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Mohammed Hassen Ali

last king of the kingdom of Jimma in Ethiopia, scholar, was born in Jiren, the political capital and commercial center of southwestern Ethiopia. As a young man Abba Jobir received the best Muslim education under several prominent Muslim scholars who settled in Jimma during the reign of his famous grandfather Abba Jifar II (r. 1878–1932).

His grandfather was the most famous, wealthiest, and most popular Oromo king throughout Ethiopia during the second half of the nineteenth century. He was a very foresighted politician who had an excellent grasp of the importance of firearms in warfare. He sent agents to the expanding kingdom of Shewa and realized that King Menilek had superiority in weapons; therefore, he peacefully submitted to Menilek. Although four other Oromo kings who resisted Menilek were destroyed, Abba Jifar II signed a peace treaty with the Christian king of Shewa in 1882 In exchange for local ...

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Cathlyn Mariscotti

Egyptian Islamic scholar and prominent writer of Arabic literature, was born on 18 November 1913 into a conservative religious household in Dumyat (Damietta) in the Egyptian Delta. She was a descendent, on her mother’s side, of a shaykh of the Al-Azhar, the prestigious mosque and university in Cairo, and her father taught at Dumyat Religious Institute. Well acquainted with her family history, ʿAbd al- Rahman sought to continue this proud tradition. She began learning basic reading and writing skills before the age of five in a kuttab in her father s village This early instruction prepared her to read the Qurʾan ʿAbd al Rahman s later education became more difficult however as her father did not believe that girls should be educated outside the home because secular education did not provide proper instruction for them As a result ʿAbd al Rahman s mother would continually intervene to help her ...

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Emad Abdul-Latif

university professor and Imam, was born in 1885 in Abu Gerg village in Minya, Upper Egypt, to a wealthy and prestigious family. His father, Hassan Abdul Razik Pasha, was a prominent politician, and his mother, Khadooja Abdul Salam Al Shureiy, descended from a famous family in Upper Egypt. He studied at Al-Azhar under Sheikh Muhammad Abdou, who deeply influenced his ideologies. After obtaining his Alamyya certificate in 1908, he traveled to France to complete his studies at the Sorbonne University and then the University of Lyon. Upon receiving his doctorate, he settled in Lyon to teach the Arabic language and Islamic Law. World War I put an end to his stay in France. By the end of 1914 he returned to Egypt, where he worked as an employee at Al-Azhar and then a judge in the Islamic courts. Upon his appointment in 1927 as an associate professor at ...

Article

Islamic scholar and historian from present-day Mauritania. His name is also spelled Sidi Ahmed ould al-Amin al-Shinqiti. The nisba (name extension indicating place of origin) al-Shinqiti does not refer to the town Chinguetti (Shinqit), but was given to him during his stay in the Arab world. All bidan (Moors) going abroad to the Arab world have the nisba al-Shiniqiti added to their names, no matter from which region or town of the so-called Bilad Shinqit (“The lands of Chinguetti”; present-day Mauritania, Western Sahara, and the Azawad region in northern Mali) they come from. In the Arab world they are generally called shanaqita and their country is known as Bilad Shinqit, even if locally different names were circulating in precolonial times.

Ahmad was born around 1863 64 in the Gibla region of what is today southwestern Mauritania Trarza and belonged to a scholarly family He was from one of the Idaw ...

Article

Cheikh Babou

Islamic religious scholar, was born Muhammad Ben Muhammad Ben Habib Allah in Khuru Mbacke, near the village of Mbacke Bawol in west- central Senegal in the early 1850s (1853 is the most commonly cited date). Bamba originated from a family of Fulbe ancestry with a long tradition of Islamic learning. The Mbacke clan left their ancestral land of Futa Tooro in northern Senegal and settled in the kingdom of Jolof among the Wolof (the majority ethnic group in Senegal) sometime in the second half of the seventeenth century. This migration affected the family in two major ways: first, the Mbacke gradually abandoned the nomadic lifestyle of Fulbe herders for that of sedentary Wolof farmers; second, they showed greater inclination toward Islamic learning and increasing assimilation to Wolof culture.

Amadu Bamba was the fourth child of Momar Anta Sali Mbacke and the second son of his mother Jaara Buso He ...

