ʿUthman dan Fodio (Magill’s Guide to Military History)
Article abstract: Military significance: ʿUthman’s conquests led to a decline in interstate warfare and the extension of Islam and education generally throughout western Africa.
ʿUthman dan Fodio was born into a Fulani clan in the Hausa Kingdom of Gobir, in the northern region of modern Nigeria. His father was an Islamic religious leader (imam), and even as a young man, ʿUthman was recognized as a charismatic intellectual. Studying under the Taureg holy man Jibrīl ibn ʿUmar, ʿUthman learned of the eighteenth century holy wars (jihads) of Futa Jalon and Futa Toro and became a teacher and missionary to Hausa lands. Between 1789 and 1804, ʿUthman fell increasingly under the influence of Sufism, a mystical form of Islam, and began to preach a doctrine of spiritual renewal.
ʿUthman at first preached peaceful reform according to Islamic law (sharīʿah), but this necessarily undermined Hausa tradition, and his movement became entangled in the conflict between Hausa rulers and non-Hausa groups such as the Fulani (Fulbe). After an attack in 1804 by Yunfa, ruler of Gobir, ʿUthman and his followers fled to Gudu, a flight that followers likened to that of Muhammad fleeing Mecca in 622. ʿUthman was convinced that a jihad was both necessary and justified against the oppressive rule of the nominally Muslim Hausa aristocracy. Between 1804 and 1808, ʿUthman captured Kebbi, Zamfara, Zaria, Katsina, and Kano,...
(The entire section is 361 words.)
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