Science and Technology

Mapping the Direction to Makkah: A Cartographic Perspective

Knowledge of locations and directions using the stars was almost instinctual for Arabs during the pre-Islamic era. Being an illiterate nation, using the pen to record information was very limited and hence the art and science of map-making was almost non-existent. It was not until Islam, that the use of the pen became a necessity of everyday life. The importance of keeping written records became evident especially when the Muslim Empire expanded beyond the Arabian Peninsula. In a very short time the Muslims were able to conquer scientifically more advanced nations such as the Byzantine and Persian empires. Geographical records and maps, inherited from the ancients were translated into the Arabic language and modified to encompass the Islamic vision of the world of geography. Elements of nature such as the wind, the mountains and seas that were previously feared by nations are no longer gods to be worshiped, but rather signs of Allah's creations to be studied.

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