Article

Mohammed Hassen Ali

Islamic scholar in the Oromo region of Ethiopia, was born in the village of Saphalo in Harerge. His real name was Abubakar Usman Oda. He was destined to make the village of his birth the most famous place in Harerge. In fact, “Bakrii,” the root form of which is cognate with “Abubakar,” came to be inseparably linked with the name of his village. Thus, he was generally known as Shaykh Bakrii Saphalo, and indeed, few of his admirers ever knew his real name.

He received twenty years of advanced Islamic education, becoming a shaykh (scholar-teacher). He opened his first center of teaching in Saphalo in 1927 Eventually he opened five centers of teaching in several places becoming the most famous teacher in eastern Ethiopia In addition to religious education and philosophy his teaching ranged over geography history mathematics astronomy Arabic and composition in the Oromo language During his long ...

Article

Beth Ann Buggenhagen

In his lifetime Ahmadou Bamba acquired a following of disciples who would become known after his death as the Muridiyya, a Muslim Sufi way. Sufism is an esoteric dimension of Muslim practice and thought in which disciples seek the path to divine union in this life. The Senegalese historian Cheikh Anta Babou suggests that at the time of Bamba’s death in 1927, estimates of Murid disciples totaled about 100,000. The Murid path is founded on the teachings of Bamba, who is said to have produced over seven tons of scholarship, which is now housed in the Murid library in Tuba, Senegal. During his lifetime Bamba demonstrated qualities of waliyat (saintliness) and developed considerable spiritual authority. Bamba was a student of the Qur’anic sciences, which he studied with his maternal uncles. Local qadis (Qur’anic scholars) recognized that he was a master scholar. Bamba’s biography, Les Bienfaits de l'eternal ...

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Tamba M'bayo

Cheikh Amadou Bamba, founder of the Murid order (Muridiyya), whose disciples consider him a saintly personage, is one of the most revered Muslim leaders in Senegal. The descendants of Bamba have kept the Muridiyya alive, and it continues to win devotees among Senegalese, both at home and abroad. The Murids command a large following among ordinary Senegalese as well as the country’s political elite. An annual pilgrimage to the brotherhood’s capital, Touba, the site of Bamba’s tomb, attracts thousands of Murid pilgrims who come to pay homage to their spiritual founder.

The fourth child of Momar Anta Sali and second son of his third wife, Jaara Buso, Amadou Bamba was born around 1853 in Mbakke Bawol located in the central part of Senegal At age seven Bamba was put under the care of his maternal uncle Muhamadu Baso a k a Serin Mbusoobe a well known Islamic scholar ...

Article

Joel Gordon

founder and martyred leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brothers, the archetypical modern Islamist mass movement, was born in Mahmudiyya, a Delta town not far from Alexandria, in October 1906. His father, a devotee of a mystical Sufi order and graduate of the prestigious al-Azhar seminar in Cairo, owned a watch repair shop and sold gramophones, but he gave religious lessons by day. He oversaw young Hasan’s memorization of the Qurʾan and taught him the watch business. Hasan attended Qurʾan school in the provincial city of Damanhur, but in keeping with his father’s modernist religious sensibilities, he went on to government preparatory school, then, at age 14, enrolled in a junior teachers school in the Delta city of Damanhur. In 1924 he entered Dar al-Ulum, the teacher training college in Cairo.

Banna went on to pursue a career in the state educational sector but his life became dominated by a ...

Article

Jeremy Berndt

Thierno Bokar Salif Tal (b. 1875–1886, d. 1940) was a Muslim scholar and Sufi who spent most of his life teaching in the central Malian town of Bandiagara. Although Thierno left no written works of his own, his ideas have reached a wide international audience through the efforts of one of his disciples, the prolific writer and colonial/postcolonial government official Amadou Hampaté Bâ. Thierno’s “parables,” a series of philosophical remarks Bâ recorded in 1933, have attracted particular attention from Western intellectuals, who have seen in him a symbol of African Muslim spirituality, tolerance, and open-mindedness. The admiration his memory ultimately inspired in the French colonial figures Marcel Cardaire and Théodore Monod is not without irony, for at the end of his life Thierno suffered from a colonial campaign of repression then directed at followers of the controversial Sufi leader Shaykh Hamallah.

Thierno Bokar was born in Ségou ...

