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Mansa Musa's pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324 was a sight to behold as he traveled in grand style. Based on the numbers, what percentage of those who traveled with him were enslaved?

However, in order to ensure prosperity and peace in his kingdom, he did not impose Islam on the people, but promoted religious freedom and tolerance.

Mansa Musa's Pilgrimage

In 1324, Mansa Musa fulfilled one of the Five Pillars of Islam by making the hajj, or pilgrimage, to Mecca. Through his pilgrimage, Mansa Musa showed his devotion to Islam, but the visit also allowed him to forge new diplomatic and economic ties with other Muslim states. Mansa Musa returned home with Muslim scholars, architects, and teachers. The newcomers introduced Arab styles in the palaces and mosques of Mali. They also helped promote Islamic education in Mali.

As a result of Mansa Musa's pilgrimage, word of Mali's great wealth spread across the Muslim world and filtered into Europe. The news sparked the interest of European rulers in African gold, especially since they had recently begun to use gold coins.

Growth of Timbuktu

As he returned home from Mecca, Mansa Musa stopped in the busy city of Timbuktu, where he built a palace and mosque. Timbuktu had grown from a small settlement into a major center of trade and Islamic learning. Its diverse population included Muslim and non-Muslim merchants from West Africa and Arabs from North Africa and elsewhere.

For hundreds of years, the city drew some of the best scholars from the Muslim world, including doctors, priests, and judges. Even before Mansa Musa, Timbuktu had won fame for its thriving university that reportedly had 25,000 students from Africa and the Muslim world. The university reflected the Islamic emphasis on education and showed how Islam spread peacefully through trade and centers of learning.


In the 1400s, disputes over succession weakened Mali. Subject peoples broke away, and the empire shriveled. By the 1460s, the wealthy trading city of Gao (gow) had become the capital of the emerging West African kingdom of Songhai (SAWNG hy).

An Empire Expands

Songhai developed on fertile ground at the bend of the Niger River in present-day Mali and Niger. Between 1464 and 1492, the soldier-king Sonni Ali built the largest state that had ever existed in West Africa.

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Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments