When we hear the name Ibn Battua we think of a historical traveler who visited most part of the world. Most of us know only his name and nothing more. Ibn Battuta deserves more than what we know about him.
A man in 14th century and his firm will to travel the world made Ibn Battuta the most famous historical traveler & explorer. He traveled almost all known world of his time and even went as far as modern day Siberia. Imagine an African man from Morocco who has hardly seen snow, standing in Siberia in 14th century with zero technology. That’s enough to bring his story and adventurous life to you.
Let’s us know some less known facts about this adventurous and marvelous traveler.
Abū ʿAbd al-Lāh Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Lāh l-Lawātī ṭ-Ṭanǧī ibn Baṭūṭah, most commonly known as Ibn Battuta was born in Tangier, Morocco in 1304 to a Qadi (Judge). He left his home at the age of 21 to pursue his wildest dream; to travel around the world. He returned back after 24 years to his town Tangier only to set again for Muslim Spain.
Ibn Battuta is the most celebrated traveler of all time. He is widely known throughout the world. Over a period of 30 years, he visited most of the Islamic world as well as Non-Islamic lands including Central Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, South Europe, East Europe, Russia and China. He had visited around 44 countries as per modern times.
The Muslim Marco Polo covered around 75,000 miles in distance approximately three times traveling around the earth. He was one of the early travelers in history to visit such a large area and remains most known traveler & explorer. He witnessed war, rebellion, and raids throughout his journey.
Ibn Battuta belonged to a scholar family and himself was a scholar. His father was a Qadi (Judge) in Tangier and he was also appointed Qadi twice; once in India for 8 years and second time in Morocco where he finally settled down after travelling. He remained as Qadi till his last breath in Morocco. Apart from Judge, he was well known poet and theologian.
“A Gift to Those who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and Marvels of Traveling” is the book which held all experiences & records of Ibn Battuta’s travel. He never maintained any journal or record throughout his journey but after insistence from the Sultan of Morocco he agreed to narrate his story and narrated it to his old acquaintance Ibn Juzay.
Ibn Juzay recorded all of them into manuscripts. These manuscripts were later found in 1830s and got a shape of book named above.
Ibn Battuta when arrived back into Morocco came to know about the demise of his father which happened 15 years ago. His mother also died few months before his arrival. He saw them last time when he departed at the age of 21. Ibn Battuta married several women throughout the journey at different places and fathered many children. He had also met the famous Vietnamese Princess which is now the national heroine of Vietnam.
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Ibn Battuta mostly traveled in Caravans or in groups to avoid any kind of danger which could have fallen upon him as a solo traveler. Caravans provided him safety as well as companionship. When he returned back from Mali, he arrived with a caravan carrying 600 female slaves.
He suffered much cultural shock when he visited far lands. The newly converted countries & Muslims were very different from his culture and traditions. He saw women in Sub-Saharan Africa & Maldives as half naked and too revealing. He also saw a couple in a bazaar in Turkey walking and talking on road. Initially he thought them of slave and owner but later he was much shocked to know that they were couple.
It was contrary to his culture and Islamic civilization of that time. Being a scholar himself, he strongly disapproved these things.
He met a scholar in Cairo during the initial period of his journey, the scholar foretold him that he will be a world traveler one day and asked him to convey his Salam to his brothers who were in India, China and Sind at that time. Eventually, Ibn Battuta met all of them at their respective places and conveyed Salam to them.
A dream interpreter also interpreted his dream that he is going to be a global traveler visiting almost all known lands.
His travelogue is widely used as historical source in India, Pakistan and other countries. They use it to make reference point in history. His popularity as a traveler has made him famous in literary & entertainment works. He observed every culture and civilization very closely. His travel brings out the actual image of 14th century world. Many historians and traveler inspired by him added new milestones in the field of history and travelogue. Muslim scholars used his travelogue to determine how Islam spread in West Africa.
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Ibn Battuta was a marvelous gem who visited all lands and became the most celebrated traveler of all time. No other traveler managed to earn big name and fame like Ibn Battuta. He also performed Hajj numerous times and learned Islam by living in Mecca.
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