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Alessandra Vianello

Islamic mystic and scholar, and the most outstanding poetess in Chimini, the Bantu vernacular of Brava, was born in Brava, a coastal city of southern Somalia, in the second decade of the nineteenth century. Her full name was Mana Sitti Habib Jamaladdin, but she was affectionately called Dada Masiti (Grandmother Masiti) by her fellow citizens. Her family, both on the paternal and maternal side, belonged to the Mahadali Ashraf. However, through her mother’s maternal grandfather, Dada Masiti was also related to the Ali Naziri Ashraf, who were locally more numerous and influential. Both groups, who traced their lineage to the Prophet Muhammad, had settled in Brava in the early seventeenth century.

The events that marked Dada Masiti s early years and had a crucial bearing on her subsequent spiritual development are known only through different oral traditions The most widespread version would have her kidnapped as a child of six ...

Article

Tanzanian poet and scholar, was born around 1850 on Pemba Island. His father, grandfather, and great grandfather were also poets and scholars. He lived much of his life in Tanga, in what is now Tanzania. He was married to Mwanasia Suwaka, and both were buried near a mosque built by their son Hemedi Ali el-Buhriy.

Hemedi Abdallah wrote both religious and secular poetry. His published poetry was originally written in the Swahili utenzi (“narrative”) genre and in Arabic script. His most well-known poem is Utenzi wa Vita vya Wadachi Kutamalaki Mrima. This poem describes the 1888–1889 war waged by coastal peoples against the Germans Unlike other narrative poems about the conquest that were solicited by the Germans this poem openly praises the consultative leadership of Abushiri bin Salim who led the struggle and is harshly critical of the German invaders who are described as uncivilized drunken infidels The poem ...

Article

Jonathan Miran

scholar of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), Muslim community leader, prolific writer, and first Italian-appointed Grand Mufti of Eritrea, was born in Anuqtu (on Mount Kindid in Akkele Guzay) in 1909. Shaykh Ibrahim belonged to the Saho-speaking Minifere group and more precisely the Faqih Harak clan. His father, Shaykh Ahmad Umar Kuri (d. 1924), received advanced religious education in the Hijaz (Arabia) and was a specialist in the Islamic legal sciences and the director of an Islamic school in eastern Akkele Guzay in Eritrea. Shaykh Ibrahim traveled to the Sudan in 1925 and studied in Omdurman before continuing on to Cairo in 1926 to pursue an advanced religious education. In the Egyptian capital he studied in several Al-Azhar secondary institutes (1926–1931) before enrolling at al-Azhar University. He graduated from al-Azhar in 1937 with a specialization in Hanafi jurisprudence and worked in various editorial capacities for Cairene publishers specializing ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

A skilled military leader and devout Muslim, Sheikh Ma al-Ainin led a popular resistance movement against European imperialism in northern Mauritania, Western Sahara, and southern Morocco. Born in southeastern Mauritania, Ma al-Ainin attended school in Morocco and spent much of his early life engaged in commerce and religious scholarship. In the early 1890s, however, Ma al-Ainin abandoned his business activities to fight the encroaching presence of Europeans in northwestern Africa. Ma al-Ainin’s first target was the Spanish campaign to colonize the Western Sahara. Supported by various princes and sultans, Ma al-Ainin built an army of almost 10,000 followers and launched several short campaigns into the Western Sahara from southern Morocco. He then turned his attention to French incursions into Mauritania. He redoubled these efforts in 1902 after the French colonialist Xavier Coppolani forged alliances with several major religious leaders in southern Mauritania Moving his forces into ...

Article

Efraim Barak

, Egyptian Muslim cleric, Islamic leader, and well-known preacher and scholar, was born on 9 September 1926 in Sift Turab, a small village on the Nile Delta. His father, ʿAbdallah, who was, according to his son, “half peasant, half merchant,” died when Qaradawi was two years old, and he was raised by his mother and his uncle, Ahmad, a poor illiterate farmer. By the time he was nine years old, he had completed his studies of the Qurʾan at the traditional kuttab (Islamic elementary school) in his village. He then moved to a nearby city, Tanta, to continue his studies at the Islamic secondary school. Qaradawi completed the initial four years of religious studies in 1942, and that same year he joined the Muslim Brotherhood.

In 1944, Qaradawi resumed his studies at the Religious Institute in Tanta. At the beginning of 1949 following the assassination of the ...

