ENGLISHKano Kingdom/Emirate


The gate to the Gidan Rumfa, Kano Emir’s Palace. Source : creativecommons.org

Islam in Kano is a historical phenomenon that attracted the attention of different scholars especially Kano historians. The religion of Islam which originated from the the ancient city of Mecca reached Kano around the mid 14th century.


Before the 14th century, Kano land or Kingdom was not an Islamic state. The rulers and the people of the Kingdom were following the traditional religion based on Tsumburbura idol. But, towards end of the 13th century, people from the north specifically Arabs and Tuaregs from the northern Africa, and Fulani from Mali began visiting Kano land.

During the reign of the King of Kano Yaji Dan Tsamiya (1401-1421), the Wangarawa people under the leadership of Sheikh Abdurrahman Al-Zaiti brought Islam to Kano. The Wangarawa succeeded in persuading the King of Kano to accept Islam. Immediately, King Yaji was converted to the religion of Islam. On the other hand, he declared Islam as an official religion and ordered everybody to accept the religion. Also, Imam and Alkali Islamic Chief Judge were appointed. Gradually, Islam became part of the Kano’s culture and governance. For example, the King of Kano always sought the advice of Islamic scholars in his administrave activities.

Consolidation of Islam in Kano

During the reign of King Dauda (1421-1438) some Kanuri (Bare-Bari) Islamic scholars and preachers from Borno under their leader called Dagaci came to Kano in order to consolidate Islam. The coming of Dagaci and his people of Bare-Bari was indeed a great factor that contributes in consolidating Islam especially in getting more converts.

Again, in between 1450 to 1460 precisely during the reign of King of Kano Yakubu a large number of Fulani Islamic scholars from Mali came to Kano. These group of scholars were said to be responsible for bringing Islamic books on
monotheism (tauhid), Islamic history, and Arabic grammer.

The Islamic religion took a firm root in Kano during the reign of King Muhammadu Rumfa (1463-1499). It was during Rumfa’s reign that Islamic law became art of governance in Kano. During the time, a well known Islamic scholar called Abdulkarim al-Maghili came to Kano from north Africa. Maghili was warmly welcomed by King Rumfa. Rumfa even appointed Maghili one of his council members in the palace. It was during this time Maghili wrote books on the art of governance to King Muhammadu Rumfa as follows :

  1. Tajulmulk fima ya jibbu alal mulki (the obligation of the princes)
  2. Majmu’at Al’maghili fi shu’unin al-imarati (al-Maghili’s writing on the art of governance)

After al-Maghili, another famous scholar called Abdurrahman al-Suyudi (famously known as Imam Suyudi) from Misra (Egypt) came to Kano. It was Imam Suyudi that came with Arabic exegesis of Qur’an called Tafsir al-Jalalaini that is widely read during the month of Ramadan in Kano.

Jihad in Kano

Islam in Kano started to face some some setbacks through mixing with other traditional practices after the reign of Muhammadu Rumfa. The setbacks began during the reign of Kings that followed around late 17th to 18th century. Some of the Kings had even start going into the traditional religion of the ancestors. Therefore, the Islamic religion needs to be revived by some Islamic scholars.

It was in midst of the setbacks faced by Islam that a well known Fulani scholar in Gobir called Usman dan Fodio began preaching for the revival of the religion and practicing of Justice in the whole of Hausaland.

Dan Fodio was in Maratta, Gobir, in the year 1750. By 1790 he became a preacher calling for the revival of true Islam and Justice for the populace. Gradually, he possesed followers all over the Hausaland. Therefore, in 1804, he declared Islamic holy war called Jihad against the Hausa Kingdoms including Kano. By 1805, Usman dan Fodio have succeeded in subjugating the whole of Gobir, thus he declared the establishment of Islamic Caliphate of Sokoto.

In Kano, Fulani and most of the Hausa peasants under the leadership of Fulani raised their Jihad flag and fought the King of Kano Muhammadu Alwali. By 1807, the Fulani Jihadists have succeeded in killing King Alwali and seized the throne of Kano. Thus, in the same year the Fulani established the Kano Emirate based on true Islamic law. Since, the Jihad Kano reamined a strong Islamic country with almost 99% of its indigenes as adherent of the religion.

Ahmad Abdullahi, BA History

My name is Ahmad Abdullahi, I was born on 10th March, 1994 in Garun-Danga Town, Gabasawa L.G., Kano State. I attended FCE Demonstration Primary School from 2002 to 2007, FCE Staff Secondary School from 2007 to 2013, and Northwest University, Kano from 2013 to 2017, where I obtained bachelor degree in History.

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