Sultan Dasuki: 1923-2016 a legend established by history

The late eighteenth Sultan of Sokoto Caliphate, Ibrahim Dasuki was the founder of the forth dynasty of the Sokoto Caliphate. Like the Amir Shehu, Sultan Bello and Atiku Dan Shehu houses, the history of Sokoto Caliphate would forever feature the Dasuki ruling house. His father Malam Halilu was the son of Malam Bara’u son of Malam Buhari, the eight son of Amir Shehu Usman Dan Fodio with his second wife Maidaki Gabdo. 


Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki was, like the second and third Sultans of Sokoto, Muhammadu Bello Dan Shehu and his immediate brother Abubakar Atiku, a product of Islamic scholarship process which evolved and flourished in Kasar Hausa since the middle ages.


The period (1100-1500 AD) was significant to the developments in Kasar Hausa, especially on its relations with Islam and the spread of its Tarbiyyah among the Hausa people. Outside the Arabian Peninsula, the Kasar Hausa reserved in its history a record of the quickest rapid spread of Islamic values than most parts of the Islamic World. This is clearly explained in the fact that there was virtually no Islamic influence in the Hausa World throughout the Abbasid Ages (750-945 A.D.). In  fact the conversion  of Umme Jilme the Mai (King)of the country of Borno, the Kasar Hausa eastern neighbough in 1085 AD   which opened the gates of Islam to what is now  one of its predominant outlets.  


The initial process of Islamizing the Hausa was, however, initiated by Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) himself. It all began as a result of the 10-year truce signed at Al-Hudabiyyah between the Muslim Ummah and the Makkan community in February 628 A.D. The result of this was the beginning of the exportation of Islamic values and influence outside the peninsular of Arabia. The Prophet of Islam felt convenient enough to send an envoy, for the first time, to Egypt. The Prophet died June 8th 632, four years after the historic truce, which allowed the launching of this wise initiative, was signed.  

The two years of Khalifa Abubakar reign did not witnessed the continuation of the contract with Africa which the Prophet initiated. Umar bn Al-khattab became Khalifa in 634 A.D. During his reign, contract between Islam and Africa resumed. Five years after his investiture, Umar sent some 4,000 troops under the command of Amr bn Al-As and conquered Egypt. The military campaign went on for three years, a time which the Islamic combatants had reached as far as the areas in the current northern Libya.

Umar died November 3rd 644 A.D. and was succeeded by Usman bn Affan. In the fourth year of Usman’s reign, the Islamic combatants defeated the empire of Byzantine army and captured Sufetula, now in northern Tlemcem (Tunis), from where Sheik Abu Abdullah Mohammad bn Abdulkarim bn Muhammad Al-Maghili crossed the Sahara and reached Birnin Katsina, in the heart of Kasar Hausa, in 1492.

The first high profile conversion to Islam in Kasar Hausa was that of Sarkin Kano Yaji Dan Tsamiya in 1349 AD, a quarter of a century after the conversion of Mai Umme Jilme of the neighboring Borno. The process of Islamizing the Hausa appeared to have reached climax with the ascension of the first Muslim, Muhammadu Korau, as the Sarki (King) of Katsina for the first time soon before the arrival of Sheik Abu Abdullah Al-Maghili in Katsina in 1492 A.D. Muhammadu Korau died three years after sheik Al-Maghili left Katsina for Kano at the invitation of the seventeenth Sarkin Kano Muhammadu Rumfa Dan Abdullahi Burja (1463-1499)

There were hardly events in the Middle Ages which influenced the lives and the polity in Kasar Hausa more than the visit of this Maghriban Missionary. The two kitabs he published Fima Yajub alal-Muluk and Al-Mukhtasar Fima Yajuz ala-al Hukkam, at the request of Sarki Rumfa, soon became the manual of government at least in Kasar Kano and Qasar Katsina. The development represents not only the acceptance of Islam as a faith, but also the beginning of the introduction of a new mode of existence in these two Hausa major kingdoms. Islamic schools were opened, first in Kano and later in Katsina, for the first time. Wangara scholars flooded these two kingdoms and began to play advisory functions in the aristocratic courts of Kano, Katsina and later Zazzau, especially after the ascension of the first Muslim Sarki of Zazzau, Muhammadu Rabbo. Consequently, Islam with Qur’an, a codified book of revelation, soon began to accentuate the process of the extinction of the Hausa traditional faith and values in all the Hausa Kingdoms.


