Was Mansa Musa the richest person ever?
This extra credit opportunity is worth 2 points of extra credit PER question on your Unit 2 Test on February 21.
Mansa Musa’s empire consisted of parts of these present-day countries: Mali, Gambia, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Niger, and Mauritania. Mansa Musa built his wealth from gold and salt mines, both of which were extremely valuable. The Mali Empire was strategically situated on trade routes throughout Africa. Musa I was also a devout Muslim. In 1324 he made his hajj, or pilgrimage, to Mecca. This pilgrimage is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Mansa Musa returned from his hajj with the architect Ishaq El Teudjin, who built several buildings, including the Djinguerebe Mosque, which became one of three mosques of the University of Timbuktu. Mansa Musa also ordered the creation of several libraries and supported education in the Qur’an. Under Mansa Musa’s reign the Malian empire reached its greatest size. His cultural legacy is seen in Mali to this day.
Central Historical Question: Was Mansa Musa the richest person in the world?
Directions: Using the following document below and your previous knowledge of Medieval Africa, answer the prompts at the bottom of this post.
An Account from Al-Umari an Arab Historian
Al-Umari was an Arab historian from Damascus, Syria. He visited the city of Cairo in Egypt several years after Mansa Musa passed through there on his pilgrimage in 1324 CE. He then wrote this account of Mansa Musa’s visit, as told to him by the people of Cairo.
From the beginning of my coming to stay in Egypt I heard talk of the arrival of this sultan Musa on his Pilgrimage and found the people of Cairo eager to tell what they had seen of the Africans’ extravagant spending. I asked the emir Abu and he told me of the opulence, manly virtues, and piety of his sultan. Abu said, “When I went out to meet him, Musa did me extreme honor and treated me with the greatest courtesy. He addressed me, however, only through an interpreter despite his perfect ability to speak in the Arabic tongue. Then he sent to the royal treasury many loads of unworked native gold and other valuables. I tried to persuade him to go up to the Citadel to meet the sultan of Cairo, but he refused persistently saying: ‘I came for the Pilgrimage and nothing else. I do not wish to mix anything else with my Pilgrimage.’”
Mansa Musa flooded Cairo with his gifts. He left no emir or holder of a royal office without the gift of a load of gold. The people of Cairo made incalculable profits out of him and his caravan in buying and selling and giving and taking. They traded away gold until they depressed its value in Egypt and caused its price to fall. This has been the state of affairs for about twelve years until this day by reason of the large amount of gold which they brought into Egypt and spent there.
Source: Al-Umari, Pathways of Vision in the Realms of the Metropolises, 1337-1338.
emir: a high ranking title
opulence: great wealth, especially shown by extravagant living
piety: religious devotion
1. (Sourcing) Who is Al-Umari? Do you think he is a reliable source of information on Mansa Musa’s pilgrimage to Mecca? Why, or why not?
2. (Close Reading) How does the emir Abu describe Mansa Musa to Al-Umari? According to the emir Abu, what traits does Mansa Musa possess?
3. Do you think Al-Umari’s description of Mansa Musa is accurate? Why or why
Due by TUESDAY February 21 by MIDNIGHT.
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