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DID SHEHU PROPHESIZE ANY REFORMER AFTER HIM? PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 26 January 2018 21:23

By Yusuf M. Abdullahi
As noted earlier, Islam came to Hausa land long before the Danfodio’s jihad. The religion spread to the region due to activities of propagators that took it upon themselves not the rumored circumstantial traders. The essence in the Jihad was not introduction of the religion but rather to purify it from the bad innovations practiced in its name. 

Beside Islam however, it was evident that some inhabitants adhered to animism and other traditional beliefs. In the cause of Shehu’s call, many have sincerely accepted Islam. As a great charismatic personality gifted with a lot of intellectual abilities, Shehu had travelled widely in Hausa land preaching and teaching.
The popular name Shehu - originally Sheikh - generally identified with him was an educational title referring to a noted scholar whose actions strictly reflected his knowledge. Large crowds gathered wherever he went to preach especially in Gobir, Kebbi and Zamfara. His ideas were devotedly respected and accepted by many. With insightful leadership, he was assisted by prominent lieutenants such as Sheikh Abdullahi Gwandu, younger brother and son Muhammad Bello who played very significant roles not only in the initial stage of the grand Islamic revolutionary process, but throughout the Jihad and after his lifetime. The duo were very close and most influenced by his teachings. Most interestingly, Sheikh Abdullahi has authored many books in various disciplines that remain very valuable referential materials in various Universities of Sudan and Egypt to date.
Other widely recognized contributors to the call for changes and reflection of general Islamic civilization included his popular daughter Nana Asma’u - Mai ‘yan taru - who authored tens of poems which made a lot of impact not only to the academic and moral excellence of women but men inclusive. Her books collected and compiled by Jean Boyd are more easily obtainable in Britain and America than Nigeria. Apart from the masses, Shehu has passed same message to Sarakai on the need to follow the teachings of the holy Qur’an and forsake their bad innovations. In the cause of his call, he was believed to have visited some of their courts especially in Gobir with some historic lessons. So as people increasingly responded to his call on true religious practice and dislodgement of tyranny and oppression, the Sarakai whose unlimited powers were challenged began to persecute his disciples. The Gobir king was the first to provoke Shehu’s people, usurp their properties and attempted to assassinate him. He perpetually campaigned against them and some of his troops captured Shehu’s disciples including women and children which they sold out as slaves. There were many instances in which they were seriously maltreated including hitherto raids and murders on innocent and defenseless people calling for patience and restraint until extremity when he prepared for self - defense.
Eventually, Gobir's King sent to Shehu ordering him to take only his family and leave the town leaving all his followers behind. Shehu’s response was: “I will not part with my people, but I am prepared to leave along with all those who wish to follow me”. Thus the hijra was embarked upon in 1804 as described by in many of his books. The Jama’a followed to join up some with their families and possessions while others alone. The Sarki instructed his officers to confiscate the possessions of anyone wishing to follow Shehu. Thus a lot of property was seized and many killed in the process. The raiding, killing, and capturing continued in the name of booty. So the Jama’a informed Shehu of their situation in Gobir and environs. Then, they pledged their loyalty and promised to obey his commands based on the teaching of the noble Qur’an and the prophetic Sunna to fight back in self defense. With great determination and firmness, the Jama’a set out against those who had continuously raided them. They were informed of the Gobir’s King arrangement to raise allied forces to exterminate them, so they dug a ditch round Gudu from the example of what happened during the prophet’s time. A widely noticed triumph of the Shehu was seen in the confrontation with the Birnin Kwanni warriors who raided from the east. Their leader was killed and many men captured. Shehu’s people also fought against Gobir's King Yunfa’s army who were humiliated and dispersed.
After series of wars; Tafkin kwato, Tsuntsuwa among others, the Sarakai armies were ultimately defeated as Allah triumphantly helped Shehu and his people despite their physical weaknesses, by destroying the tyrannical Hausa kings. With the success, Shehu began to put in place a judicious Islamic order covering all socio-economic aspects of the society. That was the base of justice, moral, intellectual, economic and infrastructural development of the caliphate. At the end of the wars, Sokoto became the caliphate headquarters and Shehu remained the spiritual guide, father and teacher of the people. Nothing changed in the Shehu’s socio-economic life as a pious and righteous servant of Abdullah whose sublime hope was to live as vicegerent of Allah on earth after the success of he achieved.
On the other side, administration, control and management of the large caliphate was very challenging. Shehu continued to guide on the teachings of Islam, tasking his duo lieutenants strategically stationed at Gwandu and Sokoto with significant responsibilities. It is very important to stress a point here that success of the Shehu’s grand Islamic revolutionary reform was not a substitution of leadership from a king to another. Not at all, the Shehu himself was not a king; he was a devoted Muslim and most renowned influential Islamic scholar of this region. So also his lieutenants, Sheikh Abdullahi Gwandu and Muhammaed Bello. His known representatives were also humble Islamic scholars who were in no way arrogant. They tried their best to live as vicegerents of Allah enjoining what was good and forbidding the evils. Generally speaking, Shehu was represented by highly trained disciples in various towns often referred as “Tutocin Shehu Mujaddadi”. They included Malam Musa Zaria, Malam Zaki Katagum, Malam Ummarun Dallaje, Katsina, Malam Sulaimanu Kano, Malam Yakubu Bauchi and Malam Dan tunku Kazaure among others. They were simply referred as Umara -leaders at their entrusted territories. Ethnologically, the word Umara is the plural form of Arabic word Ameer -leader, traceable from the saying of the Prophet on twelve leaders of the Muslim Ummah should have after him. They were not ideologically kings at all. It was this popular word Ameer that the colonialists called Emir. The Shehu’s administration was run on a full scale Islamic Sharia legal system which generally revolutionized the society with great improvement. A lot has been achieved in the world-recognised socio-economic reform.
On the Politico-religious perspective, unlike the days of then Sarakai whose hands were perpetually dirty in various atrocities mentioned in our last edition, the Shehu’s jihad has completely changed the statuesque to a judicious Islamic order based on the teachings of the noble Qur’an. The Islamic philosophy stresses “O men! We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another; verily, the noblest among you in the sight of Allah is the one who is deeply conscious of Him. Behold, He is all knowing, all aware. Qur’an: 49:13. The messenger of Allah said “no Arab has any superiority over a non - Arab, nor does a non - Arab over a black or the black over white. You are all children of Adam and Adam was created from clay”.

