: Fulani reform movement

10-02-2013, 08:36 AM
1 - Jihaad of Uthmaan ibn Foodi:
Shaykh Uthmaan ibn Muhammad Foodi was most likely born on Sunday on the last day of Safar in 1168 AH, December 15, 1754 AD. The name Foodi, with which his father was famous, means in the Fulani language a Muslim Jurist. He was born in the village of Taghl, in the Gobir region in the north, which is known as Hausaland.

Shaykh Uthmaan grew up with pious parents who take all the credit for directing and encouraging him to acquire knowledge and attain righteousness. He was fond of this religion ever since he reached puberty. He was blessed with spiritual insight from Allaah and faith that lit up his heart. He realized the calamities and strife from which his people suffered because of following false ideas and the wicked traces of ignorance. Equipped with awareness and determination, Uthmaan strove to change the sad reality of his people. Allaah the Exalted helped him and opened peoples hearts for him. He succeeded in attracting numerous peoples. He founded his movement, whose impacts are still present until this very day.

The most important of Uthmaans teacher was Shaykh Jibreel, who took good care of his student in two respects.

First; he taught Uthmaan useful and beneficial knowledge that contributed in the formation of his religious and political personality.

Second; he was the first to pledge allegiance to Jihaad for spreading Islam in that region under the banner of his student Uthmaan ibn Muhammad Foodi. He acknowledged his students mandate and gladly joined the procession of Jihaad under his leadership. In fact, Uthmaan was no less refined and devoted than his mentor. He constantly repeated a line of Arabic poetry that means: If people praised me, this is due to their good expectation in me, and I am no more than a minute version of my great teacher Jibreel.

In the midst of the prevailing deviated ideas, customs and traditions of ignorance, Uthmaan ibn Muhammad Foodi began his hard work and striving to call people to Allaah. The society was ruled by a number of kings and princes who were vying over sovereignty, quarreling over land and livelihoods, and enslaving people. Sub-Saharan Africa had witnessed a dark era of absolute monarchy and rivalry that cost many of their sons their lives. Sub-Saharan Africa was plagued with the dominance of tribalism that left no chance for establishing unity among the tribes, without the classical classifications of winners and losers.

Tribal rivalry continued non-stop in a vicious circle. This was accompanied by a military mentality that classified many segments of the society as vulnerable and weak. Add to that, this tribal context failed to give rise to a sense of unity that could unify the entire region under one flag, one language, and the same objectives. This unity would have made the region much more advanced and better than it was. These kings believed in backward pagan religions, the residues of which are still evident to this very day through the so-called traditional animist religions.

Under such circumstances, Uthmaan ibn Muhammad Foodi began his mission. He took upon himself the task of liberating his people from the dominance of these backward ideas and from the control of the mighty sultans. His efforts began to bear fruits as they led to the establishment of an Islamic state that lasted for more than a hundred years in that country, which is far away from the Islamic state capital, without any external interference.

Uthmaan ibn Muhammad Foodi divided - in his book Noor Al-Albaab - the population of the Hausa into three main categories:
1- Those who carry out Islamic rulings, teachings, and acts of worship and do not do acts of disbelief and abstain from saying anything that contradicts Islamic teachings. He stressed that these people are blessed with sound Islamic creed.
2- Those who mix. They carry out Islamic rulings, teachings, and acts of worship, yet they do acts of disbelief. They are heard to say things that contradict Islam. He judged such people as disbelievers.
3- Those who did not even savor the breeze of Islam. They are genuinely disbelievers and the provisions of Islam do not apply to them.

Shaykh Uthmaan started his procession of Jihaad in the form of a Dawah mission, or what he called in his writings verbal Jihaad. This was the phase of Dawah and guidance. He raised the overall educational level and the general awareness level of the society. He sent letters to all the classes of the society, inviting them to Allaah and highlighting the importance of Islam in the revival of their nation and in finding solutions for their problems.
In this phase, Uthmaan ibn Muhammad Foodi focused in his style on the use of two important elements.

First, he focused on the issue of women in the Islamic model. He highlighted the difference between women in the Islamic model and women in the backward pre-Islamic model. Many Muslim women contributed to the revival movement that was led by Shaykh Uthmaan. This issue constituted a major challenge to the prevailing ideas by inviting women to liberate themselves from the real slavery in which they lived in respect with their situation at that time.
He also made use of poetry and religious Muwashshahs in the popular and appealing way that was known in those lands. Shaykh Uthmaan was a creative poet and he composed many poems and Muwashshahs with a refined ethical, scientific and instructive nature using local languages. These poems spread like wildfire and were circulated in the society from the tongues of the preachers and callers to Allaah to the tongues of the public. Many of these poems are still memorized by the people there until now, especially if we know that African culture is an oral culture and not a written one.
This phase lasted from 1774 until 1803 AD, about 30 years of Dawah and established the personalities of the callers to Allaah, who faced the moral, intellectual and social challenges to the society without direct confrontation. He emphasized to the preachers and callers to Allaah the importance of not engaging in any conflict with the authorities.
Shaykh Uthmaan wrote many meaningful books and invaluable studies. He used to move between cities and villages himself to spread his ideas. This phase ended with the establishment of the core group of disciples and followers, or what he called the students, with the aim of spreading the clear image of Islam and introducing the refined model of the true religion. It also aimed at exposing the corrupt scholars who witnessed evils and vices all around them but turned a blind eye and did not try to change them through any of the means of change available.
The efforts of Uthmaan ibn Muhammad Foodi indeed paid off.

The people began to proclaim their rejection of all that was incompatible with the teachings of Islam, especially young people, who were the striking force in any fighting because of theft, assault, looting of crops or animal resources. Young girls too started refusing what they believed to be incompatible with the provisions of the true religion. This change in the society drove the king of the region to demand the departure of Shaykh Uthmaan. The king felt threatened by him and feared that Uthmaan may pull the rug out from under his feet. However, Uthmaan had already taken the decision to immigrate with his group earlier. He issued a Fatwa that was proclaimed all over the region. As soon as the news reached the adjacent cities, the believers gathered from all over the country to build their first Islamic community.

This phase lasted until 1808 AD and was, no doubt, the stage of the consolidation of Islamic rule. Uthmaan ibn Muhammad Foodi set an advanced administrative system that took into account the Islamic systems and rules, unifying the entire country under one banner. He rendered Arabic the official language of the country that lasted for about a hundred years until British colonialism ventured into the region. The king decided to furnish an army to fight the Muslim group and the two armies met on the battlefield.

The Muslim army won the battle which was a decisive encounter that incurred the collapse of many armies and small kingdoms; some fell via actual fighting and others by mere threats. This phase, which is known as the phase of armed Jihaad, witnessed taking a crucial and indispensable step, without which it would not have been possible to rectify the situation. This step was pledging allegiance to Uthmaan ibn Muhammad Foodi as the Muslim leader and ruler, who would rule the country according to the Provisions of Allaah and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah.