How I Relate to Ibn Battuta's Travelsby Muslim Travel Girl
Being a Representation of Islam
When we talk about avid travellers and adventurers in today’s terms, our mind mostly goes to social influencers, celebrities, friends, and family. However, personally, I always feel that Ibn Battuta was indeed a great adventurer.
During his travels, Ibn Battuta covered an estimated 75,000 miles, most of it through dangerous terrain and without the comforts of today’s transportation methods.
He set out on his first journey at age 21 and crisscrossed the globe for almost 30 years, encountering everything from nomadic tribes to luxurious court life.
Despite his many challenges, Ibn Battuta never lost his sense of wonder and curiosity, traits that served him well in his travels.
In a time when travel was far more complex and dangerous than today, he persevered and became one of history’s most celebrated explorers.
His books and accounts provide a historical glimpse into almost every corner of the Islamic world and parts of India, China, and Africa.
He documented his travels in a book called The Rehla, which remains one of the most important sources of information about life in the Muslim world during the 14th century.
Ibn Battuta’s travels provide a fascinating insight into the cultures of the Muslim world at that time.
I cannot, by any means, compare myself to Ibn Battuta or his great adventures, but I believe we have a few things in common as a traveller.
Being a Muslim traveller, especially a hijabi who is visibly Muslim, we represent our religion. When travelling, we come across different cultures, people and circumstances and we do have to try and make the best impression possible.
Over the years, I have come across people from various religions and cultures. Many had not interacted with Muslims before me and were curious about my hijab and religion.
They could come across as rude or unwelcome when in reality, they didn’t know how to interact with me. I always love these interactions because they show us that their apprehension, although it could be misjudged, came from a place of curiosity.
Being open, polite and smiling, since it’s sunnah, can go a long way to building bridges and showing that we have more in common with people than differences.
Curiosity About the World
Ibn Battuta left Morocco only to return 30 years later because he became curious about the world. He wanted to explore and experience things beyond his border.
This trait is evident in all travellers who today take on a journey to either explore one country at a time or travel for a year around the world.
I moved to the UK to study when I was 19 because I was curious about what was beyond the borders of Greece for me. I was fascinated by the different cultures of people I had met briefly and wanted to experience more of the wonder. This curiosity also made me become a Muslim.
It is what keeps us moving forward as people and generations. Despite the dangers that may be, we keep exploring and travelling because it is what fuels part of our evolution.
Travelling is addictive due to the chemical reactions in our brain from the high we get when exploring and meeting new cultures. Ibn Battuta kept going because he saw the beauty of the world, the adventures keeping him excited to continue. A restless heart that wanted to make the most of his experience.
The travelling industry is worth billions of dollars in part due to the fact that travellers want to escape their lives and explore.
The excitement of booking a new trip and looking forward to the adventure is what keeps us going with mundane daily things.
Deep down, travellers are restless and feel more at home when they travel and explore. Yes, not everyone is like this, but I can genuinely say that I would take every opportunity possible to explore a new city and soak up the local atmosphere.
As a student, I would take the longest possible layover to reach Greece over the holidays simply so I could explore a new European city for 12 hours. No matter the weather or budget restraints, I would find a way to make it possible.
A journey that usually takes 3.5 hours would take me 24 hours, but I would happily sleep at the airport and explore Zurich for a day.
The Sense of Something Bigger Than Us
Before becoming a Muslim, I knew that there was something bigger than myself. I was born Christian, and I believed in a higher power. Travelling opened my eyes to the wonders of the world and the fact of how small and insignificant we are in comparison to Allah’s creation and magnificence.
Standing at the Grand Canyon and seeing the mountains in wonder or visiting the Maldives, a small paradise on earth, makes me reflect on how powerless I am and how beautiful this world is. Then I can only imagine Jannah.
When we live our lives in a small bubble and within our comfort zone, we wrongly believe that this is the whole world, when in reality, it is a fraction of what is out there.
I always describe the experience of travel as a balloon. Once you start travelling, you expand your horizon, experience new things, and learn and grow as a person, which means your balloon will never be the same again. You realise there is so much more out there than you can imagine.
Sharing the Experience
As a blogger, I relate to Ibn Battuta’s need to record his travels and encourage others to experience what the world has to offer. I started MuslimTravelGirl with the desire to help others to find budget deals and get out of their comfort zone because I realised that Muslims were apprehensive due to how the media portrayed them.
Over the years, I wanted to help them experience Umrah on a budget because it is one of the greatest journeys you can undertake after Hajj. The very reason why Ibn Battuta started travelling.
I am truly grateful and amazed that we have reached a million people to support and provide information about planning their Umrah. It is by no means comparable to Ibn Battuta’s journey and achievements, but that need to inspire others and help them on their journey is what started it.
I sometimes wonder what Ibn Battuta would think of our travelling options today, of social media and how we can share everything in a few seconds across the world. We can reach Makkah in hours instead of the 1.5 years it took him to get there from Morrocco in the 14th century.
We are truly blessed to experience so many more things in a much more comfortable setting than he was, even though the satisfaction is very similar, in my opinion. Hence, I think we should take as much advantage and travel as long as possible.
I hope this article sparks interest and inspires the readers to explore the world and continuously be curious to learn about other people’s cultures and religions. And if you want to know more about Ibn Battuta’s travels, check out the Ibn Battuta The Explore series on Qalbox. If you are more of a reader, enjoy reading these two articles on 5 Muslim Men You Should Know About and The World of Ibn Battuta.
About the Author
Elena or better known as Muslim Travel Girl is an avid traveller who actively shares travelling tips useful for Muslims on her travel blog and social media platforms.