Abu Abdullah Ibn Battuta was born in 1304 in a family of Muslims in Tangier, Morocco during the Marinid dynasty. Just like the family in which he was born, he studied law at a young age and became a Muslim lawyer who spent the second quarter of the fourteenth century crisscrossing the Eastern Hemisphere and writing a significantly long account of what he had seen and did with the help of a literary collaborator. Throughout the world there is a septicentenary note of Ibn Battuta the pious and educated traveler from Morocco. He is celebrated as the greatest traveler who ever existed in pre-modern times.
His adventures gives a precious account and description of various people, places, politics and life ways in almost all urbanized lands of Africa and Eurasia especially in the later medieval era. Moreover, Ibn Battuta is associated with globalization as he exposed the roots of pre-modern globalization. Based on his tales, by the fourteenth century, dense communication and exchange networks had already formed and linked such that everyone in the hemisphere linked to nearly everyone else. According to Ibn Battuta’s book of travels, interconnection webs stretched from China to Spain and from Tanzania to Kazakhstan.
Moreover, in Moroccan time an event that occurred in one part of Africa or Eurasia could reverberate its effects despite the thousand miles distance. In his adventures especially when sailing the Arabian Sea, Ibn Battuta used two matted dhow, or could lead his horse along the pass in Hindu Kush that was usually covered by snow. Throughout his sailing adventure, Ibn Battuta had never dreamt of intensity and speed of the today’s human interchange. Currently, he is considered as a significant familiar historical figure among the Muslims and non-Muslims.
This consideration has intensified in the past twenty five years due to the increasing intensity of cultural and political relations between the Western countries and Muslims and partly due to the international curriculums that have broadened to embrace the African and Asian societies including the famous Muslim people of the past in schools and universities especially in the United States. Actually, almost all historical text books used in high schools and colleges in the United States introduces Ibn Battuta and there have been extensive talks about his adventures among students and teachers in middle and high schoolteachers.
To appreciate this famous historical figure and his adventures, there have been numerous publications of his adventures and furthermore the Hakluyt Society published the fourth which is also the last volume of English translation of his original Rihla in 1994. Apart from the numerous books and other publications that have outlines the adventurous life of Ibn Battuta, popular magazines such as National geography and Calliope the world’s history magazine featured him and there are numerous film projects that are still working. A detailed Ibn Battuta website has also been developed by a middle school teacher in San Francisco.
Moreover, in 1976 the International Astronomical Union named the lunar crater that is near the moon’s side and eleven kilometer wide after him in honor of his outstanding adventures. Social conditions and mechanisms that enabled Ibn Battuta to journey for more than 20 years from Spain to China Ibn Battuta was an urbane, literate man whose most part was interested with the affairs of fellow urbane and literate gentleman. He was a pious Muslim with significant respect for the poor though he rarely associated with the city-working folks, herdsmen, or peasants.
This is evident in his Rilha and the subsequent translations as they provide little information about these people. Furthermore, the information given in these translations and more specifically from the Dunn’s adventures of Ibn Battuta, a Muslim traveler of the fourteenth century, his travels involved circles of world-minded people valued by universalist and Islamic cosmopolitan institutions such as palaces, colleges and mosques were considered to be of greater importance than the loyalties and parochial customs that confined the great majority’s cultural vision.
Throughout his life as evidenced in his tales he maintained conceptual biases as the cultural and political elites dominated in the story involving very little masses despite that fact that he had a significant attention to the social history of ordinary Muslims. Ibn Battuta considered the cosmopolitan tendencies within the civilization of Islam as his key theme especially in his writing at the expense of the great cultural diversity among Muslims though the successful adaptability of Islamic to the local culture patterns was one of its strength in its expansion. (Dunn, 2005).
The sacred law of Islamic that was presumed to be the source of the social order and it contributed to Ibn Battuta’s success in his journeys. Most of his adventurous career was spent within the cultural boundaries of Abode of Islam. In other words, his adventures embraced lands in which the Islamic population dominated or at least inlands where the non-Muslim majorities were ruled by Muslim kings or princes. This extended the Islamic civilization from West Africa to Asia, and more important the Muslim minority communities inhabited towns and cities in tropical West Africa, Spain and China –regions that were beyond Dar al-Islam frontier.
