Risālah ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawaanī -Chapter Twenty-Four: On Fasting


The Risālah : A Treatise on Mālikī Fiqh by ʿAbdullah ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawānī (310/922 -386/996) 

Translated by Alhaj Bello Mohammad Daura, MA (London) (Including commentary from ath-Thamr ad-Dānī by al-Azharī)  Risālah ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawaanī – Chapter Twenty-Four: On Fasting

{This also deals with things connected to it like the Tarawih prayer. Linguistically “siyam” means to restrain and abandon. Whoever forgoes something is said to be fasting. Allah Almighty says in the story about Maryam, “I have vowed a fast to the All-Merciful,” (19:26) meaning a silence, which is withholding from words. In the Shari’a, it is to restrain the appetites of the stomach and genitals from dawn to sunset with an intention before or at dawn except in days of menstruation, lochia and ‘ids.[Fasting is divided into the obligatory and non-obligatory.]

[Khalil: tobacco is also avoided in the fast.]

23.1 Its Ruling

Fasting the month of Ramadan is obligatory.

[It is obligatory by the Book, the Sunnah and consensus. Whoever denies that it is obligatory to fast Ramadan is an unbeliever by agreement. Whoever affirms its obligation and refuses to fast it is a rebel and is compelled to do it. It is affirmed that the fast of Ramadan begins by one of two things, either by the month of Sha’ban lasting 30 days or by sighting the new moon.]

23.2 Beginning the Fast

23.2a. When the Fast Begins

You start fasting when the new moon is sighted and you stop fasting when the new moon is sighted, whether this is after thirty or twenty-nine days. If the new moon cannot be seen because of clouds you count thirty days from the beginning of the preceding month and then begin fasting. The same applies to ending the fast.

[His literal words are whether the sighting is exhaustive, when a group sight it so that impossible to accuse them of lying because their report gives information, or with two witnesses of good character only, with clouds or clear skies, meaning there is no difference between the large and small town. Similar to the two witnesses of good character is one whose report is trusted, even if a slave or a woman, when the place does not pay attention to the business of the new moon in respect of the people of the seer and others. If the place is concerned with the business of the new moon, the seeing of one does not affirm it, even for his family, and even if they believe him, but he must present his business to the ruler. It is not permitted for him to break the fast. If he breaks it, he disbelieves, even if by interpretation because the interpretation is unlikely. The fast is also broken by seeing the moon of Shawwāl. If there are clouds, then you count from the beginning of the month of Sha’bān. The basis for this is what is in the two Sahīh collections that he said, “Fast when you see it and break the fast when you see it. If it is cloudy, then complete the number.” There are seven preconditions for the fast.]

23.2b. 1. The Intention

You should make an intention to fast the whole month at the beginning of the month and it is not necessary to make a new intention every night for the rest of the month.

[He should formulate the intention with his heart the first night of Ramadan after sunset and before dawn or at dawn as an act of nearness to Allah Almighty by performing what is obliged of him during the day of refraining from eating, drinking and intercourse. It is not an obligation to make the intention on the rest of the days. Malik says that the intention is must be made at night, and that is stated by ash-Shāfi’i and Abu Hanīfa, because the days of the month are individual acts of worship separate from one another. The invalidation of one does not invalidate another, and they are not impaired by what is contrary to them at night, like eating, drinking and intercourse. So the days become like the five prayers during the day. It is obliged to give day an intention for the fast as it is obligatory to have an intention for every prayer. The evidence of the Māliki School is the words of the Almighty, “So everyone of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting..” (2:185) This command is transferred to one fast, which is the fast of the month. The intention is made in the night based on what the authors of the Sunan reported of the words of the Prophet: “”Whoever does not intend the fast before dawn has no fast.” Advancing it is overlooked in the fast because of the difficulty. Ibn Nāji said, “The literal words of the shaykh is that it is not obliged for someone who breaks the fast, like the menstruating women, to renew the intention. That is the case according to Ashhab and others. There remain the sick person and traveller when they continue to fast. They are obliged to make the intention every night beause it is not oblgiatory for them to continue. When the sick person becomes well and the traveller arrives, the intention for what is remains is enough for them, like the menstruating woman who becomes pure, the child who reaches puberty in the fast, and the kafir who becomes a Muslim during the month.

The other preconditions are:

2. Islam, 

3. Sanity, 

4. Being free of menstruation and lochia, 

5. Refraining from things that break the fast, 

6.The ability to fast, 

7. Adulthood.]

23.2c. Duration of the Fast

You fast until night comes

[Based on the ayat and because the Prophet said in the Sahīh, “When night advances from there and the day retreats from here and the sun sets, the faster breaks the fast.”]

and it is sunnah to break the fast as soon as possible

[When you are certain the night has come. There is disagreement about continuing after sunset. Some say that it is unlawful as it is unlawful on the Day of the ʿId. Some say it is permitted and he has the reward of the faster. The fiqh of the question that he he has the reward of the faster is weak. The statement that it is unlawful is more likely unless his intention is that it is obliged for him. Otherwise, it is disliked when it is without necessity.]

23.2d. Delaying Suhūr

and to delay your suhūr.(1) If you are not sure if the time of fajr has come or not you should not eat.

[Sahūr means what is eaten and suhur is the act of eating. The amount of the best delay after finishing eating and drinking there remains until Fajr the amount of time it takes to recite 50 ayats. The basis for this is the words of the Prophet, “My community will continue to be all right as long as they hurry to break the fast and delay the sahūr.” (Ahmad) If he is unsure of the time of Fajr, he should not eat or drink or have intercourse. This can mean prohibition or dislike. The well-known position is that it is a prohibition. If he is unsure about sunset, it is unlawful to eat and otherwise break the fast by agreement.]

23.2e. Not Fasting the Day of Doubt

You do not fast the ‘day of doubt’, [2] fasting on the grounds that it might be part of Ramadan.

[This prohibition is one of dislike according to the probable text of the Mudawwana. Ibn ‘Abdu’s- Salam said, “What is probable is that it is a prohibition based on what at-Tirmidhi related in a hasan sahīh hadīth: ʿAmmar ibn Yasir said, “Whoever fasts the Day of Doubt, has rebelled against Abu’l- Qasim (the Prophet).” We consider the Day of Doubt which is forbidden to fast to be the day when it was cloudy on the night of the 29th and vision was not established, and so the morning of that night is the Day of Doubt.]

23.2f. Its Judgement When It is Fasted

If you do this it is not counted even if it turns out to have been Ramadan.

[If you fast the Day of Doubt out of caution and then it is established to be Ramadan, it is not counted because the intention was not firm.] [If you want to fast that day as a voluntary fast, however, you can do so. [i.e. this is when it is his custom to fast.]

23.2g. When you discover it is Ramadan in the Morning

If you get up in the morning and discover, before having eaten or drunk anything, that Ramadan has begun you must fast the rest of the day but you cannot count it as one of the days of your Ramadan and you have to make up a day.

[If this happens, you have to make it up by the lack of the intention. Nevertheless you must avoid food and drink and anything that would invalidate the prayer for the rest of the day. It is also obligatory for him to fast if he has eaten or drunk or the like. He makes it up, but there is no kaffara since he forgot or it was intentional by interpretation. If it is something else, then he must do kaffāra.]

23.2h.When Someone Returns from a Journey or Stops Menstruating

If someone returns from a journey and they are not fasting or if a woman finishes menstruating during the day then in both these cases it is alright for them to eat and drink during the remainder of that day.

[This in the daytime. It is not recommended for them to refrain. It is the same in the case of the child who reaches maturity, the madman who recovers his senses, the sick person who starts out not fasting and then becomes well. It is the same for the  one who faints and then regains consciousness, the one compelled by the necessity of hunger or thirst, and the nursing woman whose child dies in the day. It is the same for an unbeliever who becomes Muslim, although it is recommended for him to refrain which is not the case with the others. As for the one who breaks his fast by forgetfulness or on the Day of Doubt or is forced to break it, and their excuse is removed, then it is obligatory for them to refrain. When the one forced breaks his fast after the compulsion is removed, he must make it up with kaffāra unless there was a valid interpretation.]

23.3 The Ruling on Breaking a Voluntary Fast

23.3a. Breaking it Intentionally

If you are doing a voluntary fast and break your fast intentionally, or if you start off on a journey and break your fast because of it, you must make up that day.

[Without compulsion or excuse, or because you set off on a journey while observing a voluntary fast and then break it because of it: it is obligatory to make it up in both cases. Ibn ʿUmar said that there is disagreement about when he breaks it intentionally: is it recommended to fast for the rest of it or is that not recommended as al-Uhjurī said?]

23.3b. Breaking it Unintentionally

If in a voluntary fast you break your fast unintentionally you do not have to make up a day but if this happens in the obligatory fast you have to make up a day.

[There is no disagreement that it is not obligatory to make it up if it is unintentional, but there is a disagreement about whether it is recommended and there are two positions. Ibn al-Qāsim heard that itis recommended. When the obligatory fast is unintentionally broken, it must be made up. Zarrūq said, “The literal meaning of his words is that the obligatory is in Ramadan or elsewhere.”]

23.4 Things Which Break or do not Break the Fast

23.4a. Siwāk

There is no harm in using a siwāk at any time during the day while you are fasting

[This is stated in the Mudawwana. It means it is permissible, as Ibn al-Hājib stated, “The siwāk is permitted every day as long as nothing splits off from it. It is disliked to moisten it.” Some of them said that it is permitted after midday for the one who does not have a legal requirement. As for a legal requirement like wudū’, the prayer, recitation and dhikr, it is recommended. That is correct as the hadith shows in the words of the Prophet, “If it were not that it would be hard on my communIty, I would command them to use the siwāk for every prayer.” So this includes the person who is fasting. When he says, “during the day while you are fasting” that alludes to the words of ash-Shāfi’ī and Ahmad ibn Hanbal that it is preferred before midday and disliked after it based on what is in the Sahīh where the Prophet said, ‘The odour of the the mouth of the faster is sweeter with Allah than the scent of musk.” That is because of Allah’s pleasure with him and His praise for the faster.]

23.4b. Blood-letting

and blood-letting is not disliked except if doing it will cause over-exhaustion.

[i.e. illness. In the dictionary, it means to expose oneself to death.Therefore cupping is only disliked when illness is feared because he is unsure about health and its absence. If he knows it is safe, there is no dislike.]

23.4c. Vomiting

If you vomit involuntarily while fasting in Ramadan you do not have to make up a day

[If it is in Ramadan or another day, there is no obligation or recommendation to make it up, whether it is for a reason or simply on account oif fullness, and whether the food has been altered or not. This is when he knows that none of it went back to his stomach after reaching his mouth. If he knows that some of it went back after it reached his mouth, then he must make it up when it is unintentional. Otherwise he owes kaffāra. He must also make it up if he is  unsure about that. Undigested food is like vomit. It is what emerges from the mouth of the intestines when they are full. As for phelgm which reaches the end of the tongue and he swallows it deliberately, there is no making up. It is the same with spit which he collects in his month and then swallows. He does not have to make anything up.]

23.4d. Swallowing Vomit

but if you make yourself vomit you have to make up a day.

[There are two statements about whether this is obligatory or recommended. Ibn al-Hajib says that the first is well-known, and it is preferred. Ibn al-Jallab preferred the second. The literal words of the Shaykh is that there is no kaffāra for the one who makes himself vomit in Ramadan. There is some disagreement in the question about whether or not there is kaffara. ‘Abdu’l-Mālik said that he makes it up and does kaffāra. Ibn al-Majishūn says that the one who makes himself vomit intentionally without illness must make it up and do kaffāra. Abu’l-Farāj says that if Mālik had been asked about the like of it, he would have obliged kaffara. It is related from Ibn al-Qāsim that he just makes it up. Know that breaking the fast in Ramadan is obligatory in certain cases and permitted in some. The first category is when a woman menstruates during the day: she must break the fast for the rest of the days.]

23.5 Pregnant and Nursing Women

23.5a. Pregnant Women

If a pregnant woman is afraid on account of the child in her womb she should break the fast. She does not have to feed anyone in expiation. It has also been said that she should feed people.

[If she fears for her child or herself or that she will become ill, she breaks the fast and that is obligatory. According to the well-known position, she does not feed people, but simply makes it up. It is said that she should feed as related by Ibn Wahb. What is understood from his words is that it is when she does not fear, she does not break it even if the fast exhausts her. That is not the case. If the fast exhausts her, she can choose to break it. What is derived from what Ibn ʿArafa says is that the pregnant woman, nursing woman and sick person can break the fast when fasting if it is difficult for them, even if they do not fear illness or its increase. The healthy person cannot break the fast when it is difficult. There are two statements about whether he breaks the fast out of fear of illness. Part of the second, which is that illness permits it in some cases, is when he fears increased or continuing illness. If he fears death or great harm, then he must break it. In the fear which permits breaking the fast, the person relies on the the doctor’s statement, or his own personal experience, or the experience of someone with a constitution like him. Travel has its preconditions which will be discussed.]

23.5b. Nursing Women

Similarly, if a nursing mother fears for her child and cannot find a wet nurse, or if the child will not accept to be fed by anyone else, she can break the fast but she must feed people in expiation.

[This is permission if she fears for her child or herself on account of fasting. In such a case she must feed people. It is also said that it is an obligation to break the fast and feed people.]

23.6. The Old

If an old man cannot fast, it is recommended for him to feed people.

[If he is unable to fast at any time, he is permitted to break the fast by the words of Allah, “No self is charged beyond what it can bear,”(2:233) and “He has not placed any constraint on you in the deen.” (22:78) The literal text of the Mudawwana is contrary to what he mentioned of the recommendation to feed. He says that there is no fidya. However, the Mudawwana relates that he is not obliged to feed and so that is not contrary to the recommendation.]

23.7. Feeding People (Fidya)

23.7a. Its Amount

Feeding people in this context consists of giving away one mudd for each day which has to be made up.

[Feeding is done by the pregnant woman fearful for what is in her womb, the nursing mother who fear for her child, and the very old man who cannot fast is a mudd, by the Prophet’s mudd.]

23.7b. Its Ruling

Someone who fails to make up missed days before the following Ramadan should also feed a poor person for each day they still owe.

[The ruling varies because the feeding done by an old person, as was said, is recommended. The feeding of a nursing woman is obligatory. The literal sense of his words is that making up Ramadan is at leisure, and it is what is indicated by the hadith of ‘A’isha in the Muwatta’. She said, “I used to have to make up days from Ramadan and not be able to fast them until Sha’bān came because I was busy with the Messenger of Allah.” So it is evident that it it permissible to delay it until Sha’bān, even if what was delayed becomes immediately obligatory. That shows that the  obligation is wide. Malik saidthat it should be immediate, but that is weak. According to the first statement, he is considered to be lax in Sha’bān when he is healthy and at home, and so they must feed. When he owes 15 days, then residence and health are considered at the last half of Ramadan and feeding is obligatory if he is sound and resident. If he is ill in it or on a journey, there is no feeding. According to the second, laxity is considered in Shawwāl according to what he owes of fasting based on analogy with what we said about Sha’bān. If Ramadan is 30 and he  fasts a month to make it up and it is 29, then he completes the 30. It is permitted to make it up at any time in which it is permitted to fast voluntarily. It is not made up in days when it is forbidden to fast.]

23.8 Children

Children are not obliged to fast until such time as a boy has his first wet dream or a girl her first menstrual period because it is when children reach physical maturity that all the physical acts of worship become obligatory for them. Allah ta’ala says, “When your children reach physical maturity they should seek permission (to enter).” (24:59)

[One of the preconditions for the fast is being an adult. It is neither obligatory nor recommended for children to fast. Maturity is by ejaculation or age which is 18 in the well-known position. This is different from the prayer. It is recommended to command them to do it. Maturity is what brings the person from childhood to manhood and sense. All acts – prayer, fasting, hajj and raiding – are obligatory for them, as well as actions of the heart, like the obligation of intentions which are obligatory because the intention is one of the actions of the heart, and creeds like the belief that Allah is One, for example. Evidence that obligations become incumbent children when they reach maturity is in the words of Allah Almighty. Asking permission is obliged then and is connected to maturity.]

23.9 Defilements

If someone who has not done ghusl wakes up after fajr in a state of janābah or if the period of a woman who has been menstruating finishes before fajr and she does not do ghusl till after fajr, then fasting that day is valid in both these cases.

[This is either from intercourse or an intentional or unintentional wet-dream in an obligatory or voluntary fast, or a woman has her period stop and sees that she is pure before fajr. If they do not have a ghusl until after dawn, even if they are able to do, their fast is still allowed and they owe nothing. The validity of the fast of the person in janaba is that it is confirmed that the Prophet was in janaba at fajr in Ramadan and he had a ghusl and fasted. As for the validity of the menstruating woman whom becomes pure before fajr in Ramadan, it is agreed that that is when she is pure before fajr with the amount in which she could wash. According to the well-known position that also applies to the amount of time in which it is not possible to wash. If she becomes pure after fajr, her fast is not valid.]

23.10 On Feast Days

23.10a. Not Allowed on the ʿId

Fasting is not permitted on the day of ‘Id al-Fitr or the day of the ʿId al-Aḍhaa nor should anyone fast the two days after the ʿId al-Aḍhaa unless he is doing Hajj Tamatt’a and does not have an animal to sacrifice.

[As it is not permitted, it is not valid since it is forbidden by the Prophet to fast them.]

23.10b. The Fourth Day

There should be no voluntary fasting on the fourth day either but if someone has vowed to fast or has previously broken off a consecutive fast, they should fast that day.

[The fourth day after the Day of Sacrifice is not made a voluntary fast. It is fasted by someone who has fasted Shawwāl and Dhu’l-Qaʿdah for kaffāra for a dhihar divorce or murder and then becomes ill and regains his health in the fourth night. He can fast it.]

23.11 Making up the Fast

23.11a. Breaking the Fast Out of Forgetfulness

If you break the fast in Ramadan out of forgetfulness you only have to make up that day.

[You are obliged to continue to fast and to abstain through the rest of day of Ramadan. You are obliged to continue to fast when you break it by forgetfulness in an obligatory fast other than Ramadan. There is no making up in the well-known position. One should be careful about forgetting. When you break it intentionally you owe kaffara as well as making up. That is why he says “only” since he has he owes no kaffāra because which differs from Ibn al-Majishūn and Ahmad who say that there is kaffara if he breaks it through intercourse based on the hadith of the bedouin who came to the Prophet beating his chest and pulling his hair, saying, “I am destroyed! I am destroyed!” The Prophet asked him, “What is the reason for this?” He replied, “I had intercourse with my wife in Ramadan” He commanded him to do kaffāra. The reply to that by the Maliki masters is that the circumstances of striking himself and pulling his hair indicate that the intercourse was intentional.]

23.11b. Breaking the Fast Because of Illness

The same applies if you are forced to break the fast due to illness.

[When the fast is too difficult with it, or when he fears that the illness will continue longer, or increase, or healing will be delayed, he only has to make it up without kaffāra. If it is an illness in which it is not difficult to fast or in which increased illness or delay of health is not feared, and he breaks his fast, then he must make it up and do kaffāra.]

23.12. A Traveller

23.12a. Length of Journey

If you are on a journey for which you can shorten the prayer you are permitted to break the fast even if there is no particular need to do so, making up any days missed later, but according to us it is better to fast.

[If you go on a journey at the time of the intention such that you will reach a limit where shortening the prayers begins before dawn. So the distance is four or more mail stages of a return journey, and it should not be a journey involving disobedience of Allah. You are permitted to break it, eat, drink and have intercourse. This is even if the journey is not necessary. There is no disagreement that he must make up the fast by the words of the Almighty, “the prescribed number should be made up from days later,” (2:184) The Mālikis prefer that the one one who is strong enough should fast because the Almighty says, “It is better for you if you fast.”]

23.12b A Journey of Less Than the Minimum

If anyone travels less than four mail stages (48 miles) and breaks the fast thinking it is permissible to do so, they do not have to do kaffāra although they must make up the day.

[Anyone who breaks the fast through an interpretation does not have to do kaffāra.]

[Because he followed an interpretation. He is only obliged to make it up without dispute. The literal words about the one who uses interpretation not owing kaffara are unrestricted, but there is a well-known disagreement. The interpretation must be a likely one. There is no kaffāra because he is excused by relying on a strong reason. If the interpretation is unlikely, which is when its reason is not strong, then there is kaffāra. One of the cases in which is the reason is strong is the case we mentioned about the old man, and the one who breaks the fast out of forgetfulness and then breaks it intentionally that it is permitted: he owes no kaffāra. There is also the case of the person in janaba or menstruating before dawn who only had a ghusl for that after fajr and thought that the fast for that day was not obliged and deliberately did not fast: he has no kaffāra. There is the case of someone who who has suhūr at fajr and thinks that the fast for that day is not binding and so he breaks it after that intentionally: he owes no kāffara. There is the one who arrives after a journey at night in Ramadan and thinks that he does not have to fast  the morning of that day and that one of the preconditions of the obligation of the fast is that he come from the journey before sunset. and so he breaks it deliberately: he owes no kaffāra. Unlikely cases are those in which the cause is weak. If he sees the moon of Ramadan and his testimony is not accepted and he thinks that the fast is not binding for him and so he breaks it – he owes kaffāra. Part of it is the person who normally has a fever every three days and so when the dayhe comes he breaks the fast and then the fever comes to him on that day. He is obliged to do kaffara, and even more so if it does not come. One is the woman who normally menstruates on a particular day and so she does not fast that day and then she menstruates later in the day. One of them is the one slanders a person in Ramadan and thinks that that invalidates his fast because he ate the eat of his the flesh of his brother and so he breaks it intentionally. He must do kāffara, and make it up.]

23.13 Kaffāra (compensate or reparation for a wrongdoing)

23.13a. Who Owes Kaffāra

Kaffāra only applies to people who break the fast deliberately either by eating, drinking, or sexual intercourse.

[If he resolves to eat and drink or have intercourse, but does not do it, he owes nothing, either making it up or kaffāra. It is same for someone who resolves to break wudu’ by breaking wind, for instance, and does not do it- he does not have to do wudū’. In the case of intercourse, one distinguishes the deliberate from the forgetful and the ignorant, i.e. the one who was ignorant of the prohibition and the one who did not rely on anything, like someone who is a new Muslim who believes that fasting does not forbid intercourse, for instance, and so does it – he owes no kaffāra.]

23.13b. Making Up the Day

The actual day when the kaffāra was incurred must also be made up on top of the kaffara itself.

[Making it up is obliged as well as the kaffāra.]

23.13c. What Kaffāra Consists of:

[The kaffāra on account of eating, drinking, or intercourse deliberately in Ramadan by abuse or unlikely interpretation is one of three things from which one can choose.]

23.13d. 1. Feeding Sixty People

The kaffāra for breaking the fast consists of feeding sixty poor people with one mudd for each person using the mudd of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. This is the preferred way of doing kaffāra according to us.

[It is taken from the normal food of the one who expiates or from the dominant food of the people: there is disagreement on that. Al-Lakhmi said: “That proceeds according to the disagreement about kaffāra,” i.e. the kaffāra of the oath, and the zakat al-fitr. The preferred position is that it is the food of the people of the land. It is understood from in his words about ‘sixty’, as in the Mudawwana, that it is not satisfied by giving 30 poor people two mudds each. If he gives to less than sixty, he takes back from each of them what is more than a mudd if it is in his possession and completes the sixty. If that has been consumed, he cannot take it back because he is the one who gave them power over that. What is meant by the poor person here is not what is meant by it in zakat, i.e. the one who does not have anything. What is meant is the one in need of it and the poor person who does not have food for that year. There disagreement about which of the three types is best. The well-known position is that it is feeding and that is what is stated here. It is preferred by some of the people of Mālik because it has more benefit.]

23.13e. 2. Freeing a Slave

However, it is also possible to carry out kaffāra by freeing a slave

[The second is freeing a slave. It is a precondition that it be a believer free of defects – like  blind, dumb, or mad.]

23.13f. 3. Fasting Two Months

or fasting for two consecutive months.

[The third is to fast for two consecutive months. Kaffāra is counted by the days.]

23.13g. Eating While Making Up

Someone who breaks the fast deliberately while making up a day of Ramadan does not have to do kaffara.

[This is because kaffāra is one of the special things of Ramadan, and there is no disagreement in what we mentioned according to Ibn Nāji. The disagreement is whether one or two days are made up. It is preferable that he makes it two, as ibn ‘Arafa said.

NOTE: Making up Ramadan is valid on separate or consecutive days, but doing it consecutively is better.]

23.14 Unconsciousness

23.14a. When Someone Regains Consciousness After Fajr

If someone becomes unconscious during the night and recovers consciousness after fajr he should make up a day.

[Ibn Habib said he is not commanded to refrain from eating for the rest of the day. Loss of consciousness is the removal of sense by an illness which afflicts him, as stated in at-Taḥqīq. That which he relied on is the commentator of Khalil. The relied-on position is that if he is unconscious for all or most of the day, he must make it up, whether he is sound at the beginning of it or not. If he is unconscious for less than half of it, and is sound in the beginning of it, it is allowed. Otherwise it is not. We said ‘sound at the beginning,’ meaning conscious at the time of the intention, even if it he was unconscious before it and recovers before fajr for the amount of time in which he could do it, even he did not, according to the relied on position. This is when he made the intention in the night before it sothat it is included in the intention for the month. Otherwise it is not, because there must be an intention since it is not valid without the intention. The one intoxicated by something lawful is like the unconscious person in the details mentioned, but the one who becomes intoxicated by something unlawful at night and remains drunk must make it up. If a sleeper makes the intention at the beginning of the month and then sleeps for the entire mouth, his fast is valid and he is free of responsibility.]

23.14b. Prayers Which Must be Made Up

He only has to make up a missed prayer if he comes to during the time it is due.

[If he fainted at night and wakes up after dawn. This was covered in the Chapter of Prayer. He repeats it here to point out that the fast is different from the prayer. The menstruating woman makes up the fast but no the prayer because of the difficulty of repeating it.]

23.15 Other Prohibitions in the Fast

23.15a. Guarding the Tongue and Limbs

When you are fasting you should guard your tongue and limbs

[That is recommended, and some say it is obligatory, and there is no contradiction between the two positions. The one who says it is obligatory applies to to refraining from the forbidden, and the one who recommends it applies it to refraining from what is not forbidden, like excessive permissive speech. He mentions the limbs which are seven: hearing, sight, tongue, hands, feet, belly and genitals. The tongue is mentioned specifically because it results in the greatest calamities. It is said that there is not a morning but the limbs complain to the tongue, “We ask you by Allah, go straight and we will be straight. If you are crooked, we will be crooked. ʿUmar visited Abu Bakr and found him pulling his tongue. He said, ‘ What, Abu Bakr!” He said, “Leave me. It has brought about things.” People should curtail what they say in Ramadan.]

23.15b. Honouring the Month of Ramadan

and honour the month of Ramadan as Allah has honoured it.

[Allah says “the month of Ramadan in which the Qur’an was revealed.” (2:185) It is honoured by the recitation of Qur’an, dhikr, fasting, praying, sadaqah, and other acts of worship. It is disliked to esteem it by decorations and delegations and the like.]

23.15c. Avoidance of Sexual Pleasure in the Day

A fasting man may not have sexual intercourse during the daytime in Ramadan nor may he touch a woman or kiss her to gain pleasure.

[Intercourse is forbidden by agreement. Other things are said to be haram or disliked. It is possible to say that there is no contradiction, and it is possible that the illicitness is applied when he does not know that there is security and dislike when he knows it. In short, it is disliked for the old and young, male or female, to kiss his spouse or slave girl while he is fasting, or to touch or dally. It is the same for looking or remembering when he knows that he is safe from sperm and prostatic fluid. If he knows that he is not safe or is unsure about it, it is unlawful. It is not unlawful for him in the night unless he is doing i’tikāf or fasting for the kaffāra of a dhihar-divorce. In such a case the day and night are the same. If he does any of that while fasting and is safe, he owes nothing. If he ejaculates, he must make it up and do kaffāra.]

23.15d. Sexual Pleasure Allowed at Night

None of these things, however, is haram for him during the night.

[This is because the Almighty says: “Lawful to you on the night of the fast is going to your wives…” (2:187) Night and day are the same for the one doing i’tikāf and fasting the kaffāra for dhihār.]

23.15e. Waking up in Janaba

It does not matter if you wake up in the morning in a state of janaba because of having had sexual intercourse.

[Here he repeats this point to clarify that the fast is valid if you are in janaba.]

23.15f. Emission of Madhy in Ramadan

If you do get sexual pleasure during the daytime by touching or kissing and this results in the emission of madhy (prostatic fluid) you must make up that day.

[Or through looking or thinking, then he must make up the day for the emission of madhy, whether it lasts or not. For the emission of madhy for any reason, there is only making up, which is obligatory. If there is no madhy, there is no making up, even if there is an erection. It is what Ibn Wahb, and Ashhab related from Mālik in al-Mudawwana. It is the preferred position.]

23.15g. Emission of Sperm in Ramadan

If you do it deliberately and the result is the ejaculation of many (semen) you have to do the kaffāra.

[According to the well-known position. He is silent about looking and remembering. Al-Fakhānī say that if he continues to look until he ejaculates, then he must make it up and do kaffāra. If he does not continue to do it, then he must only make it up according to the well-known position Al-Qabīṣī says that if he looks once deliberately, he must make it up and do kaffāra. Al-Bājī said that it is sound and gave remembering the same judgement as the glance. If he continues to remember until he ejaculates,then he must make up and do kaffara. If he does not continue to do it, then he makes it up without kaffāra.]

23.15h. The Reward for Fasting

Anyone who fasts Ramadan with belief and with awareness of the reward for doing it is forgiven all his previous wrong actions.

[He believes in the reward if he fasts with the awareness that its reward has been stored up for him by Allah in the Next World and he does not fast in order to show off or for reputation. The wrong actions forbidden are the minor ones between him and his Lord. Major wrong actions are only expiated by repentance or Allah’s forgiveness. ]

23.16. The Tarawih Prayer

23.16a. The Reward for Praying at Night

If you stand up in prayer during the night, to the extent that you able to do so, you can expect great good from it and pardon for your wrong actions.

[The reward for standing in prayer is not limited to all the night, but is obtained by anyone who stands for part of it according to his state without limit.]

23.16b. Tarawih are Performed with an Imam in a Group

These night prayers are done with an imam in mosques where the prayer is normally done in jama’a.

[It is permitted to do these prayers in the mosque in groups with an Imam. This is an exception from the dislike of praying the nāfilah in group which is indicated by the words of Shaykh Khalīl, added to the dislike of gathering for nafila or in a known place since the action to gather for them continued from the time of ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb. Part of his sunan is to do this and the time they are done is after ʿIshaa’ ]

23.16c. They Can Be Done at Home

If you want to you can do these night prayers at home. Indeed this is considered better if your intention is strong enough for you to do them by yourself.

[It is considered better to do them at home on you own if you are not too lazy.]

23.16d. How the Salaf First Did Them

The righteous people of the first community used to do these prayers in the mosque. They did twenty rak’as followed by three rak’as – two for shaf’i and one for witr with a salam in between.

[These are the Companions, peace be upon all of them. They did them in the time of ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb in the mosque with 20 rak’ats. That is preferred by a group, including, Abu Hanifa, ash-Shāfiʿī and Ahmad, and the action now does that followed by the shāf’i and witr. Abu Hanifa says that there is no salam between the two, and ash-Shāfiʿi says that there is a choice.]

23.16e. The Later Practice of the Salaf

Later they began praying thirty-six rak’as not including the shāf’i and witr. Both of these are acceptable.

[Then the Salaf other than the first Salaf, namely the Tābi’ūn, increased it. ʿUmar ibn ʿAbdu’l-ʿAzīz commanded that to do that since it contained benefit because they were making the recitation long which caused boredom and weariness, and so he commanded them to shorten the recitation and increase the rak’ats. That which ʿUmar ibn ʿAbdu’l-ʿAzīz did was preferred by Mālik in the Mudawwana.]

23.16f. Done in Groups of Two Rak’ats

You say the salam after each two rak’as. ‘A’isha, may Allah be pleased with her, said that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, never did more than twelve rak’as followed by a single rak’a of witr, either in Ramadan or out of it.

