The Jihad war is also known as the “Holy War”, which transpired between the Hausa and Fulani before the colonial administration. Students of history or Islamic studies might be familiar with the history of the Jihad war, which led to the disparity between the ethnic groups and the loss of lives and properties.
Also, it is worthy of note that this war created inferiority between the Hausa and Fulani people, deciding on who should be the decision-maker for the people in the northern part of the country. Also, research gathered reveals that the Jihad war is also an Islamic religious form of war between the two parties.
The Fulani War, also known as the Fulani Jihad or Jihad of Usman dan Fodio, took place between 1804 and 1808 and was fought in modern-day Nigeria and Cameroon. Usman Dan Fodiyo, a well-known Islamic teacher and scholar, was banished from Gobir by King Yunfa, a former pupil. This action set off the conflict.
Uthman Dan Fodio was a Fulani teacher who led the Jihad armies against the Hausa people of northern Nigeria. Usman Dan Fodio’s armies gradually seized control of more Hausa kingdoms, finally seizing Gobir in 1808 and killing Yunfa. The Sokoto Caliphate, led by Usman Dan Fodio, was established as a result of the conflict and grew to be one of the biggest states in Africa in the 19th century. Similar jihads were inspired by his victory in Western Africa.
There is no gainsaying the fact that a conflict cannot ensue without a reason or a foundational disagreement between the parties involved. Intra-ethnic or inter-ethnic conflict could be a result of land grabbing, power tussles, religion, boundaries, or even captivity. In the case of the Hausa/Fulani war, one could say it was a result of a religion and power tussle.
Therefore, in this piece, Naijabiography explores the origin of the Jihad war, its effect on the two parties, and the conquest.
Usman was born around 1754 in Gobir, a Hausa state in what is currently northwest Nigeria. Muhammad Fodiye’s father was a scholar who came from the Toronkawa clan, which left Futa-Toro in Senegal in the 15th century. Usman’s family relocated to Degel in the south when he was still a young child. There, he studied the Qur’an with his father.
Dan Fodio then moved on to other scholar relatives, following the custom of going from teacher to teacher and reading widely in Islamic studies, and then he became known in the 1790s. His tutor in the southern Saharan city of Agadez was Jibrīl ibn ʿUmar, a radical person whom Usman both admired and despised by those whom he was admitted to the Qādirī and other Ṣūfī orders, was a significant intellectual and theological influence at this time.
Usman started working as a teacher in 1774–1775. For the next 12 years, he mixed studies with traveling to teach and preach in Kebbi and Gobir before spending a further five years in Zamfara. Despite his principled commitment to staying away from royal courts, he visited Bawa, the sultan of Gobir, during this time and obtained significant concessions for the region’s Muslim population (including his own freedom to spread Islam); he also seems to have taught Yunfa, the future sultan, from him.
Usman’s fame increased throughout the 1780s and 1790s, along with the size and significance of the community that turned to him for religious and political leadership. His younger brother Abdullahi, who was one of his first students, and his son Muhammad Bello, who is also an accomplished writer and teacher, were particularly close to him. However, his own intellectual clan took some time to accept him.
According to history, the Hausa peasantry appears to have contributed much to the expansion of their ethnicity. Their experiences of persecution under the dynasties in power, along with their economic and social grievances, sparked millenarian expectations and led people to associate him with the Mahd, meaning, “Divinely Guided One,” a fictitious Muslim redeemer whose arrival was anticipated at the time. He rejected this identity, but he did support and share their hopes.
Usman appears to have resided permanently in Degel until the 1790s, at which time a rift formed between his sizable community and the Gobir ruling dynasty. Sultan Nafata reversed the tolerant policy he had adopted toward Usman ten years earlier and issued his historic proclamation forbidding anyone but the Shaykh, as Usman had come to be called, to preach; forbidding the conversion of sons from the religion of their fathers; and forbidding the use of turbans. Sultan Nafata was aware that Usman had permitted his community to be armed and no doubt feared that it was acquiring the characteristics.
Whatever his prior connections to the Shaykh may have been, Yunfa did not elevate the status of Usman’s group when he succeeded Nafata as sultan in 1802. When the collapse finally happened, it was due to a confusing occurrence in which some of the Shaykh’s supporters released Muslim prisoners who had been captured by a Gobir military expedition under duress.
Usman acknowledged that Degel was in danger but seemed to want to avert a final breach. The Shaykh made a hijrah, known as a migration, to Gudu in February 1804, just like the Prophet Muhammad, whose life he repeatedly highlighted had many similarities to his own. He was chosen as the community’s imam (leader), despite his own seeming hesitation, and the new caliphate was formally founded.
From the middle of the 18th century, the Kanem-Bornu Empire ruled the region with great influence. At the time, numerous separate Hausa kingdoms in the area saw their falls as a result. which Sheikh Al’amin El-Kanemi defeated. The Gobir and Zamfara kingdoms were two notable Hausa states. Additionally, the Kanem-Bornu dynasty mainly defeated, seized, and imprisoned Usman Dan Fodio. However, the conflict between the Hausa states and other states persisted until the 18th century, leading to a strict conscription and taxing system. After some torture and persecution, Sheikh Al’amin Elkanemi later released him. History has it that the Fulani, a predominantly pastoral community, were frequently the targets of Hausa taxation, tyranny over the land, and other feudal abuses.
