The adventures of Ibn Battuta

The Adventures of Ibn Battuta: A Journey of Adventure and Discovery

The novel, The Adventures of Ibn Battuta, is an account of one Muslim man's travels through the eastern hemisphere in order to quench his insatiable thirst for adventure. The book depicts life in the Islamic states of North Africa and Asia using historical context from the early fourteenth century. The biography of Muhammad Ibn Battuta, also known as Abd al-Lugh Muhammad ibn Abd al-Lugh l-Lawt ibn Baah, in the book is remarkably correct. He traversed what is now known as West Africa, North Africa, Part of Central Africa and the Horn of Africa, before moving on to canvassing the stretch that is Asia all the way from India, through ancient Persia and Iraq, through current day Syria, the cities of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and finally finding his way to China and then back. On estimate, his travels took a cumulative total of close to thirty years, where he was able to interact with different cultures and peoples, as well as gather a broad wealth of knowledge on different languages, customs, and religious beliefs. His travels were well documented and chronicled in texts that were referred to as A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Travelling or simply referred to as The Travels or The Adventures of Ibn Battuta.

The Early Life and Urge for Adventure

Muhammad Ibn Battuta was born in the Moroccan City of Tangier. He was born in a native country that mainly composed of Islamic scholars and legal experts. He was brought up as a scholar and a Sunni Malikimadh'hab student, an Islamic jurisprudence school. This was expected of him considering his heritage and family background, and a lot of his kinsmen the Maliki Muslims also urged him on so that he could serve as their religious judge.

A Departure from Conventional Life

However, Ibn Battuta had other plans for his life. He always had this nagging urge to see the world, and the pilgrimages that Muslims have made since time immemorial held so much appeal and glint that he longed to go. Instead of settling down into religious law, he bade his parents and hometown goodbye, forsaking all he had known in search of a thirst he was yet to quench. He wanted to make a pilgrimage to the famous Mecca. At age 21, he set out.

A Solo Journey into the Unknown

He chose to travel alone, in search of the experience that came with wandering as opposed to sticking to traveling caravans. Travel at the time was rather tricky and could turn out to be turmoiltous, seeing as there were no properly defined routes. Morocco is one of the more arid areas of Africa, and that posed a threat in itself. The threats they faced were those of starvation as well as dehydration, attacks from animals as well as poisonous snakes and scorpions, bandits, etc. The accounts mention that part of his journey he made alone on horseback, while part he made in groups of other travelers, mostly comprised of traders to be able to fend for himself in the event of a bandit attack. Adverse weather conditions were also an imminent threat, since most of the areas he visited are prone to very cold weather at night, very high temperatures during the day and occasional gales and sandstorms.

A Journey Through the Cultural and Geographical Landscapes

The account says that he started off along the North African coast, visiting the civilizations living there where he would stay for a few days to recentre, resupply food and water as well as to gather intelligence on language, culture, and religion from religious teachers in those areas. It is also possible that while in those areas, he was financed by the spiritual leaders so that he was able to move from place to place with less hassle. While in a town called Sfax, he was able to take his first bride, one among the many that he would acquire along his travels. He got to Alexandria, a city in the North part of Egypt. He stayed here a while, moved south to Cairo where he lived for two months. He then found a way to get across the Red sea via a town called Damascus.

A Path to Mecca and Beyond

He planned to make his way to the Holy city of Mecca through Syria. He chose to take the safer route that went through Hebron, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem. He was advised that it was safer since many pilgrimages were made through these cities to pay homage at the tomb of Mohammed the ancient prophet. He got to his destination in Mecca, did what he was there to do, and he decided to soldier on towards China.

An Exploration of Cultures and Beliefs

In all his travels, he incurred many expenses, stayed in very many cities and learnt so much during his stay, wherever he went, he was well received, and he had the chance to learn from different religious leaders, learning the role of cultures, beliefs as well as languages like Arabic in the Muslim fraternity.

Chronicles of a Medieval Life

The accounts of the travels of Ibn Battuta are an example of the way in which life was conducted during the medieval times in the fourteenth century. It was a perfect model of forms of travel at the time and represented some of the reasons and circumstances under which the mechanics of transport took place. It later when he came back to Morocco with the family and wealth he had amassed throughout his travels that he documented these chronicles, which serve as a mnemonic and reference point on matters travel, wanderlust, religion, and pilgrimages at the time.



Ibn, Batuta, et al. The Travels of Ibn Battuta, Ad 1325-1354: Volume Iv. 2017.

The Adventures of Ibn Battuta: A Muslim Traveler of the Fourteenth Century, with a New Preface. U of California P, 2012.

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