Another and very important group of travelers during this period were the Arabs. With the rise of Mohammedanism in the seventh century a strong impulse, in part due to missionary fervor, in part to a desire for conquest, was given to Arab travel. For some time previous to the Hegira, merchants and others from Arabia had visited Ceylon, India, and the African coast, but with the rapid spread of Islam this trade was greatly stimulated, as the militant forces of the faith carried the banner of the Prophet with unexampled rapidity not only to Central Asia, China, and the east African shores, but into western Europe as well. The missionary conquerors themselves have left little in the way of record of their journeys, but the traders and travelers who followed in their wake have. We have thus a case in which the religious impulse, combined with that of conquest, impelled many to travel, and also prepared the way for a host of others whose journeyings would not have been made had not the former paved the way. Perhaps the best known of these early Arab travelers are Soleyman and Masoudi; the first a merchant who in the course of his business journeyed as far as the Chinese coast; the second more a geographer-traveler, who not only visited and described the Far East, but also the African coasts as well. Both, and particularly the latter, have left voluminous records of their travels, and give us many interesting glimpses into the life and conditions of their day. In many ways of greater interest were the numerous less known travelers, for on some of their accounts, now in part lost, the familiar voyages of Sindbad the Sailor〖H. C., xvi, 231–294.〗 in the collection known to us as the Arabian Nights were based. It is possible to identify with a fair degree of accuracy many of the places referred to in those well-known exploits; India, Ceylon, Madagascar, and China are all among the localities visited by that redoubtable sailor; his accounts of the gathering of camphor represent the actual process as employed in the Indian Archipelago; and without much doubt the famous Old Man of the Sea refers to the orang-utan of Sumatra and the adjacent regions. Not only did the Arabs themselves thus become great travelers, but they also supplied the means by which in large measure the great development of travel in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was made possible. From their contact with the Chinese the Arabs learned the use of the compass, and from them it passed to the sailors of the Mediterranean, thus bringing to European navigators one of the means which enabled them to prosecute those long sea voyages, resulting among other things in the discovery of the New World.

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