With my caravan of servants I find myself in a city in the Kingdom of Georgia named Apsaros. This city is a port on the Black Sea. I traveled here to trade with another caravan of merchants which I had been told came from Persia. I met them and they took me into their tents. I could not help but notice that their women never spoke and wore garb from head to toe. Our Greek women, though not immodest, are allowed to show their faces. Not these women. Though I had little to trade, I did fortunately have a large amount of gold coins that I had acquired months prior. With these coins I bought from these Persians many silver plates (a famous Persian product) and, as luck had it, several roles of silk. The head merchant of the Persians, a man by the name of Mahbod Arsham, told me the silk came from yet another group of traders who had traveled across the Asian steppe, to the other side of the Pamir Mountains, where they had encountered a band of Mongolian nomads.
Having traveled south, we find ourselves in the Ayyubid Caliphate city of Ar Roha. We are not here for trading purposes. Another large caravan of Muslim traders arrived in the city at about the same time we did. Some of these men were not just any Muslims, they were followers of Sufism. One of them named Abdelaziz Ibn Nasab was kind enough to tell me about his group’s beliefs. He said that they follow all the rules of Islam but also seek to control their bodily impulses. This reminded me of the ascetics in my native Byzantium. They rigorously study the Quran and the teachings of Muhammed. Muslims believe in the submission of oneself to Allah, their god. The Quran is very important, central even, to their religion. The Sufists pride themselves not only as Muslims but also as Muslims who have sought to purify themselves before god. For them the seeker of the divine path, the Dervish, must dedicate himself to fulfilling Allah’s word as expressed in the Quran.
I now find myself in