Ibn Battuta was a Muslim Moroccan scholar, explorer who travelled the medieval world. Over a period of thirty years, Ibn Battuta visited most of the Islamic world and many non-Muslim lands, including Central Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia and China. Near the end of his life, he dictated an account of his journeys, titled A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Traveling. All, known about Ibn Battuta's life comes from the autobiographical information included in the account of his travels, which records that he was of Berber descent, born into a family of Islamic legal scholars in Tangier, Morocco, on 25 February 1304, during the reign of the Marinid dynasty, he claimed descent from a Berber tribe known as the Lawata. As a young man, he would have studied at a Sunni Maliki madh'hab, the dominant form of education in North Africa at that time. Maliki Muslims requested Ibn Battuta serve as their religious judge as he was from an area where it was practised. In June 1325, at the age of twenty-one, Ibn Battuta set off from his hometown on a hajj, or pilgrimage, to Mecca, a journey that would ordinarily take sixteen months.
He would not see Morocco again for twenty-four years. I set out alone, having neither fellow-traveller in whose companionship I might find cheer, nor caravan whose part I might join, but swayed by an overmastering impulse within me and a desire long-cherished in my bosom to visit these illustrious sanctuaries. So I braced my resolution to quit my dear ones and male, forsook my home as birds forsake their nests. My parents being yet in the bonds of life, it weighed sorely upon me to part from them, both they and I were afflicted with sorrow at this separation, he travelled to Mecca overland, following the North African coast across the sultanates of Abd al-Wadid and Hafsid. The route took him through Tlemcen, Béjaïa, Tunis, where he stayed for two months. For safety, Ibn Battuta joined a caravan to reduce the risk of being robbed, he took a bride in the town of Sfax, the first in a series of marriages that would feature in his travels. In the early spring of 1326, after a journey of over 3,500 km, Ibn Battuta arrived at the port of Alexandria, at the time part of the Bahri Mamluk empire.
He met two ascetic pious men in Alexandria. One was Sheikh Burhanuddin, supposed to have foretold the destiny of Ibn Battuta as a world traveller saying "It seems to me that you are fond of foreign travel. You will visit my brother Fariduddin in Rukonuddin in Sind and Burhanuddin in China. Convey my greetings to them". Another pious man Sheikh Murshidi interpreted the meaning of a dream of Ibn Battuta that he was meant to be a world traveller, he spent several weeks visiting sites in the area, headed inland to Cairo, the capital of the Mamluk Sultanate and an important city. After spending about a month in Cairo, he embarked on the first of many detours within the relative safety of Mamluk territory. Of the three usual routes to Mecca, Ibn Battuta chose the least-travelled, which involved a journey up the Nile valley east to the Red Sea port of Aydhab. Upon approaching the town, however, a local rebellion forced him to turn back. Ibn Battuta took a second side trip, this time to Mamluk-controlled Damascus.
During his first trip he had encountered a holy man who prophesied that he would only reach Mecca by travelling through Syria. The diversion held an added advantage. Without this help many travellers would be murdered. After spending the Muslim month of Ramadan in Damascus, he joined a caravan travelling the 1,300 km south to Medina, site of the Mosque of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. After four days in the town, he journeyed on to Mecca, where completing his pilgrimage he took the honorific status of El-Hajji. Rather than returning home, Ibn Battuta decided to continue on, choosing as his next destination the Ilkhanate, a Mongol Khanate, to the northeast. On 17 November 1326, following a month spent in Mecca, Ibn Battuta joined a large caravan of pilgrims returning to Iraq across the Arabian Peninsula; the group headed north to Medina and travelling at night, turned northeast across the Najd plateau to Najaf, on a journey that lasted about two weeks. In Najaf, he visited the mausoleum of the Fourth Caliph.
Instead of continuing on to Baghdad with the caravan, Ibn Battuta started a six-month detour that took him into Persia. From Najaf, he journeyed to Wasit followed the river Tigris south to Basra, his next destination was the town of Isfahan across the Zagros Mountains in Persia. He headed south to Shiraz, a large, flourishing city spared the destruction wrought by Mongol invaders on many more northerly towns, he returned across the mountains to Baghdad, arriving there in June 1327. Parts of the city were still ruined from the damage inflicted by Hulago Khan's invading army in 1258. In Baghdad, he found Abu Sa'id, the last Mongol ruler of the unified Ilkhanate, leaving the city and heading north with a large retinue. Ibn Battuta joined the royal caravan for a while turned north on the Silk Road to Tabriz, the first major city in the region to open its gates to the Mongols and by an important trading centre as most of its nearby rivals had been razed by the Mongol invaders. Ibn Battuta left again for Baghdad in July, but first took an excursion northwards along the river
Spain in the Middle Ages
In many ways, the history of Spain is marked by waves of conquerors who brought their distinct cultures to the peninsula. After the passage of the Vandals and Alans down the Mediterranean coast of Hispania from 408, the history of medieval Spain begins with the Iberian kingdom of the Arianist Visigoths, who were converted to Catholicism with their king Reccared in 587. Visigothic culture in Spain can be seen as a phenomenon of Late Antiquity as much as part of the Age of Migrations. From Northern Africa in 711, the Muslim Umayyad Caliphate crossed into Spain, at the invitation of a Visigothic clan to assist it in rising against King Roderic. Over the period 711–788, the Umayyads conquered most of the lands of the Visigothic kingdom of Hispania and established the territory known as Al-Andalus. A revolt during the conquest established the Christian Kingdom of Asturias in the North of Spain. Much of the period is marked by conflict between the Muslim and Christian states of Spain, referred to as the Reconquista, or the Reconquest.
The border between Muslim and Christian lands wavered southward through 700 years of war, which marked the peninsula as a militarily contested space. The medieval centuries witnessed episodes of warfare between Spain's Christian states. Wars between the Crown of Aragon and the Crown of Castile were sparked by dynastic rivalries or disagreements over tracts of land conquered or to be conquered from the Muslim south; the Middle Ages in Spain are said to end in 1492 with the final acts of the Reconquista in the capitulation of the Nasrid Emirate of Granada and the Alhambra decree ordering the expulsion of the Jews. Early Modern Spain was first united as an institution in the reign of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor as Charles I of Spain. After completing the reconquest of Spain from the Muslims, the Iberians extended their battle against Islamdom to include North Africa, the Western Mediterranean and after the voyages of Vasco da Gama, the entire Southern Seas from East Africa to the Philippines.
When the Germanic peoples invaded the provinces of the Roman Empire, the hordes, urged forward by the pressure of the Huns in their rear, hurled themselves for the first time upon the Pyrenean Peninsula – the Alani, a people of Scythian, or Tatar, race. The Alani were, for the most part brought into subjection; the Vandals, after establishing themselves in Baetica, to which they gave the name of Vandalusia, passed on into Africa, while the Visigoths hemmed in the Suebi in Galicia until the latter were brought under control. These Visigoths, or Western Goths, after sacking Rome under the leadership of Alaric, turned towards the Iberian Peninsula, with Athaulf for their leader, occupied the northeastern portion. Wallia extended his rule over most of the peninsula. Theodoric I took part, with the Romans and Franks, in the Battle of the Catalaunian Plains, where Attila was routed. Euric, who put an end to the last remnants of Roman power in the peninsula, may be considered the first monarch of Spain, though the Suebians still maintained their independence in Galicia.
Euric was the first king to give written laws to the Visigoths. In the following reigns the Catholic kings of France assumed the role of protectors of the Hispano-Roman Catholics against the Arianism of the Visigoths, in the wars which ensued Alaric II and Amalaric lost their lives. Athanagild, having risen against King Agila, called in the Byzantine Greeks and, in payment for the succour they gave him, ceded to them the maritime places of the southeast. Liuvigild restored the political unity of the peninsula, subduing the Suebians, but the religious divisions of the country, reaching the royal family, brought on a civil war. St. Hermengild, the king's son, putting himself at the head of the Catholics, was defeated and taken prisoner, suffered martyrdom for rejecting communion with the Arians. Reccared, son of Liuvigild and brother of St. Hermengild, added religious unity to the political unity achieved by his father, accepting the Catholic faith in the Third Council of Toledo; the religious unity established by this council was the basis of that fusion of Goths with Hispano-Romans which produced the Spanish nation.
Sisebut and Suintila completed the expulsion of the Byzantines from Spain. Chindasuinth and Recceswinth laboured for legislative unity, legalized marriages, hitherto prohibited, between Goths and Latins. After Wamba, famous for his opposition to his own election, an unmistakable decline of the Gothic monarchy set in. Manners were relaxed, immorality increased, Wittiza has stood in Spanish history for the type of that decay which, in the next reign, that of Roderic, ended in the ruin of the kingdom. For specific medieval Muslim dynasties, see: Umayyad Dynasty in Spain: Umayyad Emirate of Cordoba, 756–912 Abd ar-Rahman I, 756–88 Hisham I, 788–96 al-Hakam I, 796–822 Abd ar-Rahman II, 822–52 Muhammad I, 852–86 al-Mundhir, 886–88 Abdallah ibn Muhammad, 888–912 Abd ar-Rahman III, 912–29 Umayyad Caliphate of Cordoba, 929–1031 Abd ar-Rahman III, as caliph, 929–61 Al-Hakam II, 961–76 Hisham II, 976–1008 Muhammad II, 1008–09 Suleiman, 1009–10 Hisham II, restored, 1010–12 Suleiman, restored, 1012–17 Abd ar-Rahman IV, 1021–22 Abd ar-Rahman V, 1022–23 Muhammad III, 1023–24 Hisham III, 1027–31 Taifa kingdoms Beheading An organizing principle of medieval Spain was the Reconquista, the Crusade by which territories that had once been Christian and Visigothic were recaptured and Christianized.
Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar was mythologized as the virtuous El Cid and is remembered as instrumental in this effort. For Medieval Northern Spain
Ḥamdallāh Mustawfī Qazvīnī was a Persian historian and epic poet, descended from a family of Arab origin. Mustawfi is the author of Nozhat ol-Gholub, Zafar-Nameh, the Tarikh e Gozideh, his tomb is a structure with a blue turquoise conical dome, at Qazvin. In his works regarding the history of Tabriz, Mustawfi mentions that before the arrival of the Mongols the people of Tabriz spoke Pahalavi Persian and began to speak Adhari Turkish during Illkhanate rule, he mentions that the people of Maragha and Ardabil had their own Persian dialects. Verily God hath preferred amongst His creatures of the Arabs the Quraysh, among the Persians the men of Fars: for which reason the people of this province... were known as' the Best of the Persians.' List of Iranian scientists Ḥamd-Allāh Mostawfi at Encyclopædia Iranica
Ala-al-din abu Al-Hassan Ali ibn Abi-Hazm al-Qarshi al-Dimashqi, known as Ibn al-Nafis, was an Arab physician from Damascus famous for being the first to describe the pulmonary circulation of the blood. The work of Ibn al-Nafis regarding the right sided circulation pre-dates the work of William Harvey's De motu cordis. Both theories attempt to explain circulation; as an early anatomist, Ibn al-Nafis performed several human dissections during the course of his work, making several important discoveries in the fields of physiology and anatomy. Besides his famous discovery of the pulmonary circulation, he gave an early insight of the coronary and capillary circulations, a contribution for which he is sometimes described as "the father of circulatory physiology". Apart from medicine, Ibn al-Nafis studied jurisprudence and theology, he was an expert on the Shafi'i school of an expert physician. The number of medical textbooks written by Ibn al-Nafis is estimated at more than 110 volumes. Ibn al-Nafis was born in 1213 to an Arab family at a village near Damascus named Karashia, after which his Nisba might be derived.
