At a young age of 22, over powered by the desire and will to see the world and explore places and most important of all of performing the pilgrimage in the Holy City of Makkah. Ibn Battuta set out alone from Tangier with no companion in his forlorn journey and parted himself with his family and friends with a heavy heart and tears between the brows.
The readers have to understand the weightage of pilgrimage in those ancient days. Nowadays all it takes is a maximum one week trip and zapp!! The next thing you know you are on a plane to Makkah with everything planned from where you are going to stay and eat and dine and shop all listed in the itinerary.
In those ancient days, setting out to Makkah was on par to another adventure in itself. An adventure which will be rewarded in the Akhirah. It takes months and sometimes even years for the travellers to travel to Makkah and nothing is sure. They don’t know where they would stay, where the next meal would come from and it had a lot of risk associated. When people said their goodbye’s for Makkah it was made as if they would never return.
22 he was and he rode into the desert alone, with no companion in his long and unsure a journey. He passed through Tlemsen, Algiers, Jurjura, Bijaya.
Afer having accompanied some travellers from Tunis as was the case in ancient days of travelling together in a group. Ibn Battuta witnessed his first tyrant which he wrote in his Rihla. One of the companions he was travelling with passed away and had 3000 dinars with him which the dying man entrusted to a friend to give it to his heir in Tunis. The commander knowing about it seized the money.
Ibn Battuta also learnt about friendship, kindness and humanity. He got very sick with a fever to the point of stating that "If God decrees my death, it shall be on the road with my face set towards Mecca" His friend advised Ibn Battuta to sell all the heavy luggages and his donkey so that he can travel light and he can lend other things from his friend.
Ibn Battuta heeded to his friends advice and travelled light and got better and praised and asked Allah to reward his friend in his Rihla. Small acts do count!
Ibn Battuta reached Constantine next and camped outside the town where there was a heavy rainfall and all his clothes got soiled. The governor of the city came to see him and when found that his clothes were soiled took the clothes to his house and replaced it with a better one and gave Ibn Battuta a Syrian turban to which was tied 2 dinars of gold coin. This was the first Sadaqah Ibn Battuta received. Give Sadaqah in such a way that your other hand doesn’t even know of it. A traveller’s duas are accepted and as a human we should go out of our way to help those in need. One day you will be surprised when those favours return to you.
Ibn Battuta reached Tunis next where he celebrated his Eid’ul Fitr and admired the grandiosity of the celebration. Afterwards he set out with the pilgrimage caravan and reached Alexandria. In Alexandria he met with Burhan Ad-Din who told Ibn Battuta to pass on his greetings to his 3 brothers who lived in Sind, India and China. Ibn Battuta had no plans as yet to visit these countries but perhaps due to this man, the idea of travelling to so far a land like China was not that farfetched after all.
He also met Shayk al-Murshidi famed for his piousness. He slept in the roof of the Shayk’s house one night where a dream of himself flying on a great winged bird to Mecca and many other places. He narrated the dream to the shayk the next morning to which the Shayk interpreted his dream that he would travel to Mecca and then Yemen, Iraq and India and also that he would meet the Shayk’s brother who would help him in his trouble time he would face. This dream prophecy proved to be true as the story progress.
He passed Cairo whose city he marvelled at for its architecture. He passed Jerusalem and then reached Damascus. Ibn Battuta praised the religious endowments system for everything from wedding dress, charity for travelling, freeing the prisoners and also there was an incident where a slave broke a china dish to which he was paid for so that he can buy a similar dish and escaped the master’s anger. In Damascus he was treated with utmost hospitality.
He passed Syria and reached Medina and prayed in the masjid of the prophet. He then traversed the desert to reach Makah and mentions the kindness, cleanliness and performed his first Haj!! His intention of perfoming Haj which made him left his home in the first place came true.
Ibn Battuta’s adventure does not stop here. There is more to come. To be continued ….