Epic Of Sundiata Essay

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The Epic of Sundiata presents the Islamic faith in a way that encourages listeners to embrace it over their indigenous belief systems. The epic accomplishes this by incorporating elements and practices of the indigenous beliefs into Islamic tradition; and by adapting certain Islamic mythology — such as the Jinn — to the existing West African culture. It also asserts the superior power, morality, and strength of those who derive their power from Allah and the Jinn, to those who base their powers in ancestral worship and fetishes. Through conflict, adaptation, and tolerance, the Epic of Sundiata presents an accessible version of Islam to the people of the Mali Empire; and it promotes the acceptance of this new faith over the indigenous beliefs …show more content…

For seven years after his birth Sundiata was ignorant like an animal. Until the age of seven he was unable to walk. He stole food and crawled around on all fours; he was an embarrassment to his mother, (page 19). Despite her ability as a great sorceress, Sogolon was unable to get her son to walk, “she had resorted to all her talent as a sorceress to give strength to her suns legs,” but it had no effect on her son(page 16). However; when Sogolon desperately cried out to Allah, Sundiata instantly became determined, and then able, to walk, (pages 19-21). Following this sight Sogolon sang the praises of the Islamic god, proclaiming, “Allah Almighty, you never created a finer day. So my son is going to walk,” (page 21). Sundiata evolved from an ignorant, animal-like, creature to a strong man, and the epic gives Islam the credit for this transformation. The battle between Sundiata and Soumaoro was the physical representation of the conflict between Islam and the indigenous belief system, a conflict which Islam won. Sundiata discovered that Soumaoro’s most powerful magic came from his ancestors in the form of a Tana(page 58). The Tana could be destroyed and the power of the his ancestors broken by striking Soumaoro with the spur of a cock. Sundiata did just that and instantly Soumaoro was powerless and he retreated and his army scattered(page

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how the epic of sundiata presents the islamic faith in a way that encourages listeners to embrace it over their indigenous belief systems.
  • Analyzes how the epic of sundiata made islam more easily adopted by the people of mali. soothsayers were one such practice fully integrated into the epic.
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