Journal Entries of a Scholar: Mansa Musa DBQ

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Jounal entries written from the point of view of a scholar during Mansa Musa's journey to Mecca in

Submitted: February 27, 2017

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Submitted: February 27, 2017



Niani, 1324, Morning

At 18 years old, I am finally about to leave on the hajj, the sacred journey to Mecca every true Muslim must partake in. We are led by our glorious king, who has entrusted me with recording what we find on our journey. I know that we are going to start the journey soon, so I move myself to the front of the caravan. It’s not an easy task as we have 60,000 people and 100 camels accompanying us on this journey, which we need to carry all of the gold and supplies. As I bob and weave around them, I see the vast selection of people in our caravan. There are griots, musicians, slaves, royal guards, doctors, teachers, soldiers, and scholars like myself, all here to fulfil their own unique job. I finally manage to break through the conglomeration of people and make it to the very front. There is green for almost as far as I can see, and I treasure the view. Soon enough, there will be nothing but sand around us; despite this, I can’t contain my excitement. Not only are we traveling to the sacred city of Mecca, but since we are following a common trade route, we are sure to encounter many merchants and traders along the way. That is why we have brought so much gold with us. I think the king said it was 24,000 pounds, which is astounding. As I think about everything we will encounter, I check my belongings to make sure I have my writing supplies on me. Kind Mansa Musa entrusted me with recording this legendary journey, and I won’t let him down.

Walata, 1324, Morning

Allah has blessed us. This town is a godsend. There is water and food for us to use and gather, and we will need all we can attain. There will be few opportunities during the next part of our trek to obtain the essentials, like water. It is the rainy season though, so, with any luck, Allah will bless us with rain so we may cool ourselves and be refreshed. In the meantime, I am amazed by the amount of trade and commerce in this city. There are Sudanese blacks, northern Berbers, and our own people all mingling in this place. You can feel the excitement in the air as though it were morning dew. In the market place, there are an innumerable number or merchants, traders, and customer all haggling and trading. There are kola nuts, gold, salt, ivory, copper, and slaves are being exchanged on every side of the market and it is a spectacle to see. There are so many new things that we didn’t have before, not to mention the new and different ideas that some of us have started to adopt. The rest of our caravan will experience the same sights as I have, once they arrive. Some are days behind and others days ahead. I am still flabbergasted, (I like that word, and I think I shall make it a real one), at the massive amount of our people. I shall write again once we arrive at our last stop before the Sahara, the desert that covers the north. For the moment, I shall rest under this date palm, and unwind in its cool shade

Taghaza, 1324, dusk

The blissfulness I experienced in Walata is now almost gone. In this new town, it seems as though there is nothing but salt. They use salt as currency, they use salt to build their homes, and their water reeks of salt and tastes like camel urine. Many have started unrest and have become agitated about the stop here. I hear whispers: “Why did we go this way? There has to be a better way,” and, “Is this the route Allah intended for us?” I have done my best to stay positive, as I have my complete faith in both my king and my god, but even I am having doubts. No matter, the less than desirable conditions won’t matter once we arrive at Mecca. I just have to focus on that and keep myself alert. I must record what happens next, as the Sahara will most definitely give nothing but harsh conditions. Even so, I trust that King Mansa Musa has led us on the path he sees as the best. I must trust his judgment. I need to sleep. I will write again, when I get the chance.


Tuwat Oasis, 1324, Evening

Today, I heard people conversing about their faith: mostly about what the Qur’an requires us to do. One of the men had not given his alms to the poor in quite some time and he was concerned with whether or not Allah was angry with him. I thought this was strange. The Qur’an makes it very clear that giving to those in need is one of the most important things to do as a Muslim. I have always made sure to give to those in need, and the thought that someone could forget is unsettling to me. This revelation got me thinking about the hajj, and if we are following Allah’s command. Personally, I believe I have. I have stayed humble and refrained from obscenities, just as the Qur’an says. Others have not adhered as strictly. I have heard many ill-tempered words spoken and stories of altercations. I have seen people give to the needy, but only when they knew others were watching. They are greedier and crueler once they think no one is watching them. I have been careful to record these event with accuracy for the sake of remembrance. I hope Allah will not curse the caravan for the actions of a few individuals. I will continue to write events as they happen and pray for Allah’s mercy.

Cairo, 1324, Afternoon

We have arrived in Cairo, and everyone is abuzz with excitement. We are mostly out of the terrible conditions, and there has been so much activity and good will and it’s almost overwhelming. That being said, not everything here has been pleasant. I was tasked with recording the meeting between Mansa Musa and the sultan, al-Malik al-Masir, but our king refused to meet with him. He said it was because he didn’t want to distract himself from his journey, and, at first, I agreed with him; however, I soon realized this was not the reason he refused to meet with the sultan. He refused because meeting the sultan would require Mansa Musa to kiss the sultan’s hand the ground in front of him. He was using religion to get out of something he didn’t want to so, which is beyond shameful. I would be lying if I said that I hadn’t lost some respect for my king. I regained some of that respect when I heard how charitable the caravan had been. We were giving multitudes of gold to the poor, which is what Allah wanted us to do. That being said, we may have given too much of our wealth away. The sudden abundance of gold has caused the price to drop significantly. Surely, my king would have known this would happen, and he did not stop. I am ashamed.

Niani, 1375, Evening

It has been many, many years since Mansa Musa lead us on our hajj, or sacred journey to Mecca. As a result, the route to Mecca has become clearer for many people. We learned a lot and obtained many resources for our people during the hajj. I see and hear what people say about that journey: how they think it has affected our culture and our people. They say that Mansa Musa was the most noble and rich king in the world, but they ignore how he gave his wealth away and how he used his faith to weasel out of things he didn’t want to do. There were many things that went wrong and it was not the fairy tale journey many think it to be. There was unrest, people lying, and the heat and dryness of the desert. My grandson is one of these people. He has not been informed and isn’t aware of how the journey really was. Therefore, I am going to give some possessions of mine that will, with any luck, shine some light on the true colors of the journey. There is a jewel that I obtained in Walata and a small satchel with salt and gold: the salt from Taghaza and the gold from Cairo. I will give him these along with the stories that come with them. I am a scholar after all. Writing about the hajj makes me laugh. As much as I complain, I would do it all again in a heartbeat. There is no other experience in this world that could rival a journey of that magnitude. I hope that someday, my grandson will be able to experience something like my hajj, so he may truly understand his faith.

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