Mahbubur Rahman Robin
studied at Islam
Christianity did. specially in Egypt and Somalia by byzantine empire and it went towards south.
Islam entered in northern parts of Africa by khilafat and entered in sub-saharan Africa via Trade and merchandise.
Multiple Trajectories of Islam in Africa
had already spread into northern Africa by the mid-seventh century
A.D., only a few decades after the Prophet Muhammad moved with his
followers from Mecca to Medina on the neighboring Arabian Peninsula (622
A.D./1 A.H.). The
and the push of Arab armies as far as the Indus River culminated in an
empire that stretched over three continents, a mere hundred years after
the Prophet’s death. Between the eighth and ninth centuries, Arab
traders and travelers, then African clerics, began to spread the
religion along the eastern coast of Africa and to the western and
central Sudan (literally, “Land of Black people”), stimulating the
development of urban communities. Given its negotiated, practical
approach to different cultural situations, it is perhaps more
appropriate to consider Islam in Africa in terms of its multiple
histories rather then as a unified movement.
The first converts were the Sudanese merchants, followed by a few
rulers and courtiers (Ghana in the eleventh century and Mali in the
thirteenth century). The masses of rural peasants, however, remained
little touched. In the eleventh century, the
led by a group of Berber nomads who were strict observers of Islamic
law, gave the conversion process a new momentum in the Ghana empire and
beyond. The spread of Islam throughout the African continent was neither
simultaneous nor uniform, but followed a gradual and adaptive path.
However, the only written documents at our disposal for the period under
consideration derive from Arab sources (see, for instance, accounts by
geographers al-Bakri and Ibn Battuta).
Islamic Influence on African Societies
Islamic political and
on African societies remain difficult to assess. In some capital
cities, such as Ghana and Gao, the presence of Muslim merchants resulted
in the establishment of mosques. The Malian king Mansa Musa (r.
1312–37) brought back from a pilgrimage to Mecca the architect
al-Sahili, who is often credited with the creation of the
Sudano-Sahelian building style. Musa’s brother, Mansa Suleyman, followed
his path and encouraged the building of mosques, as well as the
development of Islamic learning. Islam brought to Africa the art of
writing and new techniques of weighting. The city of Timbuktu, for
instance, flourished as a commercial and intellectual center, seemingly
undisturbed by various upheavals. Timbuktu began as a Tuareg settlement,
was soon integrated into the
, then reclaimed by the Tuareg, and finally incorporated into the
In the sixteenth century, the majority of Muslim scholars in Timbuktu
were of Sudanese origin. On the continent’s eastern coast, Arabic
vocabulary was absorbed into the Bantu languages to form the Swahili
language. On the other hand, in many cases conversion for sub-Saharan
Africans was probably a way to protect themselves against being sold
into slavery, a flourishing trade between Lake Chad and the
Mediterranean. For their rulers, who were not active proselytizers,
conversion remained somewhat formal, a gesture perhaps aimed at gaining
political support from the Arabs and facilitating commercial
relationships. The strongest resistance to Islam seems to have emanated
from the Mossi and the Bamana, with the development of the Segu kingdom.
Eventually, sub-Saharan Africans developed their own brand of Islam,
often referred to as “African Islam,” with specific brotherhoods and
Local Mixes of Islamic and African Aesthetics
Because of its resistance to the
the nature of Islam’s interaction with the visual arts in Africa was
one in which Islamic forms were accommodated and adapted. Muslim
clerics’ literacy and esoteric powers drew scores of converts to Islam.
Sub-Saharan Muslim clerics known as marabouts began fabricating amulets with Qur’anic verses, which came to displace indigenous
and medicinal packets. These amulets are featured in the design of many traditional African artifacts.
Islam also reinforced the African fondness for
and the repetition of patterns in decorating the surface of textiles
and crafted objects. Local weaving may have been transformed with the
importation of North African weaving techniques.
Islam has also often existed side by side with representational
traditions such as masquerading. Such practices have often been viewed
as supplemental rather than oppositional to Islam, particularly when
they are seen as effective or operating outside of the central concerns
of the faith. An early example of this was noted by Ibn Battuta, the
Maghribi scholar who visited Mali in 1352–53 and witnessed a masquerade
performance at the royal court of its Muslim king. In many areas of
Africa, the coexistence of Islam with representational art forms
continues today. But although Islam has influenced a wide range of
artistic practices in Africa since its introduction, monumental
architecture is the best-preserved legacy of its early history on the
continent. Mosques are the most important architectural examples of the
tremendous aesthetic diversity generated by the interaction between
African peoples and Islamic faith.
Department of Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Khalid Zakaria Hassan
Student of IslamicSciences University of Qassim however londoner born and raised
Christianity of course, it is 600 years older than Islam, North Africa was home to scholars of Christianity such as Augustine of Hippo who was from present day Algeria, also Christianity was prevalent in Egypt as well as Ethiopia where it thrives to this day.
As for what is deemed as ‘Black Africa’ apart from Ethiopia, Islam was the first organised religion to really take hold in the region, European Christians came around 1100 years later
studied at RNS Vidyaniketan
Islam had travelled along the south west to Africa through Egypt and the culture and tradition followed are basically adopted from Arabia and hence islam was the first religion which had entered Africa far before Christianity
Seon (Korean Zen) Buddhist, curious about all religions
Christianity, being older. Some parts of North Africa (specially Egypt) have been of great historical importance to Christiaity before the spread of Islam.
Christianity Ethiopia is the oldest Christiannation in Africa
I learnt fasih arabic for a reason
Ethiopia become christian in 330 AD!
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