One of the greatest travelers and geographers Ibn Battuta was born in Tangier, Morocco. He visited the lands of every Muslim ruler during his travels and met with the people to know about their culture and heritage. Ibn Battuta also visited some non-Muslim lands that include:
- Sri Lanka (Ceylon)
Ibn Battuta traveled through the China Sea, Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, and the Red Sea. He crossed deserts to travel and explore the world. Be it scorching sun, sandy deserts, or the snowy mountains; nothing could stop him from pursuing his passion for exploring the world.
It was Feb 24, 1304, when a boy was born in Tangier, Morocco. His family gave him the name “Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta.” He was also known as shamas-ad-Din. The men in his family were legal scholars so Battuta according to his family tradition also had to become a scholar. He was provided with the basic education in Tangier.
When he grew up, he realized that there are no big Madrassas and libraries in Morocco. So, he decided to leave the land and travel to the other places so that he can get more knowledge about Islamic law and jurisdiction. It would not be wrong to say that Ibn Battuta’s thirst for knowledge took him to a journey that was full of hardships, dangers, and adventures.
The journey to Mecca:
It is quite interesting to know that Ibn Battuta was a young boy when he left his home for the first time. But what made him leave his home at the age of 21? Ibn Battuta was raised into a family of Muslim scholars, so the main focus was on religion. Ibn Battuta had a desire to go to Mecca. He wanted to perform Hajj/pilgrimage. So, he decided to ride on his donkey and left for the Holy city of Mecca.
It was the 14th century when he decided to go to Mecca, so there were no modern means of traveling available at that time. He was all alone and did not have money whatsoever. Still, he managed to reach there and perform Hajj. He took more than ten months to reach there. Ibn Battuta got married during his first journey. It was his first marriage.
Upon reaching Mecca, he performed Hajj and visited the sacred places. After staying there for quite some time, Ibn Battuta decided to go on a journey that took thirty years to complete.
Ibn Battuta visited almost 40 countries of modern times. He covered almost 75000 miles during his journey. Ibn Battuta met many rulers and the locals to know more about their nation, lifestyle, and culture. He visited various places and ate many fruits and vegetables for the first time. Ibn Battuta has described these fruits and vegetables in his traveling book as well.
He was welcomed by the locals and the rules which made his journey a bit easier. He received cash awards and valuable items as gifts from the rules of the lands he visited. In fact, he served as a Qadi as well.
Then After traveling to many countries and crossing many deserts and rivers, he finally decided to come back. When he left his house, he was young, and his parents were alive. But when he decided to go back, his parents had died.
Ibn Battuta came back to Morocco and decided not to travel further. He was an older adult then so, he stayed in Morocco. He was also offered the post of Qadi in Morocco which he accepted. Upon hearing about the explorations of Ibn Battuta, the ruler of Morocco asked him to write his book. So, he requested Ibn Juzayy to write down his travel account. After the completion of the book, Ibn Battuta kept serving as a judge. Then in 1368 or 1369, he died.
The legacy of Ibn Battuta:
Battuta is celebrated as one of the greatest Muslim travelers in history. He traveled more than the famous explorer Marco Polo. His travel book “Rihla” describes everything about his explorations. His book tells today’s world how much Muslims were involved in trade and commerce at that time.
Though the title of the most famous traveler is still given to Marco Polo, the world now has started appreciating his travels. In Dubai, Ibn Battuta festival is celebrated to pay tribute to his explorations. A mall named Ibn Battuta mall is also built in Dubai to recognize and appreciate his expeditions.
What do critics say about him?
His book Rihla was criticized due to having the names of the lands he did not visit. The critics said that he never visited some of the places he had mentioned in the book. Well, let’s just not go into the details. Ibn Battuta was one of the greatest travelers in history, and the world today accepts the fact.