96 Facts About Ibn Battuta


Over a period of thirty years, Ibn Battuta visited most of southern Eurasia, including Central Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, China, and the Iberian Peninsula.

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Ibn Battuta's family belonged to a Berber tribe known as the Lawata.

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Maliki Muslims requested Ibn Battuta serve as their religious judge as he was from an area where it was practised.

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Ibn Battuta was eager to learn more about far-away lands and craved adventure.

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Ibn Battuta travelled to Mecca overland, following the North African coast across the sultanates of Abd al-Wadid and Hafsid.

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For safety, Ibn Battuta usually joined a caravan to reduce the risk of being robbed.

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Ibn Battuta took a bride in the town of Sfax, but soon left her due to a dispute with the father.

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Ibn Battuta spent several weeks visiting sites in the area, and then headed inland to Cairo, the capital of the Mamluk Sultanate and an important city.

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Ibn Battuta returned to Cairo and took a second side trip, this time to Mamluk-controlled Damascus.

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Rather than returning home, Ibn Battuta decided to continue travelling, choosing as his next destination the Ilkhanate, a Mongol Khanate, to the northeast.

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Ibn Battuta then headed south to Shiraz, a large, flourishing city spared the destruction wrought by Mongol invaders on many more northerly towns.

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Ibn Battuta joined the royal caravan for a while, then turned north on the Silk Road to Tabriz, the first major city in the region to open its gates to the Mongols and by then an important trading centre as most of its nearby rivals had been razed by the Mongol invaders.

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Ibn Battuta visited Mosul, where he was the guest of the Ilkhanate governor, and then the towns of Cizre and Mardin in modern-day Turkey.

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Ibn Battuta mentions visiting Sana'a, but whether he actually did so is doubtful.

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From Aden, Ibn Battuta embarked on a ship heading for Zeila on the coast of Somalia.

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Ibn Battuta then moved on to Cape Guardafui further down the Somalian seaboard, spending about a week in each location.

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When Ibn Battuta arrived in 1332, Mogadishu stood at the zenith of its prosperity.

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Ibn Battuta described it as "an exceedingly large city" with many rich merchants, noted for its high-quality fabric that was exported to other countries, including Egypt.

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Ibn Battuta added that the city was ruled by a Somali sultan, Abu Bakr ibn Sayx 'Umar, who was originally from Berbera in northern Somalia and spoke both Somali and Arabic with equal fluency.

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Ibn Battuta continued by ship south to the Swahili Coast, a region then known in Arabic as the Bilad al-Zanj, with an overnight stop at the island town of Mombasa.

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Ibn Battuta described the city as "one of the finest and most beautifully built towns; all the buildings are of wood, and the houses are roofed with dis reeds".

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Ibn Battuta recorded his visit to the Kilwa Sultanate in 1330, and commented favourably on the humility and religion of its ruler, Sultan al-Hasan ibn Sulaiman, a descendant of the legendary Ali ibn al-Hassan Shirazi.

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Ibn Battuta further wrote that the authority of the Sultan extended from Malindi in the north to Inhambane in the south and was particularly impressed by the planning of the city, believing it to be the reason for Kilwa's success along the coast.

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Ibn Battuta crossed the Red Sea and the Eastern Desert to reach the Nile valley and then headed north to Cairo.

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Ibn Battuta then journeyed westwards along the coast to the port of Antalya.

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Ibn Battuta was very impressed with the hospitality that he received and would later stay in their hospices in more than 25 towns in Anatolia.

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From Antalya Ibn Battuta headed inland to Egirdir which was the capital of the Hamidids.

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Ibn Battuta'storians believe that Ibn Battuta visited a number of towns in central Anatolia, but not in the order in which he describes.

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When Ibn Battuta arrived in Iznik, which had just been conquered by Orhan, Sultan of the nascent Ottoman Empire.

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Orhan was away and his wife was in command of the nearby stationed soldiers, Ibn Battuta gave this account of Orhan's wife: "A pious and excellent woman.

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Ibn Battuta's treated me honourably, gave me hospitality and sent gifts.

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Ibn Battuta had visited Bursa which at the time was the capital of the Ottoman Beylik, he described Bursa as "a great and important city with fine bazaars and wide streets, surrounded on all sides with gardens and running springs".

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Ibn Battuta stated that the ruler of the Beylik of Aydin had twenty Greek slaves at the entrance of his palace and Ibn Battuta was given a Greek slave as a gift.

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Ibn Battuta's visit to Anatolia was the first time in his travels he acquired a servant; the ruler of Aydin gifted him his first slave.

