Nasir Khusraw was in his forties, working as a tax collector for the Emir of Khorasan, when he experienced a mid-life crisis. He renounced worldly pleasures, and embarked upon a pilgrimage to Mecca, in search of spiritual awakening. The journey expanded into a seven-year Grand Tour of the Islamic world. His account of his travels, the Safarnama, interleaves meticulous descriptions with mystical meditations. He visited Mecca four times, and Jerusalem, but his longed for spiritual rebirth would occur in the dynamic new city of Cairo, then the capital of the Fatimid caliphs. There he was converted to Ismaili Shiism, and trained as a missionary. In 1052, he returned to his birthplace Balkh, brimming with religious fervour. The locals were unenthused, burning his house down. Undaunted, he became a hermit in Badakhshan, and attracted a circle of devoted acolytes in his old age.
— OR —