In East Africa, Islam faced stiff competition from Christianity which was firmly entrenched in Nubia and states such as the Kingdoms of Faras (aka Nobatia), Dongola, and Alodia, and in the Kingdom of Axum (1st - 8th century CE) in what is today Ethiopia. At Mecca, Muhammad is said to have received repeated embassies from Christian tribes. Historians believe that a group of people called the Soninke founded Ghana as early as the year 300 and it thrived until around 1200. 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. Please help us create teaching materials on Mesopotamia (including several complete lessons with worksheets, activities, answers, essay questions, and more), which will be free to download for teachers all over the world. Islam is ideology and people does not believe in something with sword. Islam had profound effects on all aspects of daily life and society but these did vary over time and place. In contrast, in the Mali Empire, the kings did convert to Islam, the first certain case being Mansa Uli (aka Mansa Wali or Yerelenku), who went on a pilgrimage to Mecca in the 1260s or 1270s CE. 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. Traditional African religion is based on oral traditions, which means that the basic values and way of life are passed from elders to younger generation. III, 39). He also discusses the influence of Islam in Mali in the 13th century and describes the rule of Mansa Musa, whose fame spread to Sudan, North Africa and up to Europe. 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. Some Rights Reserved (2009-2020) under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license unless otherwise noted. 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. The commercially most active peoples, the Dyula, Hausa and Dyakhanke, were among the first to be converted when their respective countries came into contact with Muslims. Meanwhile, the religion also spread down t… Ancient History Encyclopedia. Even the Islam that did take hold was a particular variation of that practised in the Arab world, perhaps because African rulers could not afford to completely dismiss the indigenous religious practices and beliefs that the majority of their people still clung onto and which very often elevated rulers to divine or semi-divine status. Trading has a big part to play in the spread of Islam. The spread of Islam throughout the African continent was neither simultaneous nor uniform. The eastern coast of Africa saw the rise of Swahili Civilisation which was not an empire or a kingdom but a collection of city states like Zanzibar and Mombasa and Mogadishu. The explanation of this phenomenon is to be found in social and economic factors. There are spiritual leaders, like priests or pastors in most traditional African religions. Most Muslims in Africa are non-denominational Muslims or Sunni; the complexity of Islam in Africa is revealed in the various schools of thought, traditions, and voic… Ancestors continued to be worshipped, in some cities women enjoyed better rights than they did under strictly sharia law, and, in a very un-Islamic practice, cemeteries were filled with tombs where precious goods were buried with the dead. In West Africa and along the Indian Ocean, Islam spread by … 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. There were also sometimes violent resistance by supporters of traditional African beliefs such as animism and fetish, spirit and ancestor worship. 9 October, 2016 By //  by Nitocris Leave a Comment. This could well be the most important factor in the Kingdom of Kanem’s adoption in the late 11th century CE. Their migration to East Africa changed, not only the linguistic traditions of Africa but everything else because they brought with them ironwork and agriculture. 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. "The Spread of Islam in Ancient Africa." These traditions are not religious principles, but a cultural identity that is passed on through stories, myths and tales. Islam has been in Africa for so long since its beginning on the Arabian Peninsula that some scholars have argued that it is a traditional African religion. The first converts in Mali were traders who benefited from having a religious as well as a commercial connection to their trading partners in the North and the rest of the Mediterranean. As in Ghana and Mali, though, the rural populace of Songhai remained stubbornly loyal to their traditional beliefs. Some African societies were matrilineal, and these changed to a patrilineal system. Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window), Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window), BAME TV Task Force set to meet with Netflix and Amazon following letter for change. In traditional African religion, the community is the most important part of someone’s life. when Muhammad advised a number of his early disciples, who were facing persecution by the pre-Islamic inhabitants of the Mecca, to seek refuge across the Red Sea in Axum. The individual only exists within the community and separation from it is sometimes worse than death.