The story of Dan Fodio being held captive revealed that within five years, he had become known as a leader and imam. During those years, the caliphate’s establishment and the jihad’s execution were unavoidably the Shaykh’s main concerns. Although he abstained from participating in combat operations, he nominated commanders, supported the army, managed diplomatic matters, and published a number of articles on issues pertaining to jihad and its theoretical rationale. On this, his fundamental stance was unambiguous and rigid: everyone who supported the Sultan of Gobir was likewise an unbeliever because he had assaulted the Muslims and was, therefore, an unbeliever who required combat.
Sarkin Gobir Yunfa, a former student of Dan Fodio, succeeded Nafata as ruler of Gobir in 1801. Dan Fodio, however, was subject to more limitations from Yunfa, who also banished him to the village of Degel from Gobir. A crisis emerged later in 1803 when Yunfa assaulted and kidnapped a large number of members of a group connected to Dan Fodio. Then, the detainees were marched through Degel by Yunfa, angering many of Dan Fodio’s supporters, who subsequently fought the army and released the prisoners. Before burning Degel, Yunfa granted Dan Fodio the choice of exile, which prompted a massive hijra of Dan Fodio’s community to Gudu.
So many people joined Dan Fodio in the entire state that Yunfa declared war on him on February 21, 1804, and threatened to punish everyone who joined him. Dan Fodio’s supporters renounced their loyalty to Gobir and proclaimed him to be the Amir al-Mu’minin, the leader of the faithful.
The forces clashing at the Battle of Tsuntua were preceded by a number of minor engagements. Despite the fact that Yunfa won and Dan Fodio lost a number of soldiers, the conflict did not lessen his strength. He replied by seizing the town of Matankari, which led to the fight of Tafkin Kwattoa, a significant conflict between Yunfa’s men and those of Dan Fodio. Dan Fodio’s troops, while being outnumbered, were able to stop Yunfa from approaching Gunu, which helped to persuade more people to join his cause.
The jihadists of Dan Fodio overran the Hausa kingdom of Kebbi in 1805. After losing, Katsina’s monarch, Magajin Halidu, committed himself. The jihadists had taken over the region in 1807. They next took control of the Sultanate of Kano, whose ruler, Muhammad Alwali II, was compelled to flee to Zazzau before making their way to Burum-Burum, where he was slain in action shortly after. The jihadists attacked Gobir in 1808, devastating much of the city and killing Yunfa in the battle of Alkalawa. Additionally, in the same year, Abdullahi dan Fodio assumed control of the Kebbi Emirate.
The jihadists realized they were a part of a larger regional conflict after seizing Gobir. They persisted in fighting several Hausa kingdoms, and over the course of the following two years, the Sokoto Caliphate grew.
Around November 1806, it was stated that the Shaykh made an effort to create a fundamentally straightforward, non-exploitation system. However, according to the treaties of Bayān wujūb al-hijra, the local government should be under the control of governors (emirs) chosen from the scholarly elite for their knowledge, piety, integrity, and sense of justice. The central bureaucracy should be restricted to a vizier who is obedient and honest, judges, a chief of police, and a tax collector. Then, the military surfaced, but the Jihadists continued the battles against the Hausa kingdoms, which led to the expansion of the Sokoto Caliphate within two years. Also, the Jihadists expanded and led the Sayfawa dynasty till 1846.
The Aftermath of the Jihad War
In 1809, during the Fulani war, Muhammed Bello, the son of Usman dan Fodio, turned the semi-permanent camp of Sokoto into a city. From that moment until 1815, when he retired from administrative duties, Dan Fodio oversaw the Fulani jihad states as their religious head out of Sokoto. To lead the several states of the empire, the Caliphate selected various Emirs. These individuals were frequently Fulani war veterans.
According to the number of out-of-date writings that have survived, most of which deal with the practical issues facing the community, Dan Fodio’s five years at Sifawa were productive. This includes the series of books addressed to “the Brethren” (al-Ikhwan), which came about as a result of the conflict with Bornu and its chief administrator and ideologist, Muhammad al-Kanemi.
Uthman Dan Fodio relocated to Sokoto around 1815, where Bello built him a home in the western suburbs and where he passed away in 1817 at the age of 62.
Early in the 19th century, Usman was the most significant reforming figure in the western Sudan region. His significance stems in part from the fresh impetus he provided for Islam in the area as a mujaddid, or renewer of the faith, and in part from his work as a teacher and thinker. In the latter capacities, he served as the centre of a network of pupils and produced a sizable body of writings in Arabic and Fulani that encompassed the majority of the Islamic disciplines and attained widespread acclaim and impact.
Later, West African jihadists were inspired by the jihad’s success, such as Seku Amadu, who founded the Massina Empire; Umar Tall; Samori Ture, who founded the Wassoulou Empire; and Modibo Adama, who founded the Adamawa Emirate.
It is worthy of note that the Sokoto Caliphate is still in effect today. Also, the Caliphate’s political influence has waned since the British conquered it in 1903 and eventually granted Nigeria independence under a constitutional government in 1960.