Moroccan Muslim Traveler and Scholar
Ibn Battuta, or Muhammad Ibn Battuta
Moroccan Muslim Traveler and Scholar
From Kulwa we sailed to Dhafari [Dhofar], at the extremity of Yemen [near the border with Oman]. Thoroughbred horses are exported from here to India, the passage taking a month with a favouring wind. Dhafari is a month's journey from 'Aden across the desert, and is situated in a desolate locality without villages or dependencies. Its market is one of the dirtiest in the world and the most pestered by flies because of the quantity of fruit and fish sold there. Most of the fish are of the kind called sardines, which are extremely fat in that country. A curious fact is that these sardines are the sole food of their beasts and flocks, a thing which I have seen nowhere else. Most of the sellers [in the market] are female slaves, who wear black garments. The inhabitants cultivate millet and irrigate it from very deep wells, the water from which is raised in a large bucket drawn up by a number of ropes attached to the waists of slaves. Their principal food is rice imported from India.
A traveler in this country carries no provisions, whether plain food or seasonings, and neither gold nor silver. He takes nothing but pieces of salt and glass ornaments, which the people call beads, and some aromatic goods. When he comes to a village the womenfolk of the blacks bring out millet, milk, chickens, pulped lotus fruit, rice, "funi" (a grain resembling mustard seed, from which "kuskusu" [couscous] and gruel are made), and pounded haricot beans. The traveler buys what of these he wants, but their rice causes sickness to whites when it is eaten, and the funi is preferable to it.
From there we journeyed to the town of Qays, which is also called Siraf. The people of Siraf are Persians of noble stock, and amongst them there is a tribe of Arabs, who dive for pearls. The pearl fisheries are situated between Siraf and Bahrayn in a calm bay like a wide river. During the months of April and May a large number of boats come to this place with divers and merchants from Firs, Bahrayn and Qathif. Before diving the diver puts on his face a sort of tortoiseshell mask and a tortoiseshell clip on his nose, then he ties a rope round his waist and dives. They differ in their endurance under water, some of them being able to stay under for an hour or two hours [sic] or less. When he reaches the bottom of the sea he finds the shells there stuck in the sand between small stones, and pulls them out by hand or cuts them loose with a knife which he has for the purpose, and puts them in a leather bag slung round his neck. When his breath becomes restricted he pulls the rope, and the man holding the rope on the shore feels the movement and pulls him up into the boat. The bag is taken from him and the shells are opened. Inside them are found pieces of flesh which are cut out with a knife, and when they come into contact with the air solidify and turn into pearls [sic]. These are then collected large and small together; the sultan takes his fifth and the remainder are bought by the merchants who are there in the boats. Most of them are the creditors of the divers, and they take the pearls in quittance of their debt [i.e., the debt of the divers] or so much of it as is their due.
After leaving the king I entered the bazaar of the scribes, where I was noticed by the judge, who sent one of his assistants to ask the Greek about me. On learning that I was a Muslim scholar he sent for me and I went up to him. He was an old man with a fine face and hair, wearing the black garments of a monk, and had about ten scribes in front of him writing. He rose to meet me, his companions rising also, and [he] said, "You are the king's guest and we are bound to honor you." He then asked me about Jerusalem, Syria, andEgypt, and spoke with me for a long time. A great crowd gathered round him, and he said, "You must come to my house that I may entertain you." After that I went away, but I did not see him again.
From Tumbuktu I sailed down the Nile on a small boat, hollowed out of a single piece of wood.
After staying some days as his guest I set out for the town of San'a', which was the former capital, a populous town built of brick and plaster, with a temperate climate and good water. A strange thing about the rain in India, Yemen, and Abyssinia is that it falls only in the hot weather, and mostly every afternoon during that season, so travelers always make haste about noon to avoid being caught by the rain, and the townsfolk retire indoors, for their rains are heavy downpours. The whole town of San'a is paved, so that when the rain falls it washes and cleans all the streets.
