Al-Tanbih wa l-ishraf (book)

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Al-Tanbih wa l-ishraf
AuthorAli b. Husayn al-Mas'udi
Original titleألتّنبيهُ و الإشراف
SubjectHistory & Geography

Al-Tanbīh wa l-ishrāf (Arabic: ألتّنبيهُ و الإشراف) is a history and geography book in Arabic and the last work of al-Mas'udi, the Shi'a historian of the 4th/10th century. The first section of the book is dedicated to cosmology and geography while the second section is about history. He has numerous innovations in this book. The book has been translated into other languages as well.


The author of the book is Ali b. Husayn al-Mas'udi, the historian and geographer of the 4th/10th century and the author of Muruj al-dhahab. Because of his impartial reports of historical events, his faith is not clearly known. However, in early biographical sources and rijal books of Shi'a he was introduced as a Shi'a scholar. Nowadays, many scholars say he was Shi'a and believe that his available works contain ample evidence for proving this claim.

Cause of Writing

With the aim of writing a complete and concise book, al-Mas'udi wrote this book after his other works such as Akhbar al-zaman and Muruj al-dhahab. He finished writing this book in 345/956-7 in the city of Fustat. The book is the author's last work.


The first section, which is dedicated to cosmology and geography, contains these topics:

  • Constellations and their forms, celestial bodies and their effects and compounding elements, time and seasons, the four winds and where they are blown and their effects.
  • The planet earth, its shape, its area, its residential and cultivated areas.
  • The seven continent and their areas - the forth continent, its characteristics and its priority over other continents - seas [oceans] of the world.

The second section, which is about history, contains these topics:

  • The seven nations in antiquity.
  • Persian kings the far past to Sassanid.
  • History of the prophets and kings and nations.
  • History of Islam including the life of the Prophet (s), the four caliphs, Umayyad, and Abbasid to the time of writing the book.


Lexicology, linguistic, mentioning the causes of naming, analysis of natural phenomena, mentioning medical viewpoints, customs and traditions of various nations, tribes, and sects, description of cities and lands, criticizing other scholars' opinions and their references are some of al-Mas'udi's innovations in al-Tanbih wa l-ishraf.


The book is translated into French by Carra de Vaux and into Persian by Abu l-Qasim Payanda.