Chapter

Medieval Pathways and Ibn Battuta

Raymond William Baker

in One Islam, Many Muslim Worlds

Published in print October 2015 | ISBN: 9780199846474
Published online August 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780190230784 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199846474.003.0005

Series: Religion and Global Politics

Medieval Pathways and Ibn Battuta

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The Qur’an explicitly speaks to al Nas, all humanity. In Islam, all human beings are chosen. “One single community” is the description of humankind in the Qur’an. The universal message of Islam recognizes no human or geographic boundaries. Pluralism is central to Islam, and travelers who celebrate human diversity, like the great fourteenth-century Ibn Battuta, are a fixture of Islamic culture. What makes Ibn Battuta so important for contemporary anthropology is that the knowledge he sought of diverse others was practical and grounded understanding of how they lived their distinctive lives. He sought to understand the people he encountered from Morocco to China well enough to live among them in peace. He does not simply describe the various networks that link the ummah (Islamic community) of his day. Rather, he lives through them and shares their experiences, ranging from spirituality to sexuality, in the most intimate and vivid ways.

Keywords: Islamic world; medieval networks; China; Morocco; pluralism; anthropology; sexuality; spirituality

Chapter.  13001 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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