Usman Dan Fodio
(born 15 December 1754, Gobir – died 20 April 1817, 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 since the early 1400s in what is now northern Nigeria. He was a leader who followed the Sunni Maliki school of Jurisprudence and the Qadiri branch of Sufism.
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 leader ship 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”.
Dan Fodio’s uprising was a major episode of a movement described as the Fulani hegemonies in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 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, the 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.
Usman bin Fodio
عثمان بن فودي
Umar Sanda Uba