Centre for Continuing Education

Ibn Battuta Course: Muslim Traveller of the 14th Century

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Ibn Battuta is considered one of the greatest travellers of all time. He set out from his native city of Tangier in 1325 at the age of 21 on a pilgrimage to Mecca. By the time he returned, 29 years later, he had visited most of the Muslim world as far as China. This course will examine the first part of his remarkable journey; his travels from Tangier to Constantinople (modern Istanbul). We will explore the contemporary cultures that Ibn Battuta experienced and the monuments that he saw along the way.

Aims

This course aims to provide participants with an understanding of the interactions between medieval Europe and the Islamic World, through an exploration of Ibn Battuta’s travels from Tangier to Constantinople. We will explore the cultural interactions of the Christian world and the Muslim world – providing participants with a background to better understand the current political and cultural divide between these two cultures.

Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, participants should be able to:

  1. Identify aspects of the culture of 14th Century Morocco.
  2. Describe the differences between European and Islamic cultures where Ibn Battuta travelled.
  3. List and describe the monuments seen by Ibn Battuta.
  4. Identify the political and cultural systems which enabled Ibn Battuta to travel so widely.

Content

This course covers the following topics:

Ibn Battuta and his times

Ibn Battuta was born into a family of Islamic legal scholars in the Moroccan city of Tangier in 1304 during the reign of the Marinid Dynasty. He was of Berber descent and at the age of 21 set off on the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

The Maghreb

Ibn Battuta followed the North African coast to Tunis. For safety he usually joined a caravan to reduce the risk of being attacked by wandering Arab Bedouin. After a journey of 3500 km he eventually arrived in the port of Alexandria.

Mamluk Egypt

Egypt was under the control of the Bahri Maluks in the 14th Century. Ibn Battuta spent several weeks in Alexandria and then headed to Cairo, the splendid capital of the Mamluk Empire. After a month he headed south through the Nile Valley but his path was blocked by revolt and he went instead to Damascus and Jerusalem.

Mecca and the Middle East

Ibn Battuta next headed south to Medina and journeyed on to Mecca where he completed the pilgrimage. He then joined a caravan of pilgrims to Iraq which led him to make a detour into Persia. He subsequently went to Yemen and Somalia.

Anatolia to Constantinople

In 1330 Ibn Battuta set off for the Seljuq Empire in Anatolia. He took a ship to Alanya on the south coast of modern Turkey and headed inland to the Seljuk city of Konya and thence to the Black Sea. He arrived in Constantinople at the end of 1332 where he met the Emperor Andronikos III Palaeologus and visited the remarkable Byzantine church called the Haghia Sophia.

Delivery Style

This course will be delivered as a face-to-face, interactive lecture where questions and open discussion are encouraged.

Materials

Course handouts will be provided during class.

Features

  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion