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Ibn Battuta is regarded as one of the greatest Muslim explorers and travelers in the world. During his journey that spanned to thirty years, he traveled through some forty nations of modern-day borders. He left his birthplace with the aim to perform a religious obligation and then explore the world. All that is known about the famous traveler Ibn Battuta comes from the account of his travels. The book called Rihla (autobiographical information) tells us about the expeditions of Ibn Battuta and the scope of the Islamic world at that time.
The early life of the famous traveler:
Ibn Battuta was of Berber descent and was born during the region of Marinid dynasty. He was born into a family of Islamic legal scholars in Tangier, Morocco. Being a Muslim and raised into the family of Muslim scholars Battuta had Islamic study jurisprudence. It was a dominant form of education in North Africa in those days. Due to lack of big libraries and universities in his hometown, Ibn Battuta decided to travel to the other parts of the world. Also, he wanted to perform Hajj that is a religious obligation. So, at a young age of 21 Battuta set out on an exciting and adventures journey that took thirty years of his life. During this long period, he visited many places, met locals and rulers and learned Islamic law.
Islamic civilization during the life of Ibn Battuta:
All the Muslims no matter which part of the world they live in believe in one God and shari’a. During the life of Ibn Battuta Islamic world included the area of northern Africa, the Atlantic coast of West Africa, Asia, Southeast Asia, India, and the Middle East. All the Muslims (Ummah) shared religious obligations, beliefs, way to spend daily lives and moral values.
As a matter of fact, the Islamic civilization was spreading spectacularly at that time. Since Ibn Battuta always wanted to explore the world, so he was curious to know if there is any cultural difference. He wanted to see how people in other countries spend their lives and what their traditions are.
Battuta’s exciting journey:
Battuta left for Mecca when he was only 21 years old. He wanted to perform Hajj. When he left his hometown, he was all alone. There was not enough money to spend on. He was on his donkey when he started his journey. Soon, he joined a Caravan who was also going to Mecca to perform Hajj.
Ibn Battuta reached Mecca after a few months as he explored the lands of the Middle East. Before that, he managed to get married to a woman during the voyage. In fact, Ibn Battuta married to many women and had children as well. Upon reaching Mecca, Battuta performed Hajj and visited the holy places in both sacred cities of Mecca and Madina. Then he reached Iraq and Iran after crossing the huge Arabian Desert. In the year 1332 Battuta decided to travel to India. He wanted to serve as an Islamic judge there. Ibn Battuta was welcomed wholeheartedly by the ruler of India. It is a fact that Battuta won hospitality due to the fact he was a Muslim scholar. He stayed in India for a period of eight years. Finally, he was appointed as a judge in India. After visiting China, Battuta left for Mali. During his expeditions, Battuta visited many Islamic and non-Islamic nations. He faced many challenges
A question on his travels:
Upon reaching his hometown in Morocco Battuta was asked by the ruler to write down his travel accounts. He never kept journals during his travels. But the ruler of Morocco heard about his travel adventures and was quite impressed. To compile his travelogue, Battuta asked his fellow scholar Ibn Juzayy. He dictated his story to him, and he wrote down his traveling book names “Rihla.”
But many people criticized him for being not truthful about his traveling stories. According to them, he has stated the names of many places he never visited. Well, it is not possible to give a verdict about whether he has really visited the places that he had described in the book. But some people believe that he relied on hearsay evidence while compiling the book. He might have taken the passages from the writings of earlier travelers in his book.
Ibn Battuta was an upper-class man who traveled to meet likeminded people and explore the world. He was educated and had a desire to learn more which took him to a journey that continued for three decades. He died in 1368 in Morocco. Battuta is compared with Marco polo many times, but the fact is he was better than Polo as he covered more distance than him. Polo was a merchant while as Battuta was an educated person.