[Then he explains how the Messenger of Allah did them according to ʿĀ’isha which differs from what is in the Muwaṭṭa’ where she says that he did not exceed twelve at any time, Ramadan or not. It also differs from what is related from her that he prayed 15 and 17. Other things are related from his wives and they can be combined if the Prophet first prayed two to greet the msoque and then stood to do tahajjud with two quick ra’kats to start. When he left for the Subh prayer he prayed the two rak’ats ofFajr. So they can be added together.]

1. Suhūr is the meal eaten before fajr prior to a day’s fasting.

2. Thirtieth of Sha’bān if the new moon has not been seen the previous night.

Published in: on April 10, 2021 at 17:34  Leave a Comment  

Risālah ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawaanī – Chapter Seven: on Wiping Over Leather Socks

نظم رسالة ابن أبي زيد القيرواني

The Risālah : A Treatise on Mālikī Fiqh by ʿAbdullah ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawānī (310/922 -386/996)

Translated by Alhaj Bello Mohammad Daura, MA (London) (Including commentary from ath-Thamr ad-Dānī by al-Azharī)

 Risālah ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawaanī – Chapter Seven: on Wiping Over Leather Socks

This chapter is about the judgement regarding wiping over leather socks, the lack of a defined period of time in for doing that, what invalidates it, some of its preconditions, its description and what makes wiping forbidden.

7.1. Its Judgement

You can wipe over leather socks [It is an allowance to wipe which is understood from the context or from wiping because there must be a wiper, man or women. It is permitted to wipe over leather socks. It is a dispensation, but washing is better than it. The permission applies to what is understood by leather socks. They resemble galouches, which are thick socks with no legs, and they resemble socks which have the form of leather socks, but are made from cotton and covered with leather. The basis for its legality is that the Prophet did it.]

7.1a. Location

Either when travelling or otherwise permitted,

[Wiping over socks is an allowance and so it is not particular to the traveller and it is permitted to do at home and on a journey. In the well-known position, it is not a precondition for the wiping that the journey be for something permissible.]

7.1b. As long as the socks have not been removed provided you have not taken them off.

[Wiping over socks is not limited by a known period of time. It is related from Malik that its maximun length when someone is resident is a day and a night, and three days in a journey. This allowance continues, and it is permitted to wipe over them without limit within that period until he removes them. If he removes them, it is agreed that it is invalid to wipe over them and he should hasten to wash his feet again. If he delays washing them deliberately for as long as it takes the limbs of wudu’ to dry, he does wudu’. He is like the one who is unable and the one who forgets and builds on his wudu’, whether it is long or not. If he removes one sock he must remove the other as well, and wash both feet. It is not permitted to wipe over one of them while washing the other.

7.1c. Preconditions of Wiping

[Wiping has ten preconditions, five of which concern what is wiped and five which concern the person who wipes. The preconditions in what is wiped are:

1. That they are made of leather and are not things like cotton socks  2. They are pure and not impure, like the skin of carrion, even if it is tanned 3. They are not polluted and pierced except something like glue; 4. They must cover the place of the obligation (to the ankles) without missing any of it 5. and he must be able to walk in them without them being overly loose-fitting or narrow. Otherwise, it is not permitted to wipe over them.

The preconditions of the wiper are:

1. That he is not a rebelling against Allah by wearing them, and so the man in ihram does not wipe over the socks or affluent by wearing them. This is when the affluent person wears them to avoid the bother of washing the feet or other things which have the sense of indulgent affluence. Such a person is not permitted to wipe over them and must always repeat it. If he ears to them to protect himself from heat or cold or to imitate the Prophet, then he can wipe over them.

2. He must put them on while pure. The one who puts them on does not wipe over impurity, even they are washed.

3. The one who puts them on in state of purity by tayammum cannot wipe.

4. He must fully wash the limbs of wudu’ before putting them on.

5. He does not just wash his feet and put them on then finish doing wudu’, or wash one foot and then put it on before washing the other. If he removes them at the beginning and then puts them on after full purity or removes theone he is wearing and then and puts it on after washing the second, then he can wipe. The meaning is that the prayer is permitted by it to when he is afraid of going wudu’ on account of the cold.]

7.1d. When the socks were put on

This is if you put them on after you have washed them as part of wudu’ for doing the prayer. It is in this situation that, if you then break wudu’, you are entitled to wipe over your leather socks when doing wudu’.

[This contains some of the preconditions which permit wiping. His words, “after you have washed them” means that they were put on while in a state of purity which is achieved by water. His words, “for doing the prayer” means that it is complete in the senses and meaning. So the one who puts on the socks after wudu’ and having fulfilled all the preconditions is allowed to wipe when he breaks wudu’ by lesser impurity. It is limited to lesser impurity because major impurity invalidates wiping because it obliges that they be washed.]

7.1e. When it is not permitted

In any other case it is not permitted.

[If it is not like that since he was not pure when he put them or or he had purified himself with earth or put them on before his purification with water was complete, then it is not permitted.]

7.2. Description

7.2a. Right Foot and removing impurity

The way you do the wiping is to put your right hand on the top of your foot beginning at the toes and your left hand underneath. Then you pass your hands over your foot as far as the ankle.

[This is the recommended manner of wiping. The ankles are included in thewiping as in wudu’ because that is indicated. It is disliked to follow the creases in it because the basis for wiping is lightening. It is disliked to repeat the wiping or to wash it. If he does that, it is still allowable. It is recommended for him to wipe when he is going to pray to wash them with the intention of wudu’ only or to add the intention of removing mud or impurity, even it if is overlooked. If he washeswith the intention of removing the mud or impurity, or he does not intend anything, it is not enough.]

7.2b. Left foot

You do the same thing with the left foot except that you put the left hand on top and the right hand underneath.

[The hands are reversed here. Ibn Shiblun said that the left is like the right according to the literal meaning of the Mudawwana. What is mentioned about wiping on the top and bottom of the leather socks at the same time is agreed upon. The disagreement is about the amount which must be wiped. Ashhab believes that if he confines himself to wiping the top or bottom of the socks to the upper or the lower, it is enough and he does not repeat his prayer. Ibn Nafi’ believed that it is not adequate. But the well-known position is that it is obligatory to wipe the top and recommended to wipe the bottom. If he confines himself to wiping the upper and prays, it is recommended that he repeat it in the preferred time. It is recommended that he repeat wudu’ and the prayer when he abandons wiping the bottom out of ignorance, intentionally or inability if it has been a long time. If it has not been a long time, he wipes the bottom only. It is like that if he only wipes the bottom out of oversight, if it has been a long time or not. If he omits wiping on the bottom, he always repeats it, intentionally or by ignorance or forgetfulness. He builds on the intention absolutely if he forgets and if he is unable, if it is not long. Some of the shaykhs believe that the sides of the feet are part of the top.]

7.2c. Mud

If there is any mud or dung or your leather socks you cannot wipe overthem until you have wiped or washed it off.

[The dung refers to that of mules, horses and asses. Impure dung must be wiped. It is best to wash off pure mud or dung. ‘Abdu’l-Wahhab said that that is because wiping is done over the socks and this constitutes a barrier over the socks, and so it is obliged to remove it. Al-Fakihi sees it as strong recommendation rather than obligation because if he fails to wipe the bottom of the socks altogether, he does not have to repeat it either in the time or otherwise according to the position of Ibn al-Qasim. According to the position of Ashhab, he only has to repeat it within the time, not any time else.]

7.2d. Another form of wiping

Some people say you should start at the ankles and wipe to the tip of the toes so that any dust on the socks which might get wet does not end up at the ankle end of your socks.

[This is another description of wiping over the socks, i.e. putting the right on the right and the left on the left, and beginning at the ankles to avoid moving the dust on the top of the socks in particular because moving impurity from one place to another must happen in any case, whether he begins from the heels or the toes, i.e. impurity is moved to the top of the sock more than it is moved to the bottom, since if he were not to wipe the tops, the wiping would be invalid, which is not thecase with the bottoms. His words must be examined. When he is asked to wipe the mud and wash the impure dung before wiping, how can it be understood that it is moving an impurity from one place to another, top or otherwise, whether he begins to wipe from the heals or the toes?]

7.2e. Actual mud

But if there is any actual mud on the bottom of your socks you should not wipe over it until it has been removed in any case.

Risālah ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawaanī – Chapter Six: Tayammum and Its Description

Risālah ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawaanī – Chapter FIve: Ghusl

Risālah ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawaanī – Chapter Four: On How to do Wudū’ and what is Farḍ and Sunnah in it – How to Clean Yourself after Going to the Lavatory with Water (Istinjā’) or with Stones and Other Things (Istijmār)

Risālah ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawaanī – Chapter Three: On the Purity of Water, Clothing and the Place of Prayer and What Can be Worn When Doing Prayer

Risālah ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawaanī – Chapter Two: What Necessitates Wudū’ and Ghusl

Risālah Ibn Abī Zayd – Chapter One: About What the Tongue Should Articulate and About What the Heart Should Believe In Regards to the Obligatory Matters of the Religion

Published in: on March 7, 2021 at 17:54  Leave a Comment  

Scholarship and Revolution: An examination of the impact of a tradition of Tajdid on the Sokoto Caliphal Leaders – by Usman Bugaje

Scholarship and Revolution: An examination of the impact of a tradition of Tajdid on the Sokoto Caliphal Leaders. International Conference on the Sokoto Caliphate and its Legacies 1804-2004, Abuja, June 14-16, 2004 

European scholarship has for a long time wallowed in the infatuation that African history and literature are nothing but reaction to or extension of its history and literature. As late as the nineties scholars in the field of African literature had occasion to complain that “Islam had been ignored, unseen or glossed over. And yet, in the works of many African writers Islam provides the key components.” (1) Professor Bernard Lewis, a leading Western historian of Islam, has himself expressed concern over “this recurring unwillingness to recognise the nature of Islam or even the fact of Islam as an independent, different and autonomous religious phenomenon.” (2) In Bernard Lewis’s opinion, “Modern western man, being unable for the most part to assign a dominant and central place for religion in his own affairs, found himself unable to conceive that any other peoples in any other place could have done so … to the modern western mind, it is not conceivable that men would fight and die in such numbers over mere differences in religion; there have to be some other “genuine” reasons underneath the religious veil.” (3) It is heartening, therefore, to note that studies on the Sokoto Caliphate have continued to gradually if grudgingly, concede to Islam the central role it played in the motivation as well as the management of the revolution. 

Reform and revolution or tajdid, to use a more familiar Islamic term, is as old as Islam itself. The word tajdid may not have been used by the Qur’an, but the ahadith are unmistakably explicit. To appreciate tajdid we must recall the fact that the Islamic world view is premised on the principle that man from the time Adam (AS) left the garden has been promised guidance in form of Messengers to be sent, the last of who was Muhammad (SAW). The finality of prophet hood which is very cardinal to Islamic belief system is precisely what made tajdid necessary since human society will continue to be prone to stagnation and decline. “The birth of Islam”, as Muhammad Iqbal, the great philosopher noted, “is the birth of inductive intellect. In Islam prophecy reaches its perfection in discovering the need of its own abolition. … The abolition of priesthood and hereditary kingship in Islam, the constant appeal to reason and experience in the Qur’an, and the emphasis that it lays on Nature and History as sources of Human Knowledge, are all different aspect of the same idea of finality.” (4)It is significant that it was the Prophet Muhammad that was to declare that “certainly Allah will raise for this community, at the head of every hundred years, one(s) (man) who will renew (yujaddid) for her, her religion.” (5) Since then, the desire among Islamic scholars to meet this expectation has been on the increase, giving birth to a tradition of tajdid in the Muslim community. Scholars of old had since looked out for a mujaddid and had developed numerous criteria and a compendium of mujaddidun of every age, land and clime. 

Too often it is not realised that 18th and 19th century Hausaland, where the Sokoto Caliphal leaders lived and led their revolution, is heir to a tradition of scholarship and reform spanning nearly a whole millennium. From the 11th century when the Murabitun movement triggered waves of indigenous scholarship and reform, Western Bilad al-Sudan has seen the sprouting of centres of learning and the network of scholars putting the region at par with its peers around the world. The chain and network of scholarship linking the generations of scholars in the region is becoming increasingly clear as research grows. Abdullah b. Yasin and his military exploits used to be all that was heard of the Murabitun movement. But later research focusing on 2 the likes of Imam al-Hadrami, the learned scholar brought by Abu Bakr b. Umar and made the Qadi of Azzugi, has thrown light on the development of local scholarship. The link between the murabitun scholars and Aqit family of Timbuktu has established the continuity of this tradition. The influence of Ahmad Baba, his Shaykh Muhammad Baghayagho, Shaykh Mukhtar al-Kunti al-Kabir and a host of them on the thinking of the Sokoto caliphal leaders is very evident from their numerous writings. 

The Sokoto caliphal leaders were descendants of this network of scholarship and were taught first by their parents and uncles all of whom were scholars born of this great tradition of learning. It is fairly easy to understand where the inspiration of reform was coming from. It is important to also appreciate that when Shehu Usman started his career as itinerant teacher, he distinguished himself from his peers not so much for his learning like his sense of mission. His first ever writing was said to be a poem in praise of the Prophet Muhammad, as was common in the scholarly circle of his time, in which he was expressing his yearning to walk in the shade of the Prophet, reviving his Sunnah. It would appear that the seeds for reform must have already been sown from his early education; all that Jibril b. Umar, his revolutionary teacher, may have done was simply to water it. 

Subsequent writings of Shehu Usman continued to emphasise the need, nay necessity of complying with the Sunnah, in worship as well as social conduct. It was not surprising therefore his major pre-jihad work was entitled Ihya’ al-Sunnah wa Ikhmad al-bid’a. Some, especially Arab scholars, have been tempted by this title to think that Shehu Usman’s movement had been inspired by the wahabi movement of the Arabian peninsular. As Fathi Masri had adequately argued (6), this is not tenable if only because the Wahabis are anti-Sufi and Shehu’s was unmistakably Sufi. The sources that Shehu drew upon in his Ihya are strongly sufi and largely from this chain of scholars who have been heirs to the Murabitun and Timbuktu tradition of learning. When Shehu later addressed socio-political issues his reliance on the leading scholars of the western Bilad al-Sudan became more evident. For example in addressing the issue of slavery and the classification of Muslims in the region, he drew very much from the works of Ahmad Baba of Timbuktu, especially his Kashf. 

In the pre-jihad period when Shehu Usman had to prepare his community for an eventual confrontation and buttress his position on the need for jihad he had to rely very much on the works of Maghili, like the Taj al-Din fi ma Yajib ala al-Muluk, the Nasiha of Mukhtar al-Kunti and occasionally the Tafsir of Jalalyn of Muhalli and Suyuti, Ibn Khaldun’s al-Ta’rikh al-Kabir, the Takmila of Suyuti and similar works. His Kitab al-Farq drew heavily on Shurb al-Zulal of Shaykh al-Barnawi (Ajrami). 

Even after the jihad when the task of running the Caliphate called for more discussion and writing, the caliphal leaders continued to draw from the works of the scholars of the region. Abdullahi’s Diya’al-Sultan drew substantially from Al-Maghili’s Taj alDin. 

It is no longer possible to see Shehu Usman and his team in isolation from this tradition whose seeds were sown from the time of the Murabitun and watered by the scholars of the region like Ahmad Baba, al-Maghili, al-Kunti etc, occasionally assisted by others like Sahnun, author of the Mudawwana, Ahmad Zarruq the Sufi of Misurata, Jalaluddin al-Suyuti etc. The mission and the vision of the Sokoto Caliphal leaders has been very much the extension into time and place of what had begun in the 11th century. This is not to deny the Shehu and his team their creativity. (7) The confidence of scholars like Ahmad Baba and Mukhtar al-Kunti who rate scholarship in the Western Bilad al-Sudan region much higher than the then North Africa and the Arab world did a lot to inspire the confidence portrayed in Shehu’s writing. It is 3 instructive that Shehu and his team acquired their enviable level of proficiency in the Arabic language, the language of scholarship, without having to go to any Arab country, not even for Hajj. It was simply remarkable! 

It is now necessary to look at the link between scholarship and revolution. What is it in scholarship that inspires or triggers revolution? Are scholars necessarily revolutionaries? Or as Thomas Hodgkins would put it, “When and why do scholars become revolutionaries? (8) It may, perhaps, be easy to see why scholars are revolutionary, but as to when they are and when they are not, this is certainly far more complex. The experience of the Western Bilad al-Sudan from the 11th to the 19th century provides us ample opportunity to probe further and to fathom this important area of research. 

To understand why scholars are revolutionary perhaps we only need to examine the nature of Islamic scholarship in this region. As has already been observed, the leaders of the Sokoto Caliphate were heirs to a tradition of learning which goes back to the time of the Murabitun in the 11th century. Though this traditional was undoubtedly enriched by other traditions from Andalusia (Muslim Spain), Fatimid North Africa, Hijaz and even Asia in course of the seven or eight centuries, it has retained some of its unique characteristics; particularly the taste for thoroughness, courage, steadfastness, asceticism and humility. It may be useful to look at, even if briefly, the general characteristics of the Islamic tradition of learning. In other words, we should look at the genus of which this is only specie. 

It is significant that the first word of the Qur’an was the command to read! The Qur’an is replete with passages which exalt learning and extol the search for knowledge. The sayings of the Prophet of Islam, the second most important source after the Qur’an, have continued to place learning on an unmistakably eminent pedestal, equating the path of knowledge with the path of paradise. Islam has clearly placed the highest premium on learning. “The Islamic idea of knowledge” as Abdullahi Smith rightly observed, “is universalist in nature – embracing the knowledge of God and His creation including the knowledge of anything to be found in the universe.” (9) Science and technology was not neglected but its significance was subservient to the ultimate purpose of life which learning itself sought to understand. “Traditions of learning such as these in which the primacy is given to the study of religious and moral issues, which defines science as the knowledge of God’s law, and truth as the unalterable content of that law” (10) is familiar to many. Indeed this tradition where God occupies the centre and purpose permeates learning predates the Islamic era by several millennia and dominated the world view of the learned men of ancient Jewry and Christendom and informed the establishment of their universities down to Azhar (Cairo) and Cordova (Spain) in the 10th century and Oxford and Cambridge in the 13th century. What may not be familiar to many, but important to note, is the point in time and circumstances under which the departure from this tradition began and gave birth to a new tradition as today symbolised by our modern universities, epitomised by the London University. “London University”, as Abdullahi Smith had occasion to explain, “which received statutory recognition in the U.K. in 1820’s and began to be influential some 50years later, did not originate in the 19th century world of learning at all; but in the mercantile world of the industrial revolution which was then transforming human society in the countries of Western Europe and North America. Those who secured its foundation were not scholars in search for universal truth for the benefit of mankind, but businessmen in search of greater profits for their own benefit. The primary object of the university was 4 to provide training in science and technology for the British industrial establishment to assist the latter in the competition in the foreign business interests (particularly Germany) … This industrial establishment was not in addition in need of theological and moral training as something separate, because, … they held the peculiar (and certainly erroneous) belief that the possession of wealth was itself a sign of God’s favour and that therefore, the way to walk in the way God had laid for them and increase his favour was to increase their wealth by hard work and improved technology.” (11) 

Because of this strong moral content and the all pervading purposefulness, learning in Islam is not pursued for its own sake nor is it left to the student to take from pages of books, the presence and influence of the teacher is believed to be critical. This, in a way, is an extension of the influence of the Prophets who not only conveyed the divine message but lived it in their lives and therefore act as models of behaviour for the faithful. Character and learning were inextricably linked in this tradition of learning. For one to teach any subject matter, he must have had the leaf (ijaza) of another teacher who had himself been certified to teach same but another teacher. So the ijaza or certificate must necessarily contain the names of the chain of scholars who have taught (isnad). Essentially it is the isnad which validates the ijaza. Isnad is a kind of academic pedigree, enhanced by the presence in the chain of some prominent scholars, because of the value attached to the role of the teacher and the student-teacher relationship. It should perhaps be added here that teachers are usually living libraries in this tradition of learning. 

Learning in Western Sudan, where Sokoto Caliphate is located, is pursued with a total dedication. The scholar is more than just a teacher, he is also a mentor, a role model, a father figure and community leader, whose concern goes beyond just educational issues but tackles social, medical and marital problems of the community. A description of one of the great scholars of the region, Ahmad Baba of Timbuktu of his teacher, Muhammad Baghayogho (d.1594) gives us a glimpse of the scholar in this milieu. 

“Our shaykh and our blessing, the jurist, the accomplished scholar, the pious and ascetic man of God (al-abid), the mufti, a man among the finest of God’s upright servants and practising scholars, … he was constantly busying himself in seeing to people’s need, even at the cost to himself, becoming distressed if they fell into adversity, settling disputes among them and giving good advise. Add to this his love of learning and his devotion to teaching and study, his love for men of learning and his own total humility, the aid he gave to scholars and the trouble he took for them, giving out the rarest and most precious of his books … He had enormous patience for teaching throughout the whole day and was able to get his point across even to the dull-witted never feeling bored or tired.” (12) 

Here then is a scholar who lives not in the ivory tower but in the midst of the people and who seeks to serve them in so many facets earning thereby their confidence and reverence and easily the spokesman of the community. This moral capital which scholars build over time earns the scholar such powers that are out of tune with his or her rather meagre material resources. The powers of the scholar contrasts sharply with the social distance between the people and their rulers. The scholar carried on his shoulders the heavy burden of his students and the wider society, always concerned with their individual and collective welfare, ready and willing to give a helping hand. It is easy to understand what Shehu Usman did at Magami when Bawa Jan Gwarzo, the dreaded king of Gobir, assembled the cream de la cream of Gobir and showered 5 gifts on selected dignitaries on the occasion of the eid al-Kabir. Shehu not only declined to accept the lavish gifts but requested that, in its place, he is granted five prayers which included the release of political prisoners and the lightening of the taxation of the ordinary people. 

This relation between the scholar and the people contrasts sharply with that between the scholar and the bureaucracy. First the scholar is financially independent of the state, the further away he is from the bureaucracy the more the respect he is accorded. The scholar is normally supported by the community through their zakat and sadaqat. It did not appear to be particularly difficult for the scholar to live on these scanty resources of the community, because the scholar is by definition an ascetic and in any case his life a hallmark of simplicity and humility. It was feared that once he is sponsored by the state he looses his independence and thereby sway in the event of any injustice and oppression. This is even when the rulers are deemed to be good Muslims, the assumption is that power corrupts. In some particular context relationship with bureaucracy could be seen to be reproachable. This was the case on the eve of the Jihad when there was clear tension between the Jama’a on one hand and Sarakuna (rulers of Hausaland) on the other and it was important that as lines are being drawn the jama’a knows where their leaders stand. Taking a stand and reinforcing his position by quoting strong authorities, Shehu wrote: 

“Ibn al-Hajj has stated in his book al-Madkhal: ‘Let (the scholar) guard strictly against frequenting anyone belonging to the group of worldly men (abna al-dunya) … since the learned man should be the person to whom people come, not the other way round. It is no excuse for a learned man to frequent other people’s houses on the pretext of securing advantages for the masses of the people and the warding off harm … securing the need of the Muslims lies in total abstention from visiting worldly men, and in reliance upon Allah and recourse to him. (13) 

We must not forget that Islam spread into the 12th century Ghana through the scholars of the southern wing of the Murabitun. The Qadi of Azzugi who was one of if not the first local author, was a prominent Murabit scholar. That Murabitun streak appeared to have remained a permanent feature of scholarship in the western Bilad al-Sudan of which Sokoto is an integral part. The exacting standards of Abdullahi b. Yasin, the tenacity of Abubakar b. Umar and the conviction and self-confidence of scholars, the likes of Imam al-Hadrami continued to cast their spell on scholarship in the region. 

The absence of any social distance between the ordinary people and scholars; the distance scholars maintained between themselves and the temporal authorities and its bureaucracy; the Murabitun streak which emphasised compliance and sought thoroughness, combined to make the scholar in the western Bilad al-Sudan a potential revolutionary waiting for a cause. These three features help us to appreciate why scholars are revolutionaries. And this tradition has had an unmistakable impact on the perception of the role of scholars by the Sokoto Caliphal leaders. 

Now, as to when scholars become revolutionary, this is less easy to determine. We can, however, examine the elements which play the key role in determining when scholars opt for or out of a revolution. Ordinarily it should be the magnitude of the challenge or stimulus. But it is not so much the level of threat to the faith and its values or the magnitude of oppression or injustice meted on the society like the scholar’s interpretation of his ability (istita’a) to respond successfully. The operational tool here is provided by the famous hadith of the Prophet on amr bi’l-maáruf wa’l-nahy an’l-munkar, which says, in effect, ‘Whoever amongst you sees anything wrong (munkar) he/she should set it right with his/her hands; if he/she hasn’t 6 the ability to do it then he/she should set it right by raising his/her voice, if he/she hasn’t the ability to do as much, he/she should then register his/her disgust and abstain from it.’ The key word here is the ability, istita’a of the community concerned as understood by their leading scholars. 

The different reactions we find in different settings and with different scholars all hinged around the respective scholar’s interpretations of what in his circumstances constitutes ability. The different schools of tajdid in western Bilad al-Sudan are largely the results of the different interpretations of the different scholars. To be sure this interpretation is not some theoretical exercise. It is a complex exercise which is both theoretical and practical, the more so for it often involves social consequences. The scholars often examines the balance of forces on the ground, gauges the moral tone of society as well as the political mood before deciding on the ability or otherwise of the their community to choose a revolutionary path. Thus Shehu Usman Dan Fodio resisted confrontation with the Hausa establishment for several years despite the urging of members of his growing community, who thought that they were ready for confrontation. He may have thought that his job was essentially to educate the society and confrontation was not on the agenda. Even when the indications showed confrontation was likely, the shaykh may have thought that his community, the Jama’a was not quite ready to go through the rigour and deprivation a confrontation entails. He may have also realised that confrontation requires a much higher level of organisation and discipline than was available in the Jama’a at the time – a point vindicated by Abdullahi’s desertion of the army at the middle of the Jihad on account of the absence of discipline. Similarly Umar al-Futi insisted that the Talaba must master the Qur’an and imbibe the deeper aspect of sufi tarbiyya before venturing into armed struggle. Many such scholars who led armed struggles feared that pure political action which is not motivated by the desire to please God, is misguided and unworthy in the final analysis even if it may lead to spectacular material success. In fact, as one can glean from their writings, they must have felt that material success not back with adequate moral development, could lead to a disaster much worse than the one they wanted to flee from. 

Admittedly there was a considerably measure of subjectivity in some of the decisions taken especially in the interpretations of istita’a. Thus two scholars given the same situation could arrive at two different, even opposing views. The practices in Borno for example, while admittedly wrong, did not, as far as al-Kanemi’s interpretation goes, warrant a jihad. But the sokoto Caliphal leaders, in their own interpretation, believed it did and hence the conflict. Similarly the case of Ahmad Labbo’s Masina and Umar al-Futi’s Segu, here one state took over the other. 

This paper has set out to examine the relationship between scholarship and revolution in Western Bilad al-Sudan. Within the prevailing constraints, the paper has shown that the Link between scholarship and revolution in this region is an enduring one. It has also shown that this link has informed the minds of the leaders of, not only, Sokoto Jihad but those of similar jihads in the 19th century West Africa. While this supports the assertion that the history of the region, as indeed the history of the rest of Africa, had a momentum of its own, it also obliges the policy makers of the contemporary West African states to resist the simplistic Eurocentric understanding of their own societies. It is time they understand their own society for what they really are not what European scholars and their protégés claim they are. This gap between what our societies are and what our leaders think they are has often worsened the social distance that exists between citizens and their rulers, frustrated genuine human 7 development and thrown our societies into deeper social and political crisis from which we seem never able to recover. 

FOOTNOTES 1. Kenneth W. Harrow, Faces of Islam in African Literature, Ed. Heinemann Portsmouth and James Currey, London, 1991. P. 3. 

2. B Lewis, ‘The Return of Islam’ in Middle East Review, Fall, 1979. P. 17. 

3. bid. P. 18. 

4. M. Iqbal, The Reconstruction of Religious Thoughts in Islam, New Delhi, K.B. 1974. P.85 

5. Sunan Abi Dawud, Dar al-Hijra, Syria, 1973. Vol. 4. P. 480. 

6. F. H. el-Masri, (ed. Trans.) Bayan Wujub al-Hijra, K.U.P. Khartoum, 1978. P. 18. 

7. It hardly needs to be said that the triumvirate of the Sokoto Caliphate were very creative and unique in many ways. The three scholars have together produced over 300 works including a tafsir of the Qur’an and covering a very wide spectrum of subjects; law, language, history, medicine, mention it … 

8. I.T. Hodgkin, ‘Scholars and the Revolutionary Tradition: Vietnam and West Africa’, in Oxford Review of Education, Vol. 2, no. 2, 1976. pp. 111-28. 

9. Abdullahi Smith, ‘the Contemporary Significance of the Academic Ideal of the Sokoto Jihad’ In Y.B.Usman (Ed) Studies in the History of the Sokoto Calipahte A.B.U. Zaria, 1979. P.246. 

10. Ibid. P.247. 

11. Ibid. 247-8.

12. Ahmad Baba, Nayl al-Ibtihaj, p. 341-2, the translation is John Hunwick’s in his ‘A Contribution to the Study of Islamic Teaching Traditions in West Africa: the Career of Muhamad Baghayogho 930/1523-4-1002/1594’ in Islam et Societes au Sud du Sahara no.4, 1990. p. 155-7 

13. ‘Uthman b. Fudi, Masa’il Muhimma, f 7-9. The translation of this passage had been done by A. Bello Daura and used by I. Sulaiman in ‘Worlds Apart’, an unpublished paper for an international conference on the Role of Ulama’ in the Sokoto Caliphate, University of Sokoto, 1986. 

Published in: Uncategorized on March 1, 2021 at 22:04  Leave a Comment  

Shaykh Uthman Ibn Fodio and The Revival of Islam in Hausaland


by Usman Bugaje


The Milieu 

Perhaps no Muslim needs to be told about the importance of history if only because the Qur’an is full of it. And how assuring were these stories of the prophets as well as the tyrants of old. They assured the Prophet Muhammad as well as his companions that they were treading a well trodden path and gave them both the strength to bear the hardship and the insight to understand the nature of the encounter they were engaged in. Ironically no one seems more ignorant of his history today as the Muslim. Muslims, like others, certainly know that whoever controls the past controls the future. But what they don’t seem to wake up to is the corollary, whoever controls the present, too often, controls the past. This is not simply to explain why they remain ignorant of their past but to make them appreciate the fact that those who control their present will not easily give up their past. As Muslims did (or are still doing) with their freedom and independence, they may have to do with their past, indeed their past is an important component of that freedom, for it gives them their identity and therefore the freedom to be what they are. For, as history itself testifies, freedom is never given on the platter of gold. But without it no nation, or indeed individual, makes any meaningful progress. Our past gives us not only our identity and our worth, but also our bearings and our goals. It presents to us our role models and show us the things worth fighting for. Our future therefore is in discovering our past. This journey of discovery is taking us to some of the forgotten lands of Islam, the region of West Africa which had been an integral part of the Muslim world for over a millennium and which today holds over half of Africa’s Muslim population. We are visiting one of the greatest Muslim figures of this region, Shaykh Uthman b. Fodio. 

Hausaland, where Shaykh Uthman was destined to live and thrive, was located in the middle of what early Muslim historians called the Bilad al-Sudan, which is the vast Savannah grassland stretching from Sene-Gambia in West Africa to the Red Sea in the east. Islam had spread in to this region since the eighth century. Prior to the spread of Islam, the region had been linked with North Africa by the trans-Saharan trade routes that brought manufactured goods from the Mediterranean region and the world beyond in exchange for Gold which appeared to have been in abundance. With the spread of Islam in the region the trans-Saharan trade routes increased and as trade grew, intra-regional routes developed, spreading Islam further into the region. As Islam spread, literacy developed, communication and security improved, increasing traffic and boosting commerce, paving the way for social integration and the development of complex urban societies. Thus the ancient kingdom of Ghana emerged in the 11th century and lasted until the 13th, when it gave way the bigger empire of Mali. By the 15th century the Songhay empire had emerged to replace Mali and lasted until the 17th when it disintegrated into smaller chiefdoms, having been invaded in 1596 by a Moroccan regime desperate for Gold. To the east of Songhay and in the middle of this vast region was the Hausaland, a loose confederation of small but independent states. To the east of the Hausa states, as they are often called, was the Kanem-Borno empire, as old as Ghana, but unlike Ghana, survived until the 19th century. 

