As Muslim traders penetrated deeper into Africa so the religion spread from one empire to another, taking hold first at Gao in 985 CE and then within the Ghana Empire (6th-13th century CE) from the late 10th century CE. If, as seems probable, there was a transi-tional stage of belief between Catholicism and Islam it is difficult to Islam was introduced to the northern Somali coast early on from the Arabian peninsula, shortly after the hijra. Christianity was subtly intertwined with the agenda of the West. The famous scholar Ibn Munabbah wrote … Who is the longest reigning WWE Champion of all time? But when a Mali king tried to pressure people in the gold mining region around Wangara to convert, a disruption in the production of gold was threatened, and the pressure to convert was withdrawn. The most influential Malian king was Mansa Musa, who reigned from 1312 to 1337 and took a famous pilgrimage to Mecca, the Holy site of Islam, in 1324. In contrast, an association with Islam sometimes brought a certain prestige, a point seen most clearly in the re-recording of community histories and foundation myths to include the arrival of a founder from the East. It is perhaps worth noting at the start that the spread of Islam in Africa was much more than the passing on and adoption of religious ideas. Sonni Ali Of Songhai was differ from most other West African rulers because he did not adopt Islam but, he was a follower of Islam. There were several technical innovations that came with Islam such as writing, numbers, mathematics, measurements and weights. Some Rights Reserved (2009-2020) under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license unless otherwise noted. Why did West African people convert to Islam? Mansa Musa and the Kingdom of Mali. In empires like Mali and Songhai , most of the kings were Muslims or converted to Islam, while others did not convert but supported the presence of Islamic culture and institutions. Only by giving a belief system a proper name can a comprehensive, complex theology and cosmology emerge, along with a mâ¦ Mark is a history writer based in Italy. What was the dominant political structure in east Africa by thirteenth century CE? While this was a short-lived encounter, Muslims eventually left a Islam first came to West Africa as a slow and peaceful process, spread by Muslim traders and scholars. Islam was a success on the coast but it made no impact at all on peoples living in the interior of East Africa until the 19th century CE. They did not accept the Muslim belief in one God. Submitted by Mark Cartwright, published on 10 May 2019 under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. His son, Mansa Uli, became the new king after his fatherâs death. converting to Islam improved relations with Muslim merchants from North Africa and brought them recognition and support from Muslim states in the north. The Muslims, for their part, did not try and convert the King and his people. In the seventh century, Islam entered Africa from the northeast corner. Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization. Cartwright, Mark. African architecture - African architecture - Influences of Islam and Christianity: Early civilizations in the western Sudan region had strong trading links across the Sahara, and an Islamic presence was established south of the desert 1,000 years ago. Under â¦ Contributed by Prof. Dr. Nazeer Ahmed, PhD. The material on this site can not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with prior written permission of Multiply. Cartwright, M. (2019, May 10). Meanwhile, the religion also spread down through Egypt and swung westwards through the Sudan region below the Sahara Desert. Western Africa - Western Africa - The early kingdoms and empires of the western Sudan: In the 10th century the kings of Ghana extended their sway over the Ṣanhājah, the congeries of Amazigh nomadic groups living around Audaghost, just north of their kingdom, who supplied them with salt and North African goods. The Ghana Empire lay in the Sahel region to the north of the West African gold fields, and was able to profit from controlling the trans-Saharan gold trade. All Rights Reserved. Many native converts studied in such places as Fez, Morocco, and became great scholars, missionaries, and even saints, and so Islam came to be seen no longer as a foreign religion but a black African one. (Qur'an 9:5, Yusuf Ali translation). The same applies to those who found and mined such precious metals as gold and iron. Clothing changed, too, with women, in particular, encouraged to dress more modestly and adolescents to cover their nudity. Does pumpkin pie need to be refrigerated? West African fetish priest with talismans sewn on his hat and "batakari jacket. Muslim evangelicals in the black communities and in prisons often play this up in an attempt to persuade the gullible into rejecting Christianity as the “white man’s religion.” Many Muslims speak Arabic, the language of the Quran. Christianity was the religion of the