Homework: Ibn Battuta in Mali

First things first: remember that if you have not signed up for your AP exams, tonight is your last chance before the deadline.  Please go to the North Cobb TotalRegistration portal in order to sign up now! 

Everybody good?  Good.

As to your homework tonight, please thoroughly read and annotate Ibn Battuta’s account of his travels in Mali– if you’ve lost your copy, you’ll find a digital version on the Unit Three materials page.

Ignore the questions at the bottom of page 64 (I’ve marked through them on your copy)– instead, I want you to focus on the discussion points below.  One point of caution, however: as you respond to these point, you are to avoid using the words ‘bias‘ or ‘biased.’  Those words don’t exist in AP World History.  Find another, more precise way of explaining what you mean.

1. What does Ibn Battuta find admirable about the people of Mali?

2. Many of Ibn Battuta’s concerns regarding Mali involve the freedoms and behaviors of women.  What do Ibn Battuta’s responses suggest about his cultural and social background?  Is Battuta’s reaction surprising, given his personal background?

3. Is Ibn Battuta’s account useful as a source when studying Mali?  What are the problems inherent in using texts written by people who are from outside of the culture about which they are writing?  What are the problems in relying ONLY on sources drawn from within a culture?

Normal commenting rules apply: one good comment that answer the question will receive a maximum of 95%, and a comment to a colleague’s post will result in a maximum of 100%.

We’ll be working heavily on analyzing primary sources over the next several weeks, so you can expect us to spend a good chunk  of time working on reading texts for content, evidence, and perspective.

 

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87 thoughts on “Homework: Ibn Battuta in Mali

  1. I think the thing Ibn thinks is most admirable about the Mali people is the way they require people to learn their religion as if it were required by law. Like it said in the article people were shackled if they could not remember the Koran by heart.

    Ibn’s personal background and the experiences he has learned while traveling the world suggest that in most parts of the world there almost no places that give women this much freedom. Women in Mali, as stated in the article, were very free to do almost whatever they wanted with their male friends which at the times was unheard of. In all honesty i am not surprised by the fact that Ibn reacted this was to the Mali society. I would be shocked too if i saw my friends wife with another man in bed, but the judge in the article did not see anything wrong with this actions which is very strange.

    i think that the works Buttuta are completely reasonable to study as he was a very educated man, but their is some flaw to it. It is very much written and show aspects that is was written in the perspective of a man that is not from society. This can be somewhat problematic as it does exaggerate things that would seem normal in that society. Although, some input from the inside of the culture would have been preferred for this article as i will be more culturally and factually correct it is more influenced by the perspective of the Mali people and be more skewed to make them look better.

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    • I agree with the points that you make in your analysis of Ibn Battuta, especially when talking about his admiration to their dedication to Islam. As a Muslim man visiting a far-away land, it was probably refreshing to find a society that respected most aspects of the religion.

      However, I do not find it surprising that the judge was not shocked by his wife with her male friend. Because this was the social norm in the society, the judge has no reason to find this abnormal. Ibn Battuta only found this odd because it was not HIS social norm.

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      • Abbey, I totally agree. Ibn most likely found it refreshing to see people share his faith and take it so seriously. I also agree that it is not surprisng that the judge was not surprised because this was the normal day to day thing that the Malians experienced.

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    • I agree with your statement. Battuta did admire the way the people devoted them selves to their religion. Like chaining people until they memorized the Koran and how people kept prayer very sacred.

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  2. Ibn Battuta admires that the people of Mali take Islam and their sacred text so seriously. For example, praying is done on time, the Koran is ideally memorized, Islam is not taken for granted. He respects the culture of Mali and admires how the community follows rules and laws and how people of the community take care of each other. He also believes it is admirable how the Mali people respect and do not mess with cultures unknown to them.

    Because he is fundamentally Muslim, was raised and has visited many societies where women are not treated equal to men, Ibn Battuta was very uncomfortable with the idea that women, in some cases, had equal rights as men. As stated in his background, Ibn Battuta had traveled many places and the fact he was so shocked reveals that women having such high status was a rare thing that even Ibn Battuta had not seen in any of his travels. It is not surprising that Ibn Battuta was so shocked, because women in his belief system were not given this much freedom, but it is quite interesting that the Mali were the first people he had encountered with this freedom for women.

    This is a reliable source of information because Ibn Battuta told of his experiences while in the community. Although his opinions have the perspective of a traditional Muslim man, his experiences were not made-up and have some truth about the society within them. The problem with using texts from people living outside the culture they are writing about is that many cultures believe cultures outside of their own are inferior and may try to discredit their practices. These sources may also only speak of small cultural distinctions and the big picture of the society is lost. However, it is similarly not alright to ONLY use sources from within the culture as they will attempt to glorify their society. These sources will most likely not discuss weaknesses in their society and it may be difficult to, again, piece together the big picture of the society. Both inside and outside sources from the culture in question should be looked at to determine the most accurate picture of a society.

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    • Abbey,

      I completely agree with what you had to say. Especially your point that he came from a conservative backing as well as the fact that its not okay to use a culture as only evidence. However, I’m not 100% sure if I understand what you mean by the statement “These sources may also only speak of small cultural distinctions and the big picture of the society is lost”. Do you mean that when a writer picks out small details of a society, the main cultural aspect is lost? Or do you mean that when a writer criticizes a piece of a society, then the readers are focused on the bad parts about that culture that then leads to the loss of large aspects of their cultural practice?

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    • Abbey, Women didn’t necessarily have ‘equal rights’ but they did have more freedom in what they did and were expected to do. I do particularly admire how you talked about using the different documents. You brought up the valid point of some societies believing that others are ‘inferior’. I also love your point about glorifying societies. All around, I loved your points and how you worded them. Good job!

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    • I agree that this is a reliable source of information because Ibn Battuta observed the culture and people of Mali for a long time. He saw their beliefs and their customs such as prayer and memorizing the Koran.

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    • Abbey,

      I agree with your statement that historical accounts tend to skew documentation of civilizations, whether it be from outside or within, and it is without a doubt that Ibn Battuta had very traditional Islamic views that impacted his opinion of the Kingdom of Mali.

      However, I disagree with your wording in the statement that women have “equal rights” in Mali; although women have a greater amount of freedom to interact with friends and leave themselves uncovered, they do not necessarily have equal rights. Society in Mali was indeed patriarchal (although much less so than traditional Muslim societies), as seen by the prominence of male leadership. It would be more correct to say that while Mali was patriarchal, it was also matrilineal, as kinship and inheiritance to the throne were traced through the female line.

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    • I agree with you on Ibn Battuta admiring the people of Mali for their devotion to Islam ad the Koran. I don’t see where in the text the people of Mali were admired by Ibn Battuta for not messing with cultures unknown to them. Is this implied or known from another source? People are kept safe,travelers or natives, but it doesn’t say that the people of Mali didn’t mess with other cultures.

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    • I agree with some of the points you made regarding Ibn Battuta. I agree with you when you say that his reaction is not shocking coming from his religious practices. However, I disagree with you in that women had equal rights in this society. While women of Mali had much better rights and most women before them and women of this time period, they hardly had equal rights to men. This can be seen early on in the article when Batutta states “… inheritance is not passed to his own sons but to the sons of his sister.” While this does show women have some say in society, the inheritance is still passed to the sons, not the daughters too.

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    • I agree completely to everything you stated especially where if all of the sources of a society came from an insider, it would only attempt to glorify the society. I agree because you need an other side of the argument to see the society from a different perspective which gives a better description of the society.

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  3. Ibn Battuta found multiple admirable qualities in Mali’s people when he traveled to Mali. He found that their crime rate was quite low, as the Sultan was rather strict when it came to criminals. This led to less danger from brigands, and by extension, more trade and more wealth. He also noted that religious practices were strict and enforced. For example, children would be expected to memorize the Koran and would be shackled with iron chains until they did so.

    Ibn was rather appalled at how much freedom women were given compared to his society. In his writings, he stated that he saw many women, some of whom were young girls, completely naked and exposed. He stated that this was one of the peoples’ worst qualities. Additionally, he mentioned that they were “without veils on their faces”. This evidence points to the face that the women in Ibn’s home were expected to stay veiled, without any parts of her body being uncovered.

    Ibn’s accounts can be useful, as they do show many aspects of how Mali’s society functioned. However, it is also clear that because he is from another culture, he is exhibiting xenophobia and being unfair and judgemental. However, we cannot only draw information from within one culture as the reverse problem would happen.

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  4. Ibn Battuta has traveled to the kingdom of Mali, where he is enveloped into the culture. To him, this culture contains good and bad qualities, based on his experience in the Islamic culture. Ibn admires that there are extremely low crime rates, that their sultan does not pardon criminals, He also like that the kingdom is protected from thieves, and if a white man dies, they do not collect his valuables, even if they are wealthy. Ibn appreciates that prayer is still extremely important and valuable to this group of people, and that they still practice prayer and respect the Koran, and that children who do not memorize the Koran are shackled until they do so. He likes that white garments are worn on Fridays to respect religious aspects of prayer.