Early in his life, He studied theology and literature. At the age of 16, he started studying medicine for more than ten years at the Nuri Hospital in Damascus, founded by the Turkish Prince Nur-al Din Muhmud ibn Zanki, in the 12th century, he was contemporary with the famous Damascene physician Ibn Abi Usaibia and they both were taught by the founder of a medical school in Damascus, Al-Dakhwar. Ibn Abi Usaibia does not mention Ibn al-Nafis at all in his biographical dictionary "Lives of the Physicians"; the intentional omission could be due to personal animosity or maybe rivalry between the two physicians. In 1236, Ibn al-Nafis, along with some of his colleagues, moved to Egypt under the request of the Ayyubid sultan al-Kamil. Ibn al-Nafis was appointed as the chief physician at al-Naseri hospital, founded by Saladin, where he taught and practiced medicine for several years. One of his most notable students was the famous Christian physician Ibn al-Quff. Ibn al-Nafis taught jurisprudence at al-Masruriyya Madrassa.
His name is found among those of other scholars, which gives insight into how well he was regarded in the study and practice of religious law. Ibn al-Nafis lived most of his life in Egypt, witnessed several pivotal events like the fall of Baghdad and the rise of Mamluks, he became the personal physician of the sultan Baibars and other prominent political leaders, thus showcasing himself as an authority among practitioners of medicine. In his life, when he was 74 old, Ibn al-Nafis was appointed as the chief physician of the newly founded al-Mansori hospital where he worked until the rest of his life. Ibn al-Nafis died in Cairo after some days sickness, his student Safi Aboo al-fat'h composed a poem about him. Prior to his death, he donated his house and library to Qalawun Hospital or, as it was known, the House of Recovery; the most voluminous of his books is Al-Shamil fi al-Tibb, planned to be an encyclopedia comprising 300 volumes. However, Ibn al-Nafis managed to publish only 80 before his death, the work was left incomplete.
Despite this fact, the work is considered one of the largest medical encyclopedias written by one person, it gave a complete summary of the medical knowledge in the Islamic world at the time. Ibn al-Nafis bequeathed his encyclopedia along with all of his library to the Mansoory hospital where he had worked before his death. Along the time, much of the encyclopedia volumes got lost or dispersed all over the world with only 2 volumes still being extant in Egypt; the Egyptian scholar Youssef Ziedan started a project of collecting and examining the extant manuscripts of this work that are cataloged in many libraries around the world, including the Cambridge University Library, the Bodleian Library, the Lane Medical Library at Stanford University. Sharh Tashrih al-Qanun, published when Ibn al-Nafis was only 29 years old, still it is regarded by many as his most famous work. While it did not prove to be as popular as his medical encyclopedia in the Islamic circles, the book is of great interest today specially for science historians who are concerned with its celebrated discovery of the pulmonary circulation.
The book discusses the anatomical concepts of Avicenna's Canon. It starts with a preface in which Ibn al-Nafis talks about the importance of the anatomical knowledge for the physician, the vital relationship between anatomy and physiology, he proceeds to discuss the anatomy of the body which he divides into two types. What distinguish the book most is the confident language which Ibn al-Nafis shows throughout the text and his boldness to challenge the most established medical authorities of the time like Galen and Avicenna. Ibn al-Nafis, was one of the few medieval physicians-if not the only one-who contributed noticeably to the science of physiology and tried to push it beyond the hatch of the Greco-Roman tradition; the particular manuscript of Ibn al-Nafis' commentary on Hippocrates' Nature of Man is preserved by the National Library of Medicine. It is unique and significant because it is the only recorded copy that contains the commentary from Ibn al-Nafïs on the Hippocratic treatise on the Nature of Man.
Al-Nafïs's commentary on the Nature o
Abū-Muhammad Muslih al-Dīn bin Abdallāh Shīrāzī, better known by his pen-name Saadi known as Saadi of Shiraz, was a major Persian poet and prose writer of the medieval period. He is recognized for the depth of his social and moral thoughts. Saadi is recognized as one of the greatest poets of the classical literary tradition, earning him the nickname "Master of Speech" or "The Master" among Persian scholars, he has been quoted in the Western traditions as well. Bustan is considered one of the 100 greatest books of all time according to The Guardian. Saadi was born in Shiraz, according to some, shortly after 1200, according to others sometime between 1213 and 1219. In the Golestan, composed in 1258, he says in lines evidently addressed to himself, "O you who have lived fifty years and are still asleep", it seems. He narrates memories of going out with his father as a child during festivities. After leaving Shiraz he enrolled at the Nizamiyya University in Baghdad, where he studied Islamic sciences, governance, Arabic literature, Islamic theology.
In the Golestan, he tells us. In the Bustan and Golestan Saadi tells many colourful anecdotes of his travels, although some of these, such as his supposed visit to the remote eastern city of Kashgar in 1213, may be fictional; the unsettled conditions following the Mongol invasion of Khwarezm and Iran led him to wander for thirty years abroad through Anatolia, Syria and Iraq. In his writings he mentions the qadis, muftis of Al-Azhar, the grand bazaar and art. At Halab, Saadi joins a group of Sufis. Saadi was captured by Crusaders at Acre where he spent seven years as a slave digging trenches outside its fortress, he was released after the Mamluks paid ransom for Muslim prisoners being held in Crusader dungeons. Saadi visited Jerusalem and set out on a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, it is believed that he may have visited Oman and other lands in the south of the Arabian Peninsula. Because of the Mongol invasions he was forced to live in desolate areas and met caravans fearing for their lives on once-lively silk trade routes.
Saadi lived in isolated refugee camps where he met bandits, men who owned great wealth or commanded armies and ordinary people. While Mongol and European sources gravitated to the potentates and courtly life of Ilkhanate rule, Saadi mingled with the ordinary survivors of the war-torn region, he sat in remote tea houses late into the night and exchanged views with merchants, preachers, wayfarers and Sufi mendicants. For twenty years or more, he continued the same schedule of preaching and learning, honing his sermons to reflect the wisdom and foibles of his people. Saadi's works reflect upon the lives of ordinary Iranians suffering displacement and conflict during the turbulent times of the Mongol invasion. Saadi mentions honey-gatherers in Azarbaijan, fearful of Mongol plunder, he returns to Persia where he meets his childhood companions in Isfahan and other cities. At Khorasan Saadi befriends a Turkic Emir named Tughral. Saadi joins him and his men on their journey to Sindh where he meets Pir Puttur, a follower of the Persian Sufi grand master Shaikh Usman Marvandvi.
He refers in his writings about his travels with a Turkic Amir named Tughral in Sindh and Central Asia. Tughral hires Hindu sentinels. Tughral enters service of the wealthy Delhi Sultanate, Saadi is invited to Delhi and visits the Vizier of Gujarat. During his stay in Gujarat, Saadi learns more about the Hindus and visits the large temple of Somnath, from which he flees due to an unpleasant encounter with the Brahmans. Katouzian calls this story "almost fictitious". Saadi came back to Shiraz before 1257 CE / 655 AH. Saadi mourned in his poetry the fall of Abbasid Caliphate and Baghdad's destruction by Mongol invaders led by Hulagu in February 1258; when he reappeared in his native Shiraz, he might have been in his late forties. Shiraz, under Atabak Abubakr ibn Sa'd ibn Zangi, the Salghurid ruler of Fars, was enjoying an era of relative tranquility. Saadi was not only welcomed to the city but was shown great respect by the ruler and held to be among the greats of the province; some scholars believe that Saadi took his nom de plume from the name of Abubakr's son, Sa'd, to whom he dedicated the Golestan.
