The Dyula (Dioula or Juula) are a Mande ethnic group inhabiting several West African countries, including the Mali, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau. Characterized as a highly successful merchant caste, Dyula migrants began establishing trading communities across the region in the fourteenth century. Since business was often conducted under non-Muslim rulers, the Dyula developed a set of theological principles for Muslim minorities in non-Muslim societies. Their unique contribution of long-distance commerce, Islamic scholarship and religious tolerance were significant factors to the peaceful expansion of Islam in West Africa. The Mande embraced Islam during the thirteenth century, following introduction to the faith through contact with the Soninke people and North African traders. By the 14th century the Malian empire (c.
Contributions by Sir192, Woohookitty, and A12n.