Mansa Musa (mänˈsä mōˈsä) [key], died 1337, ruler of the Mali empire (1312–37). A Muslim, he brought the Mali empire to its greatest height. During his reign Timbuktu became a center of Muslim culture and scholarship. His pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324–25 brought Mali fame throughout the world; the emperor traveled with an immense entourage, preceded by 500 slaves carrying staffs of gold. His gifts of gold in Cairo were so lavish that the metal was devalued in Egypt.