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Historical Research Letter ISSN 2224-3178 (Paper) ISSN 2225-0964 (Online) Vol 9, 2014

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Islam and Colonial Rule in Ibadan from 1893-1960 Akeem Abiodun Oladiti, Ph.D. Department of General Studies, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, Nigeria. email: akladiti@yahoo.com Abstract This paper examines Islam and colonial rule in Ibadan from 1893-1960. It focuses on the development of colonial rule and its influence on Islam in Ibadan metropolis in the Nineteenth Century up to the end of colonial rule in 1960. It highlights the growth experienced by Islam, as there was rapid transformation from a purely rural and traditional centre into an urban colonial urban centre following colonial rule. The study also reveals the development of Islam in Ibadan in the early phase of colonial rule, the position and status of Islam before colonial rule in the city, the development of Islamic centres, the imamate and the interaction of Islam and other religions in Ibadan. As part of the history of Islam in Ibadan, attempts have been made to examine the introduction and development of Islam in Ibadan. However, no specific attention has been paid to the nature and consequences of colonial rule on Muslims in Ibadan. This is the existing gap which this study intends to fill. Introduction Islam is one of the foremost leading world religions and the fastest growing religion in Africa. It is regarded as both a religion and a culture. It is a way of life. Islamic religion penetrated into different areas in Ibadan with little or active support from the inhabitants of the town. The population in Ibadan increased and continued to thrive with the active support of the colonial masters who duly maintained cordial and friendly relations with Muslims, Christians and practitioners of indigenous traditional religion. Colonialism favoured the development of Islam in Ibadan city since the religion is practised in the open rather than in secret. Islam phenomenal growth in the town was partly influenced by colonialism and the support received from the earlier rulers of the town. It is against this background that this study will examine how Islam was perceived before and under colonial rule with a view to identify the changing patterns and organization of Islamic religion under a new political leadership of the British colonial influence, urbanization and western education. In this study, the colonial period is operationally identified as the period that covers British influence in Islam in Ibadan and how it shaped colonial authorities’ response to the challenges facing Islam in Ibadan. The Status of Islam before Colonial Rule in Ibadan Before the advent of colonial rule in Ibadan, Islam was rarely noticed in the town. This was because at that time, Ibadan was a forest and one of the newly founded Yoruba city states founded in 1829, after the collapse of the Old Oyo Empire (Falola: 1985). In the words of Falola (1985), the establishment of the settlement was generally related to the political instability and insecurity caused by the Fulani Jihadists who invaded northern Yoruba land by 1804 in a bid to Islamize the Yoruba people in Oyo led by Uthman Dan Fodio. After the collapse of the old Oyo empire, many refugees migrated into Ibadan to settle because it was a war camp that provided security and hope for some immigrant refugees who were displaced from their homelands. By 1830, the dominant Yoruba sub-groups that settled in Ibadan included the Oyo-Yoruba, Ife and Egba groups (Falola: 1985). These three groups began to experience crisis which cantered largely on power distribution among the military warlords. This consequently led to the expulsion of Egba, who later found a new home at Abeokuta from the settlement. As a result, this led to the transition of Ibadan from a war camp to an Oyo Yoruba town in the 1830s. The position of Islam in the town during this period was hardly noticeable because the Muslims found in the area usually practiced the religion privately and in secret and for most times they were strangers visiting Ibadan to trade their goods (Gbadamosi: 1978). Between 1830 and 1850, the Oyo Yoruba groups in Ibadan resisted the implantation of Islam in their domain for fear of Islamic Imperialism. This hostility to Islam became widespread such that the first central Mosque that was built in the town was pulled down by Iba Oluyole, the ruler of Ibadan (1836-1850). This hostility to Islam at the early beginning affected its legitimacy in the town such that no significant members of the community converted to Islam. By 1870, the Muslim community began to grow from a small loosely knit community of mainly non Yoruba Muslims into a fairly large influential body (Clarke: 1982). This period witnessed a significant number of Yoruba people been converted to Islam and in senior positions in the political and administrative hierarchy of the city. Among the Ibadan chiefs who later converted to Islam was

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Muhammed Latoosa who was by then the Are Ona Kakanfo in Ibadan (1871-1875) (Clarke: 1982). By 1900, Muslims in Ibadan were made up of about ten per cent of the population (Parrinder: 1959). The Muslim population increased with the returning home of freed slaves after the abolition of the slave trade in 1833. The returning slaves from Freetown no doubt increased the population of Muslims in the town (Ajayi: 1965). Bulk of the large population of Muslims that migrated into Ibadan was from Sierra-Leone and locally called Saro immigrants (Sanneh: 1983). By the second half of the Nineteenth Century, Islam in Ibadan moved from its position as the religion of a low status minority group to one where it was accepted by all the different social strata of Ibadan Township. As Islam continued to grow in Ibadan, the Muslim community adapted for its own use Yoruba political chieftaincy and some customary practices and ideas (Danmole: 2009). Throughout the pre-colonial period except for the destruction of the first central Mosque large scale of aggression and rebellion rarely occurred between the Muslim and non-Muslim groups in Ibadan (Clarke: 1982). Islam and Colonial Rule in Ibadan Colonial rule in Ibadan could be traced to 1893 (Watson: 2000). This subsequently led to the emergence of the city as an urban centre with maximum economic opportunities created by the colonial structure. It should be further stressed that the colonial situation in Ibadan brought a new institution as the city was governed by British imperialists (Watson: 2000). During this period, Islam made steady progress, the Muslim community also experienced growth as it became a fairly large influential body by the 1870s. It should also be noted that that Muslims in Ibadan occupied senior positions in the political and administrative hierarchy of the town. The activities of some Muslim leaders, Are Muhammad Latoosa and other leaders between 1871and 1875 facilitated enduring structures such as Islamic learning centres to develop and expand the knowledge of Islam across the city (Clarke: 1982). Colonial rule is conceived in this study as the period between 1893 and 1960 when Ibadan was occupied by the British colonial masters, one of the most powerful European countries in the world. The British Empire scrambled for colonies of towns and villages in what later became known as Nigeria in 1914 (Crowther: 1968). The British divided into the protectorates of the North and South and the Lagos colony. The colonial masters occupied Ibadan by both force of arms and in some instances peaceful negotiation because it was obvious that resistance to colonial invasion would be futile (Watson: 2000). Some chiefs in Ibadan signed treatise of alliance and agreement with the colonial masters to guarantee their position in the orbit of European