Islam in Africa

THE ARRIVAL OF the first Muslim refugees in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in the fifth year of the Holy Prophet’s (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) mission, to seek political asylum from religious persecution, heralded a link between Africa and Islam which has lasted up to now.

In the year 640, during the rule of Umar (radhaillahu anh), the first advances were made into Africa and Egypt was conquered.
Islamic influence spread rapidly and north Africa came inextricably under Arab influence. Along the east coast of Africa trading stations were set up at Malindi, Mombasa and Mogadishu.
Africa was used as a springboard to launch the Muslim invasion of Spain and France in 711, and southern Italy in the 800s.

The world’s first university was founded in Africa. Al Azhar was set up in the 970s in Cairo. The second one was established in Tunisia and the third in Algeria, all on African soil.
Islam gave Africa the Swahili language which has become the lingua franca on the continent, as well as Arabic, the language of north Africa.
It was through Arabic that the first history of the continent was written by the well-known Muslim scholar Ibn Battuta, an African Muslim.

Mighty Islamic empires flourished in Africa.
Sun Diata, the founder of the great African empire of Mali, converted to Islam in the 1200s.
Mansa Musa, an Emperor of Mali, went for Hajj in 1324.
In the 1500s Islamic learning thrived in the Songhai Empire in West Africa. Timbuktu was an important center of Islamic scholarship.
By this time, Muslim influence was spread over the entire north and west of Africa, and on the east it extended up to Mozambique.

Trade was prosperous in the Muslim states with gold and other commodities being mined.
When Muhammad Turre of Songhai went for Hajj in 1495 he was reported to have given away 250 000 gold coins. He set up an efficient administration, police force and canal irrigation system, easily out-rivaling Europe.
Africa produced great Muslims like Salaahuddeen, the Kurdish conqueror of Palestine, who started off from Egypt. In 1804 Usuman dan Fodio, a Fulani Sheikh, declared Jihad and heralded a revival of Islam in West Africa.

The history of Islam in Africa is a long one. On our doorstep, the Lemba tribe in north eastern Transvaal traces its history to the Arabs of Yemen and still retains many Islamic customs.
Through deception and deceit, the Christians duped many Africans into abandoning monotheism for man-made Trinity. Muslims can lead them back to it.

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