The fact that Ibn Battuta went and lived with other Muslims who shared his religious rituals, social ideas, moral values, doctrinal beliefs, and his everyday manners. Throughout his travels, Ibn Battuta was introduced and interacted with significant number of Muslims whose aesthetic values, customs and local languages were not common in his homeland in the western edge of hemisphere, he remained within the social world of people who had sensibilities and tastes similar to his, and who friendly, hospitable and who could offer appropriate security.
Fundamental Islam values encouraged significant degree of social mobility and free movement among individuals from one region and city to another. At that time, Islamic culture emphasized on egalitarian behavior in social relations with regard to the community believers maintaining a common allegiance to sacred law and God. This enabled Ibn Battuta to travel to China and Spain because the sacred law was common in the two countries. (Dunn, 2005).
The Ecumene belt of agrarian land that moved from the Mediterranean China connecting the east and the west founded the great sedentary civilization of the common eastern hemisphere and a region from which numerous cities emerged, development of technological and cultural innovations notwithstanding. In those ancient times Ecumene was associated with significantly increasing interactions among hemisphere’s civilizations causing continuous evolution of intercommunication in the region.
These intercommunication networks enabled the Ibn Battuta’s effective journeys in China and Spain, countries that were linked by intercommunicating zone. Since the zone was constantly involved with urbanizing people, and joining the sedentary of China, greater India, Middle East and Mediterranean rim, it was easy for Ibn Battuta to travel effectively from Spain to China. Once an important innovation, occurred in one part of the zone, it spread to all other parts through gradual diffusion, human migration, military conquest, trade, travels and other social activities.
Over the course of time, the intercommunication zone grew to include people in the peripheral areas such as Europe north of the Alps, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa The fact that Ibn Battuta was born at the time when Islamic was developing enabled him to travel from Spain to China. He traveled as a Muslim and an enlightened member of the Dar A-Islam. He moved to China where cultures were involved in trade with Islamic land. His initial attempt to visit China was after the Sultan of Delhi who ruled India appointed him as his China’s ambassador. Dunn 2005). In 1342, he sailed to China but his journey was not successful as he was shipwrecked .
However, in 1346 his journey to southern China through the sea succeeded. At this time when he made the journey to China, the country was ruled by Mongols, but unlike other countries that had been conquered by the Mongols, China was not a Muslim land yet. In his efforts to ensure Islamic and the sacred law in China he visited the Muslim merchant communities that lived in China particularly in Hangzhou which by then was the largest city in the country, and Peking.
However, there is no evidence in his book of travel to show a circumstance or rather situation at which he met with the ruling emperor. At the age of 45, he was still determined to travel. After he had returned from China and settled in Tangier for some days, he decided to travel to the Muslim Spain to join other Muslims in defending the port that was being threatened. However on arriving in Gibraltar, he discovered that the threat had receded as the Black Death had already killed the theaters.
Instead of moving back to Tangier, he crossed the strait of Gibraltar for pleasure to tour the southern Spain particularly Granada. His tour was particular because his adventures embraced lands in which the Islamic population dominated, or at least in lands where the non-Muslim majorities were ruled by Muslim kings or princes and Granada was the only kingdom in Spain where Islamic was practiced although Christians were still trying and were determined to conquer it.
In history, Mid-1300s is considered as a vibrant time in the Muslim sphere of influence as Arabic was the common language of education and commerce. Trade was largely controlled by Arabs and it crossed Mediterranean between the East and Europe. Ibn Battuta crossed the Mediterranean territories met numerous heads of states, a third of whom he served advisor and taught many students the Arabic language from China to Mediterranean. It therefore means that Arabic language enabled his journey to China among other Mediterranean countries.
The geographical location of Spain and China also enabled Ibn Battuta’s journey. Most of the countries in which he traveled are separated by water mass. According to the literature given by Dunn about his adventures, most of his means of transport involved water travel especially his travel to china, the West central Asia and to Spain. (Dunn, 2005). Throughout Ibn Battuta’s adventure career he received numerous salary payments and gifts in terms of silver and coins which he used to finance his travels.