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Ibn Battuta

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Ibn Battuta
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Ibn Battuta
Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd Allāh al-Lawātī al-Ţanjī ibn Baṭūṭah(Arabic: أبو عبد الله محمد بن عبد الله اللواتي الطنجي بن بطوطة‎), or simply Ibn Battuta (ابن بطوطة), also known as Shams ad-Din[1] (February 25, 1304–1368 or 1369), was a Muslim Moroccanexplorer, known for his extensive travels, accounts of which were published in the Rihla (lit. "Journey"). Over a period of thirty years, he visited most of the known Islamic world as well as many non-Muslim lands; his journeys including trips to North Africa, the Horn of Africa,West Africa, Southern Europe and Eastern Europe in the West, and to the Middle East,South Asia, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and China in the East, a distance surpassing threefold his near-contemporary Marco Polo. Ibn Battuta is considered one of the greatesttravellers of all time.[2] He journeyed more than 75,000 miles (121,000 km), a figure unsurpassed by any individual explorer until the coming of the Steam Age some 450 years later.[1]
Early life and his first hajj

All that is known about Ibn Battuta's life comes from the autobiographical information included in the account of his travels. Ibn Battuta was born into a Berber family of Islamiclegal scholars in Tangier, Morocco, on 25 February 1304, during the reign of the Marinid dynasty.[3] As a young man he would have studied at a Sunni Maliki madh'hab, (Islamic jurisprudence school), the dominant form of education in North Africa at that time.[4] In June 1325, at the age of twenty-one, Ibn Battuta set off from his hometown on a hajj, or pilgrimage, to Mecca, a journey that would take sixteen months. He would not see Morocco again for twenty-four years.
"I set out alone, finding no companion to cheer the way with friendly intercourse, and no party of travellers with whom to associate myself. Swayed by an overmastering impulse within me, and a long-cherished desire to visit those glorious sanctuaries, I resolved to quit all my friends and tear myself away from my home. As my parents were still alive, it weighed grievously upon me to part from them, and both they and I were afflicted with sorrow."[5]
He travelled to Mecca overland, following the North African coast across the sultanates ofAbd al-Wadid and Hafsid. The route took him through Tlemcen, Béjaïa, and then Tunis, where he stayed for two months.[6] For safety, Ibn Battuta usually joined a caravan to reduce the risk of an attack by wandering Arab Bedouin. He took a bride in the town of Sfax, the first in a series of marriages that would feature in his travels.[7]
In the early spring of 1326, after a journey of over 3,500 km (2,200 mi), Ibn Battuta arrived at the port of Alexandria, then part of the Bahri Mamluk empire.[8] He spent several weeks visiting sites in the area then headed inland to Cairo, the capital of the Mamluk Sultanateand even at that time an important large city. After spending about a month in Cairo,[9] he embarked on the first of many detours within the relative safety of Mamluk territory. Of the three usual routes to Mecca, Ibn Battuta chose the least-travelled, which involved a journey up the Nile valley, then east to the Red Sea port of Aydhab,[10] Upon approaching the town however, a local rebellion forced him to turn back.[11]
Ibn Battuta returned to Cairo and took a second side trip, this time to Mamluk-controlled Damascus. During his first trip he had encountered a holy man, Shaykh Abul Hasan al Shadili, who prophesied that he would only reach Mecca by travelling through Syria. The diversion held an added advantage; due to the holy places that lay along the way, including Hebron, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem, the Mamluk authorities spared no efforts in keeping the route safe for pilgrims. Without this help many travelers would be robbed and murdered.
After spending the Muslim month of Ramadan in Damascus, he joined a caravan travelling the 1,500 km (930 mi) south to Medina, tomb of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. After four days in the town, he journeyed on to Mecca where completing his pilgrimage he took the honorific status of El-Hajji. Rather than return home, Ibn Battuta instead decided to continue on, choosing as his next destination theIlkhanate, a Mongol Khanate, to the northeast.
 
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