Al-Ashraf's diagram of the compass and Qibla, copied in Yemen, 1293.
|Died||22 November 1296|
al‐Malik al‐Ashraf (Mumahhid al‐Dīn) ʿUmar ibn Yūsuf ibn ʿUmar ibn ʿAlī ibn Rasūl (born c. 1242, died 22 November 1296 in Yemen) was the third Rasulid sultan and a polymath. He is known for writing the first description of the use of a magnetic compass for determining the qibla. Also, his works on astronomy contain important information on earlier sources.
In a treatise about astrolabes and sundials, al-Ashraf includes several paragraphs on the construction of a compass bowl (ṭāsa). He then uses the compass to determine the north point, the meridian (khaṭṭ niṣf al-nahār), and the Qibla towards Mecca. This is the first mention of a compass in a medieval Islamic scientific text and its earliest known use as a Qibla indicator, although al-Ashraf did not claim to be the first to use it for this purpose.
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