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Discuss The Effect Of Islam Upon West Africa

818 words - 4 pages

Change Over Time Essay Assignment #1The camel, with its ability to travel long distances without water and carry heavy loads, facilitated trans-Saharan communication. During the seventh and eighth centuries CE, Islamic conquerors had added North Africa to the dar al-Islam. By the end of the eighth century CE, Muslim merchants had crossed the Sahara and initiated commercial relations with Sub-Saharan West Africa and by the beginning of the second millennium, Islam had become entrenched in West African life. Islam dramatically changed West Africa culturally, politically, and economically in the time period between 1000 CE and 1750 CE, but many staples of West African society remained the ...view middle of the document...

The increase in trade with Islamic merchants between 1000 and 1750 led to the permeation of Islamic culture among West African peoples. Islamic rulers built large mosques and universities where people could learn about Islam, as well as other areas of knowledge. These universities spread literacy within West African society. Islam was generally tolerant of traditional values, such as polygamy. This allowed it greater popularity than Christianity, and decreased resistance to conversion. Islam was not forced upon citizens by their kings, but rather was voluntarily encouraged. Despite this, many people adopted Islam, especially those who interacted with Muslim merchants. However, many of those who adopted Islam did not adopt Islam in its original form, but rather combined it with traditional religious beliefs to create a syncretic religion. There was much social turmoil among purists, such as the Fulani, and those who practiced syncretic Islam. Despite the large Islamic influence in the area, many chose not to adopt a syncretic faith and rather kept their traditional beliefs.The integration of Islamic culture into West Africa, as well as the economic prosperity that Islamic trade brought West Africa, led to the creation of large centralized states. As opposed to the small kingdoms, such as the kingdom of Ghana, that the first Islamic merchants encountered in West Africa, by the fifteenth century two large centralized empires had emerged. Islamic influence played a large part in the creation of these...

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