FOURTH PREFATORY DISCUSSION
The influence of the air (climate) upon human character.
WE 228 H A V E S E E N that Negroes are in general characterized by levity, excitability, and great emotionalism. They are found eager to dance whenever they hear a melody.229 They are everywhere described as stupid. The real reason for these (opinions) is that, as has been shown by philosophers in the proper place, joy and gladness are due to expansion and diffusion of the animal spirit. Sadness is due to the opposite, namely, contraction and concentration of the animal spirit. It has been shown that heat expands and rarefies air and vapors and increases their quantity. A drunken person experiences inexpressible joy and gladness, because the vapor of the spirit in his heart is pervaded by natural heat, which the power of the wine generates in his spirit. The spirit, as a result, expands, and there is joy. Likewise, when those who enjoy a hot bath inhale the air of the bath, so that the heat of the air enters their spirits and makes them hot, they are found to experience joy. It often happens that they start singing, as singing has its origin in gladness.
Now, Negroes live in the hot zone (of the earth). Heat dominates their temperament and formation. Therefore, they have in their spirits an amount of heat corresponding to that in their bodies and that of the zone in which they live. In comparison with the spirits of the inhabitants of the fourth zone, theirs are hotter and, consequently, more expanded. As a result, they are more quickly moved to joy and gladness, and they are merrier. Excitability is the direct consequence.
In the same way, the inhabitants of coastal regions are somewhat similar to the inhabitants of the south. The air in which they live is very much hotter because of the reflection of the light and the rays of (the sun from) the surface of the sea. Therefore, their share in the qualities resulting from heat, that is, joy and levity, is larger than that of the (inhabitants of) cold and hilly or mountainous countries. To a degree, this may be observed in the inhabitants of the Jarid in the third zone. The heat is abundant in it and in the air there, since it lies south of the coastal plains and hills. Another example is furnished by the Egyptians. Egypt lies at about the same latitude as the Jarid. The Egyptians are dominated by joyfulness, levity, and disregard for the future. They store no provisions of food, neither for a month nor a year ahead, but purchase most of it (daily) in the market. Fez in the Maghrib, on the other hand, lies inland (and is) surrounded by cold hills. Its inhabitants can be observed to look sad and gloomy and to be too much concerned for the future. Although a man in Fez might have provisions of wheat stored, sufficient to last him for years, he always goes to the market early to buy his food for the day, because he is afraid to consume any of his hoarded food.
If one pays attention to this sort of thing in the various zones and countries, the influence of the varying quality of the air upon the character (of the inhabitants) will become apparent. God is "the Creator, the Knowing One." 230 Al-Masudi undertook to investigate the reason for the levity, excitability, and emotionalism in Negroes, and attempted to explain it. However, he did no better than to report, on the authority of Galen and Ya'qub b. Ishaq alKind!, that the reason is a weakness of their brains which results in a weakness of their intellect.231 This is an inconclusive and unproven statement. "God guides whomever He wants to guide." 232