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the Rise of the Muslim Songhai Empire in West Afr

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  Quote Abudhar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: the Rise of the Muslim Songhai Empire in West Afr
    Posted: 03-May-2012 at 09:15

THIS DAY IN HISTORY 

* Subject: the Rise of the  Muslim Songhai Empire in West Africa

*Date: 29th of April 1492

*Place: Timbuktu , Mali

*Elapsed Time: Day for Day: 520 Years

*Main historic Figure: Mohamed Askia Touré.

 





 
 
 
             The Songhai Empire began when the Songhai king took advantage of a weakened Mali Empire to extend control over more territory. The Songhai people had long settled along the middle region of the Niger River , using the river for transport, fishing, hunting, and agriculture.

             By the ninth century this middle region of the Niger had been integrated into the state of Songhai , with its capital at Kukiya. Merchants traded with villages along the Niger and as far as the town of Gao , which had been founded by Berber merchants, attracted by the Bumbuk gold trade of Ghana . In 1009, the fifteenth king of Songhai converted to Islam and decided to live in Gao.

            Gao attracted Muslim merchants and scholars and became the most important settlement and commercial centre and afterwards the capital, it was in the fifteenth century, when the empire of Mali was greatly weakened, that Songhai was able to expand its territory. Sonni Ali Ber (Ali the Great) extended his rule from Gao to Timbuktu and Djenne in the mid-fifteenth century, and then conquered the whole kingdom of Mali , using a powerful army of horsemen and a fleet of war canoes.

 

            Sonni Ali is remembered in Songhai oral tradition as a magician of great power  rather than following the Mali Empire system of Islamic city rule over a non-Islamic rural people, Sonni Ali mixed an unorthodox observance of Islam (Ibadite-Khawarij rite) with traditional African religion. He was a man of the people rather than the elite ruling class of Muslim clerics and scholars.

 

             He is regarded as a great military commander who carried out a strategic campaign of conquest along the Niger River . He is said to have retaliated against the Muslim leadership within Timbuktu after they failed to provide promised transport for his troops to cross the river, the chroniclers have a different viewpoint - Sonni Ali is portrayed as a capricious and cruel leader.

 

 

             In the 16th century chronicle of Abd Arrahman Assadi, a historian based in Timbuktu , Sonni Ali is described as an impious and unscrupulous tyrant. He is recorded as having massacred hundreds whilst plundering the city of Timbuktu , killing or driving out the Tuareg and Sanhaja clerics who had acted as civil servants, teachers, and as preachers at the Sankore mosque.

 

            With the death of Sunni Ali in 1492, his son proved unable fill the vacuum. This signalled the end of the Sonni Dynasty and the rise to power of Askia Mohammed. Askia Mohammed continued in the footsteps of Sonni Ali, building the largest state ever seen in the history of West Africa . Unlike Sonni Ali, however Askia Mohammed was a very devout Muslim, he went to restore to prominence the University of Sankore in Timbuktu .

 

            As with Mansa Musa of the Mali Empire before him, Askia Mohammed made a spectacular Hajj to Mecca , where he was appointed Caliph of western Sudan . This effectively made him the spiritual head of all Moslems in West Africa, he has also  greatly improved the learning centres of the Songhai by encouraging scholars to come from other parts of Africa (as well as Europe and Asia) to settle in Timbuktu and Jenne, and built as many as 180 Koranic schools in Timbuktu alone.  Indeed, the Sankore University in Timbuktu developed a reputation for scholarship in rhetoric, logic, Islamic law, grammar, astronomy, history, and geography.

 

            During Askia Mohammad Toure's brilliant reign, the Songhai Empire was characterized by order, stability, and prosperity.  His most important innovation was to open up the ranks of government service.  Previously, the status of the leaders of the empire was determined upon the basis of birth.  Under Askia Muhammad Toure, however, men could achieve high office based upon their scholarship and intellect regardless of their social position. 

 

            Askia Muhammad Toure also organized and established a permanent professional army which enabled him to expand the territory of Songhai and turn the Songhai Empire into the largest empire every known in the Western and Central Sudan .

