Who is Bint Battuta?
My name is Hala Alkayyali. I am an educator and explorer with a passion to share.
I have been drawn to beauty ever since I could remember. One day I realized that visual beauty really comes in two forms; a ‘God Made’ kind, found in nature, and a ‘Man Made’ kind that reflects the love, commitment and effort that only a craftsman can offer the world. I feel such joy in encountering something beautifully made. I bask in it, explore it and test it out, and if I like it and find it useful, I spread the word to my friends and family. I treasure the opportunity to gift precious moments, items, or gems of knowledge to someone I love. Is there anything more meaningful than sharing and growing together acknowledging and treasuring God’s gifts?
Come to think of it, my life has always revolved around sharing and growing through education. I love creative education that empowers the imagination and enriches the spirit. I have been fortunate enough to have travelled extensively and to have learnt about myself, my culture, and the world, by experiencing life as others know it and live it.
However, it’s my work serving kids, helping them to learn the Arabic language and Arab and Muslim Culture, that has most compelled me to create the Bint Battuta Diaries. The diaries are a platform to share and explore topics that mean a lot to me, and to many of you. Together, we will follow the golden threads that normally we may not have the time to pursue. This is my attempt to make it easier, in some way for you to have the experience and be recharged with beauty and hope.
To master a skill to the best of one’s ability, to consistently demonstrate commitment to it, and to share it, is one of the most important, divine messages in any sacred book, and definitely in the Qoran. It’s a simple cycle that, if one is lucky, never ends.
I chose the name Bint Battuta for three reasons. Firstly, for the obvious reason of the famous Ibn Battuta, a symbol of the golden era of Arab and Muslim history which was epitomized by its open quest for knowledge; secondly, because of a spirited 9 year old Kuwaiti girl who inspired the theme of one of the skits that I produced on Arab culture. She suggested the theme of exploration and Ibn Battuta, giving life to the tale of “Nada and the Magic Door” . The final reason, is a personal and lighthearted one, because my friends playfully call me Bint Battuta. That nickname is an expression often used for a person who has an adventurous explorative nature; I definitely feel that I belong with those kindred spirits.
I hope you find pleasure and inspiration amongst the stories featured on the blog; I would love you to share your discoveries too! Many of the posts will celebrate people who have dedicated their lives to creating beauty. If you also appreciate the skill and commitment of these craftsmen and women, please take the time to extend your support and appreciation. Buy and gift their work, attend their events, spread the good word, and send notes of thanks. As an educator, I will add the note to please include children in some way, and last but not least, send a prayer the craftsmen’s and women’s’ way to preserve and nurture their unique talents, for their sakes and ours.
Who was Ibn Battuta?
Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Battuta was a medieval Moroccan scholar and traveler known for his extensive adventures throughout the Middle East and Muslim lands. His inspirational account can be found in his completed autobiography, his ‘Rihla’, or ‘The Travels’. The full title of the three volume manuscript may be translated as, ‘A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and The Marvels of Travelling’. This is an apt name for his story, and the account has continued to be revered as a historically accurate source, centuries after his passing.
He was one of the most widely travelled men of his time. What began as a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1325 at the age of 21, extended into a 30-year voyage that took him from his birth place in Tangier, Morocco, as far afield as Bulgaria in the West and Quanzhou, China in the far East. It was a distance that readily surpassed that of his predecessors, but this was not the only wonder of his travels, it was also the way that he spent time in each of the places that he travelled through, experiencing the culture and getting to know the people.
In fact, his swashbuckling tales of wars, shipwrecks, and rebellions are intertwined with a great number of interesting characters and fascinating stories. He was warmly welcomed in these places, due to his formal education in Islamic law, as many of them had recently embraced Islam. Ibn Battuta eventually returned to Morocco in 1354. Although not much is known of his later life, it is clear that he went on to be appointed as a judge before his eventual death in 1368.
So what parallels can be found between Ibn Battuta’s story and the tales you will find told in the Bint Battuta Diaries? Well, first of all, it is the accounts of fascinating people around the world. Secondly, it is his passion for Islam and the Arab culture and thirdly, it is his passion to explore the unknown and share it with as many people as possible.
I find it fascinating that, although Ibn Battuta wrote his accounts almost 700 years ago, we still have such a dynamic and vivid picture of his travels. Thanks to the rich technological capabilities that we hold today, we have the opportunity to create and share a versatile, multimedia celebration of beauty in this world, recording it for those coming after us to see through our eyes.
So are you ready to join me on the journey? Let us begin!