    Ibn goes quite in depth with his issues on the freedom of women in this society, and he expresses extreme concern and almost disgust with how they behave among men in everyday life. His reactions to these behaviors suggests that he is heavily respecting towards the Islamic religion. He values the laws towards the restrictions on women, and expects them to follow these laws as well if they are Muslim. This is not the case in the kingdom of Mali, and many women go about uncovered and have many friends and partners that are male. Ibn’s reaction would be expected of someone who is extremely compliant with the Islamic laws, and he was shocked by this group of people who did not follow the Islamic law.

    This source written by Ibn Battuta can be used as an extremely detailed primary source of the kingdom of Mali, and it can give us insight on exact situations that took place, as well as a peek inside their culture. When many cultures in Sub-Saharan Africa developed, writing was almost non-existent, so this gives us many facts about the culture of Mali. As a downfall, Ibn gives reactions that could hinder the process of writing down facts. For instance, if he left that man’s house, he would not be able to ask specific questions and record answers.

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    • I agree on your points about Ibn Battuta’s positive reactions and his thoughts on the women of Mali. I liked your thoughts on how a primary source can be affected by the author’s relationship to the place he is writing about. I did not think about how Sub-Saharan Africa was preliterate at the time. I also did not think about how Ibn Battuta’s opinion on certain things could disrupt the facts.

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    • I agreed for the most part with your response, and appreciated your comment on how Sub-Saharan Africa was preliterate at the time – I had not considered that before. I do however disagree in that you seem to make the point that practicing Islam includes the degradation of women. I feel as though Battuta was not as shocked with the freedoms given to women, but more the idea that they were disrespecting themselves by exposing their bodies to the world. It appeared, to me, to be less of an issue of equality, and more one of self respect.

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    • Based on the article, I disagree with you when you say that Ibn Battuta’s source is “extremely detailed.” Yes, it does give us an insight of the culture and society of Mali, however, like you said, he does not involve himself in things for too long (like he left that man’s house), so Battuta did not give an extremely detailed report. However, he did give us a deeper look into the society.

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    • Kaylin, I agree with your main points on this discussion but some of your inferences on how he was “enveloped into the culture” and how “he expresses extreme concern and almost disgust” many not be true and therefore is not right to assume he experienced or thought these things as facts. Also to claim that the people of Mali were not following Islamic law is not completely true, the Mali people followed a majority of the Islamic laws but followed them within their own culture.

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  5. In Ibn Battuta’s writings, he admires that Mali has: small crime, safe people, high religious expectations, and special property distribution. The qualities Battuta distastes reveals that in his background women were not as equal as men and that there is a large gap in the interaction between men and women. By identifying this Battuta’s reaction is not as surprising given the time period and what was normal for back then.

    I believe that Ibn Battuta’s account is a useful source in studying Mali. It is useful because it gives some insight as to how society was conducted. However, problems do arise in using text sources from outside of the culture. These problems can often exaggerate certain distastes and not mention other features about said society. There are problems as well from relying on sources from within the society. These can be that rulers demand that only some things be recorded or that the historians view of his or her culture changes what is recorded.

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    • I agreed with you when you said that his reaction was not suprising becasue of his background where men and women had a big role gap. Although, I disagreed when you said that his account was useful. An account written by someone who was more familiar with the Mali culture would be more useful. In his account, he was being subjective, which fails to thoroughly explain each part of the religion.

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    • I agree with you that his reaction wasn’t surprising based on the cultural differences when applied to women. I also think that his account was useful because it was a perspective from a person with a different background and i agree that there is problems when the person is an outsider writing within the society
      .

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    • I agree with your points about Battuta’s reaction not being surprising as his perspective was that of tradition from his homeland. Also, you state that “problems can often exaggerate certain distastes and not mention other features about said society”. I agree with you here completely. This is why it’s important to take a combination of different primary sources so we can have an objective standpoint of different perspectives and have a better idea of what was actually going on.

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  6. Things that Ibn Battuta liked about Mali were a low crime rate, safe travels, crowded religious services as well as an avidly practiced religion through the form of memorization. Ibn seemed disgusted the acts of women, saying that he was shocked at the fact that women and men were actually friends instead of just platonic partners. This suggests that he came from a conservative background, perhaps in a conservative community were the roles of women were suppressed or in a place where the celebration of the female body was kept at a minimum. If this assumption is correct, then wouldn’t not be surprised that he spoke in this manner. I think that Ibn’s story is good to study, but I do think that he used strong and harsh judgements about the culture. For example, despite the fact that he is not from Mali, he was quick to say that a women being friends with a man who she is not married to is wrong. However, when Aboû Mohammed explained the idea to him by saying that the custom is “proper and honorable”, he stated that “[he] was shocked at his stupid answer and immediately left his home and never returned”. This shows that Ibn wasn’t even open to learning about the culture, and from that, we can assume that a major problem with using a culture for your only source is opinions & differences from personal upbringing

    -Alli Moss

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    • Ibn was a well-traveled and explored the world as much as he could. I do agree, however, that he limited himself by refusing new ideas such as women being friends with males. This is very true today when people use only one perspective(typical the European perspective) to look and analyze people and cultures. This leads to misunderstandings and assumptions about different people around you. This leads to being very close minded, and I feel like that is what Ibn did.

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    • I agree with how you accurately mentioned Ibn Battuta’s admiration of the people of Mali, being their low crime rates and large amount of time devoted to prayer and practice of Islam. However, I slightly disagree with the way that you stated how he views the social and gender roles of the people and not open to learning about them. Being a world traveler of the Middle Ages, he has to be open-minded to other cultures as he is exposed to many when visiting new lands.

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    • I agree with your point about the suppression of women in Iba’s previous culture because it seemed that there was a large gap in the interaction between women and men at that time and it was a foreign idea to see them with such integration of the male and female which you would see in like you said a “conservative” society.

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    • I agree on the point you made that Ibn may have been closed off to learning the culture. He seemed shocked about the roles of women and how they were able to be friends with males and the fact that it was not shunned within the culture. I definitely agree on the point you adressed in stating that the opinions of his may have been formed within his personal upbringing, in some conservative society.

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    • Like written, Battuta did admire the strictness of the Mali society in religion and while punishing crime. In contrast, Battuta was very open-minded, he grew up in a conservative society though. This may have made him less likely to accept a more liberal idea also known as women’s rights. While personal upbringing does affect the quality of the article, one most also consider that Battuta was a world traveler and was exposed to many different cultures. If he found this particular society to support women’s right too much, he must have found other cultures like his own that do not support women’s rights. In this case, the cultural similarities in societies matter when one society is labeled as a cultural outlier.

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  7. Ibn Battuta seems to love the fact that they practice Islam with such fervor and excitement. in particular, he talked about the fact that children were bound until they learned the entirety of the Koran. He also noted that he likes how safe Mali is without a small amount of crime and safety from brigades, robbers, and thieves.

    Battuta’s background seems to be from a very devout and strict Muslim community. His reaction is totally normal considering his personal background. He finds it extremely astonishing that women will walk around naked, even in the presence of men and during religious times.

    His account of Mali is very resourceful when studying Mali because it offers a glimpse of what the people of Mali did from day to day, and even during special times, such as Ramadan. One of the biggest issues of using texts written by people outside of their culture is the prejudice and judgment that comes along with it. Battuta is quoted in saying, “The condition of these people is strange and their manners are bizarre. This can mean that when he is choosing what to write down he may leave out details that he finds too explicit or ‘bizarre’ to include. However, the downside to relying on texts written from inside the culture is that you may only be exposed to the positive elements about the culture. For instance, if you go to North Korea and try to gather information, the people will proclaim the ‘greatness of King Jong-Un’ when really his ‘leadership’ is terribly, terribly abusive and wrong. But if someone from an outside culture comes in and documents the things they find positive AND negative, you can get a fuller glimpse of what life was like in that community.

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  8. Although Ibn Battuta was very shocked by the practices of the people in Mail, there were a few things he found adrmirable about them. Some examples include, a small amount of crime, safe from brigands and robbers, respectful of property, punctual and fervent prayers, respectful clothing worn properly, and they were commited to the Koran. These practices were the traditional practices he expected going into Mali, therefore he was pleased with all of these factors.

    Ibn Battuta was used to traditional acts of Islam, such as women wearing veils over their faces in public, therefore in Mail when this was not practiced, he was caughtoff guard. One thing that Buttuta questioned heavily was women being allowed to have male friends and vice versa. After he learned that this was okay, he thought that it was a “stupid answer.” Battuta’s reactions are not surprising, because he had never seen women portrayed in this way before.

    Ibn Battuta’s account is not a useful resource when studying Mali, because he did not understand why they practiced Islam this way. If this account was from someone that did not have such a strong traditional Islamic background, then yes it would be a useful resource. Ibn Battuta was very subjective in his account, therfore it can not be used as useful source on Mali culture. The problems with using this account is that it is solely opinion based, when one should be looking for facts. To get a real idea on how this culture was, one should find an account written by someone who is familiar with the Mali culture.

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    • I agree with your point highlighting the inclination Ibn Battuta may have had due to his Islamic background. However, I do not think that an account with someone familiar with Mali’s culture would be any more reliable than Battuta’s account. They, too, could hold partiality due to their backgrounds, as well. Instead, I think it would be effective to study multiple sources, no matter how ‘subjective’ they are, and then compare them. Getting various sides to a story could contribute to forming a cohesive explanation.