He was in Damascus of senior scholars Hanbali Taqi al- Din Ibn Taymiyyah large Sham speaks in the arts. However, in his mind nothing. The people of Damascus venerate the most venerated, and preached in the pulpit... and I was then in Damascus, Vhoudrth on Friday, which exhorts people on the platform of the mosque and reminds them. It was among his word that he said: God come down to the skies this Kenzola; And got a degree of stair platform Fardah Fakih owners known as Ibn al - Zahra, and denied that which he spake. Public arose to this Faqih and beat him with hands and soles beaten so much that his turban fell
After the Pilgrimage at the close of the year [AD 1330] I set out from Mecca, making for Yemen. I arrived at Judda [Jedda], an ancient town on the sea-coast, which is said to have been built by the Persians... We embarked here on a boat which they called a jalba. The Sharif Mansur embarked on another and desired me to accompany him, but I refused. He had a number of camels in his jalba and that frightened me, as I had never travelled on sea before. For two days we sailed with a favoring wind, then it changed and drove us out of our course. The waves came overboard into our midst and the passengers fell grievously sick.
Here begins Ibn Battuta's travels? I left Tangier, my birthplace, on Thursday, 2nd Rajab 725 [June 14, 1325], being at that time twenty-two years of age [22 lunar years; 21 and 4 months by solar reckoning], with the intention of making the Pilgrimage to the Holy House [at Mecca] and the Tomb of the Prophet [at Medina]. I set out alone, finding no companion to cheer the way with friendly intercourse, and no party of travelers with whom to associate myself. Swayed by an overmastering impulse within me, and a long-cherished desire to visit those glorious sanctuaries, I resolved to quit all my friends and tear myself away from my home. As my parents were still alive, it weighed grievously upon me to part from them, and both they and I were afflicted with sorrow.
After this I reached a great pavilion, where the Emperor was seated on his throne, with his wife, the mother of the khatun, before him. At the foot of the throne were the khatun and her brothers, to the right of it six men and to the left of it four, and behind it four, every one of them armed. The Emperor signed to me, before I had saluted and reached him, to sit down for a moment, in order that my apprehension might be calmed. After doing so I approached him and saluted him, and he signed to me to sit down, but I did not do so. He questioned me about Jerusalem, the Sacred Rock, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the cradle of Jesus, and Bethlehem, and about the city of Abraham [Hebron], then about Damascus, Cairo, Iraq, and Anatolia, and I answered all his questions about these, the Jew interpreting between us. He was pleased with my replies and said to his sons "Treat this man with honor and ensure his safety." Then he bestowed upon me a robe of honor and assigned me a horse with saddle and bridle, and an umbrella of the kind which the king has carried above his head, that being a sign of protection. I requested him to designate someone to ride in the city with me every day, that I might see its marvelous and rare sights and tell of them in my own country, and he appointed a man as I had asked. They have a custom that anyone who wears the king's robe of honor and rides his horse is paraded round with trumpets, fifes and drums, so that the people may see him. They do this mostly with the Turks who come from the territories of Sultan Uzbeg, so that the people may not molest them, and I was paraded in this fashion through the bazaars.
His horsemen were divided into squadrons, two hundred horsemen in each squadron. Over them was a commander, who had in front of him ten of the horsemen, fully accoutered in armor, each leading a horse, and behind him ten colored standards, carried by ten of the horsemen, and ten kettledrums slung over the shoulders of ten of the horsemen, with whom were six others sounding trumpets and bugles and fifes.
After twenty-five days [from Sijilmasa] we reached Taghaza, an unattractive village, with the curious feature that its houses and mosques are built of blocks of salt, roofed with camel skins. There are no trees there, nothing but sand. In the sand is a salt mine; they dig for the salt, and find it in thick slabs, lying one on top. of the other, as though they had been tool-squared and laid under the surface of the earth. A camel will carry two of these slabs.
Among the grace-bestowing sanctuaries of Jerusalem is a building, situated on the farther side of the valley called the valley of Jahannam [Gehenna] to the east of the town, on a high hill. This building is said to mark the place whence Jesus ascended to heaven. In the bottom of the same valley is a church venerated by the Christians, who say that it contains the grave of Mary. In the same place there is another church which the Christians venerate and to which they come on pilgrimage. This is the church of which they are falsely persuaded to believe that it contains the grave of Jesus [Church of the Holy Sepulcher]. All who come on pilgrimage to visit it pay a stipulated tax to the Muslims, and suffer very unwillingly various humiliations. Thereabouts also is the place of the cradle of Jesus which is visited in order to obtain blessing.
