for one reason or another from leaders of nations to military generals scholars religious figures and even explorers of the latter category many from the west may first think of famous explorers like marco polo or christopher columbus but europe wasn’t the only continent to birth such renowned adventurers one particularly prominent explorer from outside of the west was ibn battuta ibn was a man of berber descent born in tangier.
under the reign of the marinade dynasty in february of 1304. his family was made up of islamic legal scholars who belonged to the lowata berber tribe ibn batuta himself would likely have studied at a sunni maliki school and was offered a job as a religious judge but he would soon realize that his heart yearned for much much more at the age of 21 our protagonist decided that he was going to leave his typical life in morocco and set off for a pilgrimage to mecca.
this trip would usually take roughly 16 months to complete but ibn batuta would not return to his hometown for 24 years i set out alone having neither fellow traveler and whose companionship i might find cheer nor caravan whose part i might join but swayed by an over mastering impulse within me and a desire long cherished in my bosom to visit these illustrious sanctuaries so i braced my resolution to quit my dear ones female and male and forsook my home.
as birds forsake their nests my parents being yet in the bonds of life had weighed sorely upon me to part from them and both they and i were afflicted with sorrow at this separation as he describes in his own words even batuta began his journey entirely solo during which he first traveled by land across the north african coast passing.
through telmsen bajaya and tunis here in tunis he stopped for a couple of months before continuing on his voyage he eventually arrived at the port of alexandria in the spring of 1326 where it says he met two notable men who would further fuel the fires of his traveler’s desires one of these men sheikh morshidi is said to have interpreted.
the meaning of one of ibm battuta’s dreams confirming that he was meant to be a world traveler the other sheikh buru nadine who was believed to have predicted ivan batuta’s destiny as a world traveler as well even telling him you must visit my brother farid uden in india ruko nudin in sindh and buranudin in china convey my greetings to them ibn batuta eventually did some exploring around the alexandria area and then headed off for cairo.
where he remained for a month and at some point met a man who warned him that he would only be able to arrive in mecca if he traveled through syria upon leaving cairo which was the capital of the mamluk sultanate ibn batuta continued his adventure though he at first remained within other mamluk territories next hoping to continue on toward mecca he traveled up the nile valley and eventually to the port of aid habb showing up.
in the wrong place at the wrong time though ibm battuta was forced to turn back to cairo after running into a local revolt that prevented his journey further toward mecca recalling the message relayed to him by the mysterious man he met on his first cairo trip ibm battuta then headed to damascus stopping in hebron jerusalem and bethlehem along the way once in damascus he decided to stay for the entirety of ramadan before moving along to medina.
which was another important islamic site four days later ibn batuta would finally make his way to mecca here with the long-awaited completion of the young man’s first pilgrimage ibn batuta was given the honorific title of with his first significant goal achieved many believed that he would now return home to morocco but this would not be the case for quite a while longer instead of going home as 1326 neared its clothes ibm batuta opted to join a caravan of fellow pilgrims on a trip elsewhere.
they first passed through najaf where ibn batuta visited the mausoleum of ali and from there decided to part ways with the caravan of ali and turned to baghdad he instead voyaged next to wasit then along the tigris river to reach basra eventually into iran where he stopped at the town of isfahan from there he reached shiraz and eventually did end up in baghdad but not until the early summer of 1327 once he arrived in baghdad though the traveler ran into a pretty important person abu saeed the final mongol leader of the unified ill khanate was fleeing for the north.
when ibn batuta ran into him and decided to accompany him on his journey an offer that he just couldn’t pass up but at some point along the way as he done with the prior caravan ibm batuta parted from the royal retinue and journeyed along the silk road until he reached tabriz he would soon become the guest of yet another prominent figure this time.
when he traveled to mosul where he was invited to meet with the ill cannate governor from there ibn batuta left for caesar and mardin then sinjar before heading back to mosul to once more join another caravan of pilgrims the timeline of the next leg of his journey is slightly disputed but even batuta eventually made his way back to mecca in 1327 and likely stayed until either 1328 or 1330 over the next year or so he found himself at the port of jeddah from which he journeyed along.
the red sea coast until he stepped foot in yemen next exploring some of its important cities and even meeting the mujahid nur al-din ali the ruler of the razulid dynasty after this ibm battuta likely arrived in either sana or aden then took a ship from aden to zela after a week in the ladder he moved on to cape guard afue where he stayed an additional seven days by 1332.
he would arrive in mogadishu where he stayed for a bit before voyaging on to mombasa and the swahili coast he then traveled to kilwa back to oman followed by the strait of hormuz and yet again back to mecca and as though he had not already traveled more than many ever would in their entire lives ibn batuta was still far from done his next stretch of adventure took him across the red sea and up the nile valley toward cairo again from which he journeyed to Palestine.
and eventually to the port of latakia from there he went by ship to alanya then by land to a gear dear where he spent that year’s ramadan after its end there’s a period of ibm batuta’s travels that are a bit tricky to understand and were possibly told out of order but according to the man himself he left a geared deer for milas then made his way to konya eventually ending up an urzu rum and finally to beer gee this seems a bit jumbled and out of order.
but it is the path that ibm battuta says he took over the next leg of his journey he visited iznik bursa the bailique of adin ephesus izmir and balakosir finally departing from anatolia through sinope ibm battuta went by sea to the golden horde and eventually the port of azov from azov he made his way to majar mount beshtau bogar and eventually astrakhan.
