Age 10-12: Cultural Contributions - Civil Society

Unit 2: The Spread of Islam

Activity: Mansa Musa pilgrimage
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Mansa Musa pilgrimage

Here is an account of one pilgrimage taken by the ruler of Mali in 1324 CE.
Mansa Musa was probably the greatest king of the Empire of Mali. He ruled Mali for twenty-five years (1312-1337). As far as we know, Mansa Musa was the first Muslim ruler in West Africa to decide to follow the Islamic instruction to participate in a Hajj (pilgrimage) to the holy city of Mecca. To get to Mecca, in present day Saudi Arabia, Mansa Musa and his entourage had to travel more than 3000 miles across the Sahara desert (look at a map of Africa). According to the Arab historian al-Umari who witnessed the pilgrimage when it passed through Cairo, Egypt, Mansa Musa's entourage included 100 camels each loaded with 300 pounds of gold, 500 servants each of whom carried a four pound gold staff, his senior wife with 500 attendants, and more than one thousand subjects. Mansa Musa gave away so much gold on his way through Egypt that the value of gold actually dropped! As a result of this Hajj, Mali became famous. People from Asia, North Africa and Europe learned for the first time of this great empire in West Africa. More importantly, while in Mecca and Cairo, Mansa Musa purchased many books and recruited many leading Moslem scholars to return with him to Mali. These scholars were responsible for the opening up of libraries in Mali and a university at Timbuktu.
Imagine you are one of the people in Mansa Musa’s party. On a separate piece of paper, describe your position and explain why you were attracted to become one of Mansa Musa’s party. Draw a picture of what you look like as one of Mansa Musa’s followers.

Activity: How Does Information Spread?
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How Does Information Spread?

Information has spread in different ways over the centuries. Think about the way information spread about the Crusades over 800 years ago to the way information is spread about wars now. Use the organizer to explain the way ideas spread today as compared to the way information spread in the past.

The spread of ideas in the past The spread of ideas today

Trends spreading

  1. Describe a trend that has spread quickly over the last year.

  2. Why has it spread so quickly?

  3. Have you participated in the trend? Why?
Globe with MagnifierIn the 100 years following Muhammad’s death in 632 CE, many people embraced Islam, especially in central and southern Arabia, Mesopotamia, North Africa, and southern Spain and France.

SaberMuslim warriors rode Arabian horses, and were armed with spears, sabers and bows – all of these were in the shape of a half moon, which is the symbol of Islam.

Crusade KnightFor almost 200 years, Muslims and Christians fought over control of places such as Jerusalem. These long battles were called the Crusades. Richard the Lion Heart led one of the Crusades, but in the 13th century, the Crusaders were defeated.

As part of the Islamic tradition, Muslims are expected to participate in Hajj and make a pilgrimage to Mecca. Complete the activity about one of these pilgrimages.