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Intrigue, Islam, and Ibn Baṭṭūṭa

Intrigue, Islam, and Ibn Baṭṭūṭa

(p.144) Chapter Seven Intrigue, Islam, and Ibn Baṭṭūṭa
African Dominion
Michael A. Gomez
Princeton University Press

This chapter explores the writings of Ibn Baṭṭūṭa, which provide a glimpse into a post-Mansā Mūsā Mali in initial decline. Suffering from invidious comparison with his brother, Sulaymān's reign is yet remarkable in including an episode featuring a demoted wife, Qāsā, challenging for the leadership of his vast empire. It is also with Sulaymān that the pivot to North Africa begins. However, relations between the regions are less than transparent, an opacity reflecting ambiguity that would lead to misunderstanding and, eventually, open conflict. Though waning as a regional power, Mali was highly successful in achieving a paradigm in which Islam and polity worked in close cooperation. This intimate association of culture and statecraft would completely transform the politics of the region for centuries to come. Critical to this new model of West African statecraft were efforts to reimagine and situate the region within the larger Muslim context.

Keywords:   Ibn Baṭṭūṭa, Mali, Sulaymān, Qāsā, North Africa, Islam, West African statecraft, culture, statecraft

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