trade and to secure a position for themselves in the new political order of colonial invasion. The colony of Ibadan was administered by colonial governors, district officers and superintendents who came directly under the orders of the British Empire in Europe (Crowther: 1968). As would be shown later, colonial rule became a decisive factor in the progress and development of Islam after the abolition of the civil wars experienced by different Yoruba communities. At Ibadan, between 1893 and 1960, Islam made great advances in terms of growth of the population of Muslims unlike the thousands years preceding it. By the first half of the 20th Century, the population of the Muslims doubled. The colonial authorities made it impossible for indigenous traditional worshippers who had resisted Islam for centuries to continue their opposition. According to Crowther (1968), Islam was adapted to Yoruba society in areas of polygamy and tolerated belief in witchcraft. In conversion, Muslims did not make heavy demand of complete abandonment of the converts of Indigenous religion. An individual can become Muslim without needing to understand all the teachings of his new faith. The simple affirmation ‘There is no God; Muhammed is the apostle of God’ is sufficient for an individual to be accepted into Islam (Crowther: 1968). Throughout the colonial period, Islam presented itself as united force in matters of fundamental belief. Its members of different sect such Qadriyyah, Tijanniyyah and Ahmadiyyah worship most times in the same Mosque. At this point, it is pertinent to raise the question, how did the colonial masters become involved in the affairs of Islam and the Muslim community in Ibadan? In matters of faith and religion in Ibadan, the colonial masters assisted in resolving perceived problems observable by the Muslim community. In the words of Gbadamosi, the relationship between Muslims and the British colonial masters was friendly and cordial. On one hand, the Colonial authorities treated Muslims with considerable respect, deference and understanding. On the other hand, the Muslims saw the colonial government as a sympathetic and impartial administration which they respected and with which they were ready to work. The colonial government in Ibadan played crucial role in the organisation, development and practice of Islam throughout the colonial period (Gbadamosi: 1978). The colonial administration demonstrates much concern about the welfare of the Muslims by showing its spirit of tolerance towards all shades of religious opinions. At Ibadan, a number of momentous events took place which drew Muslims and the colonial administration more closely together. First, there was the request from the 2


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Ibadan Muslim community on the establishment of western educational institution where Arabic and Islamic sciences would be included in the curriculum and taught by the members of the Muslim community in Ibadan. On this issue, the Muslim community sought the approval of the colonial authorities to establish schools that would be recognised by government (Gbadamosi: 1967). The government replied that the Muslim community should obtain a form where relevant data concerning information about the school could be obtained and the qualification of the teachers included. This action signalled the interest of the colonial government to support the establishment of Muslim educational institution in Ibadan provided there were no political objections by the chieftain and ruler of Ibadan. The form obtained by the Muslim community assisted the colonial government to regulate, control and supervise the establishment of the proposed school in Ibadan under private ownership. The approval for the establishment of the school was granted and the school commenced its educational activities in 1945 (NAI: 1947). Besides, it is necessary to mention that apart from seeking approval to establish Muslim educational institutions, the Muslim community also requested for a loan of 500 shillings as financial support for the building of the infrastructures for the school (NAI: 1947). Although, this was rejected and declined by the British colonial authorities on the ground that there is no such precedence in the organisation and administration of schools established by the missionaries to support educational programs (NAI: 1947). The reaction of the colonial government was seemingly harsh to the Muslim but they accepted and continued with their own meagre contribution and support of individual Muslim to build the school. In addition, archival evidence also revealed that by 1938, three protestant churches of the Anglican, Methodist and Baptist as well as the Ibadan Muslim community advanced a petition to the colonial government protesting against the holding of Oke’badan festival, a popular traditional religious festival of Ibadan. The colonial government maintained a neutral stand, and that it was not a matter in which the government could interfere. It permitted any person to belong to whatever religion he wished or to none at all. The colonial government advised the groups that the only remedy was to see that its members had nothing to do with the worship of “Oke’badan” (NAI: 1947). Similarly, the colonial authorities also intervened in the petition request by the Muslim community on the appointment of a Mallam as a leading member of the native customary court (NAI: 247/101). The colonial government responded to the Muslim community that it was not possible. Perhaps, the reason for this was because there were political objections by the Olubadan office against the request of appointing a Mallam as a leading judge in the native court. The Olubadan objected the request to avoid the imposition of a foreign religious ideology as Islam to the indigenous Yoruba legal culture. He maintained that it is proper to maintain Yoruba laws and customs as observed and that the representatives of the Muslim folks are found in the native court which in his opinion is a sufficient representation of the Muslims in the native court of Ibadan (NAI: 247/101). The response of the colonial authorities on this matter relating to the introduction of Muslim Judge in the native court was declined. This was due to the fact that the colonial government was interested in maintaining a cordial relationship among all religious and cultural views, to enable peaceful co-existence among the various religious groups found in Ibadan. In view of this, the members of the Muslim community adjusted to the prevailing order by maintaining the status quo in the dispensation of justice as enshrined in Yoruba customs. At this point, it is pertinent to mention that not in all cases did colonial rule not favour Islam positively. Through the influence of colonial rule, Muslims were privileged under the new government to enjoy freedom of worship in the open and not in secret or private as Islam was during the pre-colonial era. Colonial rule favoured Islam in Ibadan in line with the cautions and courteous attitude of the British colonial government towards Muslims in Northern protectorates in Nigeria. Two possible explanations in this situation conditioned this attitude by the colonial masters. One, some of the top Ibadan chieftaincy rulers were people who had been converted to Islam but sympathized with the local Muslims or admired them for their strong determination to improve the social status of Islam in the city (Gbadamosi: 1960). Secondly, the support received by the rulers of Ibadan enabled the members of the Muslim community to fast become an important social and political force in the city to promote peace and development (Gbadamosi: 1960). Colonial rule favoured the establishment of government sponsored western education among Muslims in 1896 in Lagos, Epe, and Badagry unlike elsewhere in Ibadan, Abeokuta and Ijebu-Ode. In Lagos, the colonial authorities were favourably considerate to assist Muslims in benefiting from Western education without necessarily converting to Christianity through the activities of the missionaries. This gesture enhanced the hope and aspiration among Muslims to have western education through government colonial policy (Gbadamosi: 1967). Two plausible reasons were responsible for this gesture, one, there was apathy and opposition by Muslim groups against the Christian-sponsored western education that had persisted for a long time. Two, the colonial 3


