Born in Tangier in Morocco, Abu Abdallah Muhammad ibn Battuta was one of the most widely traveled individuals of the Middle Ages. Trained as a religious lawyer, he set out at the age of 21 on a pilgrimage to the Muslim holy city of Mecca. Before he died he had visited almost the entire Islamic world.
Ibn Battuta made two journeys to sub-Saharan Africa. His first took him along Africa’s eastern coast; his second crossed the SAHARA DESERT from Spain to MALI. In the course of his travels he visited the famed cities of TIMBUKTU and MOGADISHU and various Islamic royal courts, recording his impressions of local sights and customs. His journals are virtually the only eyewitness accounts of sub-Saharan Africa during this time. Ibn Battuta admired black Africans for their sense of justice and their devotion to Islam, although he objected to many of their cultural practices. (See also Travel and Exploration.)