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A short back ground history of ibn battuta essay

Introduction to Ibn Battuta: Travels in Asia and Africa, 1325-1354, translated and selected by Robert M. McBride and Company, 1929. Their names and deeds are recorded in our history-books, their monuments still adorn our cities, but our kinship with them is a thing unreal, which costs an effort of the imagination. How much more must this apply to the great Islamic civilization, that stood over against medieval Europe, menacing its existence and yet linked to it by a hundred ties that even war and fear could not sever.

Its monuments too abide, for those who may have the fortune to visit them, but its men and manners are to most of us utterly unknown, or dimly conceived in the romantic image of the Arabian Nights. Even for the specialist it is difficult to reconstruct their lives and see them as they were. Histories and biographies there are in quantity, but the historians, for all their picturesque details, seldom show the ability to select the essential and to give their figures that touch of the intimate which makes them live again for the reader.

Of the multitudes that crowd upon the stage in the pageant of medieval Islam there is no figure more instinct with life than his. In his book he not only lays before us a faithful portrait of himself, with all his virtues and his failings, but evokes a whole age as it were from the dead. These travels have been ransacked by historians and geographers, but no estimate of his work is even faintly satisfactory which does not bear in mind that it is first a short back ground history of ibn battuta essay foremost a human diary, in which the tale of facts is subordinated to the interests and preoccupations of the diarist and his audience.

It is impossible not to feel a liking for the character it reveals to us, generous to excess, humane in an age when life was at its cheapest, bold did ever medieval traveller fear the sea less? He belonged, in consequence, to the religious upper-class, if the term may be used, of the Muhammadan community, and must have received the usual literary and scholastic education of the theologians.

On one occasion he quotes a poem of his own composition, but the other verses quoted here and there obviously bear a more popular character than the elaborate productions of the best Arabic poetic schools. His professional interest in men and matters religious may be seen on nearly every page of his work. Such religious details were matters in which he and his audience were most closely interested, and are by no means devoid of interest and value even to us.

Life Of Ibn Battuta Essay

But it is of far greater importance to remember that it was because he was a theologian and because of his interest in theologians that he undertook his travels at all and survived to complete them. When as a young man of twenty-one he set out from his native town with a light heart, and not much heavier purse, it was with no other aim than that of making the pilgrimage to Mecca and the holy places of his faith. The duty laid upon every Muslim of visiting Mecca at least once in his lifetime, so long as it lies within his power to do so, has been in all ages a stimulus to travel, far greater in degree than the stimulus of Christian pilgrimage in the Middle Ages.

At the same time, it created the organization necessary to enable Muslims of every class from every country to carry out this obligation. The pilgrim on his journey travelled in a caravan whose numbers swelled at every stage.

He found all arrangements made for his marches and his halts, and if the road lay through dangerous country, his caravan was protected by an escort of soldiers. When such was the lot of every pilgrim, the theologian received still greater consideration.

His brethren in every town received him as one of themselves, furnished his wants, and recommended him to those at the next station.

  1. On completing his years of study he made a tour with a retinue of followers to the trading stations on the east coast of Africa, returning as before to Mecca, then turned his back on the Holy City and set out for India.
  2. In China, Batutta headed north to reach Beijing, passing through Hangchow on the way. Your browser does not support the audio element.
  3. Foiled in his first intention of taking the direct route to Mecca through Upper Egypt the usual route of the pilgrim caravans from the West , he determined to join instead the pilgrim caravan from Damascus, and on his way thither tasted for the first time the joys of travel for its own sake. He had almost reached home when a messenger informed him that his parents had died while he was away.

Nor was the Pilgrimage the only institution which smoothed the traveller's path. Throughout the Middle Ages the trade routes of Africa and Asia and the sea-borne trade of the Indian Ocean were almost exclusively in the hands of the Muslim merchants. Though their caravans were exposed to greater dangers in times of lawlessness and disorganization than were the pilgrim caravans, they offered at least a measure of security to the casual traveller.

Ibn Baṭṭūṭah

It is evident from our narratives that in the great majority of cases they were animated by the same spirit of kindliness and generosity that has always marked the mutual relations of Muslims, and readily shared their resources with their fellow-travellers in case of need.

On his arrival in Egypt, with his mind still wholly set on Mecca, he received the first premonitions of his future from two of the illuminati, or saints who had attained a high rank in the hierarchy of the Muslim orders. From this point we see his vague desires gradually crystallize into a definite ambition, though he still hesitates from time to time, especially when his contacts with persons of saintly life awaken all his instincts of devotion.

Foiled in his first intention of taking the direct route to Mecca through Upper Egypt the usual route of the pilgrim caravans from the Westhe determined to join instead the pilgrim caravan from Damascus, and on his way thither tasted for the first time the joys of travel for its own sake. As time was not pressing, he wandered at leisure through the whole of Syria as far as the borders of Asia Minor, before returning to Damascus to join the caravan as it set out for the Holy Cities.

Early Islamic World: Biography

By now, he tells us, he had taken the resolve never to cover the same ground twice, as far as possible. His mind was still set on the Pilgrimage, however, and he planned his journey to cover the interval before returning to Mecca at the end of the year.

This time he renounced further travelling for a space of three years and gave himself up to study and devotion at Mecca. For the theologian the Pilgrimage meant not only the performance of one of the principal obligations of the Faith, but an opportunity of putting himself in touch with the activities of the religious centre of Islam. Mecca was the ideal centre of religious study, in the company of many of the most eminent doctors of the day.

But we may, I think, discern a further purpose. He had already made up his mind to seek his fortune in India, to which the boundless munificence of the reigning Sultan of Delhi was then attracting large numbers of scholars and theologians from other countries.

The years spent at Mecca would confer on him a better status, and render him eligible for a higher post than he could otherwise hope for. On completing his years of study he made a tour with a retinue of followers to the trading stations on the east coast of Africa, returning as before to Mecca, then turned his back on the Holy City and set out for India. But the journey was to be longer and more adventurous than he anticipated.

At Jedda there was no ship to be had bound for India, whereupon moved by some obscure impulse he turned northwards instead and began his great tour. Little did Sultan or courtiers think that six centuries afterwards their reputations would depend on the notes and.

Ibn Battuta – the great traveler

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