So the arrogance of the Sarakuna was completely destroyed by the introduction of the Islamic legal system which relatively views people on their capacity of piety not their material possession or social status. Non Muslims were not forced in any way to accept Islam as a religion based on its known principle “There should be no coercion in the matter of faith” Qur’an: 2:256.

The society was very peaceful based on mutual respect. Allah says “do not abuse those they appeal to instead of Allah” Qur’an: 6:108. However interreligious discourses were greatly encouraged and Islam benefitted a lot for its renowned consideration and hospitality.

In terms of general scholarship, education was highly improved based on Islamic stand that knowledge acquisition is compulsory for all. The Ulama were well respected and students were supported by both caliphate and community. In the cause of scholarship, many went outside the caliphate in search of knowledge. Nothing like the today’s Almajirci existed at all. So students in the Qur’anic sciences and other disciplines like theology, Jurisprudence and languages were sufficiently and honorably taken care of. And as attested by the colonialists, to a great extent the society was literate as Ajami -Fulfulde/Hausa correspondence using Arabic alphabets -was very prevalent even among sizeable female. A lot of books were authored. Few of the Shehu’s include; Naseehatu ahluz zaman, Irshaadul ummah ila tayseeril millah, Nuurul albaab, Ihyaa’us sunna wa ikhmaadul bid’ah, Bishrul ahbaab and Siraajul ikhwaan. Sheikh Abdullahi Gwandu and Muhammad Bello have also authored many influential books that are widely read to date. They include Tazyeenul waraqaat and Infaaqul maysuur respectively.

To be continued.

Last Updated on Friday, 26 January 2018 21:30