Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta, was born in Morocco, in 1304. He started his illustrious journey of the world on 14th June, 1325, when he was twenty one years of age. His travels lasted for about thirty years, after which he returned to Fez, Morocco where he dictated accounts of his journeys to Ibn Jauzi. These are known as the famous Travels (Rihala) of Ibn Battuta. He died at Fez in 1369.
Ibn Battuta could claim”The Traveller Of Islam” as he was the only medieval traveller who is known to have visited the lands of every Muslim ruler of his time. He also travelled Sri Lanka, China and Byzantium and South Russia. He travelled more than 75,000 miles throughout his life
PURPOSE OF WRITING THE BOOK
In order to share his experiences of travelling, Ibn Battuta made this book written. He tried to give real picture of the then society. He shared his religious political experiences with minute details. Every bit of information that has been given is his first hand knowledge.
This book is a travelogue of different countries of Asia and Africa. The intended audiences are students, travelers, historians and sociologists.
This book consists of fourteen chapters which are divided into two parts. The first part contains five chapters whereas the second part contains the rest of them. In this book, he started his journey from Morroco. He first went to Middle East than visited Central Asia, South Asia and East Asia and Africa
GENERAL SUMMARY OF THE WORK
In his first journey, Ibn Battuta started for pilgrimage and wended his way to Makkah through Algiers, Tunis, Egypt, Palestine and Syria. After visiting Iraq, Shiraz and Mesopotamia he again returned to perform the Hajj at Makkah and spent three years there. Then travelling to Jeddah he voyaged to Yemen, visited Aden and set sail for Kenya, East Africa. After going up to Kulwa, India, he came back to Oman and performed Hajj in 1332 via Hormuz, Siraf, Bahrain and Yamama. Later, he set out with the aim of going to India, but on reaching Jeddah, it seems that he changed his mind due to perhaps to the unavailability of a ship bound for India, and revisited Cairo, Palestine and Syria, thereafter arriving at Aleya by sea and voyaged across Anatolia, Turkey. He then crossed the Black Sea and after long wanderings he reached Constantinople through Southern Ukraine.
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On his return, he visited Khurasan through Khiva and having visited all the important cities such as Balkh, Herat, Bukhara, Tus, Nishapur and Mashhad, he crossed the Hindukush mountains via the 13,000 ft Khawak Pass into Afghanistan and passing through Kabul and Ghani entered India. After visiting Lahri, Sukkur, Multan, he reached Delhi. For several years Ibn Battuta enjoyed the favour of the then ruler Mohammad Tughlaq. He served as the Chief Qazi there and was later sent as Sultan’s envoy to China. Passing through Central India and Malwa he then reached the Maldive’s Islands, from which he crossed to Ceylon. Continuing his journey, he landed on the Ma’bar coast and once more returning to the Maldives he finally set sail for Bengal and visited Kamrup, Sylhet and Sonargaon (Bengal). Sailing along the Arakan coast he came to Sumatra and later landed at Canton via Malaya and Cambodia. In China he travelled northward to Peking (Beijing) through Hangchow. Retracing his steps he returned to Calicut and taking ship came to Muscat, and passing through Iran, Iraq, Syria, Palestine and Egypt performed his seventh and last Hajj to Makkah in November 1348 and then returned to his home town Fez in Morocco.
On his return to Fez, Ibn Battuta dictated the accounts of his travels to Ibn Juzay al-Kalbi at the court of Sultan Abu Inan . Ibn Juzay took three months to accomplish this work, which he finished on 9th December 1355. It is that Arabic text upon which our present selection is based.
ANALYSIS OF LANGUAGE
In order to experience the flavour of Ibn Battuta’s narrative one must sample a few extracts. The author gave insight of the society. People of the then era used to do their religio- cum social responsibilities mighty zeal and zest, it can be seen by Ibn Battuta’s own words as given below in following paragraph.
“The variety and expenditure of the religious endowments at Damascus are beyond computation. There are endowments in aid of persons who cannot undertake the pilgrimage to Meccah, out of which are paid the expenses of those who go in their stead. There are other endowments for supplying wedding outfits to girls whose families are unable to provide them and others for the freeing of prisoners. There are endowments for travelers, out of the revenues of which they are given food, clothing, and the expenses of conveyance to their countries. Then there are endowments for the improvement and paving of the streets, because all the lanes in Damascus have pavements on either side, on which the foot passengers walk, while those who ride use the roadway in the centre”.
