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Ibn Battuta Original Documents

Ibn Battuta Original Documents

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Published by: StanfordSheg on Feb 05, 2014
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02/05/2014

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Documents A&B: Ibn Battuta’s
Rihla
 
(Excerpted from Original)I left Tangier, my birthplace, on Thursday, 2nd Rajab 2! "#une $%, $&2!', being at that time tentyto years of age "22 lunar years* 2$ and % months by solar rec+oning', ith the intention of ma+ing the ilgrimage to the -oly -ouse "at .ecca' and the Tomb of the rophet "at .edina'/ I set out alone, finding no companion to cheer the ay ith friendly intercourse, and no party of tra0ellers ith hom to associate myself/ 1ayed by an o0ermastering impulse ithin me, and a longcherished desire to 0isit those glorious sanctuaries, I resol0ed to uit all my friends and tear myself aay from my home/ 3s my parents ere still ali0e, it eighed grie0ously upon me to part from them, and both they and I ere afflicted ith sorro/ On reaching the city of Tilimsan "Tlemsen', hose sultan at that time as 3bu Tashifin, I found there to ambassadors of the 1ultan of Tunis, ho left the city on the same day that I arri0ed/ One of the brethren ha0ing ad0ised me to accompany them, I consulted the ill of 4od in this matter, and after a stay of three days in the city to procure all that I needed, I rode after them ith all speed/ I o0ertoo+ them at the ton of .iliana, here e stayed ten days, as both ambassadors fell sic+ on account of the summer heats/ 5hen e set out again, one of them gre orse, and died after e had stopped for three nights by a stream four miles from .iliana/ I left their party there and pursued my  journey, ith a company of merchants from Tunis/ On reaching al#a6a7ir "3lgiers' e halted outside the ton for a fe days, until the former party rejoined us, hen e ent on together through the .itija "the fertile plain behind 3lgiers' to the mountain of Oa+s "#urjura' and so reached 8ijaya "8ougiel/ The commander of 8ijaya at this time as the chamberlain Ibn 1ayyid an9as/ 9o one of the Tunisian merchants of our party had died lea0ing three thousand dinars of gold, hich he had entrusted to a certain man of 3lgiers to deli0er to his heirs at Tunis/ Ibn 1ayyid an9as came to hear of this and forcibly sei6ed the money/ This as the first instance I itnessed of the tyranny of the agents of the Tunisian go0ernment/  3t 8ijaya I fell ill of a fe0er, and one of my friends ad0ised me to stay there till I reco0ered/ 8ut I refused, saying, :If 4od decrees my death, it shall be on the road ith my face set toard .ecca/: :If that is your resol0e,: he replied, :sell your ass and your hea0y baggage, and I shall lend you hat you reuire/ In this ay you ill tra0el light, for e must ma+e haste on our journey, for fear of meeting ro0ing 3rabs on the ay/: I folloed his ad0ice and he did as he had promisedmay 4od reard him; / / /<rom =amietta I tra0elled to <aris+ur, hich is a ton on the ban+ of the 9ile, and halted outside it/ -ere I as o0erta+en by a horseman ho had been sent after me by the go0ernor of =amietta/ -e handed me a number of coins saying to me :The 4o0ernor as+ed for you, and on being informed about you, he sent you this gift:may 4od reard him; Thence I tra0elled to 3shmun, a large and ancient ton on a canal
 
deri0ed from the 9ile/ It possesses a ooden bridge at hich all 0essels anchor, and in the afternoon the baul+s are lifted and the 0essels pass up and don/ <rom here I ent to 1amannud, hence I journeyed upstream to >airo, beteen a continuous succession of tons and 0illages/ The tra0eller on the 9ile need ta+e no pro0ision ith him because hene0er he desires to descend on the ban+ he may do so, for ablutions, prayers, pro0isioning, or any other purpose/ There is an uninterrupted chain of ba6aars from  3lexandria to >airo, and from >airo to 3ssuan "3san' in ?pper Egypt/I arri0ed at length at >airo, mother of cities and seat of haraoh the tyrant, mistress of broad regions and fruitful lands, boundless in multitude of buildings, peerless in beauty and splendour, the meetingplace of comer and goer, the haltingplace of feeble and mighty, hose throngs surge as the a0es of the sea, and can scarce be contained in her for all her si6e and capacity/ It is said that in >airo there are tel0e thousand atercarriers ho transport ater on camels, and thirty thousand hirers of mules and don+eys, and that on the 9ile there are thirtysix thousand boats belonging to the 1ultan and his subjects hich sail upstream to ?pper Egypt and donstream to 3lexandria and =amietta, laden ith goods and profitable merchandise of all +inds/ On the ban+ of the 9ile opposite Old >airo is the place +non as The 4arden, hich is a pleasure par+ and promenade, containing many beautiful gardens, for the people of >airo are gi0en to pleasure and amusements/ I itnessed a fete once in >airo for the sultan7s reco0ery from a fractured hand* all the merchants decorated their ba6aars and had rich stuffs, ornaments and sil+en fabrics hanging in their shops for se0eral days/ The mosue of 73mr is highly 0enerated and idely celebrated/ The <riday ser0ice is held in it and the road runs through it from east to est/ The madrasas "college mosues' of >airo cannot be counted for multitude/ 3s for the .aristan "hospital', hich lies :beteen the to castles: near the mausoleum of 1ultan @ala7un, no description is adeuate to its beauties/ It contains an innumerable uantity of appliances and medicaments, and its daily re0enue is put as high as a thousand dinars/ There are a large number of religious establishments ":con0ents :' hich they call +hanahs, and the nobles 0ie ith one another in building them/ Each of these is set apart for a separate school of darishes, mostly ersians, ho are men of good education and adepts in the mystical doctrines/ Each has a superior and a door+eeper and their affairs are admirably organi6ed/ They ha0e many special customs one of hich has to do ith their food/ The steard of the house comes in the morning to the darishes, each of hom indicates hat food he desires, and hen they assemble for meals, each person is gi0en his bread and soup in a separate dish, none sharing ith another/ They eat tice a day/ They are each gi0en inter clothes and summer clothes, and a monthly alloance of from tenty to thirty dirhams/ E0ery Thursday night they recei0e sugar ca+es, soap to ash their clothes, the price of a bath, and oil for their lamps/ These men are celibate* the married men ha0e separate con0ents/  3t >airo too is the great cemetery of al@arafa, hich is a place of peculiar sanctity and contains the gra0es of innumerable scholars and pious belie0ers/ In the @arafa the people build beautiful pa0ilions surrounded by alls, so that they loo+ li+e houses/ They
 
