Ahmad Ibn Majid
One of the greatest and most illustrious Arab navigators of all times, Ahmad Ibn Majid gained fame in the West as the man who guided Vasco da Gama to find his way from the east coast of Africa to India around the Cape of Good Hope. His wide knowledge of the seas greatly impressed the Portuguese and, in their writings, they referred to him as the "Master of Astrological Navigation."
[IMG]file:///C:/Users/User/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image002.jpg[/IMG]Shihab al-Din Ahmad ibn Majid al-Najdi, commonly known as Ibn Majid, was born in Julfar (today’s Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates) in the early 1430s and became renowned during the last half of that century. However, he spent most of his life in Muscat, which he described as the most well known port in the world of his era.
However, in the Arab and Muslim worlds his fame was much greater. He is still remembered as the most famous compiler of seafaring manuals. These were written in detailed technical terms and provided an accurate knowledge of the sea currents and winds, such as the monsoons, which for centuries, helped to carry vessels from the Arabian Peninsula and Africa to India. Called by the Arabs ‘The Lion of the Seas’, he has remained, for hundreds of years, the patron saint of Muslim mariners.
Portuguese explorer Vasco Da Gama
Arab navigational skill has a long history. The world’s earliest navigational and geographical charts were developed by Canaanites who, probably simultaneously with the Egyptians, discovered the Atlantic Ocean. Later, the Greeks speculated on the idea that the earth was round.
So great was Ibn Majid's renown as an expert on the seas that more than 350 years after his death, Sir Richard Burton, when sailing in a ship out of Aden in 1854, witnessed sailors praying in his honour. A pioneer in the realm of navigation, his name is, and will remain, the pride of all ocean navigators. When he was gone, Arab navigational skills passed on to the Portuguese, and others, but before this happened, the Arabs had contributed much to world geography, navigation and trade.