digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















Usman dan Fodio
Sultan of Sokoto, Amir al-Muminin, Imama, Al Khalifa Al Amirulmuminin
Reign 1803–1815
Coronation Gudu, June 1803
Successor Eastern areas (Sokoto):
Muhammed Bello, son.
Western areas (Gwandu):
Abdullahi dan Fodio, brother.
  • Maimuna
  • Aisha
  • Hawa'u
  • Hadiza
Issue 23 children, including:
Muhammed Bello
Nana Asmau
Abu Bakr Atiku
Dynasty Sokoto Caliphate
Father Muhammadu Fodio (Legal and Religious teacher)
Born 1754
Died 1817
Burial Hubare, Sokoto.[1]
Denomination Sunni
Jurisprudence Maliki
Creed Ash'ari[2]
Sufi order Qadiri[3][4]

Shaihu Usman dan Fodio, born Usuman ɓii Foduye, (also referred to as Shaikh Usman Ibn Fodio, Shehu Uthman Dan Fuduye, Shehu Usman dan Fodio or Shaikh Uthman Ibn Fodio) (born 1754 in Gobir–died 1817 in Sokoto) was a religious teacher, writer and Islamic promoter, and the founder of the Sokoto Caliphate. Dan Fodio was one of a class of urbanized ethnic Fulani living in the Hausa States in what is today northern Nigeria. He was a leader who followed the Sunni Maliki school of Islam and the Qadiri branch of Sufism.[5]

A teacher of the Maliki school of law, he lived in the city-state of Gobir until 1802 when, motivated by his reformist ideas and suffering increasing repression by local authorities, he led his followers into exile. This exile began a political and social revolution which spread from Gobir throughout modern Nigeria and Cameroon, and was echoed in a jihad movement led by the Fula ethnic group across West Africa. Dan Fodio declined much of the pomp of rulership, and while developing contacts with religious reformists and jihad leaders across Africa, he soon passed actual leadership of the Sokoto state to his son, Muhammed Bello.

Dan Fodio wrote more than a hundred books concerning religion, government, culture, and society. He developed a critique of existing African Muslim elites for what he saw as their greed, paganism, violation of the standards of Sharia law, and use of heavy taxation. He encouraged literacy and scholarship, for women as well as men, and several of his daughters emerged as scholars and writers. His writings and sayings continue to be much quoted today, and are often affectionately referred to as Shehu in Nigeria. Some followers consider dan Fodio to have been a mujaddid, a divinely inspired "reformer of Islam".[6]

Dan Fodio's uprising was a major episode of a movement described as the Fulani hegemonies in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries.[7] It followed the jihads successfully waged in Futa Bundu, Futa Tooro, and Fouta Djallon between 1650 and 1750, which led to the creation of those three Islamic states. In his turn, Shehu inspired a number of later West African jihads, including those of Seku Amadu, founder of the Masina Empire, El Hadj Umar Tall, founder of the Toucouleur Empire (who married one of dan Fodio's granddaughters), and Modibo Adama, founder of the Adamawa Emirate.

Early life and training[edit]

Dan Fodio was of Fulani descent.[8] He was well educated in classical Islamic science, philosophy, and theology. He also became a revered religious thinker. His teacher, Jibril ibn 'Umar, argued that it was the duty and within the power of religious movements to establish an ideal society free from oppression and vice. Jibril was a North African Muslim alim who gave his apprentice a broader perspective of Muslim reformist ideas in other parts of the Muslim world. Dan Fodio used his influence to secure approval for creating a religious community in his hometown of Degel that would, dan Fodio hoped, be a model town. He stayed there for twenty years, writing, teaching, and preaching.

In 1802, Yunfa, the ruler of Gobir and one of dan Fodio's students, turned against him, revoking Degel's autonomy and attempting to assassinate dan Fodio. Dan Fodio and his followers fled into the western grasslands of Gudu, where they turned for help to the local Fulani nomads. In his book Tanbih al-ikhwan ’ala ahwal al-Sudan (“Concerning the Government of Our Country and Neighboring Countries in the Sudan”) Usman wrote: “The government of a country is the government of its king without question. If the king is a Muslim, his land is Muslim; if he is an unbeliever, his land is a land of unbelievers. In these circumstances it is obligatory for anyone to leave it for another country”.[9] Usman did exactly this when he left Gobir in 1802. Yunfa then turned for aid to the other leaders of the Hausa states, warning them that dan Fodio could trigger a widespread jihad.[10]

The Fulani War[edit]

Sokoto Caliphate, 19th century

Usman dan Fodio was proclaimed Amir al-Muminin or Commander of the Faithful in Gudu. This made him a political as well as religious leader, giving him the authority to declare and pursue a jihad, raise an army and become its commander. A widespread uprising began in Hausaland. This uprising was largely composed of the Fulani, who held a powerful military advantage with their cavalry. It was also widely supported by the Hausa peasantry, who felt over-taxed and oppressed by their rulers. Usuman started the jihad against Gobir in 1804.

