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Islam In Africa

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David Trachtman

on 9 November 2015

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Transcript of Islam In Africa

Kiss My Grass...lands
How were ideas and products transported across the dangerous Sahara desert?
- Caravans of traders and merchants, but could only travel as far as the Sahel grass belt due to disease spreading and change of climate

There were many Sudanese Kingdoms (Ghana, Takrur, Gao) each fighting for control but never reaching the heights of Ghana

Similarities: Patriarch or council of elders, particular families as leaders, territorial core, subbordinate areas (conquest states), rulers considered sacred, Islam used to reinforce royal rule as most people didn't convert
"Masters of the Soil"
Islam In Africa

Of all the Sudanese kingdoms, Songhay was the largest and the most prosperous of them all

- Formed in 7th century, established capital in Gao in 1010, Muslim rulers with majority pagan population

- Controlled by Mali until 1370, established independence thanks to what? Gold travel

Sunni Ali: Ruthless military leader, expanded Songhay and developed provincial administration and mobilized forces to furthest regions, also persecuted Muslim scholars despite being one himself, first in a long line of leaders including Muhammad the Great

Songhay was known for its mixing of two religious cultures, what were they and what kind of potential problems were addressed?

1591: Muslim army from Morocco invades and manages to defeat the vastly larger Songhay army thanks to one explosive military technology, what was it?
- Muskets, eventual instability sparked internal riots and ruling family

Hausa peoples also had Islam/Pagan combination, furthering merchants,
Shhhh...It's a Secret
Describe the 3 major forms of societies in Africa, how do they differ?
- Hierarchy of officials, stateless societies organized by kinship, and secret societies

State-building began when it became clear that stateless societies had some major problems, including what?
- Resisting external influences, raising an army, organize building projects/long-term trading

Some factors that helped state-building: cultural influence of Islam, military power/dynastic alliances
Culture Clash
The 13th Century was a great period of Islamic expansion, and as a result there was a unified commerce all throughout the Indian Ocean region
- Ruling families claimed heritage back to Shiraz in Persia, representative of their orthodoxy
- Evidence suggests the original Muslim families emigrated to the coast and spread south

Despite this Muslim influence, African culture was not marginalized or persecuted
- Swahili itself was a bantu language with some Arabic words thrown in

Do we see class division in Islamization during this time in Africa? (patrilineal or matrilineal?)

1500 - Portuguese arrive on the African coast, raided Kilwa and Mombasa in an attempt to take control of trade, build Fort Jesus in 1592 but could never truly control African trade, why?


The Christian Kingdoms
Christianity existed in African even before the Roman Empire converted in the 4th Century, what were they?
- Axum, Egypt (Copts), and Nubians

Copts developed a strong cultural tie with Byzantium, political eventually split, maintained control of territory despite Islamic invasion, left as independent Christian kingdoms until 13th Century

What is the most significant feature of the Ethiopian kingdom of Axum?

13-4th Century: Ethiopian Christian dynasty emerges, tracing lineage back to Solomon and Sheba
- Ge'ez religious language, Amharic common speech

What are some of the major issues that arise with this Ethiopian kingdom?
- Muslim tensions, constant desire for conversion, Portuguese interventions and attempts at catholic conversion
Hot In the City
What made cities in Sudan different from other North African cities?
- distinctive architectural style

Large groups of artisans and traders, larger militaries allowed for protection of these groups, in addition to a metropolitan court life which attracted scholars

Cities like Jenne and Timbuktu were HUGE!!!!! Population estimated at 50,000 with libraries, universities, and books! But who cares about books, like for real?
Donkey Kongo
13th Century sees the development of a kingdom on the lower Congo River, by the 15th Century Kongo was flourishing
- Firm Agricultural base, weaving, pottery, blacksmithing, and carving
- Population of 60,000-100,000 people around the capital of Mbanza Kongo

Labor divisions between men and women
- Men cleared forests and scrub, producing oil and wine, building houses, hunting, and trade
- Women took charge of cultivation, care of domestic animals, household duties, made salt from seawater, collected seashells used as currency

Gov't structure: hereditary kingship, local chieftainship was not, giving central authority to control subbordinates, confederation of small states brought under manikongo (king), mani means "blacksmith"


She's A Witch!
Name some of the similarities in African cultures, despite the many differences?
- Bantu migration, animistic religion focused on the soul, witches and diviners,

African religion based itself around the idea of one creator, whose ideas were expressed through tribal leaders, seen as owners of the land, and working it had religious significance

Veneration of ancestors was very important, direct link between this world and spirit world

Economics - North African trading, Sub-Saharan agriculture and ironworks, local/regional trade thriving
Islam in North Africa
Africa north of the Sahara Desert had been part of the classical world, with Phoenicians (Carthage), Greeks, and Romans trading and traveling in the region in places like Africa

640-700: Followers of Muhammad spread across North Africa, setting up a capital in Tunisia for what they called Ifriqiya (used to describe NE) Africa, Maghrib was the name for lands in the West

711: Arab and Berber armies crossed into Spain, faced defeat at Poitiers, and many returned to Africa to settle and spread the message, with the help of Abbasid unity that would eventually fail

Who were the Berbers? What significance do the Almoravids and the Almohadis have in Africa?

