of the geography.
One of the greatness of Hawqal is that he is able to explain an area accurately. Not surprisingly, the maps he has compiled have successfully guided tourists and explorers on various trips.
The Al-ardh manuscript he composed was able to explain in detail the regions of Muslim Spain, Italy and Sicily, as well as the “Roman Land” -the term used by the Muslim world to refer to the Byzantine Empire.
The map he made was often referred to as the Atlas (world) of Islam, so that the map was widely adapted by people and made other models in the Arab and Persian regions. According to Hawqal, he has illustrated every region on the map.
Through his travel notes, Hawqal recounts the results of his observations which mentioned the existence of no less than 360 different languages used by people in the Caucasus. Azeri and Persian languages themselves are the language of the people in the region. He also gives an overview of the city of Kiev, and has mentioned the routes of the Volga Bulgars and the Khazars. He also explained about Sicily, an autonomous region in southern Italy. Hawqal is known to admire Palermo, the capital of Sicily. A city with 300 mosques, that’s how he called the city that was once controlled by Muslims. Amazingly, Hawqal was also able to describe the atmosphere of Palermo in 972 AD
In his travel notes titled Al-Masalik wa Al Mamalik, Hawqal claimed he had never found a Muslim city with as many mosques in Palermo, even though the city was twice as large as Palermo. At the same time, the famous Muslim traveler also witnessed the greatness of the University of Balerm, a leading Islamic college in the city of Palermo, Sicily.
For almost three centuries, Muslims in their golden era succeeded in raising the flag of glory with their civilization which was considered very high in the autonomous region of Sicily. Ibn Hawqal was also included in a series of prominent scientists who had promoted the name of Islam in Basrah, Iraq. The city, known as a producer of high-quality dates was founded by Muslims in 636 AD, namely in the era of the leadership of the Caliph Umar bin Khattab.