Changes in West African Religion: 1000-1500ce

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The role of religion has changed over time in West Africa from the migration of Islam bringing its new faith, rituals, and establishment of a greater connection with the outside world through trade and cultural diffusion. However the unique African religion that existed beforehand was still retained; the African culture still believing in animism and polytheism even after the spread of Islam. From 1000-1500 CE the role of religion has seen changes and continuities influenced by the spread of foreign territories, economics, and political/social systems in West Africa. Religion in any time and has several profound influences on its society affecting the moral codes, gender relationships, and politics on that area. Previously, Africa although not fully isolated from the centers of other civilizations, remained secluded from communication with them, slowing the indigenous religions to be the main belief system. West Africa’s first major change begun around 1000 CE when followers of the prophet Muhammad came across Africa bringing its religion, Islam, and social changes. Due to its connection with the Islamic world Africa started to connect with other foreign territories through its new trading and long distance commerce system, exchanging new ideas and products. Furthermore, this new connection with the outside world brought occupants to the area, resulting in a population about 30 to 60 million by 1500 CE. These new economic effects deteriorated the native’s beliefs role as the sole influence of its society, sharing that position with Islam. Also, the Islamic influence brought on by merchants and travelers spread the new faith across West Africa bringing mixed results from new converts and those who remained with the original religion. In the 12th century around the Sudanic states lived a very powerful ruler, called Sundiata, who though never forcing Islam on the

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