These Kingdoms and empires were essentially Muslim states fashioned very much along the Muslim states of North Africa. Their leaders were in the habit of making pilgrimage, usually through Egypt, and bringing back books and artisans. Their students attended the famous educational institutions around the Muslim world, like al-Azhar were many of these states had hostels for their students and made annual grants to maintain them.1 The region itself developed centres of learning and received scholars of international repute like the Algerian Shaykh al-Maghili.2 Borno was famous for the study of the Qur’an and its capital attracted many scholars and became a seat of learning. Timbuktu in Songhay was famous as a city of scholars and its Sankore mosque became a great centre of learning for the region very much like Azhar in North Africa.3 Similarly, in Hausaland, cities like Katsina and Zaria had reputations that went beyond the region and attracted scholars. The Moroccan invasion of Songhay and the rustication of Timbuktu, the principal centre of learning, threw the region into confusion from which it never recovered until after the Jihad led by Shaykh Uthman b. Fodio at the beginning of the 19th century. The destruction of Sankore and the absence of the restraining force of the state of Songhay brought down the tempo of learning and threw the neighbouring Hausa states into inter state internecine warfare, with predictable effects on security and commerce. This insecurity, poor revenue and decline in learning, combined to frustrate the compliance with the Sharia as increasingly desperate kings used all means available to win battles and remain in power. This also gave a receding paganism chance to stage a come back as ignorance took its toll. It was in this chaos and confusion, decadence and oppression and increasing anxiety of a beleaguered citizenry that Shaykh Uthman was born. 

1 For details see Corpus of early Arabic Sources for West African History P. 261 and P. 353. 

2 For details see J.O. Hunwick, (ed. Trans.) Sharia in Songhay: The Replies of al-Maghili to the Questions of Askia al-Hajj Muhammad, London New York, O.U.P. 1985. 

3 For details see E. Sa’ad, Social History of Timbuktu, Cambridge, C.U.P. 1983. 

4 For a detailed account of the education of Shaykh Uthman see F. H. El-Masri, ‘The Life of Shehu Usman dan Fodio Before the Jihad’, JHSN, ii(1963-4) pp. 435-48. For the general intellectual background, especially the long tradition of learning, see Ahmad Kani, The Intellectual Origin of the Sokoto Jihad, Ibadan, 1985. 

Birth, Studies and Career 

Uthman was born at Maratta, a town in the Hausa state of Gobir, on 29th Safar 1168 AH / Sunday 15th December 1754. His father Muhammad Fodio was a well known scholar of his time in Gobir, a descendant of the Torankawa Fulani and heir to a long Islamic tradition of learning. Coming , as he did, from a learned family, with a long tradition of leaning, Uthman had two advantages: access to one of the best instructions and a social status in a society full of respect for learning. He learnt the Qur’an at the feet of his father very early, as was the practice then and proceeded to study elementary fiqh and Arabic language. He then proceeded, this time under scholars renowned in their respective fields, many of whom turned out to be his uncles, to under take advanced studies, where the curriculum is heavy and the influence of the teachers great. Here he studied Tasfsir, Hadith, Sirah, Fiqh, Arabic Language, Tasawwuf, Mathematics and Astronomy. He received a thorough grounding in these fields and before he was twenty he had already written his first work in his mother tongue, reflecting not only the early intellectual maturity but also a propensity for literary out put.4 By the time he was twenty he had formerly finished the basic texts for advanced studies and free to pursue a career. Soon after, he wrote his first work in Arabic, a poem in praise of the prophet5, indicating his proficiency in Arabic and his career inclinations. 

5 Al-Qasida ‘l-Daliyya, Zaria, n.d. See Fathi El-Masri (Ed. Trans.) Bayan Wujub al-Hijra, Khartoum, Khartoum University Press, 1978. P. 2. 

6 Abdullahi b. Muhammad, Tazyin al-Waraqat, M. Hiskett (ed. trans.) Ibadan, Ibadan University Press, 1963. pp. 85-6. Abdullahi was put under the care of Shaykh Uthman while still young and did his early education under his brother and continued to accompany him through out the mission and being literary inclined, in fact a prolific writer and scholar with a taste for thoroughness, he kept a good record of their endeavour all along. 

As he was growing up one thing appeared to have taken Uthman’s attention, the level of ignorance of the wider society, especially among the women and the pervasion of innovations (bid’a) and widespread syncretic practices. He was deeply worried about the violations of the Sharia, the neglect of the Sunnah and the plight of his society as it came increasingly under the tyranny of ever unjust monarchs. The more he read the more he seemed to find this state of affairs unacceptable. The situation was not for want of teachers, indeed there were many, but the teachers had kept themselves in their ivory towers making their knowledge available only to the few who cared to come, to the neglect of even their own families. There were teachers who instead of correcting the ordinary people, were in fact making fortunes out of their ignorance, collecting their wealth under several pretexts and condoning violations of the Sharia and often conniving with rulers to perpetuate all manners of injustices. So by the time he was through with formal studies and became a man of his own he had already decided to devote his time to educating the public the basics of the religion. He started giving public lectures, sermons in and around his home town as he pursued hid post graduate studies with renowned scholars within his reach. He was soon to be joined by his brother Abdullahi, twelve years his junior and much later his son Muhammad Bello. 

As if the society was waiting for him, he received an immediate response among many, not only in his home town but beyond. Abdullahi, who became an erudite scholar, has captured this initial start in one of his many works: “Then we rose up with the shaikh helping him in his mission work for religion. He travelled for that purpose to the east and to the west, calling the people to the religion of God by his preaching and his qasidas in other languages and destroying customs contrary to Muslim law.”6 As people started crowding around this young and rather daring scholar, soon Uthman found himself at the head of a circle of young people sharing some revolutionary ideas. This, unknown to them all, was the nucleus of a movement that was to transform Hausaland for good. Having taken off, the movement went through four distinct phases. The phase of teaching and public da’wah, the phase of planning and organisation, the phase of hijra and jihad and the post jihad phase during which the Caliphate was established. In what follows, we shall be looking at these phases one at a time. 

The Phase of Teaching and Public Da’wah 

The response Shaykh Uthman received to his public preaching must have encouraged him to continue and expand it beyond his home town to other parts of his state of Gobir. He soon found it necessary to go beyond his own state to the neighbouring states starting from Zamfara where he spent some five years, for as he said, he discovered several pockets of people who had not infact accepted Islam yet. Shaykh Uthman was to remain, for some 19 years, as an itinerant scholar always on the move. Where ever he went he stayed long enough to establish a community and always left behind some of his students and disciples to continue his job. It wasn’t all teaching, however, as he had to be writing at the same time not only to produce the texts to be studied in the various circle he was creating but he had to reply to numerous questions and issues which his da’wah was raising and reply critics who were busy trying to stop this rising wave of awareness that was clearly out to sweep the status quo. Hectic as this job no doubt was, Shaykh Uthman was able to combine it with his own pursuit of learning visiting one renown scholar after the another. So many were these teachers that when they eventually settled down many year later and tried to write down some biographical notes on their teachers, which turned out to be a whole book itself, they could not quite remember all, in the words of the author, “I cannot now number all the shaikhs …. so many that I cannot count them.”7 Where ever he went and where ever his works reached he attracted a following as Abdullahi reported, “Some of the people from the surrounding countries came to him, and entered his community which had become famous through him.”8This is not to suggest that the Shaykh found it easy, far from it, it appeared to have been quite a trying and challenge period, as these lines from a poem Abdullahi composed during this period suggests: 

7 Abdullahi b. Muhammad, ‘Ida` al-Nusukh man Akhadhtu ‘anhu min al-Shuyukh, M. Hiskett, (ed. trans.) ‘Material Relating to the State of Learning Among the Fulani Before their Jihad’ in BSOAS xix, 3, 1957. p. 568. 

8 Ibid. 

9 Abdullahi b. Muhammad (Fodio), Tazyin al-Waraqat, M. Hiskett (ed. trans.) Ibadan, Ibadan University Press, 1963. P. 99. 

“Oh send on my behalf to my tribe a letter, To which men or honest women may pay attention, To their scholar, or seeker after knowledge, desiring To make manifest the religion of God, giving good advice therein.  I say to him: Rise up, and call to religion with a call Which the common people shall answer, or the great lords; And do not fear, in making manifest the religion of Muhammad The words of one who hates, whom fools imitate. And do not fear to be accused of lying; nor the disavowal of the apostate; Nor the mockery of the ignorant man gone astray While the truth is as the morning; Nor the backbiting of a slanderer; nor the rancour of one who bears a grudge, Who is helped by one who relies upon (evil) customs. None can destroy what the hands of God has built. None can overthrow the order of God if it comes.”9 

These verses summarised what several pages of prose had explained. One can glean the strength of their conviction and the degree of their determination. Their immediate objective was to disseminate the knowledge of the religion clearly and widely. They were motivated by the consciousness of their responsibility and sustained by their strong belief that God was on their side. They faced an array of obstacles, starting from their peers who thought that they were crazy to contemplate a change in the rotten society they were born into, then their contemporary scholars who were eager to find faults in what they did and called them all sorts of names, and ultimately the rulers of Hausaland who realised that the success of this movement was going to be at the expense of their cherished thrones. These obstacles, formidable as some of them were, did not, however, dissuade them from their path. For they new that it was a well trodden path, the path of the prophets of old. 

In line with his immediate objective of educating the wider public, most of Shaykh Uthman’s preaching focused on the basic issues of proper understanding of tauhid, correct performance of the routine acts of worship, Islamic standards of behaviour and emphasis on the Sunnah as opposed to the bid’ah which due largely to the prevailing ignorance had infested numerous acts of worship and behaviour. He also explained the general meaning of the Sharia and encouraged his audience to appreciate the need for ‘amr bi al-ma’ruf wa al-nahy an al-munkar (commanding the right and forbidding the wrong). He wrote numerous books on these subjects during this period, like, Usul al-Din, Iman, Islam, Ihsan, Hidayat al-Tullab etc. But since a substantial part of his audience were not literate, Shaykh Uthman also composed poems in local languages carrying essentially the same messages in simpler but poetic form and therefore easy to understand and remember. Apt in their expressions, passionate in their appeal, melodious in their tune, these poems took Hausa society by the storm, pervading the streets, market places and farms and invading homes, schools and courts. They soon rose to the top of the chart of the time and remained at the top for decades, replacing the vain and vulgar songs that had formed a significant part of the Hausa-Fulani Jahiliyya. To the men when at work and to the women while in their kitchens, these poems seemed to evoke tempo and vitality. They eventually became to the ordinary men and women what books were to students and scholars. 

The favourable mass response of the public to the message of the Shaykh naturally sent shivers down the spines of both the ulama’ as well as the rulers of Hausaland who realised that their respective positions were at stake. The ulama’ stepped up their criticism of the Shaykh and did everything to undermine his mission. First they questioned the validity of the central pillar of his mission, ‘amr bi al ma’aruf wa al nahy an al munkar, arguing that in their circumstances it was neither desirable nor possible. In one of his responses the Shaykh retorted “I was told by one of the brothers that he heard one of them say: ‘forbidding evil in a land of evil is the real evil: And for this reason they don’t chide each other for committing evil. I take refuge with God the exalted; this is one of the characteristics of the Jews.”10 The ulama’ then defended the numerous un-Islamic customs the Shaykh had been attacking, suggesting that, after all, the custom of a land is itself like Sunnah. The Shaykh argued that “this is falsehood and confusion according to the consensus of opinion (ijma’) because a custom should not be tolerated if it contradicts the Sunnah.”11 

10 Uthman b. Fodio, quoted in M. A. Al-Hajj, ‘The Writings of the Shehu’ Kano Studies, 1 (2) 1974/77 P. 9. 

11 Ibid. 

Rather expectedly the ulama’ made a lot of fuss on the issue of women. Shaykh Uthman did not stop women from attending his preaching sessions, he in fact encouraged them. From the on set of his endeavour, Shaykh Uthman appeared to have been moved by the plight of women in Hausaland particularly the way they were denied basic education and exploited by society. He made this very clear in his criticism of the Ulama’, as he observed in one of his many works on the subject, “ ….what many scholars (ulama’) of the Sudan do to their wives, their daughters and their slaves … they leave them neglected like cattle without instructing them in what is obligatory upon them in connection with their creed, their ritual ablution, their fasting of Ramadan … Nor do they instruct them on what is permissible (mubah) for them like buying, selling and similar things. Indeed they regard them as nothing but a pot which they use and when it breaks to pieces they throw away …. One wonders at this their custom of leaving their wives and daughters in the darkness of ignorance while at the same time they teach their students every morning and evening. Indeed the only motive in teaching their students is self-aggrandisement and nothing else”12 Turning to the women themselves the Shaykh encouraged them to seek for education and openly called upon them to rebel against what today can be called male chauvinism. “ O’ Muslim women” the Shaykh calls, “do not listen to the words of those misguided men who tell you about the duty of obedience to your husbands but they do not tell you anything about obedience to God and His messenger”13 As for the attack that he encouraged the free mixing of men and women, not only did he teach the women proper Islamic dressing and how to conduct themselves decently in public, he questioned the sincerity of all those ulama’ making the accusation in the first place, saying, “People see their women attending illegally, marriage ceremonies, they also see them dancing and singing and inter mixing with men, moreover they observe them going out for ‘Id ceremonies in their full make-up, without denying them these. But when they see them going out in pursuit of learning they say this is reprehensible”14 

12 Uthman B. Fodio, Nur al-Albab, Translation of M.A. Al-Hajj in Ibid. P. 8. 

13 Ibid. 

14 Uthman b. Fodio, quoted in M.A. Kani, ‘Literary Activity in Hausaland in the Late Eighteeth and Early Nineteenth Century: With Special Reference to Shaykh Uthman b. Fudi D. 1817’, Unpublished M.A. Thesis A.B.U. Zaria, 1978. p. 102. 

15 See Muhammad Bello, Infaq al-Maysur 

16 Quoted in F.H. El-Masri, ‘The life of Usman Dan Fodio before the Jihad’, Op. cit. P. 44. 

On his struggle against these class of ulama’ who resisted these changes, supported bid’ah and justified the injustice and tyranny of the kings, what the Shaykh, borrowing from al-Maghili, calls Ulama’ al-Su (venal Scholars), the Shaykh wrote nearly fifty different works, as his son Muhammad Bello reported.15 He emerged victorious at the end and he became widely acknowledged as the leading scholar in Hausaland, despite his relatively young age. As a mark of honour and recognition of this position of leadership, the king of Gobir, the strongest of the Hausa kings of his time gathered, at ‘Id al-Adha, all the ulama’ giving them gifts, and Shaykh Uthman was given the lion’s share. All the ulama’ gladly accepted their gifts except Shaykh Uthman. He politely turned it down, asking, in its stead, something more valuable to him and the mission he had come to be identified with. He made five requests to the king: 

“1. To allow me to call people to God through out your country. 

2. Not to stop or obstruct anybody responding to this call 

3. To treat with respect any one with a turban and women decently dressed. 

4. To free all political prisoners. 

5. Not to burden the subjects with taxes.”16 

These demands, of course reveal a lot about the social and political situation of the time. But what interests us here is that the stature of Shaykh Uthman had reached a point when he (and perhaps he alone) could make such demands. It also suggests that the turban for men and the 

Islamic outfit for women had become a mark of the new consciousness that Shaykh Uthman’s da’wah had raised, a mark of belonging to the mission of the Shaykh. Perhaps more profoundly, this singular act, unprecedented, earned the Shaykh a higher station yet. For, while the rejection of the gift earned him respect of the king and independence from the establishment, the demands endeared him not only to his followers but also the ordinary people at large whose interest he identified with and stuck out his neck to protect. 

Phase of Organisation and Planning 

Having spent some two decades roving the whole of Gobir, kebbi, Zamfara, Agades and perhaps other Hausa states, spreading Islamic learning, converting pockets of non-Muslim communities, reawakening Muslims and creating a network of teachers and students through out the vast region, Shaykh Uthman decided to settle down in the town of Degel in the state of Gobir in 1793. Within these two decades Shaykh Uthman with the assistance of his brother Abdullahi and their growing number of disciples have literally changed the intellectual and social horizon of Hausaland. Many schools have sprouted; teachers have been graduated and are constantly on the move teaching; books had been written on numerous subjects and issues and were circulating; poems in local languages carrying clear and liberating messages have become household. These new schools, unlike the ivory towers the Shaykh criticised, were open to all and sundry. The new teachers, though much younger, were well read, yet distinguished themselves not so much by their learning like their zeal in spreading and living their new found knowledge. The new books were addressing the situation at hand and were urging a return to Islam proper, in every aspect of life, individual as well as collective, free from the innovations that have found their way into the religion. One book which seemed to have been particularly written for this purpose and which became a textbook for the new centres of learning was the Shaykh’s Ihya al-Sunnah wa Ikhmad al-Bid’ah.17 The new mosques also became not only places of prayers but, as they ought to have been, centres of learning. 

17 This had been edited and published in Cairo some time in the 60’s. Local productions are widely available in Nigeria. For an over view of its contents and excerpts in English, see I.A.B. Balogun, Life and Works of Uthman Dan Fodio, Lagos, Islamic Publication Bureau, 1975. 

As Shaykh Uthman settled in Degel he found himself at the centre of an expanding and ever growing network of mostly young Muslims looking forward to changes that will reinstall Islam in Hausaland. Degel itself turned in to a kind of university town as many students, teachers and disciple came to further their education to consult the Shaykh on issues. Shaykh Uthman thus found himself heading an Islamic movement whose members were growing and spreading all over Hausaland and beyond, looking up to him to provide them with guidance. He had to reluctantly accept the leadership of this movement which he chose to give the modest name of Jama’a. He had to consequently take the full responsibility of guiding the Jama’a not only because they looked up to him for guidance but also because he realised that with out proper guidance this youthful energy can get out of control, especially with potential provocation. Soon after settling in Degel the Shaykh thus found it necessary to write a book titled ‘Amr bi al-Ma’ruf wa al-Nahy ‘an al-Munkar, clearly to guide the members of this movement in their conduct of this important aspect of their mission. From the content of the book the Jama’a appeared to have been expressing some impatience in the realisation of their goals which were becoming clearer with time. For though the Shaykh started rightly by emphasising the central significance of ‘Amr bi al-Ma’ruf, going as far as saying “every Muslim should observe this duty, even though he be a sinner, because this duty and individual piety are two distinct injunctions and failure to observe one should not justify neglecting the other.”18 The Shaykh proceeded to warn against undertaking jihad without proper preparation and without having an Imam, for in these kind of situations “it only results in failure and drags weak Muslims into perdition unnecessarily.”19 The Shaykh cited examples of rushed jihads which ended up in total failure, like the case of Abu Mahalli in early 17th century North Africa.20 

18 Uthman b. Fodio, Amr bi al-Ma’ruf …., quoted in F.H.Masri (ed. trans.) Bayan Wujub al-Hijra, Khartoum, K.U.P. 1978, p. 22. 

19 Ibid. 

20 Ibid. 

21 Abdullahi b. Muhammad, Tazyin al-Waraqat, P. 107 

22 See F.H. El-Masri, (ed. trans.) Bayan Wujub Al-Hijra, p. 24. 

23 See A.D.H. Bivar, ‘The Wathiqat Ahl al-Sudan’, Journal of Modern African History ii, 2(1961) pp.235-243. 

If this book was meant to caution the Jama’a in exhibiting their zeal, it did not. In fact it seemed to have had the opposite effect, for members of the ever growing Jama’a were beginning to challenge openly the activities of the kings, particularly the injustices against the weak and the lack of upholding the Sharia. This high profile the Jama’a was assuming was quite naturally sending signals to the kings of Hausaland, that their way of ruling was not going to be tolerated. The anxiety of the rulers was particularly heightened by the fact that the rank of the Jama’a was swelling with people especially the weak and the oppressed who were beginning to see not only their heavenly salvation but even their earthly salvation in the Jama’a under the leadership of the Shaykh. In fact as Abdullahi reported,21 some of the Hausa kings were enraged by these trends, understandably so for every increase in the ranks of the Jama’a represent a shift in loyalty and the narrowing of the political base of the Hausa rulers. Threatened by these developments and eager to save their diminishing political base on which rested precariously their thrones, the Hausa kings started harassing members of the Jama’a, who were not too difficult to identify. This, it must have been hoped, would discourage others from joining the ranks of the Jama’a and to persuade the older members to down-size their activities. But it did not quite discourage the Jama’a. The Shaykh had to intervene, he composed a poem, ostensibly in praise of Shaykh Abdulqadir al-Jaylani, the great sufi Shaykh, but in reality calming the Jama’a while at the same time encouraging them to take up arms to defend themselves, arguing that it was Sunnah to carry arms. This was shortly followed by yet another work, Masa’il al-Muhimma, important matters, in which the Shaykh, foreseeing a confrontation an a large scale, cautioned that hijra might be eminent and in these kind of situation Muslims cannot be abandoned without an imam to whom bay’ah is sworn.22 

This call to arms, as it were, further frightened the Hausa rulers even more and in their frantic response the situation worsened, forcing the Shaykh to make a hijra to Gudu, a place on the boarders of Gobir, in preparation for a confrontation which the Shaykh appeared to have been determined to avoid but which the circumstances have made rather inevitable. But a few month before making the Hijra he had to write a pamphlet which was to be circulated through the very efficient network of the Jama’a. This pamphlet the Shaykh called Wathiqat ahl al-Sudan wa man sha’ Allah min al-Ikhwan, a letter to the people of the Sudan and who so ever Allah wished among the brothers. This work had been described by a British scholar23 who edited and translated it as the ‘manifesto of the jihad’ and perhaps so, for while calling people for hijra the letter made it clear that it was a prelude to jihad and went ahead to give the justifications and objectives of this impending jihad. This document therefore triggered a massive movement of members of the Jama’a from all over Hausaland towards Gudu on the northern outskirts of Gobir. It was a hazardous journey, for the Hausa army were lying ambush all along the routes, yet it continued. 

Phase of Hijra and Jihad 

Shaykh Uthman and the Jama’a at Degel left for Gudu on the 12th of dhul Qada 1218 / February 1804. No sooner did the Shaykh arrived Gudu, joined by trickles of his Jama’a, the jihad began. The strategy of the Hausa rulers, it seemed, was not to allow the Jama’a any time and to route them before they gather some formidable force which they seemed capable of harnessing. As they sensed the first attack, the Jama’a, in Gudu, quickly made bay’ah to Shaykh Uthman, as their imam and amir al-mu’minin. A detachment of Gobir army, which had been on their heels, attacked this meagre number of ill-equipped members of the Jama’a. The Jama’a fought back and routed the Gobir forces seizing booty, food and equipment which augmented their scanty provisions and thus the jihad started. For the next two years the Jama’a had to be on the move without a permanent base. It was not until April of 1806 they managed to take over the state of Kebbi and made a permanent base of the capital, Birnin Kebbi. As the jihad started rather earlier than expected and because of the perils on the routes many members couldn’t join the Jama’a at Gudu. But perhaps just as well, for delegations were made to the Shaykh by the Jama’a in different states seeking permission to carry out jihad in their area. These permissions were given along with a symbolic flag which the leaders take back to their states and fought the Jihad. This way the whole of Hausa states and parts of neighbouring Borno was turned in to a battle field. The jihad went on until about 1808 when, with the defeat of Gobir, the strongest military power, the jihad, in the main came to an end with Jama’a emerging victorious.

Needless to say this victory was far from easy and it was not without heavy losses of men, some of the fine and precious men the Jama’a had nurtured over some three decades. Their loss left a scar on the psyche of the leaders of the Jama’a, some of them like Abdullahi never appeared to have recovered from the trauma of these losses. On the other hand, as the Jama’a began to get the upper hand of the jihad their ranks were suddenly swollen by the large number of fence sitters who were waiting to see which way the fortunes were turning before making up their minds. While this may have augmented their fighting force, it did dilute their discipline and this worried one of the most senior commander, Shaykh Abdullahi and at a stage it made him sick and for a while he contemplated deserting the army to go to some far place like Makka and Madina. One other thing that made their job more difficult was that having to go into confrontation apparently earlier than expected, the Jama’a had not really made provisions for taking over the administration of Hausaland, yet as the different states fell in to their hands, they had to immediately take over and begin an Islamic administration. Though in general terms they had an idea, they had never gotten to the nitty-gritty of it. Thus soon after the jihad had taken off and even as they had no permanent base, the leaders of the Jama’a had, in between battles, write manuals to guide the various commanders on the correct conduct of the jihad, the division of booty and establishment and running of a state according to Islam. That was how the Shaykh’s Bayan Wujub al-Hijra ala al-Ibad, completed in Ramadan 1221/November 1806 in B/kebbi came to be written. Adullahi’s Tazyin al-Waraqat, which more than any of their writings captured, sometimes graphically, the running battles and the mood of the jihad was similarly written in between battles. Abdullahi had to chip in with his Diya’ Ul al-Amr wa-al-Mujahideen to guide field commanders who, having won the battles had to face the greatest challenge yet, translating the ideal they had fought for in to reality. They learnt the hard way that it was all too easy to be in the opposition. 

Phase of Victory and Establishment of the Caliphate 

Having fought and won the jihad, the Jama’a under the leadership of Shaykh Uthman found themselves in command of a large territory of over 50,000 square miles standing on the ruins of the warring Hausa states. It must have been everybody’s relief that never again the citizens of these warring states have to worry about the insecurity that had affected both education and commerce for the best part of two centuries. But that was certainly not enough, the society needed to be reorganised, rehabilitated and reconstructed from the devastation of the jihad which had been on for some five years or so. So as the dust of the jihad was settling what engaged the leadership of the Jama’a was how exactly the new state was to be run, the principle had been spelt out in the earlier writings of the jihad leaders Shaykh Uthman and his brother Abdullahi in particular. These principles needed to be elaborated on and more importantly lived in the real practical world. So extensive consultations started among the scholars especially the ahl hal wal aqd, the shura committee members, many of whom had been military commanders during the years of the jihad. 

First a new capital, Sokoto, was created and built in due course. The new polity was divided into two and each put under the command of Abdullahi and Muhammad Bello who had proved his abilities during the jihad and had emerged very popular with the Jama’a. These consultations were often followed by spate of debate which was conducted verbally as well as in writing. The debate centred on the question of the implementation of the Islamic order the Jama’a fought to install. Muhammad Bello, who had matured as a scholar now joined in this debate and contributed a number of books.24 The debate was open and rigorous and though they did not always agree, they always managed to concede to Shaykh Uthman even if grudgingly. It was their credit that even as they felt free to differ on certain issues they never lost their composure or decorum and above all the sense of responsibility to guide the Jama’a in translating the ideals they fought for in to reality. In doing so not only did they maintain their unity and solidarity but they wrote on end leaving behind an astonishing body of literature for posterity. The fact that they did not quarrel over power and positions but preoccupied their minds with the implementation of the Islamic order must have contributed to their success. Shaykh Uthman himself did not stay long in Sokoto, having appointed his two most able assistants to deal with the routine administration, he left to Sifawa not far from the capital from where he supervised what was happening but more importantly where he continued to teach, reflect on the problems of the new state and to write more books and generate more ideas. Here at Sifawa Shaykh Uthman remained until he died in 1817. 

24 One such book which directly addressed these issue was Usul al-Siyasa, the principles of political leadership. 

Shaykh Uthman died without appointing a successor, perhaps believing that a machinery was already in place to take care of that and it was not for him to choose for the Jama’a who would lead them after him. Sources are not agreed how it worked out, but Bello was chosen as the Amir al-mu’minin and the Sultan of the Sokoto Caliphate. Bello was more than qualified, he was born amidst itinerant da’wah, as the movement was taking shape, he grew up with movement, matured with it and led several campaigns, often representing his father and above all earned himself the admiration and respect of members of the Jama’a. A scholar in his own right who had the benefit of the best education the movement had to offer and having read some 20,000 books in the process, Bello had all that it took to lead the Caliphate. As it turned out, it was a good choice, he was a visionary who built the Caliphate, politically and economically, as his works in politics and political economy, external relations with neighbouring states clearly show.25 The Caliphate itself continued in one piece until it fell prey to European imperialism early this century, when the bulk came under British rule and today forms the northern states of Nigeria, and other parts which fell under the French forms part of Cameroon, Niger Republic, Benin Republic and Burkina Faso. Despite six decades of British colonisation, the Sokoto Caliphate remains an inspiration of Muslims in Nigeria and as its rich heritage is discovered Muslims are turning to it as an alternative to the borrowed alien European models. Many are nursing the hope that as the Sokoto Caliphate solved the decadence and tyranny of the Hausaland two centuries ago so will it inspire a change that will bring an end to the contemporary corrupt political culture of Nigeria today. 

25 See Bello’s works such as Gayth al-Wabl, Tanbih al-Raqid, Ahkam al-Makasib, etc. 

26 Manuscripts of these works are to be found in Private hands, many Archives, History bureaux and documentation of many universities not only in Nigeria, but in Senegal, Mali, Ghana, Niger, Chad and Sudan. Outside Africa, these can be found in NorthWestern University, Chicago, Centre for West African Studies, University of Birmingham, British Museum, Bibliotech Nationale in Paris, among others. Quite a number of these manuscript have been edited and published, some have been subject of various Postgraduate studies in universities. They cover a variety of grounds and except for one or two were all in classical Arabic. 

27 One such example is Waziri Junaidu of Sokoto who, at nearly ninety years and already blind, continues to teach, commenting on texts from memory, and has written over seventy different works. In 1971 Waziri Junaidu was given an honorary degree by the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria. 

Shaykh Uthman’s Contributions and Ideas 

The creation of the Sokoto Caliphate, not only secured for Islam firmer roots but it also gave the whole region the peace and stability it lacked for some two centuries. So by reviving Islam Shaykh Uthman also revived the region giving it new lease of life and an impetus to grow and develop under Islam. But perhaps Shaykh Uthman’s greatest contribution is in the field of learning, not only for the astonishing total of 114 works26 (so far extant) but also and more fundamentally for the transformation of the intellectual atmosphere in the region and the generation of scholars that his movement produced and the inspiration these gave to generations separated by time and space. His brother and deputy (wazir) Abdullahi had over ninety work, including a complete tafsir titled Diya’ al-Tawil. His son and helper Muhammad Bello wrote over Eighty works including a full history of the whole movement, Infaq al-Maysur fi Tarikh Bilad al-Tukrur, and comprehensive work on Politics, Gayth al-Wabl and a work on political economy al-Ahkam al-Makasib. Nana Asma’, his daughter had over twenty works or so, including the translation of some of her father’s works from the Arabic to the vernacular. This tradition of scholarship continued up to the colonial period and has indeed endured the post-colonial period as scholars continue to write, few though they have become.27 

Like all the scholars in Western Bilad al-Sudan, Shaykh Uthman was raised a maliki and so he remained, but he saw nothing hard and fast about these schools of fiqh. In his book, Hidayat al-Tullab, addressed to students, he appreciated the need for the ordinary people to keep to one madhhab, it is easier and practical. But for the students and scholars there is nothing to stop them from accessing any of the rulings of the other schools, for they all have their roots in the Qur’an and Sunnah, and as he further argued neither the Qur’an or the Sunnah specified any particular madhhab so no one was bound to have to follow any, it is all a matter of maslaha, public good.28 This, in his days as indeed today, is quite novel and courageous. Similarly Shaykh Uthman was a sufi of Qadiriyya order but he never made it mandatory for members of his Jama’a to have to be sufis, much less of the Qadiriyya order. Many did, however, knowing fully well that it was a voluntary personal choice. This made it easier for members of the Jama’a to accommodate others scholars of different sufi tariqa like the case of Umar al Futi who was a tijjani. But perhaps it was in the way he pull women out of the abyss of society, boosted their position and transformed them into useful tools of transformation of society, that Shaykh Uthman displayed his courage and foresight. He insisted that it is husband’s cardinal responsibility to ensure that his wife is educated, if he can’t teach her himself, then he has to permit her to go out for the search of knowledge. His brother Abdullahi went further to say that if the husband should fail to give her permission she could still go out, for Allah has already given her the permission. He championed the cause of women education and he demonstrated that in his wives who were learned and his daughters like Nana Asmau’ and Maryam who were scholars and left literary works behind.29 More importantly Asmau’ created a women’s wing of the movement and took the leadership of this wing which survived until decades after British colonisation. Shaykh Uthman was of moderate opinion generally, he had a strong flair for following the Sunnah and hatred for the bid’ah, but clearly he tempered this with a lot of wisdom and sagacity, unlike some of our contemporary champions of the Sunnah. For the Shaykh refused to stop new rulers dressing in elaborate dresses arguing that if dress will add to the rulers haiba so be it. Similarly he resisted pressure to ban music completely, he was content that the general limits of the Sharia be observed. The depth of his learning combined with a broad mind and flexibility must have been important factors the success of his enterprise.30 

28 When Muhammad Bello came to develop the new Caliphate, taking the cue from the Shaykh, he “did not see any need for the Islamic state to subscribe to particular schools of law when initiating policies or in the administration of law. …. The state, as conceived by Muhammad Bello, is a Mujtahid, capable of drawing right inferences …. and does not need to rely on a particular school of law to solve its problems.” See Ibraheem Sulaiman, ‘Nigeria: Lessons From History’, Inquiry, London, January 1987. P. 30-1. 