Some of Saadi's most famous panegyrics were composed as a gesture of gratitude in praise of the ruling house and placed at the beginning of his Bustan. The remainder of Saadi's life seems to have been spent in Shiraz; the traditional date for Saadi's death is between 1291 an
Ma Huan, courtesy name Zongdao, pen name Mountain-woodcutter, was a Chinese voyager and translator who accompanied Admiral Zheng He on three of his seven expeditions to the Western Oceans. Ma was a Muslim and was born in Zhejiang's Kuaiji Commandery, an area within the modern borders of Shaoxing, he knew several Classical Buddhist texts. He learned Arabic to be able to translate. In the 1413 expedition, he visited Champa, Sumatra, Siam and Hormuz. In the 1421 expedition, he visited Malacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Calicut and Hormuz. In the 1431 expedition, he visited Bengal, Sonargaon and Calicut. From Calicut, he was sent by Eununch Hong Bao as emissary to Mecca. During his expeditions, Ma Huan took notes about the geography, weather conditions, economy, local customs method of punishment for criminals. Returned home on his first expedition, he began writing a book about his expedition, the first draft of, ready around 1416, he expanded and modified his draft during expeditions, the final version was ready around 1451.
The title of his book was Yingya Shenglan. During the Ming dynasty and Qing dynasty, there were many handcopied editions; the latest authentic text of a printed version was annotated by historian Feng Chengjun. A newer edition, based on Ming dynasty handcopied editions, was published by Ocean Publishing House in China. An annotated English translation by J. V. G. Mills was published by the Hakluyt Society in 1970, reprinted in 1997 by The White Lotus Press in Bangkok. Mills's translation was based on the edition by Feng Cheng jun; the Yingya Shenglan is considered by sinologists worldwide as a primary source for the history of Ming dynasty naval exploration, history of South East Asia and history of India. Some scholars who have done research work on Ma Huan are J. J. L. Duyvendak, F. Hirth, Paul Pelliot, Feng Chengjun, Xiang Da, J. V. G. Mills. Fei Xin, another participants of Zheng He's expeditions who wrote a book The "Mao Kun map" in Wubei Zhi Ying-yai Sheng-lan, The Overall Survey of the Ocean's Shores 1433 by Ma Huan, translated by J.
V. G. Mills, with foreword and preface, Hakluty Society, London 1970; when Asia was the World: Traveling Merchants, Scholars and Monks who created the "Riches of the East" Da Capo Press, Perseus Books, 2008. ISBN 0-306-81556-7. J. V. G. Mills. Ma Huan: Ying-yai sheng-lan ‘The overall survey of the ocean's shores’, translated from the Chinese text edited by Feng Ch'eng-chün. Cambridge University Press
Ibn Jubayr written Ibn Jubair, Ibn Jobair, Ibn Djubayr, was an Arab geographer and poet from al-Andalus. His travel chronicle describes the pilgrimage he made to Mecca from 1183 to 1185, in the years preceding the Third Crusade, his chronicle describes Saladin's domains in Egypt and the Levant which he passed through on his way to Mecca. Further, on his return journey he passed through Christian Sicily, which had only been recaptured from the Muslims a century before, he makes several observations on the hybrid polyglot culture which flourished there. Ibn Jubayr was born in 1145 A. D. in Valencia, Spain, to an Arab family of the Kinanah tribe. He was a descendant of'Abdal-Salam ibn Jabayr who in 740 A. D. had accompanied an army sent by the Caliph of Damascus to put down a Berber uprising in his Spanish provinces. Ibn Jubayr studied in the town of Xàtiva, he became secretary to the Almohad governor of Granada. In the introduction to his Rihla Ibn Jubayr explains the reason for his travels; as secretary for the ruler of Granada in 1182, he was forced, under threat, to drink seven cups of wine.
