Ibn Battuta, who would become famous as one of the most prolific world travelers and Muslim scholars, was born in February 24th, AD 1304, in Tangier, Morocco. His family was descended from the Moroccan Berbers, a group that boasted a long proud tradition of producing scholars of Islamic jurisprudence. From his early years, Ibn Battuta was educated in the art of jurisprudence in an Islamic school. After completing his studies at the age of 21, Ibn Battuta left for a pilgrimage to Mecca. This hajj would have taken him about 16 months to fulfill. After his pilgrimage, he would go to a number of different Muslim countries, and he would return home only after years 24. He also set a record, visiting all the known countries then ruled by Muslim rulers.
Ibn Battuta was, like his father, a professional judge. But he was restless and wanted to travel to improve his education in practical terms. He visited many lands in the Middle East and traveled further to Africa. He was curious about the cultures and traditions of each country he visited. There were also some countries whose practices were a shock to Battuta, with his traditional Muslim education. In some of the countries he visited, he became a member of an annual caravan of pilgrims going from one country to another. Battuta was often ill with minor ailments due to the elements he encountered along the way. However, through his devotion, he always managed to recover to join the group’s prayers. He often experienced debilitating conditions that would also delay his travel courses.
Battuta told his travels to a writer named Ibn Juzay on his return to Morocco. This travel diary journal was finished in 1355, and became known as the Rihla. This was an account of all his travels, which lasted for almost 24 years. During his explorations, Battuta traveled to the Middle East and then ventured to Africa. Among the other places where he went, the Indian subcontinent was located, where he was appointed judge of Cairo by the sultan. Battuta has also traveled to various locations throughout Southeast Asia, Central Asia, China, Eastern Europe and Southern Europe. In some newly converted Muslim societies, Battuta discovered many unorthodox practices, and many were surprised by the many freedoms that women within them could grant and enjoy. He was particularly surprised by the way revealing women’s clothes were in some places and the decision-making roles they sometimes took in their marriages.
After his travel journal was turned into a diary, Battuta was ridiculed because many people refused to believe his stories and descriptions and the geography of the many places he visited in such a short time. They criticized his diary as a hoax and claimed that it was based on the stories of other travelers. This criticism, however, was nothing compared to the real difficulties and dangers he had encountered in pursuing his explorations. In his travels and land crossings, Battuta went through rebellions, wars and shipwrecks, and lived to tell the stories of his adventures. He often had a culture shock when he learned how other Muslims behaved with respect to the society in which he grew up in Morocco, and was often struck by physical illnesses along the way.
Death and inheritance
On his return to Morocco, Battuta settled permanently in Fez. There, he was appointed judge by the Sultan. He lived his last years telling of his travels with the writer Ibn Juzay, who became his aforementioned travel report of all the places he had visited during his early years. When all his travels are counted together, Battuta eventually recorded about 75,000 travel miles, including travel by ship, camel, horse and foot in the same way. This total was even more than all Marco Polo’s travel miles. His travel narrative style would also set a stylistic standard for later travel writers. In his diary, he brought to life the many cultures and traditions he saw and lived in the rest of the world of Muslin. He died in 1368 in his native land,