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date: 30 March 2020

Usuman dan Fodio locked

1754–1817 Muslim religious leader and founder of the Sokoto Caliphate in what is now northern Nigeria.


A Fulani born in the Hausa state of Gobir, Usuman dan Fodio studied the Qu’ran (Koran) with his father, an eminent Islamic scholar, then moved from place to place to study with other religious scholars. When he was twenty-five, he began teaching and preaching, and from this time his reputation as a holy man grew. He taught Islam in Gobir, and he was probably engaged as tutor to the future sultan Yunfa because of his learned reputation. Usuman criticized the Hausa ruling elite for their heavy taxation and other practices that he claimed violated Islamic law. His call for Islamic reform (and tax reduction) earned him a wide following in the 1780s and 1790s, when he became a political threat to Gobir sultan Nafata. When Yunfa assumed power as sultan in 1802 the repression of Usuman s followers worsened Following the example of the prophet Muhammad Usuman went on ...

A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.

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