These pictures give some background information to the text. The Mosque is the Mosque of Amir Ibn Al Ass in Cairo (of the 100 lamps)

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Nasir-I Khusraw: Safar-nama
(Book of Travels) 1052 (from Persia; Marv)

Taken from: Nasir -I Khusraw : Safar-nama
Also called Naser-e Khosrah
They say no one has been able to ascertain the source of the Nile, and I heard that the Sultan of Egypt sent some people who went along the Nile banks for a year investigating but were unable to discover the source. It is said however that it comes from a mountain in the south called Jabal al-Qamar (mountain of the moon)
....Following the coastline from Jar, you will come to the Yemen and the coast of Aden; continuing in that direction, you will eventually wind up in India and China. Continuing southwards from Aden and slightly westward, you will come to Zanzibar and Ethiopia, which will be described presently. Going south from Egypt through Nubia, you come to the province of the Masmudis, which is a land of broad pasturelands, many animals, and heavy set, strong-limbed, squat, black skinned men, there are many soldiers of this sort in Egypt....  


One group are called Kitamis. They came from Qayrawan in the service of al Mu'izz li-Din Allah. They are said to number 20,000 horsemen. Another group are called Batilis, said to be men from North Africa who came to Egypt before the arrival of al-Mu'izz. They are said to number 15,000 horsemen. Another group is called Masmudis. They are blacks from the land of the Masmudis and are said to number 20,000 men. Another group are called the Easterners, consisting of Turks and Persians. They are so-called because they are not of Arab origin. Though most of them were born in Egypt, their name derives from their origin. They are said to number 10,000 powerfully built men. Another group are called the slaves by purchase. They are slaves bought for money and are said to number 30,000 men. Another group are called Bedouin. They are from Hijaz and are all armed with spears. They are said to number 50,000 horsemen. Another group are called Ustads. These are servants black and white bought for service. They number 30,000 horsemen. Another group are called palace men. They are foot soldiers coming from all countries. They have their own separate commander who looks after them. Each race fights with the weapons of its own country. They number 10,000 men. Another group are called Zanj. They all fight with saber and are said to number 30,000 men. All these troops are maintained by the Sultan, and each man is assigned fixed monthly pay, according to his rank.....

Note: this and some remarks from Ibn Battuta, give evidence of East-Africans as man of arms, worldwide, not as slaves, but as highly paid volunteers.


On the north side of the mosque is a bazaar called Suq al-Qanadil (lamp market) and no one ever saw such a bazaar anywhere else. Every sort of rare goods from all over the world can be had there: I saw tortoise-shell implements such as small boxes, combs, knife handles, and so on. I also saw extremely fine crystal, which the master craftsmen etch most beautifully. (This crystal) had been imported from the Maghreb, although they say that near the Red Sea, crystal even finer and more translucent than the Maghrebi variety had been found. I saw elephant tusks from Zanzibar, many of which weighted more than two hundred maunds. There was a type of skin from Abyssinia that resembled leopard, from which they made sandals. Also from Abyssinia was a domesticated bird, large with white spots and a crown like a peacock's.

See Note on Rock Cristal.  
The town of Aydhab is situated by the sea and has a Friday mosque and a population of five hundred. It belongs to the Sultan of Egypt and is a customs station for ships coming from Abyssinia, Zanzibar, and the Yemen. From there goods are transported by camel across the dessert, the same way we had come, to Aswan and thence by boat to Cairo.
To reach the town of Lahsa from any direction, you have to cross vast expanses of desert. The nearest Muslim city to Lahsa that has a ruler is Basra.....
At the time I was there they had thirty thousand Zanzibari and Abyssinian slaves working in the fields and gardens.
Nasir i Khusraw from his Divan in a qasidah (long poem)
Taken from: Minoo Southgate: The negative Images of Blacks In some Medieval Iranian Writings. In : Iranian studies 1984

Why was the Muslim given mastery over the Hindu and the Zanj? This was his reward for his religious superiority over the Hindu and the Zanj, for which distinction he owes God many thanks.

Night is personified as an old and ugly (na’khub-i pir) Zangi who gives birth to a handsome Anatolian slave boy.
He also complains about evil sounding Zangis (crows) putting to flight a host of nightingales.

He compares the world as a two faced sorceress who appears as a Rumi (good) or as a Zangi (evil)