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Introduction

Of the external events of Ibn Battuta's life we know little beyond what he himself tells us. The editor of the travels, Ibn Juzayy, notes that he was born at Tangier on 24th February, 1304, and from a brief reference in a later book of biographies we know that after his return to Morocco he was appointed qadi or judge in one of the Moroccan towns, and died there in 1368 or 1369. His own name was Muhammad son of Abdallah, Ibn Battuta being the family name, Still to be found in Morocco. His family had apparently been settled in Tangier for some generatIOns and belonged to the Berber tribe of the Luwata, which firSt appears in hiStory as a nomadic tribe in Cyrenaica and on the borders of Egypt. For the reSt he divulges incidentally in a passage relating to his appointment as qadi in Delhi, that he came of a house which had produced a succession of qadis, and later on he mentions a cousin who was qadi of Rondah in Spain. He belonged, in consequence, to the religious upper-class, if the term may be used, of the Muhammadan community, and muSt have received the usual literary and scholaStic education of the theologians. On one occasion he quotes a poem of

his own composition, but the other verses quoted here and there obviously bear a more popular character than the elaborate productions of the beSt Arabic poetic schools. His professional interest in men and matters religious may be seen on nearly every page of his work. It is evident from the list of qadis and other theologians whom he saw in every town on his travels (sometimes to the exclusion of all other details), but above all from his eagerness to visit famous shaykhs and saints wherever he went, and the enthusiasm with which he relates instances of their miraculous gifts.