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  9. i think that Ibn finds the Mali peoples devotion to prayer and the memorization of the Koran very admirable. He even documents the punishment for a child who does not or forgets to pray, which is a beating. Then theirs the punishment for not Memorizing the Koran which is to be shackled until the Koran is memorized by heart.

    Ibns reaction isn’t too surprising for a man who has been to so many places and seen women with little to no rights at all. To begin with women in general had little rights to begin with in that day and age. To see for the first time a women with a male friend sitting beside her while her husband is in the room can be a little shocking. Though it might seem odd to say that it wasn’t such a shock to him. Ibn has traveled many lands and probably stumbled upon one or two tribes that gave women a few rights and freedoms.

    I believe that Ibns writing could defiantly be used as a source for later study. I say this because for eighteen months Ibn was a judge and with the morals he gained from that experience we should trust this man to be faithful to his word. Although there are those who may not have these such qualities that ibn has, but that doesn’t make them any less trust worthy. but with the possibility of the writings being flawed and untrustworthy we cannot be sure that this if what he is saying is true. Cold hard facts are what we can go off of to see if hes lying or telling the truth, yet since the Kingdom is long gone we can only guess onto whether to trust or not to trust. There is also another problem, the problem of relying on sources carried out by people within the culture. This bring up a lot problems because what if being inside the culture made that source bend the truth with what he or she wrote. In conclusion we cannot trust either or when it comes to these things but its more helpful when a person is from the outside looking in.

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  10. He liked that there was a small amount of crime and that the sultan did not pardon crimes. Also he was impressed with the strictness in which people dealt with Islam. He liked that people were punished for not knowing the Koran by heart.

    It would seem to me that Ibn Battuta comes from a very conservative and religious background because he seems shocked and almost appalled by the personal freedom that woman had. We can see this in his reactions to the incident with Abou Mohammed Yandecan where when he heard Yandecan’s explanation for why his wife was in bed with another man he was so astounded with the “stupid answer” made him leave his house.

    This is a reliable source as it is an accurate description of what the Mali culture was like. However everything should be taken with a grain of salt because the majority of what he says is only his opinion.

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  11. Ibn Battuta really liked how pieous the Mali people were. He talked a lot about this idea of chaining up children and even adults who did not have the Qu’ran memorized. He also loved how filled the mosques were, how safe the place was over all, and how everyone who could wore white garments on Fridays.

    IBn Battuta really did not like how free the women were, or how much rights they had. He thought it absurd that women could be as scantily clad as they were (if clad at all). This is not surprising knowing that he is from the Abbasid Caliphate, who takes Islam very seriously and has (comparatively) less rights for women.

    I believe Ibn Battuta’s writing is very useful for studying the people of Mali. It effectively describes the culture of the Mali people, especially what stands out as different from the rest of the world, which has likely already been written about. However, texts written from cultures outside of the culture being written about are prone to judgement, prejudice, and an ethnocentric point of view. But these can illustrate both the studied culture and the culture of the writer, providing a lot of information if you have the eyes to tell what is fact and what is an outsiders judgement. Relying only on information written about a culture by the cultures own people can lead to misjudgments and a very close minded, almost ignorant point of view, sometimes over glorifying their own culture to be more than it really is.

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  12. Over the course of Ibn Battuta’s extensive travels, he was led to the Kingdom of Mali, where he observed the people, their culture, and their religious practices. There are multiple aspects of Mali society that he was pleased with, such as the low crime rate and the protection of the trade network from thievery. However, the most major positive quality of the people was their religious devotion. Ibn Battuta described a dedication to prayer, with images of crowded mosques and children beaten for disregarding their prayers. Additionally, the people of Mali’s kingdom placed high importance on memorization of the Quran from a very young age; children who could not recite scripture by heart were shackled and forced to memorize the text to be freed of their restraints.

    Ibn Battuta’s disapproval of the roles and greater freedom of women in Mali reflects the conservative values he developed in his homeland, and demonstrates his great level of unfamiliarity with cultural customs that are not parallel with his own. As he has always seen women as modest, forbidden to befriend those of the opposite gender, and fully-covered, and especially since these views are ones he correlates with his faith, such an opposite and, to him, unusual concept of gender roles would without a doubt be shocking. Under the circumstances of his own beliefs and upbringing, his reaction is not at all unexpected.

    The accounts of Ibn Battuta’s journey to Mali are very useful in the study of this kingdom. Although he has a different cultural concept, and the viewpoints that come with them, many facts can still be drawn from his records. For example, it is fact that the people of the Kingdom of Mali allowed their women and men to interact socially, and that women were permitted to present themselves unclothed, and these remain true whether or not Ibn Battuta is in favor. Many issues can arise from documents that account a society from an outsider’s perspective. Humans have a tendency to believe that what is abnormal to them is inherently incorrect, although that may not be the case. This can be seen in the case of Ibn Battuta, whose own schema causes him to disagree with the status of women in Mali. However, for similar reasons, it can also prove problematic to rely solely on records from within a society. Although people tend to view a mindset different than theirs as “incorrect,” there is also a tendency to view one’s own culture and society as “correct.” Historical documentations of a civilization may glorify one’s own lifestyle, leaving little room for error. It is because of these tendencies that it is most useful to gather information from many different perspectives, as personal beliefs affect how one sees the values of a society, whether it be their own or that of another.

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  13. Ibn Battuta finds the people of Mali devoted to Islam and the Koran, which is admirable. People being shackled if they do not learn the Koran by heart shows the people of Mali’s devotion to the Islamic faith. Ibn Battuta also likes that Mali is “safe from brigands robbers, and thieves” and there is little crime. Other admirable qualities of the people of Mali is that they pray regularly and they don’t confiscate white men’s property after death, instead giving it to another white man to be disposed of properly.

    Ibn Battuta’s responses about women in Mali suggests that the behavior and freedoms of women there are very new to him. This isn’t surprising, given his cultural social, and personal background. He has traveled many places before reaching Mali, and considering he is a strict Muslim supports why he finds women’s freedoms and behavior in Mali strange, due to him not seeing it before. He has the point of view that women should be veiled, properly clothed, and that they should only have female friends, suggesting that this is usual to see in Islamic kingdoms.

    Ibn Battuta’s account is useful as a source for studying Mali by showing people how people in Mali lived during Ibn Battuta’s life. The problems inherent in using texts written by people who are from the outside of the culture about which they are writing is that they would probably have a different point of view and wouldn’t understand the culture. The problem with only relying on sources drawn from within a culture is that the the point of view of the person inside the culture might would show the culture as all good and wouldn’t delve into the negative sides of the culture if there are any.

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    • I agree with you that when relying on sources that only have the point of view from someone within the culture, they could possibly make the culture seem better than it is. However, I also think that if someone strongly dislikes the culture, they will speak more towards the negative qualities rather than the positive.

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  14. The things that Ibn Battuta finds admirable about the people of Mali is that they have a small amount of crime, the travelers are safe, they respect other cultures, and they are commited to their religion. He liked the fact that the people obeyed the laws and that the sultan didn’t pardon criminals. He admired that the people took Islam seriously and were faithful. If children neglected prayers, they were beaten and they also had to learn the Koran by heart. If they didn’t, their feet were shackled.

    Ibn Battuta’s responses concerning the freedoms and behaviors of women suggest that he came from a cultural and social background in which women didn’t have as much freedom as they do in Mali. Every time that Ibn saw a woman talking with a man who wasn’t her husband, he was shocked and confused about how that was allowed. This suggests that in his culture, women were probably given strict rules to follow and they were forbidden from talking with any man who wasn’t a part of their family. Given his personal background, I don’t think that Ibn’s reaction was surprising because in his culture, women didn’t have that much freedom so to see that the women in Mali were given a higher status and more freedom was shocking to him.

    I think that Ibn Battuta’s account is useful as a source when studying Mali because for eighteen months, he observed the culture in Mali and he served as a judge of Islamic sacred law. Therefore, he learned what their beliefs were and what types of rituals they practiced. The problems inherent in using texts written by people who are from outside of the culture about which they are writing is that the texts are not completely, one hundred percent accurate. A person who writes about a culture that they are not a part of doesn’t completely know that culture’s beliefs or why they have those certain beliefs. The problems in relying only on sources drawn from within a culture is that the people of that culture may show favoritism towards their own culture so they may not be one hundred percent honest. They may make something up to make their culture look better than everyone else’s. This can also cause inaccuracy within the written texts.

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    • You make a great point on acknowledging the fact that he stayed in Mali for 18 months. This shows that he is coming from an informed viewpoint, as he did not watch Malians from afar, but instead lived among them for an extended time period. This alone is already a good reason for defending the idea that his accounts would be useful on the study of Mali. Also, I agree with your issues with sources coming from within the culture, but I think it should be pointed out that an advantage would be that for unclear things and finding the “why?” behind certain traditions in the society can be better explained by one within the culture.

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  15. Ibn Battuta finds the following traits and customs of the people of Mali admirable: low crime rates, entrust a dead man’s land to another instead of confiscating it, prayers are offered punctually and with fervor, white garments are worn on Fridays and it is demanded that children know the Koran by heart.

