Abū ˓Abd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn ˓Abd Allāh ibn Idrīs, known as al‐Sharīf al‐Idrīsī, was one of the great Arab geographers of medieval Islam. He was born in Ceuta (Morocco) in AH 493/AD 1100 and died there in AH 560/AD 1166. Al‐Idrīsī belonged to a ruling family, the Alavī Idrīsīs, who were claimants to the caliphate and had ruled in the region around Ceuta from AD 789 to 985. His ancestors were the nobles of Malaga, Spain who, unable to maintain their authority there, migrated to Ceuta in the eleventh century. Al‐Idrīsī was educated in Cordoba and began traveling at a very early age. At the age of 16, he visited Asia Minor and then traveled in southern France, England, Spain, and Morocco.
This was a period of the growing power of the Normans in Europe and the Mediterranean region. It is said that Roger II (1097–1154), the Norman ruler, invited al‐Idrīsī to come and stay with him in Palermo (Sicily), saying he would be safe from Muslim kings who were trying to murder him....
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