“We saw before our eyes the illustrious Ka’ba… We made around it the sevenfold circuit of arrival and kissed the Holy Stone. We performed the prayer of two bowings at the Maqam Ibrahim and clung to the curtains of the Ka’ba between the door and the Black Stone, where prayer is answered. We drank of the water of the well of Zamzam… then having run between al-Safa and al-Marwa, we took up our lodging there in a house near the Gate of Ibrahim.”
This is a description of Hajj written almost 700 years ago. It was written by Ibn Battuta, one of the greatest Muslim travellers of all time.
Born in Tangier, modern-day Morocco, he set out to fulfil Islam’s 5th pillar and study Islamic law at the age of 20.
“Swayed by an overmastering impulse within me, and a long-cherished desire to visit those glorious sanctuaries, I resolved to quit all my friends and tear myself away from my home. As my parents were still alive, it weighed grievously upon me to part from them, and both they and I were afflicted with sorrow…”
It would take him more than a year and a half to arrive at the sacred destination.
He then explored the world for 29 years. He covered more than 75,000 miles, three times the circumference of the Earth, visiting around 44 modern-day countries.
His memoirs offer an insight into life throughout ‘Dar ul Islam’ during the height of Islamic Civilization. His travels took him from as far west as Fez to as far east as Beijing, and although he vowed never to tread the same path twice, he completed the Hajj pilgrimage 4 times.
He dedicated more than 50 pages of his book, Rihla, to descriptions of the Ka’ba, the Haram and Makkah, to details of the Hajj prayers and rituals and the character and the traditions of the Muslims there.
This obligation was not as simple then as it is today even for pilgrims travelling from neighbouring countries the journey could be deadly. But Muslims from across the world, like Ibn Battuta, sailed the seas and trekked the across the land to complete the incredible Hajj pilgrimage.