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The exact time during which Islam came to Kano cannot be ascertained. The first Muslim ruler of Kano was perhaps Bagauda, thus making Kano Islam one of the oldest in the central Sudan. Borno gained its controversial prominence as the first Muslim country of the Sudan because of its proximity to the orient thus it initially assimilated literary tradition which, gave it the intellectual edge. The proximity also gave Borno access to military hardware thus its initial hegemony over its nieghbours. Borno’s intellectual edge remained even with waning of its military influence (Barkindo 1983).  Gilliland erroneously implied that "the Bagoda aliens brought no religious system of their own though a number of factors are indicated".  In the next paragraph of the same paper he contradicted his earlier suggestion by stating that, "while the kind of religion Bagoda brought to Kano is not clearly described, it did bear close relationship to Islam" (Gilliland 1979).  The author(s) of The Kano Chronicle consistently reported the religious struggle between descendants of Bagauda and the pagans. The suggestion that the author(s) of the chronicle called the indigenous population pagans because he/they was/were Muslim(s) is absurd primarily because of the occurrence of Muslim names among the early chiefs of Kano.  For example, Isa was among the chiefs who came to Kano with Bagauda (999-1063CCE/389-455AH) whose real name was Daud, while Abdullahi was one of the chiefs of Sarki Waris (1063-1095 CE/ 455-488AH) who was the second Sarkin Kano. Similarly there was Sarkin Kano Usman Zamnagawa (1343-1349CE/743-750) it has been suggested that "there is a possibility that Uthman had accepted Islam as a personal religion" (Palmer 1928: 104 and Ubah 1977:110).  This was before Sarkin Kano Yaji (1349-1385CE/750-787AH) during whose time it was assumed Islam came to Kano.  It would have been very difficult for any non-Muslims of that period to bear the name of Daud, Isa, Abdullahi or Usman unless Bagauda and his descendants were Arab Christians who do not use the name Usman. It is most unlikely that they were Christians and even the Hemitic hypothesis has been discredited. The hypothesis of this write-up is that the Sarakunan Kano before Yaji were at least nominal Muslims.  If they were otherwise the authors of the Kano Chronicle could have reported about their gods and spirits as they did for their opponents. Sarkin Kano Guguwa (1247-1290CE/645-689AH) was the first Sarki who attempted to destroy the pagan gods. He was unsuccessful but one of his successors, Sarki Tsamiya, was successful in destroying the pagan shrine.  He was also the first Sarki to have said "If Allah so wills". This phrase was actually used by Tsamiya and not the author of the Chronicle (Gilliland 1979: 244-245). Most historiographers of Kano assume that Islam first came to the Kingdom during the reign of Sarki Yaji. One of their reasons is the statement that: "In Yaji's time the Wangarawa came from Melle, bringing the Mohammedan Religion". This statement of the Kano Chronicle is metaphorical just as the Chronicle's report that during the reign of Sarki Rumfa "Abdurrahman came to Kano and established Islam". Likewise Abdurrahman ordered Rumfa to build a Mosque for Friday prayers and cut down the sacred tree facing east. Wakar Bagauda has also reinforced this metaphorical theory by reporting that Islam was established in Kano during the reign of Sarki Umaru who was reported to have been very pious. More evidence of this historical metaphor is the Taqyid al-Akhbar of Ibn Salih who also reported that Islam was established in Kano during the reign of Sarkin Kano Rumfa (Ado-Kurawa 1989). Therefore it could be safely assumed that Islam was revived and made the official religion of the Kano Kingdom (Ubah 1977) during the reign of Sarki Yaji by pious Wangarawa men. They never performed any magic as suggested by the missionary Trimingham (1962: 13), because there is no magic in Islam only miracles as in any other monotheistic faith. A similar historical metaphor was reported in Katsina where it was stated that Islam was brought to the area by Shaykh al-Maghili (Usman 1977 and Isichei 1983: 306).The struggle between Islam and traditional religion gave birth to syncretism as a compromise. The Hausa who became Muslims continued with some of their traditions, which are in conflict with Islamic teachings.  For example, the Maguzawa still celebrate death with feasts.  The Hausa Muslims continued with the Maguzawa feast in the form of alms (Sadaqat- Arabic, Sadaka Hausa).  Islam has also influenced the Maguzawa (Greenberg 1946), thus when making their offering to the dead; they say "Ga Sadakar Ka" meaning "This is your alms" (Seidensticker-Brikay 1982).  Giving of alms for the repose of the deceased's soul is permissible in Islam but its periodization is disapproved because it is a bid'a (an illegal innovation).  Dirki was a symbolization of syncretism; namely a copy of the Holy Qur’an hidden inside protective leather case, it was first made during the reign of Sarki Mohammad Zaki. Thus the Maguzawa use of charms was incorporated into the life of Hausa Muslims, who, syncretized the Qur’an by making it their ultimate charm (dirki) for the protection of their society.   Superstitiously, they believed that Alwali's destruction of the dirki was the cause of his downfall.


Last Updated on Friday, 15 August 2008 21:07