Journey to Mecca: In the Footsteps of Ibn Battuta is an IMAX
("giant screen") dramatised documentary film charting the first
real-life journey made by the Islamic scholar
Ibn Battuta from his
Mecca for the
Muslim pilgrimage), in 1325.
2 Film synopsis
3 Leading actor
6 See also
8 External links
Muslim religious law student Ibn Battuta
(1304–1368), whose full name was Abu Abdullah
Abdullah Al Lawati Al Tanji Ibn Battuta, set out from Tangier, a
city in northern Morocco, in 1325, on a pilgrimage to Mecca, some
3,000 miles (over 4,800 km) to the East. The journey took him 18
months to complete and along the way he met with misfortune and
adversity, including attack by bandits, rescue by Bedouins, fierce
sand storms and dehydration.
Ibn Battuta spent a total of 29 years travelling and covered 75,000
miles (117,000 kilometres) before he finally returned home.
He travelled "further than any writer before him [...] covering most
of the known world", through Africa, Spain, India, China and the
On Ibn Battuta's return the Sultan of
Morocco requested that he relate
his experiences, and this was to become what the Saudi Gazette
referred to as "one of the world's most famous travel books", the
With narration by Ben Kingsley, the film, which is "bookended" by
scenes from the contemporary
Muslim pilgrimage, chronicles the
first 18-month-long leg of Ibn Battuta's journey, to Mecca. It
was filmed in
Saudi Arabia in English and Arabic, with
Berber in the background.
On the way to Mecca, riding alone on horseback,
Ibn Battuta was
held up by bandits, robbed and nearly killed, but when the leader of
the bandits realized that he was a pilgrim, feeling ashamed, he
offered to escort
Ibn Battuta to Egypt (for a fee). It was a difficult
journey by camel across the desert and they were faced with fierce
sandstorms, before taking to boats to navigate the Nile.
Reaching Egypt, he handed a letter given to him by a friend to a
Sheikh, and based on a
Hadith (an oral tradition) of the Prophet
Muhammed, he was advised "to seek knowledge to China", hence his
further extensive travels.
Ibn Battuta had intended to continue his journey to
Mecca by sea, via
the port of
‘Aydhab on the Red Sea, but war and the dangers that
posed made him travel by land through
Damascus instead, joining a
10,000-strong caravan of fellow pilgrims along the way, staying
with them until they finally reach their destination, Mecca.
According to The Jakarta Post, "The lead, Chems Eddine Zinoun, was
born in 1980 in
Casablanca [Morocco] and studied classical ballet and
the piano. He died in a car accident on 11 Nov. 2008 in Casablanca,
where he lived. His portrayal of
Ibn Battuta shows a depth of feeling
that will remain with audiences long after watching Journey [to
Big Movie Zone described the film's genre as docudrama, whilst a
review at that site, remarking that it was the most unusual giant
screen film the reviewer had yet seen, called it "a biopic guised as a
According to a review on the
National Post in Canada, the
is best suited to the vast landscapes which
Ibn Battuta crossed and
less so for the close-ups and market places. As for the
this has been described as "stunning footage". The reviewer writes
that "Journey to
Mecca succeeds best in capturing the wonder,
pageantry and beauty that are the hallmarks of any religion's central
celebration. Though it is arguably impossible to catch an image of the
Almighty on film, this doc comes as close as any."
Ann Coates, reviewing the film at Big Movie Zone, stated that with
very little narration, unlike other giant screen productions, this
helps the dramatic portrayal of
Ibn Battuta and "his dangerous
trek". Ross Anthony, also reviewing at BMZ, is of the opinion that
the early special effects are nice and moody, though the desert is
barren and unappealing. However, "once in Mecca, the images shine."
The reviewer finds the acting "very good for the format".
Bruce Kirkland of Sun Media in Canada described Journey to
Mecca as a
"beautifully wrought film ... meticulously researched ... everyone, no
matter their faith, should see it". Trade Arabia in the
"A powerful, larger than life cinematic experience that has the power
to educate both young and old. Its message of tolerance and respect
will resonate strongly with audiences." The Detroit Free Press in
the USA said: "...dramatic desert landscapes ... unprecedented access
to the Great Mosque ... breathtaking aerial views ... a cosmic
experience"; and Nick Meyer wrote in The Arab American News that
the film was a "... Breathtaking ... Beautiful, inspiring (story) with
many visual delights ... Highly recommended."
