By Hakim Abdul-Ali
Today in the world it’s said that one out of every five “hue-man” beings in the world is a follower of the religion of Islam. These individuals are called Muslims, and the United States of America has a large, ethnically diverse and an ever-expanding population of Muslims everywhere you look.
For today, and since this is Black History Month in the USA, I’d like to shine a little light on one of the most renowned Muslims from bygone Afrikan “Our-Story” that you’ll probably never here about in many of America’s one-sided and ethnically slanted “his- story” books. So, the insight that I’m bringing now is about a Muslim commonly known in the Western writings as Mansa Musa, and he was a giant of a hero, known throughout ancient Afrika and beyond as the king of Mali.
When discussing Brother Mansa Musa, (c.1280-c.1337), whose original was Mansa Kankan Musa, I’ll start with his respected character. The word “mansa” meant emperor or king, and this heralded leader was referred to by historians as a kind and generous man, possessing a greatness of wisdom.
He was the ruler of the great West Afrikan kingdom of Mali and he governed that area from 1312 until 1337. For the history buffs in the reading audience, this was more than one hundred and fifty years before Christopher Columbus sailed to America.
During Emperor Musa’s rule, his country was recognized as being one of the richest and largest countries in the known world. This leader added much land and many people to the Islamic Malian’s emerging empire, where it owned and controlled vast copper and salt mines in the Sahara desert, along with untold gold and iron mines further south.
It’s related that the inhabitants of the Islamic Mali Empire had plenty of food to eat and they wore splendid clothes of cotton which they made themselves. Malian cities during Emperor Musa’s reign were established, respected and important places of learning, business, government and religion, especially the world renowned religious university city of Tombouctou, today popularly and universally called Timbuktu.
Being a Muslim, and a devoted practitioner of and a committed believer in Islam, this celebrated emperor took his religion seriously. This was evident in his observances of one the five key pillars of the Islamic faith, which is the performance of the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Makkah (Mecca) in Arabia, if possible.
History tells us Emperor Musa set out on his pilgrimage in 1324 with, and please check this out, eight thousand Malians accompanying him. He also took with him a very, very large amount of gold, which took one hundred camels carrying almost thirty thousand pounds of this lustrous metal commodity through the burning desert.
Emperor Musa gave away all of the gold in his entourage’s possession to anyone he met along the way on his journey to Makkah, an act which greatly pleased his fellow citizenry upon his return from the Hajj. This pilgrimage to Makkah made him and the Malians who accompanied him on that “Hajj” well-known throughout the northern Afrika and the so-called Middle East.
During the emperor’s illustrious reign, history, again, recounts that this renowned Afrikan leader had a great effect on other leaders from throughout the continent, as was witnessed by the fact that, particularly, more and more West Afrikans visited the Islamic Empire of Mali. Consensus says that all of these leaders and others were impressed by the Malian emperor’s intellectualism and his fellow compatriots’ hospitality.
These visitors to the Malian Empire found it strange that the Muslim men and women of Mali treated each other as equals. Even a famous Arab traveler and historian offered this insight about the people of Mali, “They hate injustice more than any other people and these people feel safe throughout this land. One can live and travel (here) without fear of robbers or men of violence.”
“Our-storians”of accurate Afrikan and Islamic histories relate that Brother Mansa Kankan Musa was respected and that he was a powerful ruler. Islamic history also narrates that he became famous for giving and sharing charity from the riches of his Afrikan kingdom’s vast wealth with others. And, because of this quality and his famous journey to Makkah, he helped make the Malian Empire known and admired throughout the world.
In concluding this article on a forgotten and under reported Afrikan Islamic legend, I’d like to alert you to the fact that there’s a top-notch new book out on Islam in America. It’s called “Islamic American Heritage,” and it’s co-authored by Nazzie Pater-Rov and Muhammed Al-Ahari.
This excellent, insightful book is chock-full with info about Islam’s presence in this country, so much so that you’ll be surprised to learn about some of the many authentic and historical things that are revealed in book. If interested, pertinent info about this book can be obtained at www.sproutingeducation.com and it can also be purchased at amazon.com. And finally, remember that “the truth is the light,” and for today, that’s,”As I See it.”