    Ibn Battuta’s responses about the freedoms and behaviors of women suggets that he comes from a highly patricarical society. Lineage in Mali culture is passed down through the mother’s side while in Ibn Battuta’s it was passed down through the father. Also, in Mali women were allowed to speak more freely and dress less conservativly, which went against the way Islam was practiced in Ibn Battuta’s culture. Battuta’s reaction is not suprising given his personal background because if one has never encountered something before, one can not expect it. For example, in the 1920’s in the United States an interracial couple would have been unacceptable, whereas now it is an everyday occurance. It would be quite unusual for someone from the 1920’s United States to have been able to wrap their head around an interracial couple, as it would have been unusual for Battuta to wrap his head around women having more rights than they did in his culture.

    Ibn Battuta’s account is a useful source when studying Mali becuase it gives an outsider’s opinion on the Kingdom. The problem with using texts written by people who are writing about a culture they are not a part of is that they do not understand the full story of the full people and they never will unless they live their for mass amounts of time. However, if one only looked at inside sources they would think the place was the best in the world becuase people always document more of the good than the bad. By looking at inside and outside sources, it is possible to get the full story.

    -Ansley McCoy

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  16. What Ibn finds admirable about the people of Mali is that they obey the law, when they pray it is said very passionately, and they are very strict about learning the Koran by heart.

    Ibn’s response to the behavior of women in Mali suggests that the women of his culture are supposed to be conservative. It also suggests that in his social background men held control over their wives (patriarchy). They made sure their wives were not “companions” or “acquaintances” to other men, and the women were covered to their liking. I don’t think Ibn Battuta’s reaction was surprising based on his background. In Ibn’s point of view, the behavior of the women is most likely almost equivalent to someone committing a crime. This seems outrageous to him. Although I’m sure others would respond the same way if they saw about twenty women walking around naked trying to give them food.

    Although Battuta didn’t tell everything there is to know about Mali, I think his account is useful in learning their culture. Problems that can occur when people outside of a culture are writing about another, is that they could have their own moralistic point of views, they could be pre-judgmental and narrow minded toward the culture.

    The problem with relying solely on the point of views from people within the culture is that they could romanticize (make it better than it seems) their culture. When someone romanticizes their culture it is hard to find what parts of their writing is factual and true or made up. It could possibly be an unreliable source.

    Besides the possible negatives of point of views, I still believe that different point of views in history is important. If we only knew the point of view of a white male in the 1860’s, we would only know a portion of history. Where as if we knew the point of view of many peoples during that time period we are able to make connections in history.

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  17. Evan,

    I completly agree with all of the points you made. I like how you included the fact that little to no crime was an admirable quality to Battuta along with Mali religious practices. I also agree that the freedom of women in Mali culture was probably a shock to him considering his strict Islammic faith. I agree that the problem of sources from inside a culture is that they shine light on the positive and describe very little of the negative. Overall you had a very good argument and I agree with all of it.

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  18. The Mali people were very peaceful and there were hardly ever crimes. They respect their neighboring people and travelers alike. Also, children were supposed to have the Koran memorized or shackles were put on their feet until they memorized it.

    His view on women has to do with his background and what he was taught about them. I’m suggesting that his background is where women are kind of in the background, and have a lower status than men and more conservative. It surprised him more than anything that women were allowed to have male friends other than in the family or closely related to that family. This is not surprising due to his culture and background with women in the regards of their treatment. Also, women are free to walk around anywhere without a male with them.

    Of course this is a valuable source due to the fact that he recorded history, and that alone is valuable even its a little biased. That’s where it gets a little blurry because this was written in his view and different perspective than within the Mali culture. Somethings may be over stretched or add things to increase interest into the story. People write based on what they know, what they write based on which side they are on, and what they believe what is right or wrong.

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    • I agree that sometimes accounts from outside sources can be exaggerated. That could mess up our ideas and prior knowledge about a society. But either way its still information, and some exaggerated information is better than none.

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  19. Ibn Battuta finds it admirable that the Mali has little crime, seriousness of the Islamic religion, and their absent of greed. Battuta believes it is a good quality the Mali people do not confiscate property of white man who die but instead give it to another white man to depose of it properly. This shows their absent of greed, because they don’t take the property for themselves even if its wealthy.
    Ibn Battuta is very shocked and disapproving of the freedoms that women have in Mali. This suggest that in Battuta’s culture woman have stricter rules they must follow. For instance,no male friends besides their family and their husband, must be fully dressed and faced veiled, and companions must only be husband or father. ( Battuta’s culture ) .Personally, I am not shocked by Battuta’s reaction because his cultural is very different in terms of women, to the “Malians”.
    Iban Battuta’s account with in Mali is useful to study because it is an outside perspective of how the people acted. His account was also focused on different areas, such as religion ,family and gender roles.The problem with people outside of this culture writing about it is they can able to interpret things differently or misunderstand why certain things occur in the other culture. However the problem with only having sources on a culture from people in that culture is there will be no different of point of views or way to do things. Everything will seem like they didn’t really have problems because everyone is the same…

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  20. Ibn Battuta likes how seriously the people take prayer and the versus of the Koran. He approves of the level of safety among merchants and travelers.

    Ibn Battuta has in very religious to the word society where all rules were presented as the only proper way to do things. His reaction, considering his background, is not surprising because he has never even thought of any other way or variation to the way things had been done, especially to womens’ roles in a functioning society.

    Ibn Battuta’s accounts of his travel are incredibly useful when piecing together the history of Sub-Saharan African, because of his personal presence and written documentation.
    The problem with only having writing such as his is they are outsiders looking on to a new world without prior knowledge or exposure to the methods and culture of the area. The recordings of of others from their perspective of ignorance and judgement on a different culture from an other in the world or that they’ve seen. This poses a problem because all historians have to piece together has to be taken with a grain of salt on others’ view of another persons’ history.

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  21. Ibn Battuta admires the Malian people for their: safe lands (cities, villages, and trade routes in their area of influence), honesty, and their religious devotion.

    The way Ibn Battuta talks about women shows that he is from a culture that makes women cover up a lot of their body, act very modestly, and do not have much say in anything that goes on in their lives. Furthermore, he most likely comes from an area where arranged marriages are common, as seen in the quote: “Any male who wishes to marry one of them can do so very easily ….” Given his cultural background, Ibn Battuta’s reaction to the Malian culture is not surprising, as it is drastically different from what he grew up in, and frankly, a little confusing to someone who is witnessing the culture for the first time.

    Although Ibn Battuta did not know a lot about how Malian culture worked, his accounts are still very useful to us, especially since most of Africa didn’t keep many written documents that allow us to figure out how their lives were like. He described (although not in great detail) how the Islamic community worshipped, Malian marriage laws, how women were treated, the safety of the Mali Empire, the Malian people themselves, and some of their eating habits.

    Unfortunately, there are a lot of problems with using documents from both inside and outside a culture group. A document written by someone who was an “outsider” to the culture usually isn’t very detailed, as the writer probably didn’t know much about the culture when writing the document, and spends a lot of time pointing out the “weird” things that go on in the culture, like Battuta writing about the (to shorten it) “friends with benefits” that married couples are allowed to have. Someone who was born in the culture obviously would think that it was a great culture and would leave out a lot of the negative things that may happen in one of their cities or villages. They might even sing high praises about their culture, making it seem like the best thing since sliced bread.

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  22. Upon his arrival in Mali, Ibn Battuta was expectedly met with foreign and unusual ideals and norms, especially in the city of Iwalatan. However, he admired various cultural practices in their society. Battuta was pleasantly surprised with the social order he encountered in Iwalatan. For example, he admired the lack of criminal activity and appreciated the protection of private property provided. He also admired their religious norms, such as their punctuality when attending prayers and events, their diligence in memorizing the Qu’ran, and the reverence displayed on holy days.
    Despite the “good qualities” of Malian society, Ibn Battuta was taken aback by a number of social customs, especially regarding women and their freedoms. Due to the strange behaviors displayed before him, like ‘immodesty’ among married women, friendships that bridged gender gaps, and a lack of sexual jealousy, Ibn Battuta’s responses to said behavior provided insight into his social and cultural background. It is clear that he came from a patriarchal society based on his views of genealogy tracing and women’s freedoms. He was not accustomed to such liberality among females, and he was confused as to how women could cherish these freedoms while studying Islam. Looking at his origins and cultural background, his reaction to the culture of Mali and Iwalatan was not surprising. The mannerisms expressed there were peculiar and did not fit the mold that he was used to in his own society. His perspective was different from that of Malians.
    While Ibn Battuta’s writings are extremely beneficial to the studies of Malian culture, they only provide us with one perspective and point of view. Since he was outside of that society, he recorded things that were outlandish to him. He also may have misinterpreted some elements of their society due to his lack of knowledge regarding the culture. Using only this kind of writing as a source gives researchers a skewed version of the situation at the time. This is true for all primary sources. Whether inside or outside of the society, the texts in question could only show one perspective.

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    • Gabi, I totally agree on how Buttata admired their cultural practices and how there wasn’t a lot of crime activity in that culture. I do also agree that he was very surprise on how the Mali people viewed and let women have certian behaviors as to probably in his culture wouldn’t have happened. Also, I do understand and Agree with you on that with any give text or primary or secondary source, the person writing it will have a certain perspective on what’s being talked about or the topic being discussed. So really that perspective can change views on other people and how they will see that certian topic in their point of view! I agree 100% Gabi!!!!

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  23. In believe that Iban Battuta finds admirable about the Mali people is that they follow exactly as the prescribed laws say and obey those laws.

