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The Earliest Known Schemes Of Islamic Sacred Geography

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Chapter Summary

Islamic sacred geography is the notion of the world being centred on the Kaʿba, and those who followed it proposed facing the qibla by means of simple folk astronomical methods, independent of mathematical geography. The oldest known schemes appear in the geographical works of Ibn Khurradādhbih (second half of ninth century) and al-Muqaddasī (second half of tenth century). The first is a textual scheme based on the concept of counter-qibla or direction from the perspective of the Kaʿba. The second is a graphical scheme of qibla directions towards the sacred building. The Vienna manuscript is the main source for the edition of the Arabic text which is located in folios 2v-3r. The schemes of Ibn Khurradādhbih and al-Muqaddasī attest the gradual subdivision process of the sacred space of Islam from the most natural four-sector segmentation into a multiplicity of sectors.

Keywords: al-Muqaddasī; Arabic text; Ibn Khurradādhbih; Islamic sacred geography; Kaʿba; Vienna manuscript



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