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The Adventures of Ibn Battuta

The Adventures of Ibn Battuta: A Muslim Traveler of the Fourteenth Century

ROSS E. DUNN
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 3
Pages: 384
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pnht1
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  • Book Info
    The Adventures of Ibn Battuta
    Book Description:

    Ross Dunn here recounts the great traveler's remarkable career, interpreting it within the cultural and social context of Islamic society and giving the reader both a biography of an extraordinary personality and a study of the hemispheric dimensions of human interchange in medieval times.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95161-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Maps
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Preface to the 2012 Edition
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Preface to the Revised Edition
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Ross E. Dunn
  6. Preface to the First Edition
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  7. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xxi-xxi)
  8. The Muslim Calendar
    (pp. xxii-xxii)
  9. A Note on Money
    (pp. xxiii-xxiii)
  10. Abbreviations Used in Footnotes
    (pp. xxiv-xxiv)
  11. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    Abu ’Abdallah ibn Battuta has been rightly celebrated as the greatest traveler of premodern times. He was born into a family of Muslim legal scholars in Tangier, Morocco, in 1304 during the era of the Marinid dynasty. He studied law as a young man and in 1325 left his native town to make the pilgrimage, orhajj, to the sacred city of Mecca in Arabia. He took a year and a half to reach his destination, visiting North Africa, Egypt, Palestine, and Syria along the way. After completing his firsthajjin 1326, he toured Iraq and Persia, then returned...

  12. 1 Tangier
    (pp. 13-26)

    The white and windy city of Tangier lies on the coast of Morocco at the southwestern end of the Strait of Gibraltar where the cold surface current of the Atlantic flows into the channel, forming a river to the Mediterranean 45 miles away. According to legend, Hercules founded the city in honor of his wife, after he split the continents and built his pillars, the mountain known as Jebel Musa on the African shore, the Rock of Gibraltar on the European. For travelers sailing between Morocco and the Iberian Peninsula the strait was indeed a river, only 16 miles across...

  13. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  14. 2 The Maghrib
    (pp. 27-40)

    Tangier would have counted among its inhabitants many individuals who had traveled to the Middle East, most of them with the main purpose of carrying out thehajj, or pilgrimage to the Holy Places of Mecca and Medina in the Hijaz region of Western, Arabia. Islam obliged every Muslim who was not impoverished, enslaved, insane, or endangered by war or epidemic to go to Mecca at least once in his lifetime and to perform there the set of collective ceremonies prescribed by theshari’a. Each year hundreds and often thousands of North Africans fulfilled their duty, joining in a great...

  15. 3 The Mamluks
    (pp. 41-64)

    Of the dozens of international ports Ibn Battuta visited in the course of his travels, Alexandria impressed him as among the five most magnificent. There was not one harbor but two, the eastern reserved for Christian ships, the western for Muslim. They were divided by Pharos Island and the colossal lighthouse which loomed over the port and could be seen several miles out to sea. Alexandria handled a great variety of Egyptian products, including the woven silk, cotton, and linen from its own thriving textile shops. But more important, it was the most westerly situated of the arc of Middle...

  16. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  17. 4 Mecca
    (pp. 65-80)

    Ibn Battuta gives no indication of how many people like himself were gathering in Damascus in 1326 to join thehajjcaravan to Mecca, but it was very likely several thousand. Frescobaldi, the Florentine nobleman who was in Damascus in 1384 at the start of the pilgrimage, estimated the company at 20,000.² In fact the size of the caravan varied greatly from year to year depending on a whole range of factors affecting individual decisions whether to attempt the trip — political and economic conditions at home, weather, prospects for trouble along the route. For most pilgrims the journey was a...

  18. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  19. 5 Persia and Iraq
    (pp. 81-105)

    When Ibn Battuta made his first excursion to Iraq and western Persia, more than a century had passed since the birth of the Mongol world empire. For a Moroccan lad born in 1304 the story of Chinggis Khan and the holocaust he brought down on civilized Eurasia was something to be read about in the Arabic version of Rashid al-Din’sHistory of the Mongols. The Tatar storm blew closer to England than it did to Morocco and had no repercussions on life in the Islamic Far West that Ibn Battuta’s great grandfather was likely to have noticed. For the inhabitants...

  20. 6 The Arabian Sea
    (pp. 106-136)

    In theRihlaIbn Battuta briefly describes a residence in Mecca of about three years, from September 1327 to the autumn of 1330. In fact, the overall chronological pattern of his travels from 1327 to 1333 suggests that he lived in the city only about one year, taking the road again in 1328.² In either case he spent an extended period in the sacred city, living as amujawir, or scholar-sojourner. “I led a most agreeable existence,” he recalls in theRihla, “giving myself up to circuits, pious exercises and frequent performances of the Lesser Pilgrimage.” During this period, or...

  21. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  22. 7 Anatolia
    (pp. 137-158)

    Sometime near the end of 1330 (1332) Ibn Battuta boarded a Genoese merchant ship at the Syrian port of Latakia (Ladiqiya) and sailed westward into the Mediterranean, bound for the south coast of Anatolia. He was on his way to India and once again headed squarely in the wrong direction.

    His intentions had been straightforward enough when he left Arabia some months earlier. He would go to Jidda, buy passage on a ship for Aden, and continue from there to India on the winter monsoon, just as hundreds of returning South Asian pilgrims were doing at the same time. First,...

  23. 8 The Steppe
    (pp. 159-182)

    If Ibn Battuta had inquired among the merchants of Sinope the most sensible way to get from the northern coast of Anatolia to India, they probably would have told him to go to Tabriz by way of Trebizond, then on to Hurmuz and a ship to the Malabar coast. He chose, on the contrary, to make for the city of al-Qiram (Solgat, or today Stary Krim) in the interior of the Crimean Peninsula on the far side of the Black Sea. Al-Qiram was the seat of the Mongol lord governing the province of Crimea under the authority of Ozbeg, Khan...

  24. 9 Delhi
    (pp. 183-212)

    Arriving at the western edge of the Indo-Gangetic plain, Ibn Battuta was entering a world region where his co-believers made up only a small minority of the population. They were, however, the minority that ruled the greater part of the subcontinent of India. Over the very long term the fundamental patterns of Indian society and culture had been defined by the repeated invasions of barbarian charioteers or cavalrymen from Afghanistan or the steppe lands beyond. In the eleventh century, about the same time that the Seljuks were radically changing the political map of the Middle East, the Muslim Turkish rulers...

  25. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  26. 10 Malabar and the Maldives
    (pp. 213-240)

    About 1340, 15 ambassadors representing Toghon Temur, the Mongol emperor of the Yuan Dynasty of China, arrived at the court of Delhi.² Commercial ties between China and the sultanate may have been the main business of the mission, since the Yuan emperors were pursuing a vigorous overseas trade policy. Ibn Battuta’s explanation of the event is that the delegation came to seek permission of Muhammad Tughluq to have a Buddhist shrine constructed at a town about 80 miles east of Delhi.³ The sultan declined to authorize the project, and this was the message he wished his special envoy to carry...

  27. 11 China
    (pp. 241-265)

    Ibn Battuta visited Ceylon (Sri Lanka) on his way to Ma’bar so that he might go on pilgrimage to the top of Adam’s Peak, the spectacular conical mountain that loomed over the southwestern interior of the island. “That exceeding high mountain hath a pinnacle of surpassing height, which, on account of the clouds, can rarely be seen,” wrote John de Marignolli, the Christian monk who passed through Ceylon just a few years after Ibn Battuta.“But God, pitying our tears, lighted it up one morning just before the sun rose, so that we beheld it glowing with the brightest flame”² Ibn...

  28. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  29. 12 Home
    (pp. 266-289)

    Sometime in Ramadan 747 A.H. (December 1346 or January 1347) Ibn Battuta arrived back in Quilon on the south Malabar coast. He had sailed all the way through from Quanzhou to India on a single winter’s monsoon, changing ships at Samudra in the Malacca Strait and making a return visit of a few weeks to the court of Sultan al-Malik al-Zahir. Once in Quilon he lodged with the qadi until the Breaking of the Fast, then traveled on up the coast to Calicut.²

    Here he had another argument with himself over the advisability of returning to North India, throwing himself...

  30. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  31. 13 Mali
    (pp. 290-309)

    When Ibn Battuta visited Cairo in 1326 on his way to his firsthajj, the population was undoubtedly still talking about the extraordinary pilgrim who had passed through the city two years earlier. Mansa Musa, ruler of the West African empire of Mali, had arrived at the Nile in the summer of 1324 after having crossed the Sahara Desert with a retinue of officials, wives, soldiers, and slaves numbering in the thousands and a train of one hundred camels loaded with unworked gold. A handsome young king of piety and noble bearing, he had created a minor sensation among Cairo’s...

  32. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  33. 14 The Rihla
    (pp. 310-320)

    We know only in a very general way what happened to Ibn Battuta after he returned to Fez in 1354. Sultan Abu ’Inan certainly listened to his report on Mali and no doubt wanted to hear about his traveling career, the political highlights in particular. After the interview Ibn Battuta might have expected to slip quietly out of public notice, perhaps to seek a judicial appointment elsewhere in Morocco. Yet the king was sufficiently impressed by this genial and sharp-wittedfaqihthat he ordered him to stay in Fez for the time being and prepare a narrative of his experiences...

  34. Glossary
    (pp. 321-324)
  35. Bibliography
    (pp. 325-344)
  36. INDEX
    (pp. 345-359)
  37. Back Matter
    (pp. 360-360)