Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Travels of Ibn Battutah

I recently read a book on the travels of Ibn Batutah (http://www.amazon.com/The-Travels-Ibn-Battutah/dp/0330418793/ref=pd_sim_b_1). It is an English translation of the orignial Arabic work -- Al Rihla. What people don't know about Ibn Battutah is that he was no ordinary traveler -- he was a scholar of Islam and his first trip was for Hajj. He worked 6 years as a qadi (judge) in Delhi for the Sultan. The book has a lot of information about cultural practises in the mid 1300s.

It is refreshing to look at the world that is intact from the materialism so pervasive these days. Nevertheless, even then there were a lot of non-Islamic traditional practises in Muslim lands. Some of those practises are still prevalent.

Practices that were interesting from that era include:

1. eating "paan" (betel leaf)

2. charphoi (indian bed)

3. ways of eating mangoes

4. preserving and eating pickles

5. the word "Maulana" being used for a religious scholar in India back then

6. the amount of real wealth and its easy distribution. e.g. the ruler of Delhi used to shower the road with catapults of gold & silver coins when he entered the city.

7. using Jinns for supernatural acts - e.g. levitation, etc.

8. use of "cowries" (a type of seashell) as currency (as in "phooTi cowRi")

9. penetration of Muslim in non-Muslim lands (India, China, SE Asia, Aftrica) achieved back then. Has not changed much till today.

10. the use of "funduqs" (hotels) by travelers in China.


You can learn much about the man and his trips (with maps) here:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave your comments for feedback or if you wish to convey a message to others who read this blog.