From an early age I have been greatly inspired, to be a globe trotter, by the 14th century Berber Muslim Traveler Ibne Batota (Mohammad Ibn Battuta) who spent more than 30 years visiting most of the Muslim world and beyond during his time.
At the age of 21, Ibne Batota left his hometown Tangier, Morocco for Hajj and then intensively visited the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia, South East Asia, China, North Africa, West Africa as well as Spain known as Al-Andalus at the time. He documented the account of his extensive travels in an encyclopaedic book called Rihla meaning journey.
The only difference between the real Ibne Batota and the Modern Ibne Batota, myself has been that while he travelled single, taking on a number of wives on the way in various places he visited, I have been travelling with an entourage, sometimes with my wife (she would rarely let me travel by myself), with my 4-5 children, with my parents, with my grandchildren, amounting occasionally to four generations travelling together. Unlike Ibne Batota, I performed my Hajj with my family including my wife, four daughters and son in law.
I have travelled to many countries using all modes of travels flights, buses, cars, trains, caravans, motor homes as well as cruise ships visiting Fiji, New Zealand, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Kashmir, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, most of Europe, UK, US, Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, and of course all over Australia.
The highlight of my globe trotting activities include 3 month tour of US/Canada in 1992 in a 7-bed motor home with my five young children; 3 months Umrah tour in 1997 with my wife and daughters visiting Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and a month long comprehensive train travel all over India; and the four generation 35 days tour in 2009 of Europe, UK and Morocco in two 6-bed motor homes (yes, I visited my hero, Ibne Batota’s mosque and gravesite in Tangier).
Having a good sense of history and geography, I was always fascinated to visit different places and meet different people. Working at the University of Sydney for more than 40 years gave me the opportunity to meet people from all over the globe and understand and appreciate their thoughts and culture.
Being associated with the Muslim student movement in Australia and while visiting University campuses all over the country, I developed strong bonds with a large number of overseas students who completed their PhD from Australian Universities and went back to their home countries where many progressed well in their respective fields.
I made a point to meet these former students and now high achievers in their own right whenever I visited their countries. This has helped me to maintain a global network of friends with a strong bond amongst them.
I commenced writing as the Modern Ibne Batota back in 1992, staring with the account of my travels in the motor home tour of US and Canada that was serialized in the Australasian Muslim Times for a number of years that readers, then found very interesting.
I now wish to continue with the same running title and highlight my subsequent accounts of travels, study tours and insights into people and places all over the world.
Next: Iran Tour – Safarnameh