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Islam and trade in sub-saharan africa PDF

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Running head: ISLAM AND TRADE IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA 1
Islam and Trade in Sub-Saharan Africa
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ISLAM AND TRADE IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA2
Assignment 2:Islam and Trade in Sub-Saharan Africa
Trade was one of the activities which was widely spread in the ancient times and
transcended cultural borders. It was perceived as the major way of acquiring commodities which
one region lacked. It also gave the regions with surplus commodities the channel through which
they could dispose off constructively. It was therefore a necessary practice since no region or
community had all the resources they needed. Trade facilitated cultural and religious exchanges
as merchants traversed different territories of varied cultural and religious beliefs (Smith &
Smith, 2012). The religion of Islam became widespread in the Northern parts of Africa through
trade between 700-1000 CE.
Sub-Saharan Africa was connected to the Arabian Peninsula from where Islamic
merchants and scholars came from in southwest Asia. They used the Arabian Sea, the Red Sea
and mainland routes at Cairo in Egypt to penetrate Africa via the north. Subsequently, they also
used the Indian Ocean to traverse the coastal towns of East Africa and the south eastern coasts of
Africa spreading their religious teachings as well as doing trade. The trade routes and links were
not only effective for conducting trade but also for Islamic scholars who were at times the
merchants themselves to pass on their teachings, to the local communities they passed through
(Levtzion & Pouwels, 2000).
Trade in West Africa in particular was very intense owing to the presence of highly
competitive commodities which were available and were in plenty. These merchandises included
gold, salt, slaves and textiles among others. There were also regions with weapons which the
merchants took a lot of interest in. Africa was rich in minerals such as salt and gold and had
numerous mineral ores which only encouraged the foreign traders, for their supply was reliable.
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