The Adventures of Ibn Battuta, a Muslim Traveler of the Fourteenth Century Summary & Study Guide

Ross E. Dunn
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The Adventures of Ibn Battuta, a Muslim Traveler of the Fourteenth Century Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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"The Adventures of Ibn Battuta: A Muslim Traveler of the 14th Century" is historian Ross Dunn's account of the world of Islam in the 1400s as based on the contemporaneous book written about the journeys of Ibn Battuta, an educated legal scholar from Tangier in Morocco whose travels extend from Sub-Saharan Africa across Northern Africa to the Middle East, Persia, Palestine, India and China.

Ibn Battuta, with the aid of a writer commissioned by the Sultan of Morocco, produces a traditional "Rihla" describing his journeys. Dunn uses the Rihla as a starting point to describe the vast extent of the Dar al-Islam, or the "kingdom" of Islam, which includes all the kingdoms and regions where the leaders practice and enforce Islamic law. The reach of Islam is so great, Dunn argues, that even thought Ibn Battuta travels more widely than most other people of his day, he is rarely unable to find practicing Muslims to show him hospitality and help him on his way. He eventually receives a position as a judge serving the Sultan of Delhi in India, which brings him considerable wealth, but ends in disaster. Along the way, Ibn Battuta meets most of the Islamic kings in power, receiving gifts and hospitality from all of them. He finally returns home after over 40 years to live his final days in Fez, in the service of the Moroccan Sultan.

Dunn's book follows the path of Ibn Battuta's journey from his first pilgrimage to Mecca as an observant Muslim and beyond. He surrounds Ibn Battuta's sometimes sparse descriptions of regions and rulers with historical background taken from other sources to provide a fuller picture of the political and religious climate in which Ibn Battuta moves from place to place. He outlines the importance of trade in the spread of Islam to distant reaches of the globe, and uses excerpts from the Rihla to illustrate his points. He also uses episodes from the Rihla to paint a portrait of Ibn Battuta himself, a pious and enthusiastic, if sometimes opportunistic, young man with a decidedly restless streak.

Dunn's book is illustrated with photographs and maps showing Ibn Battuta's probable routes, which are sometimes in doubt. Dunn explains where Ibn Battuta's account, based entirely on his own memory several years after the events he describes, seem to be doubtful or perhaps where he combines several events into one. The absolute truth of Ibn Battuta's recollections are not central to Dunn's intention, however, of describing the interconnected nature of the expanding Islamic culture and religion during this time period, as evidenced by the wide ranging journey of this young Moroccan.

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