At the time of the war Fulani communications were carried along trade routes and rivers draining into the Niger-Benue valley, as well as the delta and the lagoons. The call for jihad reached not only other Hausa states such as Kano, Katsina, and Zaria, but also Borno, Gombe, Adamawa, Nupe, and Ilorin. These were all places with major or minor groups of Fulani alims.

After only a few years of the Fulani War, dan Fodio found himself in command of the largest state in Africa, the Fulani Empire. His son Muhammed Bello and his brother Abdullahi carried on the jihad and took care of the administration. Dan Fodio worked to establish an efficient government grounded in Islamic law. After 1811, Usman retired and continued writing about the righteous conduct of the Muslim religion. After his death in 1817, his son, Muhammed Bello, succeeded his as amir al-mu’minin and became the ruler of the Sokoto Caliphate, which was the biggest state south of the Sahara at that time. Usman’s brother Abdullahi was given the title Emir of Gwandu and was placed in charge of the Western Emirates, Nupe and Ilorin. Thus all Hausa states, parts of Nupe and Ilorin, and Fulani outposts in Bauchi and Adamawa were all ruled by a single politico-religious system. From the time of Usman dan Fodio to the British conquest at the beginning of the twentieth century there were twelve caliphs.

Religious and political impact[edit]

The Foundations of Justice for Legal Guardians, Governors, Princes, Meritorious Rulers, and Kings (Usman dan Fodio)

Many of the Fulani led by Usman dan Fodio were unhappy that the rulers of the Hausa states were mingling Islam with aspects of the traditional regional religion. Usman created a theocratic state with a stricter interpretation of Islam. In Tanbih al-ikhwan ’ala ahwal al-Sudan, he wrote: “As for the sultans, they are undoubtedly unbelievers, even though they may profess the religion of Islam, because they practice polytheistic rituals and turn people away from the path of God and raise the flag of a worldly kingdom above the banner of Islam. All this is unbelief according to the consensus of opinions.”[11]

In Islam outside the Arab World, David Westerlund wrote: “The jihad resulted in a federal theocratic state, with extensive autonomy for emirates, recognizing the spiritual authority of the caliph or the sultan of Sokoto.”[12]

Usman addressed in his books what he saw as the flaws and demerits of the African non-Muslim or nominally Muslim rulers. Some of the accusations he made were corruption at various levels of the administration and neglect of the rights of ordinary people. Usman also criticized heavy taxation and obstruction of the business and trade of the Hausa states by the legal system.


Usman dan Fodio wrote about 480 poems in Arabic, Fulfulde, and Hausa.[13]

Other primary sources[edit]

  • Writings of Usman dan Fodio, in The Human Record: Sources of Global History, Fourth Edition/ Volume II: Since 1500, ISBN 0-6`8-04247-4 (page:233-236)
  • Asma'u, Nana. Collected Works of Nana Asma'u. Jean Boyd and Beverly B. Mack, eds. East Lansing, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1997.

Other secondary sources[edit]