Kasar Hausa and the world: At the down of the modern ages

As events were unfolding with Sheik Al-Maghili visit to Kasar Hausa, a Spanish Government sponsored Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus docked at the north coast of Haiti in the Continent of America, October 12th 1492 A.D. Sheik Al-Maghili visit to Kasar Hausa and the Christopher Columbus, discovery of America in 1492 A.D had more than any other episode, influenced the socio-economic and the political transformation of the societies in the two Continents during the late Middle Ages.

The Sheik’s visit profoundly accelerated the dispersal of Islamic values and the re-organization of the political institutions of the Hausa states of Kano, Katsina and Zazzau. The Columbus voyage, had on the other hand, opened the gates of the continent of America for the influx of European ideals and the consequent European colonization of the continent which began with the establishment of the first English American Colony of Virginia, 115 years after the arrival of Columbus. The second English American Colony of New England was established just 13 years after the establishment of the first. The process of the formation of the United States of America reached its climax with the Declaration of the Independence of the 13 United American Colonies on July 4, 1776.

In Europe, the down of the Modern Era was featured with the echo of religious intellectual traditions which, by 1490’s, were well in conflict with the emerging secular values. This culminated in the intellectual movement known as the Renaissance. People in Europe, were generally disillusioned with rigid theological scholastic systems which rendered them intellectually barren. By 1500 AD, this feeling had led to the evolution of powerful ethical movement known as Reformation.

 In Africa, especially in the Bilad as Sudan, increased intellectual activities were noticed towards the opening of the Modern Era. By 1600, the area had begun to witness the birth of Islamic scholars of international stature with deeper knowledge in Islamic Sciences and the World, like the Katsina-based Abu Abdullahi bn Nuh Al-Barnawi Al-Kashinawi (Danmasani) 1595-1667 A.D, and his student Muhammadu Al-Kashinawi bn Al-Sabbagh (Danmarina). Mervyn Hiskett attributed the composition of one of the most recognized poem Mazjarat al-Fityan to Al-Sabbagh, who in the verses advised the younger generation of his time to emulate him by seeking knowledge in all branches of Islamic Learning. 

In the Mazjarat, Danmarina outlined the knowledge of the subjects of Islamic exegesis; the Sciences of Theology and Prophetic Tradition; Sciences of Tropes and Exposition; the Science of Philology and Logic, Rhyme and Meter and many more. These verses were part of the long period of the intellectual foundation which preceded the outbreak of the Jihad in the 19th century.

While Danmarina composed to incite the Hausa youth of 16th and 17th centuries to seek knowledge, his teacher, Danmasani was also composing to glorify the first battle fought by the Prophet of Islam on June 8 624 A.D. In his poem on the Battle of Badr, Danmasani expounds the courage and the humility of the Prophet, the physical prowess and the military expertise of the Prophet’s companions, like Ali bn Abu Talib. The poem, which is still openly recited by mendicants in cities and scholastic settlements across the Hausa land, appeared to have established the foundation of the militant Islamic movements which dominated and transformed the Hausa World in the 19th century.

Musa Dankwari M.a. Msc. Pgde is with the School of Languages, Federal College Of Education, Zaria.


In a fashion similar to that of Danmasani, Abdullahi Dan Fodio composed wonderful verses in which he described the battle of Tafkin Kwatto, fought on Thursday 12th Rabi ul-awwal 1219 A.H. (June 21st 1804), as an  ideological war between the forces of Gobiran unIslamic government and the Mujahiddun who were defending the Islamic faith. The battle, according to Abdullahi, reminds him the Battle of Badr. So, as the defeat of the Makkan forces under the command of the Prophet to Badr signaled the ultimate triumph of Islam so was the defeat of the Gobiran forces under his (Abdullahi) command expounds the victory of Mujahiddun in establishing adl(justice)in a Caliphate in Qasar Hausa 


Qasar hausa in the early mordern ages 

     Existing side by side with that impressive intellectual development was the expansion of the economics of most Hausa states6. Geography and states initiatives provide the stimulus for the expansion of economic activities and innovations. There were signs of general economic prosperity in the major Hausa States of Kano, Katsina and Zazzau in the late middle ages. The weather remained relatively consistent no serious shortage of rainfall or inconsistent agricultural production in the Hausa major states throughout the second half of the sixteenth and the first half of the seventeenth centuries. There were also immense developments in inter-states commercial activities and changes in the pattern of the settlements of all the major Hausa States. By the middle of the seventeenth century, immense economic activities had began to generate rivalry between the Kingdoms of Katsina and Kano, Zamfara and Kebbi over the control of trade routes which often led to conflicts and established war of territorial expansion as key policy to most leaders of the Hausa major states.    

