Al-Idrisi (Abu Abdallah Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Abdallah Ibn Idris
al-Qurtubi al-Hasani) was born in 1099 at Centa, Morocco. He was a
direct descendant of the prophet Muhammad. He studied at Cordoba,
Spain, and after many travels spent his life in the service of the
Norman King, Roger II of Sicily. Perhaps because of his service to a
Christian king he was generally ignored by Muslim historians and
Prior to Roger II's death in 1154 al-Idrisi constructed
a celestial globe and a circular world map of pure silver. The map
shown on this stamp portrays the world map. South is at the top
of the map, and, with the map turned upside down, the Mediterranean
Sea, Europe, Asia, and Africa are easily identified. The Arabian
peninsula is in the center of the map.
The map combines features of the old, symbolic T-O
maps, with the encircling sea, and a more representative mapping of
geographical features. The map is based on al-Idrisi's book, Katib
Nuzhat al-Mushtaq fi Ikhtiraq al-Afaq, also know as Katib
a-Rujari, the Book of Roger, which first appeared in the
west in 1592, and was translated into Latin in 1619.
After the death of Roger II, al-Idrisi wrote another
geographical treatise, The Garden of Civilization and the Amusement
of the soul, for his son, William II. al-Idrisi died in 1166.
al-Idrisi produced an atlas of 73 maps with a shortened form of The
Garden in 1192 which incorporated a great deal of new material.
al-Jahiz (Abu 'Uthman 'Amr bin Bahr al-Jahiz) of Basrah (776-869), who
is commemorated by the stamp, wrote more than two hundred books of
history, natural science and commerce, as well as of poetry. He is
credited with bringing clarity and precision to Arabic prose
In 1977 Spain issued two
stamps featuring al-Idrisi's map to mark the first International
Symposium on Studies in the History of Arabia that year
Spain issued a stamp with al-Idrisi's map in
2006 to honor him as a celebrity.