What is the islamic civilization in east africa? What did islam do in east africa? How did Islam impact east africa? How did islam impact civilizations in africa?
East Africa was closely linked to the Arabian Peninsula before Islam. Migration to Ethiopia is considered the first migration during which waves of companions of the Prophet (pbuh) left the Arabian Peninsula and headed for East Africa. When the Messenger of Allah found that his companions suffered persecution and suffering as well as the ease which he himself enjoyed by his position with Allah and by his uncle (Abu Talib), and that he could defend against everything that was inflicted on them, he said: “If you to go Ethiopia, you would find there a king with whom no stranger is harmed, it is a land of truth, until Allah gives you a way out.” Companions of the Prophet came out to go to the Ethiopia out of the fear of mischief and in order to protect their religion and this incident was the first migration in Islam.
During the Muslim times, the first political migration to East Africa date back to the time of Umayyad Caliph Abdul Malik bin Marwan (65-86 AH), after his practice of the policy of repression, deportation and persecution as the policy of Umayyad Dynasty. Big number of Arab – Muslim migrants went to the eastern coasts of Africa, and joined the predecessor Arab – Muslim migrants to support the establishment of Islamic kingdoms in these areas. These kingdoms have certainly brought Islam to several states of the coasts of Africa including the Republic of Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, the Burundi, Tanzania, Democratic Congo, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritius and Madagascar. The number of Muslims in this area is more than 100 million people.
The Emirates and the Islamic sultanates in the East African region
Note that these places were known at the time as the Eastern Sudan, which include the countries in the Horn of Africa, such as Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the Republic of Sudan. After that, Islam spread in the Emirates and the Islamic sultanates in East Africa after the first century hijrah. Centers, institutes, mosques and the Holy Quran memorization schools were formed in those lands. These places were frequented by the students of knowledge to gain from beneficial Islamic sciences. The indigenous inhabitants of this region consists of the tribes of Somalia and Jala and Al-Affar also called Zayaliah. Each one of those tribes had its origin, its language and local dialects, in addition to the overall setting which brought them together. That was the setting of Islam and the Arab-Muslim civilization. In addition, these tribes were not a single kingdom in the Middle Ages but they were rather divided into a number of Islamic kingdoms which were not united and did not support each other most of the time. Each kingdom was governed by an independent king. Among the most important Emirates Islamic sultanates in East Africa were the Kingdom of Pate, the Sultanate of Mogadishu, the Sultanate of Kalwa, and the Sultanate of Harar.
Kingdom of Pate (65 AH / 684)
Muslims founded this Kingdom at the time when the Caliph Abdul Malik bin Marwan reigned, the one whose time witnessed the founding of several cities throughout the Eastern Coast of Africa by Muslims, such as: Zanzibar, Kalwa, Malindi, and others. After the Umayyad State collapsed, Harun Rashid relied on the achievements of Umayyads in East Africa, and he decided to support them. This encouraged several communities, particularly the Persians to stay in these realms. Paté was a large kingdom. It hosted intense commercial activities. Traders were coming from many countries and Muslim caravans continued their travels until they reached the Lake Victoria and West Africa. This Kingdom achieved tremendous success in this part of Africa, and had a significant impact on the spread of Islam among people.
The Sultanate of Mogadishu:
This Sultanate founded by a group of people from the tribe of Bani al-Harith, who settled along the coast of Somalia in the late third century AH. The explorer has described this kingdom by saying that it was an Islamic city. In the days of the “Bani al-Harith” dynasty, Mogadishu grew, flourished, and became like the capital city of all the surrounding kingdoms. People were coming to Mogadishu on certain dates of the year gathering in large mosques and performing Friday prayers, which strengthened the greatness of Islam in the minds of Africans. When the famous North African explorer Ibn Battuta visited it in 731 AH, he found that it had reached to a higher level of civilization and prosperity, and politically, economically and socially had made tremendous progress, and its people were of high religiosity and strong morals.
The Sultanate of Kalwa (375h / 975)
It was founded by the Shirazites, under the leadership of Ali bin al-Hasan al-Shirazi and his children. They turned this kingdom into a base and a center for the spread of Islam and Islamic culture among African tribes living on the coast and in the center. Ibn Battuta said to this effect: “The city of Kalwa is one of famous cities and one of the most developed ones…. the rains are abundant…. the vast majority of its population is religious, they are from Shafii School … When I entered this city, its king was Abu Muzaffar, who was nicknamed Abul Mawahib, for his generosity and his qualities. He frequently fought on the lands of the Zunuj. He assaulted them and seized their spoils. He would take the fifth of the booties and distribute it among the beneficiaries legally defined in the book of Allah. He would put the shares of relatives into one single crate. The honorable men were coming to him from Iraq and the Hejaz, and other places. I saw a group of honorable men from the Hejaz with him. This king was of great modesty. He sat with the poor, respected the religious men and the notables.” This kingdom was overthrown by the Portuguese in 1498.