    The way Battuta had concerns of how much freedom and certian behaviors women had in Mali shows that the culture he lives and has grown up in did allow much freedom for women. He states ” their women are not modest in the presence of men…” And also, “the women are permitted to have male friends and companions among men who are not members of her family.” His reactions to this is very surprising and that tells us that his culture and social backgrounds must have been very strict on women and their actions and behaviors. I do not think that Battutas reaction to this is surprising given his personal background because from where he came, women were probably or had to have been devoted to him and his family and to no other men.

    I do not think that Ibn Battuta’s account is useful as a source of Mali because it is based on his perspective and the way he views the Mali peoples’ culture. The problems that come from texts written by people who are from the outside of ones other culture is that other people to whom do not know about the Mali people, they will go along with Buttats perspective because it is written that way as if it is wrong of the Mali people. His point of view maybe be totally different as to someone else’s view on the Mali people which can create mixed facts and opinions towards a certian culture group. Problems that come from a text or source that’s only from the people in a culture like the Mali people, will create a more strong belief and perspective on their point of view because that will create a false- consenses effect is basically favoriting your group over everyone else’s.

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  24. Ibn Battuta finds several qualities admirable of the Mali people, a few of those being their complete devotion of their lives to Islam as they promptly recite their prayers and memorize the Koran, and also the low rates of crime that produce a safer environment for travelers and also natives.

    Ibn Battuta’s responses suggest that he comes from a background of strict gender roles that emphasize a woman as property of a man. His reaction is not surprising because he comes from traditional Islamic origins of Algiers, in which notable Shia Muslims specify strict social orientation.

    His account is useful because it is a natural observation of an outside culture. Although he does subtly compare them to his own culture and put extra emphasis onto ideals of the Mali people that aren’t typically the “norm” of his culture, he does provide an accurate description of them. The problems in relying on a source like this could be that a reader would easily be swayed in opinion of the cultures by the comparing and contrasting done by Battuta. A problem in relying on only a source drawn from within the culture can act in the same way, but oppositely swaying the opinion so that the reader views the culture as more favorable.

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  25. Through his many travels, Ibn Battuta, visited the kingdom of Mali. There, he made some very distinctive opinions about the culture. He liked the low crime rates, safe community for everyone, and religious importance. Although he does like how important the Islamic religion is to the Mali people, he is shocked to find small children chained up for not learning the Koran. He is also shocked to see the freedoms of women in this culture. This might be because of his probable strict, traditional Islamic upbringing and society. In his society he is probably used to women wearing a veil, not having any freedoms, and always having a male family member with her, like most societies of this time. His reaction to the female body being on display and female and male people interacting without having to be married is understandable, considering where he comes from. It also may be shocking to him because the Islam that was practiced by him was much more conservative, and the way the Islamic religion was practiced in Mali went against his beliefs. I do not believe Ibn Battuta’s writing is a good source to use when studying the kingdom of Mali. Battuta does not give an accurate representation of the culture as a whole. He focuses on gender roles and religion. Everything Ibn said was his opinion, and there is no historical evidence in the article that states any of what Ibn said can testify as facts supporting his opinions. Also Ibn did not understand why the Islamic religion was practiced in the way it was in Mali, and could not have a true representation of their religious practices and culture.

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    • I disagree when you said that he does not like the importance of the Islamic religion, he put that as one of the good qualities of the Mali culture. This is because he also had strong beliefs himself so he was actually very pleased that they did this and they dd it even to people other then their children because of how important they thought it was. Although i definitely agree when you say it is understandable that he would be a little taken aback by the freedoms in which women were given in Mali culture. At this point in history it is practically unheard of.

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  26. Ibn Battuta has his disagreements with the way in which the Mali lives, but there are a few things that he finds commendable. For instance Ibn Battuta is very proud of his religion and what it stands for and he is very happy that the Mali also took their faith seriously. He liked that they were very punctual with their prayers and learned that people, who were able, were making pilgrimages to Mecca. Also, the Mali people were very strict on their children learning the Koran. It wasn’t only that they needed to learn it, but memorize it and if they failed to do so they would be shackled until it was learned. He felt that these were very important and was glad that the Mali was very strict when it came down to their Islamic culture.

    It is very clear that Ibn Battuta was not happy with the way in which the Mali treated their women. In Ibn Battuta’s culture, everything would be inherited from the father’s family and after the father is gone the inheritance would be passed on to the son, but this is not the case for the Mali. In the Mali society a child is not “named after the father, but each traces his genealogy from his maternal uncle” which means that a child will be named after the uncle on their mothers side. Then a man’s inheritance will not be passed on to his son but passed on the son of his sister. Also, he feels that the women are not modest because they do not cover their faces with a veil. Besides that, they also are allowed to have male friends outside the family. He found it the most strange that there was no sexual jealousy of the men towards their women. Although his views seem very absurd to people know, back then women had little to no rights and were expected to only to associate with the immediate family which was very common back then. The oddest thing was to see a woman not covering herself and to be talking to a man other than her husband.

    Ibn Battuta’s sources are very helpful to look at the Mali culture. Not only does he go into detail about their religious practices, but also their personal beliefs. It is even better that it is coming from him because the Mali were so different from where he came from and we got to see how he felt about his personal experiences of their culture. Although, it is also good to obtain sources that come from outside the culture as well as getting them from the source. This is just because it may only show the things that make the culture seem stronger and may not present you with the weaknesses which prevent you from really seeing the culture for what it was.

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  27. Battuna admired that the Malian people were peaceful. He states that “there is a small amount of crime”. This is a good quality in Batuna’s eyes. He also admired that travelers going through Mali were safe from brigands, robbers, and thieves of the Sahara. Butana also admired the Islamic faith exhibited in Mali. Batuna is very surprised at the fact that women have man friends and men have women friends because his culture is that of traditional and sacred marriage between man and his wives. Also, he despises that women are naked in Mali all of the time, even during Ramadan. This is not surprising given Batana’s background of traditional Islamic values. I believe that this primary document is very useful when studying Mali. The problem, however, in depending in only this primary document would be that many different perspectives are needed to even attempt to get an objective standpoint on Mali’s history. Ibn Battuta had a different perspective than a European explorer, for example. All perspectives must be respected and taken into consideration to gain an objective fact-base. The problem with people outside of the culture writing about the culture is that the viewpoint of these outsiders is going to be from the viewpoint of their home countries, so things seeming outlandish to them may have a large focus or may be criticized for merely being outlandish.

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  28. Ibn Battuta finds many things admirable about the people of Mali. Ibn Battuta likes how there is a minimal amount of crime and the people obey the laws. This is good because the trade routes are clear of criminals and the empire is friendly to incoming people. He also enjoys the equality they have within the country. For example, Ibn states that “The natives do not confiscate the property of white men who die in this country…”. Ibn likes the way they approach certain parts of the religion of Islam. He particularly likes the way they incorporate their children into the religion by asking them memorize the Koran or say their prayers.
    Ibn Battuta, however, doesn’t agree with the freedom and behavior of women. You can tell by his response that he is not use to the way the women of Mali are acting. He sees this way as untraditional because women usually are more covered and act more conserved in other empires. This is not surprising because Ibn Battuta was from the Islam Empire where the women wore veils and stayed with their husbands.
    This is a great source for seeing the culture and history of Mali from this time because it is a first hand account, meaning that the author experienced the event themselves. The only problem with this source is that Ibn was not from Mali. This means he did not know the way of life and different stages in Mali. This is important because you would have a different experience as a kid living and growing there than an adult visiting. He also has a predetermined nption of what a society and culture should be like. Ibn being from another culture could also be beneficial because he is able to compare their culture to that of his own and say, as he did, what he liked and disliked.

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  29. I feel as though Iba Battuta admired many of the qualities of the Mali people such as the fact that they treat travelers and natives alike in their safety means, or that they are very committed to their religion, such as how everyone there is expected to learn the Koran by heart.

    Battuta’s opposing ideas of the freedoms of women suggest that it is likely he comes from a patriarchal society in which he was used to males being in charge of everything while the women are soft spoken and obey all commands of the man that was in charge. Personally, I do not find his reactions to be surprising because this is a new and foreign concept to him that was so different than his norm and his ideas of how things should be that he did not know how to handle such things as women being friends with males that were not in their family, so him leaving the house of a man that was with a women other than one in his family was not surprising at all. However, I feel that because he did not understand the concept, he refers to it as “stupid” which was a little shocking but also understandable due to his background.

    I feel that Iba Battuta can be a very reliable source because of the fact that he was actually there during the time that all of these things were going on so he is a direct and reliable source. In contrast, I think that a problem of using texts written by people outside of the culture they are writing could be the fact that is that they may be inaccurate because they might not have been there the time of any events happening, and could be going off of someone else’s words from what happened. A problem with having the sources be only from within the culture could be that the opinions of the people may overshadow the reality of the events that really took place.

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  30. What Ibn admires about the people of Mali is how they show devotion to the Koran as shown with children (and a man) in shackles until they memorize by heart. Another is how Mali is safe from crime and thieves as the people obey the law.

    As it is in Muslim law that women are to be seen in the eyes of their husbands, seeing how the women behaved in Mali, it would shocked Ibn as it is a Muslim law that women must behave. Considering that Mali also worships Islam, the freedom it gives to women and eating impure meat all goes against what Ibn was taught about Muslim law. More ever, he is focused on the actions of how Mali does their Islamic devotion and disregarding the culture (suspicion on inheritance – why does the inheritance goes to another family branch but not the eldest son?).