Martina Zainal of
The Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post writes that "the photography is
stunning and takes us to dizzying heights over grand scenes, and
directors of photography Afshin Javadi, Ghasem Ebrahimian and Rafey
Mahmood have helped show us a side of
Islam that is rarely seen in
today’s news. It is a film worth seeing by Muslims and non-Muslims
The film has even received positive reviews in Jewish publications.
For example, Anthony Frosh and Rachel Sacks-Davis not only praised the
"breathtaking" cinematography in the Jewish journal Galus Australis,
but also wrote "Whilst Ibn Battuta’s 14th century
Hajj was much
closer in time to us than our biblical forefathers, his experience of
travel was surely much closer to theirs. The isolation, danger and
vulnerability that marked his journey surely also marked theirs. And
the spiritual gifts that so explicitly mark the journeys of our
forefathers are also implicit in Ibn Battuta’s Journey to Mecca."
Jews Witness the Hajj
The film was officially endorsed by Saudi Arabian Prince Turki bin
Faisal Al Saud al-Faisal, the youngest son of the late King Faisal,
former Director General of the kingdom's Al Mukhabarat Al A'amah
(General Intelligence Presidency (G.I.P.)), former ambassador to the
United Kingdom and Ireland, and former ambassador to the United
States who wrote, "Not only does the film represent an accurate
and respectful portrayal of Islam, it provides a wonderful opportunity
for Muslims to celebrate a revered hero in
Ibn Battuta and to honor
Mecca won Le Prix Du Public Most Popular Film at Le Géode
Film Festival, Paris, 2009, and a prize at the Tribeca Film
Festival in New York City.
Le Grand Voyage ( French film )
^ a b c McNeil Jr., Donald G. (2009-02-13). "The Long, Dusty Trek
Toward Tolerance". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-27.
^ Staff. "Journey to Mecca". Cosmic Picture. Retrieved
^ Byrne, Joseph Patrick (2004). The Black Death (Greenwood Guides to
Historic Events of the Medieval World). Greenwood Press. p. 131.
ISBN 0-313-32492-1. Annotated edition (September 30, 2004).
See google book search.
^ a b c d e f g Knight, Chris (2009-02-05). "Journey to Mecca:
Spiritualizing your Imax experience". The National Post. Retrieved
2009-08-27. [dead link]
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Khan, Fouzia (2009). "Journey to Mecca".
Saudi Gazette. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved
^ Wolfe, Michael (1998). One thousand roads to Mecca: Ten Centuries of
Travelers Writing about the
Muslim Pilgrimage. Grove Press.
p. 51. ISBN 0-8021-3599-4.
^ a b c d e f Zainal, Martina (2009-06-30). "
IMAX film 'Journey to
Mecca' proves to be enlightening". Jakarta Post. Archived from the
original on 2009-08-15. Retrieved 2009-08-27.
^ Staff (2009). "Journey to Mecca: In the Footsteps of Ibn Battuta".
Big Movie Zone. Retrieved 2009-10-03.
^ a b Coates, Ann (2009-03-23). "BMZ Review: Journey to Mecca: In the
Footsteps of Ibn Battuta". Big Movie Zone. Retrieved 2009-08-27.
^ Ross, Anthony (2009-03-26). "BMZ Review: Journey to Mecca: In the
Footsteps of Ibn Battuta". Big Movie Zone. Retrieved 2009-08-27.
^ Kirkland, Bruce (Sun Media) (2009). "Doc a 'Journey' of faith:
Documentary Journey to
Mecca chronicles the sacred Hajj". jam! showbiz
at www.canoe.ca. Retrieved 2009-08-27.
^ a b c Staff (2009). "Journey to
Mecca - a Giant Screen Film:
Reviews". Giant Screen. Retrieved 2009-08-27.
^ Reuters (2006). "Embassy official: Saudi ambassador to U.S.
resigns". cnn.com. Archived from the original on 2006-12-20. Retrieved
^ Staff (2009). "Journey to
Mecca - a Giant Screen Film: Home". Giant
Screen. Retrieved 2009-08-27.
Giant Screen: Journey to Mecca
Mecca on IMDb
Mecca at Rot