A great Muslim traveler and explorer Ibn Battuta was born in Tangier during the Merinid Sultanate. Battuta opened eyes in a family of Muslim scholars. Ibn Battuta is well known as an extensive traveler and explorer in history. He covered some 75000 miles in a period of almost thirty years. He almost traveled to all the known Islamic countries of his day. Ibn Battuta wrote about his traveling experience in his famous book Rihla. His book is the primary source of information about the countries and states he visited during his lifetime.
The beginning of a long journey:
Ibn Battuta was born into the Berber family of Muslim scholars in a small town Tangier. He studied law and wanted to become a judge like his ancestors. But when he was grown up, he realized that the city where he lives does not have big libraries and Madrasa. He wanted to learn more about the law to serve as a Qadi. So, he decided to start traveling around the world and meet new people to learn more.
He was raised in a religious family of scholars so; he wanted to perform Hajj. Hajj (Pilgrimage) is an important religious obligation. Every Muslim who has the sources to travel to Mecca must perform Hajj at least once in the lifetime. At a young age of 21, the passionate traveler started his journey towards Mecca and then he came back to his hometown after 30 years.
Traveling experiences of Ibn Battuta:
When Ibn Battuta decided to go to Mecca to perform Hajj, he did not have enough resources. His financial position was not strong since he was unemployed at that time. People usually join Caravans to travel towards Mecca to perform the pilgrimage. Ibn Battuta also joined a caravan, and he was lucky to have a law professional in the Caravan who helped him reach Mecca. After performing Hajj, he continued traveling, and upon returning to Cairo, he took a second side trip.
He spent Ramadan in Damascus and then joined up with a caravan traveling from Damascus to Madina. He then went to Mecca after staying in Madina for a few days. The traveling journey of Ibn Battuta was not smooth at all. He faced many challenges during his traveling history of thirty years. But he was the lucky one to come out of every problem.
Ibn Battuta had many wives and kids as well. He got married to many women during his traveling journey.
The end of the journey:
He visited Muslim and non-Muslim countries to know how people outside his region live. He met many people and learned about their lifestyle and culture. He criticized many traditions, for example, he did not like the tradition of practicing nudity by women in Mali. He has stated about various cultures in his writing account “Rihla” which is the source of information for us today. After traveling around the world, Ibn Battuta came back to Tangier. He had lost his father, and he heard the news after so many years. When he returned to his hometown Tangier his travel tales spread around and the ruler of Tangier also heard about him. He asked Ibn Battuta to write down his travel account. Ibn Battuta requested his fellow scholar Ibn Juzayy to write down his travel journal.
Ibn Battuta is often compared with Marco Polo who died before Ibn Battuta started his traveling journey. Ibn Battuta traveled more than Polo, and he had a passion for traveling while as Polo began traveling because he was born into the family of merchants.