Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Dominic Nahr: Travels Through Islam

Photo © Dominic Nahr-Courtesy TIME
With good reason, I've become skeptical of mainstream Western magazines abilities or interest to present non-stereotypical (and non-judgmental) features dealing with Islam, but I found TIME International's Travel Through Islam five-part series in its Summer Journey issue, to be interesting and insightful.

In this first installment, photographer Dominic Nahr followed the footsteps of famed 14th century explorer and traveler Ibn Battuta into sub-Saharan Africa. In February 1352, Ibn Battuta set off from the city of Sijilmasa at the edge of the Sahara to journey with a camel caravan to lands far to the south.

A few years ago, I was fascinated by Ibn Battuta (whose full name is Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Al Lawati Al Tanji Ibn Battuta), and read anything I could find about his life and his travels, to the point that I went to the New York Public Library to read some older manuscripts.

Ibn Battuta's journeys took almost thirty years and covered almost the entire known Islamic world and beyond, extending from North Africa, West Africa, Southern Europe and Eastern Europe in the West, to the Middle East, Indian subcontinent, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and China in the East, a distance far surpassing that of his predecessors and his near-contemporary Marco Polo.

For an interesting book on Ibn Battuta and his exploits, Tim Mackintosh-Smith followed the traveler's footsteps as well, and wrote Travels With A Tangerine. Not to be confused with the fruit, Tangerine is a resident of Tangiers...as Ibn Battuta was.