The authors argue that, during the crucial decade of Songhay history which followed the death of Sunni Ali, Askiya Muḥammad pursued, sometimes quickly and sometimes hesitantly, three distinct ‘Islamic’ options, in contrast to the ‘received tradition’ which sharply differentiates between the reign of the last sunni's and the first of the askiyas. Askiya Muḥammad began his reign in alliance with the court clerics of the imperial capital in Gao, who were accustomed to ‘mixing’ Islamic and traditional practices. After his pilgrimage he sought out the advice of the radical Muslim scholar from the Sahara, al-Maghīlī. The strong positions of al-Maghīlī against the Jews and also the Musūfah, a Berber group strongly associated with Timbuktu, led the askiya to his third choice, the urbane and tolerant Islamic practice of the famous center of Muslim scholarship. The authors advance this as a new interpretation of predominantly old available evidence, and they suggest, on the one hand, the complexity and multiplicity of Islamic practices in the Niger Buckle region around 1500 A.D. and, on the other, the necessity of choice among the three options.