Almost everyone knows about the Venetian wayfarer Marco Polo, who traveled the world. But not many know about the Muslim wanderer Ibn Battuta who explored the world at a very young age. Ibn Battuta Traveled more than Marco Polo but still the title of “history’s most famous traveler” goes to Polo. Ibn Battuta was a Muslim traveler in the 14 century who spent half his life tramping across the Eastern hemisphere. He ventured into forty modern day nations and told the world about the glory of the Islamic world in the 14th century.
Ibn Battuta –An ambitious man:
When it comes to traveling the world remembers Marco Polo, who traveled the world with his family for trade. But Ibn Battuta is one of the history’s greatest names who started traveling at a young age of 21. When Battuta set off from his hometown, he was all alone. He had a passion for traveling, so he left home for an expedition that continued for almost three decades.
Ibn Battuta was born to a family of Muslim scholars in 1304. He was born in Tangier, which is a part of modern-day Morocco. Tangier is the port city on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Since he was born into the family of Muslim legal scholars, he was raised with a focus on education. Battuta was a keen learner, and the search for the bets libraries and teachers took him to a long journey that continued for thirty years. There were no Madrassas and libraries for higher education in Tangier in those days. The best libraries were in Damascus, Cairo, and Alexandria.
Ibn Battuta’s devotion to his faith:
Being born into a family of religious legal scholars, Ibn Battuta had a desire to perform Hajj as soon as possible. Hajj/pilgrimage is an important religious obligation for Muslims. So, Ibn Battuta on 14 June 1325 rode out of his hometown on a donkey to the Holy city of Mecca. Ibn Battuta stated his experience in his book “Rihla.” He described his feelings when he first left his hometown. He was sad at the time he left his home as he was leaving his parents and loved ones behind. But the desire to perform Hajj took him to an exciting journey during which he learned a lot.
Unlike Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta was alone at the time of leaving his home. Ibn Battuta had a desire to explore the world since he was a kid. When he left Tangier for the first time, he had no caravan to join. He was all alone. But soon he joined a caravan and reached Mecca after a few months.
Ibn Battuta’s financial condition:
Battuta was very young when he set off from Tangier. Well, he was only 21 years old and had no money to travel. But soon he became able to bear his traveling expenses as he was gifted valuables from the rulers of the Muslim countries he visited. He was showered with cash and valuable gifts, and Battuta was not in a bad financial position anymore. Ibn Battuta was a Muslim scholar, so he served as a Qadi (Judge) in many Muslim countries during his expeditions. If we solely talk about India, he stayed there for almost eight years and served as a judge there.
Ibn Battuta back in Morocco:
Facing many dangers, meeting new people and getting gifts from the Muslim rulers Ibn Battuta returned to Morocco. He left his home thirty years ago, and when he returned to Morocco, his father had died. He decided to stay in Morocco. The ruler of Morocco, who was a Muslim asked him to write down his traveling experience as he was quite impressed by his traveling stories.
So, Ibn Battuta with the help of a fellow scholar Ibn Juzayy wrote down a book “Rihla” in which he described how he traveled, what challenges and dangers he faced and how the Muslim world welcomed him.
The life story of Ibn Battuta:
Ibn Battuta was a great traveler who led a complete life. He wanted to perform Hajj, and he did. He studied, got an education, and served as a Qadi. Ibn Battuta explored the world and learned about different nations and cultures. As far as his personal life is concerned, it is said that he married ten times and had kids too. He spent an adventurous life. But he missed spending time with the parents and family. When we take a look at the life of Ibn Battuta, it seems a good picture. He followed his passion and faced many challenges to fulfill his dream of exploring the world.
Ibn Battuta is the only traveler who told the world about the Abode of Islam in the 14th century. Today the world should appreciate and admire his work.