Back to Index

Wandering Muslims

The New York Times (1/11/03) has a long interview with Tim Mackintosh-Smith, an Oxford-trained English Arabist who lives in Sanaa, Yemen. In his 2002 book Travels with a Tangerine: A Journey in the Footsteps of Ibn Battutah. he wells how he retraced the steps of the famed 14th century Arab traveler, who left his native Tanger (whence the tangerine) and traveled on the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. He wandered on as far as China, and returned home 29 years later, having covered 75,000 miles. Has anyone ever calculated the travels of Muslim pilgrims? Like Ibn Battutah, how many continue their travels? Do they depend on hospitality as they travel? Do these travels create a kind of pan-Muslim solidarity? Is the umma (the world Muslim community) a reality? Wars among Muslims suggest it is only partially so. Perhaps Ed Jajko has some thoughts on this.

Ronald Hilton - 1/15/03