Article

Alessandra Vianello

Somali Islamic scholar and poet both in the Arabic language and in Chimini the vernacular of his hometown was born in Brava a coastal town in southern Somalia in a family that traced its origins to the al Waʾili clan of Southern Arabia Of moderate wealth mainly acquired by trade the family belonged to the learned elite of Brava Sheikh Qasim s father Muhyiddin Maie Ali was a scholar and copyist of the Qurʾan his elder brother Mohammed was a disciple of Sheikh Aweys Mohammed al Qadiri and had accompanied his teacher on his journey to Mecca In a eulogy composed at the time of her death a sister Khadija is remembered as a scholarly woman always with a book under her arm The family tradition was continued in the next generation by the youngest of Sheikh Qasim s sons Mohammed Sheikh Mohammed Sufi who became a renowned Islamic scholar ...

Article

Ellis Goldberg

Egyptian author, literary critic, and activist who helped shape contemporary political Islam, was born in the Upper Egyptian village of Musha in Asyut province on 9 October 1906. His father, Qutb Ibrahim, was a farmer and member of the nationalist Watani party led by Mustafa Kamil. Qutb attended a state-run primary school, but had also memorized the Qurʾan in its entirety by 1916. Qutb experienced the massive 1919 revolt against British rule as a teenage activist. He left the village in 1921 and lived in the Cairo suburb of Zaytun with his mother’s brother for four years, while attending a high school associated with the modernist educational institution Dar al-ʿUlum (founded 1871). In 1929 he entered Dar al-ʿUlum itself and graduated in 1933.

After graduation Qutb first appeared on the Egyptian intellectual scene as a poet and literary critic He was then thought of as a ...

Article

David Perfect

religious and political leader in the Gambia, was born in Gunjur in the kingdom of the Kombo. Sillah was a Fula who was originally known as Ibrahim Touray (or Ture); his family originated from the Futa Toro in what is now Northern Senegal; his father, Maley Burama Touray (who died when Sillah was about age twelve) was a Muslim cleric, while his mother, Mbesine Njai, was from Sine in Senegal. Sillah is sometimes called Fode Ibrahim Touray or Kombo Sillah (or slightly different versions of these).

Sillah’s early years were spent studying the Qurʾan in Gunjur and at Pakao in the Casamance in Senegal. He returned to Gunjur around 1850 to work as a Muslim teacher and proselyte, rising to become “amir” (caliph) of Kombo in 1864 which made him the commander of the Marabout forces fighting the traditional ruling class the Soninke When the fighting between the Marabouts ...

Article

Salah Trabelsi

Tunisian historian and Islamologist, has devoted the best part of his career to teaching and researching medieval Maghreb and Mediterranean history. His profile is that of an atypical intellectual. After a long career teaching in primary and secondary schools, Mohamed Talbi took and passed the Arab Studies competitive examination. On the eve of Tunisia’s independence, he joined the Institute of Higher Education of Tunis. In 1955 he became the first dean of the School of Letters and Human Sciences of Tunis. He also chaired the school’s history department before devoting his full energies as director of the scientific journal Les Cahiers de Tunisie. He was born in the city of Tunis and spent most of his life there.

In 1968 Talbi defended his PhD thesis at the Sorbonne. Entitled L’émirat aghlabide 186–296, 800–909: Histoire politique (Paris: Adrien Maisonneuve, 1966; English trans. The Aghlabid Emirate, a Political History: 184/860–296/909 ...

Article

Louis Brenner

Muslim teacher and spiritual guide, was born in Segou in present-day Mali. He is also known as Tierno Bokar Salif Tal and Cerno Bokar Saalif Taal. Great nephew of al-Hajj ʿUmar Tal, militant religious reformer and leader of the Tijaniyya Sufi order in West Africa, he was therefore a member of one of the most prominent Muslim scholarly and political families in the region. His father was a respected religious scholar and close associate of Amadu, son and successor to ʿUmar, and his mother, Aissata, was the daughter of an accomplished scholar and companion of Amadu who had joined ʿUmar from Sokoto.

Tierno’s life was shaped by the contradictory crosscurrents that flowed from his family heritage, from the French colonial conquest of the region, and from his personal religious convictions. Following the French capture of Ségou in 1890 his father joined those who fled eastward to escape the advancing ...