     For instance,  Qasar Kano during the reign of the thirty eighth Sarki Alhaji Kabe c1743-1753 AD launched a devastating attack on  the country of Gobir the north most of the Hausa state , where Shehu Usman Dan Fodio was born, in Maretta a year after. The succession of Babari to the throne as the result of the violent deposition of Sarkin Gobir Dan Ashshah had, before the Kano invasion of Gobir, generated uncertainties unparallel in the country’s political history. Babari added to the chaotic political environment in Gobir with the invasion of Birnin Zamfara in c. 1762 A.D, only some 12 years before Shehu Usman Dan Fodio starts his first jihad preaching tour to the country. 

 In another instance, Bawa Jangwarzo the king of Gobir attached Katsina in c. 1789. At the time of this attack, Shehu Usman Dan Fodio second tour, which started a year before, was underway in Kasar Kebbi. Jangwarzo died the same year after the attack, and his successor, Yakubu, re-launched another attack a north-western town of Kasar Katsina, Ruma.


The Situation In The America And Europe

    During these social and political upheavals in Kasar Hausa, the Continental Congress in America declared the independence of the Thirteen American Colonies in 1776 A.D.  During this year the Shehu was about to returned, from his first preaching tour, to Xagel in Kasar Gobir, form somewhere between Zamfara and Kebbi. The election and the re-election of the United State of America’s first President, George Washington in 1788 and 1792 were held when the Shehu was on his Second preaching tour somewhere between Faru and Daura or in the scholastic settlements dispersed across the western boundaries of Kasar Katsina. The third United States general election which resulted in the election of Thomas Jefferson, a Republican, in 1801, was held at a time when the Shehu would have established Degel as the ideological center of the Jihad in Kasar Hausa.    

In Europe, the French Revolution of 1789 happened within the years of the Shehu’s extensive jihad tours and preaching. The unification of German States under German Empire by Prussian Prince, Otto Von Bismarck between1871 and 1890 was attained more than half a century after the unification of the Hausa States in the Sokoto Caliphate by the Shehu, in 1810 A.D…


The Uli Al – Amr, The Generals, And The Philosophers

 By the close of the eighteenth century, Kasar Hausa was indeed, progressing, responding and competing with developments elsewhere. The World, during the period, was ideological polarized, intellectually busy and militarily charged. In Europe, for instance, Montesquieu c. 1689-1755 and Voltaire 1694-1778 were busy writing to influence the political sense of the France by undermining the Monarchy and the Nobility as expressed in The Spirit of the Law, published c. 1748. John Locke Treaties of Government, published c. 1690, and Rousseau’s Theories on Contract Social, published in 1762, did not only informed the French Revolution, but also the American, in 1776. The documents of American Revolution and the Constitution were based on the ideas preached by Thomas Paine, Locke and Rousseau. Nothing influenced the American Public Opinion, for self determination, more than the ideas preached by Thomas Paine in the Common Sense, published at the eve of the Declaration of Independence between 1775 and 1776. The ideas of Democracy, that men were born free and equal, and that Government depend on the Consent of the Governed were values preached by Rousseau and Locke. Informed by the theories, popularized by these Philosophers, the British Parliament enacted the Act abolishing Slavery and the Atlantic Slave Trade, just when the Shehu Usman Dan Fodio, his brother Abdullahi and their supporters were busy consolidating the administration of the Sokoto newly formed Caliphate, in 1807. 

Africa and indeed the World were military charged as by the time when the Shehu Usman Dan Fodio was born in 1754, started his preaching tour to Sokoto in c. 1794, his contemporary Napoleon Bonaparte, born in c. 1769, invaded Egypt in May 1798. After the occupation of Alexandria, Napoleon matched on to Cairo where, at the Battle of Pyramids, he subdued the Mamluks. By  1807 when the  Jihad in Kasar Hausa was at concluding phase, Napoleon invaded and occupied Austria, Russia And Prussia, and went on to subdue much of Europe to France. 

 In the New World, war had begun even before The Declaration of American Independence, at Boston on July 4th 1776. Two years later, France recognized the American Independence and declared war on England, in February 1778. Spain, on the other hand, joined the War on the side of England in 1779.

In the Sudanese sub-region of Africa, the culmination of decades long intellectual and military preparations into the jihad, which the Grand- parents of Sultan Ibrahim Dasuqi led, had in the first decade of the nineteenth century, resulted in the establishment of a Caliphate which, for the first time in their history, unified all the Hausa States under the leadership of an amir of the Ummah, Sheik Usman   Dan Fodio.             

Lawal Musa Dankwari M.a. Msc. Pgde is with the School of Languages, Federal College Of Education, Zaria.


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