The second most important city in the Mamluk dynasty was Damascus, and it was their capital in Asia. Damascus was a beautiful city that was thought of as the “earthly equivalent of Paradise” [1]. Ross Dunn notes in his book The Adventures of Ibn Battuta that there had been a time when Damascus had suffered due to the ever escalating tensions between the Mongols and the Mamluks but things had settled down by the time Ibn Battuta visited the city, and he was able to take in all the splendor that was Damascus [2].  Damascus is one of the oldest cities in the world, and it is also known as the place where Cain killed his brother Abel, according to biblical beliefs. Damascus was also the Islamic capital about thirty years after the death of the Prophet Muhammed, beginning with the Ummayyad dynasty. Damascus was also one of the sites from which caravans to Mecca left during the time of the Hajj (Islamic pilgrimage to the Ka’ba in Mecca).

While in Damascus, Ibn Battuta was able to visit what he revered as the most beautiful mosque on earth, the Mosque of the Ummayyads. He describes the mosque in great detail and quotes a Tradition from the Prophet that says, “God shall be worshipped in it for forty years after the destruction of the world” [3]. While in Damascus, Ibn Battuta was able to attend the madrasah (Schools devoted to the teaching of religion in Islam), celebrated Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, met scholars, and even one man who helped him in his quest to get to Mecca to partake in the Hajj. The generosity he was met with in Damascus single handedly helped him reach his goal, and he would not forget the help he received by his new friend. Ibn Battuta found the city to be one of his favorite cities, and could not fully describe the beauty of Damascus.

Damascus, still the capital of Syria, is a city full of turmoil now. President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad is facing a large revolt among many Syrians. They feel as though the president is corrupt and that it is time to end the Assad regime that began with the current president’s father. Even with the current political unrest in the country, Syria still reigns as a country filled with beauty and historical monuments. The above mentioned mosque is still there and is a place for both tourists and locals to appreciate.



[1] Dunn, Ross. The Adventures of Ibn Battuta. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005.

[2] Dunn, Ross. The Adventures of Ibn Battuta. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2005.

[3] Macintosh-Smith, Tim. The Travels of Ibn Battutah. London: Picador, 2003.

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