Ibn Battuta travels to Red Sea and East Africa

Ibn Battuta travels to the Red Sea and East Africa

Ibn Battuta travels to Red Sea and East Africa
Ibn Battuta travels to the Red Sea and East Africa

For 1 year, Ibn Battuta resided and studied in Mecca. Afterward, he set off for his next adventure. He journeyed to Jidda on the Red Sea inside a small crowded ship called dhow together with other pilgrims.

It was his first experience traveling at sea and the Red Sea can be unforgiving. The navigation was a difficult path due to storms and may throw the vessel off the course. There are also concerns about pirates and passengers getting seasick. In the end, the wind would help these boat reach their destinations.

Upon arriving on land, Ibn Battuta was able to lease camels to continue with the trip. He visited coastal cities and villages in Yemen’s mountains. He was also gifted a horse by a sultan in Taiz.

From Taiz, his trip takes him to Aden, a coastal city located in an extinct volcano’s crater with the east side open, guarding the entrance to the Red Sea. Its harbor was walled with stones for protection. Aden charges tax on every product coming using this port. Trade markets include a wide variety of imports such as spices, iron, Indian silk, African ivory, fruits etc.

During this time, Muslim traders had a good control over the west half of the Indian Ocean trade centers. Muslim communities grew along Africa’s coast and eventually developed along India and Southeast Asia. This part of the world is not predominantly Muslim, it was a minority religion where most locals do not speak Arabic. This is the continued path that Ibn Battuta traveled. At each country, however, he would meet fellow Muslims who would welcome him.

Ibn Battuta decided to set off for another adventure prior to getting a permanent job – this time, down East Africa’s coast. It has been easier to sail south using a dhow due to good weather condition.  It is common for a huge dhow to have a crew of thirty to lift and turn the sails into the wind. Small dhows were utilized along the shore with only one triangular sail.

These ships traveled their way to the eastern shore of Africa making a stop at villages to trade and market for African goods like gold, ivory, myrrh to produce s fine skin oil, some animal skins, frankincense and ambergris utilized to produce perfumes, and slaves. Zeila was Ibn battuta’s first stop, a port of Ethiopia’s Christian kingdom with a huge community of Muslims. For him,  Zeila is world’s most dirty, most disagreeable, and most smelly village. The cause of its foul smell is due to large quantity of fish and the camels’ blood they butcher in its alleys. What Ibn Battuta did to get away from the smell is to sleep on his ship, considering the water was rough.

Ibn Battuta continued his journey to the south and after 2 weeks they made it to the busiest and richest East African port, Mogadishyu. For a long time, The Indian Ocean ports had been active trade hub for Arabic, Persian, Indian and some European sellers. These merchants brought their culture, languages, and religion to the region.




Mohamed Dekkak

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