Westerners. Pastoral North Africans called Berbers had long traded with West Africans. West African tribes spoke many different languages and so Islam gave them one language to speak. During the Hijarat, Muslims sought refuge in Ethiopia's territory having crossed Djibouti, Somalia, as well as Eritrea. Historians believe that a group of people called the Soninke founded Ghana as early as the year 300 and it thrived until around 1200. Many of them went on lecture or missionary tours to convert people, while others became advisers to Sudanese Kings on how to become effective rulers. Musa took control of Timbuktu, an important trade center that would become a well-renowned center of Islamic scholarship in West Africa. Islam was more firmly established from the 12th century CE when Shirazi merchants arrived from the Persian Gulf. Many orthodox Albanians in present-day Macedonia, Greece or Serbia lost their ethnic identity while Albanian Muslims didn't. As more people were converted, so more Muslim clerics were attracted from abroad and the religion was spread further across West Africa. Learning Qur'an was important for West African Muslims. they knew about Islam and its truthfulness, they knew about the authenticity of Quran and that it reflects real God words revelation to prophet Muhammad (PBUH) without single letter alterations, and. Why did west African kings convert to Islam? In all cases, it remains the basic Islam rule and Quran Golden rule that: Accordingly, in all Islam history, never one of any religion was forced to convert to Islam. Copyright © 2020 Multiply Media, LLC. Merchants would regularly sail to the west coast of India to trade goods such as spices, gold, and African goods. From there, it spread via Islamized Berbers (who had been variously coerced or enticed to convert) in the 8th century CE along the trade routes which crisscrossed West Africa, moving from the east coast into the interior of central Africa, finally reaching Lake Chad. Why don't libraries smell like bookstores? However, in the Ghana Empire, for example, there is no evidence that kings themselves converted to Islam, rather, they tolerated Muslim merchants and those from Ghana who wished to convert. Islam's presence in African history Islam’s presence in African history dates back to the first phase of the Prophet Muhammad’s mission, when in 615 A.D. he instructed a group of Muslims to seek refuge in Abyssinia (present-day Ethiopia). Naturally, when the Arabs began to convert to Islam, they carried their new religion to the shores of India. Aside from genuine spiritual conviction, African leaders may have recognised that adopting Islam (or seeming to) would be beneficial to trade. (Vol III, 20). The brotherhoods, namely Sufism and tariqa, particularly gained influence during French colonial administration. Therefore, trans-Saharan trade brought Islam to the Western Sudan, and many of the kings of Mali and Songhai cultivated their relationships with Muslims in Northeast Africa and the Middle East. A third wave brought the religion to Africa’s eastern shores, the Horn of Africa and the Swahili Coast, directly from Arabia and the Persian Gulf. Nevertheless, for at least six centuries Islam spread largely peacefully and gradually wherever there were trade connections with the wider Muslim world of the southern Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. Of course, one way of convincing people is to point out that believing in Islam is better than being killed: "[F]ight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful." In addition, Islamic studies were, at least initially, conducted in Arabic, not native languages, and this further impeded its popularity outside the educated clerical class of towns and cities. West African trade routes Merchants and traders in West Africa saw many advantages in converting to Islam. This could well be the most important factor in the Kingdom of Kanem’s adoption in the late 11th century CE. To be a Swahili, in later centuries, meant to be a Muslim" (125). Where the Europeans traded extensively such as on the western coast of Africa states like the Kingdom of Kongo (14-19th century CE) became Christian, and from the 16th century CE, Islamic domination of the Swahili coast was challenged. -Another huge reason of conversion to Islam as a way of saving their ethnicity since they were surrounded by Slavs. His special interests include pottery, architecture, world mythology and discovering the ideas that all civilizations share in common. In many places in the Hadith, he tells his followers that he has been ordered by Allah to fight unbelievers until they profess their faith in Islam (the Shahada). Once the religion had reached the savannah region which spreads across Africa below the Sahara Desert, it was adopted by ruling African elites, although very often indigenous beliefs and rituals continued to be practised or were even blended with the new religion. Web. It was not until the 14th century CE and military intervention from