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Ibn Battuta went to the port town of Azov, where he met with the emir of the Khan, then to the large and rich city of Majar.

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Ibn Battuta left Majar to meet with Uzbeg Khan's travelling court, which was at the time near Mount Beshtau.

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Ibn Battuta recorded that while in Bolghar he wanted to travel further north into the land of darkness.

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Ibn Battuta talked his way into this expedition, which would be his first beyond the boundaries of the Islamic world.

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Ibn Battuta visited the great church of Hagia Sophia and spoke with an Eastern Orthodox priest about his travels in the city of Jerusalem.

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Ibn Battuta patronized various scholars, Sufis, qadis, viziers, and other functionaries in order to consolidate his rule.

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Ibn Battuta crossed the Sutlej river near the city of Pakpattan, in modern-day Pakistan, where he paid obeisance at the shrine of Baba Farid, before crossing southwest into Rajput country.

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Sultan was erratic even by the standards of the time and for six years Ibn Battuta veered between living the high life of a trusted subordinate and falling under suspicion of treason for a variety of offences.

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The opportunity for Ibn Battuta to leave Delhi finally arose in 1341 when an embassy arrived from the Yuan dynasty of China asking for permission to rebuild a Himalayan Buddhist temple popular with Chinese pilgrims.

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Ibn Battuta was given charge of the embassy but en route to the coast at the start of the journey to China, he and his large retinue were attacked by a group of bandits.

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Ibn Battuta spent nine months on the islands, much longer than he had intended.

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Ibn Battuta took on his duties as a judge with keenness and strived to transform local practices to conform to a stricter application of Muslim law.

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Ibn Battuta commanded that men who did not attend Friday prayer be publicly whipped, and that robbers' right hand be cut off.

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Ibn Battuta forbade women from being topless in public, which had previously been the custom.

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Ibn Battuta resigned from his job as chief qadi, although in all likelihood it was inevitable that he would have been dismissed.

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Ibn Battuta reached the port of Chittagong in modern-day Bangladesh intending to travel to Sylhet to meet Shah Jalal, who became so renowned that Ibn Battuta, then in Chittagong, made a one-month journey through the mountains of Kamaru near Sylhet to meet him.

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On his way to Sylhet, Ibn Battuta was greeted by several of Shah Jalal's disciples who had come to assist him on his journey many days before he had arrived.

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At the meeting in 1345 CE, Ibn Battuta noted that Shah Jalal was tall and lean, fair in complexion and lived by the mosque in a cave, where his only item of value was a goat he kept for milk, butter, and yogurt.

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Ibn Battuta observed that the companions of the Shah Jalal were foreign and known for their strength and bravery.

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Ibn Battuta went further north into Assam, then turned around and continued with his original plan.

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In 1345, Ibn Battuta traveled to Samudra Pasai Sultanate in present-day Aceh, Northern Sumatra, after 40 days voyage from Sunur Kawan.

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Ibn Battuta notes in his travel log that the ruler of Samudra Pasai was a pious Muslim named Sultan Al-Malik Al-Zahir Jamal-ad-Din, who performed his religious duties with utmost zeal and often waged campaigns against animists in the region.

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Ibn Battuta first sailed for 21 days to a place called "Mul Jawa" which was a center of a Hindu empire.

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Ibn Battuta met the ruler of Mul Jawa and stayed as a guest for three days.

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Ibn Battuta then sailed to a state called Kaylukari in the land of Tawalisi, where he met Urduja, a local princess.

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Ibn Battuta's was described as an "idolater", but could write the phrase Bismillah in Islamic calligraphy.

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Ibn Battuta mentioned local artists and their mastery in making portraits of newly arrived foreigners; these were for security purposes.

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Ibn Battuta praised the craftsmen and their silk and porcelain; as well as fruits such as plums and watermelons and the advantages of paper money.

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Ibn Battuta described the manufacturing process of large ships in the city of Quanzhou.

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Ibn Battuta mentioned Chinese cuisine and its usage of animals such as frogs, pigs, and even dogs which were sold in the markets, and noted that the chickens in China were larger than those in the west.

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In Quanzhou, Ibn Battuta was welcomed by the head of the local Muslim merchants and Sheikh al-Islam (Imam), who came to meet him with flags, drums, trumpets, and musicians.

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Ibn Battuta noted that the Muslim populace lived within a separate portion in the city where they had their own mosques, bazaars, and hospitals.

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Ibn Battuta then travelled south along the Chinese coast to Guangzhou, where he lodged for two weeks with one of the city's wealthy merchants.

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Ibn Battuta said that Hangzhou was one of the largest cities he had ever seen, and he noted its charm, describing that the city sat on a beautiful lake surrounded by gentle green hills.