Reasons for Islamic Acceptance: All Muslims are equal, enforced royal authority, equal footing with Arabs in the law, negatives include social stratification, ethnic differences, utopian reform movements
Pop Mali I'm Sweatin'
Mali was created as a result of Malinke peoples splitting from Ghana in the 13th Century, supported Islam by building mosques and supporting preachers

Sermons supported loyalty to the king

What was the economic base of Mali?
- Agriculture, extensive trade with juula partnerships, and reliance on gold production in the south

Who is Sundiata? What is his significance as the "Lion Prince" of Mali?
- Established relationships and ideas about Malinke society and Mali gov't structure
- Expanded the state as the Mansa (Emperor), and divided up clans with different responsibilities and social classes, how is this a reaction to Pre-Islamic Arabia?
- Established military garrisons to ensure the security of trade and goods

1260: Sundiata dies, and his successors continue to spread Mali almost to the Atlantic Ocean, with his most famous successor Mansa Musa making a pilgrimage to Mecca, bringing back poetry and architecture that gave Mali a unique look structurally.
The Exception, Not the Rule
About 80% of people in the Sudanic states made a living off the land, a very difficult process
- sandy, shallow land, no use of plows, hoes only
- Rice millet, sorghums, some wheat, fruits, and vegetables

Farms were incredibly small be comparison, the largest farms being only 10 acres, and while it was a community effort to clear farms, it was left to the families to work

Polygamy was a widely used practice to help keep the farm running
A Day in the Life
Based on our investigation of Mali and Songhay, we can see that:
- Unified states provided structure to let peoples coexist
- Represented goals of one ruling family
- Common religion and law provided solidarity amongst communities

In may cases, though Islam was the main religion, it was fused with Pagan traditions and ideas, nowhere is this more evident than in roles of women
- Many matrilineal clans, saw them as part of kinship, contrary to Sharia law

Slave labor had existed in Africa long before Islam, but was more marginal until Muslim conquests
- Viewed slavery as a part of the conversion process from paganism, but conversion did not equal freedom
- Domestic servants, soldiers/administrators, eunuchs/concubines
- Children of slaves were freed, constant need for new slave labor
Swag-hili Coast
During the Bantu migration to the African coast on the Indian Ocean, trade with the Islamic world began to show its influence amongst merchants, while the general population remained close to its traditional values

Major trading cities: Mogadishu, Mombasa, Malindi, Kilwa, Pate, Zanzibar
- Sea travel dates back to settling of Madagascar in 2nd century BCE, brought bananas with them
- 9th Century saw Persian Gulf residents settling in zenj (Arabic term for African coast)
-13-15th Century: Major cities deveolp, mixture of Bantu and Swahili, had mosques, tombs in cities, Kilwa's advantage access to gold coming from interior

Cities were united in coastal commerce, Chinese exploration and state-sponsored expeditions resulted in direct trade




Trains, Plains, Forests, and Automobiles
Before we continue, I must emphasize one thing: African society is incredibly diverse! Most places by 1000 were living in small villages with mixed agriculture with iron tools and weapons, but formal states also existed with a written language. In most places, people were preliterate, sharing stories and ideas orally. This contradicts an old historical standard for civilization in the West, but does not mean there was no art or culture in these preliterate societies.
Artists and Kings
We now shift our focus to central Nigeria, to the village of Nok. What have historians found near the village?
- Terra-cotta objecs, highly stylized and realistic, dates back to 500 BCE to 200
- Extensive agriculture and iron tools used
- Not much is known, it appears to have spread the culture to various places in the region

Ile-Ife: terra-cotta and bronze portrait heads were found of incredible quality and detail, also worked in wood and ivory, associated with kings and royalty
- Agricultural society, majority peasant with ruling aristocracy

Let's look more in detail at the Yoruba origins:
- Ile-Ife was the original cultural center and the holiest city in the region
- Spoke a non-bantu language, affinity with the Hausa
The Yoruba Continued
Gov't organization looks like city-states, small urban areas with majority of population living in rural countryside as farmers
- Divine regional kings, secondary wives, musicians, bodyguards, and soldier-slaves

Kings did not have absolute power, in some cases had regional princes that paid tribute to the king

In many ways these city-states were very similar to Medieval Italy and Germany (but more on that later)

Benin - formed in the 14th Century, described by European visitors in the 16th Century as a grand city with a huge population, extensive art and architecture, with divine authority
Great Zimbabwe
In the east, a large Bantu confederation developed beginning in the 9th Century, began to build courts in stone, immigrants later provided more polished buildings

Zimbabwe (Stone House) sites have been found (approx. 200), Great Zimbabwe is the largest and most impressive
- Religious significance: seen as a link to the Bird of God, a creature that existed in both physical and spirit world
- Structures with stone walls 15 feet thick, 30 feet high, use of mortar to join bricks today

Examples of race in history: Many historians believed the Bantu people were not sophisticated enough to build these structures, credited their construction to Phoenicians or Arabs

15th Century: Centralized state began to form, controlled SE Africa to Indian Ocean under Mwene Mutapa
- Dominance over gold supplies
- Internal divisions and rebellion tore kingdom apart, along with exhaustion of fields with cattle as symbols of wealth
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