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Ibn Battuta Travels: Going eastward to Malaysia and Sumatra

Ibn Battuta Travels: Going eastward to Malaysia and Sumatra
Ibn Battuta Travels: Going eastward to Malaysia and Sumatra

Following a chain of unfortunate events in Maldives and India, losing everything Ibn Battuta has from pirate thieves and shipwrecks, he settled to go back to China alone.

Traveling Muslims like Ibn Battuta knows that Muslim hospitality is present in leading sea harbors. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad encouraged to travel and learn in China and therefore Ibn Battuta did not find it to be difficult to go on a voyage to China, like in any other country, as he knows he can depend on the kindness of fellow Muslims in Malaysia en route to China. According to a saying from Prophet Muhammad: “Seek knowledge, even as far as China.” Therefore going to China, like anywhere else Ibn Battuta had traveled, would not be difficult.

Malay leaders urged Muslim merchants to establish a business in their docks and take advantage of the country’s strong economy. Having settled, the Muslim community looked for judges, teachers, entrepreneurs, religious leaders etc. This eventually made the community grow and become more influential. Malay rulers acknowledged the benefits of converting into Muslims like going into bigger trade networks and join fully in Dar al-Islam. Even a Malay Prince of Sumatra in the 13th century converted to Islam but several of his non-Muslim followers may probably became the pirates that caused trouble to many commercial ships in the Strait of Malacca.

Together with some companions, Ibn Battuta set sail to Chittagong from India. Today, the country is now called Bangladesh. Chittagong he shares was an urban community full of food but emits foul smell and where everything was cheap, even slaves.

Ibn Battuta intended to travel to Sylhet in Meghna Riverto, to look for a famed hundred year old holy man named Shah Jalal who can see the future and carry out miracles. This holy man told his disciples that a traveler from N. Africa is coming. They discovered that Ibn Battuta is on his way. For three days, he stayed there, sharing stories of travels with the holy man.

The traveler stated that Shah Jalal was lean and tall with fair complexion living by the mosque inside a cave. Interestingly, his only items he treasure are butter, goat he keeps for milk, as well as yogurt. He noticed that the followers of this holy man were of foreign descent and recognized for their vigor and bravery. He too noted that a lot of people would go to the Shah to seek guidance.

Continuing on with his original plan, he went back to Chittagong, and boarded a Chinese junk and traveled to Samudra in Sumatra where he settled for 2 weeks as sultan’s visitor. The ruler gave him supplies and sent him in one the sultan’s junks to China.

 

Mohamed Dekkak

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