the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt (1250-1517 CE) that these Christian kingdoms became Muslim, the exception being the Kingdom of Abyssinia (13th-20th century CE). As in Ghana and Mali, though, the rural populace of Songhai remained stubbornly loyal to their traditional beliefs. This website is for people of various faiths who seek to understand Islam and Muslims. The Swahili Coast, located along the shores of East Africa, was... Timbuktu (also Timbuctoo) is a city in Mali, West Africa which... UNESCO General History of Africa, Vol. Another motivation for rulers to adopt Islam besides greater riches with which to impress their people and hold on to power was that a new dynasty may have been bolstered in its claims of legitimacy by also adopting a new religion. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Trans-Saharan Trade Routesby Aa77zz (Public Domain). - Hadith Sahih Bukhari 4:52:260 (The Hadith Sahih are the true, verified sayings of Muhammad, pbuh, and form the basis for Islamic law, along with the Qur'an). Embracing an area more than half a million square miles, the kingdom of Mali was undoubtedly one of the richest and most prosperous on earth in the 14 th century. The two spheres of Islam and trade are closely intertwined, as here explained in the UNESCO General History of Africa: The association of Islam and trade in sub-Saharan Africa is a well-known fact. The Spread of Islam and its Relationship to Medieval Europe Growth of Islam. Books they knew that Islam is against racism and that superiority is only based on piety and good deeds. The Ancient History Encyclopedia logo is a registered EU trademark. It is difficult to generalize about West Africa, which was linked to the rise and diffusion of Islam. Many subsequent rulers followed suit, most famously Mansa Musa I (r. 1312-1337 CE) who visited Cairo and Mecca and brought back to Mali Muslim scholars, architects, and books. Islam also spread in the region by the founders of Sufi brotherhoods ( tariqah ). Islam recommends the freeing of slaves in itself as a 'good' religious act and says that slaves who convert to Islam ... Islam than it was in the West. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. More superficial changes included the changing of names to those favoured by Muslims. One of the chief losers were the metalworkers who had always enjoyed a mystical reverence from ordinary people because of their skills in forging metal. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon this content non-commercially, as long as they credit the author and license their new creations under the identical terms. During Muhammad's lifetime a group of Muslims escaped Meccan persecution (615) by fleeing to Ethiopia, where the Negus [king] gave them protection. Many of them went on lecture or missionary tours to convert people, while others became advisers to Sudanese Kings on how to become effective rulers. The first kings we have a record of adopting Islam were from Ghana which is recorded as the first empire in West Africa. Zeila's two-mihrab Masjid al-Qiblatayn dates to the 7th century, and is the oldest mosque in the city. Not only did Muslim scholars and missionaries visit and stay in African communities but also Muslim travellers and chroniclers like Ibn Battuta and Ibn Khaldin (1332-1406 CE) who made invaluable observations and records of African life in the medieval period. Some of â¦ In the late 9th century, Al-Yaqubi wrote that Muslims were living along the northern Somali seaboard. But look at the growth and spread of Islam in the West. In this way, Islam spread across and around the Sahara Desert. tween many Christians of southwestern Asia and the Muslims. Per Quran, Muslims holy book, and Islam teachings, there is no compulsion in religion and one if chooses to convert to Islam should be first convinced in the Islam teachings and basic rules. The religion was not adopted uniformly, and neither did it maintain its purity of origin, very often existing alongside traditional practices and rituals. This geographical unit, central to the rise of the Atlantic World, stretches from modern-day Mauritania to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and encompasses lush rainforests along the equator, savannas on either side of the forest, and much drier land to the north. Some clerics devoted a great deal of their time to writing books and instructions on all aspects of Islam for the education and conversion of people or the purification and strengthening of Islam. Joined by the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike founders of Sufi brotherhoods tariqah! Religion also spread down through Egypt and swung westwards through the Sudan region below the Desert. 493 A.H Berbers, who had long traded with West Africans, like Native Americans the. This phenomenon is to be a Swahili, in the world can be found in on! Who served in his court be a Swahili, in particular, encouraged to dress more modestly and to. 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