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Ar-Rihla or iḥlah (Arabic: الرحلة‎‎, "Journey" or "Travels") is a Classical Arabic term of a quest, with connotations of a voyage undertaken for the sake of divine knowledge of Islam. It is also a form of travel literature based upon the experiences of the travelers.[1][2] The term "Rihla" was especially attributed to the written account of the adventures of the Islamic traveler and scholar, Ibn Battuta. Ibn Battuta traveled throughout most of the Islamic world during 1304-1369 C.E., later dictating his account as the Rihla.

As Travel[edit]

The Rihla travel practice originated in Middle Ages Morocco and served to connect Muslims of Morocco to the collective consciousness of the ummah across the Islamic world, thereby generating a larger sense of community. Rihla consists of three types:[3]

  1. Rihla - journey within Morocco, typically to meet with other pilgrims before traveling beyond the local area.
  2. Rihla hijaziyya - journey to the Hejaz which would be transmitted via an oral or written report.
  3. Rihla sifariyya - journey to foreign lands including to embassies and missions in territories in Dar al-Harb. Events on these journeys would be the basis of the extant travel literature.

The performance of Rihla was considered in Moorish al-Andalus as a qualifier for teachers and political leaders.[4] These journey also coincided with the end of the Mongol invasions and a new opportunity for Islamic expansion.[5]

As Literature[edit]

The writing of Ibn Jubayr is a foundation of the genre of work called Rihla, or the creative travelogue. Concerning his travel to Mecca in 1183, "...his two-year journey made a considerable impact on literary history. His account of his travels and tribulations in the East served as the foundational work of a new genre of writing, the rihla, or the creative travelogue: a mix of personal narrative, description, opinion and anecdote. In following centuries, countless people emulated and even plagiarized him."[6]

The best known Rihla manuscript is "A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Travelling" (تحفة النظار في غرائب الأمصار وعجائب الأسفار, or Tuḥfat an-Nuẓẓār fī Gharāʾib al-Amṣār wa ʿAjāʾib al-Asfār), often referred to as "The Travels of Ibn Battuta" (رحلة ابن بطوطة, or Riḥlat Ibn Baṭūṭah). The Travels is a medieval book which recounts the journey of the 14th-century Moroccan scholar and traveler Ibn Battuta. The book was dictated to Ibn Juzayy on orders from the Marinid Sultan Abu Inan Faris who was impressed by the story and travels of Ibn Battuta.[7] Although Ibn Battuta was an accomplished and well-documented explorer, his travels had been unknown outside the Islamic world for many years.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "What is the Rihla?". Rihla Reflections. 
  2. ^ http://ibnbattuta.berkeley.edu/resources.html
  3. ^ Eickelman, Dale F.; Piscatori, James P. (1990). Muslim Travellers: Pilgrimage, Migration and the Religious Imagination. University of California Press. pp. 69–71. 
  4. ^ Michael Karl Lenker, “The Importance of the Rihla for the Islamization of Spain,” Dissertations Available from ProQuest (January 1, 1982): 1–388
  5. ^ Tolmacheva, Marina (1995). "Ibn Battuta in Black Africa". The International Journal of African Historical Studies. 28 (3): 696–697. doi:10.2307/221221. 
  6. ^ Grammatico, Daniel and Werner, Louis. 2015. The Travel Writer Ibn Jubayr. Aramco World. Volume 66, No. 1, January–February 2015. Page 40.
  7. ^ Dunn, Ross E. (2004). The adventures of Ibn Battuta, a Muslim traveler of the fourteenth century. University of California Press. p. 310. ISBN 0-520-24385-4. 
  8. ^ Tolmacheva, Marina (1988). "The Adventures of Ibn Battuta, A Muslim Traveler of the Fourteenth Century". The International Journal of African Historical Studies. 21 (1): 149–150. doi:10.2307/219908. 

Further reading[edit]

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