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Unik Impact: Dan Fodio, His Caliphate & The Troubles With The North

“A nation can thrive under disbelief but not on injustice”. Sheikh Othman Ibn Fodio (19th Century Intellectual & Founder of the Sokoto Caliphate)


Today, Fodio’s Caliphate is barely surviving. It is in ruins. It would have been among the top five of the most unstable nations on earth if it were a sovereign. At it’s peak by late 19th Century, it had included the entire Muslim majority States of Northern Nigeria except Borno and Yobe States. Here and now, extreme poverty, illiteracy, diseases, inequality, terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, armed conflicts, and destitution are firmly established. Obviously, we haven’t thrived! What then happened?


I think it is the same injustice that Fodio had warned we avoid that we indulged. As an empire builder with spiritual skills, he had warned we could survive everything else, infact even disbelieve, but INJUSTICE.


Islam has explicit divine commands for the protection of those made vulnerable by reasons of age, gender, social status and afflictions generally. In islamic jurisprudence, issues around child protection and custody,  compulsory education and mass literacy, gender rights and privileges, income distribution and equality, and responsibility of the state to the weak and the infirmed aren’t only suggested but mandated. Their strict application at both the personal and public domains of our everyday lives is a  fundamental component of justice in Islam. Unfortunately, because of pervasive moral, political and even spiritual corruption, this is  what the Ummah presently observes only in the breach. We thus commit injustice on two fronts. First against the vulnerables, and then inadvertently against the Holy Qura’an (that is full of beautiful passages and verses on justice) and Islam itself (whose image we misrepresent)


As Muslims, perhaps there is a lesson or two we can all draw from jurisdictions in Europe and North America that are predominantly judeochristain. These societies have elaborate codes of social justice system for minors, women, and to some extent the sick and even religious and ethnic minorities that are ruthlessly enforced.


In the US for example, the citizens are aware that the fastest and most efficient way to prison is for an irresponsible father to default on his child support commitments, just as it is a state policy that every child must get a certain minimum level of education (even if it takes prosecuting the parents). Their children, just like their mothers and even minority Muslim populations are protected by explicit legal and policy pronouncements and enforcement. Like the Islamic law, they appreciate these vulnerabilities and protect those involved as efficiently as any true Islamic state would.


Do we now still wonder why these nations are the most prosperous, powerful richest and stable on earth? They are just, and even with what some Muslims will interprete as disbelieve, they thrive! Danfodio had warned us as far back as about the time the USA was evolving as a democracy. They probably have heard him and listened. We didn’t!


Accordingly, our society has failed to thrive and hovers helplessly from one disappointment to another. What thrives instead are the problems; the Almajiri enterprise, mounting illiteracy, worrisome maternal and infant death statistics, deteriorating poverty, new security threats and declining health indices


We shall hopelessly hover even more until we live up to the true teachings of the noble Qura’an and it’s thoughtful interpretations like Fodio’s