RANDOM THOUGHTS: Ibn Battutah and Shaikh Murshidi (Part III) - BY: Dr. A.Q. Khan

Ibn Battutah and Shaikh Murshidi
Part III
Dr. A.Q. Khan


We continue with the stories of Ibn Battutah in India, ending with how it ties in to his meeting with Shaikh Murshidi near Alexandria at the beginning of his travels.

The king of China had sent valuable gifts to the sultan seeking permission to build a temple on the border. Permission was refused and return response accompanied by more expensive gifts to the king. Ibn Battutah was ordered to take these gifts to the king of china. His journey began on 22.7.1342 and while travelling he met much aggression from local Hindus. On one occasion while riding out with several friends, they went into a garden to take siesta, for it was during the hot season. When they heard shouting, they remounted their horses and overtook some infidels who had attacked a village. While being pursued, they broke up into small parties and Ib Battutah’s group did the same. At one point he and his 5 companions were attacked by soldiers and they divided and fled because they were outnumbered. Of all the soldiers that pursued, only three continued but by that time there was no track left and the ground was stony causing Ibn Battutah’s horse to stumble and get stones stuck in its hooves. Soon he came to a deep nullah, which he climbed down into and after that saw his pursuers no more. The nullah led into a valley where he was surrounded by about 40 infidels carrying bows. Being thus outnumbered, he threw himself to the ground and surrendered. They seized him, stripped him of everything excepting his shirt, trousers and tunic, took him to a water tank where they were staying and gave him some mash, bread and water. In their company there were 2 Muslims who spoke to him in Persian. He told them part of his story, but concealed the fact that he had come from the sultan. They pointed out the leader and Ibn Battutah, after speaking to him with translations from the Arabs, he was given into the custody of three men – one of them an old man, the second his son and the third an evil black fellow. From them he understood that he was to be killed. In the evening of the same day he was carried off to a cave where the black man became feverish and put his feet on him to restrain him and the old man and his son fell asleep. In the morning he spoke to the old man trying to get him to take pity on him, cutting off his sleeve and giving it to the old man so show that he had resisted the escape. At about noon they heard voices near the tank and found some newcomers who wanted his three guards to accompany them, which they refused. When three men of the original party that had captured him arrived and asked why they had not killed him, they pointed to the black man, excusing themselves on account of his illness. One of the three was a pleasant-looking youth who allowed him to go. Ibn Battutah gave him his tunic in return for a worn cloak and then the youth showed him the way. Afraid that they might change their minds, he hid in a reed thicket until sunset.

After many days of wandering and much thirst, hunger and threats he was one day accosted in a Muslim salute by a black-skinned man who asked him who he was. At his reply of: “A man astray” came the response: “So am I”. Thereupon he tied his jug to a rope, drew up some water, opened the bag he was carrying and gave Ibn Battutah a handful of black chickpeas fried with a little rice and water to drink. After that they made their ablutions and prayed together. He said his name was al-Qalb al-Farih (meaning “joyous heart”, which Ibn Battutah took for a good omen). The two men then travelled together for a while, but then Ibn Battutah found himself unable to continue any further, whereupon his companion said: “Mount on my shoulder”. He was told to keep repeating: “God is sufficient for us and excellent Protector”, which he did, but after some time he fainted, regaining consciousness only after feeling himself falling to the ground. When he woke there was no trace of his companion but he found himself in a village of Hindu peasants with a Muslim governor. The governor came to see him and informed him the name of the village was “Taj Burah”. This village was within reach of Kuwil, where the rest of the party was. The governor provided a horse, took him to his house, let him bathe and gave him hot food. Then he said: “I have here a garment and a turban which were left in my charge by a certain Arab from Egypt, one of the soldiers belonging to the camp at Kuwil.” When he brought them, Ibn Battutah found that they were two of his own garments which he had given to that very Arab when they had come to Kuwil. He was extremely astonished at this, then thought of the man who had carried him and then remembered what the saint, abu Abdallah al-Murshidi had said, i.e. “You will enter the land of India and meet there my brother Dilshad, who will deliver you from a misfortune which will befall you there.” He remembered too how he had said “Joyous Heart” when asked about the name, which, translated into Persian, is Dilshad. So he knew that it was he whom the saint had foretold that he would meet and that he too was one of the saints. Alas, he enjoyed no more of his company than the short time which has been narrated above. That same night he wrote to his friends in Kuwil to inform them of his safety. They came, bringing with them a horse and clothes and rejoicing greatly at his escape. The sultan had meanwhile sent a eunuch named Sumbul to replace the martyred Kafur and Ibn Battutah was ordered to continue his journey.


Posted on May 14, 18 | 10:24 am