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government perceived that there were imbalances in the distribution of western education among the people and therefore, took it as a responsibility to bridge imbalances experienced by people through the establishment of schools devoted to Islamic learning where Arabic would be taught with other secular subjects in the schools (Gbadamosi: 1967). At Ibadan, the colonial administration made advances to establish government educational institutions to cater for Muslim educational pursuits. However, this was not successful because of the apparent lack of suitable teachers and finance on the part of government to maintain the schools in the interior at Ibadan (Gbadamosi: 1967). At this instance, Edward Blyden suggested that the pupils in Ibadan should be encouraged to move to Lagos or alternatively more teachers should be recruited from Sierra Leone. The acting governor, Denton declined on this; he preferred them to be taught in their own towns where their parents resided. As for the recruitment of the teachers to solve the problem of teachers, the governor was silent (Gbadamosi: 1978). Consequently, the whole issue of having government Muslim school in Ibadan lapsed. However, the colonial government considered and approved the establishment of private Islamic educational centres where Arabic and English language would be taught (Gbadamosi: 1978). Under colonialism, Islam made much progress and advancement in the first half of the 20th Century. It increased its tempo under modern conditions and a new government. During this period, numerous places of worship were erected and Islamic learning centres were established to facilitate the teaching and spread of Islamic civilization (Clarke: 1982). Parrinder describes the development of Islam as a religion that moved with urban civilisation easily through trading and commercial interactions (Parrinder: 1959). It appeals to the traders and chieftaincy rulers of Ibadan and an important factor which led to the establishment of “Sabo community” in 1916, the Muslim quarters which are found in most cosmopolitan Yoruba towns in Nigeria (Cohen: 1973). Sabo otherwise known as the strangers’ community among the Hausa people was initiated and founded by the British colonial masters to maintain peace and stability between the strangers and the host community. The settlement of Sabo in Ibadan enhanced the practice of Islamic worship openly than in private or secret as was observed during the pre-colonial period (Albert: 1993). Cohen (1973) captures the establishment of the Sabo community in Ibadan as the formal institutionalization of Hausa autonomy especially with regard to the practice of Islamic religion under the authority of a Hausa chief of the quarter, in accordance with the principles and practices of the newly developed British policy of indirect rule in Ibadan. Islamic Learning Centre in Ibadan under Colonialism Islamic learning centre is one of the major factors that contributed to the growth and spread of Islam before and after the advent of colonialism in Ibadan. Arabic schools were popular and scattered all over Muslim communities in Yoruba land. These schools were known as Ile-kewu among the Yoruba people. Bidmos captures the description of the schools in the following words: ...the schools are ill organised in the operation of their service. The size of the school is small and the enrolment of student in these schools is few. The students who attend these schools comprise of (sic) young boys and girls are adolescents. In these schools, the teaching method lies in the choral recitation of the Qur’an which often followed the sing song pattern. The method of instruction is as follows, the teacher recites to his pupils the verse to be learnt and they repeat it after him. He does this several times until he is satisfied that they have mastered the correct pronunciation. (Bidmos: 1972) The above point shows that with the advent of Islam in Ibadan, Islamic learning was ill-organized and not properly managed. This consequently led to the foundation of Arabic schools in Ibadan. In the 1930s, the Ibadan Muslim education advance wrote a petition through traditional Bale and the council to the resident officer during colonial period requesting for uninterrupted approval for the Muslim people to be privileged to educate their children in their own school and by their own teacher. In the letter, it was stressed thus; We prefer that the children should be taught in both English and Arabic just to suit our purpose both religiously and outwardly. The practice of Excluding the Muslim children from Christian schools have started and Become in force (sic) in every school, owing to overcrowding of the people in schools, thousands of Muslim 4


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children have since been loafing about the country and the same time the fear of these children may not turn out barbarously when becoming men of age (sic). Necessitated our forming (sic). An organization in the scope of a society who met and considered it our duty. To petition you for further sanction that these schools may be allowed to be going under any roofing as it is constituted in both English and Arabic languages. Until we may be able to carry out our aim to a certain stage and be well fit to shoulder. Our responsibility of building schools both (sic) educationally and financially (NAI: 1947) The content of the above letter confirms the point that the Muslims in Ibadan sought approval through the resident district officer to establish formal Islamic educational schools where the Muslim children were to be taught in both Arabic and English Language by Muslim teachers. The use of Arabic language as a medium of instruction in the Islamic schools established in Ibadan was targeted at aiding the propagation of Islam and promotion of Islamic culture. The Arabic institutes founded in Ibadan were established to promote Arabic and Islamic civilization. The forerunners of these schools were mainly the Islamic Missionary Society and the Shams-su-deen society of Ibadan. This petition confirmed that the Muslim children were discriminated against and excluded from attending Christian schools on the ground that missionary schools were overcrowded (NAI: 1947). Consequent upon the request of the Ibadan Muslim education advance for the establishment of Mohammedan school, the Superintendent of Education, Oyo Province wrote to the district officer in Ibadan that the applicant, i.e., Ibadan Muslim education advance should fill form s.68 so as to have idea of the blueprint on ground for the establishment and staffing of the proposed school (NAI: 1947). The superintendent of education further informed the district officer that the proposed headmaster of the school was a retrenched government school teacher with a very poor record and that from the information gathered through the application form of s.68, the Ibadan Muslim advance education does not hold any title to the land on which it intended to build the school. Is this in order? He requested to know whether there were any political objection from the Bale and traditional council of Ibadan before making his recommendation or otherwise to the directors of education (NAI: 1947). In response to this, the district officer informed the Superintendent of Education in Ibadan that the applicant should take out a memorandum of agreement, and that he did not anticipate any trouble in the establishment of the proposed Mohammedan school. He stressed that he was not aware of any political objection by the Bale and chief of Ibadan to the establishment of Islamic school in Ibadan. This was confirmed through a written letter from the Bale’s office recommending for approval of the proposed Mohammedan school (NAI: 1947). The advent of formal Arabic school in Ibadan was anchored on the premise that the method used in imparting knowledge of Arabic education was crude and slow. The school wherein such education was received in the past was not so properly organised. The teachers were often non-professional; they were mostly traders. Children of all age-group sat together in Qur’anic school (Bidmos: 1972). The growth of modern Arabic schools started in Ibadan in 1945 after the end of the Second World War. However, the advent of Christianity and the widespread missionary education among the Yoruba people laid the foundation for the establishment of modern Arabic schools similar to the western form of education. Also, the continued resistance of Muslim parents and Islamic teachers against western education, which was geared toward the conversion of Muslim children to Christianity, partly explained the reason for the desire of the Muslim community to establish formal Arabic institutions to cater for Muslim children (Oladiti: 2010). In these schools, facilities similar to those in Western-oriented schools were made available. Such provision included uniform, furniture for the teachers and the students, organised examinations salaries for the teachers and administrative staff, report cards issued and holidays. In addition, definite duration and stages of Arabic education were introduced (Oladiti: 2010). These stages included Ibtidai (primary), Idadi (preparatory secondary school) and Thanawi (secondary school). Each stage had a number of years attached to it. For example, in some of the schools, three or four years were spent in Ibtidai, two or three years in Idadi, and three or four years in Thanawi (Oladiti: 2010). The standard and quality of Arabic education in Ibadan were measured by the level of proficiency at which the students could speak and write Arabic language. Parrinder observes that the non-Muslim converts to Islam who were knowledgeable in Arabic conducted open-air preaching campaigns against the non-Muslim in Ibadan. This

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most frequently happened during the Ramadan monthly fast, when itinerant Muslim preachers were seen on the streets expounding their faith (Parrinder: 1959). The converted Muslim chiefs in Ibadan usually sent for people to preach in their quarters and paid for their service either in cash or any kind. This partly explains how Islam became known as a rural and urban religion that has diffused its influence most easily into many Yoruba communities, especially in the area of trade and language interaction (Laitin: 1986). In many parts of Yoruba communities, Islam was appealing to the people because of their addiction to trade and mingling with the Hausa Muslim preachers from the North who were found among the Ibadan people whom they found to be trustworthy and honest in their dealings on matters relating to their business. Besides, the graduates of these schools who were proficient in Arabic were looked upon with prestige, honour and fame in the town (Sanneh: 1997). Since the emergence of formal Arabic in Ibadan, more and more people have continued to accept the Islamic religion as a way of life, which, to a great extent, had facilitated the imposition of Islamic belief system on the Yoruba people in Ibadan. Sanneh rightly asserts that the Islamic influence was noticeable in the schools in the authoritative ways of ensuring Islamic daily worship within the school environs (Sanneh: 1997). The teacher meted out punishment indiscriminately to deviants who refused to attend Arabic classes or perform regular ritual Muslim salat (prayer) when it was time to do so. The students were often punished by fetching firewood, water, working on the teacher’s farm, and washing the clothes of the children and wives of the Muslim teachers (Sanneh: 1997). The teachers exercised their authority and power by flogging the students who refused to prostrate during Islamic ritual prayers. These actions were effective because the students were reluctantly engaged in these services to acquire Arabic education. The Muslim preacher from North thought that the punishment being meted out to the pupils in the school was a means of earning barakah (blessing) from Allah (God). However, this punishment was actually a means of imposing Islamic culture on the young children and even adults (Sanneh: 1997). Discipline in the modern Arabic schools is meant to ensure students steadfastness and obedience to mundane and spiritual laws guiding Islamic religion. The students are often beaten when they make simple mistakes during class sessions. Also, students were disciplined by sending them to work on farmland of their teachers, harvest crops, wash the clothes of their teachers and sale of agricultural produce (Sanneh: 1997). At Ibadan, two formal Arabic schools were established under colonial rule. These were Kharashi Arabic schools and Sham-su-dil Islamiyyah in 1958. These schools were established to expand the knowledge of Arabic language and Islamic culture among the Muslim converts and children in a well arranged manner. These schools were the forerunner of modern Arabic schools in Ibadan (Oladiti: 2010). At this point, it is pertinent to ask the question, what aspect of Islamic education contributes to the growth of Islam under colonial rule in Ibadan? Islamic education contributes significantly to the growth of Islam in Ibadan in so many ways. According to Hunwick (1964), the knowledge about Islam is derived from the “The Book” popularly known among Muslims as the Qur’an. The Qur’an is regarded among Muslim as the verbatim revelation from God to His external word and to represent the summation of the divine will for mankind. It is for this reason that the Qur’an has been held to be ipso facto untranslatable (Hunwick: 1974). The aforementioned statement of Hunwick (1974) attests to the fundamental point on how Islamic education facilitated the growth of Islam in the city. Moreso, without the knowledge of Islamic teaching through education from the Qur’an (Word of Allah), the Hadith (translations and saying of the Holy prophet Muhammad) the practice and worship of Islam may not have been ordered. It is the knowledge acquired through Islamic education that Muslim jurists were able to understand, interpret and explain the verses of the Qur’an to the people who were yet to be Islamized in the practice of the faith. With the establishment of Islamic learning centres in most part of the city, knowledge about Islamic ritual worship became increased while other pillars of Islam began to be practiced in its pure form. This consequently made the Yoruba Muslim preachers to state that “Imo lo ladini, Ogbon o gbe” meaning “knowledge is superior to reasoning on religious matter”. Through Islamic education, Islamic religion spread to different parts of the city. Gbadamosi (1974), described the schools as Ile-kewu, an elementary school where Muslims in Yoruba communities teach Arabic alphabet, Qur’an and basic principles of Islamic worship were also taught. The schools are mostly attended by young and old people interested in the learning of the simple tenets of Islamic religion. Islamic learning in these schools covers knowledge on the history of the prophets, principles of Islamic prayers and the general orientation about the Islamic way of life. The school has been described by Gbadamosi (1974) as the live-wire for sustaining the life of the Muslim community.