 

            Askia Mohamed Toure met the Algerian Scholar and great Warrior Sheikh Bin Abdulkarim Al Maghili around the year 1500 AD who gave him a Fatwa (Religious edict)   regarding his power-taking and warned him against the infidel and pagan plots against his Islamic rule [Les Grandes Dates de L’Islam –Robert Mantran –Page 110].

 

   

              Unfortunately and as it is widely known through the history of early Islam when discord , lust and ego reached the epic in  dynasty-family ruling  , things will turn bad as a lineage to this tradition , Mohammed was deposed by his son Askia Musa in 1528, who in turn was followed by a series of short lived successions Askia Mohammed II (1531-1537), Askia Ismail (1537-1539), Askia Issihak (1539-1549), Askia Dawud(1549-82), Mohammed Bani (1586-88) and finally Issihak II (1588-91).

 

            The expansion of the Songhai Empire had caused consternation amongst its neighbours. In 1591, Morocco under the rule of Sultan Ahmad Al-Mansour of the Saadite Dynasty and worried by Songhai’s dominance of the Trans Saharan trade attacked Songhai main commercial centres. The Moroccan army aided by European firearms met with initial success but failed to establish a grip on their conquests. They had however done enough damage to facilitate the decline of Songhai .

 

            Songhai’s collapse ended the Golden age of West African empires that stretched from 400 AD to 1600 AD. While great nations states like the Ashanti , Benin and the Kanem Bornu Empires came later, they never rivalled the influence and size of the Songhai Empire.

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-May-2012 at 09:53

Very interesting. Were these the people who built Timbuktu's famous mud mosques?
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  Quote Abudhar Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-May-2012 at 10:17
DEAR NICK 1986
 
Smile thank you for the nice photo !!!!
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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-May-2012 at 19:03
Medieval Timbuktu was apparently the leading university in the Islamic world with a population of 25000 students in a city of 100000 people
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-May-2012 at 19:35
Interesting thread, Adudhar, thank you.
http://static.wix.com/media/685202c638fd19e42031226b38e1ea7f.wix_mp

Sonni Ali Ber:
http://cdn.dipity.com/uploads/events/7b5b8532686e906c73d65e20156541ca_1M.png
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  Quote Cryptic Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-May-2012 at 21:29
As a side notes:
 
- Timbuktu also had a Jewish population during the glory days.
 
-Libraries, Mosques and Islamic schools in Timbuktu have preserved a vast collection of ancient manuscripts from the glory days of their culture.  These manuscripts, however are in danger as they are slowly deteriorating and the owners do no have money to hire expert to preserve them.   In addition, wealthy collectors are offering large sums of money for black market and grey market manuscripts.  Some of the Malians who own or protect these manuscripts are being tempted and are selling their heritage.


Edited by Cryptic - 03-May-2012 at 21:42
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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-May-2012 at 19:18
That's terrible. I hope the local museums buy up the best examples to prevent them being lost forever
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  Quote Ekundayo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-May-2012 at 02:02
Given the current state of things there it's quite possible the manuscripts are in just as much danger of surviving as the local populace...Shocked
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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-May-2012 at 19:23
That bad, huh?
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  Quote Ekundayo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-May-2012 at 00:07

And another city falls to the ignorant ideology of man...


Islamist attacks saint's tomb in Timbuktu

By BABA AHMED | Associated Press – 10 hrs ago

BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — A new member of an Islamist group in north Mali attacked and burned a saint's tomb classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Timbuktu, the spokesman for the group said Sunday.

The act threatens to raise tensions that have been building between residents and the Islamists who occupied the city in April, and raises worries that instability could lead to the destruction of historic sites in the fabled town known as an ancient seat of Islamic learning.

"A new member of the Ansar Dine group came to Timbuktu and went to the tomb of Sidi Mahmoud Ben Amar on Friday to tell the faithful praying there that the saints" should not be adored, Sanda Ould Boumama, spokesman for Ansar Dine, told The Associated Press.

Boumama refused to say whether Ansar Dine supported the act or not, and that since the man was a new member it must investigate what happened.

