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African Civilizations and the Spread of Islam:

African Civilizations and the Spread of Islam 1

Spread of Islam :

Spread of Islam Why did people convert to Islam?   All Muslims are equal in the eyes of Allah    Islam reinforced the authority of the African kings Muslim invaders were tolerant of local Customs so African culture merged with Islamic traditions Provided religious structure to society 2


West African Gold-Salt Trading Kingdoms: Ghana and Mali 3

West African Gold-Salt Kingdoms:

West African Gold-Salt Kingdoms West African Kingdoms of Ghana and Mali rose in the Sahel Grasslands - the transition zone between the Sahara Desert where salt was found and the savannahs to the south. The location was a point of exchange between North and Sub-Saharan Africa, an important region of trade where gold was found. Sahara Desert savannahs 4


The West African Kingdoms were able to controlled the famous Gold –Salt trade of West Africa . They were located around the northern peak of the Niger River in the Sahel region. 5

West African Gold- Salt Kingdoms on the Niger River:

West African Gold- Salt Kingdoms on the Niger River The Niger River is one of the great rivers of Africa, stretching over 2,500 miles (4,000 km) in a great arc that extends northward from Guinea to Mali before turning back toward the south and making its way to empty into the Gulf of Guinea 6


West African Kingdoms traded GOLD and SALT with Muslims traders starting in the 10 th century. 7


Gold/Salt Trade 8

West African Gold-Salt Kingdoms:

West African Gold-Salt Kingdoms Islam reinforced ideas of kingship and power: “royal cult” Joining Islam gives rulers prestige and associates them with other great Muslim leaders Majority of population never converted; retain their polytheism/animism Rulers were more concerned about political benefits of Islam than conversio n Trade gold for salt found in the Sahara Desert Cowrie shells: used as currency 9


10 Ghana and Mali Kingdoms Combine Islamic religion/culture with local practices Each incorporates the previous kingdom; bigger than last Each will exert power over smaller communities through taxes, and military support

Ghana Empire 400 – 1076:

Ghana Empire 400 – 1076 1 st great West African empire Traded salt and gold Introduced the camel and made trade much easier Camels could travel through the Sahara Desert with ease revolutionizing the trans-Sahara trade routes. They came to known as “The Ships of the Desert” Ships of the Desert 11

Fun Facts About Camels:

Fun Facts About Camels Camels can reach 7 feet in height (at the hump) and weigh up to 1500 pounds. They are specially adapted to the life in desert. Their eyes have three eyelids and two rows of eyelashes that prevent sand to enter their eyes. Camel can move easily across the sand because of its specially designed feet. Camel's foot consists of two toes that spread when animal touches the ground and prevents sinking in the sand. Camels are mostly famous for their humps. Most people believe that humps store water, but they actually store fat, which animal uses as a source of energy when other food sources are not available. When they find water, they will drink as much as possible. They can drink up to 40 gallons of water at once. Camel's milk is rich in iron, vitamins and minerals and it is healthier than cow's milk because it contains less fat. Camels can run 40 miles per hour. When they are provoked, they spit greenish substance from their stomach. Also they can use all four legs to kick their opponent in self defense. Camel needs to retain as much water as possible in its body, so it produces urine that is dense as syrup and feces that is so dry, that it can be used as a fuel. Camels live 40-50 years. 12

Mali Empire 1230-1600:

Mali Empire 1230-1600 Broke away from Ghana in 13 th century Economy was based on agriculture and the gold trade Trade spread beyond West Africa Very wealthy empire Rulers converted to Islam bringing Islamic culture to West Africa Founder: Sundiata Keita (died 1260) “Lion Prince”- The Lion King Peace created through loyalty; crimes severely punished Heavily defended empire with a very powerful military 13

Mali Empire 1230-1600:

Mali Empire 1230-1600 Major cities were Jenne and Timbuktu Both important cities of trade Islamic scholars, artisans, merchants flocked there Islamic mosques, libraries, universities were built Most people farmed; irrigation took place along Niger River Valley 14

Mansa Musa: King of Mali :

Mansa Musa: King of Mali Second ruler of Mali 1324: Made his Hajj to Mecca Took a caravan of 60,000 men, 80 camels each with 300 pounds of gold Allied himself with Islamic rulers Brought back Islamic scholars, architects and artists Ishak al- Sahili : architect who built the great Mosque of Jenne 15 Mosque of Jenne

500 yr old manuscripts from Timbuktu:

500 yr old manuscripts from Timbuktu In the 12th century Islamic scholars followed the camel caravans back to Africa, bringing with them hundreds of thousands of manuscripts. These bound texts highlighted the great teachings of Islam during the Middle Ages. These sacred manuscripts covered an array of subjects: astronomy, medicine, mathematics, chemistry, judicial law, government, and Islamic conflict At its peak, over 25,000 students attended the University of Timbuktu. 16


17 Mansa Musa destroyed the economies of the cities he visited on his hajj because he passed out so much gold. It became worthless for a generation after his Hajj in some cities. His estimated worth today would be $400 billion (adjusted for inflation) Mansa Musa’s hajj to Mecca Click on the picture of Mansa Musa and view the video clip about the richest man in the world

Influence of Islam in West African Kingdoms:

Influence of Islam in West African Kingdoms Islam provided a unifying faith, sense of community, and a strong political and legal system. Royal Cult : rulers reinforced their authority through Muslim beliefs as a spiritual and political leader Many who are exposed to Islam did not convert but remained polytheistic. They benefitted from the Islamic culture and supported their kings. Islam supported widespread trade Slavery and slave trade grew in prominence (7 million traded) Slave trade has existed since Classical period; Islam helps globalize it 18

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