The greatest traveler of premodern times Ibn Battuta lived in the 18th century and is known as the greatest Muslim traveler. Ibn Battuta performed a series of extraordinary journeys that made him one of the greatest travelers in the history. His traveling journey that started at a very young age spanned nearly three decades and took him to Tanzania, Volga river valley, China and India. He traveled to almost all the Muslim countries told about the different cultures and traditions in his famous book “Rihla.”
The world of Ibn Battuta:
A youthful traveler from Venice Marco Polo crossed Asia to visit Mongol empire. Upon returning to his homeland, Venice Polo wrote about his traveling in his book. A year after the death of Marco Polo another passionate traveler embarked on a tour to Africa and Asia. He traveled 75000 miles much more than the famous explorer Marco Polo.
Ibn Battuta started his journey to Mecca to perform Hajj. He wanted to learn more about Islamic law, so he left his hometown. He studies in Mecca for a while and then he sailed down the east coast of Africa.
He traveled north through the Middle East and Persia. In Ibn Battuta’s time, Mongols were rapidly adopting Islam. When reached India Muslim Sultan was ruling the land. Sultan was a hospitable person so; he welcomed Ibn Battuta with lots of gifts and money. The gifts and money was a form of hospitality at that time, and wherever Ibn Battuta went, he was welcomed by the locals.
Ibn Battuta was arrested:
Ibn Battuta’s traveling journey was full of adventures. Ibn Battuta was arrested by Sultan during his stay in India. It was the time when a rebellion broke out, and Sultan grew suspicious of the people around him. Ibn Battuta was serving as a judge, so he was also arrested. He went to Delhi after getting released, but Sultan called him back and appointed him as the ambassador to the emperor of China. He was made responsible for taking the shiploads to the Yuan emperor. In 1352 when Ibn Battuta was heading towards China, he was shipwrecked.
After exploring the world and learning more about the law, he came back to his hometown Tangier. Ibn Battuta had become famous for his travel tales, so the rule of Morocco asked him to write down his travel journals. Ibn Battuta then asked Ibn Juzayy to keep the record of his traveling experience. Ibn Battuta also served as the judge in his hometown before his death.
From pilgrim to the traveler:
Ibn Battuta saw a dream of traveling the world, so he fulfilled his dream when he left his hometown. He was born to a Muslim scholar family, so he wanted to be a Judge. His desire to perform Hajj took him to a journey that spanned thirty years. He headed to Mecca performed Hajj and decided to travel to know more about the Islamic world. He visited many countries met with locals and knew about different cultures.
His travel journal provides the best eyewitness account of diverse Muslim cultures at that time. Some occasion aroused when he found himself frowning upon local customs otherwise he was an open-minded traveler. He not only visited the Muslim places but also traveled to the non-Muslim countries as he was eager to learn the history of the places.
Ibn Battuta was a great Muslim traveler and geographer who started an exciting journey that lasted for thirty years. Due to his efforts of recording his travel tales today, we know about the Muslim states of medieval ages.