He was born in Sabtah (now Ceuta, a Spanish exclave in Morocco). He spent much of his early life travelling in North Africa and Spain and seems to have acquired detailed and accurate information on both regions. He is known to have studied in Córdoba for a number of years and also to have lived in Marrakesh, Mor., and Qusṭanṭinah (Constantine), Alg. Apparently his travels took him to many parts of western Europe, including Portugal, northern Spain, the French Atlantic coast, and southern England. He visited Asia Minor when he was barely 16 years old.
In about 1145, while still at the peak of his powers, Al-Idrīsī entered the service of Roger II of Sicily—a step that marked a turning point in his career. Henceforward, all his great achievements were to be indissolubly linked to the Norman court at Palermo, where he lived and worked for the rest of his life.
Al-Idrīsī’s service in Sicily resulted in the completion of three major geographic works:
(1) a silver planisphere on which was depicted a map of the world,
(2) a world map consisting of 70 sections formed by dividing the Earth north of the Equator into 7 climatic zones of equal width, each of which was subdivided into 10 equal parts by lines of longitude
(3) a geographic text intended as a key to the planisphere. This was his great work of descriptive geography, known as Kitāb nuzhat al-mushtāq fī ikhtirāq al-āfāq and also as Kitā Rujār, or Al-Kitāb ar-Rujārī (“The Book of Roger”). In compiling it, al-Idrīsī combined material from Arabic and Greek geographic works with information obtained through firsthand observation and eyewitness reports. The king and his Arab geographer chose a number of persons, including men skilled in drawing, and dispatched them to various countries to observe and record what they saw. Al-Idrīsī completed the book in January 1154, shortly before Roger’s death.
The silver planisphere has been lost, but the maps and book have survived. A German scholar, Konrad Miller, published the maps in his Mappe Arabicae (1926–31), and later an emended world map, based upon Miller’s work, was published by the Iraq Academy (Baghdad, 1951). The first loose sections of a critical edition of Idrīsī’s Kitāb nuzhat al-mushtāq, undertaken by a committee of Italian scholars in cooperation with a group of international experts, had begun to appear in the early 1970s.
Kitāb nuzhat al-mushtāq represents a serious attempt to combine descriptive and astronomical geography. Al-Idrīsī’s book is a major geographic monument. It is particularly valuable for its data on such regions as the Mediterranean basin and the Balkans.
According to Britannica.com