29 For details on Nana Asmau see Jean Boyd’s recent book, The Caliph’s Sister: Nana Asma’u 1793-1865, Teacher, Poet and Islamic Leader, London, Frank Cass & co. 1989 

30 For details on the Jihad of Shaykh Uthman and the establishment of the Sokoto Caliphate, see Ibraheem Sulaiman’s two books: A Revolution in History: the Jihad of Usman Dan Fodio, London, Mansell Publishing Ltd. 1986. And Islamic State and the Challenge of History, London, Mansell Pub. Ltd. 1987. These two books are perhaps the best materials so far available in the English language. 

Impact of the Shaykh Beyond the Sokoto Caliphate 

Naturally the immediate impact was on neighbouring states like Borno to the east, Yorubaland to the south and Agades to the north. In the rowdy atmosphere of the jihad there were skirmishes between the Jama’a and some of these states, but amicable settlement were reached, though not before some territories being conceded to the Jama’a. But in what had remained of theses state, things were never the same again if only because they had to meet the new Islamic expectations of their citizens and the challenge of a towering Islamic neighbour. 

Outside the immediate theatre of the jihad the consequences were no less serious. Masina, currently in Mali, was chronologically the first to follow suite. Ahamd Labbo was one of those many students of Shaykh Uthman and member of the Jama’a. Like many of the learned members of the Jama’a, he had been running a school in a society which shared a lot of the features of Hausaland. with the events in the neighbouring Hausaland and the rising expectation with his growing following, they came to clash with the authorities in Masina. Not long before Shaykh Uthman died he obtained his permission to start his own jihad and by the following year it was all over and Seku Ahmadu, as he was popularly known, established the Islamic state of Masina with his capital of Hamdullahi.31 Similarly Shaykh Umar al-Futi who left his native Futa Toro in the Sene-Gambia region, for pilgrimage to Makka, about the late 1820’s. Umar came through Masina, where he was impressed with the changes and then Sokoto, where he stayed for months as the guest of Muhammad Bello. Shaykh Umar must have been impressed with what he saw in Sokoto, for on his return he remained in Sokoto under Bello’s care until the latter died in 1837. On the death of his host and friend Umar returned back to Futa Toro started extensive teaching and building of a movement very much in the fashion of the Jama’a. In 1849 Umar, along with his Talaba, the name he gave his followers, made their Hijra and not long after the jihad broke out. Umar’s Jihad was first targeted to the French and later to the animist state of Bambara, on the ruins of which he eventually built his Islamic state with the capital at Segu. Though the Islamic state at Segu did not last very long as the French, determine the annex and colonise the whole area, were prepared to allow an Islamic state to flourish, the jihad continued to inspire generations of anti-French risings throughout the colonial period.32 

31 For details see W.A. Brown, ‘The Caliphate of Hamdullahi’, Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, Wisconsin University, 1969. 

32 For details see Omar Jah, ‘Sufism and the Nineteenth Century Jihad Movements’, Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, McGill University, 1971. See also B.O. Oloruntimehin, The Segu Tokolor Empire, London, Longman, 1972. 

Perhaps a more interesting impact of the Jihad of Shaykh Uthman is to be seen in the Nile valley. Following the Jama’a’s capture of Kebbi in 1806, which gave the mujahidun a permanent base, the jihad went swiftly in their favour that rumours started making the rounds that Shaykh Uthman must then be the expected Mahdi. When this reached the Shaykh as it must, he denied being the Mahdi, but said that the Mahdi will appear in the east of Hausaland after him and as soon as he appears the jama’a should migrate to him and give every support. Soon after the death of the Shaykh people started migrating into the Nile valley in search of the Mahdi. Not only did they fuel the expectation of the Mahdi which grew as fast as situation deteriorated in the Sudan under the so called Turko-Egyptian colonial regime. So when in 1881 Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdi declared himself the Mahdi these people had no difficulty believing him and they gave him their immediate and unconditional support which in turn gave him the astonishing success he had. The father of Khalifa Abdullahi, who deputised for the Mahdi and took over the leadership of the state after the death of the Mahdi in 1885, was himself part of this migration in search of the Mahdi. When the British over powered the Sokoto Caliphate, rather than live under the British, the Sultan at the time chose to migrate to the East. Even after the British had hunted him and killed him, what remained of his people continued their march until they reached the Nile valley, where their descendants still live today.33 

33 For details see, S. Biobaku and M. al-Hajj, ‘The Sudanese Mahdiyya and the Niger-Chad Region’, in I.M. Lewis (ed.), Islam in Tropical Africa, 2nd. ed. London, I.A.I. 1980. See also U.M. Bugaje, ‘A Comparative Study of the Movements of Uthman Dan Fodio in 19th Century Hausaland and of Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdi in 19th Century Sudan’, Unpublished Masters Dissertation, University of Khartoum, 1981. 

34 See Philip D. Curtin (ed.) Africa Remembered: Narratives by West Africans from the Era of the Slave Trade, Madison, the University of Wisconsin Press, 1968. And also Robert R. Madden, A Twelve Months Residence in the West Indies During the Transition from Slavery to Apprenticeship, vol. I & II, Philadelphia, Carey, Lea and Blanchard, 1835. 

35 The document was said to have gained wide circulation in Jamaica, and when it reached the hands of one Muhammad Kaba (alias Robert Peart) in Manchester, Jamaica, he led the Jihad. See J.H. Buchner, The Moravians in Jamaica, London, Longman, 1854. 

36 For the ideas of the Wathiqa see ‘Uthman b. Fodio, Wathiqat Ahl al-Sudan wa man Sha Allah min al-Ikhwan, translated in A.D.H. Bivar, ‘The Wathiqat Ahl al-Sudan’ Journal of Modern African History, ii, 2(1961), Pp. 235-43. 

37 For details see Sultan Afroz, ‘The Unsung Slaves: Islam in Plantation Jamaica’, an unpublished paper, presented at the 25th conference of the Association of Caribbean Historians, University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica, March 27-April 2, 1993. 

Even more interesting perhaps is the echo of this jihad in faraway Caribbean Islands. Some of the Africans caught in the heinous European slave trade and ended up in the plantations of the Caribbean Islands happened to be Muslims. Some of them may have been caught up while on transit in search for knowledge or while engaged in jihad, for they arrive their final destinations with Arabic manuscripts, concealed to avoid seizure from the ever suspecting white slave masters. A number of them appear to have come from West Africa; the case of Abubakar who was a scholar of some appreciable learning who eventually got freed and even returned to his native Jenne in Masina, in contemporary Mali, has been well documented.34 It was not unusual for Arabic manuscripts from new arriving slaves to be circulated discreetly among Muslims in the plantations. One such document called the Wathiqah,35 from all the descriptions, the Wathiqat Ahl Sudan of Shaykh Uthman, arrived Jamaica in the late 1820’s. This document, written by Shaykh Uthman, on the eve of the jihad in Sokoto, was aimed at mobilising the Jama’a for the jihad. It therefore contained the reasons that necessitated jihad in Hausaland and a passionate appeal to Muslims to come out to make hijra and fight jihad.36 Some of the injustices and oppressions in the slave plantations must have had some resemblance to the ones addressed to in the Wathiqa, for it got a great reception among the slaves in the Jamaican plantations. It was secretly circulated and though in Arabic its message of jihad got through and was well received. In 1832 the slaves in Manchester, an area in Jamaica, under the leadership of Muhammad Kaba, rose up in jihad against their tyrannical white masters. This jihad triggered similar jihads among slaves in these plantations and for the next few years the whole area became restive. These jihads were known by the white plantation owners as the famous slave riots.37 This posture of Islam as a liberating force has endured to this day and remains one of the most motivating factors for the increasing conversions to Islam among the black Diaspora. 

Concluding Remarks 

Here then is the story of a young man who refused to accept the conditions of decadence in to which he was born. At a very early stage in his life he resolved to change it. He rose along with his team despite all the huddles and pit falls along the way, faced the challenge until he developed a movement of men and women with a mission to spread knowledge and restore the Islamic order. Once the movement had evolved, even he did not seem to have a choice but to proceed. This they did, it lead to physical confrontations which, given the choice, he would have wished to avoid. The movement eventually succeeded not only in winning the physical jihad but also in implementing its programme. Leaving behind for us a heritage to discover and drive inspiration from as we face the challenges of our own times. We have many such heritage in the Muslim World to discover and many models to draw inspiration from. But perhaps the greatest challenge to face is the challenge of knowledge, the knowledge of our own past, the knowledge of the message of Islam itself and the wisdom to know how best to utilise it in a world which has become so complex and in which the struggle between virtue and vice has become far more sophisticated and subtle. 

Usman Bugaje  18/2/1996 


Graduated in Pharmacy from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Nigeria in 1975. Later did a Masters on a comparative study between the movement of Uthman b. Fodio and Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdi and Ph.D in the tradition of tajdid in West Africa, both at the Institute of African and Asian Studies, University of Khartoum, Sudan. Currently works with Islam in Africa Organisation and teaches at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria. 

Published in: on February 26, 2021 at 20:43  Leave a Comment  

The African Caliphate

Click on the following picture link to download “The African Caliphate Text”African Caliphate

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Risālah ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawaanī – Chapter Six: Tayammum and Its Description

نظم رسالة ابن أبي زيد القيرواني
Risālah ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawaanī

The Risālah : A Treatise on Mālikī Fiqh by ʿAbdullah ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawānī (310/922 -386/996)

Translated by Alhaj Bello Mohammad Daura, MA (London) (Including commentary from ath-Thamr ad-Dānī by al-Azharī)

Risālah ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawaanī – Chapter 6: Tayammum and Its Description

6.1 When It is Done

[If you cannot find water, then you must do tayyamum, which is recommended. Linguistically tayammum means aiming for something. The Almighty says, “Do not have recourse to bad things,” (2:267) i.e. aim for them. In the Sharī’ah it is a legal act of worship by which the prayer becomes allowed. This means that the Sharī’ah has judged it. This exists in wudū and ghusl. By it the prayer is permitted when wudū‘ and ghusl are excluded because tayammum is only to make lawful. Wudū‘ and ghusl are done in order to remove impurity. It is obligatory by the Book, Sunna and consensus. The Almighty says, “If you cannot find any water, then do tayammum with pure earth,” (4:43) and in Muslim the Prophet said, “We were preferred over people by three things: our rows were made like the rows of the angels, the entire earth was made a mosque for us and its earth is purification if we do not find water.” The consensus is that tayammum is obligatory when water is lacking or the ability to use it lacking it. There are preconditions for the obligation: Islam, adulthood, sanity, absence of the blood of menstruation or lochia, the arrival of the time, lack of water or lack of ability to use it, and that there is no barrier over the limbs and nothing which precludes it.]

6.1a. On a Journey

If you are on a journey and you cannot find water, you have to dotayammum, provided that you do not expect to find any water before the time for the prayer has finished.

[The situation is that either that there is no water to be found at all or a judgement that he will not find enough water for wudū‘ or ghusl in a journey (or while resident), whether short or not, whether the traveller is healthy or not, and whether the journey is permissible or not, because the allowance for doing it on a journey or while resident does not have the precondition that the journey be for something permissible. If the allowance is only in the journey, like breaking the fast in Ramadan, then the journey must be permissible and it must be a distance of at least four postal stages, like that for shortening the prayer. Thus the mere absence of water is only a reason for the obligation of tayammum when he despairs of finding water or he thinks it probable that there is no water. It is not the case if he is unsure or hopes for water or is certain of finding water within the time. What is meant by the obligation is the widest period of obligation. The one who has despaired is someone who has searched for it in a manner which is not arduous for someone like him. He is only obliged to seek if he hopes to find it or suspects its presence. If he is certain that he does not exist, then he does not look for it in the time. By ‘time’, the preferred time is meant.]

6.1b. Lack of Ability

You also have to do tayammum even when there is water, whether on ajourney or staying in one place, if you are unable to touch water on accountof illness or are disabled by illness to such an extent that although youcould use it, you are unable to get to it and cannot find anyone else tobring it to you.

[This is when there is water and you are unable to use it, on a journey or at home, because of illness which prevents using it since you fear that using it will cause death, loss of use of a faculty or limb, increased illness, delayed recovery, or will actually cause a illness. If he does not fear any of that, but is only pained by it, he must continue to do wudū‘ or ghusl. So tayammum is obliged for someone who is healthy when water exists because he cannot use it because illness would occur, or for a sick person who is able to use it, but does not find anyone to bring it to him, even for a payment equal to the price which the seller would oblige or it or he does not find a vessel or he only finds a forbidden vessel or cannot pay for using it.]

6.1c. Danger

The same applies to someone traveling who is near water but prevented from reaching it because of the fear of thieves or wild animals.

[This is also true about the traveller who is near water but cannot reach it out of fear of thieves as he must preserve his property and the property of others. The property must be more than what he would have to pay to buy water. It must be ascertained that they exist or he thinks that it is probable that they exist. Uncertainty is not taken into consideration. The same applies if he fears for himself from wild animals when he is certain about that or thinks that it is probable.]

6.1d. Certainty About Reaching Water

If a traveller feels certain that he will get to water within the time of the prayer, he avoids doing tayammum until the end of the time.

[Whether he is in a journey where he shortens the prayer or not and he is certain that he will find enough water for wudū‘ or ghusl, it is recommended that that he delay tayammum. The upshot of the fiqh in the matter is that one of the preconditions of the obligation of tayammum is the arrival of the time. The judgement in it varies according to the state of the person doing tayammum because either he is certain that water will exist in the time or he will reach it or he despairs of finding it or reaching it, or he is unsure about finding it or reaching it in time or hopes to find it or reach it in time. The author clarifies these circumstances and indicates it when he says, “If a traveller feels certain.” In fact, it is not particular to the traveller, but applies to all who are permitted to do tayammum due to the absence of water. When he is certain that water exists or that he will reach it within the time or thinks that it is probable that it exists or that he will reach it in time, then it is recommended to delay tayammum to the end of the time.]

6.1e. Certainty About not Reaching Water

If he feels certain he will not get to water he should do tayammum at the beginning of the time.

[This is about the absence of water or the failure to reach it in time after seeking for it. If there is what obliges seeking, then it is recommended that he do tayammum at the beginning of the time to obtain the excellence of the time because the excellence of water is despaired of. That is how it is judged by the one who thinks it probable that it will not exist within the time or will not be found in it.]

6.1f. Uncertainty About Reaching Water

If he does not know whether he will get to water or not, he should do tayammum in the middle of the time. This also applies to someone who is afraid that he will not be able to get to water but nevertheless hopes that he will.

[If he is unsure about finding it, it is recommended to do it in the middle of the time. It is affirmed by Shaykh Ahmad Zarruq that what is meant is uncertainty about reaching it. He said that there is no difference between it and what before it according to the Mālikī School. Although it is sound from the aspect of the judgement, the author’s words imply a difference when based on what is meant by the one who hopes. He said that the words of the author contain something different from the position of the School. That is because his literal words say that the one who hopes does not delay, but does tayammum in the middle of the time. It is not as he said. His judgement is that of the one who is certain and the one who is certain delays to the end of the time. Ibn Harūn said, “I do not know of anyone who transmitted that the one who hopes does tayammum in the middle of the time except Ibn Abī Zayd. Ibn Nājī said that it is possible that it refutes his words. According to the words of Ibn Nājī by “fears” the author means “suspects“.]

6.2 Finding Water after doing Tayammum

If, under any of these circumstances, you do tayammum and do the prayer and then come across water within the time of the prayer the following judgements apply.

[These seven who can do taymmum are: the sick person who cannot touch water, the sick person who cannot find anyone to bring him water, the traveller who is near water but is prevented from reaching it by fear of thieves or animals, the traveller who is certain that water will exist within the time, the one who despairs of finding it within the time, the one who has no knowledge, and the fearful one who hopes to find it. This is what happens if such a person (except for the sick person who cannot use water then find water or the sick person who can, but does not find anyone to bring him the water) finds water. Finding water means having the ability to use it, its existence, or the existence of a vessel to bring it.]

6.2.a A Sick Person

A sick person who could not find anybody to bring water to him should do the prayer again.

[It is recommended that he does the prayer again within the time. The rule for the sick person who does not find anyone to bring him water or any vessel with which to bring the water is to delay tayammum to the middle of the time. If he does the necessary tayammum in the middle of the time and prays and then before the end of the time of the prayer then that which stops him from using the water is removed, as when he finds what will enable him to obtain it, then it is recommended for him to repeat the prayer within the time if he is restricted in that people do not come in to him often. If people come in to him often, then he has no restriction, then he does not have to repeat it.]

6.2b. A Fearful Person

This also applies to someone who was afraid of wild animals or other dangers of that sort, and to a traveller who was afraid he would not get to water but hoped that he would. If you have done tayammum for any other reason, you should not repeat the prayer.

[The one who fears for himself from wild animals or for his property from thieves is like the sick person who does not find anyone to bring him water in the time. It is recommended that he repeat the prayer when he gets water within the time. The result is that when the person who is afraid of animals does tayammum in the middle if the time, it is recommended that he repeat it in the time with four provisos. That is that he is certain that water exists or that he will find it were it not for his fear. His fear must be definite or likely and he ascertains the absence of what he fears and the existence of water itself. If he is not certain that it exists or that he will reach it, or what he fears is clear, or none of it is certain and someone else finds it, he does not repeat if. If his fear is a simple doubt, then he always repeats it. ]

6.2c. A Traveller

and to a traveller who was afraid he would not get to water but hoped that he would.

[When he finds water within the time, it is recommended that he repeat the prayer he has prayed in the time allotted for it, which is the middle. Part of the subject is that it is better if it is advanced. What is meant by ‘fear’ in the words of the author is uncertainty about reaching it. It is recommended for the one who prayed in the time allotted to it to repeat it within the time. That is even more the case if he has advanced it. As for the one who is unsure about whether it exists, if he does it before the middle of the time allotted for it, then he repeats it. If he prayed in the middle of the time allotted for it, he does not have to repeat it. The difference between them is that the one who is unsure about reaching it, has a sort of falling short and so he is asked to repeat it. As for the one who is unsure about whether it exists, he relies on the basis, which is its non-existence.]

6.2d. Other Reasons

If you have done tayammum for any other reason than these three, you should not repeat the prayer.

[It appears from his words that the one who despairs does not repeat the prayer when he finds water absolutely. It is not like that, and it must be explained. If he finds the water which he despaired of, he repeats it. If he finds other water, he does not repeat it. It also seems from his words that someone who finds water in his bag or saddle or forgets it is there and then remembers it, does not have to repeat it. The one who acts deliberately in the three cases has to repeat it, which differs from the literal words of the author.]

6.3 Frequency

6.3a. Number of Fard Prayers with One Tayammum

You should not pray two fard prayers with one tayammum except if you are ill and cannot touch water because of some harm to your body which will last at least until the time of the next prayer.

[None of those seven categories should pray two obligatory or sunna prayers at home or on a journey. whether they share in the time or not, with the same tayyamum except for the person with a constant illness which will continue to the time of the second prayer. It may happen that he does not do the first prayer in its time, either intentionally or by forgetfulness or ignorance. In that case he can pray them both together with one tayammum. This is a general judgement for prayers at home and on a journey.]

6.3b. For Each Prayer

Although there are some who say that even in this situation you should do tayammum again for each prayer.

[For each obligatory prayer, whether he is healthy or ill, travelling or at home.]

6.3c. A Number of Missed Prayers

It has been related from Mālik that someone who remembers not having done a number of prayers can do them with one tayammum.

[This is a number of fard prayers which he missed by forgetfulness or by sleeping through them or deliberately not praying them and then repenting and wanting to make them up: he can pray them with one tayammum, whether healthy or ill, travelling or at home. The first statement is by Ibn Sha’ban and the second is by Ibn al-Qasim and is the famous one. This is why it was rejected by the shaykh when he was ill at midday when someone else suggested it to him. According to the well-known position, if he disagrees and prays two prayers with one tayammum, whether they are shared or not, he does not ever have to make up the second. According to his words at the beginning of the chapter about the time, one does tayammum for the obligatory prayer absolutely, even for Jumu’ah. That is not the case, since the healthy person who is resident does not do tayammum for Jumu’ah since it is a substitute for Dhuhr. He prays Dhuhr with tayammum, even at the beginning of the time. If he prays Jumu’ah with tayammum, that is not acceptable. The sick person and the traveller can do tayammum for it. It That is also the case with the funeral prayer. The healthy resident does not do tayammum for it unless it becomes a specific obligation for him since no one else is found who can pray it nor is it possible to delay it until he can obtain water.]

6.3d. Voluntary Prayers

[As for the sunnahs and the voluntary prayers, the traveller but not the heathy resident person does tayammum for them, i.e the one who is obliged to do tayammum because of lack of water. The judgement of the healthy resident for whom tayammum is obliged out of fear of illness is like that of the sick person and he does tayammum for Jumu’ah and the funeral, even if it is not a specific obligation, and for the sunnah and voluntary prayers. If he intends an obligatory prayer by his tayammum, he is permitted to pray the voluntary prayer with it afterwards with the precondition that it is connected to the obligation, even if he did not intend the voluntary prayer after the obligatory. It is limited to prayers which are after the obligatory, although if he prays a voluntary prayer before it, it is valid by his statement, ‘provided that it is connected to the obligatory.’ If there is a long separation or he leaves the mosque, he must repeat his taymmum if he wants to pray the voluntary prayers. A short separation is overlooked. That is defined as about the length it takes to recite Ayat al-Kursi. It is also a precondition that he does not do more than the voluntary. What is “more” is defined by custom.

6.3e. What Can Be Used for Tayammum

Tayammum is done using pure surface earth, that is any substance on the earth’s surface such as soil, sand, stones, or salt deposits.

[“Pure” is how the people of firm knowledge and those who know fiqh explain “tayyib” where Allah says,”do tayammum with clean earth,” Tayyib means pure earth in Arabic and that is what Mālik said. Mālik said that sa’id means what is on the surface of the earth in accordance with Arab usage. Others believe that the sa’id in the ayat designates pure earth found on the surface of the earth or brought out from inside of it. This includes salt desposits, and secretions. Tayammum is not done deliberately on wood, plants and grass and groups. The literal meaning of his words is that tayammum can be done on stones, even hard ones, if there is no soil as long as it has not been baked. It is not permitted to do tayammum on lime nor baked bricks, which are red bricks. Tayammum can bedo ne on soil, whether it has been moved or not, although it is better when it is not moved by agreement. The first is based on the well-known position. One does not do tayammum on other things than earth. Things like salt, alum, sulphur, copper and iron are not used for tayammum except in their original place or moved from one place to another. But it is cannot be in a form which is firm in people’s hands, like medicines. As for what can be held in people’s hands like medicines, it is not valid to use them for tayammum.]

6.4 How to do it

6.4a. Beginning Tayammum

To do tayammum you hit both hands on the ground – if anything clings to them it should be lightly shaken off –

[This clariifies how tayammum is done. He strikes both hands on the ground. If he is missing a hand, he does tayammun with the other. If he is unable to do it, someone does it for him. If he cannot delgate someone, he rubs his face in the dust. What is meant by ‘striking‘ is not actual striking. What is meant is to place his hands on the surface used for tayammum, soil or whatever. This ‘striking’ is an obligation. It is not a precondition that anything clings to his hands. If something clings to them, he shakes them lightly so that some people consider this shaking as one of the meritorious parts of tayammum so that it does not harm his face.]

6.4b. The Intention

[Before beginning, the one doing tayammum must intend earth and nothing else with which tayammum is not valid. He must intend to make the prayer lawful or intend the obligation of tayammum in the first striking. If he is in minor impurity, he intends to make the prayer permissible from the lesser impurity. If he is in greater impurity, he intends to make the prayer lawful from the greater impurity. If he does not call the major impurity to mind and thus omits the intention regarding the greater impurity intentionally or by forgetfulness, and prays with that tayammum, then he must always repeat the prayer. If he intends the greater impurity, believing that he has it and then the opposite is clear, then it allows the lesser. When he intends the obligations of tayammum, it is enough for him, even if the intention of the greater does not occur to him, If he intends to remove the impurity, it is enough enough for him in the well-known position. Tayammum does not remove lesser impurity. It only makes the prayer permissible.]

6.4c. Wiping the Face

then using both of them you wipe over your whole face.

[After shaking his hands, then he wipes his face and does not omit any of it. He does not miss the cartilage of the upper ear and other things. If he leaves any of the wiping of all of the face, even a little, then it is not allowed. He begins from the top, as in wudu’ and runs his hands over the length of it to his beard. He passes over the lines of the face, because the basis of wiping is doing it lightly.]

6.4d. Striking the Ground a Second Time

Then you hit both hands on the ground again

[The second blow is for wiping the hands by way of sunnah. It is not said how the obligation is done in a sunnah manner because we say after the obligation that the second comes after the first so if he fails to strike the earth the second time and then wipes his face and hands with the first, it is adequate.]

6.4e. Wiping the Hands

and then wipe your right hand and arm with your left hand. To do this you put the fingers of your left hand on the tips of the fingers of your right. Then you slide your fingers down the back of your right hand and arm, as far as the elbow, folding your fingers round it as you do so. thoroughly.

[The recommended manner of wiping is to first wipe the right with the left, putting the fingers on the right on the left except for the thumbs. The palm is passed over the top of the hand and arm to the elbow. It appears from the words of the author that the elbow is not wiped because it is the end. It is said that he meant including the elbows as is done with wudu’ since tayammum replaces it. Wiping to the elbows is sunna, and to the wrists is obligatory according to what is in al-Mukhtasar. Al-Bisami adds to it by saying that the well-known position of the school is that wiping is to the elbows is obligatory. The dispute is when it is confined to the wrists and he prays. The well-known position is that he repeats the prayer if still within the time. An opposite position is that he must always repeat it. This consequence is rejected. Al-Muqaddamat (Ibn Rushd) prefers that which is followed in al-Mukhtasar, and Qadi ‘Iyad summarised it in his Qawa’id, and it is preferred.

The well-position of the school is that the fingers go between each other, and that is by the flat sides of the fingers, not the sides because they have not touched earth. The well-known position is also that a ring is removed and moving it from its place can be done instead of actually removing it. The difference between tayammum and wudu’ is said to lie in the fact that the ring is removed in tayammum but not in wudu’ because of the force of the water flowing in wudu’ which is not the case with earth.

6.4f. Wiping the Inside of the Right Hand

Then you put your palm on the inside of your arm and, gripping your arm, slide your hand from your elbow just back as far as your wrist

[After wiping the outside of the right hand, using the palm, because the fingers because the fingers were already use on the outside of the hand except for the thumb.]

6.4g. The Thumb and then run the inside of the left thumb over the outside of your right thumb.

[This is because it was not wiped before. What he mentioned about wiping the thumbs was also mentioned by Ibn at-Talla’ who is Muhammad ibn Farāh, the shaykh of the fuqahā‘ in his time. The literal of the transmission, which is relied upon, it wiping the outside of the right thumb with the outside of the fingers. Al-Fakhānī said, “I do not know of anyone of the people of language who transmit that the thumb is the largest “finger“].

6.4h. The Left Hand

You then wipe over the left hand and arm in the same way and after reaching the wrist you wipe your right palm with the left down to the tips of the fingers.

[After finishing the right, then do the left to the wrist. The tips of the fingers designates the inside of the palm and fingers. Observe how he is silent about the left palm unless he says that each of them wipes and is wiped. This is the description which the shaykh mentioned and it was also mentioned by Shaykh Khālid. He begins with the outside of the right hand with the left and moves to the left before completing the right. This was transmitted by Ibn Habīb from Mālik. Ibn al-Qāsim said, “He only moves to the left after finishing the right.” Al-Lakhmī and ʿAbdul-Ḥaqq preferred that. The position of Ibn al-Qāsim is preferred. The basis of the preference is that moving to the second before completing the first misses out the excellence of proper order between right and left. Some of the shaykhs recommend the transmission of Ibn Habīb so that he does not wipe the dust onthe palm, but the one with the reliable position says that the remaining of the dust is not sought aso that its judgement should be observed.]

6.4i. Other Methods of Wiping

If you wipe the right with the left or the left with the right in some other way that you find easy, that is acceptable as long as it is done fully.

[If you differ from the recommended manner, your tayammum is still allowed. It only differs from the best manner. One can deduce from his words, “done fully” that if he does not wipe his forearms, it is not allowed because the arms are mentioned in wiping. The well-known position is that if he confines hismelf to the wrists and then prays, then he repeats it within the time.]

6.5 Judgements About Someone in a Major State of Impurity

6.5a. Tayammum for janābah or end of menstruation

If someone is in a state of janābah, or has been menstruating, and cannot find any water to do ghusl with, they should do tayammum and do the prayer and then when they find water they should do ghusl.

[Even if someone like this finds enough water for wudu’, they still do tayammum following the previous information regarding the possibility of finding water which is not repeated here. Tayammum is obliged when there is no water. He mentions it here to refute those who say that someone in a state of janābah and or a woman who has been menstruating do not do tayammum.]

6.5b. Not Repeating Prayers Done with Tayammum They do not have to repeat any prayers they have done.

[Because their prayer occurs in manner which is commanded. The literal import of his words is that that is the case in the time or after it. It is explained that it is repeated within the time in the instances which were already mentioned. Its literal meaning is that is the case or not whether there is impurity on their bodies. It is the text of the Mudawwana and it restricted by there not being any impurity on the body. If there is impurity in his body and he prays with it by forgetfulness and they remember after they have finished, then they repeat it within the time. The statement of the author about not repeating it is informing about when water is found after they have prayed with tayammum. If there is water before the prayer, and there is enough time for ghusl and the prayer, even a rakʿah, within the time, then tayyamum is invalid. If they find it after the time has begun and before it finished, even if the time is ample, or the time has begun, but there is not enough time for a ghusl and still catching a rakʿah, they pray with tayammum.]

6.6 Further Judgements about Tayammum

6.6a. Taymmum Does not Make Intercourse Permissible A man cannot have sexual intercourse with his wife if she has just finished menstruating or the bleeding after childbirth if she has only purified herself by tayammum until there is enough water for her to do ghusl first and both of them to do ghusl afterwards.

[This is whether she is a Muslim or a kitābī or a concubine. According to the well known position, it is forbidden for him to have intercourse with her. This does not only imply to actual intercourse, but enjoying her between the navel and knee, even through a barrier, is unlawful. Finding water can either be his responsibility or the responsibility of both.]

6.6b. Water for Ghusl after Intercourse

[There must be enough water for ghusl on account of bleeding and then for ghusl on account of janābah. This explains the words at the end of the book about not approaching a woman bleeding from menstruation or lochia because the literal meaning is would be that when the bleeding stops, he is permitted to have intercourse, and so here he explains that even if menstruation has stopped, intercourse is not permitted, even with tayammum. Intercourse is forbidden in the well-known position beause tayammum does not remove impurity. It only makes the prayer permitted. The words of author show that tayammum is called ‘purification,’ and that is indeed the case since the Prophet said, “Its earth is pure.” It is also called wudu’ by since the Prophet said, “Tayammum is the wudu’ of the Muslim.]

