Ibn Battuta is one of history’s most prominent travelers. He was a 14th century Muslim lawyer who spent three decades of his life traveling. During his journeys, Ibn Battuta visited over 40 countries, encountering all kinds of people, while experiencing many twists and turns. Did you know that Ibn Battuta traveled 3 times as much as Marco Polo! This is why he is considered by many to be the greatest traveler of all time.
Want to know more about the travels of Ibn Battuta and his life? Then you shouldn’t miss this new episode of “Nameables” about who Ibn Battuta is.
Who Was Ibn Battuta
Traveling around the world has always been interesting for humans. Throughout history, many people have dedicated their lives to traveling and exploring the world. They have embraced the unbearable harshness of traveling to quench their thirst for discovering and learning new things.
Islam suggests traveling and knowing the world around you. Allah in the Quran asks humans to travel around the world to know the fate of others who have lived before them.
Ibn Battuta was born in Tangier, today part of Morocco, in 1304. At the time, it was one of the westernmost parts of the vast territory loosely unified under the Islamic religion, stretching into western and Southeast Asia. Battuta’s family was in the legal profession, a very important job in Islamic society, and Battuta followed suit. However, Tangier didn’t have a major university, or madrasa, and he was filled with a desire to learn more. The Islamic world had some great libraries, but they were far away. However Ibn Battuta had a reason to leave Tangier. It is an expected tenet of Islam that members of the faith must make pilgrimages to the Muslim holy site of Mecca, a journey called the hajj.
At the age of 21, Ibn Battuta got a donkey, and by himself left Tangier to start his hajj. But his traveling went on for about 29 years and he covered about 75,000 miles visiting the equivalent of 44 modern countries which were then mostly under the governments of Muslim leaders of the World of Islam, or “Dar al-Islam”.
In nearly 30 years on the road, Ibn Battuta traversed North Africa, Egypt, and the Swahili coast; reached Mecca on the Arabian Peninsula, passing through Palestine and Greater Syria en route; swung through Anatolia and Persia to Afghanistan; crossed the Himalayas to India, then Sri Lanka and the Maldives; and reached the eastern coast of China before turning around and zigzagging all the way back to Morocco. Then he figured, why not add on a few more years criss-crossing the Sahara?
Even before the term existed, Ibn Battuta lived as a true “Renaissance man.” A trained qadi, or judge, Ibn Battuta was also proficient in geography, botany, and Islamic theology, and possessed a social scientist’s shrewd capacities of observation. But the primary reason Ibn Battuta lives on today is his writing.
Though his prose may not have been the most exhilarating, Ibn Battuta established the science which would eventually become the art of travel writing. Along his journey, he recorded copious observations, notes, insights, and lessons. This magnum opus was preserved by a young scribe who, at the request of Morocco’s sultan, spent many months transcribing Ibn Battuta’s story, ultimately compiling al-Rihla (الرحلة) or “The Travels”.
Read more about Ibn Battuta in our article section: