A Month in Cairo
Ibn Battuta illustrated how life inside the walled city of Cairo was, it was very much populated and busy. Its tiny streets were occupied with locals, donkeys, and camels along the hundreds of stores and markets. Crowds of merchants and sellers also filled the streets.
The nomad continued to describe Cairo’s various colleges, mosques, hospitals and monasteries that shelters the poor. These were constructed by the amirs or military officers who contended with each other for charity works and founding of religious structures.
In particular, Ibn Battuta was stunned with the beauty of a maristan or hospital and its assistance to the sick. Hospitals like this exhibit the Islamic vow to charity, which is part of 5 Pillars of Islam.
Trip to Nile
For one month, Ibn Battuta lived in Cairo, then he opted to continue to Mecca by himself through Upper Egypt going to the Red Sea port of ‘Aydhad where he traveled by sea to Jidda on the Arab coast. Although this course took much longer compared to Sinai, it was then considered a safer route with the Sultan’s protection.
For 3 weeks, he journeyed to Nile, traveling by land instead of the river where he slept at the houses of scholars, qadis or judges and Sufis or in university dorms. Having stayed in Nile, he realized that it commonly floods during the month of June and describing the city’s importance to Egypt’s economy and tax concerns.
There was no major incident during this period of his trip but shared his surprise upon seeing men in a bath house with no covering as he notified the governor about it. He also comes across a holy man, a descendant of Prophet Muhammad who predicted that Ibn Battuta would not make his first pilgrimage unless he travels the road through Syria. He disregarded the omen and continued with his journey.
For fifteen days, he left the Nile on a camel together with a group of Bedouin Arabs to the Red Sea. It was here that he realized that there’s an ongoing revolt between the local ruling family and the governor of Mamluk where they had destroyed vessels and reported threats of violence. This compelled Ibn Battuta to go back to Cairo and take on the north route to Mecca just as predicted by the holy man. The sea journey took for only about 8 days.
Ibn Battuta only stayed in Cairo for just 1 night before taking on the next part of his journey, going to Damascus Syria and not directly to Mecca as Mamluk’s empire protect this course so he decided to carry on this northeast path.
Mamluk Empire’s life blood was trade and the caravanserai of lodging for caravan travelers was created to promote trade. One caravanserai for traders in Syria had more than 300 lodgings on top of store rooms and ample space for 4 thousand guests at a time. Ibn Battuta has stayed in lodging like this that are constructed along the major trade routes.
International Festival of Ibn Battuta
Get to know more about Ibn Battuta’s inspiring travel stories at the second edition of International Festival of Ibn Battuta organized by the Moroccan Association of Ibn Battuta. The event which celebrates the legacy of Ibn Battuta will take place at the city of Tangier in Morocco on November 9-12, 2017.
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