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The Thirteenth- and Fourteenth-Century Kings of Mali1


The three most important Arabic sources for the Empire of Mali at its height are Ibn Fadl-Allāh al-‘Umari, Ibn-Baṭṭüṭa, and Ibn-Khaldūn. These authors all had good opportunities to collect information on this remote empire. Al-‘Umarī, who wrote in 1342–9, reflects the impression that Mansä Müsā had left in Cairo during his pilgrimage. In all probability, he had not himself met Mansā Mūsā in person, but he had talked with people who had met the Sudanese emperor. One of his most important informants was ash-shaykh Abū-sa'īd ‘Uthmān ad-Dukkāli, who had lived in Mali for thirty-five years. Ibn-Baṭṭūṭa recorded his own tour through Mali from February 1352 to December 1353. This account by such an experienced traveller is a first-rate historical document. Ibn Baṭṭūṭa was travelling in a region that was well known to his own countrymen; indeed he met Moroccans all over the Sudan. He was, therefore, inhibited from exaggerating or introducing incredible stories of the sort that often occur in his accounts of remoter Countries.

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The Journal of African History
  • ISSN: 0021-8537
  • EISSN: 1469-5138
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-african-history
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