Saturday, June 21, 2008
His intention to travel.
His main reason to travel was to go on a Hajj, or a Pilgrimage to Mecca, as all Muslims are instructed to do.
The route taken by him.
This map shows the approximate route that Ibn Battuta took on his travels.
This map shows the extent of the Islamic World at the time of his travels.
At the age of approximately twenty, Ibn Battuta went on a Hajj — a pilgrimage to Mecca. Once done, however, he continued traveling, eventually covering about 75,000 miles over the length and breadth of the Muslim world, and beyond (about 44 modern countries). Ibn Battuta started his journeys in 1325. Returning to Cairo, he took a second side trip, to Damascus (then also controlled by the Mameluks), having encountered a holy man during his first trip who prophesied that Ibn Battuta would only reach Mecca after a journey through Syria.
An additional advantage to the side journey was that other holy places were along the route – Hebron, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem, for example – and the Mameluk authorities put special effort into keeping the journey safe for pilgrims. After spending Ramadan in Damascus, Ibn Battuta joined up with a caravan travelling the 800 miles from Damascus to Medina, burial place of Muhammad. After four days, he then journeyed on to Mecca.
There he completed the usual rituals of a Muslim pilgrim, and having graduated to the status of al-Hajji as a result, now faced his return home. Upon reflection, he decided to continue journeying instead. His next destination was the Il-Khanate in modern-day Iraq and Iran.
To Iran and the Silk Roads
Once again, joining up with a caravan, he crossed the border into Mesopotamia and visited al-Najaf, the burial place of the fourth Caliph Ali. From there, he journeyed to Basra and Isfahan, which was only a few decades away from being nearly destroyed by Central Asian warlord, Timur. Next were Shiraz and Baghdad, the latter of which was in poor condition after being heavily damaged by Hulagu Khan. There he met Abu Sa'id, the last ruler of the unified Il-Khanate. Ibn Battuta travelled with the royal caravan for a while, then turned north to Tabriz on the Silk Road. The first major city in the region to open its gates to the Mongols, it had become an important trading centre after most of its nearby rivals were razed.
Second Hajj and East Africa
After this trip, Ibn Battuta returned to Mecca for a 2nd Hajj, and lived there for a year before embarking on a 2nd great trek, this time down the Red Sea and the Eastern African coast. His first major stop was Aden, where his intention was to make his fortune as a trader of the goods that flowed into the Arabian Peninsula from around the Indian Ocean. Before doing so, however, he determined to have one last adventure, and signed on for a trip down the coast of Africa. Spending about a week in each of his destinations, he visited Mogadishu, Mombassa, Zanzibar, and Kilwa, among others. With the change of the monsoon, he and the ship he was aboard then returned to Saudi Arabia. Having completed his final adventure before settling down, he then immediately decided to go visit Oman and the Straits of Hormuz. This done, he journeyed to Mecca again.
Byzantine Empire, Golden Horde, Anatolia, Central Asia and India
Spending another year there, he then resolved to seek employment with the Muslim Sultan of Delhi. Needing a guide and translator if he was to travel there, he went to Anatolia, then under the control of the Seljuqs, to join up with one of the caravans that went from there to India. A sea voyage from Damascus on a Genoese ship landed him in Alanya on the southern coast of modern-day Turkey. From there he travelled by land to Konya and then Sinope on the Black Sea coast. Crossing the Black Sea, Ibn Battuta landed in Caffa (now Theodosia), in the Crimea, and entered the lands of the Golden Horde.
There, he bought a wagon and fortuitously joined the caravan of Ozbeg, the Golden Horde's Khan, on a journey as far as Astrakhan on the Volga River. Upon reaching Astrakhan, the Khan allowed one of his pregnant wives to go give birth back in her home city – Constantinople. It is perhaps of no surprise to the reader that Ibn Battuta talked his way into this expedition, his first beyond the boundaries of the Islamic world. Arriving there towards the end of 1332, he met the emperor Andronicus III Palaeologus and saw the outside of Hagia Sophia. After a month in the city, he retraced his route to Astrakhan, then carried on past the Caspian and Aral Seas to Bokhara and Samarkand. From there he journeyed south to Afghanistan, the mountain passes of which he used to cross into India. The Sultanate of Delhi was a new addition to Dar al-Islam, and Sultan Muhammed Tughlaq had resolved to import as many Muslim scholars and other functionaries as possible to consolidate his rule.
