Ibn Baṭṭūṭa

Yousef Meri

in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:
Ibn Baṭṭūṭa


Ibn Baṭṭūṭa was a Maghribi Amazighi (Berber) traveler, Mālikī scholar, judge, and ṣūfī from Tangier (in present-day Morocco). He went on a journey that lasted twenty-four years to undertake the ḥajj, which he did on at least four occasions, and to obtain knowledge from various scholars and theologians from such major centers of learning as Cairo, Damascus, and Baghdad. His Travels (Tuḥfat al-nuẓẓār fī gharā ib al-amṣār wa ajā ib al-asfār (A precious gift to those who contemplate the wonders of cities and the marvels of traveling; often abbreviated as riḥla [literally, “journey”]), which the Marīnid ruler Abū Inān (r. 1348–1359) commissioned him to compose upon his return to the Maghrib in 1354, is regarded as one of the most important works of the riḥla (travel literature) genre. Ibn Baṭṭūṭa traveled more than 75,000 miles throughout North Africa and Andalusia, the central Islamic lands, Central Asia and Anatolia, South and Southeast Asia, China, and West and East Africa. Despite the work’s sometimes confused itineraries, incorrect chronologies, misidentification of place-names, and inconsistencies, it has been shown that the Travels is a detailed and largely accurate record of the places Ibn Baṭṭūṭa visited and the people he encountered, based on the author’s notes and recollections. The modern-day Moroccan scholar and editor of Tuḥfat al-nuẓẓār, Abd al-Hādī al-Tāzī, convincingly argues, based on an analysis of all known manuscripts of the Travels, that the account is authentic in the main. Moreover, the Travels incorporates details from the works of previous writers, including the Andalusian traveler Ibn Jubayr (d. 1217), particularly in its descriptions of parts of Palestine and the Ḥijāz.

Article.  2432 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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