6.6c. Avoiding Janābah if There is No Water

[It is also deduced from this that he if he does not find water, he should not voluntarily bring about a state of janābah in himself. That is the position of Mālik in al-Mudawwana, i.e. that it is disliked. if he does tayammum for the lesser impurity, he should not bring about janaba in himself so that he has to do tayammum for the greater impurity. This does not negate what was already stated about the unlawfulness in the statement of the author about having intercourse, because the unlawfulness comes from his going to have intercourse with her when she has purified herself from menstruation by tayammum. This is is when he does not fear any harm to his body or fear fornication. If he is physically harmed by the length of time or fears fornication, then he has intercourse and does tayammum. Other matters relating to tayammum will be mentioned in the general chapter on the prayer.

Published in: on January 3, 2021 at 22:16  Leave a Comment  

Learn the Languages Spoken by African Muslims

Madani Timbukti Shared Library presents:

Learn the Languages Spoken by African Muslims: A Language Resource for learning one or more of the languages of the African Muslims

African Muslims speak a number of major languages spoken on the African continent. Theses languages are spoken by millions of people over vast stretch territory that reach from the Atlantic ocean to the Red Sea. Some these languages have become the lingua franca in social transaction, trade and in places even education among both Muslims and non-Muslims, These languages are the oral representation of the tribes that use them. They convey the magnificence of the tribes history and culture.

Allah has said in His Noble Book: O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Chapter (49) Sūratu-l-Ḥujurāt (The Dwelling Places)

What better way to get to know your brother from another tribe than to learn his language and he learns yours. It’s a form of honoring and respect for each other, especially when learning another language is not an easy task. When you invest the time to learn your brothers language, you honored him, and he feels honored. and when he invests the time to learn your language, he honors you, and you feel honored. What was distant becomes close. What was not understood becomes understood without intermediaries. No more walls or barriers will exist between you, and you will be able to transact directly without interpreters.

Madani Timbukti Shared Library presents Spoken Languages of the African Muslims: An African language learning resource found both on our facebook page and YouTube Channel for courses, textbooks, reference materials and other learning tools needed to learn the languages spoken by Muslim Africans.

Among the main languages spoken by African Muslims are:

  • Al-Arabiyyatu-l-Fuṣ-ḥah (Classical Arabic) – the language of African Muslims of every tribe and ethnic group who are practicing Muslims
  • Fulfulde (pronounced: full – full – day) – the language of the Fulani, Fula People
  • Hausa (pronounced: how-sa) – the language of the Hausa People
  • Mandinka – the language of the Mandinka people
  • Swahili – the language of the Swahili People – spoken by Muslims and non-Muslims
  • Wolof (pronounced woo-luf) – the language of the Wolof People
  • Yoruba (pronounced: you-ra-ba) – the language of the Yoruba People – spoken by Muslims and non-Muslims

Other languages spoken by African Muslims include:

  • Serahule
  • Chadian Arabic
  • Berber
  • Somali
  • Hassaniyya Arabic Spoken in Mauritania
  • Soninke
  • Pulaar Gambia an African Language related to Fulfulde
  • Pulaar (Mauritania) an African Language related to Fulfulde
  • Oromo (Oromoo) – the language of the Oromo People – spoken by Muslims and non-Muslims

A Discussion About the Major Languages and the People Who Speak Them

Al-Arabiyyatu-l-Fuṣ-ḥah (Classical Arabic)

Classical Arabic (Arabic: اَلعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلْفُصْحَىٰ‎, al-ʿArabiyyatu-l-Fuṣ-ḥaa) or Quranic Arabic is the standardized literary form of the Arabic language used from the 7th century and throughout the Middle Ages.

Classic Arabic which is also known as Qur’anic Arabic is what is found in the Muslim Holy Book and what was spoken in the pre-Islamic era. It is highly intricate, nuanced, imaginative and sophisticated. Those who speak it) pride themselves heavily on its usage. The grammar is very involved and complex and the vocabulary is quite layered and highly contextualize. Some will say that its beauty if unmatched by any language on earth. even today you find many Arabic speakers who are still captivated and awe struck by the beauty of the words written in the Qur’an.

As Islam spread through Africa, Arabic became the lingua franca first and foremost for the purposes of worship and Islamic scholarship and then as the medium communication for trade and commerce

It is impossible for any community in Islam to be truly Muslims without the minimum ability to use Arabic for it’s ʿibaadah (worship of Allah) and for learning ʿuluumu-d-diin (the knowledge that clarifies the correct practices of their worship and way of life).  

By the 2nd century AH, the language had become standardized by Arabic grammarians, and Classical Arabic had become the common language of worship, scholarship, and  trade throughout the Islamic world. Arabic  was the bridge language across the Middle East, North Africa East, West Africa,  wherein if Arabic was not use as a primary language in these regions, it surely had become a second language.

As mentioned above, historically speaking, Arabic was used as one of the main mediums of communication for trade and commerce among African Muslims. As result, many African Muslims from coast to coast became masters of Al-Arabiyyatu-l-Fuṣ-ḥaa (Classical Arabic) and this still continues even up until today.

About Fulfulde (pronounced: full – full – day) – the language of the Fulani, Fula People

Fulfulde, Pulaar, Pular, Peul (French spelling), is a Sene-Gambian language spoken in various dialects across some 20 countries in West and Central Africa by more than 65 million people.It is spoken as a first language by the Fula people (“Fulani”, Fula: Fulɓe) from the Senegambia region and Guinea to Cameroon, Nigeria, and Sudan and by related groups such as the Tukolor people in the Senegal River Valley. It is also spoken as a second language by various peoples in the region, such as the Kirdi of northern Cameroon and northeastern Nigeria.

As mentioned above,  Fulfulde is known by several other names as is the Fula people who are the speakers of it. The Fulas themselves call their language Pulaar or Pular in the western regions of Africa  Fulfulde in the central and eastern dialects. Fula, Fulah and Fulani in English come originally from Manding (esp. Mandinka, but also Malinke and Bamana) and Hausa, respectively; Peul in French, also occasionally found in literature in English, comes from Wolof.

Fulfulde is an official language in Senegal (It is called Pulaar there). Fulfulde is an official lingua franca in Guinea, Senegambia, Maasina (Inner Niger Delta), North Eastern Nig eria and Northern Cameroon, precisely in Adamawa regions of the two countries where many speakers are bilingual. (It called Fulfulde in these regions). Fulfulde is found among the local languages in many other African countries also, such as Mauritania, Mali, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ghana, Benin and Niger.

About the Fula People

Who Are the Fulani People and What is Their Origins?

Fula or Fulani or Fulɓe are an ethnic group of people spread over many countries, predominantly in West Africa, but found also in Central Africa and The Sudan of east Africa. The countries in Africa where they are present include Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea, The Gambia, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Niger, Togo, the Central African Republic, Ghana, Liberia, and as far as Sudan in the east. Fulas are not a majority in every country they live, but in Guinea they are largest single group among its multi-ethnic population .

There are also many names and spellings of the names used in other languages to refer to the Fulɓe. Fulani in English is borrowed from the Hausa term. Fula, from Manding languages is also used in English, and sometimes spelled Fulah or Foulah. Fula and Fulani are commonly used in English, including within Africa. The French borrowed the Wolof term Pël, which is variously spelled: Peul, Peulh, and even Peuhl. More recently the Fulfulde / Pulaar term Fulɓe, which is a plural noun (singular, Pullo) has been adapted to English as Fulbe, which some people use. In Portuguese it’s Fula or Futafula.


A closely related group is the Tukolor (French Toucouleur) in the central Senegal River valley. These people are often referred to together with Fulɓe of the region as Haalpulaar’en (Pulaar-speakers). Fula society in some parts of West Africa features the “caste” divisions typical of the region. In Mali, for instance, those who are not ethnically Fula have been referred to as yimɓe pulaaku (people of the Fula culture). The Woɗaaɓe, also known as the Bororo, are a sub-group of the Fula people.


The Fulani are traditionally a nomadic, pastoralist, trading people, herding cattle, goats and sheep across the vast dry hinterlands of their domain, keeping somewhat separate from the local agricultural populations.


The Fulani People are believed to have descended from the nomads of both North Africa and sub-Sahara Africa. It is believed that they came from the Middle-East and North Africa and settled into Central and West Africa. In the Senegal region, they established the Tukruur Empire which was contemporary to the Ghana Empire. Then, they spread all across the countries in West-Africa, as nomads leading their nomadic life style. They created here and there sometimes where they were the dominant group. But more often, they were absorbed by the indigenous population whom they had dominated.

While some have speculated over the origin of Fulani people, current linguistic and genetic evidence suggests an indigenous West African origin among the Peul. The vast majority of genetic lineages associated with them reflect those most commonly seen in other West Africans. Their language is also of West African origin, most closely related to that of the Wolof and Serer ethnic groups. Historical and archaeological records indicate that Peul-speakers have resided in western Africa since at least the 5th century A.D. as well. Interestingly, rock paintings in the Tassili-n-Ajjer suggests the presence of proto-Fulani cultural traits in the region by at least the fourth millennium B.C. Scholars specializing in Fulani culture believe that some of the imagery depicts rituals that are still practiced by contemporary Fulani people.

The Fulani were among the first group of people in West Africa to convert to Islam. They became the missionaries of Islam.

The Fulani are primarily nomadic herders and traders. Through their nomadic lifestyle they established numerous trade routes in West Africa. Many times the Fulani go to local markets and interact with the people, getting news and spreading it through much of West Africa.


The history of the Fulani seems to begin with the Berber people of North Africa around the 8th or 11th century AD. As the Berbers migrated down from North Africa and mixed with the peoples in the Senegal region of West Africa the Fulani people came into existence. Over a thousand year period from AD 900 – 1900, they spread out over most of West Africa and even into some areas of Central Africa. Some groups of Fulani have been found as far as the western borders of Ethiopia. As they migrated eastward they came into contact with different African tribes. As they encountered these other peoples, they conquered the less powerful tribes.

Takrur, Tekrur, or Tekrour (c. 800 – c. 1285) was an ancient state of West Africa, which flourished roughly parallel to the Ghana Empire. Takrur was the name of the capital of the state which flourished on the lower Senegal River. Takruri was a term, like Bilad-ul-Sudan, that was used to refer to all people of West African ancestry.


Distribution of Fulani in West Africa

Beginning as early as the 17th and 18th centuries, but mainly in the 19th century, Fulas and others took control of various states in West Africa. These included the Fulani Empire founded by Usman dan Fodio (which itself included smaller states), Fouta Djallon, Massina and others. M. Delafosse suggested that with the expansion of the Fulani from Futa to Darfur, all this region became known to the Arabs as Takrur.


The language of Fulas is called Pulaar or Fulfulde depending on the region, or variants thereof. It is also the language of the Tukulor. All Senegalese who speak the language natively are known as the Halpulaar or Haalpulaar’en, which stands for “speakers of Pulaar” (“hal” is the root of the Pulaar verb haalugol, meaning “to speak”). In some areas, e.g. in northern Cameroon, Fulfulde is a local lingua franca.

With the exception of Guinea, Fulas are minorities in every country they live in (most countries of West Africa). So some also speak other languages, for example:

Portuguese and Creole in Guinea-Bissau, French and Arabic in Mauritania, Hausa and French in Niger, French and English in Cameroon, Wolof and French in Senegal, Sango and French in Central African Republic, Bambara and French in Mali, English, Hausa and Ghanaian languages in Ghana, English and some indigenous languages in Sierra Leone, particularly Creole, that lingua franca, Hausa and English in Nigeria.

Fula are primarily known to be pastoralists, but are also traders in some areas. Most Fula in the countryside spend long times alone on foot, moving their herds; they were the only major migrating people of West Africa, though most Fula now live in towns or villages.

Over 99% of Fulani are Muslims. It is said that to be a Fulani is to be a Muslim. There are a small group of Fulani called the Mbororo, or Wodaabe, found in Niger and Cameroon, who resisted Islam, and have kept much of their pre-Islamic way of life and beliefs. And in different places, small groups of Fulani have also become Christians. However, the vast majority of Fula are are Muslims.

By the 1840s the effects of Islamization and the Fulani expansion were felt across much of the interior of West Africa. New political units were created, a reformist Islam that sought to eliminate pagan practices was spread, and social and cultural changes took place in the wake of these changes. Literacy, for example, became more widely dispersed and new centers of trade, such as Kano, emerged in this period. Later jihads established other new states along similar lines. All of these changes had long-term effects on the region of the western Sudan.


For the fully nomadic Fulani, the practice of transhumance, the seasonal movement in search of water, strongly influences settlement patterns. The basic settlement, consisting of a man and his dependents, is called a wuru. It is social but ephemeral, given that many such settlements have no women and serve simply as shelters for the nomads who tend the herds.

There are, in fact, a number of settlement patterns among Fulani. In the late twentieth century there has been an increasing trend toward livestock production and sedentary settlement, but Fulani settlement types still range from traditional nomadism to variations on sedentarism. As the modern nation-state restricts the range of nomadism, the Fulani have adapted ever increasingly complex ways to move herds among their related families: the families may reside in stable communities, but the herds move according to the availability of water. Over the last few centuries, the majority of Fulani have become sedentary.

Those Fulani who remain nomadic or seminomadic have two major types of settlements: dry-season and wet-season camps. The dry season lasts from about November to March, the wet season from about March to the end of October. Households are patrilocal and range in size from one nuclear family to more than one hundred people. The administrative structure, however, crosscuts patrilinies and is territorial. Families tend to remain in wet-season camp while sending younger males—or, increasingly, hiring non-Fulani herders—to accompany the cattle to dry-season camps.

Town Fulani live in much the same manner as the urban people among whom they live, maintaining their Fulani identity because of the prestige and other advantages to which it entitles its members. In towns, Fulani pursue the various occupations available to them: ruler, adviser to the ruler, religious specialist, landlord, business, trade, and so forth.


Subsistence and Commercial Activities:  The Fulani form the largest pastoral nomadic group in the world. The Bororo’en are noted for the size of their cattle herds. In addition to fully nomadic groups, however, there are also semisedentary Fulani—Fulbe Laddi—who also farm, although they argue that they do so out of necessity, not choice. A small group, the Fulbe Mbalu or Sheep Fulani, rely on sheep for their livelihood.

The Toroobe are outstanding clerics in the Sunni branch of Islam. They have generally intermarried with Hausa and no longer speak Fulfulde. They are found practicing other urban trades: teaching, serving in government positions, engaging in legal activities, renting property, financing trade, and so forth.

Many of the other Town Fulani were actually slaves of the Fulani who now identify with the group because of their high prestige. These urban dwellers engage in all the trades one finds in Hausa towns from crafts to long-range trade throughout Africa and the world.

Industrial Arts:  The Fulani are not particularly noted for industrial arts, except for those associated with cattle. They do engage in leatherworking and some craft production. Many of their former slaves who have assumed Fulani ethnicity follow the basic crafts of other West Africans: silver- and gold-smithing, ironworking, basket making, and similar crafts.

Trade:  The Fulani are engaged in long-distance trade, generally involving cattle, with their Hausa colleagues. Often the Hausa are also butchers who control West African cattle markets by controlling access to Fulani cattle.

Division of Labor:  Herding cattle is a male activity. Tending and milking cattle, however, are women’s work. Women may also sell dairy products; their graceful movement with containers of milk or cheese is a common sight in West African towns. Adolescent males traditionally have been in charge of moving the herds, whereas their elders deal with the political decisions and negotiate with sedentary people for the safe movement of the herds through farmlands.

Land Tenure:  Land is held by—and inherited through—the patrilineage. As the Fulani have become increasingly sedentary—generally as a result of the pressure of the modern nation state and its centralized control—rights in land have become increasingly important.] Source:  The Encyclopedia.com

The Fulani consist of a few million people speaking dialects of the Fulfulde language, and are spread across several countries of North-West Africa. Traditionally they were nomadic cattle herders, moving around the grasslands of the savannah south of the Sahara. Over the past few hundred years many Fulani have settled down as farmers and intermarried with other peoples of the region. But some Fulani remain as nomads, and the Wodaabe [singular: Bodaado] are one of the largest tribes of these ‘pastoral’ Fulani. The Fulani, including the Wodaabe, are now at least nominally Muslims, though the Wodaabe have retained many of their pagan traditions.

From early times explorers and anthropologists have been intrigued by the appearance of the Fulani, which differs from that of the Negroid peoples around them. According to Stenning: “The Fulani are not basically of Negro stock, although it is clear that through the centuries Fulani populations have interbred in various degrees with the Negro populations among whom they are dispersed…[the pastoral Fulani] retain non-Negroid physical characteristics to the greatest extent, speak the purest Fulfulde, and in general have been the least amenable to conversion to Islam…

These are obviously ‘Caucasian’ characteristics, and the natural explanation is that the Fulani have a partly Caucasian ancestry, either from East Africa (e.g. Ethiopean) or more likely from the North (e.g. Tuareg). The Fulani themselves believe they are related to the Tuaregs and Arabs.

Countries with a large number of Fulanis [Source: Jamtan.com, Sagata Group Inc ]

The Principal Traditional Fulanis regions are: Adamawa, Kanem-Bornou, Masina, Futa-Jallon, Futa-Toro and many other regions in West Africa. Fulanis are found in significant numbers include the following republics: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, The Gambia, Guinea Republic, Guinea Bissau, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra-Leone, Sudan (See Table: Fulanis Country Statistics)


In 21 countries (Ethnic Groups and religions); (2008 Data)


Population: 130 million; Fulani: 9%; Growth rate: 2.54%Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous country, is composed of more than 250 ethnic groups; the following are the most populous and politically influential: Hausa and Fulani 29%, Yoruba 21%, Igbo (Ibo) 18%, Ijaw 10%, Kanuri 4%, Ibibio 3.5%, Tiv 2.5%Muslim 50%, Christian 40%, indigenous beliefs 10%


Population: 54 million; Fulani: small; Growth rate: 2.64%Oromo 40%, Amhara and Tigre 32%, Sidamo 9%, Shankella 6%, Somali 6%, Afar 4%, Gurage 2%, other 1% Muslim 45%-50%, Ethiopian Orthodox 35%-40%, animist 12%, other 3%-8%


Population: 16.2 million; Fulani: 10%; Growth rate: 2.34%Cameroon Highlanders 31%, Equatorial Bantu 19%, Kirdi 11%, Fulani 10%, Northwestern Bantu 8%, Eastern Nigritic 7%, other African 13%, non-African less than 1%indigenous beliefs 40%, Christian 40%, Muslim 20%

4- NIGER; 

Population: 10.6 million; Fulani: 9%; Growth rate: 2.7%Hausa 56%, Djerma 22%, Fulani 9%, Tuareg 8%, Beri Beri (Kanouri) 4.3%, Arab, Toubou, and Gourmantche 1.2%, about 1,200 French expatriatesThe Fulani who, together with their herds, are concentrated in the Dosso-Agadez- Maine-Soroa triangle. Some have also settled in the West, around Tera, Say and Niamey. They predominate in certain parts of Maradi, Tessaoua, Mirriah and Magaria Districts. Sometimes they live alongside Tuaregs and Toubous. (ref : Upenn)Muslim 80%, remainder indigenous beliefs and Christian


Population: 7.8 million; Fulani: 40%; Growth rate: 2.3%Fulani 40%, Malinke 30%, Soussou 20%, smaller ethnic groups 10%Muslim 85%, Christian 8%, indigenous beliefs 7%

6- CHAD; 

Population: 9 million; Fulani: small; Growth rate: 3.27%200 distinct groups; in the north and center: Arabs, Gorane (Toubou, Daza, Kreda), Zaghawa, Kanembou, Ouaddai, Baguirmi, Hadjerai, Fulani, Kotoko, Hausa, Boulala, and Maba, most of whom are Muslim; in the south: Sara (Ngambaye, Mbaye, Goulaye), Moundang, Moussei, Massa, most of whom are Christian or animist; about 1,000 French citizens live in ChadMuslim 51%, Christian 35%, animist 7%, other 7%

7- BENIN; 

Population: 6.8 million; Fulani: small; Growth rate: 2.91%African 99% (42 Ethnic groups, most important being Fon, Adja, Yoruba, Bariba), Europeans 5,500Indigenous beliefs 50%, Christian 30%, Muslim 20%

8- TOGO; 

Population: 5.2 million; Fulani: small; Growth rate: 2.48%African (37 Ethnic Groups; largest and most important are Ewe, Mina, and Kabre) 99%, European and Syrian-Lebanese less than 1%-Indigenous beliefs 51%, Christian 29%, Muslim 20%


Population: 3.6 million; Fulani: small; Growth rate: 1.8%Baya 33%, Banda 27%, Mandjia 13%, Sara 10%, Mboum 7%, M’Baka 4%, Yakoma 4%, other 2%- Indigenous beliefs 35%, Protestant 25%, Roman Catholic 25%, Muslim 15%


Population: 12.6 million; Fulani: 8%; Growth rate: 2.64%Mossi over 40%, Gurunsi, Senufo, Lobi, Bobo, Mande, Fulani.- Burkina Faso also has several hundred thousand Fulani nomads in the northern part with their goats, sheep, and other livestock.- Indigenous beliefs 40%, Muslim 50%, Christian (mainly Roman Catholic) 10%


Population: 16.8 million; Fulani: small; Growth rate: 2.45%Akan 42.1%, Voltaiques or Gur 17.6%, Northern Mandes 16.5%, Krous 11%, Southern Mandes 10%, other 2.8% (includes 130,000 Lebanese and 20,000 French) (1998)- Christian 20-30%, Muslim 35-40%, indigenous 25-40% (2001) note: the majority of foreigners (migratory workers) are Muslim (70%) and Christian (20%)

12- GAMBIA; 

Population: 1.4 million; Fulani: small; Growth rate: 3.09%African 99% (Mandinka 42%, Fulani 18%, Wolof 16%, Jola 10%, Serahuli 9%, other 4%), non-African 1%- Muslim 90%, Christian 9%, indigenous beliefs 1%

13- GHANA; 

Population: 20.2 million; Fulani: small; Growth rate: 1.7%Black African 98.5% (major tribes – Akan 44%, Moshi-Dagomba 16%, Ewe 13%, Ga 8%, Gurma 3%, Yoruba 1%), European and other 1.5% (1998)- indigenous beliefs 21%, Muslim 16%, Christian 63%


Population: 1.3 million; Fulani: 20%; Growth rate: 2.23%African 99% (Balanta 30%, Fulani 20%, Manjaca 14%, Mandinga 13%, Papel 7%), European and mulatto less than 1%- indigenous beliefs 50%, Muslim 45%, Christian 5%

15- MALI; 

Population: 11.3 million; Fulani: 17%; Growth rate: 2.97%Mande 50% (Bambara, Malinke, Soninke), Fulani 17%, Voltaic 12%, Songhai 6%, Tuareg and Moor 10%, other 5%- Muslim 90%, indigenous beliefs 9%, Christian 1%


Population: 2.8 million; Fulani: small; Growth rate: 2.92%Maur 30%, Fulani, Soninke, Wolof, Haratin – Muslim 100%


Population: 10.6million; Fulani: 23.8%; Growth rate: 2.91%Wolof 43.3%, Fulani 23.8%, Serer 14.7%, Jola 3.7%, Mandinka 3%, Soninke 1.1%, European and Lebanese 1%, other 9.4%- Muslim 94%, indigenous beliefs 1%, Christian 5% (mostly Roman Catholic)


Population: 5.6 million; Fulani: small; Growth rate: 3.31%20 native African tribes 90% (Temne 30%, Mende 30%, other 30%), Creole (Krio) 10% (descendants of freed Jamaican slaves who were settled in the Freetown area in the late-18th century), refugees from Liberia’s recent civil war, small numbers of Europeans, Lebanese, Pakistanis, and Indians- Muslim 60%, indigenous beliefs 30%, Christian 10%

19- SUDAN; 

Population: 37 million; Fulani: small; Growth rate: 2.73%Black 52%, Arab 39%, Beja 6%, foreigners 2%, other 1%.The Fulani nomads are found in many parts of central Sudan from Darfur to the Blue Nile. In the Eastern Sudan there are large colonies of Fallata the name by which the Fulani are called. They are also called Teckruri and believed to number between 1 and 2 millions.In Darfur groups of Fulani origin adapted in various ways to the presence of the Baqqara People. Sunni Muslim 70% (in north), indigenous beliefs 25%, Christian 5% (mostly in south and Khartoum)


Population: 7.7million; Fulani: small; Growth rate: 3.46%Somali 85%, Bantu and other non-Somali 15% (including Arabs 30,000)-Sunni Muslim


Population: 4.4; Fulani: 1-2 million; Growth rate: 1.28%Ethnic Tigrinya 50%, Tigre and Kunama 40%, Afar 4%, Saho (Red Sea coast dwellers) 3%, other 3%. The Tekruris have been part of the Eritrean society.

Click the following link for a playlist to study and learn the Fula people. Click the link in the right hand corner of the embedded picture below to open the playlist. Click the picture in the small picture in the left hand corner to go our YouTube channel to learn other languages spoken by African Muslims:

The accompanying textbook for the Fula Basic Course can be downloaded at the following link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1KcNZcv-Ns9OdCA6_pUstbcQRulNzVlML/view?usp=sharing

About Mandinka the Language of the Mandinka People

The Mandinka language (Mandi’nka kango) or Mandingo, is a Mande language spoken by the Mandinka people of Guinea, northern Guinea-Bissau, the Casamance region of Senegal, and in The Gambia where it is one of the principal languages.

Mandinka belongs to the Manding branch of Mande and is thus similar to Bambara and Maninka/Malinké but with only 5 instead of 7 vowels. In a majority of areas, it is a tonal language with two tones: low and high, although the particular variety spoken in the Gambia and Senegal borders on a pitch accent due to its proximity with non-tonal neighboring languages like Wolof.

Mandinka (or Mandingo), is part of a group of languages of West Africa known collectively as Manding. it is the main language of Gambia. It is spoken by roughly 1.2 million people in total; also in Senegal and the central-northern part of Guinea-Bissau. There is also a small number of speakers in the United Kingdom.

About Mandinka the Language of the Mandinka People

The Mandinka, or Malinke, are a West African ethnic group primarily found in southern Mali, eastern Guinea and northern Ivory Coast. Numbering about 11 million, they are the largest subgroup of the Mandé peoples and one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa. They speak the Mandinka language, which is one of the Western Manding languages in the Mande language family and a lingua franca in much of West Africa. Over 99% of Mandinka adhere to Islam. They are predominantly subsistence farmers and live in rural villages. Their largest urban center is Bamako, the capital of Mali, which is also inhabited by the closely related Bambara.

The Mandinka are the descendants of the Mali Empire, which rose to power in the 13th century under the rule of king Sundiata Keita, who founded an empire that would go on to span a large part of West Africa. They migrated west from the Niger River in search of better agricultural lands and more opportunities for conquest.[18] Nowadays, the Mandinka inhabit the West sudanian savanna region extending from The Gambia and the Casamance region in Senegal to Ivory Coast. Although widespread, the Mandinka constitute the largest ethnic group only in the countries of Mali, Guinea and The Gambia. Most Mandinka live in family-related compounds in traditional rural villages. Their traditional society has featured socially stratified castes. Mandinka communities have been fairly autonomous and self-ruled, being led by a chief and group of elders. Mandinka has been an oral society, where mythologies, history and knowledge are verbally transmitted from one generation to the next. Their music and literary traditions are preserved by a caste of griots, known locally as jelis, as well as guilds and brotherhoods like the donso (hunters).

Between the 16th and 19th centuries, many Muslim and non-Muslim Mandinka people, along with numerous other African ethnic groups, were captured, enslaved and shipped to the Americas. They intermixed with slaves and workers of other ethnicities, creating a Creole culture. The Mandinka people significantly influenced the African heritage of descended peoples now found in Brazil, the Southern United States and, to a lesser extent, the Caribbean.

Today, over 99% of Mandinka are Muslim. Mandinkas recite chapters of the Qur’an in Arabic. Some Mandinka syncretise Islam and traditional African religions. Among these syncretists spirits can be controlled mainly through the power of a marabout, who knows the protective formulas. In most cases, no important decision is made without first consulting a marabout. Marabouts, who have Islamic training, write Qur’anic verses on slips of paper and sew them into leather pouches (talisman); these are worn as protective amulets.

The conversion to Islam took place over many centuries. According to Robert Wyndham Nicholls, Mandinka in Senegambia started converting to Islam as early as the 17th century, and most of Mandinka leatherworkers there converted to Islam before the 19th century.

he Muslim influence from North Africa had arrived in the Mandinka region before this, via Islamic trading diasporas.

The history of Mandinka people started in Mande region. Mande region is between southern Mali and Guinea.

The Mandé were initially a part of many fragmented kingdoms that formed after the collapse of Ghana empire in the 11th century.[25] During the rule of Sundiata Keita, these kingdoms were consolidated, and the Mandinka expanded west from the Niger River basin under Sundiata’s general Tiramakhan Traore. This expansion was a part of creating a region of conquest, according to the oral tradition of the Mandinka people. This migration began in the later part of the 13th century.

The caravan trade to North Africa and Middle East brought Islamic people into Mandinka people’s original and expanded home region. The Muslim traders sought presence in the host Mandinka community, and this likely initiated proselytizing efforts to convert the Mandinka from their traditional religious beliefs into Islam. I

The Mandinka (also known as the Mandingo and Malinke, among other names) are a West African people spread across parts of Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal, the Gambia and Guinea-Bissau. With a global population of some 11 million, the Mandinka are the best-known ethnic group of the Mande peoples, all of whom speak different dialects of the Mande language. They are descendants of the great Mali Empire that flourished in West Africa from the 13th through the 16th centuries. Beginning in the 16th century, tens of thousands of Mandinka were captured and shipped to the Americas as slaves. Of the approximately 388,000 Africans who landed in America as a result of the slave trade, historians believe 92,000 (24 percent) were Senegambians, from the region of West Africa comprising the Senegal and Gambia Rivers and the land between them; many were Mandinka and Bambara (another Mande ethnic group). In the 20th century, the author Alex Haley made the Mandinka famous when he traced his “Roots” back to the village of Juffure in the Gambia, where his great-great-great-great-grandfather, Kunta Kinte, was captured and sold into slavery in the United States.

Some Mandinka converted to Islam from their traditional animist beliefs as early as the 12th century, but after a series of Islamic holy wars in the late 19th century, more than 95 percent of Mandinka are Muslims today. Most live in family compounds in rural villages, which are largely autonomous and governed by local chiefs. Most Mandinka men are poor subsistence farmers, for whom one rainy season spells hunger and ruin. Peanuts are a main crop, and a staple of the Mandinka diet; they also plant millet, corn and sorghum. Mandinka women do the laborious, physically demanding work of tending the rice fields, in addition to their roles as wives and mothers.

The Mandinka arrived in The Gambia during the 14th century, at a time when the Mali Empire was at its height. The Mali Empire having been founded by Sundiata Keita. Historians argue over this, but many believe that the reasons for emigrating to the west include the need to find a favourable climate for agriculture in the Senegambia region in order to boost crop production. Another reason given is that many Mandinka merchants wanted to move to areas where there was less competition in trade. The areas west of the Mali empire did not take part in the trans-Sahara trade, and so these Mandinka traders believed they would have a better chance to grow rich. A general named Tiramang Taraore led the expansion westwards, accompanied by thousands of settlers. As a result, they conquered and settled in large parts the Cassamance region in Senegambia and Guinea Bissau.

Most Mandinka live in family compounds in traditional rural villages and are fairly autonomous. They are led by a chief and group of elders. The linguistic culture is rich in tradition, music, and spiritual ritual. In many traditional societies in The Gambia, there was a social hierarchy as well as a political one. In a social hierarchy, the top level, or upper class, is thought of as the most important, while the lowest level of society is not highly regarded. Traditionally, Mandinka society was divided into four main groups, namely nobles, commoners, caste group and slaves.

