International Ibnu Batuta Conference on Travel, Trade, Tradition and Trajectories

Khoundkar Alamgir

National University Bangladesh

Khoundkar Alamgir is a teacher of Islamic History and Culture, National University Bangladesh. He earned his doctorate in Islamic Art and Archaeology. He is a former officer of the Department of Archaeology, Government of Bangladesh. After twenty three years of research and office administration he made a switch to the National University. He taught in the post graduate level in this University. He is the author of Sultanate Architecture of Bengal: an Analysis of Architectural and Decorative Elements, published by Kaveri Books, New Delhi, India and Khan Jahan (R): Ruler, Builder and Saint, distributed by Parash Publishers, Dhaka, Bangladesh. He has many research papers published in internationally reputed journals. He has participated and presented papers in many national and international conferences. He is a former member of the Editorial Board, National University Journal of Arts and Itihas Academy Journal, Dhaka. He is a life member and former Joint Treasurer as well as Executive Council Member of History Council of Bangladesh (Bangladesh Itihas Parishad), life member and Executive Council Member of Itihash Academy, Dhaka, Bangladesh and life member of Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. He is also an Executive Member: Central India Journal of Historical and Archaeological Research (CIJHAR), India and Former Ambassador and at present liaison of International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL), New York.


Ibn Batuta in Bengal: Socio-Economic, Political and Cultural Aspects

Key-words: Lakhnauti, Shah Jalal, Sylhet, Sonargaon, Chittagong, Sufism, Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah

Abstract: History of the Muslims of Bengal was not peaceful starting from its conquest by Ikhtiyaruddin Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji in 1204 AC. Though Bakhtiyar Khalji did not declare independence he ruled like an independent Sultan. From this time onwards Bengal sometimes became independent and sometimes the rulers of Bengal refused the allegiance of Delhi. Bengal became independent in 1338 AC and three separate states were established by governors viz. Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah (1338 AC –1349 AC) in Sonargaon, Alauddin Ali Shah (1339 AC – 1342 AC) in Lakhnauti and Shasuddin Ilyas Shah (1342 AC – 1358 AC) in Satgaon. At this juncture of history Ibn Batuta visited Bengal.  He came to Bengal in 1346 AC via Delhi, Calicut (Kozhikode of Kerala) Maldives and Ceylon. The main reason of his travel to Bengal was to meet Sheikh Jalauddin Mujarrad Yemeni (commonly known as Shah Jalal) of Sylhet. Ibn Batuta’s intention to meet Shah Jalal indicates his respect and veneration towards Sufism. It has already been mentioned that at that time Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah ruled Eastern Bengal (capital Sonargaon) independently. Ibn Batuta came to Chittagong by sea and went to Sylhet and Sonargaon by river i.e. he visited only the domain ruled by Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah and not the areas held by Alauddin Ali Shah of Lakhnauti and Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah of Satgaon. In the travelogue of Ibn Batuta various Socio-Economic, Political and Cultural aspects of Bengal have been depicted. At that time Bengal was a prosperous country. He has mentioned the humid climate of Bengal and at that time Bengal was called dozakh-i-pur az n'imat, that is 'hell full of gifts.' He has mentioned the naval routes, bazaars, prices of commodities, slavery, Faqirs and Sufis, political condition etc. His observation about Bengal was keen and invaluable. In this paper a humble attempt for a critical examination of various views and opinions expressed by various historians will be taken up. The author will also try to throw some new light on the narrative of Ibn Batuta about Bengal in his Rihla.