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One Islam, Many Muslim WorldsSpirituality, Identity, and Resistance across the Islamic World$
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Raymond William Baker

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199846474

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199846474.001.0001

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Medieval Pathways and Ibn Battuta

Medieval Pathways and Ibn Battuta

(p.134) 5 Medieval Pathways and Ibn Battuta
One Islam, Many Muslim Worlds

Raymond William Baker

Oxford University Press

The Qur’an explicitly speaks to al Nas, all humanity. In Islam, all human beings are chosen. “One single community” is the description of humankind in the Qur’an. The universal message of Islam recognizes no human or geographic boundaries. Pluralism is central to Islam, and travelers who celebrate human diversity, like the great fourteenth-century Ibn Battuta, are a fixture of Islamic culture. What makes Ibn Battuta so important for contemporary anthropology is that the knowledge he sought of diverse others was practical and grounded understanding of how they lived their distinctive lives. He sought to understand the people he encountered from Morocco to China well enough to live among them in peace. He does not simply describe the various networks that link the ummah (Islamic community) of his day. Rather, he lives through them and shares their experiences, ranging from spirituality to sexuality, in the most intimate and vivid ways.

Keywords:   Islamic world, medieval networks, China, Morocco, pluralism, anthropology, sexuality, spirituality

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