Impact of Islam on West Africa

Islam impacted West Africa in many ways. It changed the people’s views of their rulers, and in some people, even the way they viewed the world. Other aspects stayed the same, like the beliefs of the pagan people and how they lived. The most important connection that Islam made globally was the establishment of trading centers and routes.

When Muslims brought Islam into West Africa from across the Sahara, Africans were attracted to it because it helped them through a time where their rulers were changing. Rulers were extremely attracted to the Islamic idea of state and religion being united under one ruler because they thought it would help reinforce their authority. Also, many lower people converted to Islam because of its egalitarian beliefs. The fact that all people were viewed as equals appealed to them, for they then would be equal to the people that looked down upon them. In many ways, Islam changed the views of the people in West Africa.

As Islam was growing rapidly, many people were converting, yet pagan people did not want to change their polytheistic views on life because that was the only thing they had to look forward to. Unlike Hinduism, Islam was very strict when it came to including other beliefs along with theirs. Pagan people made up a large part of the West African population. Therefore in order for Islam to spread even further, Sufi mystics integrated pagan beliefs into Islam. The beliefs did not change, and the pagan people were at peace with the pagan people and its ideas.

In global context, Islam made an important connection with other parts of the world through trade. West Africa had many points where Muslims established trading centers that traded with Asia and Europe. Trade spread Islamic ideas to other parts of the world, introducing new regions and empires to egalitarian and monotheistic beliefs. These beliefs helped other regions in the world deal with war, conquering of their land, and unlawful taxation that was part of the people’s daily lives. Without establishing trade routes, Islam could not have impacted other parts of the world as much as it had in such a short time.

The changes Islam made in the views of the West Africans helped them get through rough times, and unified them. The continuity of the beliefs of the pagan people also helped Islam spread, and kept most of the empire in order. The impact of Islam in multiple ways helped unify West Africa, and established important connections around the world.

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