147 points by jurnalanas
3 days ago
>If you don't have time to read The Rihla itself...
That's sad on multiple levels. Does anyone know of a complete translation to English?
From ~30 years ago, by a member of the SCA: "There seems to be no complete and unabridged translation of his account of his travels. H. A. R. Gibb produced the first three volumes of one (The Travels of Ibn Battuta, by H.A.R. Gibb, Cambridge, 1958, 1962, 1971) before his death. He also produced an earlier abridged translation (The Travels of Ibn Battuta, London, 1929). There are partial translations by several others."
And about medieval Islam:
"Not all, not even most, Muslims were Arabs. Islam may have been the first world civilization; in period it stretched from Spain to Malaya. Muslims might be Arabs, Berbers, East or West African Blacks, Indians, Kurds, Mongols, Persians, Turks, ... . They were all united by a common religion and a common religious language, but divided by numerous religious factions, languages, and cultures"
I have read Vol. 1 of H. A. R. Gibb's translation, and though there are really cool gems in it, it is incredibly dry. I wouldn't recommend it unless you are really interested, and even then, be prepared for it to be a slog.
For something along similar-ish lines, Canetti's Crowds and Power does a good job of weaving together some lessons from Battuta's account with many other primary historical sources.
It appears that someone completed Gibb's work:
The Travels of Ibn Battuta / A.D. 1325-1354 … / Volume IV / The translation completed with annotations by C. F. Beckingham / 1994.
Found that listed on the Hakluyt Society's website, which published a edition of the Cambridge volumes for their members. It appears they worked to complete the translation in the 90's.
Isn’t this all true today?
In a sense, Islam is more Persian than Arab. Just about everything east, and north of Modern day Iran was conquered and introduced to Islam by Persianate. The Golden age of Islam was due to Ibn Sina, Al Khawarazmi, and friends.
That's quite reductionist (and a bit racist). Islam grew very quickly under Omar Ibn AlKhtab.
> Under Umar, the caliphate expanded at an unprecedented rate, ruling the Sasanian Empire and more than two-thirds of the Byzantine Empire. His attacks against the Sasanian Empire resulted in the conquest of Persia in less than two years (642–644). According to Jewish tradition, Umar set aside the Christian ban on Jews and allowed them into Jerusalem and to worship. Umar was assassinated by the Persian slave Abu Lu'lu'a Firuz in 644.
All of these civilizations will contribute to the Empire. Not much different than what's happening in the US right now.
I'm no historian or anything, but based on history, it was probably Omar who made up Islam in the first place as a way to conquer. The Wikipedia page has some info on that:
> Umar converted to Islam in 616, one year after the Migration to Abyssinia. The story was recounted in Ibn Ishaq's Sīrah. On his way to murder Muhammad, Umar met his best friend Nu'aym ibn Abd Allah who had secretly converted to Islam but had not told Umar. When Umar informed him that he had set out to kill Muhammad, Nu'aym said, “By God, you have deceived yourself, O Umar! Do you think that Banu Abd al-Manaf would let you run around alive once you had killed their son Muhammad? Why don't you return to your own house and at least set it straight?"
This story is probably BS. Omar influenced Muhammad and had him under his command. He then used him to propagate his rule. He was quite agnostic in his state building (he accepted both Jewish and Christians).
>but based on history, it was probably Omar who made up Islam in the first place as a way to conquer.
Baseless claim. Show us the history then.
>Omar influenced Muhammad and had him under his command.
Another baseless claim.
>He then used him to propagate his rule.
>He was quite agnostic in his state building (he accepted both Jewish and Christians).
What does "agnostic in his state building" even mean? Are all leaders who had subjects of other religions (with all the conditions that may or may not come with) "agnostic in their state building"?
> This story is probably BS. Omar influenced Muhammad and had him under his command.
There have been a number of revisionist histories of early Islam that have been floated by serious historians. Has any of them ever cast aspersion on that story, and if so, for what reason? Has any of them made the argument that it was Umar who was the motivating force behind Islam? (using God knows what evidence--seems like if one isn't inclined to accept the basics of the traditional accounts, there isn't a lot to go by period)
If you are not a historian, then at least cite a real historian if you are going to make such claims.
Man, don't argue with these people. They have hate toward all Arabs for some reason.
This is ludicrous
Rome wasn't the first world civilization?
> In fact they have brought this to such perfection that if a stranger commits any offence that obliges him to flee from China, they send his portrait far and wide. A search is then made for him and where so ever the person bearing a resemblance to that portrait is found is arrested 30."
China. A surveillance state since the 1300s.
/jk of course
I very much enjoyed Travels with a Tangerine: A Journey in the Footnotes of Ibn Battutah (2012) by Tim Mackintosh-Smith. If you enjoy travelogues rather than history books (I enjoy both) then this may be the one for you.
Such a fascinating character. IIRC there is great scepticism that he went as far east as claimed, and that the China adventure may have been mostly fabricated. Echoes of Marco Polo. Anyone know more recent studies of the veracity of his claimed journeys?
Ibn Battuta and his adventure - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16687689 - March 2018 (38 comments)
How does one pay for such a journey? Let alone carry cash to do so
He had a universal skill in the places he visited. Think like digital nomads. Also, not trying to diminish his efforts, but he visited Muslim places only (China had a muslim base at the time).
The article explains that he would work as a judge (qadi) in the places he visited. He also benefited from the generosity of his guests.
> Turns out mainly because he was a scholar of fiqh and was therefore in considerable demand wherever he went. Ibn Battuta has stayed to work as a Qadi in several places along the way; this means that you really get a broad sense of the politics and the people in each destination.
> Other than that, it is likely because the Muslim faith inspired people to give money and gifts to travelers. And because Ibn Battuta was a student and eventually a famed traveler, he received many gifts and honors.
With regards to the latter, the mandatory Muslim wealth tax (zakat) names stranded or poor travellers "in pursuit of a worthy goal" as one of the eight categories of people it can be distributed to.
Some say that he was called Ibn Battuta because of all his walking - his feet became flat like a duck (battuta)
It's often omitted that the historicity of Ibn Battuta's travels is very much in doubt.
Like Marco Polo, he likely either fabricated portions of his travels or retold others' stories as his own.
Not that his works weren't immensely valuable to posterity.
What shape is this doubt?
The medieval version of "Pics or it didn't happen"
We have documented evidence that you never went there
There is no direct evidence either way. Retelling the tales of others as your own was not new at the time. eg Marco Polo is strongly suspected by many scholars of having not made it to China. When Battuta does talk about China, it is more vague and less expansive than his other travel accounts. There is no record he brought anything back. In 1300 it wouldn't seem a wild idea having reached furthest point X to also relate the tales you were told by locals at point X familiar with point X+1 as if you may have encountered them too.
Consider Zheng He, another famous extensive traveller born just after Battuta's death (with some scepticism of his travels too). He went to Africa from China and brought back a giraffe. Well worth a read.
It's a --shrug--.