The riḥla and Self-Reinvention of Abū Bakr Ibn al-ʿArabī

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Kenneth Garden



The Andalusi Abū Bakr Ibn al-ʿArabī (d. 543/1148), one of the great figures of the Mālikī tradition, gained his scholarly credentials through a journey to seek knowledge in the East (riḥla fī ṭalab al-ʿilm). He commemorated his journey in a travelogue so widely admired that it initiated a new genre of Arabic travel writing. This article examines both the journey and the travelogue as strategies Abū Bakr employed to regain his family’s elite status and property, both lost when the Almoravids overthrew the ṭāʾifa of Seville that his father served as a vizier.

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