Among their bad qualities are the following. The women servants, slave-girls, and young girls go about in front of everyone naked, without a stitch of clothing on them. Women go into the sultan's presence naked and without coverings, and his daughters also go about naked. Then there is their custom of putting dust and ashes on their heads, as a mark of respect, and the grotesque ceremonies we have described when the poets recite their verses. Another reprehensible practice among many of them is the eating of carrion, dogs, and asses. The date of my arrival at Malli was 14th Jumada I, 53 [AH 753, June 28, 1352], and of my departure from it 22nd Muharram of the year 54 [AH 754, February 27, 1353].
Another of their good qualities is their habit of wearing clean white garments on Fridays. Even if a man has nothing but an old worn shirt, he washes it and cleans it, and wears it to the Friday service. Yet another is their zeal for learning the Koran by heart. They put their children in chains if they show any backwardness in memorizing it, and they are not set free until they have it by heart. I visited the qadi in his house on the day of the festival. His children were chained up, so I said to him, "Will you not let them loose?" He replied, "I shall not do so until they learn the Koran by heart."
As we left Kufa I fell ill of a diarrhea and had to be dismounted from the camel many times a day. The commander of the caravan used to make enquiries for my condition and give instructions that I should be looked after. My illness continued until I reached Mecca, the Sanctuary of God (may He exalt her honor and greatness!) I made the circuit of the Sacred Edifice [the Ka'aba] on arrival, but I was so weak that I had to carry out the prescribed ceremonies seated, and I made the circuit and the ritual visitation of Safa and Marwa riding on the Amir's horse. When we camped at Mina I began to feel relief and to recover from my malady. At the end of the Pilgrimage I remained at Mecca all that year, giving myself up entirely to pious exercises and leading a most agreeable existence After the next Pilgrimage [of AD 1328] I spent another year there, and yet another after that.
At Sijilmasa [at the edge of the desert] I bought camels and a four months' supply of forage for them. Thereupon I set out on the 1st Muharram of the year 53 [AH 753, February 13, 1352] with a caravan including, amongst others, a number of the merchants of Sijilmasa.
At that time we used to go ahead of the caravan, and when we found a place suitable for pasturage we would graze our beasts. We went on doing this until one of our party was lost in the desert; after that I neither went ahead nor lagged behind. We passed a caravan on the way and they told us that some of their party had become separated from them. We found one of them dead under a shrub, of the sort that grows in the sand, with his clothes on and a whip in his hand. The water was only about a mile away from him.
Betel-trees are grown like vines on cane trellises or else trained up coco-palms. They have no fruit and are grown only for their leaves. The Indians have a high opinion of betel, and if a man visits a friend and the latter gives him five leaves of it, you would think he had given him the world, especially if he is a prince or notable. A gift of betel is a far greater honor than a gift of gold and silver. It is used in this way. First one takes areca-nuts, which are like nutmegs, crushes them into small bits and chews them. Then the betel leaves are taken, a little chalk is put on them, and they are chewed with the areca-nuts. They sweeten the breath and aid digestion, prevent the disagreeable effects of drinking water on an empty stomach, and stimulates the faculties.
Damascus is that prefer all the country well and spearheaded beautiful, and every description, though long, is a minor for its beauty. Nor opus which said Abu Hussein Ibn Jubair God 's mercy in the mentioned said: The Commission Damascus are bright, and the beginning of its light bright, and a conclusion when the lands of Islam Astqrenaha, and the bride cities Ajtalpnaha. It exercised the Bozahir basil and manifested itself in the analyzed Sandsah of orchards, and was the subject of Hassan place Almkan, and spruced up the platform the most beautiful decorating, and I had the privilege to shelter Christ peace be upon him and his mother them to a hill of them with the decision and given remained the shade.
Endowments Damascus does not restrict the types of plentiful mismatch endowments on unable pilgrimage gives those who Hajj on behalf of a man whom adequacy including endowments girls processing to their husbands They who do not the ability of their parents to Ttaghiizen including endowments for the escape of prisoners, including endowments for wayfarers are giving them what they eat and wear and Itzdon for their country, including the endowments to amend the roads and paved because the alleys of Damascus each and every one of them Rsifan in sidearms passes them Almtrgelon passes stirrups between that and them Endowment for only done good deeds.