Analytical Study Of Rijāl Al-‘Ilm Of Shaykh Tajudeen Al-Umari Al-Iwowi

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1.1 Background to the study

 It is axiomatic that one of the factors that contributed to the development to Islam in Nigeria was poetry works. Arabic poetry began in Iwo town some years after the town came  in  contact  with  Islam  in  the  year  1655  as  said  by  Al-Iloriy.  There  were  different types  of  themes  used  by  the  scholars  such  as  Didactic,  Ascetic,  elegy,  descriptive, panegyric, and thanksgiving poems.

The  most  popular  among  the  poets  are:  Shaykh  Ahmad  Amin,  Shaykh Muhalliy Aroworeki,  Shaykh Muhally Badrudeen,  Shaykh  Abdul  Baqi  Muhammad  etc.    Their poetry works were rendered eloquently so much so that its rendition is made possible for their  students  to  understand  their  message  because  it  serves  as  a  way  of  imparting knowledge.
Ascetic poem of Shaykh Ahmad Amin:

(1) Enough to renounce pleasure in the worldly things for acquisitive nature of human
property (after him). For the inheritor and the properties are subjected to destruction.

His didactic poem:

In the name of Allah and His grace, I hereby list the battle fought by the Prophet  comprehensively.
Thirdly, I salute the best mankind and the universal prophet after which I have praised the

Almighty Allah.
Later  another  poet  emerged  after  them,  and  those  who  emerged  after  them  were their students and those who went further to study in Abroad. Shaykh Tajudeen  emerged  and  his  work  was  quite  different  from  the  previous  works because he did not rely only on the poetry works of those who came before him but went extra miles than the previous poets.

All  Al-Umari‟s  work  was  written  to  wake  the  students  up  and  for  the understanding of their religion. He narrated in Rijāl al-‘Ilmi that knowledge is light which  guides the owner in the darkness and wealth which cannot be vanished while reward of this life and the hereafter have been prepared for such person who searches for it.

However, most of these poetry works are not published, perhaps this sabotages the effort of these poets by buying their erudition and talent in the field. It is only displayed occasionally  in  some  social  gatherings  like  naming,  marriage,  graduation  from  Quranic school and so on.  Today, poetry has become so rampant among the scholars in Iwo to the extent that even the contemporary students are even showing their appetite in composing Arabic poem.

1.2 Statement of the problem

 The work Rijāl al-‘Ilm is an Arabic text which cannot be understood to the large number  of  people  who  are  not  Arabic  literates.  So,  I  wish  to  translate  and  analyze  the work  for  social  transformation.  Especially,  for  those  who  are  English  literates that  use English language as their means of communication.

1.3  Objective of the study

 This work aims at achieving the following aims:

· To translate  the  text  of  the  work Rijāl-al-‘Ilm into  English  language  for  it  to  be enjoyed by wider audience.

· To contextualize the content for further understanding

· To determine how the message could be explored for social transformation.

1.4 Scope and limitation of the study

(1) Shaykh Tajudeen is modern Arabic poet.

(2) He has to his credit a corpus of al-qasa’id (odes) which cuts across various themes such as Al-Madhi, Al-Rithā’, and Al-wa‘dh. This work however shall be based on one of his composition on extolling the virtue of knowledge entitled “Rijāl al-‘Ilm”.

1.5  Iwo town at Glance

 Iwo  Township,  currently  located  in  Osun  State  of  Nigeria  owes  its  original development to Ile-Ife. History has it that its founding father Telu, the prince of the Ile-Ife  left  Ile-Ife  in  1049.  He  was  accompanied  by  his  allies.  They  settled  at  Igbo-Orita, along Ibadan-Iwo road which was about three miles from the present town.

Telu,  being  a  prince  and  the  leader  of  the  delegates,  he  acted  as  the  king  in  the settlement.  The  delegate  later  relocated  to  many  places  before  they  finally  got  to  the present place called Iwo. That was under the kingship of Oba Parin a grandson of Telu.

