Ibn Battuta was a world famous traveler (75,000 miles by foot, camel, horse, and ship) and the author of one of the most famous travel books. He visited the Empire of Mali in 1352-53.


Caravan of Pilgrims
A 13th-century book illustration produced in Baghdad by al-Wasiti showing a group of pilgrims on a Hajj

Ibn Battuta was a Moroccan and Berber explorer known for his extensive travels, accounts of which were published in the Rihla

(lit. "Journey"). Over a period of thirty years, Ibn Battuta visited most of the known Islamic world as well as many non-Muslim lands.

His journeys included trips to North Africa, the Horn of Africa, West Africa and Eastern Europe in the West, and to the Middle East, South Asia, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and China in the East, a distance surpassing threefold his near-contemporary Marco Polo. Ibn Battuta is considered one of the greatest travellers of all time.

The Rihla travel practice originated in Middle Ages Morocco . Rihla consists of three types:

  1. Rihla - journey within Morocco, typically to meet with other pilgrims before traveling beyond the local area.
  2. Rihla hijaziyya - journey to the Hejaz which would be transmitted via an oral or written report.
  3. Rihla sifariyya - journey to foreign lands including to embassies and missions in territories in //Dar al-Harb//.
Events on these journeys would be the basis of the extant travel literature.
The performance of Rihla was considered in Moorish al-Andalus as a qualifier for teachers and political leaders.
These journeys also coincided with the end of the Mongol invasions and a new opportunity for Islamic expansion.

The Rihla As Literature

The best known Rihla manuscript is (Arabic: تحفة النظار في غرائب الأمصار وعجائب الأسفارTuḥfat an-Nuẓẓār fī Gharāʾib al-Amṣār wa ʿAjāʾib al-Asfār, "A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Travelling"), or simply referred to as (رحلة ابن بطوطة Riḥlat Ibn Baṭūṭah, "Journey of Ibn Battuta"). The Journey of Ibn Battuta is a medieval book which recounts the journey of the 14th-century Moroccan scholar and traveler Ibn Battuta. The book was written by Ibn Juzayy on orders from the Marinid Sultan Abu Inan who was impressed by the story and journey of Ibn Battuta. Although Ibn Battuta was an accomplished and well-documented explorer his travels had been unknown outside the Islamic world for many years.