Ibn Battuta also described the ‘Physical culture’ of the society in a very effective manner. He gave the comprehensive idea about architect, style of buildings in convincing manner. Here is another example which describes minute details of Baghdad in the early 14th century.
“Then we travelled to Baghdad, the Abode of Peace and Capital of Islam. Here there are two bridges like that at Hilla, on which the people promenade night and day, both men and women. The baths at Baghdad are numerous and excellently constructed, most of them being painted with pitch, which has the appearance of black marble. This pitch is brought from a spring between Kufa and Basra, from which it flows continually. It gathers at the sides of the spring like clay and is shoveled up and brought to Baghdad. Each establishment has a number of private bathrooms, every one of which has also a wash-basin in the corner, with two taps supplying hot and cold water. Every bather is given three towels, one to wear round his waist when he goes in, another to wear round his waist when he comes out, and the third to dry himself with.”
Ibn Battuta also describes in great detail some of the crops fruits and irrigation system in India he encountered on his travels. His handy writing tells about him a lot. When he talks about agriculture, his personality seems as if he is a great scholar of agriculture and same is the case with other topics such as given below:
“From Kulwa we sailed to Dhafari [Dhofar], at the extremity of Yemen. Thoroughbred horses are exported from here to India, the passage taking a month with favouring wind…. The inhabitants cultivate millet and irrigate it from very deep wells, the water from which is raised in a large bucket drawn by a number of ropes. In the neighborhood of the town there are orchards with many banana trees. The bananas are of immense size; one which was weighed in my presence scaled twelve ounces and was pleasant to the taste and very sweet. They also grow betel-trees and coco-palms, which are found only in India and the town of Dhafari.”
He described the journey of ‘pilgrimage’ and said that it was the only institution that smoothened the traveler’s path. On the journey, every subsequent city, village Muslim brothern received him as one of themselves furnished his wants and recommended the next station. Under these circumstances the Brotherhood of Islam was prevailing.
Ibn battuta was religious man the quality is being depicted from his writing and this factor may be seen through his visits to Shayookh and other theological personalities during his journey. The European scholars are of the view that he (Ibn battuta) gave more attention to saints than other details of places and things.
Battuta discussed about the Islamic life in detail. He also described the social and cultural values of the than society. He also presented theological scholars in details and their work as real social servant. He also discussed the causes of destruction of society. As for as the critique is concerned, the book has some mistakes as described by Dr. Samuel Lee. He misplaces the order of towns. Dates and exact details were altered by Ibn Battuta and Juzzy. He also gave wrong names while dealing with non Muslim countries. The treatment of women in the narrative has been examined by at least one critic, Marina. Modern writers continue to publish accounts of their attempts to retrace Battuta’s route, providing their own descriptions of their surroundings and comparing them with the depiction of the same locations in the fourteenth century. Though, there are some errors but these look meager when we compare it with his cosmic work.
Ibn Battuta’s journey showed that Muslims were dominated on economic activities along coastal areas of the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Chinese waters. Though the Christian traders, there, were subject to certain restrictions, most of the economic negotiations were carried out on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
Ibn Battuta, one of the most outstanding travelers of history, visited China sixty years after Marco Polo and in fact travelled seventy five thousand miles, much more than him. Yet Battuta has never been mentioned in geography books used in Muslim as well as European and other western countries which shows the indifference of West towards him.
The book is the perfect example of ‘Le Geographic Lui’ that gives knowledge on the basis of personal experience. Ibn Battuta gave the political, social, historical, economical and religious knowledge in very colloquial manner. The language of this book simple but the names that ha been given are not familiar and are not user friendly. Moreover, the author took the help of maps for air play of his idea. There is no bibliography as the book is written on the basis of personnel experience and he did not consult any literature. He was the traveler of the age, who had first hand empirical knowledge about every Muslim state. his personality was the Britannica in itself due to his cosmic exposure. He faced many rise and fall during his journey. So, he was most appropriate person for writing this travelogue and certainly, he justified it.
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