he then somehow convinced ozbeg khan who he had been with at this time to allow him to accompany princess byalun khan’s pregnant wife back to constantinople where she would give birth upon their arrival ibn batuta was able to meet emperor adronicus iii of byzantium before visiting the highest sophia and opting to stay in the city for a full month once.
he was ready to leave constantinople ibn batuta set his sights on sarai al-jadeed followed by bukhara and samarkand where he would meet yet another mongol ruler in the latter before heading off now for afghanistan along his way to india delhi would hold his first significant indian adventure as he met the remarkably wealthy sultan of delhi muhammad bin taklock the sultan quickly took a liking to ibimba tuta and the now seasoned explorer was given the job of khadi essentially a judge in delhi while this was a great honor.
it was a bit difficult for ibn batuta to do from his position to enforce islamic law due to the general opinion of it in india outside of delhi eventually the adventurer would continue his journey into the rest of india nonetheless although it appeared that his position in delhi wouldn’t help him much outside of the sultan’s court at some point.
while in india ibm batuta was kidnapped by a group of hindu rebels and robbed luckily he would eventually be freed to return to his travels at which point he made way to modern day pakistan where he visited the shrine of baba fareed and then found his way to hansi and sindh after completing the exploration of india the traveller wanted to leave for another pilgrimage to mecca but the sultan of delhi had other plans for his new judge.
it wasn’t until 1341 that ibm batuta would be allowed to leave and only because he was tasked with joining a chinese embassy that was hoping to rebuild a himalayan buddhist temple while traveling with the embassy he was once again kidnapped and robbed and now separated from his fellow travelers nevertheless the experienced adventurer would catch up with the others less.
than two weeks later from which points they would make their way to camhat and then calcutta where he would yet again become the guest of a local monarch once he was ready to leave calcutta ibn batuta faced even more bad luck as one of the ships he and his group had taken to reach the city have been destroyed by a storm.
while the other was taken by some of his companions without him on board at this point he was determined not to return to delhi although he was essentially stuck in southern india as he sought the protection of the contemporary sultan of nawayath but when the sultan and his sultanate as a whole ultimately collapsed the traveler now had to leave india all together and he eventually found himself.
on the maldives islands for the next nine months after being convinced by the local leadership to become their chief judge his later resignation was likely a product of growing political tension caused by his actions as chief judge in the newly islamic realm and he soon left the islands to reach sri lanka where circumstances once again not in his favor.
as his own ship was nearly totaled and another vessel trying to rescue him was overcome by pirates through all of this ibm battuta was still hoping to reach china as he had originally planned to do when released by the sultan of delhi but he next had to take some detours first to the madurai kingdom then to the maldives and finally to the port of chittagong he subsequently made his way to silhet where he became a guest of shah jalal in 1345.
from there the journey continued to the samudra passai sultanate and then malacca where he met the local ruler three days later he departed for kei lukari and then finally landed in china arriving in guangzhou in 1345 ibm batuta was given a theatrical welcome by the native muslim merchants and enjoyed his stay by exploring the town and even visiting the mount of the hermit after wrapping up his trip in guangzhou ibm batuta continued his voyage.
through china now reaching guangzhao at which he stayed for a couple of weeks before moving on to fujiao where he made a new friend and travel companion al-bushri who would join him on his visit to hangzhou which ibm batuta noted was one of the largest cities he had ever stepped foot in after then attending a banquet for a nearby yuan mongol leader ibn batuta would finally arrive in beijing where he styled himself.
as the long-lost ambassador from delhi earning him yet again more invitations from local authorities he then backtracked until he reached kuan zhao once more and left now for southeast asia and his return home at long last to morocco it was now 1346 and ibm batuta was homebound he arrived in damascus on his way back to morocco in 1348.
and then took off for homes where he was forced to take a pause due to the rapidly spreading black death all around him once he was able to travel again he went back to damascus then to gaza and next to abusir before returning once again to mecca for a pilgrimage then to sardinia and finally entering his hometown in morocco in 1349 upon his arrival back in tangier ibn batuta had learned that his mother had passed away.
only a few months prior and his father had actually died 15 years before although understandably saddened by the news ibinbatuta no longer had anything tying him down to morocco and only a few days after his homecoming he left for a second time now he made his way to the iberian peninsula where he arrived in al andalus with the intention of joining.
a group of other muslims who hoped to defend the port of gibralta after king alfonso the eleventh of castile and leon had openly threatened to attack it alfonso had died by the time they arrived and there was no longer a need to defend gibraltar instead then ibm batuta simply kept traveling going next to valencia and Granada.
the eager explorer then returned to morocco to do some local adventuring stopping next in marrakesh and fez before leaving for sigil massah in 1351 where he stayed for a few months at the start of 1352 ibm batuta’s next destination was tagaza after a short stay there he left for tasarallah where he and his accompanying caravan had water sent from oalata to meet them after reaching oalata themselves.
the group moved on he then journeyed through the mali empire after arriving in and departing from gao heading next to takeda ibn batuta received a message from the sultan of morocco demanding that he return to his hometown the now famous traveler agreed to do so and arrived back in morocco.
in 1354 at which point he would then go on to write a travelogue about his entire life so far giving marvelously detailed accounts of all that he had experienced throughout his travels across the globe it is thanks to his own works in the reela that we now know the fascinating and vastly impressive life and legacy of ibm batuta who would die in 1369 and go on to be one of the most remarkable though maybe sadly underrated explorers to ever walk sail and ride around the earth.
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