Arabic explorer Ibn Battuta, a Moroccan adventurer of mixed Arab and Berber descent (a tribe of North Africa), is a Muslim traveler of the 14th Century. He was an accomplished and well-documented explorer across known parts of the Islamic world as well as many non-Muslim lands. Detailed accounts of his life’s excursions are recorded in a memoire: Ibn Battuta’s Rihla (book or travels), a narrative of events he tells about his travels. The Rihla is the sole source of knowledge of him.
Born as Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta (1304 to 1369 C.E.), he is considered one of the greatest travelers of all time. He saw more of the world than anyone else did before him. His voyages covered more than 100,000 km, and he set foot in three continents to explore every part of the Islamic world. His voyages included parts of North Africa, West Africa, Southern Europe and Eastern, the Middle East, areas in Indian subcontinent, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and Eastern China. His quest covered nearly the entire length of the Muslim world and beyond.
Ibn Battuta came from a family of Islamic legal scholars—educated in the Maliki tradition of Islamic law—and highly respected Qadis (Judges); he too became employed as a qadi, an Islamic judge, later on in life.
At the age of twenty-one, in June 1325, he left his hometown (Tangier) to go on a pilgrimage (hajj) to the sacred Islamic holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. On this leg of the journey, he even visited the tomb of the Prophet in Medina, which is the second holiest city for Muslims.
Influenced by Faith and a quest for the sake of adventure and divine knowledge of Islam, Ibn Battuta needed to travel his path as a solitary traveler. For the most part, he wanted to explore the stretch of land that fell under Muslim sovereignty: Dar al-Islam (World of Islam), known as “the abode of Islam” — that region of the world where Muslims ruled and were the Islamic law prevailed.
U.S. historian Ross Dunn notes, Ibn Battuta “was a member of the literate, mobile, world-minded elite” and would have regarded himself as a citizen “not of Morocco, but of Dar al-Islam, to whose universalist spiritual, moral, and social values he was loyal above any other allegiance.”
Ross Dunn’s book “The Adventures of Ibn Battuta: A Muslim Traveler of the 14th Century,” describes the journeys of Ibn Battuta and mentions his probable routes and provides recollections of his personal experiences (adventures, dangers, and the people he encountered) during his travels by foot, donkey, camel and boat. His quest spanned almost 30 years, and he lived his final days in Fez, in the service of the Moroccan Sultan.