also build chambers and hire Aoranreaders ho recite night and day in agreeable 0oices/ 1ome of them build religious houses and madrasas beside the mausoleums and on Thursday nights they go out to spend the night there ith their children and omenfol+, and ma+e a circuit of the famous tombs/ They go out to spend the night there also on the :9ight of mid1ha7ban,: and the mar+etpeople ta+e out all +inds of eatables/  3mong the many celebrated sanctuaries "in the city' is the holy shrine here there reposes the head of al-usayn/ 8eside it is a 0ast monastery of stri+ing construction, on the doors of hich there are sil0er rings and plates of the same metal/ The Egyptian 9ile surpasses all ri0ers of the earth in seetness of taste, length of course, and utility/ 9o other ri0er in the orld can sho such a continuous series of tons and 0illages along its ban+s, or a basin so intensely culti0ated/ Its course is from 1outh to 9orth, contrary to all the other great ri0ers/ One extraordinary thing about it is that it begins to rise in the extreme hot eather at the time hen ri0ers generally diminish and dry up, and begins to subside just hen ri0ers begin to increase and o0erflo/ The ri0er Indus resembles it in this feature/ The 9ile is one of the fi0e great ri0ers of the orld, hich are the 9ile, Euphrates, Tigris, 1yr =arya and 3mu =arya* fi0e other ri0ers resemble these, the Indus, hich is called anj 3b "i/e/ <i0e Ri0ers', the ri0er of India hich is called 4ang "4anges'it is to it that the -indus go on pilgrimage, and hen they burn their dead they thro the ashes into it, and they say that it comes from aradisethe ri0er #un "#umna or perhaps 8rahmaputra' in India, the ri0er Itil "Bolga' in the @ipcha steppes, on the ban+s of hich is the city of 1ara, and the ri0er 1aru "-oang-o' in the land of >athay/ 3ll these ill be mentioned in their proper places, if 4od ill/ 1ome distance belo >airo the 9ile di0ides into three streams, none of hich can be crossed except by boat, inter or summer/ The inhabitants of e0ery tonship ha0e canals led off the 9ile* these are filled hen the ri0er is in flood and carry the ater o0er the fields/ / / / 3t the station of @atya customsdues are collected from the merchants, and their goods and baggage are thoroughly examined and searched/ There are offices here, ith officers, cler+s, and notaries, and the daily re0enue is a thousand gold dinars/ 9o one is alloed to pass into 1yria ithout a passport from Egypt, nor into Egypt ithout a passport from 1yria, for the protection of the property of the subjects and as a measure of precaution against spies from Ira/ The responsibility of guarding this road has been entrusted to the 8adain "8edouin'/ 3t nightfall they smooth don the sand so that no trac+ is left on it, then in the morning the go0ernor comes and loo+s at the sand/ If he finds any trac+ on it he commands the 3rabs to bring the person ho made it, and they set out in pursuit and ne0er fail to catch him/ -e is then brought to the go0ernor, ho punishes him as he sees fit/ The go0ernor at the time of my passage treated me as a guest and shoed me great +indness, and alloed all those ho ere ith me to pass/ <rom here e ent on to 4a6a, hich is the first city of 1yria on the side next the Egyptian frontier/ / / / I entered =amascus on Thursday Cth Ramadan 2D "Cth 3ugust, $&2D', and lodged at the .ali+ite college called ash1harabishiya/ =amascus surpasses all other cities in beauty, and no description, hoe0er full, can do justice to its charms/

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