1743 French Map of Northwest Africa, depicting the areas covered in this curriculum unit.
Credit: Courtesy of American Memory at the Library of Congress.
Mansa Musa, an ardent Muslim, was the first emperor of Mali to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. He certainly left a powerful impression among the people he encountered in Cairo, Mecca, and Medina, opening their eyes to the dignity of the Malian rulers as well as the great wealth of their empire. When he returned home, he brought with him a Muslim architect, al-Sahili, who introduced a new style of architecture to West Africa. The mosques built at this time would become centers of scholarship as well as worship.
Read through the activities and bookmark appropriate websites for later reference. Additional background information can be found at Mansa Musa.
One of the obligations of every Muslim is to make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca. In 1324, Mansa Musa, Mali's Islamic ruler, set out on his journey - with a very large entourage.
This is when Mali became known as "the Land of Gold." In fact, it has been estimated that it would soon supply two thirds of the gold used for European coins and artifacts.
Mansa Musa's pilgrimage was immortalized in a map of Africa contained in the Catalan World Atlas of 1375.
View the following photos of mosques built in Europe and Asia in earlier centuries: the Umayyad Great Mosque, Damascus, The Mosque of Gauhar Shad, Mashad, and The Sultan Ahmet Mosque, Istanbul available through Labyrinth. Then write a brief essay comparing the design and construction of these mosques with those built in West Africa.
2 class periods