Tuesday, 26 April 2016


                                                      BLACK       SOCIAL       HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

Ahmad Baba (d. 1627). Perhaps the greatest Muslim scholar to ever emerge from Timbuktu, Ahmad Baba was descended from a long line of Muslim scholars and lived during the Songhai era and was renowned as a jurist, grammarian, theologian, political writer, and historian, writing over 40 works during his lifetime. Following the conquest of Timbuktu by the invading Moroccan forces of Ahmad al-Mansur in 1591, Shaykh Ahmad Baba was accused of fomenting a rebellion against the occupiers and was subsequently taken in chains as a prisoner to the Moroccan capital of Marrakesh in 1593. While in Marrakesh, he was treated less harshly due to his scholarly credentials and he continued to teach law and issue legal rulings but was effectively confined by his royal captors to the city limits. By this time, he had become recognized as one of the most senior jurists and scholars of his age. Among his most important works are Nayl al-Ibtihaj, his biographical dictionary in which he compiles a list of the major Maliki scholars from North and West Africa during this period, Jalb al-Ni’ma wa Daf’ al-Naqma bi-Mujanabat al-Wulat al-Dhalama, a work on political theory emphasizing the role of justice as a basis for the legitimacy of rulers, as well as his compilation of legal rulings. His personal library consisted of several thousand books, many of which have survived extant. Following the death of Ahmad al-Mansur in 1603, Ahmad Baba performed the pilgrimage to Mecca before returning to Timbuktu where he continued his work as a practicing Maliki jurist and theologian until his death in 1627.
For more, see:
Hunwick, J.O. “A New Source for the Biography of Ahmad Baba al-Tinbukti (1556-1627)”, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (1964) 27: 568–593
Hunwick, John O. “Ahmad Baba on Slavery.” Sudanic Africa 11 (2000): 131–139
Lévi-Provençal, E.. “Aḥmad Bābā.” Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Brill Online, 2015
Shehu Usmān dan Fodīo (d.1817). Also known as ‘Uthman b. Fudi, he was a religious scholar,  jurist, ascetic, reformer, revolutionary, and founder of the Sokoto Caliphate in northern Nigeria. An ethnic Fulani residing in Hausaland, Dan Fodio was a jurist of the Maliki school and an adherent of the Qadariyya Sufi order. He placed heavy emphasis on political and religious reform, believing the Muslim states of West Africa to have deviated from the principles of justice and righteousness that were enshrined in Islamic law. He was particularly opposed to the oppressive social and fiscal practices that had come to dominate Hausaland and found strong support for his reforms among the peasantry in particular. He spearheaded a major campaign of religious revivalism and reform in order to rectify this state of affairs and led a major Fulani armed uprising against the rulers of Hausaland. His efforts culminated in the establishment of the Sokoto Caliphate, a theocratic state based strictly on Islamic law. He then waged war against neighboring states, bringing them under his authority and implementing his reforms in the conquered regions. Shortly after his establishment of the caliphate, Dan Fodio, while continuing to hold the title of Commander of the Believers (amir al-mu’mineen) delegated his authority to his son (Muhammad Bello) and retired from public life, spending most of his time engaged in preaching, teaching and writing. He was a prolific writer, authoring numerous books and treatises on politics, philosophy, theology, mysticism, and law in both the Arabic and Fulani languages. He was a strong advocate of education and literacy, for both men and women, and several of his children (including his daughter, mentioned below) were important scholars in their own right.
Shehu Usman dan Fodio was perhaps the most important Muslim reformist leader in West Africa during the nineteenth century. This was due both to his scholarship and his role as a political leader, which reinvigorated West African Islam with a renewed sense of purpose. Most importantly was Dan Fodio’s founding of the Sokoto caliphate which brought the Hausa states and some neighbouring territories under a single central administration for the first time in history.
For more, see:
Mervyn Hiskett, The Sword of Truth: The Life and Times of the Shehu Usuman Dan Fodio (1972)
S. J. Hogben and A. H. M. Kirk-Greene, The Emirates of Northern Nigeria(1966)
Hugh A.S. Johnston, Fulani Empire of Sokoto (1967)
Ghislaine Lydon, On Trans-Saharan Trails: Islamic Law, Trade Networks, and Cross-Cultural Exchange in Nineteenth-Century West Africa (2012)
Ibraheem Sulaiman, The Islamic State and the Challenge of History: Ideals, Policies, and Operation of the Sokoto Caliphate (1987)