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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: March 2011

5 - West Africa and its early empires

The Arab conquest of North Africa was a prelude to a series of developments that reshaped the western part of the ancient world and the way it was viewed. The militant occupation of the urban centres in North Africa went along with a cumbersome spread of the Islamic faith and the Arabic language. The splendid successes of the Almoravid movement in North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula have somehow covered up its Saharan origin and far reaching repercussions on the Islamisation of the Sudan. The geo-political orientation of Mali allowed, for the first time in West African history, a direct flow of goods and ideas from the rainforest regions to the Mediterranean and vice versa. The rise of the Sunni-Zaas and Askiyās of Gao was accompanied by a complex shift of emphasis in Sudanic Islam. The Islamic features served as promising ingredients in a traditional ceremonious despotism.
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The New Cambridge History of Islam
  • Volume 2: The Western Islamic World, Eleventh to Eighteenth Centuries
  • Edited by Maribel Fierro
  • Online ISBN: 9781139056151
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