Travel History

A Gifted Storyteller of 14th Century Ibn Battuta

Ibn Battuta is one of the greatest travelers in the history who traveled extensively across the eastern hemisphere. He started to explore the world a year after the death of the famous explorer Marco Polo. He is the only famous traveler of the 14th century who traveled the whole Muslim world at that time. He explored many of the non-Muslim regions and left a remarkable legacy of travel.

His adventures are recorded in his book “Rihla,” which is a gift for those who want to become an explorer and traveler. Battuta was a passionate traveler who achieved his goal of traveling through the earth.

Who was Ibn Battuta?

When it comes to the famous travelers in history, the list remains incomplete without the greatest Muslim traveler Ibn Battuta. As a matter of fact, not most people know about him. But he is the only traveler in the history who told the world about the abode of Islam in the fourteenth century- the time when the Muslim world was flourishing, and Europe was in the dark ages.

Ibn Battuta, aka Shams-ad-Din was born during the region of Marinid dynasty. He opened his eyes in a family of Muslim Scholars in 1304. He studied at Sunni Maliki School of Islamic jurisprudence in Tangier Morocco. But due to the lack of established Madrassas and libraries, Ibn Battuta decided to leave his native city.  He set off all alone to Mecca on Hajj/pilgrimage.

The Journey:

The most interesting part of Ibn Battuta’s traveling is that he was only 21 years old when he left home. He was passionate about traveling since his childhood, and his loft ambition led him to explore the world for three decades. Yes, he traveled for almost thirty years.  He traveled to North and West Africa, Middle East, Southeast Asia, and China.  The reason Ibn Battuta left his home was to explore the world and satisfy his intellectual appetite.

Ibn Battuta also visited India, where a Muslim Sultan was the ruler. He had an immense desire to serve as a judge there. Upon reaching India, the sultan offered him the post and Battuta accepted. Though he got into danger during his stay in India, still he succeeded to spend almost eight years there. He visited many places in India and stated them in his travelogue. Then the Sultan of Delhi sent him to China as an ambassador. But it is said that he did not succeed in reaching China at that time.

Ibn Battuta as a gifted storyteller:

It is quite interesting to know that Ibn Battuta fulfilled his dream of traveling the world when there were no means of transportation available. He only had a donkey when he set off from his hometown. He started traveling towards Mecca, where he performed Hajj. But He did not go to Mecca directly. In fact, he traveled through many lands and visited many places. He took a few months to reach Mecca. The reason was that there were no means of transportation, and he could not reach there directly.

After visiting many lands and meeting many people, he returned to Morocco (his homeland). It had already been thirty years. His parents had died in his absence. He then decided to stay in Morocco for the rest of his life. He was a gifted storyteller. He used to narrate every detail of the tale perfectly, which impressed people.

The ruler of Morocco also heard about his traveling journey. He got impressed upon hearing his travel stories. So Ibn Battuta was asked by him to write down his experience in writing. Ibn Juzayy and Ibn Battuta collaborated for a few months to write down the travel accounts of Ibn Battuta. Due to the collaboration of both scholars today, the world has his book “Rihla” that tells much about the greatest Muslim explorer and traveler Ibn Battuta.

The forgotten traveler:

Though he was the only Muslim explorer in medieval times, still he is not that famous. Most people know about Marco Polo- a Venetian merchant. But many of us don’t know about the Arab traveler Ibn Battuta. Ibn Battuta started traveling after a year of Polo’s death.

Both have a few similarities, but what makes Ibn Battuta greatest traveler is the miles he covered. Ibn Battuta covered 75000 miles during his thirty years long joined, which is more than the distance Polo covered in his life. Also, the objective of traveling is different. Ibn Battuta traveled due to the fact he wanted to study law. He always wanted to be a traveler. However, Polo was a merchant, so he traveled for trade purposes.

The world should recognize and appreciate what Ibn Battuta did in his whole life (traveling). He must be admired and praised. In fact, students should be taught about history’s greatest traveler.