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Similarly, under colonial rule, Parinder and Peel noted that prestige, education and modernism were factors that led to the growth of Islam in Ibadan. The new religion, i.e., Islam was seen as olaju, “a religion of civilization,” that is new within the metropolis of Ibadan. In the opinion of Crowther, this new religion facilitated the change of orientation and religious life of the people by abandoning their traditional belief for the sake of Islam. At this point, it is necessary to ask the question, how did modernism contribute to the growth of Islam? The term “Modernism” to the growth of Islam in Ibadan is used to describe the status of learning a foreign language (Arabic) through educational awareness, wearing a foreign dress like the Jalamia for men and Hijab for women and abandoning the participation of non-Yoruba Muslim in traditional festivals and sacrifices commonly found among the indigenous Yoruba religion (Parrinder: 1978). With the advent of western education among Muslims in 1896, the progress and advancement of Islam in the city took a new turn in the Twentieth Century. It increased its tempo under modern conditions and in many kinds of the environment. Recent observations have shown that in Ibadan, there were few mosques at the inception of city when compared to the end of colonial rule in 1959. In Ibadan, numerous mosques and Islamic learning centres were established to facilitate the teaching and practice of Islam to new converts (Gbadamosi: 1967). Although, there are no reliable statistics on the population of Muslims when Ibadan was founded in 1829; however, it is pointed out by Gbadamosi that in terms of the size, the population is small when compared to the report of the 1953 census in Ibadan which showed 275, 110 Muslims were living in Ibadan. It may be difficult to state with precision how accurate the exact figure of the population was as at 1953. This is because they are based apparently on questions addressed to individuals or heads of families (Parrinder: 1959). According to Oladiti, in most areas of Ibadan, Islam is dominantly noticeable among the people. Hardly would you find a place in Ibadan that does not have a mosque or Islamic learning centres in the town. In the words of Parrinder, the development of Islam in Ibadan was regarded as religion that moved with urban civilization and diffuses its interest most easily through trading and commercial interactions (Oladiti: 2010). It appeals to the traders and chieftaincy rulers of Ibadan and an important factor that led to the establishment of Sabo in 1916, the Muslim quarters which are found in most cosmopolitan Yoruba towns in Nigeria. The establishment of strangers’ community, “the Hausa settlement” was initiated and founded by the British colonial masters to maintain peace and stability between the strangers and host community. The settlement of Sango and Sabo communities in Ibadan enhanced the practice of Islamic worship and life openly than in a private or secret way (Cohen: 1993). In Ibadan, Oladiti observed that during the colonial period, Islam appealed to townsmen, chiefs, rulers and traders. A large number of people in the informal labour sector such as trading and artisans intermingled with the Hausa traders who came down from northern Nigeria, and made them an easy prey to Islam (Oladiti: 2010). In addition, with the confrontation of Islam, traditional religious practices in Ibadan began to undergo modification. The non-Yoruba Muslims have a general belief in God as creator but with belief in countless lesser deities and ancestral spirits whom the people, mostly (men) propitiate to the gods for help. Polytheism was popular, recognised and patronised in their belief system. The cults of the indigenous religion were structured and tightly organised that neither Islam nor Christianity has made much progress against them. When Islam advanced into Ibadan, the Muslim missionaries through their preaching discouraged the Yoruba Ibadan people from participating in polytheism or in the traditional religious festivals of the city. The belief system of the Yoruba people in Ibadan have been labelled by Muslim preachers as “heathen”, kufr (unbelief) or “uncivilized”. During the Ramadan monthly fast, Muslim missionaries conducted preaching campaign to persuade and change the indigenous orientation of the Ibadan people by espousing their faith. At Ibadan, it was observed that sometimes, Muslim chiefs in the town send for such preachers and pay their expenses. These Muslim preachers doubled as traders and teachers to bring more advanced Islamic teaching in order to enliven the rather debased forms of it that existed in most parts of Muslims-dominated communities in Nigeria (Oladiti: 2010). The activities of the Ahmadiyyah Muslim Jamaat have been described by Parrinder as the most obvious and active Muslim missionaries found in Ibadan. The Ahmadiyyah group is believed to have migrated from Pakistan into Nigeria in 1916 and from there spread into Ghana and Sierra Leone. The Ahmadiyyahs were very active in the dissemination of Islamic awareness through active literary writings in public newspapers, western education and propaganda, claiming converts among Christians and non-Yoruba Muslims through preachings and writings (Parrinder: 1959). According to Afolabi, Islam did not only bring Arabic language but also a tradition of scholarship and historiography which to this day remain a source of information and inspiration to scholars and students of Nigerian history (Afolabi: 1998). Similarly. Oyekola, observed that through the influence of Islam, there was cultural contact and as a result, there are adaptation of new ideas which lead to a new religio-social order, 7


