The Kingdom of Mali (ca. 1200-1450)
Another powerful state, Mali, carried on a brisk trade in salt, gold, and slaves. As in much of Africa, commerce along the trade routes introduced Africans to Islam. In western Africa Islam was carried south by Berber merchants converted during the Arab conquests of the eighth century. This diffusion of religious ideas led, in turn, to the conversion of rulers, the growth of intellectual centers such as Timbuktu, and the strong influence of Muslim ulemas.