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

Dr. Arshad Islam

IIUM, Malaysia

Dr. Arshad Islam, Associate Professor, holds B.Sc. and M. A. degrees from Gorakhpur University, and M. Phil. and Ph.D. from Aligarh Muslim University, India. He joined International Islamic University Malaysia in 1991 and has since taught courses in Southeast Asian history, Indian history, History of Science, Islamic History and Civilization, Rise and fall of Civilizations, and Central Asian history.


A Panoramic Account of Ibn Batuta’s Voyage to Maritime Southeast Asia

The legendary medieval Muslim traveller, Ibn Batuta (1304-1368), was the author of one of the most celebrated travel books, his Rihlah (Travels). He travelled across most of the Muslim world, from his home in the Maghreb to China and Southeast Asia, covering some 75,000 miles. After staying many years in Delhi he was finally deputed on a diplomatic mission to China. On his way he traversed Malabar, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Coromandel, Bengal and Assam. Facing the fury of the Indian Ocean, he sailed to Sumatra on his final mission to China. This paper highlights Ibn Batuta’s voyage to Indo-Malay Archipelago as a centre of the spice trade and a nexus for merchants of global trade between China, India, Persia, and Southern Arabia with much wider cultural impacts – as evidenced by the presence of Ibn Batuta himself. His insights into the society of medieval Southeast Asia from the perspective of an educated traveller from one of the most sophisticated and distant parts of the Arab-Islamic world offer many important insights on the development of Nusantara society.

Keywords: China, Ibn Batuta, India, Indonesia, Maghreb, Nusantara, Rihlah