Ibn Jubayr, Abu l-Hussain Muhammad

Ibn Jubayr, Abu l-Hussain Muhammad
(Ibn Jubair)
(ca. 1145–ca. 1217)
   Ibn Jubayr, late 12th-century secretary to the governor of Granada, made his pilgrimage (hajj) from Spain to Mecca in 1183.He kept a detailed journal of his travels, including his visits to various cities in addition to Mecca, and published an account of his journey when he returned to Granada in 1185. The Travels of Ibn Jubayr is a vivid account of the Mediterranean world and the Middle East of the 12th century.
   Ibn Jubayr was born in Valencia to an old and distinguished family. He was educated in the KORAN as well as Islamic law, literature, and tradition, and composed poetry as well. Having gained a reputation for his learning and his piety, he was made secretary to the Moorish governor of Spain’s wealthiest city, Granada. Although the pilgrimage to Mecca is a sacred obligation for all Muslims of sufficient means to undertake at least once in their lifetimes, Ibn Jubayr decided to make his in 1183 as a kind of penance for having drunk seven glasses of wine that had been forced upon him by his superior, the governor. He took as his companion on his journey a physician from Granada named Ibn Hassan.
   Ibn Jubayr seems to have kept his journal on a daily basis, noting his impressions and details about places, people, and unusual customs immediately, while they were fresh in his mind. He describes at length Mecca and Medina, Islam’s holiest cities. But he is also impressed by Alexandria, and describes its famous lighthouse. He is also interested in the government of the sultan of Egypt, particularly his generosity to students and to the poor. In Sicily he remarks upon the volcanoes and the beauty and wealth of Palermo. He describes, in addition, his visits to Jerusalem, Baghdad, Cairo, and Syria, and speaks with great admiration of Saladin.
   Although Ibn Jubayr is known to have traveled extensively on other occasions, he left a record only of his 1183–85 journey. He later is said to have taught at Fez, and to have accumulated a significant fortune, though tradition says that, out of piety, he gave up his riches.
   ■ Broadhurst, R. J. C., trans. The Travels of Ibn Jubayr. London: J. Cape, 1952.

Encyclopedia of medieval literature. 2013.

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