    Reading Ibn’s “journal” about his travels gives us the certain clues about how each countries society acted, what do they do in their daily lives, what is going on… These documents help to know a little more about a country especially when there are those with only a few sources of written records like in some parts of Africa, they usually used oral teachings and not writing. As Ibn travel in almost all of Eurasia and Africa, he recorded mostly about the social customs that he sees. That is the problem of Ibn, recording from a religious perspective. When someone is writing outside the culture, they would most likely write from observation and what they think it is. If someone were to write within culture, it might contain emphasizing about the culture, unnecessary information, or probably write to make them look good (Zhou rulers complaining about the Shang rulers).

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  31. Ibn Battuta finds it desirable that the kingdom of Mali is a safe place. He enjoys being able to be there and be safe from robbers and thieves. He also noticed the small amount of crime, which further shows that it is safe. Also the enjoyment of Islam made Ibn happy, he liked how they went to prayer and if not, they were punished.
    Ibn Battuta’s reaction to the freedoms and social class of women show that he came from a culture where women were not so involved in society. The women in Mali would walk around naked, and would not care. Ibn was surprised when he saw these women. It shows that Ibn comes from an area where women were clothed and they did not mean much in terms of society.
    Ibn Battuta and writings are reliable. He was there and saw what was going on firsthand. Yet he was not part of the culture there, so he does not understand some of the things the people of Mali do and believe in. However relying on sources coming just from in the culture is not good. There is a different perspective when talking about a culture from the inside. Outsider’s views show how different their culture is from the one they witness. It allows compare and contrast to occur between the two different cultures.

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    • I agree when you say its important to compare and contract the outsiders view and a perspective from within a culture or society. People from both sides may have opinion-based accounts, so comparing them both would help find out what were facts and what weren’t. Nice job!

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    • I agree that Ibn was shocked to see the women walking around naked, and that means that women are probably clothed in his society. But i wouldn’t go as far as to saying that women did not mean much in terms of society based off clothing. Men wore clothes as well according to Ibn so analyzing the status of women in his culture based of clothing cant be 100% true.

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  32. Ibn Battuta admires the Malian people for their low crime rate, their respect towards Islam and how they do not confiscate property of white men that died- regardless of wealth, leaving that to other white men. This indicates that the people of Mali aren’t selfish and greedy, and that they are instead generous. I am not surprised at Battuta’s reaction, his responses show that his cultural and social background includes a more shielded view on women, probably similar to that of the Romans where women are well covered up and usually never leave the home without a male protecting them. I come to these conclusions based on the fact that he emphasizes how bad it is that the women are nude and out and about, even among men. Battuta’s account is a useful source for studying Mali. His own culture and morals and the viewpoints that stem from that are shown. However, Battuta doesn’t let this cover up or skew his observations; many facts can be drawn from his account. For example, it is fact that Mali people ate dogs and donkey- this true whether or not Ibn Battuta thinks it’s impure or not. However, issues can arise from documents that account a society from an outsider’s perspective. People often believe that what is abnormal to them is just wrong, and that isn’t always true.This can be seen in the case of Ibn Battuta, whose own cultural background caused him to disagree with the status and behavior of women in Mali. Similarly, it can also prove problematic to rely solely on records from within a society or culture. In the way people tend to view a mindset different than theirs as wrong, there is also a pattern where one’s own culture and society is viewed as right, and the only proper standard.

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  33. From the beginning of the article, Battuta compares the Mali to infidels from India because the Mali had a matrilineal succession line. In contrast, he writes that the Mali are devout Muslims, but does not write that the Mali are virtuous because of this. Battuta is obviously shocked by the equality of women in the Mali’s society; as stated in the “A Similar Anecdote” passage, Battuta states that he is astounded that women and men could be friends without suspecting a sexual relationship. Battuta writes that he admires the low crime rate and devout Muslim tradition in Mali. Along with this, he admires the respect of property “The natives do not confiscate the property of white men who die in this country, even if they are very wealthy; instead they entrust it to another, respected white man to dispose of it properly”.

    Battuta does not support gender equality. Under bad qualities, he states “Nude women without veils on their faces enter the palace of the Sultan”. He obviously believes women should be more modest in this society, but also believes women should be subservient to men. As previously stated, Battuta writes about the “blasphemy” of allowing women to talk to anyone outside of her family. He must have grown up in a society that did not give citizenship or rights to women. It is not surprising he would react adversely to the rights of women in Mali.

    Battuta’s source is somewhat reliable when studying Mali. His point of view should not be taken as the correct manner of observing the Mali society, as he grew up under different circumstances than those in Mali. Reading texts from cultures observing other cultures is problematic because every culture will have a different point of view on a subject. This is also relevant in cultures writing about themselves because that culture will describe itself as more powerful and thriving than it really is. If one relies on sources from one’s own culture, information can be bended to follow the truth that society wants to here. Like in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave in “The Republic”, a society will deny knowledge from outside sources that they have not been exposed to directly.

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  34. Ibn Batutta thinks that Mali’s devotion to their religion is impressive. For example, the article says that the children were shackled until they learn the Koran by heart. He also found it admirable that that Mali was very safe from thieves and robbers, and had little crime.
    Ibn probably comes from a very conservative and religious background based on his reaction from seeing how free the women were. Batutta is shocked when the women walk around the presence of other men not fully clothed and how the women were able to have male friends besides their husbands. This is not at all surprising because of his cultural background. He believes that women should be veiled, dressed and only be friends with other females. Ibn finds Mali’s social norms strange because they are not his own.
    I do think that Ibn’s account is a useful source. They help to better understand how the people of Mali behaved and acted, even if a lot of what he said was opinion based. Using texts written by people who are from outside the culture can be problematic because those people most likely had a different point of view and may not completely understand or accept the culture, and may focus on writing about more of the negative qualities, instead of the positive ones as well. Relying on accounts from the people within a society can also be somewhat unreliable because people often like to make their culture and society seem better than it really is, making it difficult to differentiate factual evidence and what is not actually true.
    -Emily Claire Lauth

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  35. Ibn Battuta found the devotion to religion, and the safety of both travelers and natives within the Kingdom of Mali to be admirable. Battuta outlines that there is a small crime rate, as well as the safety of travelers and natives from robbers, thieves and brigands within the Kingdom. Ibn Battuta responded to the behaviors of women, with a shocked sense. His reaction is not surprising. He expresses a shock at the freedoms and behaviors of women, leading the idea that Battuta, while he visited many places in his life, did not see that level of freedom granted to women.
    While Ibn Battuta’s account of Mali is useful to study the history of the culture, however there are definite issues when a text source is written by someone who is an outsider observing another culture. The outside observations may not always be the most accurate depiction of the culture. However sources from within the culture cannot always be understood, and can be full of folklore, and myths.

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    • I agree with you in that sources from within a culture may have the tendency to portray their society in a magnificent manner through either folklore or myths. This always causes and issue of credibility and whether or not a source is accurate enough to use as a primary source.

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  36. When Ibn Battuta traveled to Mali, he admired a lot the traditions that were present in the western part of Africa. A couple examples of that were the lack of crime in the area and how the travelers and natives were safe from the robberies that were common during that time. Battuta was very fond of the methods of teaching and practicing the Islamic faith, as he meantioned in his writings. Some of the good qualities Ibn Battuta wrote were, “The prayers are offered punctually and with fervor… They are committed to learn by heart the sublime Koran…” Being that Battuta practices the religion himself, it makes sense that he would deeply respect the poeple of Mali’s methods regarding the Qur’an and Islam.
    Ibn Battuta’s reacton to the gender roles of women showed how little women were respected in his home in Algiers. Just the fact that women were friends with men who were neither a family member or husband astonished him greatly. From that it could be told that women in his area, or anywhere for that matter, were by no means allowed as much freedoms as the women of Mali. During the Dark ages, gender inequality was very prominent and women were scene more as property than people who can actually contribute to society. There was a certain set of rules and obligations women had regarding to their place in society and modesty, especially in the Qur’an. The idea of being predominantly Islam area and not requiring the women to be covered or stay silent in a man’s presence surprised and greatly displeased Battuta: “Bad qualities… Nude women without veils on their faces enter the palace of the Sultan.” I don’t believe the reation Battuta gave to be surprising because he was born and raised in a world that did not see women and men having equal status. He was taught that a women should be submissive and them being anything more than submissive was wrong. From his point of veiw, the women being almost as equal as was absurd, and this is because he learned the exact opposite.
    Ibn Battuta’s writings on Mali is resourceful to an extent, but what would make his writings not the best is the fact that he is writing from an outsider’s perspective. The problem with that is the person writing could have a strong point of veiw on certain aspect on the region of topic’s government or culture, whether good or bad. The way a person not native to that region thinks of the tradition may be completely different from how the native poeple think of it. On top of that the person that isn’t a native won’t have a complete understanding of the tradition that would be at hand, making the writing of the visitor extremely opinionated and possibly incorrect. This questions the reliability of the source. Although primary sources that are native to the region of topic have a better understanding of the government and the traditionsthat are praticed, the perspective may also be limited because the native would most likely think that al of their ways are right or only meantion the good thing of the region in which they live in. In order to have a better understanding of a place through primary sources, it is best to look at both the writings of natives and outsiders as well as study them for what they are or what perspective the text would be coming from.

