Monday 02 August 2021 - 5:13:48 pm

Sultan Al Qasimi: I will exert the necessary efforts to search for answers for researchers’ inquiries about Ahmed Ibn Majid

SHARJAH, 6th November, 2014 (WAM) -- His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, said that he will exert the necessary efforts using his own collection of available valuable historical books in search of answers to the questions still raised by researchers about the seafaring of the Arab and Muslim seaman Ahmed Ibn Majid, as findings of certain research contain false information or prosaic contents, some of which state that Ibn Majid was from Julphar, the latter being a closed Armenian colony with no Arab residents that was fenced to prevent anyone from entry.

Sheikh Sultan was addressing attendees during the conclusion of a panel discussion about the seafaring of Ahmed Ibn Majid, organised by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) in collaboration with the Executive Committee for the Sharjah Islamic Culture Capital 2014 Celebrations, at the Sharjah International Book Fair, before yesterday.

The panel discussion was attended by Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Corporation, Chairman of the Executive Committee for the Sharjah Islamic Culture Capital 2014 Celebrations, Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), Sheikh Khalid bin Essam Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Department of Civil Aviation in Sharjah, Sheikh Salem bin Abdul Rahman Al Qasimi, Director of the Office of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Abdullah Mohammed Al Owais, Chairman of Sharjah Department of Culture and Information, Dr Essam Sharaf, Egyptian former Prime Minister, Dr Mohammed Sabir Arabi, Egyptian former Minister of Culture, Ahmed Abu Al Gheit, Egyptian former Foreign Minister, Dr Amr Abdul Hamid, Advisor Higher Education, Dr Amr Abdel Hamid, Special Advisor to His Highness for Higher Education, Mohammed Diab Al Mousa, an advisor in the Amiri Court, Dr Obaid Saif Al Hajri, Director of the Regional Office of ISESCO in Sharjah, and Ahmed bin Rakad Al Amir, Director of the Sharjah International Book Fair and a number of the SIBF’s guests.

Moderated by Dr Yousef Ahmed Al Hassan, the panel was attended, by Dr Abdulaziz bin Othman Al Tuwaijiri, Director General of the ISESCO, Dr Abdullah Yousef Al Ghunaim, Director of Kuwait based Strategic Studies Centre, Dr Hassanein Mohammed Rabea, Chairman of Arab Historians Association, and Dr Hamid MK Al Naimi, Director of the University of Sharjah.

In his speech, Dr Abdulaziz bin Othman Al Tuwaijiri said that celebrating the memory of the Arab seaman Ahmed Ibn Majid shows the keen interest in restoring communication with beacons of Islamic civilisation and commemorating their contributions to be guiding lights of inspiration for coming generations. He added that Ibn Majid left a tremendous legacy of valuable sources for seamanship, cartography, and celestial navigation, as he was a pioneer in this science in Arab Islamic history during his life till the 18th century.

He added that this Arab genius drew the attention of the international knowledge community, educational institutions, universities and study and research centres, and the successive editions of the international congress of maritime history, a leading international maritime gathering that recognised Ibn Majid, studied his works and admitted that Ibn Majid was the first to develop a benchmark for maritime science and the pioneer in developing sea navigation applications. He added that the attention given to Ibn Majid by academic circles is a source of pride with regards to the significant contribution of Islamic civilization to human progress.

The ISESCO Director General said, "Scholars and researchers from various scientific and academic communities have acknowledged that the books of Ibin Majid and his successor Sulaiman Al Muhari, are important documents that summarise the sailing heritage in the Indian Ocean in the 15th and 16th century not only with regard to Arab Islamic experiences, but also covering the experiences of Persians, Indians, Javanese, and East Africans." In his speech, Dr Abdulaziz Al Tuwaijiri commented on the false accusations mentioned in some historical references claiming that Ibn Majid had helped Vasco Da Gama find his way from Malindi in East Coast of Africa to India in 1498. This claim was refuted by H.H. Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, in a documented letter titled: "Memorandum for Historians on the Innocence of Ibn Majid", in which His Highness provided material evidence to prove that the one who showed Vasco Da Gama the route was an Indian Christian man from Gujarat named Kanji.

Abdullah Al Ghunaim discussed a number of manuscripts which were published about Ahmed Ibn Majid in his book "Arabic Geographical Manuscripts, Bodleian Library Oxford University". He underlined that the legacy of scholar Ahmed Ibn Majid is a shared legacy for all the people of the Arabian Peninsula, as his work helped the economy of Arab Gulf, the Coast of Oman, and the Red Sea. He added that people of these regions were in solidarity and unity to confront the invaders and colonisers.

The famous book of Ahmed Ibn Majid says, "The Book of the Benefits of the Principles of Seamanship is one of the greatest references in oceanography. The writer describes this science as one of the mental sciences, which enables seafarers to reach their destination without deviation or variation. The book describes latitude and longitude, which helps locate the exact location of countries. This requires seafarers to know about celestial navigation and how to monitor stars accurately, measure wind speed and be familiar with directions, and appropriate travel seasons considering the wind speed and the currents from and to the various ports.

Al Ghunaim suggested forming a committee of specialists to collect Ibn Majid’s works and to review, evaluate, and analyse previous studies, explore indexes of manuscripts from around the world and collect all works related to Arab navigation, so that to find more works for Ibn Majid and other pioneering seafarers.

Dr Hassanein Mohammed Rabea spoke about various aspects from the life and works of Ahmed Ibn Majid. He said that it is not fair that this great Arab scholar was neglected in major Arab references in the 16th century. Nothing important was mentioned about him to pay homage to his works in the Arab Peninsula manuscripts, which were published in his age. He commented that Ibn Majid was only recognised in the recent years thank to Sheikh Sultan who undertook this noble mission in his book "Memorandum for Historians on the Innocence of Ibn Majid".

Dr Rabea attributed the negligence shown by Arab and Muslim historians to Ibn Majid, his inventions, discoveries and literature, to their preoccupation with the historical blogging of the Crusades and the beginning of Western colonies from East, West and North Africa to India and the neighboring countries. He added that the Portuguese sailors were affected by Ibn Majid and they called him "the Prince of the Seas". He drew many sea maps during his multiple voyages to East Africa, South East Asia, India and China.

He added that Ibn Majid left rich legacy of science, knowledge, and literature, varying from prose to poetry.

In his speech, Prof Dr. Ahmed Al Naimi said that Ibn Majid was among the first seafarers to know the seasonal wind in the Indian Ocean. "Ibn Majid excelled in geography, astronomy, the study of stars and was extensively quoted by Arab and foreign scholars and historians." He added, "We can say that Arab and Muslim sailors and astronomers were creative in using astronomical devices in marine navigation and used speed of wind and star in their sailing. What we see today of astronomical devices, sea and air navigators are based on the inventions of Muslim scholars in the period from 15th to 19th century."