University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
During the post classical era, we find the world evolving by expansion and intense communication along many regions. With expansion and communication, trade and culture travels such as West Africa being introduced to Islam. Moving into western African, between 1000ce-1450ce, the introduction of Islam has brought a great increase in slave trade and rose literacy rates, creating literate officials in state administration. However, no rigorous conversion was made, some traditional practices remained. The increase of slaves was obtained through conquest and the impact of Islam created religious power to officials in state administration due to appeal of legitimacy of rule. However distant ruling centers would be least likely affected by Islam. West Africa’s economy was greatly stimulated by the appearance of Islam. They were able to trade, not only across the Sahara, as they had in Europe and the Middle East. Prior to the influence of Islam, West Africa interacted through regional trade and with help from Tran Saharan route they were able to connect to North Africa. With the Muslims, the bringing of Islam enlarged the amount of concubines, sex slaves, in West Africa. Although concubines were not Muslim, because Muslims believed that they couldn’t enslave their own people. We see that within Muslim ancestry they’ve always been nomadic, always relocating in spite of gaining new resources. The establishment of Islam led to the development of 1st regular trade across the Sahara.
The impact of Islam turned Africa into a focal point of trade, linking Africa to Eurasian world trade. The Islamic Civilization gave rise to many centers of culture and science, producing notable doctors, nurses, scientists, astronomers, mathematicians, and philosophers. Monarchies and their courts now have literate officials to assist in state administration. A quantity of West African cities had become centers of Islamic intellectual life, increasing literacy rates and legitimacy in state administration. Muslims did not seek to convert West Africans; they did practice their religion while traveling. As time passed Muslim traders were accompanied by Clerics and scholars, these men interacted with local rulers on matter relating to trade, security, and governing. Until the leader of the kingdom converted, with full support would influence citizens to convert to Islam. Although Islam made a very large impression on West Africa, no through religious transformation was made.
Being the fact they were rural there was no interaction with Muslims or deepening influence of Islam. Practice such as permission for women to appear in public almost naked, being able to roam freely with unrelated men and the sparkling of dust on one’s head as a sign of respect. Other traditions also remained even though some converted to Islam due to the monotheistic belief related so closely to their belief in one creator God. While in West Africa, Islam rose slave trade along trade routes, increased literacy rates leading to conversion of literate state officials. Albeit, no religious transformation was made. Being the fact that Muslims were nomadic by ancestry they sought to carry out concubines in the slave trade. They believed that it was wrong to enslave their own people so they looked to Africans, their resource, to help them. In effect to the introduction of Islam, many aspects were imposed upon West Africans causing the conversion of monarchy. People found favor in Islam if the leader of the kingdom converted. Also religious legitimacy was brought to the attention of those who would gain status by pilgrimages to Mecca. But aside from the very large impact, no religious transformation was made because most of the cultures were rural and very distant to the places where Islam had interactions with.