Seized by remorse, the ruler filled seven cups of gold dinars which he gave him. To expiate his godless act, although forced upon him, Ibn Jubayr decided to perform the duty of Hajj to Mecca, he left Granada on 3 February 1183 accompanied by a physician from the city. Ibn Jubayr left Granada and crossed over the Strait of Gibraltar to Ceuta under Muslim rule, he set sail for Alexandria. His sea journey took him past the Balearic Islands and across to the west coast of Sardinia. Whilst offshore he heard of the fate of 80 Muslim men and children, abducted from North Africa and were being sold into slavery. Between Sardinia and Sicily the ship ran into a severe storm, he said of the Italians and Muslims on board who had experience of the sea that "all agreed that they had never in their lives seen such a tempest". After the storm the ship went on past Sicily and turned south and crossed over to the North African coast, he arrived in Alexandria on March 26. Everywhere that Ibn Jubayr travelled in Egypt he was full of praise for the new Sunni ruler, Saladin.
For example, he says of him that: "There is no congregational or ordinary mosque, no mausoleum built over a grave, nor hospital, nor theological college, where the bounty of the Sultan does not extend to all who seek shelter or live in them." He points out that when the Nile does not flood enough, Saladin remits the land tax from the farmers. He says that "such is his justice, the safety he has brought to his high-roads that men in his lands can go about their affairs by night and from its darkness apprehend no awe that should deter them." Ibn Jubayr is, on the other hand disparaging of the previous Shi'a dynasty of the Fatimids. Of Cairo, Ibn Jubayr notes, are the colleges and hostels erected for students and pious men of other lands by the Sultan Saladin. In those colleges students find lodging and tutors to teach them the sciences they desire, allowances to cover their needs; the care of the sultan grants them baths and the appointment of doctors who can come to visit them at their place of stay, who would be answerable for their cure.
One of the Sultan Saladin's other generous acts was that every day two thousand loaves of bread were distributed to the poor. Impressing Ibn Jubayr in that city was the number of mosques, estimated at between 8 and 12 thousand. Upon arrival at Alexandria Ibn Jubayr was angered by the customs officials who insisted on taking zakat from the pilgrims, regardless of whether they were obliged to pay it or not. In the city he visited the Lighthouse of Alexandria, which at that time was still standing, he was amazed by its size and splendour. One of the greatest wonders that we saw in this city was the lighthouse which Great and Glorious God had erected by the hands of those who were forced to such labor as'Indeed in that are signs for those who discern'. Quran 15:75 and as a guide to voyagers, for without it they could not find the true course to Alexandria, it can be seen for more than seventy miles, is of great antiquity. It is most built in all directions and competes with the skies in height. Description of it falls short, the eyes fail to comprehend it, words are inadequate, so vast is the spectacle.
He was impressed by the free colleges, hostels for foreign students and hospitals in the city. These were paid for by awqaf and taxes on Christians, he noted that there were between 12,000 mosques in Alexandria. After a stay of eight days he set off for Cairo, he reached Cairo three days later. In the city he visited the cemetery at al-Qarafah, which contained the graves of many important figures in the history of Islam, he noted while in the Cairo of Saladin, the walls of the citadel were being extended by the Mamluks with the object of reinforcing the entire city from any future Crusader siege. Another building work that he saw was the construction of a bridge over the Nile, which would be high enough not to be submerged in the annual flooding of the river, he saw a spacious free hospital, divided into three sections: one each for men and the insane. He saw the pyramids, although he was unaware of who they had been built for, the Sphinx, he saw a device, used for measuring the height of the Nile flood.
In Sicily, at the late stages of his travels, Ibn Jubayr recounts other experiences. He comments on the activity of the volcanoes: At the close of night a red flam