IN PURSUIT OF KNOWLEDGE
Ibn Battuta is a 14th century Moroccan traveller and explorer. It is said that he covered 75,000 miles, in over twenty years, passing through some 44 of the world’s most remote, yet exotic locations. On his return to his hometown Tangier, he documented his journey in a travel log titled: A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities, and the Marvels of Travelling. His journey started when Ibn Battuta turned 21 years old in 1325 and decided to set out on the long trip to Mecca. It was a voyage that was to take him just 16 months. But it took the Arab traveller over twenty years, because he made a conscious decision not to return to Tangier. Instead he continued to discover the intriguing cultures and people he came across. Ibn Battuta was quiet an experimental character too, who wasn’t shy about revealing the numerous affairs he had, and the questionable women that crossed his path. Incredibly, he was married ten times. But the most important part of Ibn Battuta’s journey does not start until he reaches Alexandria, before heading on to Cairo. For a young man arriving from a small province in Morocco, Cairo seemed like an enormously dynamic metropolitan area, which he refers to as the mother of the world. At the time of his arrival in 1326, the city was the intellectual centre of the Middle-East, had a population of half a million people, and one of the only eye hospitals in the ancient world. In fact, Cairo was home to the biggest community of scholars who descended on the Egyptian capital in search of knowledge. To the young Moroccan, the intersection of cultures he encountered in Cairo was an eye-opening experience. The opportunity proved so addictive, that from there Ibn Battuta continued his journey to the end of the world, as he described it. His travels then took him as far away as India, across the Indian Ocean to the Islands of the Maldives, and overland to Central Asia and China.