ʿUmar Tal (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Military significance: ʿUmar Tal created a reformed Islamic state in the Senegal-Niger area of West Africa through a series of jihads (holy wars) against traditional groups and French imperialists. His leadership style was adopted by later Islamic military leaders in the region.
A religious reformer and military leader, ʿUmar Tal created a new, purified Islamic state in the 1850’s through a series of jihads (holy wars). ʿUmar Tal was from a clerical caste of the Tukolor people, and as a young man was inducted into the Tijaniyya brotherhood. Around 1825, he embarked on a pilgrimage to Mecca, where he stayed for two years. He returned via Sokoto, where he lived for seven years and married the daughter of the Khalifa Muhammad Bello. He returned wealthy (from trading gold dust) and steeped in strict Islam. He visited several Islamic states created by jihads and was impressed with their religious fervor. He settled in what became Guinea and founded a religious community. ʿUmar Tal had already been designated khalifa (head) of the Tijaniyya. ʿUmar Tal consciously patterned his life on that of Muhammad, withdrawing and emerging into society as he did. He began his military exploits at the age that Muhammad had descended upon pagan Mecca to purify it.
ʿUmar Tal used his gold dust trade to traffic in European arms while he was fashioning his religious theory. In his writings and teachings, he criticized...
(The entire section is 709 words.)
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