On the strength of his years of studies while in Mecca, Ibn Battuta was employed as a qadi ("judge") by the sultan. Tughlaq was erratic even by the standards of the time, and Ibn Battuta veered between living the high life of a trusted subordinate, aiding in the converting of the people that lived along the trade routes that he travelled, and being under suspicion for a variety of reasons against the government. Eventually he resolved to leave on the pretext of taking another hajj, but the Sultan offered the alternative of being ambassador to China. Given the opportunity to both get away from the Sultan and visit new lands, Ibn Battuta took it.
SoutheastAsia and China
En route to the coast, he and his party were attacked by Hindus, and separated from the others he was robbed and nearly lost his life. Nevertheless, he managed to catch up with his group within two days, and continued the journey to Cambay. From there they sailed to Calicut (two centuries later, Vasco da Gama also landed at the same place). While Ibn Battuta visited a mosque on shore, however, a storm blew up and two of the ships of his expedition were sunk. The third then sailed away without him, and ended up seized by a local king of Samudera Pasai in today Aceh of Sumatra island a few months later.
In his travel log, he mentioned about the ruler of Samudera, Malik ul Salih, who was a Muslim and performed his religious duties in his utmost zeal. The madh'hab is Imam Shafi'i and it reminds him of similar customs he had seen in India. Fearful of returning to Delhi as a failure, he stayed for a time in the south India under the protection of Jamal al-Din. Jamaluddin was ruler of a small but powerful Nawayath sultanate on the banks of river Sharavathi on the Arabian Sea coast. This place is presently known as Hosapattana and is located in the Honnavar taluka of Uttara Kannada district. When the sultanate was overthrown it became necessary for Ibn Battuta to leave India altogether.
He resolved to carry on to China, with a detour near the beginning of the journey to the Maldives. In the Maldive Islands, he spent nine months, much more time than he had intended to. As a qadi his skills were highly desirable in these formerly Buddhist islands that had been recently converted to Islam and he was half-bribed, half-kidnapped into staying. Appointed chief judge and marrying into the royal family, he became embroiled in local politics, and ended up leaving after wearing out his welcome by imposing strict judgments in the laissez-faire island kingdom. From there he carried on to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) for a visit to Sri Pada (Adam's Peak). Setting sail from Ceylon, his ship nearly sank in a storm, then the ship that rescued him was attacked by pirates.
Stranded on shore, Ibn Battuta once again worked his way back to Calicut, from where he then sailed to the Maldives again before getting onboard a Chinese junk and trying once again to get to China. This time he succeeded, reaching in quick succession Chittagong, Sumatra, Vietnam, and then finally Quanzhou in Fujian Province, China. From there he went north to Hangzhou, not far from modern-day Shanghai. He also travelled even further north, through the Grand Canal to Beijing, although there has been some doubt about whether this actually occurred.
Return home and the Black Death
Returning to Quanzhou, Ibn Battuta decided to return home – though exactly where "home" was was a bit of a problem. Returning to Calicut once again, he pondered throwing himself on the mercy of Muhammed Tughlaq, but thought better of it and decided to carry on to Mecca once again. Returning via Hormuz and the Il-Khanate, he saw that state dissolved into civil war, Abu Sa'id having died since his previous trip there. Returning to Damascus with the intention of retracing the route of his first Hajj, he learned that his father had died. Death was the theme of the next year or so, for the Black Death had begun, and Ibn Battuta was on hand as it spread through Syria, Palestine, and Arabia. After reaching Mecca, he decided to return to Morocco, nearly a quarter century after leaving it. During the trip he made one last detour to Sardinia, then returned to Tangier to discover that his mother had also died, a few months before.
Andalus and North Africa
Having settled in Tangier for all of a few days, Ibn Battuta then set out for a trip to al-Andalus – Muslim Spain. Alfonso XI of Castile was threatening the conquest of Gibraltar, and Ibn Battuta joined up with a group of Muslims leaving Tangier with the intention of defending the port. By the time he arrived the Black Death had killed Alfonso and the threat had receded, so Ibn Battuta decided to visit for pleasure instead. He travelled through Valencia, and ended up in Granada. Leaving Spain, he decided to travel through one of the few parts of the Muslim world that he had never explored: Morocco.