  • Mervyn Hiskett. The Sword of Truth: The Life and Times of the Shehu Usuman Dan Fodio. Northwestern Univ Pr; 1973, Reprint edition (March 1994). ISBN 0-8101-1115-2
  • Ibraheem Sulaiman. The Islamic State and the Challenge of History: Ideals, Policies, and Operation of the Sokoto Caliphate. Mansell (1987). ISBN 0-7201-1857-3
  • Ibraheem Sulaiman. A Revolution in History: The Jihad of Usman dan Fodio.
  • Isam Ghanem. The Causes and Motives of the Jihad in Northern Nigeria. in Man, New Series, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Dec., 1975), pp. 623–624
  • Usman Muhammad Bugaje. The Tradition of Tajdeed in West Africa: An Overview[14] International Seminar on Intellectual Tradition in the Sokoto Caliphate & Borno. Center for Islamic Studies, University of Sokoto (June 1987)
  • Usman Muhammad Bugaje. The Contents, Methods and Impact of Shehu Usman Dan Fodio's Teachings (1774-1804)[15]
  • Usman Muhammad Bugaje. The Jihad of Shaykh Usman Dan Fodio and its Impact Beyond the Sokoto Caliphate.[16] A Paper read at a Symposium in Honour of Shaykh Usman Dan Fodio at International University of Africa, Khartoum, Sudan, from 19 to 21 November 1995.
  • Usman Muhammad Bugaje. Shaykh Uthman Ibn Fodio and the Revival of Islam in Hausaland,[17] (1996).
  • Helen Chapin Metz, ed. Nigeria: A Country Study.[18] Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1991.
  • B. G. Martin. Muslim Brotherhoods in Nineteenth-Century Africa. 1978.
  • Jean Boyd. The Caliph's Sister, Nana Asma'u, 1793–1865: Teacher, Poet and Islamic Leader.
  • Nikki R. Keddie. The Revolt of Islam, 1700 to 1993: Comparative Considerations & Relations to Imperialism. in Comparative Studies in Society & History, Vol. 36, No. 3 (Jul., 1994), pp. 463–487
  • R. A. Adeleye. Power and Diplomacy in Northern Nigeria 1804–1906. 1972.
  • Hugh A.S. Johnston . Fulani Empire of Sokoto. Oxford: 1967. ISBN 0-19-215428-1.
  • S. J. Hogben and A. H. M. Kirk-Greene, The Emirates of Northern Nigeria, Oxford: 1966.
  • J. S. Trimgham, Islam in West Africa, Oxford, 1959.
  • 'Umar al-Nagar. The Asanid of Shehu Dan Fodio: How Far are they a Contribution to his Biography?, Sudanic Africa, Volume 13, 2002 (pp. 101–110).
  • Paul E. Lovejoy. Transformations in Slavery - A History of Slavery in Africa. No 36 in the African Studies series, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-78430-1
  • Paul E. Lovejoy. Fugitive Slaves: Resistance to Slavery in the Sokoto Caliphate, In Resistance: Studies in African, Caribbean, & Afro-American History. University of Massachusetts. (1986).
  • Paul E. Lovejoy, Mariza C. Soares (Eds). Muslim Encounters With Slavery in Brazil. Markus Wiener Pub ( 2007) ISBN 1-55876-378-3
  • F. H. El-Masri, “The life of Uthman b. Foduye before the Jihad,” Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria (1963), pp. 435–48.
  • M. A. Al-Hajj, “The Writings of Shehu Uthman Dan Fodio”, Kano Studies, Nigeria (1), 2(1974/77).
  • David Robinson. "Revolutions in the Western Sudan," in Levtzion, Nehemia and Randall L. Pouwels (eds). The History of Islam in Africa. Oxford: James Currey Ltd, 2000.
  • Bunza[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ OnlineNigeria.com. SOKOTO STATE, Background Information (2/10/2003).
  2. ^ Jackson, Sherman A. (2009). Islam and the Problem of Black Suffering. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 81. ISBN 0195382064. 
  3. ^ University of Pennsylvania African Studies Center: "An Interview on Uthman dan Fodio" by Shireen Ahmed June 22, 1995
  4. ^ Loimeier, Roman (2011). Islamic Reform and Political Change in Northern Nigeria. Northwestern University Press. p. 21. ISBN 0810128101. 
  5. ^ The Muslim 500: "Amirul Mu’minin Sheikh as Sultan Muhammadu Sa’adu Abubakar III" retrieved May 15, 2014
  6. ^ John O. Hunwick. African And Islamic Revival in Sudanic Africa: A Journal of Historical Sources : #6 (1995).
  7. ^ "Suret-Canale, Jean. "The Social and Historical Significance of the Fulɓe Hegemonies in the Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries." In Essays on African History: From the Slave Trade to Neocolonialism." translated from the French by Christopher Hurst. C. Hurst & Co., London., pp. 25-55". Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  8. ^ Britannica Encyclopedia: "Usman dan Fodio" retrieved May 15, 2014
  9. ^ Usman dan Fodio: Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
  10. ^ The Islamic Slave Revolts of Bahia, Brazil: A Continuity of the 19th Century Jihaad Movements of Western Sudan?, by Abu Alfa Muhammed Shareef bin Farid, Sankore' Institute of Islamic African Studies, www.sankore.org..
    Also see Lovejoy (2007), below, on this.
  11. ^ "Salaam Knowledge". Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  12. ^ Christopher Steed and David Westerlund. Nigeria in David Westerlund, Ingvar Svanberg (eds). Islam Outside the Arab World. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1999. ISBN 0-312-22691-8
  13. ^ Yahaya, Ibrahim Yaro (1988). "The Development of Hausa Literature. in Yemi Ogunbiyi, ed. Perspectives on Nigerian Literature: 1700 to the Present. Lagos: Guardian Books" (PDF).  Obafemi, Olu. 2010. "50 Years of Nigerian Literature: Prospects and Problems" Keynote Address presented at the Garden City Literary Festival, at Port Harcourt, Nigeria, 8-9 Dec 2010]
  14. ^ http://www.webstar.co.uk/~ubugaje/tradtajdid.html
  15. ^ http://www.webstar.co.uk/~ubugaje/udfcontmethimpact.pdf
  16. ^ http://www.webstar.co.uk/~ubugaje/beyond.html
  17. ^ http://www.webstar.co.uk/~ubugaje/shyri.html
  18. ^ "Nigeria Usman Dan Fodio and the Sokoto Caliphate". Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  19. ^ http://www.arewahouseabung.org/Bunza.pdf

External links[edit]

Preceded by
1st Sokoto Caliph
Succeeded by
Muhammed Bello

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usman_dan_Fodio — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
301 videos foundNext > 

Hausa City States & the Fulani Jihad (The Story of Africa #13)

The role of Usman dan Fodio, and the foundation of the city-states of Hausaland. *** http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/africa/features/storyofafrica/4chapter5.shtml.

