National Museum inaugurates the manuscript of Ahmad bin Majid Al Sa’adi

Oman Tuesday 16/March/2021 07:58 AM
National Museum inaugurates the manuscript of Ahmad bin Majid Al Sa’adi

MUSCAT:  The Board of Trustees of the National Museum today held its seventh meeting under the chairmanship of Salim Mohammed Al Mahrouqi, Minister of Heritage and Tourism, Chairman of the National Museum’s Board of Trustees.

The original manuscript of “Kitāb al-fawāid fī  ilm al-bahr  wa-al-qawāid” or (The Book of the Benefits of the Principles and Foundations of Seamanship), by the Omani navigator Ahmad bin Majid Al Sa’adi was inaugurated in the Maritime History gallery under the patronage of Salim Mohammed Al Mahrouqi, Minister of Culture and Tourism. The manuscript is loaned from the Al Assad National Library in the Syrian Arab Republic.

Regarding the valuable and rare manuscript, Jamal Hassan Al Moosawi, Secretary General of the National Museum, said: “The showcasing of Ahmad bin Majid Al Sa’adi’s manuscript in the Maritime History gallery at the National Museum came as a part of the existing cooperation between the National Museum and the Directorate General Authority for Antiquities and Museums in Syria.

The manuscript was loaned to the Museum for two years under the purpose of preservation and conservation and coordination was maintained with the National Records and Archives Authority to restore this document to its original state, through the implementation of an integrated program for preservation, conservation, indexing and revision. This manuscript is one of few preserved copies of the manuscripts of Ahmed bin Majid Al Sa’adi around the world, the oldest among them is the one which is preserved in the Institute of Oriental Manuscripts in St. Petersburg Russia”.

Dr. Bassam Al Khatib, Ambassador of the Syrian Arab Republic to the Sultanate said: “We are gathered here today to emphasise on the depth of the joint relations between the two countries that have had a permanent impact on the march of human civilisation. The inauguration of the readiness of Ahmad bin Majid Al Sa’adi`s manuscript titled (The Book of the Benefits of the Principles and Foundations of Seamanship), is an expression of an authentic, deep and long-term relationship between the Sultanate of Oman and the Syrian Arab Republic.

Therefore, professional cooperation and the diplomacy of cultural and historical brotherhood led to the issuance of a Syrian presidential decree to loan the manuscript to the Sultanate, where it was preserved and restored in cooperation between the National Records and Archives Authority and the National Museum.

It is ready to be presented to the public as a historical document highlighting the centuries-old tradition of the Omani maritime culture, their history of roaming the seas, conveying thought, religion, trade and communication with the peoples and cultures of the world”.

This manuscript was written in the 11th century AH / 16th century CE, under the ruling of Al Nabhani dynasty. It is compiled (175) sheets, (350) pages and (23) lines per page. Texts were written by “Naskh” script using black ink and headlines in red. The body of the manuscript is surrounded by two red frames.

This compiled collection includes the most important and best known of the works by Ahmad bin Majid`s. It is divided into three parts: al-Fawāid fī ilm al-bahr wa-alqawāid or (The Book of the Benefits of the Principles and Foundations of Seamanship), completed on 17 Rabi al-Thani 984 AH/ 13 July 1576. This part is dedicated to 18 benefits related to marine sciences and some proverbs.
The second collections: Hāwīyat al-ikhtisār fī usūl ilm al-bihār, it is the longest section and includes 11 chapters.

The third collection consists of 14 proses, in addition to eight chapters in marine sciences.

Ahmad bin Majid Al Sa’adi was an Omani navigator and cartographer. Born in Julfar, he was educated in his early years by his father Majid bin Mohammed al-Sa’adi, who was a renowned marine captain and navigator.

Ibn Majid is one of the best-known navigators in the Indian Ocean and among the finest scholars of the art of navigation and its history among the Arabs. He was the inventor of the magnetic needle (magnetic compass), which is used for navigation and orientation at sea. He was also the author of nearly forty works of poetry and prose. Among his many books on oceanography, Fawā’id fī-Usūl Ilm al-Bahr wa-al-Qawāid or (The Book of the Benefits of the Principles and Foundations of Seamanship), which was compiled in the year (880-895 AH / 1475-1490 CE) at the end of his life, which is considered as one of his best. He is remembered as Shihab ad-Din “Star of the Faith” and “The Lion of the Sea”.

He was a figure of interest to orientalists, such as the French orientalist Gabriel Fran (1925 CE), and the English orientalist Gerald Tebts (1970 CE) and others due to his great knowledge in topics that include shipbuilding, compasses, captain’s characteristics, knowledge of countries and their history, dates of travelling, and others.

The inaugural ceremony was attended by HH Dr. Muna Fahd al-Said, Assistant Vice Chancellor of Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) for International Cooperation, Sayyid Said Sultan al-Busaidi, Culture Under Secretary, Dr. Abdullah Khamis Ambusaidi, Education Undersecretary and Sheikh Humaid Ali Al Ma’ani, Head of Global Affairs Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.