A requiem for Ibn Battuta in Kozhikode?

Morocco’s Ambassador says MP’s suggestion at Battuta conference ‘deserves our attention’

December 04, 2018 11:18 pm | Updated December 06, 2018 06:23 pm IST - Kozhikode

A proposal to build a memorial for 14th century Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta in Kozhikode, where he stopped over during his 24-year travel around the world, was made here on Tuesday.

Ibn Battuta wrote about this port city, then known as Calicut, much before the landing of Vasco da Gama. His accounts gave a glimpse of the arrival of merchants from various parts of the world here and the rise of the Zamorins to prominence.

The suggestion to build a memorial was put forward by M.K. Raghavan, Kozhikode MP, at the second international Ibn Battuta conference on ‘Travel, trade, tradition, and trajectories’ organised by the Malappuram-based Ma’din Academy. Mr. Raghavan said that along with holding conferences and discussions, a permanent structure such a museum could be built to commemorate Battuta’s visit to Kozhikode.

Mohamed Maliki, Morocco’s Ambassador to India, later told the media that the idea “definitely deserves our attention” and it could be the world’s tribute to the man who travelled around the globe 600 years ago.

Earlier, opening the conference, Mr. Maliki said Ibn Battuta’s trip was not for financial purposes as he was the son of a judge in Tangier, his home town. He was a well-educated person, a man of culture and religion, but especially a curious man “having an eye on the world”, as the saying in Arabic goes.

‘A free world’

“The journey of Ibn Battuta gave us a real illustration of a diplomacy that existed at that time in a free world. A world completely different from ours. A world where no one spoke of passports, visas, or special permits.... It was a world without hurdles for the lovers of travel and discovery,” Mr. Maliki said.

He pointed out that Battuta put down what he observed after he returned to Morocco. “Through his narrative, he allowed many generations of the bygone centuries and others to come to know of the 14th century history of the world, lifestyles, gastronomy, religion. etc. His description of places and people, traditions, and their way of life were so accurate that some of them are still valid,” Mr. Maliki added.

In her keynote address, Ross E. Dunn of San Diego University, US, author of The Adventures of Ibn Battuta: A Muslim Traveller of the 14th Century , said the Moroccan traveller was a participant among many in a huge trans-hemispheric web of Muslim social interaction that embraced a large part of ‘Afroeurasia’ in the 14th century.

The extensive growth of Islam in that period involved a social movement, the journeys, and migrations of individuals who possessed literacy and special skills, and who were needed in places where Islamisation of society was taking place.

The two-day conference will conclude on Wednesday.

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