“The Adventures of Ibn Battuta: A Muslim Traveler of the Fourteenth Century” Translation: Ross E. Dunn
Ibn Batutta was a self-proclaimed scholar of the fourteenth century who traveled extensively throughout sub-Saharan Africa under the banner of Islam, and wrote of his travels in an autobiographical book entitled ‘The Travels of Ibn Battuta’. The financing for his ventures was derived from Muslim rulers inhabiting the cities he visited. His text regarding the cities and their occupants provide great insight into the cultural diversity and economic conditions of medieval Africa, Middle East and Asia. Ibn Battuta also exposes intricate details of daily life regarding food, clothing and rituals. His journals relay a precarious existence where food is not always palatable; clothing is optional and indigenous rituals conflict with his own beliefs. Religious studies students may question the need for this intricate detail; however, Ibn Battuta was gathering the crucial knowledge to help other Muslims make the journey. His observances also allowed community leaders to learn of the actions of other community leaders. Among his many observations Ibn Battuta describes the terrain where he travels and the manner in which each community receives him. On many occasions, particularly when crossing the desert, advance notice was sent to make provisions for his lodging. This advanced notice also served a vital task, to arrange for a group of people to meet the traveling party several days outside of town with the necessary supplies to complete the journey. The text discloses unfortunate events where couriers were lost, resulting in the death of entire parties because additional supplies were never sent to meet them. Recording this type of information would be an invaluable resource for other Muslims who desire to go on a pilgrimage. The Travels also discuss the danger of storms at sea and seasonal conditions that limited the...
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