On his return home he stopped for a while in Marrakesh, which was nearly a ghost town after the recent plague and the transfer of the capital to Fez. Once more he returned to Tangier, and once more he moved on. Two years before his own first visit to Cairo, the Malian king, Mansa Musa, had passed through the same city on his own Hajj and had caused a sensation with his extravagant riches – West Africa contained vast quantities of gold, previously unknown to the rest of the world. While Ibn Battuta never mentions this specifically, hearing of this during his own trip must have planted a seed in his mind, for he decided to set out and visit the Muslim kingdom on the far side of the Sahara Desert.
The Saharan Desert To Mali And Timbuktu
In the fall of 1351, Ibn Battuta set out from Fez, reaching the last Moroccan town (Sijilmasa) a bit more than a week later. When the winter caravans began a few months later, he joined one, together with two of his cousins, ibn Ziri and ibn 'Adi. After a month, he arrived at the Central Saharan town of Taghaza. Taghaza was actually a dry salt lake bed, and its buildings constructed from slabs of salt by slaves of the Massufa tribe, who cut the salt from the lake bed in thick slabs for transport by camel. Taghaza was a profitable commercial center and awash with Malian gold, though Ibn Battuta did not have a favorable impression of the place.
A long and difficult journey lay ahead, requiring special advance guides or takshif with local experience to arrange a passage. When the takshif became lost, the entire caravan usually disappeared without a trace. Ibn Battuta had his own tragedy: after quarreling with ibn 'Adi, ibn Ziri lagged behind the caravan until he became lost, and was never seen again. Traversing the open wastes of the Saharan Desert was therefore terrifying to many travelers, and Ibn Battuta noted the difficulty of navigating without landmarks, writing that there was "no visible road or track in these parts, nothing but sand blown here and there by the wind."
After another 500 harrowing miles through the worst part of the desert, Ibn Battuta finally arrived in Mali, particularly the town of Iwalatan (Walata). From there he traveled southwest along a river he believed to be the Nile (it was actually the Niger River) until he reached the capital of the Mali Empire. There he met Mansa Suleyman, king since 1341. Dubious about the miserly hospitality of the king, he nevertheless stayed for eight months before journeying back up the Niger to Timbuktu. Though in the next two centuries it would become the most important city in the region, at the time it was small and unimpressive, and Ibn Battuta soon moved on.
Partway through his journey back across the desert he received a message from the Sultan of Morocco commanding him to return home. This he did, and this time it lasted. After the publication of the Rihla, little is known about Ibn Battuta's life. He may have been appointed a qadi in Morocco. Ibn Battuta died in Morocco some time between 1368 and 1377 from the same disease that claimed his mother's life, the Black Plague. For centuries his book was obscure, even within the Muslim world, but in the 1800s it was rediscovered and translated into several European languages. Since then Ibn Battuta has grown in fame, and is now a well-known figure in the Middle East, not only for being an extensive traveller and author but also for aiding in the conversion of the people along the trade routes that he took.
Diary of events.
Ibn Battuta travelled to Morocco across North Africa in 1325.
Then, in 1326, he travelled to Cairo, in Egypt.
From there, he continued his journey on to Syria and Palestine, and The Hajj: Medina to Mecca.
Between 1326 - 1327, Ibn Battuta went to Persia and Iraq.
After which, he travelled further into Persia to places such as the Arabian Sea and East Africa, for 2 years, 1328 - 1330.
Then, Ibn Battuta travelled to Anatolia in Turkey between the year 1330 - 1331.
After that, he went to The Steppe - Land of the Golden Horde, from 1332 - 1333.
He then returned to The Steppes and into the Land of Chagatay.
Between 1334 - 1341, Ibn Battuta travelled to Delhi, which was the capital of Muslim India.
He escaped from Delhi and moved on to the Maldive Islands and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in between year 1342 and 1344.
In the year 1345 - 1346, Ibn Battuta also went to Malaysia and China.
His journey home lasted for 3 years, from 1346 - 1349.
Afterwards, he travelled to Andalusia (Muslim Spain) and Morocco in 1349 - 1350.
Ibn Battuta then started his journey to West Africa in 1351.
The journey lasted for 2 to 3 years, 1351 - 1353.
One country that impressed him.
Ibn Battuta was impressed with China because of the paper money and quality of Chinese silks and porcelain. He felt that among all the countries that he had travelled to, China was the best as he felt that it was the safest and most pleasant country for a traaveller.
Adventures and dangers encountered.
He met many dangers and had many adventures along the way.He was attacked by bandits, almost drowed in a sinking ship, was almost beheaded by a tyrant ruler, and had a few marriages and lovers and fathered several children on his travels.