Influence of Islam on West Africa. Mrs. Rand University Preparatory School Content adapted from History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond , Teacher’s Curriculum Institute. Introduction. During the 7 th Century, Islam spread quickly through the Middle East and North Africa.
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Influence of Islam on West Africa Mrs. Rand University Preparatory School Content adapted from History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond, Teacher’s Curriculum Institute
Introduction • During the 7th Century, Islam spread quickly through the Middle East and North Africa. • During the 8th Century, the trans-Saharan trade brought Muslim merchants and traders to West Africa. • Eventually both the kingdoms of Mali and Songhai accepted Islam. • West Africans blended Islamic culture with their own traditions.
New Religious Practices • Along with adopting new practices and ethical values, West Africans kept some of their old religious practices. • Muslim leaders allowed them to continue religious traditions as long as they did not contradict (conflict with) the Five Pillars Faith. • W. Africans continued to show respect for the spirits of dead ancestors. They kept their belief in spirits who could help those or made sacrifices to them. • They used amulets, or charms, that they believed helped people or protected them from harm.
The Spread of Islam in West Africa Traders Bring Islam to Ghana • Between 639 and 708 C.E., Arab Muslims conquered North Africa • They wanted to bring W. Africa into the Islamic world. • Initially the king of Ghana did not convert, nor did the majority of the people. • But the king did allow Muslims to build settlements within his empire theradiantlight.blogspot.com
Islam in Mali • The tolerance shown by Muslims toward traditional religious practices helped Islam to spread. • Early leaders of Mali accepted Islam, but they didn’t follow all of its teachings. • In 1312, a new leader, Mansa Musa, took over in Mali. He became the first West African ruler to practice Islam devoutly. digitalhistory.uh.edu
Islam in Mali Included in his caravan was: 500 slaves, each carrying a 6 lb. staff of gold Caravan of 200 camels carrying 30,000 lbs. of gold Food, clothing, and supplies Because of this impressive display, Mali gained acceptance as an important empire • Under the rule of Mansa Musa, Mali became a major crossroad of the Islamic world. • Musa made a hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca • His caravan was described as “a lavish display of power, wealth, and unprecedented by its size and pageantry.”
Islam in Songhai • In the 1460s Sunni Ali became the new ruler of Songhai. • He built a powerful army that enabled Songhai to break away from Mali and eventually conquer it. • Early Songhai rulers didn’t seriously practice Islam • Under the leadership of Askia Mohammed Toure, a devout Muslim, rigid controls were set to ensure Islam was being practiced properly. http://www.civilizacoesafricanas.blogspot.com
Change #1: Succession • An important change in government was in how people chose their next leader, or “line of succession” • Traditionally succession to the throne had been matrilineal – the right to rule was traced through the woman’s side of the family • After the arrival of Islam, succession became patrilineal – the right to rule went from father to son. http://www.zacstravaganza.blogspot.com
Change #2: Structure of Gov’t • Muslims believed in a highly centralized government, which was different than traditional African society • After conversion to Islam, West African kings sought more control of local rulers • Rulers adopted titles used in Muslim lands, such as “emir” and “sultan” http://etudesafricaines.revues.org/docannexe/image/135/img-2-small480.png
Change #3: Adoption of Shari’ah Law • Customary laws of Africa usually: • were enforced by chiefs or kings • didn’t give physical punishments • Weren’t written down • Guilty person paid injured party with gifts or services • Family or clan of guilty person could also be punished http://www.onlinelegaltips.com/images/Judiciary-System-In-Africa.jpg
Shari’ah Law: • Laws were written • Muslims believed that shari’ah came from God • Administered by judges called qadis • Cases were heard in a court • Witnesses called • Ruled on basis of the law and the evidence presented http://shariahcouncil.org/
Emphasis on Education • Muslims highly value learning & encouraged people to become educated. • Timbuktu • Became famous for its community of Islamic Scholars • Contained several universities • Schools were set up to educate children in the Qur’an • Schools run by an imam (scholar) • Basic subjects included studying the Qur’an, Islamic studies, law, and literature
Arabic: A New Language • In West Africa, Arabic became the language of religion, learning, commerce (business), and government. • Arabic became the language of TRADE and GOVERNMENT • West Africans continued to use their native languages in everyday speech. • Scholars used Arabic to begin to write about the history and culture of West Africa. • Arabic allowed rulers to keep records and to write to rulers in other countries. • Using the common Arabic language, West African traders who spoke different languages to communicate more easily.
What was written about? • Described how people used animals, plants, and minerals to cure diseases. • Discussed ethical behavior for business and government. • Told how to use the stars to determine the seasons. • They recorded the history of the Songhai. • They wrote about Islamic Law
Mosques in West Africa Traditionally, West Africans built small shrines to the forces of nature. As they converted to Islam, they began to build mosques (Muslim house of worship). The mosques that were built blended Islamic architectural styles with their own traditional religious art. For example, the minaret (tower) of one mosque was designed to look like the symbol of a Songhai ancestor. Mosques in West Africa used the materials that were available in the local area. abundancesecrets.com
Decorative Arts West Africans adopted the use of calligraphy and geometric patterns in their decorative arts. Arabic calligraphy was used to decorate costumes, fans, and even weapons. West Africans adopted the dress of Arabic robes… using decorative textiles and clothing and everyday objects like stools, ceramic containers. goafrica.about.com