"All humans are members of the same body Created from one essence"

"Human beings are members of a whole in creation of one essence and soul. If one member is afflicted with pain, other members uneasy will remain."

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Arabic Literary Tradition of Nigeria

The history of writing in Arabic exists in Nigeria for a period close to 800 years. Today, scholars in Nigeria are still using Arabic as the language for doctrinal polemics, Islamic teaching manuals, and poetry in the Sufi tradition.

The first center of Arabic teaching emerged in Gazargamu, the capital of the mais of Bornu in 1480, Katsina, and Kano. 

Both Kano and Katsina attracted scholars from North Africa and from older Islamic centers such as Walata and Timbuktu in the late 15th century and early 16th century. 

The Tijani literature in Nigeria is concerned with defending the doctrines of the tariqa. The founder of the Tijani Sufi Way is Shaykh Ahmed el-Tijani. He had to face accusations of unorthodoxy. These accusations were made by the austere Wahhabis.

Most of Nigeria's Arabic writings are about devotional literature. First, the Arabic literature emphasizes on proper Islamic commands and prohibitions such as, "the commanding of good and the prohibiting of evil" (al-amr bi'l-ma'ruf wa'l-nahy 'an al-mankur). This moral conduct meant no lying, backbiting, hypocrisy, jealousy. Instead the person has to develop these following virtues: generosity, forbearance, humility, ascetism, ...

Al-Tahir b. Ibrahim al-Fallati of Bornu wrote secular writing in Arabic about cognitive sciences, logic, and history. This famous scholar also wrote on a medical problem called the treatment of hemorrhoids. Muhammad Bello wrote on the treatment of intestinal worms and in the use of senna as a purgative. 

In addition to these religious and secular works written by Nigerian scholars a special word must be said about poetry. Muhammad Fodiye, Muhammad Bello, and Ibrahim of Zaria have written poems about victories, to satirize enemies; to criticize their societies, to talk about joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain.

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