Masina (1818-1862), also known as Macina or the Massina Empire, was one of the main Fulani jihad states of West Africa in the early 1800s. It ruled what is now the middle of Mali.
Location: along the Niger River, from about Jenne to Timbuktu.
- Population: 1 million (estimated).
- Languages: Fulfulde, Bambara, Songhay, Dogon languages.
- Religions: Islam, Bambara polytheism, etc.
- Capital: Hamdallahi.
- Major cities: Timbuktu, Jenne, shadows of their former selves.
- Government: A caliphate (Islamic state) divided into five emirates (provinces). Emirs were chosen by the caliph. The caliph was chosen by jihad or civil war. He was advised by a grand council of 40 men, whose advice he did not always take. The government collected taxes. Justice was dispensed by cadis, judges learned in sharia (Muslim law). They applied sharia to everything, with a strictness some would call fanatical.
- Economy: Grew plenty of rice, millet and vegetables on government lands worked by men taken in war. Freedom was promised to slaves in its jihads, but Masina itself practised slavery of non-Muslims (as allowed by the Koran). Trade was weak due to war. Most Fulanis were herders. The government, with some success, got them to live a more settled life.
- 1818-45: Amadou Seku – saintly scholar, preacher of pure Islam and jihad.
- 1845-53: Seku Amadou – able son.
- 1853-62: Amadou mo Amadou – hopeless incompetent.
Amadou Seku was a religious scholar with a large following, one who was able to bring together Fulanis of the Masina kingdom to fight a jihad (holy war) to overthrow their hated (and non-Muslim) Bambara overlords. Seku was a follower of Usman dan Fodio, the founder of Sokoto, the Fulani jihad state that was downriver in what is now northern Nigeria.
Seku Amadou, the son, after putting down challenges, both foreign and domestic, to his rule, gave Masina its most peaceful and prosperous days of the 1800s.
Amadou mo Amadou was unable to heal the divisions of the civil war that put him in power. In fact, he made them worse by putting his own men in place of old and respected religious leaders. And then faced a powerful jihad state growing in the west, the Toucouleur Empire (Kaarta) of al-Hajj Umar Tall. Amadou made an alliance with the Bambara of Segu, the once-hated and still un-Islamic former enemies. That gave Umar the perfect excuse to launch a holy war against him.
The end: the Toucouleur Empire could make guns in quantity, Masina could not. Masina fell in 1862. The Toucoulear Empire in turn fell in 1893 to a yet bigger empire with yet better guns: the French.
The Islam of Masina was very pure and strict, inspired in part by Wahhabism, which today rules Mecca and Medina and helps to inform the Islam of jihadists like ISIS, the Taliban and Boko Haram. Masina’s Islam was much more severe than Timbuktu’s own scholarly understanding of the faith, so much so that people in Timbuktu had to hide their books from the jihadists. Yet it was Timbuktu’s own Mukhtar al-Kunti (1729-1811) whose writings had helped give rise to the Fulani jihads!
– Abagond, 2017.
- l’empire peul du Macina – is what it is called in French. There seems to be more about it in French than in English.
- the older, larger empires that ruled Timbuktu:
- Inna Modja: Tombouctou – a music video in Bambara