Born and raised in the city of Tangier in Morocco in 1304, Ibn Battuta was raised from a Muslim family of legal scholars. At the age of 21 in 1325, he went for a pilgrimage in Mecca eager to learn and seek for adventure. He traveled along Northern Africa’s coast on the way to Egypt riding a donkey all by himself.
When Ibn Battuta reached Tiemcen city, he heads out on a pilgrimage trail where he may have passed through valleys without seeing any towns for many days, just camel herders and Berber camps. Ultimately, he encountered a group of travelers who are also pilgrims.
Just like Ibn Battuta, the pilgrims included in the caravan are all thrilled about their hajj, it was a big study tour of the World of Islam. For the former, it’s a chance to gain awareness of law and religion and to interact with other Muslim scholars. In Dar al-Islam, he may also have considered looking for work as an Islamic judge after getting education certificates from great scholars of that time.
After arriving at the port of Algiers, the travelers camped at the city walls and waited for other pilgrims to join the group. Next, they headed to forests before getting to Bijaya city where Ibn Battuta got sick yet he continued with the journey.
It was in the city of Constantine where Ibn Battuta became acquainted with the governor who offered him money and a quality cape made of wool. It is the first of the many significant gifts from devout Muslims which would make him quite wealthy at times.
His group traveled light at maximum speed, continuing nonstop due to concerns of Arab rebels. Eventually, Ibn Battuta became sick again, so sick that he needs to be tied up to his saddle so he won’t fall over.
The group then arrived in the city of Tunis, a big city with more than a hundred thousand populations and fascinated with art and education. The area is also a seaport with trade markets that vary from leather, wool, cloth, hides, olive oil, wax, and grain. The city was a market of products coming from Sub-Saharan Africa such as ivory, ostrich feathers, slaves, and gold. The place has impressive mosques, palaces, colleges, and gardens. It is in this part of the trip that Ibn Battuta felt really homesick.
Then again, he stayed in Tunis for 2 months and lived in a madrasa or college dorm where he met high positioned judges and scholars.
Ibn Battuta finally left Tunis in a bigger caravan of pilgrims and he was even signed up as qadi or Islamic judge that settles disputes for the pilgrimage caravan. This was quite an achievement considering his age. They were therefore accompanied by horsemen troops and archers from the government to keep them safe from Arab rebels.
Get to know more about Ibn Battuta and his journey in the upcoming second edition of International Festival of Ibn Battuta entitled “Travelers, the Ambassadors of Peace” held on November 9 to 12, 2017 at the city of Tangier. The event organized by the Moroccan Association of Ibn Battuta aims to celebrate the legacy of the world renowned traveler.
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