Then later, the development arrived1.
Geographical location of Iwo

 Iwo,  one  of  the  towns  in  Osun  State  Nigeria, has  an  area  of  245km2 and  a population of 191.348 (central city/local government) most populous Local Government in  Osun  State  by  the  2006, Nigeria  National  census  figures.  The  other  Local Governments  in  Iwo  kingdom  from  the  satellite  town  are  Aiyedire  Local  Government, 265,782km2 area  and  76,309  by  population,  as  well  as  Ola-Oluwa  Local  Government, 332,117km2 area and 76,227 by population. The Headquarters of the Local Governments are;  Iwo  central,  Iwo,  Aiyedire,  Ile-Ogbo  and  Ola  Oluwa  Bode-Osi.  The  postal  code  of the area is 2322

People of Iwo

Iwo is a predominantly  Muslim town as 80.9 percent of the people are Muslims.
Christians account for 12.9 percent of the total population. The remaining 6.2 percent is
made  up  of  people  of  other  beliefs  and  traditional  pagans.  It  is  interesting  to  note  that majority of the Christians are non-native of Iwo town.

The  people  are  predominantly  Yorubas  with  few  Fulani  nomads.  Iwo  indigenes engage  in  various  occupations  like  cattle rearing,  butchery,  farming,  trading,  craft, teaching to mention just a few.

Iwo  is  truly  a  Muslim  town  due  largely  to  its  adoption  of  Islam  as  a  religion.  It therefore has many Quranic schools as well as Madāris and Marākiz.3

Their Religion
Islam in Iwo is as old as the ancient town itself. The town is always referred to as the  town  of  Islamic  scholars.  It  has  many  Muslim  Scholars  and  students  in  its  domain.
The  town  as  other  West  African  towns  is  said  to  have  come  in  contact  with  Islam  as
earlier as 14th century. Al-Ilori says Islam emerged into Yoruba land from Mali Empire in 1337  CE.  It  is  through  an  etymological  deduction  that  the  Yoruba  refer  the  religion  as Esin Imale meaning the “Religion of Mallians”.

No sooner Islam got to West Africa than it began to spread to nooks and crannies of the regions.  Iwo as one of the major towns in this geographical region also witnessed a  number  of  factors  accounted  for  the  emergence  of  Islam.  Among  of  which  were  the influence of some notable rulers e.g. Oba Alawusa, who hosted Hausas.

Al-Ilori says: when the Kind Ande was yearning for the child and went to one of the  Muslim  scholars  who  went  to  Oke-Sunnah  in  Ilorin  to  ask  Allah  to  bless  him  with child, the scholar promised him good with the aim that if the child is a boy, he would be named  Muhammad  and  if  a  girl,  she  would  be  named  Aminah.  The  wife  of  the  king became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy and was named Muhammad (1755-1785).

The child was trained and educated in Islamic way under Muhammad Hadeetha, grew up and later became king. Muhammad worked on how Islam will be spread with his power. He  lived  for  a  longtime  like  120  years  and  died  in  1905.It  was  during  the  period  of Muhammad Hadeetha, the first chief Imam of the town.5 Another  major  factor  that  was  responsible  for  the  Islamization  of  the  town  was healing potentialities in the religion. This is because the Holy Qur‟an contains efficiency to solve problems of any sort.

It  was  reported  that  Oluaji  a  brother  of  King  Ande  visited  a  friend  at  Olukoji‟s palace near Ogbomoso, where he met some Hausa who had the knowledge of Qur‟an and
were invited to offer prayer for them. Having returned, Oluaji reported the scenario to his brother king and persuaded him to embark on the same thus, Hausas were invited to Iwo in order to rescue the town from serious diseases. Many inhabitants benefited from those visitors. They were subsequently prevailed upon to settle down in the town.

In  the  Islamization  of  Iwo  land,  Hausa  influence  aids  it,  MervynHiskett  in  his book  Development  of  Islam  in  West  Africa,  maintains  that  from  1214AH – 1799A.D.
Islam began to  make rapid in roads into Yoruba land and at that juncture conversion to Islam  became  frequent  Hausa  contributed  a  lot  to  the  spread  of  Islam  among  Yoruba.

They did so as medicants, crafts men, both slave and free, as teacher and advisers in the courts  of  Yoruba  chiefs.  They  also  became  opponents  of  the  Christians  Missionaries when they arrived Yoruba land.


1. Oyesola A.A. The roles and contributions of Amin Arabic training centre Iwo, to

the development of Arabic and Islamic studies. An unpublished Long Essay in the

Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University Ibadan,2006 p. 3.

  1., Osun on 13/10/2015 at 22:06.

  2. Oyesola A.A. Op. cit. p. 7.

4.       Adam A.A,Nasimu-s-sibaa,published at Wahbah library,Cairo.1990 p.183-184

  1. OyesolaA.A.Op.Cit. p. 8.

  2. Ibid p. 9

  3. Ibid. p. 10.

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