Most of the Mandinka are farmers. Rice, millet, sorghum, and peanuts are their staple crops. While they raise most of their own food, some products are obtained through trade and some are gathered from the forests. During planting and harvesting seasons, much time is spent in the fields. At other times, the men work in part-time businesses to supplement their incomes. Others raise goats, sheep, bees, poultry, and dogs. Cattle are sometimes kept, but only to gain prestige, to use as ritual sacrifices, or to use as a bride price.

Mandinka are rural subsistence farmers who rely on peanuts, rice, millet, maize, and small-scale husbandry for their livelihood. During the wet season, men plant peanuts as their main cash crop. Men also grow millet and women grow rice (traditionally, African rice), tending the plants by hand. This is extremely labour-intensive and physically demanding work. Only about 50% of the rice consumption needs are met by local planting; the rest is imported from Asia and the United States.

The oldest male is the head of the family and marriages are commonly arranged. Small mud houses with conical thatch or tin roofs make up their villages, which are organised on the basis of the clan groups. While farming is the predominant profession among the Mandinka, men also work as tailors, butchers, taxi drivers, woodworkers, metalworkers, soldiers, nurses, and extension workers for aid agencies. However, most women, probably 95%, tend to the home, children, and animals as well as work alongside the men in the fields.

Click the following link for a playlist to study and learn the Mandinka people. Click the link in the right hand corner of the embedded picture below to open the playlist. Click the picture in the small picture in the left hand corner to go our YouTube channel to learn other languages spoken by African Muslims:

The accompanying textbook for the Mandika Language Course can be downloaded at the following link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qOlC033In1KkZc33jJb4otJb2_aOYCtG/view?usp=sharing

About Hausa (pronounced: how-sa) – the Language of the Hausa People

Hausa is spoken by the Hausa people, the largest ethnic group in Africa. They speak the Hausa language, an Afro-Asiatic language of the Chadic group which is the most spoken indigenous African Language. 

It has been estimated that Hausa is spoken as a first language by 47 million people and as a second language by another 25 million, bringing the total number of Hausa speakers to an estimated 72 million. According to more recent estimations, Hausa would be spoken by 100–150 million people, possibly making it the most spoken indigenous, native African language.

The main Hausa-speaking area is northern Nigeria and Niger. Hausa is also widely spoken in northern Ghana, Cameroon, Chad, Sudanese Hausa in Sudan and the Ivory Coast as well as among Fulani, Tuareg, Kanuri, Gur, Shuwa Arab, and other Afro-Asiatic speaking groups. There are also large Hausa communities in every major African city in neighbourhoods called zangos or zongos, meaning “caravan camp” in Hausa (denoting the trading post origins of these communities). Most Hausa speakers, regardless of ethnic affiliation, are Muslims; Hausa often serves as a lingua franca among Muslims in non-Hausa areas.

Predominantly Hausa-speaking communities are scattered throughout West Africa and on the traditional Hajj route north and east traversing the Sahara, with an especially large population in and around the town of Agadez. Other Hausa have also moved to large coastal cities in the region such as Lagos, Port Harcourt, Accra, Abidjan, Banjul and Cotonou as well as to parts of North Africa such as Libya over the course of the last 500 years. Significant indigenized populations are reported in Benin, Cameroon, Ivory Coast,[9][unreliable source] Chad, Sudan, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Togo, Ghana, Eritr ea, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Senegal and the Gambia. 

Hausa is a written as well as oral language, and as a result it is used as the language of instruction at the elementary level in schools in northern Nigeria. 

By the early 15th century the Hausa were using a modified Arabic script known as ajami to record their own language; the Hausa compiled several written histories, the most popular being the Kano Chronicle. Many medieval Hausa manuscripts similar to the Timbuktu Manuscripts written in the Ajami script, have been discovered recently some of them even describe constellations and calendars.

As mentioned above, Hausa has long been written using a modified Arabic alphabet called ajami. Since about 1912, Hausa has also been written in a standardized orthography called boko, originally meaning “sham” or “deceit,” that is based on the Latin alphabet (with the addition of modified letters that represent glottalized consonants). This Latin-based orthography is the one now used for education, newspapers, books, and other general purposes.

Hausa is recognized as an indigenous national language in the constitutions of both Nigeria and Niger. So-called Standard Hausa is based on the pan-dialectal koine of Kano (Nigeria), which is the biggest commercial centre in Hausaland. There are two major dialect areas: the northwestern area, comprising most of the dialects spoken in Niger (Kurfeyanci around Filinguey, Aderanci around Tahoua, Arewanci around Dogondouchi, Tibiranci around Maradi, and Damagaranci around Zinder) plus those of Sokoto (Sakkwatanci) and Katsina (Katsinanci) in Nigeria; and the eastern area, with Kano (Kananci), Zaria (Zazzanci), and Bauchi (Guddiranci) as prominent urban agglomerations with their own dialectal variants. Dialectal variation, however, does not impede mutual intelligibility across the whole of Hausaland.

Serious linguistic research on the language began in the mid-19th century with the works of the German missionary J.F. Schön. Hausa has been taught outside Africa since 1885, when the first course was offered in Berlin. Today Hausa is taught on a regular basis throughout the world, mainly at universities that have a department specializing in African languages. An early milestone in Hausa studies was the 1934 publication of a dictionary compiled by the Rev. G.P. Bargery; it had about 40,000 entries and demonstrated the remarkable number of loanwords from Arabic, Kanuri (a Nilo-Saharan language), and Tamajaq (the Amazigh language spoken by the Tuareg). Since the colonial period, English (in Nigeria) and French (in Niger) have competed with Arabic as major sources of Hausa lexical innovation.

Because of the dominant position which the Hausa language and culture have long held, the study of Hausa provides crucial background for other areas such as African history, politics (particularly in Nigeria and Niger), gender studies, commerce, and the arts.

Hausa is available as course of study in northern Nigerian universities. In addition, several advanced degrees (Masters and PhD) are offered in Hausa in various universities in the UK, US, and Germany. Hausa is also being used in various social media networks around the world.

Hausa is considered one of the world’s major languages, and it has widespread use in a number of countries of Africa. Hausa’s rich poetry, prose, and musical literature, is increasingly available in print and in audio and video recordings. The study of Hausa provides an informative entry into the culture of Islamic Africa. Throughout Africa, there is a strong connection between Hausa and Islam.

The influence of the Hausa language on the languages of many non-Hausa Muslim peoples in Africa is readily apparent. Likewise, many Hausa cultural practices, including such overt features as dress and food, are shared by other Muslim communities. 

Hausa has replaced many other languages especially in the north-central and north-eastern part of Nigeria and continues to gain popularity in other parts of Africa as a result of Hausa movies and music which spread out throughout the region.

In West Africa, Hausa’s use as a lingua franca has given rise to a non-native pronunciation that differs vastly from native pronunciation.

About the Hausa People 

The Hausa (also pronounced Hausawa and Ausa; French spelling: Haoussa) are an ethnic group in Africa based primarily in the Sahelian and the sparse savanna areas of southern Niger and northern Nigeria. With a total population of some 80 million (2019 estimate), they qualify as the most numerous single African ethnic group.

The name Hausa is applied to both the ethnic group and the language. Linked culturally to Islam, Hausa are characterized since the early nineteenth century by centralized emirate governments with Fulani rulers, extended households, agricultural villages, trade and markets, and strong assimilative capacities.

The Hausa traditionally live in small villages, as well as in towns and cities, where they grow crops, raise livestock including cattle, and engage in trade, both local and long distance across Africa.

For these reasons, Hausa cultural borders have been constantly expanding. Given modern communications, transportation, and the accelerating need for a lingua franca, Hausa has rapidly become the first or second language of the entire northern area of the country.

The Hausa are culturally and historically closest to other Sahelian ethnic groups, primarily the Fula; the Zarma and Songhai (in Tillabery, Tahoua and Dosso in Niger); the Kanuri and Shuwa Arabs (in Cameroon, Chad, Sudan and northeastern Nigeria); the Tuareg (in Agadez, Maradi and Zinder); the Gur and Gonja (in northeastern Ghana, Burkina Faso, northern Togo and upper Benin); Gwari (in central Nigeria); and the Mandinka, Bambara, Dioula and Soninke (in Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Ivory Coast and Guinea).

The Hausa have an ancient culture that covered a large area, and had long ties to the Arabs and other Islamized peoples in West Africa, such as the Mandé, Fulani, and even the Wolof of Senegambia, through extended long distance trade. Islam has been present in Hausaland since the fourteenth century, but it was largely restricted to the region’s rulers and their courts. Rural areas generally retained their animist beliefs and their urban leaders thus drew on both Islamic and African traditions to legitimize their rule. Muslim scholars of the early nineteenth century disapproved of the hybrid religion practiced in royal courts, and a desire for reform was a major motive behind the formation of the Sokoto Caliphate.  It was after the formation of the Sokoto Caliphate that Islam became firmly entrenched in rural areas. The Hausa people have been an important vector for the spread of Islam in West Africa through economic contact, diaspora trading communities, and politics.

The Hausa people are heirs of a civilization that has flourished for over a thousand years in West Africa. The Hausa also have an architectural legacy represented by the Gidan Rumfa, or Emir’s palace in Kano at the center of what is the economic capital of Nigeria and the remains of the old walls around the city.

The Hausa culture deserves a wider exposure outside of West Africa, since it testifies to the existence of a sophisticated, well organized society that predates the arrival of the European colonizers, who saw little if anything admirable, interesting, cultured or civilized in what they persisted in calling “the Black continent.”

The traditional homeland of the Hausa was an early location for French and British interests, attracted by the gold deposits and the possibility of using the Niger for transport. Some of the earliest British explorers in Africa, such as Mungo Park and Alexander Gordon Laing gravitated to the Niger. Little thought was given to the preservation of indigenous culture or systems,

The city of Kano is considered the center of Hausa trade and culture. In terms of cultural relations to other peoples of West Africa, the Hausa are culturally and historically close to the Fulani, Songhay, Mandé, and Tuareg, as well as other Afro-Asiatic and Nilo-Saharan groups further east, in Chadand Sudan.

Daura city is also a cultural center of the Hausa people. The town predates all the other major Hausa towns in tradition and culture. The aristocratic Hausa are traditionally horsemen. Horsemanship has become deeply ingrained in Hausa culture and is still a status symbol of the traditional nobility in Hausa society up until today. The horse still features in the Eid day celebrations, known as Ranar Sallah (in English: the Day of the Prayer).

Islam and the Hausa

In the twelfth century, the Hausa were a major African power. Seven Hausa kingdoms flourished between the Niger River and Lake Chad, of which the Emirate of Kano was probably the most important. According to legend, its first king was the grandson of the founder of the Hausa states. There were 43 Hausa rulers of Kano until they lost power in 1805. Historically, these were trading kingdoms dealing in gold, cloth, and leather goods.

By the onset of the 14th century, Islam was fast becomjng widespread in Hausaland, as Wangara (Malinke, Jula and Soninke) and Fula scholars and traders from Mali as well as a Tuareg caravan traders, brought the religion with them, settled in the merchantile districts of Hausa cities, while Hausa traders began to settle in Zango (camel caravan) districts in cities throughout West Africa. Common Hausa surnames such as “Kaita” (Keita), “Turai” (Touré), “Jallo” (Diallo), “Bello”, and “Coulibaly” reveal their distinctly Mandé and Fula origins, and trace back to the specific Malian clans that engaged in the early and gradual Islamisation of the medieval Hausa city states. In Mali and Guinea today, Haoussa is used as a first name or surname by those who have Hausa ancestry, and several villages and districts use the name Haoussa-Foulane or Aoussa to identify medieval Zango districts. Hausa remains a minority language in the Ansongo District of Mali.

Orthodox Sunni Islam of the Maliki madh-hab, is the predominant and historically established religion of the Hausa people. Islam has been present in Hausaland as early as the 11th century – giving rise to famous native Sufi saints and scholars such as Wali Muhammad dan Masani (d.1667) and Wali Muhammad dan Marna(d. 1655) in Katsina – mostly among long-distance traders to North Africa whom in turn had spread it to common people while the ruling class had remain largely pagan or mixed their practice of Islam with pagan practices. By the 14th Century Hausa traders were already spreading Islam across large swathe of west Africa such as Ghana, Cote d Ivoire etc..

In the 19th century, Muslim scholars began to disapproved of the mixed Islamic religion and non-Islamic practices of the royal courts. A desire for reform contributed to the formation of the Sokoto Caliphate. The formation of this state strengthened Islam in rural areas. The Hausa people have been an important factor for the spread of Islam in West Africa. Up to today, the Sultan of Sokoto is regarded as the traditional religious leader (Sarkin Musulmi) of Sunni Hausa-Fulani in Nigeria and beyond.

Hausa Migration

Many Hausa have moved to large coastal cities in West Africa such as Lagos, Accra, or Cotonou, as well as to countries such as Libya, in search of jobs that pay cash wages.

Click the following link for a playlist to study and learn the Hausa people. Click the link in the right hand corner of the embedded picture below to open the playlist. Click the picture in the small picture in the left hand corner to go our YouTube channel to learn other languages spoken by African Muslims:

The accompanying textbook can be downloaded at the following link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Aa_XzMhd7DgBeqC64yEcCX8NSLQ_XYr-/view?usp=sharing

About Swahili the Language of the Swahili People

It’s a national language in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, and an official language of the East African Community which comprises Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. Its use is spreading to southern, western and northern Africa.

Swahili is the lingua franca (a common language adopted between two non-native speakers) of the East African Union and is the official language of Tanzania (official language), Kenya (official language next to English) and of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is also widely spoken in Uganda and, in smaller numbers, in Burundi, Rwanda, North Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.

People who speak Swahili as their sole mother tongue are usually referred to as Waswahili, but this name refers to their language only and does not denote any particular ethnic or tribal unit. Swahili is widely used as a lingua franca in: (1) Tanzania, where it is the language of administration and primary education; (2) Kenya, where it is, after English, the main language for these purposes; (3) Congo (Kinshasa), where a form of Swahili is one of the four languages of administration, the main language for this purpose being French; and (4) Uganda, where the main language is again English.

Swahili has been greatly influenced by Arabic; there are an enormous number of Arabic loanwords in the language, including the word swahili, from Arabic sawāḥilī (a plural adjectival form of an Arabic word meaning “of the coast”). The language dates from the contacts of Arabian traders with the inhabitants of the east coast of Africa over many centuries. Under Arab influence, Swahili originated as a lingua franca used by several closely related Bantu-speaking tribal groups. In the early 19th century, the spread of Swahili inland received a great impetus from its being the language of the Arab ivory and slave caravans, which penetrated as far north as Uganda and as far west as Congo. Swahili was later adopted by European colonialists, especially the Germans, who used it extensively as the language of administration in Tanganyika, thus laying the foundation for its adoption as a national language of independent Tanzania. In Kenya and Uganda, other local languages also received official encouragement during the colonial period, but the tendency in these countries is now to emphasize the use of Swahili. The oldest preserved Swahili literature, which dates from the early 18th century, is written in the Arabic script, though the language is now written in the Roman alphabet.

The Swahili language dates its origin to the Bantu people of the coast of East Africa. Much of Swahili’s Bantu vocabulary has cognates in the Pokomo, Taita and Mijikenda languages and, to a lesser extent, other East African Bantu languages. While opinions vary on the specifics, it has been historically purported that about 20% of the Swahili vocabulary is derived from loan words, the majority Arabic, but also other contributing languages, including Persian, Hindustani, Portuguese, and Malay. In the text “Early Swahili History Reconsidered”, however, Thomas Spear noted that Swahili retains a large amount of grammar, vocabulary, and sounds inherited from the Sabaki Language. In fact, while taking account of daily vocabulary, using lists of one hundred words, 72-91% were inherited from the Sabaki language (which is reported as a parent language) whereas 4-17% were loan words from other African languages. Only 2-8% were from non-African languages, and Arabic loan words constituted a fraction of the 2-8%. What also remained unconsidered was that a good number of the borrowed terms had native equivalents. The preferred use of Arabic loan words is prevalent along the coast, where natives, in a cultural show of proximity to, or descent from Arab culture, would rather use loan words, whereas the natives in the interior tend to use the native equivalents. It was originally written in Arabic script.

In regards to Islam, Swahili played a major role in spreading Islam in East Africa. From their arrival in East Africa, Arabs brought Islam and set up madrasas, where they used Swahili to teach Islam to the natives. As the Arab presence grew, more and more natives were converted to Islam and were taught using the Swahili language.

The earliest known documents written in Swahili are letters written in Kilwa in 1711 in the Arabic script that were sent to the Portuguese of Mozambique and their local allies. The original letters are preserved in the Historical Archives of Goa, India.

With the arrival of the Arabs in East Africa, they used Swahili as a language of trade as well as for teaching Islam to the local Bantu peoples. This resulted in Swahili first being written in the Arabic alphabet.

Several Swahili consonants do not have equivalents in Arabic, and for them, often no special letters were created unlike, for example, Urdu script. Instead, the closest Arabic sound is substituted. Not only did that mean that one letter often stands for more than one sound, but also writers made different choices of which consonant to substitute.

Borrowed Words in the Swahili Language

Borrowed Words may or may not be given a prefix corresponding to the semantic class they fall in. For example, Arabic دود‎ dūd (“bug, insect”) was borrowed as mdudu, plural wadudu, with the class 1/2 prefixes m- and wa-, but Arabic فلوس‎ fulūs (“fish scales”, plural of فلس‎ fals) and English sloth were borrowed as simply fulusi (“mahi-mahi” fish) and slothi (“sloth”), with no prefix associated with animals (whether those of class 9/10 or 1/2).

In the process of naturalization[42] of borrowings within Swahili, loanwords are often reinterpreted, or reanalysed,[43] as if they already contain a Swahili class prefix. In such cases the interpreted prefix is changed with the usual rules. Consider the following loanwords from Arabic:

  1. 1 The Swahili word for “book”, kitabu, is borrowed from Arabic كتاب‎ kitāb(un) “book” (plural كتب‎ kutub; from the Arabic root k.t.b. “write”). However, the Swahili plural form of this word (“books”) is vitabu, following Bantu grammar in which the ki- of kitabu is reanalysed (reinterpreted) as a nominal class prefix whose plural is vi- (class 7/8).[43]
  2. 2 Arabic معلم‎ muʿallim(un) (“teacher”, plural معلمين muʿallimīna) was interpreted as having the mw- prefix of class 1, and so became mwalimu, plural walimu.
  3. 3 Arabic مدرسة madrasa school, even though it is singular in Arabic (with plural مدارس‎ madāris), was reinterpreted as a class 6 plural madarasa, receiving the singular form darasa.

Similarly, English wire and Arabic وقت‎ waqt (“time”) were interpreted as having the class 11 prevocalic prefix w-, and became waya and wakati with plural nyaya and nyakati respectively.

Swahili is now written in the Latin alphabet. There are a few digraphs for native sounds, ch, sh, ng and ny; q and x are not used,[39] c is not used apart from the digraph ch, unassimilated English loans and, occasionally, as a substitute for k in advertisements. There are also several digraphs for Arabic sounds, which many speakers outside of ethnic Swahili areas have trouble differentiating.

The language used to be written in the Arabic script. Unlike adaptations of the Arabic script for other languages, relatively little accommodation was made for Swahili. There were also differences in orthographic conventions between cities and authors and over the centuries, some quite precise but others different enough to cause difficulties with intelligibility.

About the Swahili People

The Swahili people originate from Bantu inhabitants of the coast of Southeast Africa, in Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique. These Bantu-speaking agriculturalists settled the coast at the outset of the first millennium. Archaeological finds at Fukuchani, on the north-west coast of Zanzibar, indicate a settled agricultural and fishing community from the 6th century CE at the latest. The considerable amount of daub found indicates timber buildings, and shell beads, bead grinders, and iron slag have been found at the site. There is evidence for limited engagement in long-distance trade: a small amount of imported pottery has been found, less than 1% of total pottery finds, mostly from the Gulf and dated to the 5th to 8th century. The similarity to contemporary sites such as Mkokotoni and Dar es Salaam indicate a unified group of communities that developed into the first center of coastal maritime culture. The coastal towns appear to have been engaged in Indian Ocean trade at this early period, and trade rapidly increased in importance and quantity between the mid-8th and the 11th century

Many Swahili claim a Shirazi origin. This forms the basis of the Shirazi era origin myth that proliferated along the coast at the turn of the millennium. Modern scholarship has rejected the veracity of these claims. The most likely origin for the stories about the Shirazi is from Muslim inhabitants of the Lamu archipelago who moved south in the 10th and 11th centuries. They brought with them a coinage tradition and localized form of Islam. These Africans migrants seem to have developed a concept of Shirazi origin as they moved further southwards, near Malindi and Mombasa, along the Mrima coast. The longstanding trade connections with the Persian gulf gave credence to these myths. In addition, because most Muslim societies are patrilineal, one can claim distant identities through paternal lines despite phenotypic and somatic evidence to the contrary. The so-called Shirazi tradition represents the arrival of Islam in these eras, one reason it has proven so long lasting. Extant mosques and coins demonstrate that the “Shirazi” were not Middle Eastern immigrants, but northern Swahili Muslims. They moved south, founding mosques, introducing coinage and elaborately carved inscriptions and mihrabs. They should be interpreted as indigenous African Muslims who played the politics of the Middle East to their advantage. Some still use this foundation myth a millennium later to assert their authority, even though the myth’s context has long been forgotten. The Shirazi legend took on new importance in the 19th century, during the period of Omani domination. Claims of Shirazi ancestry were used to distance locals from Arab newcomers, since Persians are not viewed as Arabs but still have an exemplary Islamic pedigree. The emphasis that the Shirazi came very long ago and intermarried with indigenous locals ties this claim to the creation of convincing indigenous narratives about Swahili heritage without divorcing it from the ideals of being a maritime-centered culture.

There are two main theories about the origins of the Shirazi subgroup of the Swahili people. One thesis based on oral tradition states that immigrants from the Shiraz region in southwestern Iran directly settled various mainland ports and islands on the eastern Africa seaboard beginning in the tenth century. By the time of the Persian settlement in the area, the earlier occupants had been displaced by incoming Bantu and Nilotic populations.[9] More people from different parts of the Persian Gulf also continued to migrate to the Swahili coast over several centuries thereafter, and these formed the modern Shirazi. The second theory on Shirazi origins also posits that they came from Persia, but first settled in the Horn of Africa. In the twelfth century, as the gold trade with the distant entrepot of Sofala on the Mozambique seaboard grew, the settlers are then said to moved southwards to various coastal towns in Kenya, Tanzania, northern Mozambique and the Indian Ocean islands. By 1200 CE, they had established local sultanates and mercantile networks on the islands of Kilwa, Mafia and Comoros along the Swahili coast, and in northwestern Madagascar.

The modern Swahili people speak the Swahili language as a mother tongue, which belongs to the Bantu branch of the Niger-Congo family. The language contains loan words from Arabic and Persian.

The Swahili people (or Waswahili) are a Bantu ethnic group inhabiting East Africa. Members of this ethnicity primarily reside on the Swahili coast, in an area encompassing the Zanzibar archipelago, littoral Kenya, the Tanzania seaboard, and northern Mozambique. The name Swahili is derived from Arabic: سواحل‎, romanized: Sawāhil, lit. ‘coasts’ settling on the coast tapped into the Indian Ocean trade networks. The Swahili people follow the Sunni denomination of Islam.

Large numbers of Swahili undertake the Hajj and Umrah from Tanzania, Kenya, and Mozambique. Traditional Islamic dress such as the jilbab and thobe are also popular among the Swahili.

Traditional Sailing in Kilwa

City-states along the east African coast have a longstanding tradition of trade and mingling between various peoples. Many of these former city-states still exist in modern nations. Kilwa, Tanzania, is one such city in which people still use traditional sailing practices.

What Is the Swahili Coast?

The Swahili Coast is on Africa’s east coast. It has a long history and fascinating culture.  The coast stretches from Somalia in the north to Mozambique in the south. It sits along the Indian Ocean. Travelers have passed through the Swahili Coast for centuries. This is partly because of special wind patterns in the Indian Ocean. Such winds made sailing trips easy. A Greek merchant’s guide was found. The writing is from the first century, about 2,000 years ago. It describes ivory, rhino horn, and tortoiseshell available for trade.  This coast is home to a unique culture and language. A mix of African, Arab, and Indian Ocean peoples lived here.

Who Lives on the Swahili Coast?

The original residents were Africans. They spoke the Bantu languages. This group had migrated east from inland areas. They later spread up and down the coast, trading with each other. Later they traded with people from far away.

Around the year 700, Muslim traders settled in the region. Muslims practice the religion of Islam. Most of the traders were Arabs, meaning they spoke Arabic. In the 1100s, Persian settlers arrived. Persia today is the country of Iran. This group was known as the Shirazi. Today, most Swahili people are Sunni Muslims. It is the largest group within the religion of Islam.

The Busy Medieval Times

The Swahili Coast peaked during the medieval period. This happened from around the 11th century to the 15th century. During that time, the Swahili Coast was made up of numerous city-states. They traded across the Indian Ocean. The city-states were independent lands. Their leaders were called sultans. However, they shared a common language, Swahili, and religion, Islam. They traded across the Indian Ocean. Pottery, silks, and glassware were popular items.

Altogether, the city-states are often called “stone towns.” That is because many buildings were constructed using stone. These were coral blocks held together with mortar. 

Kilwa and Songo Mnara

Kilwa was a major southern city-state. It is also a major site for archaeologists. It is located on an island off the southern coast of Tanzania. In the medieval period, it kept a trading post at Sofala. Kilwa traded with the gold-rich Kingdom of Great Zimbabwe, located to the south.

In medieval times, Kilwa was an important trading center on the East African coast. Its ruins today include the Great Palace. Back then the palace was the largest stone building in Africa south of the Sahara Desert. The grounds of the Great Palace were huge. It included a swimming pool. There were about 100 rooms.

On another island just to the south is Songo Mnara. This site was founded by the Kilwa government. No one knows why Kilwa built Songo Mnara. It appears to have been built following a city plan. It has clean lines and coral stone decorations.

Chinese Contacts

Chinese Emperor Yongle ruled from 1403 to 1424, during China’s Ming Dynasty. One of his key officials was Admiral Zheng He. Yongle sent Zheng He on seven sea expeditions. Hundreds of ships were sent for carrying goods and money. Thousands of men were aboard.

Zheng He visited the Swahili Coast. He stopped at Mombasa, Malindi, and Mogadishu. His ships would have been a fascinating sight. The sultan of Malindi sent the Chinese emperor a giraffe and other creatures. The Chinese were impressed with these rare gifts.

However, the Chinese did not stick around in East Africa. The voyages of Zheng He ended with his death and the emperor’s death.

Archaeologists are still finding proof of the Chinese-Swahili connection. In 2010, researchers found a Chinese coin. It was not far from the medieval city-state of Malindi. The coin dated to the Ming Dynasty. A similar coin was found nearby a few years later. 

Arrival of the Portuguese 

From 1497 to 1498, Portuguese voyager Vasco da Gama arrived. He brought four ships and 170 men. They sailed up the East African coast.

The Portuguese used violence to try to control all trade and business in the Indian Ocean. They established bases and trade offices at several Swahili Coast sites. 

Soon, the Swahili Coast city-states began to fall. Dealings with the Portuguese were blamed. Trade declined. However, some city-states did carry on for another few centuries. A few came under the rule of the Omani Empire.

Swahili Today

Today, Swahili is the main language of East Africa. It is in the Bantu language family. That group of languages is spoken in much of central and southern Africa. Swahili has been influenced greatly by Arabic.

Indeed, the term “Swahili” comes from Arabic. It means “[people] of the coast.” The language also contains words from Persian, Portuguese, and German. More than 100 million people speak Swahili.

City-states along the east African coast have a longstanding tradition of trade and mingling between various peoples. Many of these former city-states still exist in modern nations. Kilwa, Tanzania, is one such city in which people still use traditional sailing practices.

Islam is the religion of 10.91 percent of the Kenyan population, or approximately 5.2 million people. The Kenyan coast is mostly populated by Muslims. Nairobi has several mosques and a notable Muslim population.

The majority of Muslims in Kenya follow the Sunni Islam of Shafi school of jurisprudence at 73%, 8% with Shia and 8% as non-denominational Muslims. There are also sizeable populations of Ibadism, Quranist and Ahmadi adherents. In large part, Shias are Ismailis descended from or influenced by oceanic traders from the Middle East and India. These Shia Muslims include the Dawoodi Bohra, who number some 6,000-8,000 in the country.

Pioneer Muslim traders arrived on the Swahili Coast around the eighth century. The tension surrounding the succession of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, and the already established trade links between the Persian Gulf and the Swahili Coast were some of the factors leading to this development.

Archaeological evidence attests to a thriving Muslim town on Manda Island by the Tenth Century AD. The Moroccan Muslim traveller, Ibn Battuta, visiting the Swahili Coast in 1331 AD, reported a strong Muslim presence. Ibn Battuta said: The inhabitants are pious, honourable, and upright, and they have well-built wooden mosques.

On arrival, the Muslims settled along the coast, engaging in trade. The Shirazi intermarried with the local Bantu people resulting in the Swahili people, most of who converted to Islam. Swahili, structurally a Bantu Language with heavy borrowings from Arabic, was born.

Primarily, Islam spread through the interactions of individuals, with the Arab Muslims who had settled in small groups maintaining their culture, and religious practices. Despite encountering local communities, Islam was not ‘indigenized’ along the patterns of the local Bantu communities. Nevertheless, Islam grew through absorption of individuals into the newly established Afro-Arabic Muslim communities. This resulted in more ‘Swahilization’ than Islamization.

There was strong resistance toward Islam by the majority of communities living in the interior. The resistance was because conversion was an individual act, leading to detribalization and integration into the Muslim community going against the socially acceptable communal life.

Islam on the Swahili Coast was different from the rest of Africa. Unlike West Africa where Islam was integrated to the local communities, the local Islam was ‘foreign’; the Arab-Muslims lived as if they were in the Middle East.

The primary concern for the early Muslims was trade with a few interested in propagating Islam. The arrival of the Portuguese in the 15th Century interrupted the small work in progress. On the other hand, the interstate quarrels that ensued meant that much effort was now directed towards restoring normality and not Islamization.

The Spread of Islam into the Interior

Islam remained an urban and coastal phenomenon. The Spread of Islam was low-keyed with no impact amongst the local non-Swahili African Community. There were no intermediary Africans to demonstrate that, adoption of a few Islamic institutions would not disrupt society.

The spread of Islam to the interior was hampered by several factors: for instance, the nature of the Bantu society’s varied beliefs, and scattered settlements affected interior advancement. Other factors included, harsh climatic conditions, the fierce tribes like the Maasai, tribal laws restricting passage through their land, health factors, and the lack of easy mode of transportation. For Trimingham, the brand of Islam introduced to the region was equally to blame.

Muslim traders were not welcome in the social structures thereby impeding any meaningful progress until the beginning of European occupation.

Other factors affecting Islamic movement into the interior included; atrocities committed during slave trading, as these unfavourably affected the spread of Islam. In addition, the embracing of Islam by large portions of coastal tribes in the Nineteenth Century aided in its spread.

Besides, local Muslim preachers and teachers played major roles in teaching religion (Ar. dīn) and the Qur’ān at the Qur’ān Schools (Swa. vyuo) and Madrasa attached to the Mosques.

The coming of the second wave of Europeans, in the Nineteenth Century, brought mixed fortunes to the coastal Muslims, their strong sense of pride and belonging was greatly diminished, with efforts being redirected to self adjustments.

Nonetheless, Muslim agents deployed by Europeans as subordinate labourers to assist in the establishment of Colonial administration centres, were advantageously placed throughout the country, bringing the Islamic influence to the interior. Each place where a European installed himself, military camp, government centre, or plantation, was a centre for Muslim influence.

In the interior, the Muslims neither integrated nor mingled with the local communities, yet, non-Swahili Africans began joining the Swahili trends in trade with some returning as Muslims. Swahili became the trade and religious language. Alongside the interpersonal contacts, intermarriages also yielded some conversions.

