Muslim scholars paid great attention to geography because they used to travel to conduct trade as well as to perform Hajj and spread their religion. The far-flung Islamic empire enabled scholar-explorers to compile large amounts of geographical and climatic information from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Among the most famous names in the field of geography, even in the West, are Ibn Khaldun (1332 – 1406) and Ibn Batuta (1304 – 1368), renowned for their written accounts of their extensive explorations.
In 1166, Al-Idrisi, the well-known Muslim scholar who served the Sicilian court, produced very accurate maps, including a world map with all the continents and their mountains, rivers and famous cities. Al-Muqdishi was the first geographer to produce accurate maps in color.
Abu Raihan Al-Biruni (973-1048) was a Persian scholar and scientist, one of the most learned men of his age and an outstanding intellectual figure. He discussed with approval the theory of the earth’s rotation on its axis and made accurate calculations of latitude and longitude. He was the first to determine the circumference earth.
Spain was ruled by Muslims under the banner of Islam for over 700 years. By the 15th century of the Gregorian calendar the ruler-ship of Islam had been seated in Spain and Muslims had established centers of learning which commanded respect all over the known world at that time. By July of 1492, Muslims were instrumental in helping navigate Christopher Columbus to the Caribbean South of Florida. It was, moreover, with the help of Muslim navigators and their inventions that Magellan was able to traverse the Cape of Good Hope. Furthermore, Da Gamma and Columbus had Muslim navigators on board their ships.