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Later he attended a banquet of the Yuan administrator of the city named Qurtai, who according to Ibn Battuta, was very fond of the skills of local Chinese conjurers.

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Ibn Battuta described floating through the Grand Canal on a boat watching crop fields, orchids, merchants in black silk, and women in flowered silk and priests in silk.

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In Beijing, Ibn Battuta referred to himself as the long-lost ambassador from the Delhi Sultanate and was invited to the Yuan imperial court of Emperor Huizong.

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Ibn Battuta Batutta noted that the palace of Khanbaliq was made of wood and that the ruler's "head wife" held processions in her honour.

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Ibn Battuta wrote he had heard of "the rampart of Yajuj and Majuj" that was "sixty days' travel" from the city of Zeitun; Hamilton Alexander Rosskeen Gibb notes that Ibn Battuta believed that the Great Wall of China was built by Dhul-Qarnayn to contain Gog and Magog as mentioned in the Quran.

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However, Ibn Battuta, who asked about the wall in China, could find no one who had either seen it or knew of anyone who had seen it.

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Ibn Battuta travelled from Beijing to Hangzhou, and then proceeded to Fuzhou.

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Ibn Battuta claimed that the Emperor Huizong of Yuan had interred with him in his grave six slave soldiers and four girl slaves.

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In 1348, Ibn Battuta arrived in Damascus with the intention of retracing the route of his first hajj.

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Ibn Battuta then learned that his father had died 15 years earlier and death became the dominant theme for the next year or so.

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Ibn Battuta made hajj to Mecca then he decided to return to Morocco, nearly a quarter of a century after leaving home.

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King Alfonso XI of Castile and Leon had threatened to attack Gibraltar, so in 1350, Ibn Battuta joined a group of Muslims leaving Tangier with the intention of defending the port.

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Taghaza was a commercial centre and awash with Malian gold, though Ibn Battuta did not form a favourable impression of the place, recording that it was plagued by flies and the water was brackish.

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Ibn Battuta disapproved of the fact that female slaves, servants, and even the daughters of the sultan went about exposing parts of their bodies not befitting a Muslim.

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Ibn Battuta wrote in his Rihla that black Africans were characterised by "ill manners" and "contempt for white men", and that he "was long astonished at their feeble intellect and their respect for mean things.

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Ibn Battuta's itinerary gives scholars a glimpse as to when Islam first began to spread into the heart of west Africa.

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Scholars do not believe that Ibn Battuta visited all the places he described and argue that in order to provide a comprehensive description of places in the Muslim world, he relied on hearsay evidence and made use of accounts by earlier travellers.

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For example, it is considered very unlikely that Ibn Battuta made a trip up the Volga River from New Sarai to visit Bolghar and there are serious doubts about a number of other journeys such as his trip to Sana'a in Yemen, his journey from Balkh to Bistam in Khorasan, and his trip around Anatolia.

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Ibn Battuta wedded several women, divorced at least some of them, and in Damascus, Malabar, Delhi, Bukhara, and the Maldives had children by them or by concubines.

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Ibn Battuta insulted Greeks as "enemies of Allah", drunkards and "swine eaters", while at the same time in Ephesus he purchased and used a Greek girl who was one of his many slave girls in his "harem" through Byzantium, Khorasan, Africa, and Palestine.

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Ibn Battuta often experienced culture shock in regions he visited where the local customs of recently converted peoples did not fit in with his orthodox Muslim background.

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Ibn Battuta felt that dress customs in the Maldives, and some sub-Saharan regions in Africa were too revealing.

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Ibn Battuta was appointed a judge in Morocco and died in 1368 or 1369.

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Ibn Battuta's work was unknown outside the Muslim world until the beginning of the 19th century, when the German traveller-explorer Ulrich Jasper Seetzen acquired a collection of manuscripts in the Middle East, among which was a 94-page volume containing an abridged version of Ibn Juzayy's text.

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Ibn Battuta gave a brief overview of their content in a book published posthumously in 1819.

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Ibn Battuta's intention was to divide the translated text into four volumes, each volume corresponding to one of the volumes published by Defremery and Sanguinetti.

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Largest themed mall in Dubai, UAE, the Ibn Battuta Mall is named for him and features both areas designed to recreate the exotic lands he visited on his travels and statuary tableaus depicting scenes from his life history.

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Giant semblance of Battuta, alongside two others from the history of Arab exploration, the geographer and historian Al Bakri and the navigator and cartographer Ibn Majid is displayed at the Mobility pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai in a section of the exhibition designed by Weta Workshop.

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