Ibn Battuta Muhammad ibn `Abd Allah

(1304-1367/1369)
   He was a world traveler and author of a renowned travel account (al-rihla). His full name is Shams al-Dine Abu `Abd Allah Muhammad Ibn Yusuf al-Lawati al Tanji. The Lawata are a branch of the Zanata confederation. He was born in Tangier, where at the age of 20 he set out on the first of many world voyages. He undertook four times the pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina and on these occasions visited Algeria, al-Andalus, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Anatolia, Iraq, Persia, and the Crimea. One of his trips took him to Constantinople, from where he proceeded into southern Russia and then into India across Bukhara, Samarqand, and Afghanistan. He held the office of qadi (judge) in Delhi for about 10 years, then journeyed to Bengal, Sri Lanka, the East Indies and further on to China as far as Canton and returned to Arabia via Sumatra and Malaysia. His last trip took him deep into Africa, to Timbuktu, and across the Sahara as far as the Niger River.
   After about 26 years of exploration, he settled in his native country of Morocco and had the account of his travels put into literary form by Ibn Juzzay, a secretary of the chancellery of the Marinid Sultan Abu `Inan court in Fès. This account, Tuhfat al-Nuzzar fi Ghara'ibi al-Amsar wa 'A`jab al-Asfar (The Gift of Seeing Rare Sights and Wonders of Traveling), provides topographical descriptions, ethnographic details, and economic aspects of the places, peoples, and cultures Ibn Battuta encountered. In 1929, H. A. R. Gibb was the first to translate an English version of selected sections of Ibn Battuta's al- rihla under the title "Ibn Battuta: Travels in Asia and Africa, 1325-1354," then followed by the translation of the complete work in 1962. In 1990, Ross E. Dunn published a book about the life and times of Ibn Battuta, not a translation, titled The Adventures of Ibn Battuta: A Muslim Traveler of the 14th Century. Ibn Battuta is said to have traveled over land and sea to 44 modern countries, and in so doing he covered 120,700 kilometers, a remarkable achievement for any medieval traveler. His travels represent the longest journey overland before the invention of the steam engine. He died in 1367 or 1369 in Fès.

Historical Dictionary of the Berbers (Imazighen) . . 2014.

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