Askia Muhammad I, also known as Askia the Great, was the ruler of the Songhai Empire in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. His most significant achievements are extensive reforms and strengthening the country, which ultimately led to the creation of the largest empire in the history of West Africa. Askia left behind a rich cultural and religious heritage, including Islamic law.


Askia Muhammad was born under the name Muhammad Ture and earned his fame as a skilled military leader. Muhammad took the throne by force after the death of the previous ruler, leading an uprising against the rightful heir.

Despite the superior strength of the state army, thanks to his skills, Muhammad easily defeated the inexperienced ruler and took his place. Having ascended the throne, Muhammad received the name Askia and directed his efforts to expand the empire by all available means.

One of the foundations for strengthening the state was the Islamic religion, established in the empire as an official. Askia founded the state code of laws on the Koran and invited Muslim scholars to serve as advisers. In 1496, the emperor made a successful pilgrimage to Mecca to strengthen his status as a ruler.

He reformed the military and created a full-time army of professional soldiers. As a ruler of the Empire, Muhammad has established new administrative and bureaucratic institutions, with particular attention to the tax collection and judicial systems.

Askia also paid a lot of attention to the social sphere of the state, actively supporting education and literature. To ensure the quality of education, the emperor convened the most significant scientists in the empire. Because of that, history knows many renowned scientists who are graduates of Songhai Universities.