Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Ibn Batuta's account of Akhubs

Liked this excerpt from Ibn Batuta's travel in Turkey. He speaks of a very hospitable tribe called Akhiya or Young Brotherhood. Note the way they choose their leader and how they treat guests.

We stayed here at the college mosque of the town, the principal of which was Shaykh Shihab ad-Din al-Hamawi. Now in all the lands inhabited by the Turkmens in Anatolia, in every district, town and village, there are to be found members of the organization known as the Akhiya or Young Brotherhood. Nowhere in the world will you find men so eager to welcome strangers, so prompt to serve food and to satisfy the wants of others, and so ready to suppress injustice and to kill [tyrannical] agents of police and the miscreants who join with them. A Young Brother, or akhi in their language, is one who is chosen by all members of his trade [guild], or the other young unmarried men, or those who live in ascetic retreat, to be their leader. This organization is known also as the Futuwa, or the Order of Youth. The leader builds a hospice and furnishes it with rugs, lamps, and other necessary appliances. The members of his community work during the day to gain their livelihood, and bring him what they have earned in the late afternoon. With this they buy fruit, food, and the other things which the hospice requires for their use. If a traveler comes to town that day they lodge him in their hospice; these provisions serve for his entertainment as their guest, and he stays with them until he goes away. If there are no travelers they themselves assemble to partake of the food, and having eaten it they sang and dance. On the morrow they return to their occupations and bring their earnings to their leader in the late afternoon. The members are called fityan (youths), and their leader, as we have said, is the akhi.


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