Although coastal rulers did not send missionaries to the interior, local Africans embraced Islam freely through attraction to the religious life of the Muslims. Close integration with the local population helped to foster good relations resulting in Islam gaining a few converts, based on individual efforts.

Subjectively, most of the surrounding Bantu communities had a close-knit religious heritage, requiring strong force to penetrate. The pacification and consolidation by European powers provided the much-needed force to open up the communities for new structures of power and religious expression (Trimingham:1983:58).

Basically, progress in the spread of Islam in Kenya came between 1880 and 1930. This was when most social structures and the African worldviews were shattered, leaving them requiring a new, wider worldview encompassing or addressing the changes experienced.

Consequently, Islam introduced new religious values through external ceremonial and ritualistic expressions, some of which could be followed with no difficulty.

Socio-culturally, Muslims presented themselves with a sense of pride and a feeling of superiority. Islamic civilization was identified with the Arab way of life (Ustaarabu), as opposed to ‘barbarianism’ (Ushenzi) hence the domination of a form of Arabism over the local variety of Islam.

The ease, with which Islam could be adopted, meant adding to the indigenous practices, new religious rites and ceremonies to the African ways, with new ways of defining one’s identity by new forms of expression. Mingling with Muslims led to conversion meaning returning home as Muslims and not aliens. Lacunza-Balda shows that Islam could be adopted easily.

Although most of the conversions were of individuals, there were communities that embraced Islam en-masse. Some of these included the Digo and Pokomo of the Lower Tana region. From these communities Islam slowly penetrated inland.

Organized Missionary Activities

Pioneer Muslim missionaries to the interior were largely Tanganyikans, who coupled their missionary work with trade, along the centres began along the railway line, such as, Kibwezi, Makindu and Nairobi.

Outstanding amongst them was Maalim Mtondo, a Tanganyikan credited with being the first Muslim missionary to Nairobi. Reaching Nairobi at the close of the Nineteenth Century, he led a group of other Muslims, and enthusiastic missionaries from the coast to establish a ‘Swahili village’ in the present day Pumwani.

A small mosque was built to serve as a starting point and he began preaching Islam in earnest. He soon attracted several Kikuyus and Wakambas, who became his disciples.

Local men converted and having learned from their teachers took up the leadership of religious matters. Khamis Ngige was a prominent local convert of the early outreach. Having learned from Maalim Mtondo, he later became the Imam of the Pumwani Mosque. Different preachers scattered in the countryside from 1900 to 1920, introducing Islam to areas around, Mt. Kenya, Murang’a, Embu, Meru, Nyeri and Kitui. This serious missionary move interior was out of personal enthusiasm with the influence being highly localized. Only a few Africans were converted, and the impact was short lived.

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About Wolof the Language of the Wolof People

Wolof (pronounced woo-luf) is a language of Senegal, the Gambia and Mauritania, and the native language of the Wolof people.

Senegalese/Mauritanian Wolof and Gambian Wolof are distinct national standards: they use different orthographies and use different languages (French vs. English) as their source for technical loanwords.

In Senegal, the Wolof are the largest ethnic group (~43.3%), while elsewhere they are a minority.[5] They refer to themselves as Wolof and speak the Wolof language, in the West Atlantic branch of the Niger–Congo family of languages.

Wolof is spoken by more than 10 million people and about 40 percent (approximately 5 million people) of Senegal’s population speak Wolof as their native language. Increased mobility, and especially the growth of the capital Dakar, created the need for a common language: today, an additional 40 percent of the population speak Wolof as a second or acquired language. In the whole region from Dakar to Saint-Louis, and also west and southwest of Kaolack, Wolof is spoken by the vast majority of people. Typically when various ethnic groups in Senegal come together in cities and towns, they speak Wolof. It is therefore spoken in almost every regional and departmental capital in Senegal. Nevertheless, the official language of Senegal is French.

In The Gambia, although about 20–25 percent of the population speak Wolof as a first language, it has a disproportionate influence because of its prevalence in Banjul, the Gambian capital, where 75 percent of the population use it as a first language. Furthermore, in Serekunda, The Gambia’s largest town, although only a tiny minority are ethnic Wolofs, approximately 70 percent of the population speaks or understands Wolof.

In Mauritania, about seven percent of the population (approximately 185,000 people) speak Wolof. Most live near or along the Senegal River that Mauritania shares with Senegal.

Wolof dialects vary geographically and between rural and urban areas. “Dakar-Wolof”, for instance, is an urban mixture of Wolof, French, and Arabic.

 Like the neighbouring languages Serer and Fula, it belongs to the Senegambian branch of the Niger–Congo language family. Unlike most other languages of the Niger-Congo family, Wolof is not a tonal language.

“Wolof” is the standard spelling and may refer to the Wolof people or to Wolof culture. Variants include the older French Ouolof and the principally Gambian Wollof, Jolof, jollof, etc., which now typically refers either to the Jolof Empire or to jollof rice, a common West African rice dish. Now-archaic forms include Volof and Olof.

The English language is believed to have adopted some Wolof words, such as banana, via Spanish or Portuguese,[8] and nyam in several Caribbean English Creoles meaning “to eat” (compare Seychellois Creole nyanmnyanm, also meaning “to eat”).

About the Wolof People

The Wolof people are the largest ethnic group in Senegal, particularly concentrated in its northwestern region near the Senegal River and the Gambia River. In the Gambia, about 16% of the population are Wolof. In the Gambia, they are a minority. However, Wolof language and culture have a disproportionate influence because of their prevalence in Banjul, the Gambian capital, where a majority of the population is Wolof. In Mauritania, about 8% of the population are Wolof. Their total population exceeds 6 million in the three countries.

The term Wolof also refers to the Wolof language and to their states, cultures, and traditions. Older French publications frequently employ the spelling Ouolof; up to the 19th century, the spellings Wolluf, Volof, and Olof are also encountered, among rarer variants like Yolof, Dylof, Chelof, Galof, Lolof, and others. In English, Wollof and Woloff are found, particularly in reference to the Gambian Wolof; for English-speakers, the spelling Wollof is closer to the native pronunciation of the name.) The spelling Jolof is also often used, but in particular reference to the Jolof Empire and Jolof Kingdom that existed in central Senegal from the 14th to the 19th centuries. Similarly, a West African rice dish is known in English as Jollof rice.

The Wolof people are a West African ethnic group found in northwestern Senegal, the Gambia, and southwestern coastal Mauritania.

They are also referred to as the Wollof, Jolof, Iolof, Whalof, Ialof, Olof, and Volof, among other spellings. In Senegal, the Wolof are the largest ethnic group (~43.3%), while elsewhere they are a minority. They refer to themselves as Wolof and speak the Wolof language, in the West Atlantic branch of the Niger–Congo family of languages. Their early history is unclear and based on oral traditions that link the Wolof to the Almoravids.

“Wolof” is the standard spelling and may refer to the Wolof people or to Wolof culture. Variants include the older French Ouolof and the principally Gambian Wollof, Jolof, jollof, etc., which now typically refers either to the Jolof Empire or to jollof rice, a common West African rice dish. Now-archaic forms include Volof and Olof.

The vast majority of Wolof people are Sunni Muslims.

The West African jihads that involved the Wolof and other ethnic groups started early and often inspired by militant reformers such as those of the 15th century. The assaults of the 18th and 19th century jihads, states Lapidus, paved the way for massive conversions to Islam, yet not a nearly universal conversion.

In the late 19th century, as the French colonial forces launched a war against the Wolof kingdoms, the Wolof people resisted the French and triggered the start of near-universal conversion of the Wolof people in Senegambia to Islam. Wolofs joined the various competing Sufi Muslim movements in the 20th century, particularly those belonging to the Mouride and Tijaniyyah Islamic brotherhoods.

The Senegalese Sufi Muslim brotherhoods appeared in the Wolof communities in the 19th century and grew in the 20th. The Sufi leaders and marabouts exercise cultural and political influence amongst most Muslim communities, most notably the leader of the Muridiyya also called the Mouride brotherhood.


The Wolof people are traditionally settled, farmers and artisans. Millet has been the typical staple, while rice a secondary staple when rains are plenty. Cassava is also grown, but it has been a source of income for the Wolof farmers. Since the colonial era, peanuts have been the primary cash crop.

Wolof society is patrilineal, and agricultural land is inherited by the landowning caste. The typical farmers in a village pay rent (waref) to the landowner for the right to crop his land. Wolof farmers raise chickens and goats, and dried or smoked fish purchased, both a part of their diet. Cattle are also raised, not for food, but milk, tilling the land, and as a reserve of wealth. Rural Wolof people eat beef rarely, typically as a part of a ceremonial feast. Some villages in contemporary times share agricultural machinery and sell the peanut harvest as a cooperative.

The Jolof or Wolof Empire

The Jolof or Wolof Empire was a medieval West African state that ruled parts of Senegal and the Gambia from approximately 1350 to 1890. While only ever consolidated into a single state structure for part of this time, the tradition of governance, caste, and culture of the Wolof dominate the history of north-central Senegal for much of the last 800 years. Its final demise at the hands of French colonial forces in the 1870s-1890s also marks the beginning of the formation of Senegal as a unified state.

By the end of the 15th century, the Wolof states of Jolof, Kayor, Baol, and Walo had become united in a federation with Jolof as the metropolitan power. The position of king was held by the Burba Wolof, and the rulers of the other component states owed loyalty and tribute payments to him. Before the Wolof people became involved in goods and slave trading with the Portuguese merchants on the coast, they had a long tradition of established trading of goods and slaves with the Western Sudanese empires and with Imamate of Futa Toro and other ethnic groups in North Africa.

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About Yoruba the Language of the Yoruba

Yoruba (pronounced you-ra-ba) is a language spoken in West Africa, most prominently Southwestern Nigeria. It is spoken by the ethnic Yoruba people. The number of Yoruba speakers is estimated at between 45 and 55 million.[4] As a pluricentric language, 

As West African regional language Yoruba it is primarily spoken in various dialects in area spanning like Nigeria, Benin and Togo, and among migrant communities in Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, and in  Rio de Janeiro, and Salvador, Bahia, Brazil as a cultural language. In fact, Yoruba vocabulary is used in the Afro-Brazilian religion known as Candomblé, in the Caribbean religion of Santería in the form of the liturgical Lucumí language and various Afro-American religions of North America.

As the principal Yoruboid language, Yoruba is most closely related to the languages Itsekiri (spoken in the Niger Delta) and Igala (spoken in central Nigeria).

Yoruba is classified among the Edekiri languages, which together with Itsekiri and the isolate Igala form the Yoruboid group of languages within the Volta–Niger branch of the Niger–Congo family. The linguistic unity of the Niger–Congo family dates to deep prehistory, estimates ranging around 11,000 years ago (the end of the Upper Paleolithic). In present-day Nigeria, it is estimated that there are over 40 million Yoruba primary and secondary language speakers as well as several other millions of speakers outside Nigeria, making it the most widely spoken African language outside of the continent.

The wide adoption of imported religions and civilizations such as Islam and Christianity has had an impact both on written and spoken Yoruba. In his Arabic-English Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Quran and Sunnah, Yoruba Muslim scholar Abu-Abdullah Adelabu argued Islam has enriched African languages by providing them with technical and cultural augmentations with Swahili and Somali in East Africa and Turanci Hausa and Wolof in West Africa the most beneficiaries. Adelabu, a Ph D graduate from Damascus cited—among many other common usages—the following words to be Yoruba’s derivatives of Arabic vocabularies:[29][better source needed]

Some Loanwords

  • • Sanma: Heaven or sky, from السماء
  • • alubarika: blessing, from البركة
  • • alumaani: wealth, money, resources, from المال

Among commonly Arabic words used in Yoruba are names of the days such as Atalata (الثلاثاء) for Tuesday, Alaruba (الأربعاء) for Wednesday, Alamisi (الخميس) for Thursday, and Jimoh (الجمعة, Jumu’ah) for Friday. By far Ọjọ́ Jimoh is the most favorably used. It is usually referred to as the unpleasant word for Friday, Ẹtì, which means failure, laziness, or abandonment. better source needed] Ultimately, the standard words for the days of the week are Àìkú, Ajé, Ìṣẹ́gun, Ọjọ́rú, Ọjọ́bọ, Ẹtì, Àbámẹ́ta, for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday respectively. Friday remains Eti in the Yoruba language.

In the 17th century, Yoruba was written in the Ajami script, a form of Arabic script.

Yoruba is spoken by both Muslims and Christians.

The Yoruba are predominant in the southwest, and comprise about 21 percent of the population. Approximately half of the Yoruba are Christian and half are Muslim.

The last census that recorded religious identification in south-west Nigeria was carried out in 1963. For the area of the present-day states of Ekiti, Kwara, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo, covered by the KEO survey, the census data reported roughly similar numbers of Muslims (46.3 percent) and Christians (45.5 percent),

The Yoruba People and Islam

Most Yorubas adhere to Sunni Islam. Islam came into Yorubaland around the 14th century, as a result of trade with Hausa and Wangara (also Wankore) merchants,[citation needed] a mobile caste of the Soninkes from the then Mali Empire who entered Yorubaland (Oyo) from the northwestern flank through the Bariba or Borgu corridor,[78] during the reign of Mansa Kankan Musa.

Due to this, Islam is traditionally known to the Yoruba as Esin Male or simply Imale religion of the Malians. The adherents of the Islamic faith are called Musulumi in Yoruba to correspond to Muslim, the Arabic word for an adherent of Islam having as the active participle of the same verb form, and means “submitter (to Allah)” or a nominal and active participle of Islam derivative of “Salaam” i.e. (Religion of) Peace. Islam was practiced in Yorubaland so early on in history, that a sizable proportion of Yoruba slaves taken to the Americas were already Muslim.[80] Some of these Yoruba Muslims would later stage the Malê Revolt (or The Great Revolt), which was the most significant slave rebellion in Brazil. On a Sunday during Ramadan in January 1835, in the city of Salvador, Bahia, a small group of slaves and freedmen, inspired by Muslim teachers, rose up against the government. Muslims were called Malê in Bahia at this time, from Yoruba Imale that designated a Yoruba Muslim.

The Mosque served the spiritual needs of Muslims living in Ọyọ. Progressively, Islam started to gain a foothold in Yorubaland, and Muslims started building mosques. Iwo led, its first mosque built in 1655,[81] followed by Iseyin in 1760,[81] Eko/Lagos in 1774, Shaki in 1790, and Osogbo in 1889. In time, Islam spread to other towns like Oyo (the first Oyo convert was Solagberu), Ibadan, Abẹokuta, Ijebu Ode, Ikirun, and Ede. All of these cities already had sizable Muslim communities before the 19th century Sokoto jihad. Several factors contributed to the rise of Islam in Yorubaland by the middle of the 19th century. Before the decline of Ọyọ, several towns around it had large Muslim communities, however, when Ọyọ was destroyed, these Muslims (Yorubas and immigrants) relocated to newly formed towns and villages and became Islam evangelists.

Secondly, there was a mass movement of people at this time into Yorubaland, many of these immigrants were Muslims who introduced Islam to their hosts. According to Eades, the religion “differed in attraction” and “better adapted to Yoruba social structure, because it permitted polygamy”, which was already a feature of various African societies; more influential Yorubas (like Seriki Kuku of Ijebuland) soon became Muslims, with a positive impact on the natives. Islam came to Lagos at about the same time as other Yoruba towns, however, it received royal support from Ọba Kosọkọ, after he came back from exile in Ẹpẹ. Islam, like Christianity, also found common ground with the natives who already believed in a Supreme Being Olodumare / Olorun. Without delay, Islamic scholars and local Imams started establishing Koranic centers to teach Arabic and Islamic studies, much later, conventional schools were established to educate new converts and to propagate Islam.

Today, the Yorubas constitute the second largest Muslim group in Nigeria, after the Hausa people of the Northern provinces. Most Yoruba Muslims are Sunni, with small Ahmadiyya communities.

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Published in: Uncategorized on January 1, 2021 at 21:00  Leave a Comment  

Risālah ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawaanī – Chapter 5: Ghusl

نظم رسالة ابن أبي زيد القيرواني
Risālah ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawaanī

The Risālah : A Treatise on Mālikī Fiqh by ʿAbdullah ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawānī (310/922 -386/996)

Translated by Alhaj Bello Mohammad Daura, MA (London) (Including commentary from ath-Thamr ad-Dānī by al-Azharī)

Risālah ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawaanī – Chapter 5: Ghusl

Evidence for it and its preconditions were already mentioned in the chapter on wudū’. The description of ghusl contains obligations, sunnas and meritorious elements. The author did not clarify which are the obligations and so we will make that clear. There are five obligations:

1. Covering the entire body with water;

2. the intention;

3. lack of interruption;

4. rubbing; and

5. making water penetrate the hair, whether it is thick or there are thick plaits.

There are five sunnahs of ghusl:

1. washing the hands to the wrists first:  

2. rinsing the mouth;

3. sniffing water up the nose;

4. blowing water out the nose;

5. and wiping the earholes. He wipes whatever he can wash of them. The description of the washing is to take water in the hands and tilting his head so the water can reach the inside of his ears. He does not pour water into his ears because that would entail harm.

Its meritorious parts are seven:

1. the Basmala;

2. beginning by removing filth from the body;

3. washing all the limbs of wudu’ before the bath;

4. beginning with the upper body before the lower;

5. beginning with the right side before the left;

6. doing the head three times; and

7. using a small amount of water while doing ghusl completely.

There are five disliked things:

1. reversing the order of the actions;

2. pouring a lot of water;

3. repeating the washing after having done it fully;

4. doing ghusl in the lavatory or in a filthy place; and

5. to purify oneself while showing the private parts. Ghusl is washing which covers the entire surface of the body accompanied with rubbing because the reality of ghusl consists of both.

5.1. Things which make ghusl obligatory

5.1a. Janaba

You must do ghusl because of janaba

[Janaba results from two things: ejaculation and the disappearance of the end of the penis in the vagina.]

5.1b. End of Menstruation or Lochia 

or at the end of menstruation and the bleeding after childbirth.

[At the cessation of the bleeding of both states, in both attribute and judgement. Some of them say that it is attribute rather than judgement which was already discussed. You are aware of the similarity in the attribute, but not in the judgement. The attribute is not specific to the obligation.]

5.2 Ghusl With or Without Wudū’

5.2a. Ghusl without wudu’

If, when doing ghusl, you do not include wudū’ it is acceptable

[If the person who is purifying himself orherself from janaba, menstruation and lochia confines himself to ghusl without wuduu’, the ghusl satisfies wudū’ and so he can pray with that ghusl without doing wudū’ if he has not touched his penis since the minor impurity is included in the major impurity. This is when ghusl is obligatory, like the ghusl for janaba. As for the ghusl which is sunna or recommended, it goes not satisfy wudū’.]

5.2b.What to Do First

but it is better to do wudū’, having begun by washing off any impurity from the private parts or the rest of the body.

[ It is better for the one who is purifying himself from janaba and the like to perform two meritorious actions, one of which is to begin by washing the private parts or any filth on his body. If he washes it with the intention of janaba and removes the filth, that is enough for him in the well-known position. He does not have to repeat his ghusl a second time. If he washes with the intention of removing the impurity and then does not wash it afterwards, it is not enough by agreement. The second meritorious action is wudū’ before washing his body to honour the limbs of wudū’.]

5.2c. Doing Wudū’ First

after This You Do wudū’ as you would for the prayer.

[Based on his previous statement that it is better for him to do wudū’, which linguistically is washing the hands to the wrists. So he completes the wudū’ which he would do for the prayer. This would necessitate that he washes off any filth on the body or private parts before washing his hands. That is not the case since washing the hands is put first. So it is better to say that he speaks first about the judgement, and secondly about the actual description.

Another matter remains. It is whether he repeats washing the hands a second time after washing his penis without the intention of janaba or not. The hadith of Maymuna demands that after the filth is removed, the hands are not washed again. That is the definite position of some people, but most of the commentators of Khalil say that he washes them again.]

5.2d. The Question of the Feet

If you want to, you can include your feet, or if you want, you can leave them to the end.

[His words show that he can choose between washing his feet before washing his body or delay that. Some of them therefore say that he can choose between washing his feet before or later. The well-known statement is that he washes his feet before absolutely whether the place where he washing is clean of filth or not. The evidence for the accepted position is in the Muwaṭṭa’ that “whenever the Messenger of Allah performed ghusl for janaba, he would begin by washing his hands, and then did wudū’ as for the prayer. “So it is clear that he did a full wudū’, which is the school of Mālik and ash-Shafi’i. Al-Fakhani said that it is the well-known position. It is said that he can absolutely delay washing them whether the place is clean or not. The position about delaying them is more evident than the well-known position based on what is in the two Sahīh collections that the Prophet used to delay washing his feet to the end of his washing and then he would wash them.]

5.3. Description of Wudū’

5.3a. Putting the Hands in the Vessel

Then you immerse your hands completely in the water container, take them out without holding any water in them, and rub the roots of your hair with your fingertips.

[After he has finished wudū’, he puts his hands in the vessel if it is open. If it is closed, he pours the water on them. He takes them out uncupped without any actual water other than the traces of the water and he rubs the roots of the head, beginning from the back of the skull. There are two benefits in rubbing in fiqh: the speed of making water reach the skin, and medicinal, which is that it prepares the head for the water so that it will not be harmed when the water is poured on it afterwards since the pores of the skin will be closed.]

5.3b.Three handfuls of Water

You then take out three handfuls of water washing your head throughly with each one.

[After finishing rubbing the roots of head, water is scooped on the head three times while rubbing his head with them. The entire head must be covered with each of the three handfuls and there must not be less than three, even if it is all covered with one and does his separate parts with it. If three is not enough, he does more until it is covered.]

5.3c. Women’s Hair

Women do the same as this. They gather up their hair and do not have to undo their plaits.

[The woman washes filth off and does wudū’ first and wets the roots of the hair as a man does. She gathers up and holds her hair and it is neither obligatory or recommended in the ghusl for janaba or menstruation for her to undo her plaits. The evidence for what he said is in Muslim where Umm Salamah said, “Messenger of Allah, I am a woman who keeps her hair closely plaited. Do I have to undo it for ghusl after sexual defilement?” He replied, “It is enough for you to throw three handfuls over your head and then pour the water over yourself. Then you will be purified.” It is an argument for the one who says that rubbing is not a precondition because the pouring washes away. As the woman is not obliged to undo her plaits, she is not obliged to remove her ring, even if it is tight, or her bracelets, nor is it obligatory for a man to remove a permissible ring, even if it is tight.]

5.3d. Pouring Water on the Right Side

You then pour water over your right side, then over the left, rubbing the body with both hands immediately the water has been poured so that the whole body is covered.

[After washing his head, he begins to wash his body by washing the entire right side beginning from the top and then does the same with the left side. It is obligatory to rub it in the well-known position. From what he says it appears that he does not rub after pouring water on the right side until water is poured on the left side. When water is poured on the left side, he rubs both sides. Something similar is stated in Tahqiq al-Mabani. It is clear that he rubs the right side before pouring on the left side. That is how you find it elsewhere. He rubs with both hands if that is possible. It is not possible, he delegates someone else to do to do the rubbing. The area between the navel and knees can only be rubbed by someone who can touch that directly – a wife or slavegirl. If he does not find anyone to do that, it is enough to pour the water over his body without rubbing. If he delegates someone when it is not necessary, that is not allowed in the well known position. The rubbing should be done after the water has been poured, and that is evident.]

5.3e. Covering the Entire Body

If you have any doubt about water reaching any part of your body you pour water over it again,

[The water must cover all the body to discharge the responsibility and it is only satisfied when he is certain. If there is any doubt about whether or not the water has reached the limbs of person performing the bathing, then he is obliged topour water over himself again, and it is not enough to wash it with water still on his body.]

5.3f. Rubbing

rubbing with your hand until you are certain every part of your body has been covered.

[There must be rubbing or whatever takes its place if that is impossible. It is like that when he is unsure about whether or not he has rubbed a place on his body. He takes water again and rubs it until he is certain of that. It is enough that he thinks it probable, differing from those who say that it is not enough. If it is enough to make the water reach the skin, which is agreed upon, it is better to carry out the rubbing which is disputed. He must repeat until he is sure that his entire body has been covered.]

5.3g. Inaccessible Areas

You must make sure that you include the inside of the navel, under your chin, that you put your fingers right through your beard, that you rub under your armpits, between your buttocks and thighs, behind your knees, not forgetting the heels and the soles of your feet. You also make sure you rub between each finger.

[The water and rubbing must include all these areas, the throat and that which is under the beard, putting the fingers through the hair of the beard. The hair of the head is not mentioned because it was already dealt with, and other hair must be washed as well, like the eyebrows, eyelashes, moustache, armpits and pubic region. Inside the navel must be washed, which a place where dirt gathers, between the buttocks which must be relaxed so that water reaches the folds of the anus, but not inside the anus. Also inside the thighs, which is between the anus and penis, behind the knees, and the soles of the feet. It is obligatory to put water between the fingers which would have been covered a prior wuduu’. Otherwise it is done in ghusl. He does not mention things which are far from water, like the lines of the brow and hollows of the outside eyelids and under the nostrils and other places since that was covered in wudū’.]

5.3h.The Feet

If you have delayed washing your feet, you wash them last, thereby completing both your ghusl and your wudū’.

[If they were not washed first, then they are washed, completing the obligatory ghusl and recommended wuduu’. If he delayed washing the feet in wudu’, he washes them with the intention of wudū’ and ghusl.]

5.4. Avoiding Touching the Penis:

5.4a. After the Ghusl

You should be careful not to touch your penis with the inside of your hand when rubbing your body but if you do, having already completed your ghusl, you have to do wudū’ again.

[When he does wudū’ on account of janaba after washing the uncleanness from his private parts with the intention of removing janaba, he should be careful about touching the penis. It is mentioned because it is the most common of several things which break wudū’. Wudū’ is only obliged by touching the penis with the inside of the hand. It appears from this that wudū’ is not obliged for touching the penis unless it is done with the inside of the hand. That is the position of Imam Ash-hab. The school of Ibn al-Qāsim is that wudū’ is obliged for touching the penis with the inside of the hand or the fingers. In the Mukhtaṣar of Shaykh Khalīl, he adds “or by the sides of the fingers”. If you touch the penis deliberately or forgetfully and you have finished wudū’, then wudū’ must be repeated if you want to pray. Otherwise it is not necessary to repeat it until you wish to pray. as is the case with other ritual impurities. It is necessary to have an intention to repeat wudū’ if he wants to pray, because his major impurity has been removed and so some say that the intention for wudū’ must be renewed which is agreed upon.]

5.4b. Touching the Penis Before Ghusl is Completed

But if you touch it at the beginning of your ghusl, after having washed the areas included in wudū’, you should then go over them again with water in the right order and with the intention of doing wudū’.

[All or part, as is transmitted from Abu ‘Imraan. It makes no difference whether he washes them first and then touches or whether he has washed some of them. Following the correct order is recommended. We consider that the correct sequence in wudū’ is sunnah. It is evident that he means that it is not obligatory in the sunnah. It is said that it is referring to the obligations of wudū’, its sunnahs and its meritorious actions. It is said that it refers to making water flow on the limbs and rubbing. On this basis and on the basis of what is before it it must mean that it is obligatory.

There is disagreement about the renewing the intention of wudū’. The author says that it is obliged to renew the intention of wudū’. If he intends to remove the major impurity, that is not enough. He is in the position of someone doing wudū’ who is not in janaba who intends to remove major impurity. Al-Qabisi says that he is not obliged to renew it. The basis of the disagreement is whether each limb which is purifies first or its own is purified without the full completion. If we said the first, then it is obliged to renew it because its purity has gone with the ritual impurity and so it is obliged to make an intention to wash it again. If we state the second, then it is not obliged to renew it because it remains and so we include it in the intention for the greater purity.]

Published in: on December 10, 2020 at 21:57  Leave a Comment  

The Restoration of the Use of Our Money

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The Restoration of the Use of Our Money

Speech of YB Senator Mumtaz binti Md.


1.- Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah, the Lord the World, the King of the Day of Judgement. It is in His Name that we have gathered here today for a great and noble purpose: To restore a Sunnah that had been lost, that is, the payment of Zakat using Shariah currency.

2.- This is a great event that will echo throughout the years to come and throughout all Muslim lands. It is great because anything to do with restoring a Sunnah is great. It is great because the Zakat is an important affair to all the muminun. It is great because the introduction of the Shariah currency into our daily life is the greatest political event of the Muslims of this century.

3.- All this will happen today. Today we start a new chapter in the modern history of Islam. A chapter in which we, the people of Kelantan, have decided to pay Zakat using OUR money. As it was in the past and it will be in the future.

4.- Our Money, indeed, because the Dinar and the Dirham are the currency mentioned by Allah, subhana wa ta’ala, in Qur’an. Our Money, because the gold and silver coins have been “our money” from the beginning of Islam until the fall of the Khalifate. Our Money, because the Dinar and the Dirham are the means to calculate the nisab of Zakat. Our Money, because they are the measurement in Islamic legal issues regarding hudud.

5.- Our Money is clean from inflation. It was one year ago on the last 12th of August, that the Government of Kelantan through its State Company, Kelantan Golden Trade, launched officially the new coins. At that time the Gold Dinar was 581 Malaysian Ringgit. One year later, today’s price of the Gold Dinar is 811 Malaysian Ringgit. The Silver Dirham was 13 Ringgit, now is 25. This means a gain of 40% in Gold and 92% in Silver. As a result the people in Kelantan who bought the Shariah coins last year are richer now. Everyone else holding Malaysian Ringgit has been impoverished. Because the Malaysian Ringgit keeps losing value. The Shariah currency gains value and will continue gaining value against paper currencies.

6.- Gold and Silver are the same in Malaysia, as in Indonesia, as in Thailand, as in any country in the world. Gold and Silver are the historical currency of the world. Their worth is endorsed by 5,000 years of human history. The Dinar and the Dirham will unify the Muslim nation: One Ummah, One currency. This is the motto of those of us who want to see the Shariah currency in circulation amongst the Muslims.

7.- Our gold and silver coins will end the unacceptable supremacy of the US dollar as world currency while returning justice to the world. Unlike with the US dollar, there is no monopoly in the production of gold or silver, and their yearly production (2.6 thousand tons) hardly reaches 1.5% of the present stock in circulation. Gold and silver will eventually replace the present international monetary system, enhance international trading and allow a more just distribution of the wealth in the world. On this basis, we endorse the recent call by the Muslim government of Kazakhstan for the introduction of a gold currency to replace the US dollar as world currency.

8.- Some people question whether there is enough gold in the world to be a world currency. The answer is simple and it was already answered by David Ricardo in the XIX century: “Any commodity can serve as world currency independently of their total amount in circulation. If demand increases at its present price, the price of that commodity will rise to accommodate the total demand however big”. That is to say, as demand continues to increase its value will continue to grow to accommodate demand. It is in this light, that people have calculated that if we return to gold standard it is expected that the price of gold will go anywhere between 10,000 to 30,000 USD per ounce. In addition, silver will also continue to rise in price as a support to gold.

9.- Some people also think that gold is subject to speculative forces and therefore its price could be manipulated. Like every commodity the price of gold and silver fluctuates. This is normal and healthy. We know that the price of Dinar and Dirham fluctuated even in the early days of Islam. This is not a problem. This is how it should be. What those people who are concern with speculators ignore is that the large stocks of gold are not in the hands of large investors or even central banks. By the end of 2010 there were an estimated 165,000 tons of gold in the world of which 50% is in the form of jewelry, 18% is owned by central banks and the IMF, 18% is owned by private investors, 12% is in some form of industrial use (such as dentistry, electronics, etc) and 2% is unaccounted for. In fact the largest holders of gold in the world are… Indian ladies. If we were to be worried about a large fluctuation of gold, we should be worried about the ladies of India selling their gold. Yet, what it seems is that they are buying more, rather than selling.

10 – In the long term, gold is the most stable currency the world has ever seen. A 400 years’ study on the price of gold against a basket of commodities conducted by Prof Roy Jastram in his book “The Golden Constant” reveals that gold is remarkably stable despite wars, crisis and the passing of time. A chicken at the time of the Prophet cost one dirham, today you can buy one chicken in most parts of the  world for approximately one dirham …if not two. But if the comparison is made against any other paper currency, both gold and silver, outperforms any one including the mighty US dollar. We can simply affirm that gold and silver are the most stable currencies that we could have.

