Known as one of the greatest travelers of premodern times Ibn Battuta lived in 14 century C.E. Everyone has heard about Marco Polo who has a merchant and traveled for the trade purposes with his family. Almost everyone has heard or read about Christopher Columbus who explored the world and discovered America. But have you ever read about the man born in Morocco who explored the world and revealed the broad scope of the Muslim world in the 14th century? Here we are talking about Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta.
The man born in Tangier:
Ibn Battuta was the man of law who is best known as the traveler and explorer. He was a botanist and a geographer as well. Ibn Battuta opened his eyes in a religious family of Muslim scholars in Tangier, Morocco. He left his paternal home at the age of 21 to perform the pilgrimage. He was all alone and had no companion as he did not join any caravan. Battuta was born and raised in the family of Islamic judges so he had a powerful urge to reach Mecca and perform pilgrimage (Hajj). Battuta covered the entire of the known Islamic world and a few non-Muslim borders as well that include:
- North Africa
- West Africa
- Sri Lanka
- Southeast Asia
The beginning of his journey:
Ibn Battuta had to become an Islamic judge, so he was studying law. But he wanted to learn more about law and wanted to go somewhere else as there were not any big libraries in Tangier. Also, he had a dream to travel and explore the world since he was a kid. So, he decided to leave his hometown and began the journey that continued for three decades.
Ibn Battuta described the beginning of his journey in his book “Rihla.” According to the book, Battuta left Tangier (his hometown) on 2 Rajab 725 H. He wanted to perform Hajj. He said that he was young at the time when he left his parents, and it was painful. But he had to fulfill his dream of performing Hajj, so he had to leave.
He began his journey riding on a donkey. He was all alone and had no companion along. Soon he linked up with a caravan that was also going to Mecca for performing Hajj. Battuta caught the fever and fell sick during the journey, but still, he managed to reach his destination to achieve his goal (pilgrimage).
Ibn Battuta took a few months to reach Mecca. He performed Hajj and visited many holy places in Mecca and Madina. Finally, his utmost desire of performing Hajj was fulfilled. Instead of going back to his hometown Ibn Battuta decided to continue traveling. He wanted to explore the world and learn more about Islamic law and jurisdiction.
He visited Yemen. Battuta’s journey continued and he joined a Caravan to reach Iraq and Persia. Battuta traveled to Azerbaijan and then Africa.
Battuta’s stay in India:
Ibn Battuta decided to visit India after leaving Africa. He always wanted to become a Qadi so upon reaching India he served as an Islamic Judge. Since he was an Islamic scholar, he won hospitality of locals as well as the rulers. He was presented gifts and valuables as well. As a matter of fact, the gifts and money he received helped him continue his traveling journey.
Hardships during the voyage:
It is pretty apparent that traveling in premodern times was quite hard. There were no cars and planes etc. to travel from one destination to the other. Battuta also had to face many problems while traveling. He did not have enough money to buy food. Lack of money was one of the big challenges Battuta faced during his journey. Also, he was shipwrecked and came across the robbers. Luckily, Battuta succeeded to save his life each time he was in danger.
Ibn Battuta married and divorced many women during his long traveling journey of thirty years. He fathered many kids.
Ibn Battuta decided to return to his paternal home after spending three decades in wandering and exploring the world. The boy who left Morocco thirty years ago had grown up and turned into an old man. Upon returning to Morocco, he was offered the post of Qadi by the ruler which he accepted. He also asked Ibn Juzayy to write down his traveling experience in a book. After returning to Morocco Ibn Battuta died. The year of his death is uncertain. But it is said it was the year 1368 when history’s renowned traveled died. Ibn Battuta is the one who tells us about the wide scope of Islamic nations at that time.