The Jihads in the 19th century West Africa were a series of revolutions or holy wars that characterized the history of the region sweeping from 1804 in Hausa land, 1818 in Masina and 1815 in Futa Jallon area under the leadership of Uthman Dan Fodio, Seku Ahmadu and Al-Hajj Umar respectively because of the un fair conditions in society. These wars were intended to open a period of social justice, security and prosperity in trade for all me who accepted Islam as seen below;
Official corruption, heavy taxation, confiscation of subject's properties, oppression of the poor in general and slavery which instilled perpetual fear, was as much a source of discontent to the Muslim as to the non-Muslim subjects. This state of affairs led to tension and frustration especially to the Muslim subjects, as Smith quite rightly observed:
"The position was frustrating for Muslims were generally conscious of being culturally far superior to the pagans. Their religion, of course, left them in no doubt about this, and on the practical level they were likely to be superior citizens, knowing much more about the world than did the pagans, and conserving a vital monopoly of literacy."
( C. Smith, p.169)
Another evidence comes from the fact that the Jihads were intended to purify Islamic norms, which were to bring honesty to society. After the decline of Mali and Songhai empires, there was decline in Islamic faith in Western Sudan. Islam religion was mixed with pegan practices like over drinking and marrying non-Moslems, a situation that could compromise the honesty and evenhandedness in society. Historians A. Ajayi and Michael Tidy contend that " most of the ruling dynasties especially among the Hausa state, Islam sat lightly on them and all sorts of un-Islamic practices such as illegal taxation, enslavement of Moslems and unlawful seizure of property were going on." (Adu Boahen , A. Ajayi & Michael Tidy, p. 44)
Most of the rulers of western Sudan were tyrants who mistreated, oppressed and suppressed their subjects and they failed to administer justice with impartiality. It was therefore the desire of the Jihdists to free the people of west Africa from oppressive regimes. Thus, the Jihads were a movement for social justice reform. Uthman, Dan Fodio for example, an agreement in which Moslems were granted freedom from jail and freedom for Moslem men to wear turbans and the women to wear veils" (Adu Boahen , A. Ajayi & Michael Tidy, p. 48s)
On the economic scene, the 19th century Jihads had strong economic attributes. Governments in western Sudan had been over taxing their subjects for example in the town of Fulani, merchants always complained of heavy taxes in their trade while Fulani pastoralists were opposed to high taxes on their cattle. This forced them to jump, aboard the jihad's Bang wagon to eliminate all these. In writing about the economic results from the Jihads, Ajayi e-tal write that 'the establishment of a uniform of government in place of many competiting ones a reduction in internecine wars that had characterized the history of the Hausa states... Peace and order reigned in most parts.. and this greatly stimulated agricultural and industrial activities" (Adu Boahen , A. Ajayi & Michael Tidy, p. 49)
Even the cruel method of collecting the taxes that existed before the Jihads was provoking that fundamentalists could not stand it. It was ruthless in operation and tax collectors used to whip people in the collection of taxes and imprisoned others. This was greatly resented by the Sudanese subjects and they rose up against the regimes of the day and to end the ruthless method of tax collection.
Coupled with the above is that the wealthy Fulani felt that their wealth was insecure under the Hausa rulers who were openly jealous of the Fulani wealth. They therefore sought to establish a government, which would guarantee security to their property.
Through the creation and improvement of Islamic Education in the Sudan,...
Bibliography: Abdelkader, Dina. Social Justice in Islam. Herdon, VA: International Institute of Islamic
(Adu Boahen , A. Ajayi & Michael Tidy, Topics In West African History, Longman Group Limited, 1965
Fisher, Humphrey J. Slavery in the History of Muslim Black Africa. New York: New
York University Press, 2001.
H. F. C. Smith, A Neglected theme of West African History: the Islamic Revolution of the 19th century, J. H. S. N.(1961)
Kevin Shillington, A History of Africa, Palgrave Macmillan, 1995
Mervyn Hiskett The Nineteenth Century Jihads In West Africa ' in J
(ed.), The Cambridge History of Africa , From 1790 to1870 ', Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1985
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