Kingdom of Harar:
This kingdom is located on the coast of the Red Sea. It extends to the southwest side of Ethiopia and to the west of the Somali Port of Zaylig. Among its famous rulers, there is Imam Ahmed Jaran (ruled between the years 1526 and 1543) who applied the Islamic Sharia law during his reign, especially regarding the distribution of zakat to those who deserved it, while his predecessors had been collecting zakat for themselves and their confidants. He did the same thing regarding the war booties. He only took the one fifth of it and distributed the rest to the soldiers. It is thanks to his such practices that he was able to gain the love of scholars, scientists and great sheikhs. He enjoyed the affection of the people and sat with the poor, the needy and pitied small children. He had respect for the old people and had compassion for widows and orphans. He would establish justice between the oppressor and the oppressed by giving the rights to their owners. He was not afraid of anything in respect to Allah. He also eliminated the bandits. This was how the country gained stability and why his people loved him and said, “do not call him “the King or Amir” but call him “the Imam of the Muslims” or “the Imam of the Final days,” and it was through him that Allah will reform the State of Ethiopia.” That is why he was known as “Imam” out of all similar nicknames and was never called king or emperor. This Imam is considered the most famous Muslim rulers throughout East Africa. It was he who restored the code of Islamic good governance for the governors of the region and thus many Abyssinian Christians and pagans converted to Islam. Despite his strong concerns to protect Muslims against the animosity of the Christian community of Ethiopia and its ally Portugal, he also paid attention to the religious, social, political, and economic dialogue. That is what made his period of ruling unique among the reigns of his predecessors, and this made him the most famous, most powerful and absolutely most just. Had it not been the intervention of the Portuguese and their support to the Ethiopian soldiers against the Imam, the whole Ethiopia and throughout East Africa would have been Muslim populations today. The Portuguese managed to kill him in 1543 and his army disintegrated. The glory of the Muslim states began to falter and decline in East Africa. While the Spaniards were able to destroy Andalusia religiously and politically and Spain returned back to Christianity, Ethiopian Christians and their Portuguese allies were not able to destroy Islam in East Africa, Muslims remained attached to their religion until today.
Cultural and Humanitarian Traces of Islam in East Africa
Through our study of Islamic kingdoms in the East African region, we realized that this area has had a significant influence on the spread of Islam and the Islamic civilization. However, the sad reality is that the other Islamic forces did not have the impact or service in support of the success of their brothers in the region. Moreover, the lack of political unity, on the contrary the conflicts and competitions often existing between the Muslim rulers were a key factor in the triumph of their enemies and weakening Islamic forces. In any case, there are still civilizational and humanitarian traces left by the above-mentioned kingdoms in the region, including:
In Terms of Civilizational manifestations:
Various aspects of Arab-Islamic civilization were brought to this region. The residents of the region, despite their differences, devoted themselves to Islamic and Arabic sciences so much that most of its cities were able to attract students from different countries.
In Terms of Architecture:
Manifestations of Islamic civilization in East Africa can be clearly seen in the art of architecture, as well as in urban planning and decoration of doors and windows. Muslims also introduced the art of engraving, drilling and sculpture, and mosaics with colored marbles. All these were clearly demonstrated in the palaces and mosques.
In Terms of Commercial Activities:
Muslims have given enough importance to trade in that area and transported the returns through the sea. Among the objects of which they were trading, we can mention the following: ivory, gold, silver, ostrich feathers, honey, banana, pearls, glue and milk. These goods appeared in the Arab markets in the Levant and Iraq. Regarding commercial activities, the largest cities in East Africa, such as Zanzibar and others, had similar significance as Phoenician cities such as the city of Tyre in the eastern Mediterranean.
In Terms of Industrial Activities:
Muslims were doing the extraction of minerals such as gold, silver, copper and iron from these areas and sending them to the Islamic states in the Arabian Peninsula and in the Levant.
In Terms of Animal Stocks:
Muslims introduced animal husbandry to East Africa. They were mostly interested in breeding camels, sheep, and leather became one of the most important goods of export.
Development of Purely Islamic Cities:
Most cities in East Africa was purely Islamic cities from north to south, including: Mogadishu and Bata, Zanzibar and Harar.
In terms of Social Integration:
Thanks to Islamic teachings to treat people as equals despite the diversity of colors and races, arriving Arabs and immigrants mated with the local population over time, which was reflected in society as a mixture of population, Arabs and others. This resulted in an unparalleled social integration in terms of cultural and religious unity.