Mackenzie Schultz Mrs. Linn AP World History 1 September 2012 Ibn Battuta and the Five Pillars In Ross E. Dunn’s novel, The Adventures of Ibn Battuta, Ibn, a 14th century Muslim traveler, is influenced by The Five Pillars of Islam in different ways (Dunn 1). The Five Pillars of Islam are Faith (shahada), Prayer (salat), Charity (zakat), Fast, and Pilgrimage (hajj). Shahada is the declaration of faith, i. e. the professing that there is only one God (Allah) and that Muhammad is God’s messenger. Salat is the Islamic prayer. It consists of five daily prayers that are recited while facing the Ka’bah in Mecca.
Zakat or alms-giving is the practice of charitable giving by Muslims based on accumulated wealth, and is obligatory for all who are able to do so. Fasting is a mandatory act during the month of Ramadan unless you are sick, pregnant, young child, or on a difficult journey. Muslims must abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk during this month. The hajj is a pilgrimage that occurs during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah to the holy city of Mecca. Every able-bodied Muslim is obliged to make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime. He sees that the pillars are the most important cultural value.
First, Ibn Battuta is influenced by Faith because he appears to have been one of those rare individuals who live their faith, mainly by relegating their own personal needs to a secondary level of importance while the needs of their faith, remain primary in significance. Ibn Battuta needed to travel his path as a solitary traveler, one who remained convinced that his faith would see him through whatever adventures he encountered in his journey of discovery and exploration. Faith was the reason for his travels. Ibn is also influenced by prayer because in some ways it saved him.
In Calicut, a storm came up that evening. Ibn was suppose to be on one of the boats caught in the storm if he wasn’t at prayer in an offshore mosque. The boat he was suppose to be on, ended up sinking resulting in zero survivors (Dunn 224. ) When the Black Death had broken out in the mid-14th century, thousands upon thousands of people were dying. Ibn Battuta escaped the Black Death by living in fresh air, eating pickled onions and fruit, and above all, prayer. These are just two instances where prayer had saved Ibn Battuta’s life (Dunn 273). Alms-giving also had a great deal of affect on him and his travels. The obligation included voluntary giving (sadaqa) to specific classes of people; the poor, orphans, prisoners, slaves, (for ransoming), fighters in holy war, and wayfarers. Falling eminently into this last category Ibn Battuta would during the next several year see his welfare assured, to one degree or another, by an array of pious individuals who were moved to perform acts of kindness, the more readily so since the recipient was himself an educated gentlemen well worthy of such tokens of God’s beneficence” (Dunn 35). . Ibn Battuta was given alms when he was offered constant hospitality.
Between, giving alms and receiving it, it was always evident throughout his lifetime. Fasting during Ramadan did not directly affect Ibn Battuta, because he was a traveler, which meant he was not required to fast. It did however bring chaos and celebration around him. “Ibn Battuta was on hand to witness the sultan fulfill his customary duty of leading “a magnificent procession” of officials, courtiers, and soldiers from the citadel to a special outdoor praying ground (musalla) that accommodated the crowds gathered for the prayers marking the Breaking of the Fast” (Dunn 37).
Just a year later, his entire stay in Damascus took place during the month of Ramadan, resulting in a strenuous obligation that upset the normal routines of people around him and even himself (Dunn 61). Lastly, the hajj, is what I believe, had the biggest impact on Ibn Battuta and his travels. His first hajj began in 1325 and ended the year after (Dunn 1). It was the starting point and the foundation throughout his travels as a whole. Without out the hajj being one of the Five Pillars, we don’t know if Ibn Battuta would of traveled anywhere at anytime.
Ibn traveled from the Tangier to the Nile Delta in 1325 (Dunn 28). From there he went to Egypt, Syria, and Arabia, finally reaching Mecca (Dunn 42). From Mecca, he went to Persia and Iraq (Dunn 82). Then back off to Arabia again and East Africa (Dunn 107). After that, he traveled to Antalonia and the Black Sea region (Dunn 138). From the Black Sea region, he went to India, Ceylon, and the Maldive Islands (Dunn 184). Then he visited Southeast Asia and China (Dunn 256) Lastly, he returned back home (Dunn 267).
Without his obligation to fulfill the requirement of the hajj, he would of never visited any of these places and receive the reputation he got. In conclusion, Ibn Battuta probably would not have traveled so far without his obligation to The Five Pillars of Islam. Each and everyone one of them had some affect towards him, his travels, and his life as a whole. “The Marco Polo of the Muslim World” gave historians the key of knowledge to the fourteenth century societies, trade, travel, religions and customs. He is considered a hero in many eyes, and always will be considered a hero. Schultz
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