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assimilation and dualism, which with time, change to parallelism. The influence of Arabic language became widely used in commercial, educational, religious and social interaction (Oyekola: 2011). At this point, the question may be asked, in what area (s) was the religion of Islam seen as a religion of “peace?” Literarily, the word Islam is derived from the word Salaam, which means ‘peace’ (Gallagher: 1968). It connotes by implication the act of submission to Almighty Allah by those who believe in the religion (Muslims). It is the most widely acceptable term used by Muslims to describe the religion of those who believe in the Qur’an as the true word of God transmitted to mankind through the medium of the prophet and messenger of Allah. As a matter of fact, it may be difficult to state with precision why the religion has been described as a religion of ‘peace’ or aspect of which the religion has been seen as peaceful. The name Islam in the opinion of Muslims has been named by Almighty Allah through the divine message of the Qur’an. This is evident in the verse of the holy Qur’an Chapter 5, verse 3: ‫مد‬ ‫ور ت م أ‬ ‫م‬ ‫ا وم أ ت م د م وأ ت‬ Meaning “This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” (Holy Qur’an: Ch. 5 V. 3) Muslims dislike using the term Mohammedanism to describe the religion of Islam because it carries the implication of the worship of Mohammed as a more than human figure and thus contain the symptom of polytheism (Yekeen: 2013). Islam is one of the world’s religions that have not been named after their founders like Christianity, Buddhism and Judaism (Balogun: 2013). The area where Islam is construed as a religion of peace is the giving of charity support to those who are in need, maintenance of good neighbourliness with people within and outside the religious faith of Islam, linking family ties and social relationship with one another and avoiding or committing acts that were forbidden to persons and to the creator of the universe (Allah) (Amuda: 2013). All these briefly summarises aspect of Islam that made it to be regarded as the religion of peace. The Imamate in Ibadan The Imamate issue in Ibadan under colonial rule was central to corporate existence and development of the Muslim community. The Imam is recognized as the spiritual head of the Muslims and his responsibility is to lead in the performance of prayers and stand against any form of attack from other relgious adherents, colonial dominance and influence (Gbadamosi: 1972). The Muslim community in Ibadan consists of people bound together by common beliefs, experience and aspirations derived from their common religions, outlook and customs, as the population of Muslim continue to grow in the town due to the movements of refugees from Oyo, Ife and other Yoruba towns; people became more attracted to the new religion and began to have loss of confidence in the traditional religious system (Jimoh: 2010). Besides, the activity of the Imam and the influence of the class of Muslim locally known as “Afa” swayed a large number of people to Islam through the course of their teaching, preaching and healing of the sick. The expansion of the Muslim community transformed the desire for a purposeful leadership of the Muslim Ummah. The Imam under the leadership of Alhaji Muhammed Ajagbe (1935-1940) wrote a petition on behalf of the Muslim community on 7 June, 1938, through the Olubadan and council, the district officer to the Honourable Resident of Oyo Province requesting for the appointment of a Muslim judge knowledgeable in the Qur’an as a leader of the native court in Ibadan (NAI: 247/101). This petition was resisted as a rejoinder by the Olubadan to the resident officer declining the approval of the appointment of a Muslim judge in the native court of Ibadan. This point shows that the traditional authorities of Ibadan resisted the imposition of Islamic judge in the organisation and administration of native court system (NAI: 247/101). Furthermore, the reconstruction of the central Mosque after destruction earlier in the 19th Century is an important point to focus on in the development of Islam during the colonial period. The Mosque is regarded as an important place of worship among the Muslims. It is a place specifically designed for the adherents of Islam to engage in ritual worship in the canonical five daily prayers and the congregation prayer (Salatul Jumuah) as well as Eid prayers in the central Mosque and praying ground respectively. In the words of Gbadamosi, under the reign of Bale Situ, between 1914 and1925, that large number of Ibadan people became Muslims (Gbadamosi: 1978). The central Mosque in Ibadan is the corporate entity under which the organization of the Imam and the affairs of the Muslim in the town are coordinated. Between 1921 and 1924, an attempt was made by the Ibadan Muslim community to extend and enlarge the Mosque premises to accommodate the steady rise in the increase of the Muslim population in the town willing to worship for the weekly congregational prayer of (Salatul Jumaah). The 8


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sponsors for the renovation and expansion of the Mosque were the late Chief Salami Agbaje, Oba Okunola Abbas Aleshinloye and a host of others (Jimoh: 2010). During the reign of Oba Okunola Abbas Aleshinloye (1930-1946), he made significant contribution to the development of Islam in Ibadan. It was through his influence, personality and fame that the Muslim community was able to acquire more plots of land for the building of the central Mosque as well as the present Agodi Eid prayer ground that is still in use till date for the Eid prayers during the celebration of Muslim festival in the town (Jimoh: 2010). Since the foundation of Ibadan as a settlement in the 19th Century, the Imamate was pioneered by itinerant Muslim clerics who migrated from Nupe, Ilorin, Bornu, Katsina in Nigeria. Many of them are well known as teachers, spiritual men, preachers and medicine men. Example of some of these Imams include; Abdullah Gunnugun (1829-1839) from Bornu, Uthman Abubakre Busunu (1839-1871) from Nupe and Ahmed Qifu from Ilorin (1871-1872) (Jimoh: 2010). All these Imams led in the Muslim congregation prayers at the central Mosque of the town in the early years of Islam in Ibadan. Rahmon pointed out that these early Imams were appointed as leaders of the Muslim community by the traditional ruling authorities of Ibadan land for their roles and immense contribution to the old and younger generation of the town (Jimoh: 2010). Throughout the colonial period covered in this study, eleven successive Imams emerged. Of all these only three were indigenes while the remaining eight were non-indigenes of Ibadan. This greatly attest to the point that the early Muslims in Ibadan were dominated by migrant settlers from northern Yoruba country and Hausa people in particular, who migrated into Ibadan for protection of their lives, economic prosperity and teaching of Islamic polemical doctrines (Jimoh: 2010). The Interaction of Islam and other Religions in Ibadan The interaction of Islam and other religions in Ibadan is also another important issue of focus under the colonial rule. Prior to the emergence of the two foreign religions in Ibadan, the Yoruba people had their own traditional religion long before Islam and Christianity was introduced. It is popularly known as the Orisa or Ifa