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  37. Ibn Battuta found the people of Mali’s devotion to religion, and respect for the church to be the most pleasing about the Mali Empire. Although Ibn Battuta demonstrates that he is extremely disturbed by the fact that women are allowed to be so revealing and disrespectful to the original words of the Koran. These reactions from Ibn Battuta show that although he traveled the world and experienced many different cultures, he grew up in a society that followed the Koran exactly and did not give women as many rights as the Mali Empire; and also required for women to be extremely modest. These reactions are not surprising due to the assumption that he was taught from a very young age on how women were to behave and hold themselves. Ibn Battuta’s account of the people of Mali is a very useful source because it provide’s the viewpoint of an orthodox Muslim. The issue with using sources that are not from within the culture being discussed, is that many times these sources do not take into account what the social norms of a specific society may be, and only view the culture from their preset norms.The issue with using sources from within a culture are that many times these sources portray only the positives of their specific society and not all the negatives within their society. Creating a incomplete picture of how the society is as a whole.

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  38. Ibn Battuta finds it fascinating that the people of Mali practiced Islam with such earnest, and how their crime rates are so low due to people obeying the laws and the sultan not pardoning criminals, and how the people do not take a white man’s property if he is to die there. He also admires how they think so highly of their religion that if a child fails to carry out their daily prayers, they are beaten, and if they do not have the Qur’an memorized by heart, they must have shackles on their feet that are not to be removed until it is memorized.
    Where Battuta comes from, women and men are not considered equal like they are in Mali; women do not have as much freedom, per say, as men do. His responses to the Malians’ lifestyle show that he comes from a rather conservative background, seeing as he believes that Abou Mohammed Yandecan’s response to his question is a “stupid answer.” He is not used to women having this much freedom, seeing as in the Islamic Empire, where he comes from, women wear veils, stay with their husband, and do not talk to men that are not related to them. His reaction is not surprising when looking upon his background, due to him coming from an area that follows traditional Islam views.
    From a factual standpoint, Battuta’s account would be considered useful in studying Mali. If one uses sources either from within a culture itself or people outside the culture, the information might differ due to the two groups having different perspectives. When using sources that come from people outside the culture being observed, the observer will usually have a somewhat negative perspective on the culture because it is different from what they are used to. Most observances would be factually correct, though, because the observer would write what they see happening, and then write their opinions on it. Relying only on sources from within a culture could cause problems because, like the observers, people from within a culture have their own perspectives on how they live. Unlike the observers, the people from a culture will usually have a positive perspective on their culture because it’s all they have ever known.

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  39. Ibn Battuta admires Iwalatan’s devoutness to Islam and the Quran. He was taken back by their strictness about learning and studying the Quran. Ibn is shown to be very conservative about Islamic laws and this is mostly likely because he was raised in Islamic religion and culture. He is reaction to the Iwalatan is somewhat surprising seeing as he has traveled Afroeurasia pretty extensively. However, it isn’t surprising because most of the world did show trends of being strict with women while Mali wasn’t. Ibn’s texts are somewhat useful for studying Mali because they do give a foundation for what their society was. However, the accuracy of what the people did was questionable because of Ibn’s response to the treatment of women. It was possible that he misconstrued events and twisted what the Iwalatan did because he strongly disagreed with their ways and wished to spite them in some way. Information from outside of the culture might not be reliable because outsiders did not fully understand the experience of being a part of the society. Outsiders, like Ibn, were raised a different way under a different standard that may not apply to all societies. So, by lack of knowledge and understand of a society, outsiders can be inaccurate. However, information from inside of the culture can be inaccurate because they are directly influenced by the leader of the society.

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    • I think your point about how information from inside a culture can be inaccurate due to their influence by the leaders and their own tendency to see themselves as superior. It’s reasonable to say that no account of a culture by any person will be completely the truest story- it’s important to look at the perspectives of many to understand history.

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  40. Ibn Battuta found it admirable and amusing that the Mali people memorized the Koran and were devoted to their faith, had low crime rates, and the fact that they were respectful of the property of a deceased white man.

    Ibn’s reactions toward the freedom of women suggest that his native culture and society is not used to the involvement of women in the community. To Ibn, and his people, women should *only* be obedient to their husband and family…no other men should be involved in their lives. His reactions do not surprise me because this is how most other societies outside of Africa viewed women as opposite as they do in Mali.

    His accounts are reliable, but only to an extent. The main issues with people recalling their accounts from other cultures is ethnocentrism and cultural relativity. The visiting people most likely will find aspects of the culture weird and possibly inferior. But on the flip side, if we only use sources from within the culture lose the judgments of other people and their perspective.

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  41. The one aspect of Malian culture that Ibn Battuta found most admirable was the people’s dedication to learning and practicing the religion of Islam, being a former judge of Islamic sacred law, himself. In his accounts, Battuta wrote of the incredibly low crime rates of the region, most likely because the religion of Islam centered around giving to others, rather than taking. He even went as far as to praise the people of Mali for their extreme punishments to those who did not pray or memorize the Qur’an, more specifically children.

    The culture shock experienced by Ibn Battuta when witnessing the society’s treatment of women suggests that he came from a region of great gender inequality and most likely, a strong patriarchy. He obviously came from a culture where woman were expected to be passive and unseen, so his reaction to seeing woman in various states of undress and indignity was not surprising in that respect. I was shocked however, that his reaction was so extreme considering that he was so well traveled and had more likely than not come into contact with cultures similar to the Mali before.

    Ibn Battuta’s account is very useful as a source considering it is a firsthand experience with the culture, meaning all recordings are directly from someone who was there. It provides a narrative untouched by any form of historical telephone. One of the problems that comes with using accounts from those outside of a culture is that they often take things for surface value, commenting on how people do things, but not why. Another is that they only experience the environment in question for a short period of time in comparison to those who grew up within it. The most prominent problem that comes with looking solely at sources from within a culture is that it is all they know; they have nothing to compare it to. Without knowledge of societies other than their own, it is impossible for one to know how good or bad they have it.

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    • Among the things that Ibn Battuta admired about the Mali culture were their practice of Islam and their low crime rates, white dress on Fridays, and extreme punishments for poor practice of Islam. The last 3 things he admired were likely results of the devout practice of Islam that he admired so much. He wrote of their ritual fasting and prayer and study of the Koran, and he also found their methods of teaching Islam effective (which sometimes included harsh punishment, even of children). The white dress on Fridays was also due to the people of Mali being Muslim, and the low crime rates could have been a result in part of the religious tenant of helping the less fortunate.

      Ibn Battuta experienced cultural shock when he came to Iwalatan, because their practice of Islam was different than the practice of Islam in his own society, mostly. He was scandalized by the nudity of women, the matrilineal succession, and the norm that women and men could be friends. We can infer that Battuta’s own society was both patriarchal and patrilineal, and their general interpretation of Sharia Law did not give a high social status to women, only an equal spiritual status. His reaction to the status of women is not surprising, considering the aforementioned cultural background, but it is surprising to me that he was as shocked as he was. I would think that he would be more disapproving than utterly surprised by the culture, because he was such a well-travelled man and had no doubt seen other societies where women had higher status than his homeland. Perhaps it is because the Mali people were both Muslims AND had such freedoms for women- and he found that this offended his own religious beliefs and interpretation of the Koran.

      This account is useful because it gives us information not only about the Mali culture, but also the culture that Ibn Battuta comes from (which we can infer from his interpretation and reaction to other people). Even if his opinions are mixed into the writing, there is still factual information, although possibly exaggerated. The problem with using texts created by people from outside the culture being studied is that they may find certain things shocking and exaggerate them, or completely overlook other important details that are not surprising or offensive to them. They often see other societies as inferior to their own, and look at the beliefs and practices of others through the lens of their own beliefs and practices, viewing anything outside of their own cultural norms as bizarre or bad, because they see less fault in their own society than the one they are visiting. They generally will not question practices that they see as bad, or try to understand why they do things- only label them as good or bad. For example, Ibn Battuta does not attempt to understand the reason behind the Malian matrilineal succession (closer relationship of a child to its mother), he only writes that he does not like it because it conflicts with his own beliefs. It’s important to study texts from a variety of perspectives, because only one source may try to paint themselves as superior and they only have one set of beliefs and values to compare to.

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  42. When Ibn Battuta traveled to the Kingdom of Mali, the qualities in the society that he found admirable were the similar to those in his hometown, Algiers, or even all of the other societies that he has traveled to. These included the fact that the people of Mali were very strict about following the words of the Qur’an for their laws of prayer and even recited it until it was known by heart for everyone. In non-religious ways, Ibn Battuta liked how the society was very safe for travelers and natives alike. He respects Mali’s culture because it reminds him the Algiers.
    Algiers was very similar to Mali in many aspects except for how women are not treated fairly in the Algiers, but were granted with many freedoms in Mali. This shaped Ibn Battuta’s perspective on the fact that women should be fully dressed and wearing a veil to cover their faces. Because Ibn Battuta traveled over many places in the world and had never seen something like this before, he rejected this idea immediately without considering it. In his eyes, the idea that a woman is allowed to be friends with a male and still be trustworthy is confusing and unacceptable. The Qur’an states these matters, and the fact that a society that relies heavily upon it and and practices it thoroughly allows their women to participate in society like this was just unbelievably surprising to Ibn Battuta.
    I believe that Ibn Battuta’s words are respectable even though he comes from a foreign society because every opinion and every side of any argument is needed. Ibn Battuta became a very influential source.

