The Travels (Rihla) of Ibn Jubayr (Performed Hajj in 1183)

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As we marched that night, the full moon had thrown its rays upon the earth, the night had lifted its veil, voices struck the ears with cries of “Here I am O God, here I am” from all sides.

– R.J.C. Broadhurst (transl.) The travels of Ibn Jubayr (London 1952, reprint 2004) p. 75 –

Ibn Jubayr (d. 1217) was from Andalucia in Spain. His is the earliest first-hand account of the Hajj experience and the most important before the 19th century. He began his journey from Ceuta on 3rd February 1183. On reaching Egypt, he travelled up the Nile to Qus and then across the desert to ‘Aidhab. This route avoided passing through the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Ibn Jubayr arrived in Mecca on the 4th August. His detailed account provides a wealth of information about Mecca and the rituals of Hajj including important information on the textiles that covered the Ka‘ba. Illustrated here is the earliest known copy of Ibn Jubayr’s Rihla and held in Leiden University Library. It is copied in Mecca by ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Qurashi in Maghribi script. Ibn Jubayr’s text was extensively used by the other famous traveller who went on Hajj, Ibn Battuta (d. 1368).

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