religion. Its adherents believe in one God (Olorun or Olodumare), who manifests his essence in variety of spirits and natural phenomena (Ajayi: 1978). It is generally believed among the people that Olodumare is worshipped through various Orisa (deities) who control these spirits and natural phenomena. In the words of Ajayi (1978) and Fadipe (1970) each individual, family or society has its own Orisa (deity) which was worshipped and deified. Ajayi describes the Orisa as the minister of the supreme God, who is a creator, the final arbiter of heavenly and worldly affairs, the Omniscient, Immortal and Pure and the source of all benefits to mankind. Among the Yoruba people, several numbers of Orisa exists. Their nature and origin are varied. Some are personifications of natural features such as Sango, the Oyo divinity of lightning; Oya, Sango’s supposed wife identified with thunderstorm; Orisa Oko, identifies with the forest; Ogun the god of iron, hunting and war; and Yemoja who is connected to the goddess of river (Ajayi: 1980). In Ibadan, Islam, Christianity and Traditional religion co-existed and influenced one another. The interaction of these religions in Ibadan was mutual and reciprocal. The three religions believe in God as the creator of all things and they preach peace and stability (Adewale: 1988). The trio-religions in Ibadan had days of festivals and special ceremonies to celebrate and relate with one another through the exchange of food and gift items. All these gave meaning and cohesiveness to Ibadan as a community and strength to the religious system. Examples of these festivals include the Egungun festival, Oke’badan festival, Eid-el-fitri and Eid-el-Kabir, Easter and Christmas festivals (Adewale: 1988). Similarly, Muslims in Ibadan adapted politico-religious titles of the Yoruba in their organizational structures. These Islamic titles for political office holders among the Yoruba were borrowed from the indigenous traditional customary religious practices. The adaptation of Yoruba political titles to the growth of Islam in the town was deemed necessary to celebrate important personalities that had contributed in one way or the other to the development of Islam in the town (Danmole: 2000). These people are most times influential, wealthy and knowledgeable Muslims. Islamic titles are regarded among the people as a social and religious honour within the community. Examples of some of the Yoruba political titles that were borrowed with the contact to Islam include the title “Baba Ogun” meaning “leader of war” now adapted in Islam to mean “Baba Adini” meaning “father of religion”. Others include Balogun (the warrior) to mean Balogun Adini (warrior of religion) and Seriki (junior warrior in the battle field) to Seriki Musulumi , i.e., (the warriors that protect Islam from attack) (Danmole: 2000). According to Danmole, almost every aspect of social life of the Yoruba Muslim is affected by Yoruba culture and customs. Just as celibacy is forbidden in Yoruba traditional society, it has no place in Islam. This point

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shows the relationship that both Islam and traditional religion regarded marriage as an important milestone in the life of every person (Danmole: 2000). Furthermore at this juncture, it is instructive to note with examples, the relationship Islam had with Christianity during the colonial periods. One of the most important relationships Christianity had with Islam was the opportunity for Muslim children to have western education through the missionary schools established by the Christian missions of the Anglican, Methodist and Baptist churches proliferated within the city (Gbadamosi: 1978). In addition, Akinola (2010) observes that Christianity made social welfare services an important component of its missionary activities that is enjoyed by both Muslims and indigenous traditional worshippers. The Christian missionary agents provided schools, health institutions including centres for rehabilitation of outcasts like lepers, the deaf and dumb. All these assisted as a measure of reforms to social development in the town. Both Islam and Christianity affirm that their religious orientations are ordained by God. The acceptance to these two alien religions was largely because of materialistic consideration and meeting the challenges of human need. Indeed, the sacred literature of both Islam and Christianity were regarded as fetish endowed with magical powers for solution to worldly problems. The Qur’an and the Bible have been viewed as sources of metaphorical as well as literal power and an important element in the Islamic and Christian religious worship (Akinola: 2010). Although, the indigenous religion had no similar literature which served as a symbol of power. In the 1930s, Christians and Muslims wrote a petition to the colonial authorities to abolish the popular traditional festivals known as Oke’badan practiced in the town because of the obscene songs mostly displayed during the festival. The unholy alliance of Christianity particularly the Anglican, Methodist and the Baptist churches and Islam against the traditional festival in Ibadan was declined by the colonial masters. This rejection shows that on religious and faith matters the colonial masters were neutral so as to maintain peace, orderliness and stability which were needed at that time for effective colonial administration in Ibadan (Akinola: 2010). Conclusion It has been shown from the foregoing that Islam developed and continued to thrive in Ibadan with the support of the colonial administration. Colonialism brought on a large scale freedom of worship among new converts, maintenance of religious tolerance among the religious faith of Islam Christianity and Traditional religions. The sustenance of Islam was encountered with the support given to the Muslims in Ibadan to establish modern Arabic schools where Islamic and Arabic education would be part of the curriculum. The colonial government maintained regulation and control of the structure, curriculum and teachers of the schools. By this action, the colonial government was able to reduce the imbalance of western education among Muslims and Christians in Ibadan. Under colonialism, Islam made appreciable and steady progress in terms of population size. Besides, much concern about the welfare of the Muslims was encouraged and tolerance towards all shades of religious opinion was preserved. With the patronage of new converts and the advancement of Islam in the town, the Imamship system was introduced to centralize the organization and the corporate existence and development of Islam in the town. This greatly transformed the leadership structure of the progress of Islam in the city with direct authority of the ruler of the town. Usually, it is a common practice that the turbaning of a new Imam in Ibadan is usually conducted by the Olubadan, i.e., the chief ruler of the town. Finally, it has been shown that Islam co-existed with both Christianity and Traditional indigenous religion in Ibadan with minor cases of large scale friction with one another. The influence of colonialism greatly enhanced religious pluralism and promoted religious tolerance among the various religious groups found in Ibadan. References Primary Sources Archival Materials Nationa Archives Ibadan, Henceforth (NAI) Letter from Ibadan Muslim Education Advance Central Mosque to the Baale and Council. This document is located in Ibadan. 