In 1325, Ibn Battuta, a 21-year-old jurist, left his home in Tangier on a
Hajj, to Mecca as all good Muslims should do (p1). It was 29 years before he arrived home
again, after travelling further than any known traveller before him: from Mali to China, from
Russia to Zanzibar, with his years as legal adviser to the Sultan of Delhi the crowning
achievement of his career. His account of his journeys was written in old age entirely from
memory. Almost all that is known about Ibn Battuta's life comes from one source, Ibn Battuta
Ibn Battuta observes different customs through out his travels, especially the treatment of women. In many cases he is very critical of women having a high status or being able to meet socially with men. He is also critical of women who in his view are not modest in dress, going "topless" as in West Africa (p56), and not having their faces covered as in Anatolia and the Steppe.
He praises women who cover up and are thereby "modest". He tells many examples of the separation or lack of separation of the sexes. He tells of taking many wives and consorts "lovers" or slave-girls, and has children by them, only to leave them, divorce them, or presumably sell them for slaves (p25,69,73). Ibn Battuta mentions slavery several times. He was given slaves as part of his "hospitality gifts" in Turkey, and he bought slaves there as well. Indeed, slavery existed in almost every place he traveled through what was once the Muslim empire.
As for his journeys, his first journey was to Mecca, and followed the North African coast
quite closely until he reached Cario (p15). En route, he visited Damascus and traveled
throughout Syria to the borders of Asia Minor before joining the...