11.- Most of the things I have just mentioned can be learned by reading Gold Standard literature. Yet, there are things that we stand for that go beyond the Gold Standard. The Gold Standard is a monetary model that is based on paper money partially backed by gold. Our position is more advanced. We advocate gold and silver coins, freely owned and circulated by people. We advocate absolute freedom: freedom from the monopoly of central banks and also freedom from banking and political systems.

12.- We advocate the freedom that Allah has granted us in the Qur’an: “Trade with mutual consent” Money is part of trading. Money also must be traded according to the rule of mutual consent. Impositions or monopolies are not accepted in Islam. We advocate gold and silver because we advocate freedom. This means that we do not believe that the government has any right to impose, even gold. We believe the government should be the guarantor of freedom. That is the Islamic Way.

13.- But what has gathered here today is more than just the gold and silver coins, it is the payment of Zakat using gold and silver coins. Zakat is one of the pillars of Islam. Zakat must be paid in ‘ayn, and not in dayn. ‘Ayn in Arabic refers to anything tangible, a commodity present. Dayn in Arabic refers to any promissory note, or debt or liability. Zakat must be paid in ‘ayn. This is a fact. ‘Ayn is also the name given to gold and silver coins, what we normally call ‘cash’.

14.- For too long, we have accepted that Zakat could be paid with Ringgit. Yet we do not know what a Ringgit is. If you go to Bank Negara with a bill of “One Ringgit” and you ask the bank, pay me the Ringgit. Bank Negara will respond there is nothing to pay. If there is nothing to pay, what is a Ringgit? The answer is a legal paper which value is entirely based on the compulsion of the State. The Ringgit is a fiat currency. And as such, its only value that can be used for Zakat is its value as ‘ayn, that is, its value as paper.

15.- This judgment is endorsed by Shaykh ‘Illish. Shaykh ‘Illish, was one of the most learned Scholars of Islam from al-Azhar of Egypt during the Khalifate, he was the last Ottoman Scholar in Islam who wrote on the matter of paper money. Someone brought the newly introduced paper money by the British in Egypt and asked him: can you pay zakat with this? He answered: “Yes, you can but only for his value as ‘ayn’. That is, the only thing that has value of paper money regarding the payment of zakat is its value as PAPER.

16.- Those scholars with discrimination today admit that we use paper money as a matter of darurah. Darurah, as you know, means exceptionality in Islam. It is an extreme circumstance by which an exception to what is forbidden must be made. Such as for example, being in danger of losing your life or the impossibility to do what is halal. In those extreme circumstance, the Scholars agree that something is normally not accepted can be accepted, …but only temporarily. Darurah is temporal, it cannot be treated as a continuous exception. Thus, some scholars argue that we have to pay Zakat with paper money because that is the ONLY  currency that there is. And that was true. But not today.

17.- Today, by showing the people that we can use the Dinar and the Dirham…Today we FINISH DARURAH. Today, we the people of Kelantan, we show the Muslim world, that we can use the Dinar and Dirham. Today we show the world that IT CAN BE DONE.

18.- The significance of the act that we celebrate today will echo throughout history and throughout the Muslim world. Today we are going to pay Zakat with Dinar and Dirham. To achieve this, the Government of Kelantan first allowed the minting of the coins, and second, it has encouraged more than 1,000 shops throughout the State to accept Dinars and Dirhams. The coins that we will pay today will not have to be exchanged for paper money they could be used in any of the thousand shops that there is in our State and the other thousand that exist throughout Malaysia with the sticker “We Accept Dinar and Dirham”. It is this network of shops that collaborate with us which are making this event possible.

19.- These are the reasons why we are making history today. We believe that we are opening a new chapter in the history of Islam. We believe the whole of Malaysia will join us in this affair. We believe the whole Muslim world will join us in this affair. The payment of Zakat using the Shariah currency will establish the coins as means of payment. And that is a second achievement.

20.- If we obey Allah, we will succeed. If we follow the way of the kuffar we will fail. Our decision is therefore clear. We will obey Allah. We will establish the Dinar and Dirham as our Shariah currency and we will pay Zakat using Dinar and Dirham. This will in turn be a victory of Islam versus Riba. This will in turn be a victory for the Ummah.

21.- Let us rejoice our religion. Let us pay Zakat using the Shariah currency as it used to be done by the Sahaba. Victory belongs to Allah. He is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth. We are just His servants. In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Magnificent: Let the event began.

Published in: on December 6, 2020 at 18:28  Leave a Comment  

Risālah ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawaanī – Chapter 4: On How to do Wudū’ and what is Farḍ and Sunnah in it – How to Clean Yourself after Going to the Lavatory with Water (Istinjā’) or with Stones and Other Things (Istijmār)

Risālah ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawaanī

The Risālah : A Treatise on Mālikī Fiqh by ʿAbdullah ibn Abī Zayd al-Qayrawānī (310/922 -386/996)

Translated by Alhaj Bello Mohammad Daura, MA (London) (Including commentary from ath-Thamr ad-Dānī by al-Azharī)

Chapter 4: On How to do Wudū’ and what is Fard and Sunnah In It (Wudū) – How to Clean Yourself after Going to the Lavatory with Water (Istinjā’) or with Stones and Other Things (Istijmār)

4.1 Istinjā’ (Cleansing With Water in the Lavatory)

[Istinjā‘ is to wash the place of filth with water, It (Istinja) is derived from najaa, to rescue or to deliver from. It is as if the one who does istinjā’ removes something offensive from himself. Istijmār is to use small stones to remove offensive matter on the place].

4.1a. Not Part of Wudū

Cleaning yourself with water after going to the lavatory should not be considered a part of wudu’, being neither one of its sunnah nor its farḍ aspects.

[It is neither obligatory, sunnah or recommended to connect wudu’ to istinjā. It is a separate form of worship which is distinct from wudū’ in time and place. It is not considered one of the sunan nor one of the obligations nor one of the merits of wudū‘. Its aim is to clean the place in particular. It is recommended that it precede wudu‘. If he delays it, then he must be careful about touching his penis which would break his wudū‘.]

4.1b. Its Purpose

However, you have to do it in order that all impurities are removed before doing the prayer. You do not have to make a special intention before doing it.

[Istinjā‘ is to remove impurity and so it is obligatory that it be done with water, as istijmār is done with stones so that he does not pray with impurity on the body. Part of what indicates that it is part of removing impurity is that it is enough that he remove it without intention.]

4.1c. Impurity on Clothes

The same thing applies when washing impurities off clothes.

[Cleaning impurity from clothes does not require an intention.]

4.1d. Description of Istinjā

The way you wash yourself after going to the lavatory (istinjā‘) is first of all wash your hand and then the end of the penis where the urine comes out. You then wipe any impurity from your anus using hard earth or other things or your left hand, which you should then wipe on the ground and wash.

[The full description of istinjā’ is that after he has removed anything by lightly using his fingers, he takes his penis in his left hand with his index finger and thumb and then lightly pulls it from the bottom to the glans. Then he wipes any impurity from his anus with clods or anything which can be used for istijmār. Then he washes his left hand fearing that any unpleasant smell will remain on it. Then he does istinjā‘ with water, but he first washes the place of urine before the place of faeces so that his hand will not be impure. Combining istijmār and istinjā‘ with water is better since the Prophet did that.]

4.1e. Further Cleaning

After this you wash your anus by pouring water over it which you continue to do while at the same time relaxing it a little, rubbing the area thoroughly with the left hand until it is clean.

[ You continue to pour water without letting up because it is more helpful in removing filth. You relax the anus a little because there are folds in it. When water touches it, it contracts. When it is relaxed, it can be washed. The place is rubbed with the hand while the water is being poured until it is cleaned of noxiousness. It is enough that he thinks it probable if he is able to do that. If he is not able to do it because his hand is cut off or short, he delegates someone who is able to touch that place, be it wife or concubine. He does not do wudū’ when he leaves that without washing it.]

4.1f. What is Unnecessary

You do not have to wash the inside of either of the two openings.

[It is not recommended or sunnah to wash inside the openings. For a man, there is only one opening, because the urethra has no opening.]

4.1g. In Case of Breaking Wind

You should not do istinja’ on account having broken wind.

[It is forbidden to do this cleansing on account of wind. The basis for that is the words of the Prophet,”The one who does istinjā‘ on account of wind is not one of us.” There is no text which clarifies whether the prohibition is one of prohibition or one of dislike. The hadīth can imply either.]

4.2 Istijmār (Cleansing with Stones)

4.2a. Number of Stones

When doing istijmār it is sufficient to use only three stones provided that the last one comes out clean,

[Istijmār is done with three stones. When the last one comes out clear of noxiousness, then that is adequate, even if water is available. One might conclude from his words that istijmār using less than three stones is not permissible. But the well-known position is that it is based on cleanness, even if it that is achieved with only one stone.]

[Ibn Juzayy points out that it should be an odd number.]

4.2b. Water is Better

but using water is more purifying, more pleasant and preferred by the men of knowledge (ʿulamā‘).

[It is understood from his words that the stones are enough, even if water exists, out of the fear that someone might imagine that is the same as using water and that they are equally excellent. That possibility is eliminated by his words that water is “more purifying” because neither substance nor trace remains when it is used while the stone only removes the actual thing, and water is better because it removes doubt. It is preferred by scholars, with the exception of Ibn al-Musayyab who said that using water is the action of women and implies that it is part of their obligation, i.e. specific to them and they are not allowed to use stones, as it is specifically necessary in menstruation, lochia and sperm, i.e. in respect of the one obliged to do tayammum because of illness or when he does not have enough water for ghusl, but does have enough water to remove the impurity. Water is also specifically necessary when a lot spreads out from the orifice when it is more than is customary.]

4.3 Washing the Hands Before Wudū’

If someone has neither urinated nor defecated but is doing wudū’ because he has broken it in some other way or has been asleep or has done something else which makes it necessary for him to do wudū‘, he should wash his hands before he puts them into whatever water container he is using.

[If someone has not urinated nor defecated or anything else which would require istinjā‘, like madh-yu and wadiy-yu, and wants to do wudū‘ because he has broken wind or done something else which obliges wudu‘, like apostasy, uncertainty about impurity, becoming a Rafidite [extreme Shi’ite], and other reasons like sleep, intoxication and unconsciousness, in following the sunnah, he must wash his hands first even if there is nothing on them which demands washing them as when they are both clean. Washing the hands to must absolutely be done whether he does istinjā‘ or anything else]

4.4 Sunnahs and obligations of Wudū

4.4a.Washing the hands to the Wrists

The sunnahs of wudū‘ include: washing the hands before putting them into the water container,

[One of the sunnahs of wudū‘ is to wash the hands to the wrists before putting them in the vessel. The sunnah of washing the hands before putting them into the vessel is when there is little water and it is possible that it might be used up. Otherwise it is not sunnah to wash them before putting them in the vessel.]

4.4b. Rinsing the Mouth

rinsing the mouth,

[Rinsing the mouth is a sunnah: it is to move water about in the mouth and spit it out. If he swallows it, it is not the sunnah. Also if he opens his mouth so the water runs into it, it is not the sunnah. The water must be moved about in the mouth and then spat out.]

4.4c. Sniffing up Water

sniffing up water into the nose and blowing it out again,

[One of the sunnahs is to to put water in the nostril by inhaling and if water is put up the nose without sniffing, that is not the sunnah. To blow it out, he puts his forefinger and thumb of his left on his nose and blows out the water from the nostrils using his breath.]

4.4d. Wiping the Ears

and wiping the ears. These are all sunnah actions,

[It is a sunnah of wudu‘ to wipe the outside and inside of the ears. The outside is what is next to the head and the inside is what is beside the face.]

4.5 Obligatory Elements of Wudū

the rest being obligatory (farḍ).

[The rest of wudū‘ is obligatory. This sentence is unclear since the rest of wudū‘ includes aspects which are sunnah, like repeating the wiping of the head, renewing the water for the ears, and the correct sequence, and that which is recommended, like saying the Basmala at the beginning. The answer to that is that his words, ‘the rest being obligatory‘ means the rest of the limbs which are washed and wiped independently since it is obligatory to wipe the head, and repeating it is dependent on it. The rest of the limbs designates independent obligations. Renewing the water and the correct sequence are not limbs. They are not connected to limbs, but to other than limbs because renewal is connected to water and proper sequence is connected to washing.]

4.6 How to Do Wudū’

4.6a. Basmala

Some of the men of knowledge (ʿulamā‘) say that when you go to do wudū‘ because you have been asleep or for any other reason you should begin by saying “Bismillah” (in the name of Allah), whereas others say that this is not part of doing wudū‘ correctly.

[When you go to do wudu‘ for some reason which obliges it, like sleep or something else, some scholars says that one begins with the Basmala. It is said that he says, “In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate,” and it is said that he simply says, “Bismillah.” Some scholars do not think that beginning with the Basmala was part of the known business of the Salaf, and indeed think that it is reprehensible, i.e. disliked. It is evident from the words of the author when he ascribes each position to ‘some’ that Malik did not take any stand regarding the Basmala. There are three transmissions from Mālik about the Basmala. One is that it is recommended, and that is what was stated by Ibn Habib, and is well-known because of the words of the Prophet, “There is no wudū‘ for the one who does not mention Allah.” The hadith appears to imply the obligation, and that is what was said by Imam Ahmad and Ishaq ibn Rahawayh, who was a mujtahid. The second is that it is reprehensible, saying, “Is he slaughtering so that he needs to say the Basmala?” The third is that there is a choice and then the judgement is that it is permitted.]

4.6b. Where to Place the Water Vessel

It is easier to get at the water if the container is on your right hand side.

[It is recommended for the person doing wudū‘ to put the vessel from which he does wudū‘ to his right because it is easier to take water. If the vessel is open, he can scoop from it. If the opening is narrow, it is better to have it on his left because that is easier.]

4.6c. Washing the Hands Three Times

You begin by washing your hands three times before putting them into the water container,

[After putting the open vessel to the right and the narrow one to the left, to follow the sunnah, he begins by washing his hands to the wrists three times before putting them into the vessel with a separate intention.]

4.6d. If You Have Gone to the Lavatory

except if you have just urinated or defecated in which case you wash off any traces of impurity before starting to do wudū’.

[What precedes is about the one who has not urinated or defecated. If he has urinated or defecated, then that person washes off the urine or faeces from himself before doing wudū‘. Then he does wudū‘, meaning the linguistic washing of the hands. Thus his first words about washing the hands before putting them in the vessel is about the one who has not urinated or defecated. If he has urinated or defecated, then he washes the place of urine or other filth and then does wudū‘, i.e, washes his hands, which is the first of the sunnahs of wudū‘.]

4.6f. Rinsing the Mouth

You put your hand into the container, take some water, and rinse your mouth out three times, using either one handful or three as you wish.

[You put your hand in the vessel if it is possible. Otherwise you pour the water and take enough water without being extravagant. You can rinse the mouth three times using one handful of water. The first handful is sunnah and each of the remaining two is recommended. If he wishes, he rinses the mouth three times with three handfuls, and the second form is better than the first form.]

4.6g. Rubbing the Teeth

It is also good to rub your teeth with your finger.

[It is recommended to clean the teeth with the finger before doing wudu‘.]

4.6h. Sniffing Water up the Nose You Then Sniff Up Water into Your Nose

[For the correct sequence only, so after he has rinsed the mouth, he sniffs water up his nose. Note that he says, “into the nose” because there might be sniffing without in going into the nose. Perhaps he mentioned that to seek the blessing of the actual words of the hadīth. Muslim says, “He snuffs water up his nose.”]

4.6i. Blowing Water Out the Nose

and blow it out again three times, holding your nose as you do when you blow it.

[What is accepted is that it is sunnah on its own, and the description of blowing out is to put the finger and thumb of the left hand on the nose and to bring the water with the air of the nose as he does when he blows the nose. Mālik disliked blowing it like a donkey because of the prohibition against that in the hadīth.]

4.6j. Number of Times

It is all right if you do this rinsing and sniffing less than three times. It is also all right to do all of this with only one handful of water but three handfuls is preferable.

[Less than three is adequate for rinsing and sniffing. The minimum is achieved by one or two times. The evidence for what he mentioned is that the Prophet did wudū‘ doing each action once and each action twice. The person doing wudū‘ can also combine rinsing and sniffing in the same handful. It has two forms. One that he only moves to sniffing after he finishes rinsing and the second is that he rinses and sniffs and then rinses and sniffs and then rinses and sniffs. The first is better because it is free of any reversal of order in worship.]

4.6k. Washing the Face: Wetting the Face

Then you take water, either with both hands together or with the right hand bringing the hands together afterwards, and using both hands pour the water unto the face.

[After finishing rinsing the mouth and sniffing, then he takes water with both hands if he wishes, or with the right hand and then puts it onto both hands and brings the water to his face. It appears that moving the water to the face is a precondition. This is according to Ibn Habīb, Ibn Majishūn and Saḥnūn. The well known position is that it is not a precondition to move it. What is desired is to bring water to the surface of the face however that happens, even by a waterspout.]

4.6l. Actual Washing of the Face

Then Using Both Hands You Wash the Face

[He applies water to the face without splashing the face with water as women and most men do it. He washes it with the hands. This means that washing connected to moving the water to the washed limb is a precondition of the recommendation in wudu‘. He also does that himself, even if he entrusts someone else to do the wudū‘ when that is not necessary. It does not satisfy the requirement because that is one of the actions of the arrogant. Rubbing is also obligatory, and the well-known position is that rubbing is obligatory in itself, not simply bringing the water to the face.]

4.6m. Area Covered: from the Top of the Forehead – Which is Marked by the Hairline –

[The sunnah in washing is to begin to wash the limbs from their top. If he begins from the bottom, it is allowed, but what he has done is disliked. He explains that what is meant by forehead is what touches the earth in prostration and the right and left sides of the brow, which is next to the normal roots of the hair. One does not take into consideration thick hair or baldness. He includes the thick hair in washing but not the place of baldness. From ‘hairline’ it is understood that part of the head must be washed to achieve the obligation.]

4.6n. to the End of the Chin,

[The face has both length and width. The beginning of its length is the normal roots of the hair and the end is to the end of the chin, which is the point of the beard, and the hairs on the bottom lip. There is no dispute about it being included in the washing. Its width is from ear to ear.]

4.6o. Covering the Entire Face

covering the whole area of the face from the jawbones to where the ears start, making sure you include the eye sockets, any wrinkles on the forehead and the bottom of the nose.

[He must wash the entire face, rubbing around it, including the temples between the ears and the eyes. The well-known position is that it is included in washing. You run your hand over what is hidden inside the sockets and inside the eyes. That must be washed. Also the hand must pass over the wrinkles on the brow, which is the place of prostration The hand must be passed over the bottom of the nostrils. This refers to the outside out and not the inside. He must wash the outside of his lips if they are not covered while washing the face.]

4.6p. Doing It Three Times

You wash your face in this way three times taking water to it.

[The face is washed in this manner three times from the beginning of the limb to the end and rubbing it.]

4.6q. The Beard

When washing your face you rub the beard with both palms to make sure that water gets into it since hair has a natural tendency to repel water. You do not have to put your fingers through your beard when doing wudū‘ according to Malik. You merely rub your hands over your beard down to the end.

[When the beard is thick, when washing the face, rub the hair of the thick beard with the palms in order to make the water enter it. If he does not do this, he will not do all of the outside of the hair because the hair repels water which gets on it unless it is moved by the hands. The well-known position from Mālik is that one does not have to put your fingers through the hair of a thick beard in when doing wudū’. Indeed the apparent text of the Mudawwana is that it is disliked in the case of a thick beard. As for the sparse beard through which the skin shows, he must put his fingers through it when doing wudū‘. It is absolutely obligatory to make the water penetrate the hair of the thin or thick beard in washing. The hands must move the water to the end of the beard.]

4.6r. The Second Obligation: the Hands

You then wash your right hand and forearm three times, or twice, pouring water over it and rubbing it with the left hand, making the fingers of one hand go between the fingers of the other. Then you wash the left hand and forearm in the same way.

[Then first after finishing washing the face, which is the first obligation, he moves on to the second obligation, which is the hands. He washes the right hand first because it is recommended without dispute to begin with the right in things before the left since it is sound that the Prophet said, “When you do wudū‘ begin with the right.” It is done three or two times. There’s a choice in the number times the hands are washed, but there is no choice in washing the face and feet. The reason for that is that it is established that the Prophet washed his face three times and his hands twice each. He pours water on the right hand and rubs it with the left hand. The rubbing must be connected to pouring the water. He puts the fingers of one hand between those of the other hand. He inserts them through the gaps from the top and not the bottom because otherwise that would entail entwining which is disliked. His words can imply either obligation or recommendation, but the first is the well known position. The basis for that is the words of the Prophet, “When you do wudū‘, put water between your fingers and your toes.” However, the command is obligatory for the hands and recommended for the feet. Then he washes the left hand in the same manner.]

4.6s. Extent of Washing the Hands and Arms

When washing the arms you go right up to the elbow, including it in what you wash. It has also been said that you only wash up to the elbows and that it is not necessary to include them but it is better to include them in order to remain on the safe side.

[When doing wudū‘ you wash up to the elbows and include the elbows in the washing. It is possible to include them or not in the washing. The most famous position is that it is obligatory to include them. He clearly stated that here. This is taking the ayat [“and your hands to the elbows,”] to mean “with”. Those who say that it that the washing ends at the elbows take the ayat to actually mean ” up to”. The third position is that it is recommended to include them in the washing to remove the difficulty of definition because it is difficult to define the end which the washing reaches.

4.6t. The Third Obligation: Wiping the Head

Then you take water with your right hand, pour it onto the left hand and using both hands you wipe over your head, beginning at the hairline at the front of the head. You place fingertips together with the thumbs at the temples then wipe over your head with both hands as far as the hairline at the back of the neck. Then you bring them back to the place you started, bringing your thumbs up behind your ears back to the temples. Whatever way you wipe your head is acceptable as long as the whole head is covered but the way mentioned is better. If you were to put both hands into the container, then lift them out wet, and wipe over your head with them this is also acceptable.

[After finishing the second obligation, he moves to the third obligation, and takes the water with the right hand and pours it onto the left palm and wipes his entire head with his hands. It is recommended to start at the front of the head or the normal hairline whether the hair is thick or he is bald. The fingers are put together except for the thumbs which are put at each of the temples. Then the head is wiped to the back of the neck, which is the bottom of the skull and then it is brought back to the place from where you started. It is recommended to bring the thumbs behind the ears and back to the temples which must be wiped along with the rest of the face including the hair. This manner of wiping is not obligatory, but the basis is to achieve a comprehensive washing and to completely wipe the head and hair. If he put his hands in the vessel, that is another way of taking water for wiping the head. So if he brings his hands out wet after putting them in the water, whether it is in a vessel or not and then wipes his head, that is enough according to Mālik without dislike and it is recommended according to Ibn al-Qāsim.]

4.6u. The Ears

Then you pour water over your index fingers and thumbs or if you like you dip them into the water and with them you wipe the outside and inside of both ears.

[After wiping the head, then the ears are wiped by taking water in the right hand and pouring it over the index finger and thumb of the left hand and the adjoining part of the left palm and he pours it on the same of the right hand. Then he wipes the outside and inside of both ears. If he wishes, he can dip the index fingers and thumbs in the water and then wipe with them. The first manner comes from from Ibn al-Qāsim and the second from Mālik.]

4.6v. Women’s Action in Wiping

Women wipe their heads and ears in the same way but they have to wipe over any hair that is hanging loose and cannot wipe over any head covering.

[The woman wipes her head and ears like the man in amount and description by the words of the Almighty, “Wipe your heads,” and women are the sisters of men. She wipes over any hair hanging loose. What is well-known is the obligation to wipe over any of man’s hair which is hang ing on the two sides since it will fall on the place of the obligation or on the face. As for that which actually extends over the place of the obligation, it is agreed that it is obligatory to wipe it. The ‘head covering’ is a cloth by which a woman binds her hair to protect it from the dust. She also does not wipe over other similar hair coverings when they are put next to the head because all of that is a barrier since it does not let her wipe what must be wiped. Otherwise it is permitted as Mālik said that the Prophet wiped over his turban, which is by necessity. Imam Ahmad disagreed and said that there is choice in that. It is affimed that the Prophet wiped the forelock at the front of the head first and finished by wiping over the turban.]

Wiping under plaits

They should put their hands under their plaits when bringing their hands back to the front.

[After the woman begins the wiping from the front of her head and reaches the back where the hair hangs down, she must put her hands under the plaits of hair to complete it, and it is sunnah to bring the hands back if there is any moisture left on them. It is clear from his words that she does not have to undo her plaits because of the difficulty involved. Some people limit that to what is tied with a thread or two. When there are a lot of threads, it must be undone.]

4.6w. Fourth Obligation: the Feet

[After he finishes wiping the ears, he begins the fourth obligation, i.e. washing the feet. It is said that its obligation is wiping. The reason for the disagreement has to do with how the words of the Almighty are read and whether “your feet” is in the genitive or accusative. If it is accusative, then the feet are added to “face and hands” and there is no doubt that its obligation is washing, and so this judgement is given by the conjunction. If it is genitive, then it is joined to “head” and it has the judgement of what it is joined to, which is wiping, and so they are wiped. They are wiped if he is wearing leather socks. This is deduced from what the Prophet did since it is confirmed that he only wiped his feet when he was wearing leather socks. The multiple transmissions from him is that he always washed them when he was not wearing leather socks.]

4.6x The Manner of Washing the Feet

You then wash both feet pouring water onto your right foot with your right and rubbing it with your left hand little by little. You do this thoroughly three times.

[The description of washing the feet is that water is poured with the right hand onto the right foot which is rubbed with the left hand. Rubbing one foot with the other is not enough. This is the position of Ibn al-Qāsim. Its washing is recommended to be completed by water and rubbing three times and should not be more than that. The washing of the feet is limited to three times, which is one of two well-known positions about whether the fourth is disliked or forbidden. The other statement is that washing the feet has no limitation. What is desired is to cleanse, even that is more than three. It is also well-known.]

4.6y The Toes and Heels

If you want you can put your fingers between your toes. If you do not do this it does not matter, but doing it makes you feel more satisfied. You then rub your heels and ankles and any part which water does not get to easily due to hardening or cracking of the skin. You should make sure you do this well, pouring water on the area with your hand because there is a hadith which says, “Woe to the heels from the Fire.” The “heel” of a thing is its extremity or end. You then do the same thing with the left foot.

[If he wishes, he puts water between his toes while washing them, and if he wishes, he leaves that, but it is better to put them between the toes and no doubt remains when it is done. Rubbing the heels can mean either the obligation or recommendation. What is meant is the first. He must rub all those places where the water does not immediately reach due to hardness or cracks as well as wrinkles in loose skin. The threat regarding “Woe to the heels from the Fire” does not only apply to heels, but to every part of the limbs of wudū’. The Prophet said that about when he saw that the heels had no water on them and had not been wiped with water. The whole process is repeated with the left foot. He did not state the limit of washing, and it extends to the ankles. The best known position is to include them in the washing.]

4.6z Three Times

Washing each of the limbs three times is not an actual command. You can do it less but three is the most you should do. If you can do it thoroughly with less than that it is acceptable as long as you do not leave anything out. Not everyone is the same in the amount of water they require to do wudū‘ thoroughly.

[There is no actual definition that it is not adequate if the limbs are not washed in wudū‘ three times each. Three is the limit of what can be done, and no more than three. Ibn Bashīr transmits the consensus that the fourth time is forbidden. The story of the consensus of its prohibition is not established because of the existence of the statement that it is disliked. However prohibition can include what is disliked. The basis in this is that it is related that a bedouin asked the Messenger of Allah about wudū‘ and he showed him three times each. It is clear that he did wudū‘ in his presence and then said, “This is how wudū‘ is.” Therefore anyone who does more than this has acted badly, transgressed and done wrong. If it is done throroughly with less than that, it is allowed. The maximum is specified, but not the minimum since it is contained in one and two and so its state is known and there is no need to define it. Not all people are the same in doing that washing thoroughly. If someone does not do it thoroughly with one time, then it is not allowed and specified in respect of him that which will achieve it. If that is only complete with two, then he intends the obligation by them, and the third is excellence. If it is only thorough with three, then the obligation is intended by it and the recommendation removes what is more. It is clear that the description of wudū‘ contains obligations, sunnahs and virtues and the person is encouraged to perform them in the manner by which none of them is lacking.]

4.7 The Reward for Performing Wudū

The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Anyone who does wudū‘ and does it well and then raises his eyes to the sky and says, ‘I bear witness that there is no god but Allah alone, without any partner and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger,’ will have the eight gates of the Garden opened for him and he can enter by any of them he chooses.”

47a. What to Say Afterwards

Some of the ‘ulamā‘ recommend saying when you finish wudū‘, “O Allah, make me one of those who turn back to You and make me one of those who purify themselves.” (Allahumma ijʿalnii mina-t-tawwabīna wa-jʿalnii mina-l-mutatahhirīn).

[Ibn Habīb says that it is recommended to say this. The ‘tawwabin‘ are those who have committed wrong actions and then repented and purified themselves of the wrong actions.]

4.8 Purpose of Wudū

4.8a. Aim

You must do wudū‘ realising that you are doing it for Allah as He has ordered you to do, hoping that it will be accepted and that you will get the reward for it and that it will purify you of your wrong actions.

[Scholars say that the shaykh did not speak about the intention (niyyah) for wudū‘ because he did not say that he makes the intention to perform wudū‘ which is an obligation by agreement with Ibn Rushd because he did not recall any disagreement about its being obligatory for wudū‘. That is why the agreement is related about its being obligatory and in the soundest position with Ibn al-Hājib. Opposite it there is a text on wudu‘ from Mālik about it not being obligatory. Then they disagree about whether it can be deduced from his words or not. Some say that he does not speak about intention in the Risālah at all and some of them say that it is deduced from his words “he must”, meaning the person doing wudū‘ must be doing wudū‘ sincerely for Allah, not for showing off or reputation. That is because sincerity is commanded in the words of the Almighty, “They were only commanded to worship Allah making the deen sincerely His.” Sincerity is that a person intend the Worshipped by the act of worship without actual articulation. The focus of the intention is the heart. Part of its precondition is that it accompany the first obligation in wudū‘, which is washing the face. If it precedes it by a lot, then it is agreed that it is not permissible. There are two accepted positions about it preceding by a little. The best known is that it is allowed. They agreed that if he makes the intention after washing the face, then it is not adequate. The basis for the intention is that it accompany it. If it happens that he overlooks it, he is forgiven. When wudū‘ is done sincerely with the intention of obeying Allah’s command and secure in himself that the action is done freely, he should hope that it will be accepted and he will be purified of wrong actions based on what is in (Saḥīh) Muslim where the Prophet said, “When a Muslim (or a believer) does wudū’ and washes his face, then every wrong action at which his eye looked leaves from his face with the water – or with the last drop of water”]

4.8b. Wudu‘ as Preparation

You should feel in yourself that it is a preparation and a cleansing for speaking to your Lord and standing in front of Him to carry out the acts He has made obligatory on you with humility in your bowing and prostration.

[He should know that wudū‘ is a preparation and a cleansing from wrong actions and dirt. When the legally responsible person wants to perform wudū‘, he does it sincerely for Allah Almighty desiring that Allah will accept it because he is purifying himself and this is in order to prepare to converse with his Lord. Conversing with the Lord demands sincerity of heart and devotion of inner consciousness to His remembrance. It is also in order to perform the obligation Allah has imposed on him. Bowing and prostration are specifically mentioned as well as humility in other actions because total humility is meant and because the closest a slave is to his Lord is when he is in prostration.]

4.8c. Having Certainty

You should do wudu‘ with a certainty of this, taking good care to do it properly for no action is complete without the right intention behind it.

[You should be aware that wudū‘ is preparation for intimate conversation with your Lord in order to make reverence and esteem firm in your heart. That will result in doing wudū’ with due humility to your Master. This reverence and esteem will result in doing wudu‘ in a manner which is mindful of avoiding imperfections and whisperings. Actions are only according to intentions. It is enough that the Prophet said, “Every man has what he intends.”]

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