History paper - Essay Example

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Name Module Instructor Date Ibn Battuta Ibn Battuta is a well-known historical explorer whose journeys across Africa, the Middle East and Asia are well-documented. His very detailed descriptions of the terrain through which he journeyed and the places he visited as well as of their rulers and religious customs and rituals point at the fact he actually travelled through these lands…
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....whose throngs surge as the waves of the sea” (Battuta) seems an accurate description of a thriving port city with a vibrant economy that brought with it peace and prosperity. His writings therefore give us a wealth of information about the conditions in these regions in the fourteenth century. I think his writings are an excellent source of information about the conditions that prevailed in these areas at the time. However, they are all written from the perspective of a devout Muslim, and details of the lives of people of other communities and religions are few. Battuta’s pen portraits of rulers, holy men and intellectuals with whom he interacted give us a sense of the administrative capabilities of the rulers in those parts. They also tell us a great deal about the societies in the Middle East and their living conditions with respect to sanitation as well as amenities such as roads, bazaars, parks, hospitals and religious places. The khangahs, or religious places, built by the nobility in pursuit of education and the respect given to the intellectuals or darwishes speak volumes for the emphasis laid on education and charity. His description of the famous mosques, especially the Al Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock, tally with what is evident even today, and hence, it seems that his observations are accurate and not biased. Battuta describes mosques as not only religious places but also as community centers where issues of public interest could be discussed. His description of the Umayyad Mosque, where the numerous doors were flanked by passages that had shops selling goods that were required for activities that were carried out in that particular part of the mosque; like notaries and witnesses in the area where a judge or Qadi had authorized a person to conduct marriages are particularly interesting. The description of the door of the hours vividly portrays how the merchants and other people in the square where the mosque was located used it to tell the time of the day and conduct their activities accordingly. His writings paint a picture of a world of civilized, god-fearing peoples who are peace- loving and generous to those less fortunate than themselves, as in the story of the bake houses where people who go to have their bread baked give away a portion of it to the poor. The honesty of the poor orphan children who carry the food bought by the rich to their houses without being tempted to steal any of it is particularly endearing. The kindness and generosity extended to strangers to their land, which Ibn Battuta himself experienced on his travels through so many of these lands, are an indication of a progressive culture. A native of Africa, Battuta describes most of Africa as being Islamic. Hence, in many ways the cultures of Africa and the Middle East, as he describes it, are not very different. References to people of faiths other than Islam are few. Battuta refers to the treatment meted out to Christians in his account of the Umayyad mosque when the Caliph wanted the part that was a church to extend into a mosque and the Christians refused to part with it, but it was taken by force. He also speaks of the taxes that Christian pilgrims had to pay to Muslims and the humiliations they suffered at the hands of Muslims. It seems from his writings that the sultans of some parts of Africa were constantly engaged in expeditions of warfare with Read More
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