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Did Shehu Prophesize Any Reformer After Him? II

By Yusuf Abdullahi
Let me start this piece with condolence to Great Messenger, Ameerul mu’mineen and the Imams -leaders of guidance from the purified progeny- on the occasion of the martyrdom of Sayyidah Fatima, chief of the women of Paradise.

 Also to the leader of Muslim-Ummah, religious authorities, oppressed leader of the Islamic Movement and all Muslims across the world. Of blessed memory, mother of believers A’isha has said "I have not seen a person more similar to the Prophet’s appearance, conduct, guidance, and speech, whether sitting or standing, than Fatima. When she enters, the Messenger of Allah stands up, kisses and welcomes her, then takes her hand and asks her to sit in his place." (Tirmizi and Ibn Abdul Rabbeh in Eqd al-Farid). Insha’Allah, we will look at the incidence later in due course.

1. Politico-religious perspective
2. General scholarship
3. Unity
4. Economic empowerment
5. General religious propagation

On the side of Nana Asma’u, the popular daughter of the Sheikh. She has authored many poems in Fulfulde and Hausa which were compiled in tens. Evidently, her teachings made a lot of impact not only to the academic and moral excellence of women but men inclusive. Her books collected and compiled by Jean Boyd are more obtainable in Britain and America than Nigeria. The impact of her works on women’s education was not restricted to her time only but to date. Boyd and Mack (1997, p. 7) described her contributions as being "in transforming the women’s organisation that had existed among the non-Muslim women prior to their capture, and channeling their interests and needs into organising representative of the Jihadic community’s values. Through her organisation of itinerant women teachers of other women (the ‘Yan taru). Nana Asma’u made working of the community both desirable and honourable. Her legacies are with other Jihad leaders and the caliphate itself. According to professor Yusuf Adamu, Bayero University on learning and scholarship in Sokoto Caliphate, he cited 56 selected works of Nana Asma’u compiled by Jean Boyd, which she and Mack in 2000 categorized the areas of her interest as; eschatology: 18 politics; 8 women as sustainers; 12 history; 18 the family;12 health;4 the caliphate and idealism; 4 theology;4 Sharia law and women; 4 women and Bori 4 and theology; 8.

Generally speaking, education was highly improved based on the Islamic stand that knowledge acquisition is compulsory for all. The Ulama were well respected and students were supported by both caliphate and community. In the cause of scholarship many went outside the caliphate in search of knowledge. Nothing like the today’s Almajirci existed at all. So students in the Qur’anic sciences and other disciplines like theology, Jurisprudence and languages were sufficiently and honorably taken care of. And as attested by the colonialists, to a great extent the society was literate as Ajami -Fulfulde/Hausa correspondence using Arabic alphabets -was very prevalent even among sizeable female.

Consequent to the reform, in the first quota of the 20th century, colonial records have shown that there was an estimate of 19,073 Adamu (2003, p. 216)to 25,000 Muslim schools (Crampton, 1975, p. 98) with an enrolment of 143, 312. The enrolment at that time was three times the enrolment in Mission schools in 1918 (Adamu, 2003 p. 216). The above statistics apparently indicate the caliphate’s level of commitment to learning and scholarship especially as it affected women.

On the issue of unity, consequent to the Jihad not only the Hausas and Banzas were brought together but a closer tie was of brotherly relation was recognised with ancient Bornu, Mali and Ghana empires. Unlike the past hostilities and wars for territorial expansion, the Emirs became relatively their brothers keepers after the reform. On the economic empowerment, Shehu’s Jihad has immensely developed the socio-economic sector. Businesses and occupations were generally improved making the society self-reliant. Idleness and corruption as social vices were destroyed making the society a better place to live.

Generally, Islam in its true sense was highly propagated leading to better understanding of the religion. Innovations were removed from the religion including Sufi orders based on their non corrupted teachings. Non Muslims accepted Islam on account of its hospitality, consideration and above all the justice witnessed in its administration.

An undeniable fact is the Shehu’s prophecy of Bishrul ahbaab, where he prophesized the coming of a righteous servant through whom Allah will reform this society. Shehu named the reformer as Ibraheemul magriby to appear during a very serious dilemma (beginning) around the year 1370 H in a lengthy Fulfulde poem. Undoubtedly, the reformer will come and struggle to success in a similar Islamic revolutionary process to that of the Shehu. Late Sheikh Ibrahim Inyass has written a book on that and many scholars have commented. It is the knowledge of the unseen nor a revelation but an inspiring bliss by Allah in the light of the authentic hadeeth quoted above. The poem was read after Shehu foretold the coming of colonialists to destroy the system he fought to establish. I hope this could be an inducement for further research, before we elaborate further in due course. Time is the best witness as no doubt it will tell. Allah knows best.

