: Ahmadu Lobo Jihaad movement in Masina

10-02-2013, 08:34 AM
While Shaykh Uthmaan ibn Muhammad Foodi was striving and struggling against the rulers of Hausa, another Fulani Islamic movement started in Masina at the upper Niger River led by Shaykh Ahmadu Lobo, one of the supporters of Uthmaan ibn Muhammad Foodi in Gobir. He was one of the Fulani people who had settled in the fertile lands of Masina several centuries ago.

They worked as shepherds alongside the agricultural Mandinka. However, the Fulani people remained isolated from the Mandinka people, and they had their own chiefs from the Diolo groups, who confined their rule to the Fulani people who followed their masters of the Bambara groups in Segou. These groups, both Fulanis and Mandinkas, were pagans, with the exception of a few groups who converted to Islam because of the emergence of reform movements in the Sokoto or Fouta Djallon provinces.

In this region, Shaykh Ahmadu Lobo proclaimed himself the Commander of the Believers and launched Jihaad against the Bambara and Mandinka groups. Shaykh Lobo is a descendant of one of the Muslim Fulani clans who migrated from the area of Massina and lived with the Bambara people where paganism prevailed. Lobo was exposed to the Islamic culture at the hands of the elders of his family. Then, he moved to Jenny (Djenn, also Djnn, Jenn, or Jenne), an urban commune and town in the inland Niger Delta region of central Mali. This city was a major Islamic center in West Africa. He learned the interpretation of the Quran, jurisprudence, and other Islamic studies and then returned to Massina to launch Jihaad in order to save the pagans from the worship of idols and guide them to the worship of one God.

Ahmadu Lobo looked up to the Jihaad movement in Sokoto, was inspired by them, and took their ways as a basis for building his own Islamic state. Shaykh Ahmadu contacted Sokoto to consolidate relations with the Muslim ruler there, Caliph Muhammad Bello (1817 1837 AD) of Sokoto. Despite the Caliphs help who sent Ahmadu Lobo the books he requested to seek guidance, Shaykh Ahmadu refused to be subordinate to the Sokoto Empire once he declared Jihaad. He also refused to pay taxes to the Sokoto Caliphate and continued to seek spiritual inspiration and help from the Fulani state, depending on the writings of Uthmaan ibn Muhammad Foodi and Sokoto scholars in many of his works and activities.

Ahmadu Lobo started his movement in 1797, and when he saw a vision in his sleep in1816, he declared Jihaad. He strove to promote the principles which he advocated first among young people in and outside the city. He was joined by members of his clan as well as a few Muslims in the agricultural areas.

He settled in a place called Rondi Siro near the city of Jenn, from where he delivered his knowledge to his disciples. He continued to preach Islam to the people for nearly twenty years. Then, he challenged the governor and his followers, accusing them of carrying out pagan practices and traditions, which are far away from Islam. He also considered them mere tools in the the hands of their masters of the Bambara rulers. He criticized the scholars of the city due to their indifference and slackness in implementing the Islamic Shareeah.

Shaykh Lobo became known to Massina authorities when he advised his followers to kill the son of the ruler; because he assassinated one of the followers of Shaykh Lobo. After this incident, Shaykh Lobo had to flee for fear of the rulers reprisal. He went to Ciwa city with a few of his followers where he managed to spread his control over the entire region of Siro (a populated place in Mali). He called himself the Commander of the Believers, and even claimed that he was the last of the Twelve Imaams.

The Fulani Muslim leader was supported by pagans and Muslims alike and he was able, after a short period of time, to spread his sovereignty over an area of 50,000 square miles, including within its borders both the cities of Jenn and Timbuktu.

He also seized the town of Canary after a bitter struggle with its ruler. In this city, which lies at the right bank of the Bani River, he founded in 1815 the city of Hamdullah. He made the new city the capital of his country and the capital of the Islamic State of Massina. He built a huge wall around the city and annexed to it some of the agricultural estates that were allocated to the scholars and other Muslims.

Shaykh Ahmadu Lobo implemented the principles of Islamic law in his state. He established a Public Treasury, established a military force to defend the borders of the state, and appointed governors in the different provinces. He divided the capital, Hamdullah, into seven districts, and appointed a judge to supervise each district. A Supreme Judge was appointed to supervise the judges of the various districts. As for the political system of the government, he established a Forty-member Council, which is headed by a famous scholar. Although Shaykh Ahmadu Lobo bore the title the Commander of the Believers, he was a member of this Council, and he used to delegate much of his authority to his fellow members of the Forty-Member Council.