Residents at the scene had earlier described the man who attacked the tomb as a member of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. Diplomats in Bamako have said Ansar Dine has links with AQIM.

Mahamane Cisse and other witnesses who went to pray at the tomb said that a Mauritanian member of AQIM and some members of his group on Friday tore off the doors of the tomb and burned some items, including a mosquito net on the tomb.

The tomb for Sidi Mahmoud Ben Amar is among 16 cemeteries and mausoleums classified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Timbuktu, according to a UNESCO website. The city has 333 tombs for saints.

Timbuktu also has mosques classified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Aghaly Yattara said that one of worshippers at the tomb tried to stop the destruction, but men bound him and put him in the back of their car. He said that they eventually released the man.

Religious leaders have called on the Islamic High Council of Mali to denounce this act, and young residents of Timbuktu say they will stage sit-ins in the coming days so that other tombs of saints are not desecrated, said Kader Kalil Ascofare, the director of radio Bouctou, a local radio station.

Timbuktu has been honored as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its architecture and as a spiritual and intellectual capital for the propagation of Islam on the continent during a golden age that began as early as the 13th century and ended around the 16th century. It remains home to the prestigious Koranic Sankore University and other Islamic schools.

UNESCO warned in early April that fighting could damage the historic outpost in northern Mali, and called on Malian authorities and armed rebels to respect the country's heritage, recalling the obligation of countries to safeguard their heritage in times of war.

Timbuktu is home to a library of ancient, camel-skin bound manuscripts covering science, astrology, medicine, history, theology, grammar and geography.

Tuareg separatist fighters and Islamic militants took advantage of the chaos caused by the coup in Bamako in late March to quickly advance and capture the three main towns in the north of Mali. Mali government forces fled south without putting up any major resistance.

Since, Islamist fighters are asserting control over the Texas-sized northern half of the country. The Islamists, some of whom are foreigners, are imposing strict religious law, setting up a possible showdown with Tuareg nationalist rebels who say they want a secular state and want the foreign fighters gone.

Pictures of unveiled women in Timbuktu have either been torn down or covered over with black paint, according to a member of the Malian parliament for the city. The Islamists have also cut the signal for national TV broadcasts to the city because they consider the women not properly covered and don't approve of the music the station plays.

Islamists have attacked businesses selling alcohol, smashing bottles of beer and spirits, according to residents who say it's no longer possible to buy alcoholic drinks. Islamists have also performed public floggings, according to residents and Human Rights Watch.

In a region where residents generally practice a moderate form of Islam, many are having trouble adapting to the new rules.

Ansar Dine — Arabic for Supporters of Islam — was formed at the end of last year and joined the Tuareg rebel group in chasing government forces out of the north, but Ansar Dine now says that it is against north Mali becoming independent.

Western diplomats in Bamako, the capital, say Ansar Dine has links with AQIM, which has kidnapped Europeans and attacked government forces in Mali and beyond. Senior leaders from AQIM have been seen openly in towns in north Mali since Ansar Dine gained some control of them. Diplomats say that fighters sometimes move between the two groups.

Another group that is less well known than AQIM, and may be a spinoff from that group, is the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, which has also been bringing Shariah law to north Mali.

Mali has also been battling insecurity in the capital, Bamako. A group of soldiers toppled Mali's democratically elected president in March. The junta leaders then handed power over to an interim government in April, but have not stepped aside. Last week, some soldiers attempted a countercoup, but all the strategic locations they managed to gain control of were quickly recaptured by forces loyal to the junta leader.

West Africa's regional bloc on Thursday said it would soon deploy forces to Mali. The bloc, known as ECOWAS, has previously said it intends to send about 3,000 troops to Mali to help retrain and re-equip the country's military following the political upheaval. The junta quickly rejected the plan, though, saying not a single foreign soldier would step foot in Mali.

"When you allow man's decisions to touch you, you have given away your God-given power,You have to say:"I don't recognize man as my maker or my keeper."Have faith in God and you will be rewarded."ESU
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  Quote Nick1986 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-May-2012 at 20:42
That's terrible. Hopefully the people will rise up and kick out the Islamists
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