The colonialists that destroyed the Shehu’s legacy came to the Northern region early 1990’s. They were not welcomed by those in authorities for the fear of their total disregard to Islam and plan to destroy its system put in place. For obvious reasons, the colonialists were rejected by the caliphate unlike in the South where they were welcomed and accepted. Consequent to that war was waged against the caliphate at different angles. The white finally formed allied forces after greater reinforcement of troops and weapons from Ghana, Sierraleone and Lagos. After a rigorous war in 1903, Sarkin Musulmi Attahiru was martyred at Mbormi (present Gombe) who was on migration from Sokoto along with senior aides. Another great confrontation was recorded at Filin Giginya on the entrance of the white to Sokoto city, the seat of the caliphate where many lives were lost from the two sides. The white narrated their ordeals in the encounter with the Muslims expressing their audacity, faith and commitment to their religion which they could not overcome as they preferred to die than to surrender to domination. They attested the fact that their experience here was very peculiar and could not be compared to any other area invaded by the British government. The brave captains -Muffet, Ulama and colonialism in Nigeria -Omar Bello and the Dilemma of Waziri are some relevant historic materials on this topic.

After series of war, the caliphate was captured by the white who appointed emirs that accepted their rule and mandate, running its administration through indirect rule. Many people did not know this, some forgot and others ignore. However, this historic event and heroes should never be forgotten, and should be remembered with greater respect of the Britains to King Henry, Germans to Bobwisky and Indians to Mahatma Gandhi among others. We may ask who really cares for Shehu? No doubt, adherence to the teachings of Islam is the actual care for the shehu’s legacy. That was what he believed, propagated and established. And this should be the pride of every Muslim and even the non Muslim that appreciates the proven justice of Islam. Shehu was immortalized far beyond expectation as a grandfather and revivalist in this region. Yes, the Sokoto University was renamed Danfodio. Some roads were named after his Brother Shaikh Abdullahi, son, Sultan Muhammad Bello and daughter Nana Asma’u memorial Girls Secondary school among others. And in the bicentennial celebration organized in the name of the emirate and collaboration of the Federal Government, the world witnessed how the organizers honored then president Obasanjo with the title of Sarkin Yaki of the Daula and turbaned him not only in the traditional Hausa /Fulani but scholarly attire. To what extent this could be considered a credit or abuse to the caliphate or Islam in general is very clear and all are going to account for their actions here and after. However there are many ways to honor Shehu and his aides in a more respectful and influential way scientifically. Although it could be said that the Shehu was not accorded the deserved honor officially, it is good to appreciate the efforts of some movements and organizations for their roles in this respect;

The Qadiriyyah Sufi order under the leadership of late sheikh Nasir kabara (may Allah have mercy on him) has initiated an annual visit to Shehu’s tomb through Katsina delivering moving preaches. They would then move to Kauran-Namoda, to among other events visit the grave of late Muhammad Namoda, a prominent disciple of Sheikh Usman bin Fodio. Even though the Sheikh has died but the visit is roughly maintained by the Movement. In the last two years however, the month was changed to Safar to correspond with the his birthday which gives more opportunity for sober reflection.

The Islamic Movement under the leadership of the exceptinally oppressed Sheikh accords greater attention to Shehu’s teachings in a number of ways;

i. Immortalization; all tens of thousands schools established by the movement across Nigeria and beyond, were named after the him. The schools were designed with a wider scope in curriculum meant to achieve moral and academic excellence in line with the Shehu’s Islamic discipline. In addition to this the Islamic centre destroyed by El-rufa’i administration at Dan magaji, Zaria was also named after him.

ii. Birthday commemoration; the Islamic movement commemorates the Shehu’s birthday where his biography and caliphate are carefully studied including the causes for the latter’s downfall and the lessons there from. Added to this is the Danfodio week, an intensive programme organized in different places analysing the Islamic revival he led related matters. Publications in this respects are also given a lot of significance in a multifaceted dimension.

iii. Danfodio film; this is a very important project undertaken by the Islamic Movement in the last 16 years. The film is almost completed with a far reaching calculated impact not only in Nigeria but to the entire Muslim-Umma and world in general. When the film is fully out, I hope to give an explicit analysis on the effort done in producing it and the public response on entire project.

While reiterating the urgent need for the unconditional release of Shaikh Ibraheem el-Zakzaky (H), we commend the efforts of concerned Nigerians in securing freedom for the Shaikh from illegal detention.

Wassalamu alaikum.