0732 Containing information on Establishment of Proposed Mohammedan schools, Ibadan, Ibadan Division 1/3. 1930 – 1947. NAI. Ibadan Division 0732. Establishment of Proposed Mohammedan Schools in Ibadan, Ibadan Division 1/3 1930 – 1947. NAI. Oyo Prof. 247/101 Petition report from the Olubadan the appointment of Muslim judge in Ibadan Native Court. NAI. Oyo Province File 1771. Petition on Native Festival of Oyo Province. Oke’badan Festival. 10


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NAI. Ibadan Division 0732. Establishment of Proposed Mohammedan Schools in Ibadan, Ibadan Division 1/3 1930 – 1947. Oral Interviews. Balogun B. B., Oral interview on 20th June 2013. Amuda M., Oral interview on 14 May 2013. Yekeen T., Oral interview on 16 June 2013. Works Cited. Adewale S.A. (1988). The Interaction of Religions in Nigeria. Lagos: Sudan Commercial Press. 1988., pp 10 – 12. Afolabi A.B. (1998). “Islam and the Minaret: A Review of Arabic Writings and Early Nigerian History before the Nineteenth Century”. Journal of Islam and the Modern Age. Vol XXIX, No. 4. Pp. 319 – 329. Ajayi J.F.A. (1965). Christian Missions in Nigeria 1841 – 1891: The Making of a New Elite. London: Longman. 1965., p. 65. For more details on the returnee slaves who settled in Ibadan, see J.H. Kopytoff. A Preface to Modern Nigeria: The “Sierra Leoneans” in Yoruba land, 1830 – 1890. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press. Ajayi J.F.A. (1978). “Promoting Religious Tolerance and Cooperation in West Africa Region: The Example of Religious Pluralisjm and Tolerance among the Yoruba, retrieved from www.geovities.com/agboleyorubaschool/sacred Akinola G.A. (2010). “The Relevance of African Nigeria’s Adopted Alien Religion”. Unpublished Manuscripts. Paper Presented at the Staff/Student Postgraduate seminar/ workshop. University of Ibadan. Albert I. (1993). “The Growth of an Urban Migrant Community: The Hausa Settlement in Ibadan, c. 1830 – 1979”. Ife: Annals of the Institute of Cultural Studies. No 4. pp. 1 – 15. Awolalu J. (1979). Yoruba Beliefs and Sacrificial Rites. Ibadan: Ibadan University Press. Bidmos H.K. (1972). “A Literary Appraisal of the Writings of Yoruba Ulama”. M.A Dissertation, University of Ibadan. Clarke P. B. (1982) West Africa and Islam: A Study of Religious Development from the 8th-20th Century. London: Edward Arnold. p. 162. Cohen A. (1973). Custom and Politics in Urban Africa: A Study of Hausa Migrants in Yoruba Towns. California: University of California Press, pp. 102 – 103. Crowther M. (1968). West Africa under Colonial Rule. London: Hutchinson & Company, p. 5. Danmole H.O. (2000) “Religious Encounter in Southwestern Nigeria: The Domestication of Islam among the Yoruba”. In J.K. Olupona and Terry Rey (eds.). Orisa Devotion as World Religion: The Globalization of Yoruba Religious Culture. Wisconsin University Press. pp. 202 – 235. Fadipe N.A. (1970). The Sociology of the Yoruba. Ibadan: Ibadan University Press. Falola T. (1985) “From Hospitality to Hostility: Ibadan and Strangers, 1830 – 1904”. Journal of African History. Vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 51 – 68. Gallagher C.F. (1968). “Islam” in Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences in D.C Sill (ed.) Vol. 8. New York, Macmillian. Pp. 202 – 216. Gbadamosi T.G.O. (1967). “The Establishment of Western Education among Muslims in Nigeria, 1896 – 1926”. Journal Historical Society of Nigeria. Vol. 4, No. 1. 1967. Pp.89-114. 11


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Gbadamosi T.G.O. (1972). “The Imamate Question among Muslims in Nigeria”. Journal of Historical Society of Nigeria Vol. VI, No. 2, pp. 229 -237. Gbadamosi T.G.O. (1978). The Growth of Islam among the Yoruba 1804 – 1908. London, Longman. 1978, p. 138. Holy Qur’an. Chapter 5 Verse 3. The Interpretation of this verse in the Holy Qur’an was used to buttress the belief of Muslim that Islam was ordained by Allah. Hunwick J. (1974) Literacy and Scholarship in Muslim West African in the Pre-colonial Period. Nsukka Midwest Newspaper, pp. 8 – 21. Jimoh I.A. (2010). “The Imamate in Ibadan” in T.Babawale et al. (eds.) The Chieftaincy Institution in Nigeria. Lagos: Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilizations. 2010., pp. 323 – 341. Laitin D.D. (1968). Hegemony and Culture: Politics and Religious Change among the Yoruba. Chicago: Chicago University Press. p. 101. Oladiti A.A. (2010). “Islamic Literacy and Cultural Influence in Ibadan: c. 1945 – 1995”. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis. University of Ibadan. Oyekola A.G. (2011). “Tenor Discourse in English Medium in Selected Muslim Sermons in South- Western Nigeria”. In Akin Odebunmi et al (eds.) Styles in Religious Discourse. Germany. Lambert Academic Publishers. Pp214-225. Parrinder E.G. (1959). ‘Islam and West African Indigenous Religion’. Numen. Vol. 6, Fasc 2. pp. 131 – 149. Sanneh L. (1983). West African Christianity and Religious Impact. London .C. Hurst & Cop., p. 218. Sanneh L. (1997) The Crown and the Turban: Muslim and West African Pluralism. Boulder. West View Press, p. 142. See also J.D.Y. Peel, “Olaju: A Yoruba Concept of Development”. Journal of Development Studies. Vol. 14, No 2. 1978. Watson R. (2000) “Murder and the Political Body in the Early Colonial Ibadan.” Africa. Vol. 70, No 1, pp. 25 – 45. About the author: Abiodun Akeem Oladiti holds a Ph.D. in African History, University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of General Studies, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Nigeria.

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Islam and colonial rule in ibadan from 1893 1960  
Islam and colonial rule in ibadan from 1893 1960  
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