The Chronicle of the Seeker
We shall now relate some of what we have been able to discover about the history of the Mali-koy Kankan Musa.
Mali-koy was an upright, godly, and devout sultan. His dominion stretched from the limits of
He asked one of the ulama of his time what he could do to expiate this terrible crime, and he replied, "You should seek refuge with the Prophet of God, may God bless and save him. Flee to him, place yourself under his protection, and ask him to intercede for you with God, and God will accept his intercession. That is my view.
Kankan Musa made up his mind that very day and began to collect the money and equipment needed for the journey. He sent proclamations to all parts of his realm asking for supplies and support and went to one of his shaykhs and asked him to choose the day of his departure. "You should wait," said the shaykh, "for the Saturday which falls on the twelfth day of the month. Set forth on that day, and you will not die before you return safe and sound to your residence, please God."
therefore delayed and waited until these two coincided, and it was not until
nine months later that the twelfth of the month fell on a Saturday. He set
forth when the head of his caravan had already reached
Since that time travelers of that people believe it is lucky to set out on a journey on a Saturday which falls on the twelfth of a month. It has become proverbial that when a traveler returns in a bad state, they say of him, "Here is one who did not set out on the Mali-koy's Saturday of departure!"
Kankan Musa set out in force, with much money and a numerous army. A scholar told me that he heard from our shaykh, the very learned qadi Abul-Abbas Sidi Ahmad ibn Ahmad ibn Anda-ag-Muhammad, may God have mercy on him and be pleased with him, that on the day when the pasha Ali ibn al-Qadir left for Twat, announcing that he was going on the pilgrimage to Mecca, he asked how many persons were going with him and was told that the total number of armed men the pasha had with him was about eighty. "God is great! Praise be to God!," said the qadi. "Everything in the world grows less. When Kankan Musa left here to go on pilgrimage he had with him 8,000 men. The Askia Muhammad made the pilgrimage later with 800 men, that is, one-tenth of that. Third after them came Ali ibn Abd al-Qadir, with 80 men, one-tenth of 800." And he added, "Praise be to God, other than Whom there is no God! Ali ibn Abd al-Qadir did not even achieve his purpose."
Kankan Musa went
on his journey, about which there are many stories. Most of them are untrue
and the mind refuses to accept them. One such story is that in every town
where he stopped on Friday between here and
I was told that his wife, called Inari Konte, went with him, accompanied by 500 of her women and serving women.
Our shaykh, the Mori Bukar ibn Salih,...may God have mercy on him, told me that Kankan Musa took forty mule-loads of gold with him when he went on his pilgrimage and visited the tomb of the Prophet.
It is said that he asked the Shaykh of the noble and holy city of Mecca, may Almighty God protect it, to give him two, three, or four sharifs of the kin of the Prophet of God, may God bless him and save him, to go with him to his country, so that the people of these parts might be blessed by the sight of them and by the blessing of their footsteps in these lands. But the shaykh refused, it being generally agreed that such things should be prevented and refused out of respect and regard for the noble blood of the sharifs and for fear lest one of them fall into the hands of the infidels and be lost or go astray. But he persisted in his request and urged them very strongly, until the shaykh said, "I will not do it, but I will neither command nor forbid it. If anyone wishes, let him follow you. His fate is in his own hands, I am not responsible."
The Mali-koy then sent a crier to the mosques to say, "Whoever wishes to have a thousand mithqals of gold, let him follow me to my country, and the thousand is ready for him." Four men of the tribe of Quraysh came to him, but it is claimed that they were freedmen of Quraysh and not real Qurayshis. He gave them 4,000, 1,000 each, and they followed him, with their families, when he returned to his country.
the end of the story of the pilgrimage of the Mali-koy
 Titles meaning "King of
Mali, Lord Musa."
Credits: Bernard Lewis, ed. and trans., Islam
from Prophet Muhammad to the Capture of