Shehu Usman Dan Fodio - The African Caliphate

Book panel discussion - A western darqawi tribute to the tajdeed of amir al-mu'mineen Shehu Usman Dan Fodio.

Sheikh Muhammad Isa Talatan Mafara (Tarihin Daular Sheikh Uthman Dan Fodio 1)

History recalls the Caliphates in West Africa, a brief overview

3 minute brief on approximately 800 years of West African empies not usually covered by western historians. Its an overview of the west african caliphates namely Kanem borno, the Hausa states....

Dean Students Affair's speech, Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto

Keep UDUS Clean Project by JCIN Usman Dan Fodio University, Chapter.

The Muslim News Awards - Uthman Dan Fodio Award for Excellence in Community Development

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2009 Second Award - Uthman Dan Fodio Award for Excellence in Community Development.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2010 Eighth Award - Uthman Dan Fodio Award for Excellence

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2010 Eighth Award - Uthman Dan Fodio Award for Excellence in Community Development.


Candid talk given by Imam Naeem Abdullah at Masjid Uthman Dan Fodiyo (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) on Sunday February 23rd, 2014 FIVE PARTS www.nuruzzamaaninstitute.org ...

History Book Review: The African Caliphate: The Life, Works and Teaching of Shaykh Usman Dan Fodi...

http://www.HistoryBookMix.com This is the summary of The African Caliphate: The Life, Works and Teaching of Shaykh Usman Dan Fodio (1754-1817) by Ibraheem Sulaiman.

Recap of Importance of jamaa'ah Program at Masjid Uthman Dan Fodiyo

Amir Khalil Abdullahi, Ustadh Malik Mutasawwif, Imam Na'eem Abdullah, Tariq James and brother Abdur Rahman behind the camera. www.nuruzzamaaninstitute.org ...

301 videos foundNext > 

235 news items


Sun, 15 Feb 2015 23:30:27 -0800

Although radically different in many ways, Boko Haram is part of the long shadow of Usman dan Fodio and the creation of the Sokoto Caliphate, the largest state in West Africa in the nineteenth century.

Premium Times

Premium Times
Thu, 19 Mar 2015 06:37:59 -0700

Mr. Sanusi, 51, attended the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto before earning a bachelor's degree in physical and health education from the Usman dan Fodio University. He also has a master's degree from the University of Ibadan and a doctorate ...

Big News Network.com

Big News Network.com
Tue, 10 Mar 2015 12:52:30 -0700

Recent Boko Haram videos have blended IS iconography with references to Usman dan Fodio, founder of the powerful Sokoto Caliphate in 19th century north-central Nigeria. Boko Haram has long talked of restoring the Islamic Kanem-Bornu Empire that ...
Daily Trust
Fri, 20 Mar 2015 00:03:43 -0700

Sanusi, 51, attended the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto before earning a bachelor's degree in physical and health education from the Usman dan Fodio University. He also has a master's degree from the University of Ibadan and a doctorate ...


Mon, 09 Mar 2015 18:30:00 -0700

Ansaru seeks the re-establishment of a Muslim state similar to the historical Sokoto Caliphate founded by Usman dan Fodio in the 19th century. Ansaru has openly stated its intent to target Western nationals and interests within their areas of operation ...

The Guardian Nigeria

The Guardian Nigeria
Mon, 02 Mar 2015 16:41:29 -0800

Usman Dan Fodio, who started the sultanate dynasty with foundational headquarters here, started his preaching on the principles of knowledge. To say that instead of we leading in the search of knowledge we are the least developed in educational indices ...

Eurasia Review

Eurasia Review
Fri, 13 Mar 2015 22:15:00 -0700

Ansaru seeks the re-establishment of a Muslim state similar to the historical Sokoto Caliphate founded by Usman dan Fodio in the 19th century. Ansaru has openly stated its intent to target Western nationals and interests within their areas of operation ...
Thu, 26 Feb 2015 01:11:15 -0800

A source of particular pride was the empire's continued independence in the face of advances by a neighbouring caliphate founded by Usman Dan Fodio, a revered 19th-century militant. In carving out what was one of the largest states in West Africa, Dan ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!

Searchlight Group

Digplanet also receives support from Searchlight Group. Visit Searchlight