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  43. Ibm Battuta reponse siggests thaty where he ism from, like many other places in the world, women are expected to be “modest” and really engage with males. His reaction is not surprising because there is a reverse idea going on and that is what he knows.
    Ibn’s account is useful because he describes what he experiences so we know that it is accurate. Problems with using texts written by people outside of that culture are that ideas may be skewed a bit because there are shocking, new experiences for them. Problems with using sources fom people that are from only a culture are that you would not be getting multiple perspectives to compare and a diverse idea if all accounts are similar.

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  44. In addition to my previous comment, Ibn found it admirable that the Malian people took a reponsiblity upon themselves to prioritize their faith.

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  45. One thing Ibn Battuta finds admirable about the people is the way they are forced to memorize the Koran, and follow it like law. They are shackled until they memorize the Koran. Ibn thought a man was a murderer, but instead he just had not memorized the Koran.

    The first factor that surprised him was that women were allowed to have relations with males that weren’t there husbands. The second was that women would show themselves to the village and serve food to them. Since Ibn is a Muslim and talks about veils, it can be assumed that he like many Muslims today never see there wife’s until they are married. Muslim women tend to have everything covered and do not spend time with other people besides there husband which would be a good example of Ibn’s cultural and social background. Since Ibn would be used to those traditions for women, his reaction is not surprising

    Ibn’s writing is useful to study Mali to an extent. Ibn did not live their or did he grow up with their traditions so to fully study Mali his texts would not be as useful as someone who had lived there. It is good however to get an “outsiders” or foreign view point on Mali culture. This is useful as it shows that there was a diversity around the world and certain things were okay to others and certain things were not okay to others. If you only read one point of view then your judgment on what was okay or not okay would be clouded by only one source.

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  46. Ibn Battuta admires the fact that the people of Mali are strict about their rules and religion. For example, he likes that crime is not so easily pardoned, that prayers are punctual, and that the Qur’an is valued to the point where people will be shackled if it is not known by heart. One particularly fascinating and admirable feature of the Mali people, however, is that when a white man has fallen, the people of Mali do not take his things, but allow another white man – who is respected – to properly dispose of them.

    Ibn Battuta’s responses to the culture in Mali suggest that he grew up within a strict Muslim society that gives women very little freedom. Battuta finds it strange that women and men are allowed to have friends outside of family and lovers, suggesting that his social background is centered around a more strict patriarchy. Ibn Battuta traveled many places, and yet Mali was the only place that treated women in a way that one would almost treat a man. This reaction is no where near surprising. During this time period, it was common that women were of lower status than men (sometimes even treated like children). Ibn Battuta’s personal background and experience shape his ideas and beliefs, so experiencing something outside of the common culture would be surprising.

    Battuta’s account is indeed useful when studying Mali. This source is reliable because Ibn Battuta was within the community, and experienced the life of the people of Mali whilst living amongst them. The problem, however, with using this text, is that it is not seen from the perspective of someone within the new culture. Ibn Battuta writes truth, but also personal feelings, and may not offer a good or true explanation of how and why the people of Mali do what they do. Nonetheless, one cannot only use a source from within a culture, for that source could only talk of the strengths and not the weaknesses – and possibly even exaggerate. Sources from multiple perspectives should be considered.

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    • I agree that cultures should be studied from multiple perspectives. You made a good point by saying Ibn Battuta’s personal feelings are just as important as someone from within the cultures’ feelings because most people will exaggerate. To get a good picture of the society we should look at both sides.

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  47. In Ibn Battuta’s account of the people of Mali, he admires somethings and as such states, “Among their good qualities we can cite the following:” and goes on to state six things he admires about the Mali people. These include, the low crime rates; the protection from thieves for all people; the fact that they do not claim ownership to the land owned by a white man who died in their country, but instead give it to other white men; the amount of punctuality and fervor in which prayers are recited; the clean clothing, normally white, worn for Friday public prayer; and how strict they are when it comes to learning the Koran, in such fervor that they will shackle and chain children and other converts until they learn the Koran by heart.
    Ibn Battuta’s concerns involving the freedoms and behaviors of women suggest that he was brought up in a strict Muslim society that had little to no outside influences of other cultures or religions that allowed the amount of freedoms and behaviors allowed of women. This suggests that he is used to seeing women following strict Muslim protocol including wearing veils and not associating with men outside their family. I do not believe his reaction was surprising considering his personal background because even though some of the practices of the Mali went against his culture he was accustom to interacting with other cultures and therefore did not react harshly.
    Ibu Battuta’s account is useful as a source when studying Mail but not as an only source. His accounts are highly likely to be honest and correct but we cannot take any inferences or opinions of his to heart. This is the problem with using sources written by people who are not a part of the culture of what they are writing about. The problems with only drawing on sources written from inside a culture are likewise. The writers will write what they know and believe to be correct and honest but that may not be the case. Therefore it is important to use both types of resources to get the best idea of what the subject was about.

    Alyssa Bedenbaugh
    3rd Period

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  48. Ibn Battuta admired the small amount of crime in Mali, because Malians typically obeyed the law. He also appreciated the fact that traveler, like himself, were safe from brigands, robbers, and slaves. Battuta also liked how the Malians prayed punctually, and devoutly.

    Battuta’s reaction to seeing men and women forming friendships, and watching naked servant and slave women with no veils shows that Battuta is used to seeing women who are restricted from having male friends, and are expected to be modest at all times. Considering Battuta’s cultural background, it isn’t shocking that he reacted negatively to these women. He is used to seeing women who live only for their husbands, and cover themselves from head to toe.

    Battuta’s accounts are useful as a source to study Mali, because everything he says sounds like the truth. However, the problem with using sources with text written by someone outside of the culture about which they are writing is that the outsider does not understand the culture; therefore, he or she might liken something different than they are used to, like Battuta and the Malian women. to something that is negative, when in reality, it’s just alien to what they are used to. A similar problem would occur if one relied solely on sources derived from within a culture, except the people from within that culture would turn everything about their culture into something positive or grand, like shackling people who don’t know the Koran by heart. It is important to rely on native and outside sources when researching a culture, because the combination of the two would provide a more broad look at a culture’s idiosyncrasies, positives, and negatives.

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  49. Ibn Battuta mostly admired the relative peacefulness and intense dedication to certain common core aspects of Islam. He notes the obedience to laws, and safety of travelers and natives from thieves to provide evidence for his optimistic views of peace in Mali. Another positive commonality found by Ibn Battuta was the strict adherence to prayer-related habits and knowledge of the Qur’an. He realized that most were in a rush to reach the Mosque early on Fridays to find a place to pray due to the incredible crowds, some even reverting to having slaves holding spots for them until they arrive to the mosque. Also Ibn Battuta seemed surprised at the fact that the memorization of the sublime Qur’an was required amongst children and how disobedience was met by imprisonment via shackles until the individual chose to comply.

    Ibn Battuta’s astonishment at the amount of freedom given to the women of Mali show us that he was not accustomed to such levels of gender equality. This may indicate that his area of origin possessed different ideas of proper conduct among differing genders. He also was surprised by the lack of patriarchal aspects of Malian society such as inheritance (passed to one’s eldest sisters son). Although Ibn Battuta was well-traveled, no area he had previously visited had prepared him for this style of society. Mali’s differing views on women and conservativeness when compared to original Islamic societies’ views provide us with an example of how Islam changed as it spread.

    Ibn Battuta’s account of Mali is useful despite its obvious problems. He unconsciously draws comparisons between Mali and the other places he has previously visited and studied. These comparisons are both positive and negative. The positivity of the comparisons is how they show us the regional differences in Islam and the uniqueness of Mali. The negative aspects of the comparisons, however, are how they may provide opinionated statements about Mali. Due to frequent hard-headedness in human nature, we tend to believe the way we originally learned how to do something is the only correct way. Similarly, when taking into accounts from within a culture, about that same culture, we notice the glorification and sometimes exaggeration of aspects of the culture. By taking this into account, we have a better chance of surpassing these negative impacts.

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  50. Ibn Battuta loved that the people of Mali had such devoted and strong worship and religious views. He also loved that the city of Mali was such a safe civilization with a low crime rate. Ibn Battuta also liked the respect between people in the civilization.

    Ibn Battuta’s respect towards women shows that his original society had more respect for women than the other countries surrounding Mali. Ibn Battuta believed that only 1 man should be involved in a woman’s life and that is her husband, and nobody else (except her family). This is very surprising to me considering the contrary beliefs that countries surrounding Mali hold on women.

    I do believe that Ibn Battuta’s account was useful as he was very much involved in Mali and had a lot of experience in that civilization. However, problems that may be prevalent is that not onlly was he not a writing perspective within the new culture, but that he also wrote about his own feelings and truths about the people and culture of Mali, which could lead to some false information. The problem with only using a source within a culture is that they only have an inside view and perspective of their own culture, which many times can be false, where as another perspective should be taken from other cultures outside of their own to get more reliable facts.

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