Abu Abdallah Ibn Battuta was a renowned scholar and an explorer before the western civilization. Born and brought up in Morocco, Ibn Battuta left his country at about 21years to visit the city of Mecca, a holy city of Muslims in Saudi Arabia. Because of his spirit of adventure, he would venture into other regions of Asia, always taking the route of the high seas. In his journey and being a learned man, he would encounter various experiences, some of which were good while others were dangerous.
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He would be invited in a number of palaces in various kingdoms because of his knowledge on Sharia law. Some of these kings would send him as an emissary to other kingdoms. In some instances, he would encounter high sea pirates and other unfortunate incidents at the sea. The book ‘The Adventures of Ibn Battuta, A Muslim Traveler of the Fourteenth Century’ by Ross brings out this encounter.
Ibn Battuta was born in a Muslim family. In his early life, he was taken to a school within his country where he learnt sharia law (Dunn 2). This book brings out Sharia law as one of the important aspects of an Islamic society. By the fact that Ibn Battuta had learned law, he was viewed as an important man in the society.
This section brings out education as an important factor in many societies. Because he was educated, Ibn Battuta was easily accepted in various kingdoms. He would always dine with the mighty because to them, he was a scholar who had amassed a lot of knowledge not only through classroom learning, but also from his experience gained in his frequent voyages to various regions.
This book brings out political authority of various kingdoms. Dunn (15) notes that in early nineteenth century, there was a political rift in the northern part of Africa as the Sultans who were governing the region failed to deliver leadership that was expected. As Dunn notes in page 14, the Sultans failed to control commerce in this region, a fact that led to the fall of the economy of the empire. This created tension among various kingdoms in this region that would latter translate to war.
The author brings out the desire by various kingdoms to expand their regions of influence. This could only be achieved through war. The Northern Iberia Christian Kingdom took the offensive (Dunn15). Through formation of alliances with forces of Aragon including Portugal and Castile, the Iberia Kingdom managed to overpower the Sultans’ army at the battle of Las Navas.
This was the beginning of the downfall of various Islamic kingdoms. The author has successfully brought out the military history of North African kingdoms and other regions in the world such as Portugal and the Aragon. Slavery was actively practiced during this time. Those who were captured during the war were taken as slaves to run various errands. Portugal was specifically keen on acquiring slaves to work on their plantations back at home.
This book also focuses on non Muslim life. Through his travels, Ibn Battuta visited various cities that were not practicing Islamic culture. His visit to Damascus brings to focus the Jewish way of life (Dunn 58). The Christian culture is also brought to fore. The Aragon, Castile and Portugal were regions that were predominantly Christian.
Their way of life was based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. The author gives a detailed analysis of how Christianity related to Islam. Both religious groups were determined to spread their ideologies to other parts of the world. This involved serious battles between the two sides. Jihad, an Islamic holy war, would be launched against the forces of Christian empires, in case this was necessary.
In his education, Ibn Battuta was introduced to Sufism (Dunn 24). Sufism were beliefs that went beyond the koranic teachings. It brought out hope and optimism to individual Muslims, by making them believe that they could directly communicate with God without the assistance of anyone. Sufism was embraced by many scholarly Muslims of this period, and they used it to spread Islam to various regions of the world. It was easier to use Sufism as a way of spreading this religion because it was motivating and popular among the youths.
Strict Islamic laws governed most families in Islamic countries that Ibn Battuta visited. No one was expected to go against these teachings. Although there was a difference in the way different Islamic countries held the teaching of the Quran, there were many practices that were identical across the regions. Ibn Battuta notes that the dress code among the Muslims was universal.
From his country Morocco where he was born and brought up, to Saudi Arabia and other countries in Asia and parts of Africa, Muslim men would wear a white gown on top of whichever clothe he chose to wear. The ladies were expected to wear abaya (a black cloak that covers up to the legs) and a niqab that would cover the face (Dunn 86).
Also similar was the time and manner or prayer. Regardless of the location, Muslims followed a similar pattern in prayer. Women had their role in the family, and so were men. Although this differed from one region to another, the teachings of the Quran made most of these practices closely related. Ibn Battuta observes that women in Saudi Arabia were very submissive to their husbands than in any other Islamic country.
This was mainly because this country followed Quran very strictly and would not hesitate to punish anyone seen to be going against these teachings. In this country, Women were expected to be subordinate to their husbands in all respects. The author also brings to fore different ethnic groups, and their family structures. Chinese, Tibetans, Turkish, and Persian cultures slightly contradicted what was practiced among the staunch Islamic societies (Dunn 88).
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Technological advancements had also started taking shape. In china, different architectural designs were developed to symbolize their technological advancements. They also practiced other things such as painting, calligraphy, textile and pottery designs. These arts were developed because the society had advanced technologically and there was need for better housing units and home appliances (Dunn 88).
This book is a comprehensive cover of the experience of Ibn Battuta in his tours around the world. In this book, several factors are brought forth in relation to post Mongol Islamic world. The battle for political supremacy, the art and architecture, slavery, ethnicity, culture and religion, education and technology are some of the factors that come out clearly in this book. They are expertly intertwined with the experience of Ibn Battuta in his quest to tour the world.
Dunn, Ross. The adventures of Ibn Battuta, a Muslim traveler of the fourteenth century. California: University of California Press, 1986. Print.