Pilgrims from the Islamic lands
The Travels (Rihla) of Ibn Jubayr (Performed Hajj in 1183)
As we marched that night, the full moon had thrown its rays upon the earth, the night had lifted its veil, voices struck the ears with cries of “Here I am O God, here I am” from all sides.
Ibn Jubayr (d. 1217) was from Andalucia in Spain. His is the earliest first-hand account of the Hajj experience and the most important before the 19th century. He began his journey from Ceuta on 3rd February 1183. On reaching Egypt, he travelled up the Nile to Qus and then across the desert to ‘Aidhab. This route avoided passing through the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. Ibn Jubayr arrived in Mecca on the 4th August. His detailed account provides a wealth of information about Mecca and the rituals of Hajj including important information on the textiles that covered the Ka‘ba. Illustrated here is the earliest known copy of Ibn Jubayr’s Rihla and held in Leiden University Library. It is copied in Mecca by ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Qurashi in Maghribi script. Ibn Jubayr’s text was extensively used by the other famous traveller who went on Hajj, Ibn Battuta (d. 1368).
Evliya Çelebi (Performed Hajj in 1672)
On the 20th of shawwal in the year 1081  ... we departed Damascus in grand procession. Day by day pilgrims kept coming from all directions, until the reckoning of tents and marquees stood at 6,300. For this was the Greatest Hajj and only God knows how many were there.
Evliya Çelebi was an Ottoman cavalryman born into a wealthy family. From 1640 onwards, he travelled extensively around the Ottoman Empire and further afield on horseback. In February 1671, Çelebi had a dream in which the Prophet Muhammad told him to perform Hajj. He set off for Mecca in May 1671, travelled along the coast, through Syria to Jerusalem, and doubled back to join the Hajj caravan in Damascus. Before reaching Mecca, Çelebi recounted that when they first sighted Medina, the caravan’s animals regained their strength and headed towards the town at great speed. Çelebi was so overcome with emotion when he prayed at the Prophet Muhammad’s tomb in Medina that he nearly fainted. After performing Hajj, he returned to Cairo with the Egyptian Hajj caravan. The notes from all his journeys formed his ten volume work called the Seyahatname – the Book of Travels.