Ibn Battuta Introduction

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(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

Ibn Battuta 1304-1369

(Full name Abu Abdallah Muhamad ibn Abdallah ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrahim al-Lawati) Moroccan travel writer and historian.

Renowned for his travels throughout the Islamic world and beyond, Ibn Battuta is believed to have covered over 75,000 miles in his journeys—three times the distance of Marco Polo's famous journey to Cathay. Battuta recounted his travels, dictated from memory, for one of the principal secretaries of the Sultan of Morocco. Battuta's narrative includes accounts of places, persons, societies, customs and ceremonies he encountered, and proves a rare chronicle of Islamic life during the fourteenth century.

Biographical Information

Ibn Batutta was born on February 24, 1304 at Tangiers, Morocco. He is believed to have belonged to an upper class family that settled in Tangiers many generations before Battuta's birth. Many of the men in his family served as qadis, or judges, a profession Battuta also adopted once he finished his travels and settled in Fez. Battuta began his journeys in 1325, visiting lands throughout the Islamic realm. He enjoyed the favor of many of the lords at whose courts he stopped, often serving them as a courtier or ambassador. Battuta was married and divorced several times, and at one time owned slaves. He also traveled as a religious pilgrim, assimilating the lessons he learned from the various holy men he encountered. Battuta escaped the Black Death—a plague that devastated populations worldwide—in 1348. When his extravagance and prominence aroused the suspicions of rulers in Delhi and the Maldive Islands, Battuta again managed to avoid disaster and was allowed to continue his travels.

Major Works

Upon his return to Fez Ibn Battuta regaled the Sultan of Morocco and his court with tales of his adventures. The Sultan then hired a secretary, Ibn Juzayy, to document the tales in writing. The resulting rhila, or travel book, entitled Tuhfat al-nuzzār fī Gharā'ib al-amsār wa-‘ajā'ib al-asfār [Gift to Those Eager to Observe the Wonders of Cities and Marvels of Journeys, 1358], contains Juzayy's transcription of Battuta's tales,...

(The entire section is 509 words.)