Professor Ibrahim Ahmad Maqari: Spiritual and Cultural Dimensions of Moroccan-Nigerian Relations

Professor Ibrahim Ahmad Maqari: Spiritual and Cultural Dimensions of Moroccan-Nigerian Relations

Professor Ibrahim Ahmad Maqari: Spiritual and Cultural Dimensions of Moroccan-Nigerian Relations
Professor Ibrahim Ahmad Maqari: Spiritual and Cultural Dimensions of Moroccan-Nigerian Relations

The spiritual and cultural dimensions in Moroccan-Nigerian relations[1]


In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful!

Praise be to Allah Who is extolled by every tongue and Who is known for magnanimity, clemency, and grace. He has created man and taught him knowledge plain.

Peace and blessings be upon the lord of messengers, Mohammed, the selected Prophet, descendant of the virtuous Adnân Household, upon his virtuous Family, and upon his noble companions!

Mawlay Ameer Al-Mumineen (Majesty, Commander of the Faithful)!

With your leave, I am honored to deliver the present lecture which centers on the spiritual and cultural dimensions of Moroccan-Nigerian relations, using as a starting point the verse below where Almighty Allah says:  “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each ether). Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you, And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)” (Süra Al-Hujurât, verse 13)

Morocco is bound to Nigeria by well-entrenched and strong spiritual and human ties which require the federation of a whole team of specialized researchers in different fields of cognition to explore and do justice to. However, in observance of the juristic rule which asserts that “that which is easily accomplished is nowise negated or invalidated by that which is achieved more laboriously,” we start our lecture, imploring Allah to grant us power and force.

The context of the verse and the realities of the aforementioned relations require us to address the topic at hand in four thematic sections:

  • The first thematic section, in fact, deals with the human dimension, as derived from the Divine call made to people in the first sentence of the verse;
  • The second theme, which deals with the social aspect, is readily manifest in the statement made by the Veracious One: “… that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other)”.
  • The third theme centers on the spiritual aspect, as understood from Almighty Allah’s statement: “Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you”.
  • As for the fourth theme, the focus is on the scholarly and cultural aspects as may be adduced from the words of Allah (Glory and Majesty be to Him): “And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)”.

The theme revolving around humankind

That humanity is one of the cardinal characteristics of Islam is not open to doubt. It constitutes a major part of its theoretical premises, as well as a substantial part of its practical applications. Humanity has been inextricably linked to its creeds, rites, methods, and morals. For some wisdom we find that the first Quranic word that has been revealed, notably Sûra Al- ‘Alaq (or, the Clinging Clot), is the word Inssân (or, human being), a word which is repeated twice. Moreover, the five verses which make up the Sûra (or, chapter) center on the care for man’s affairs -even if the whole Quran, as some scholars have asserted, may be said to be a book for human beings. Arguably, the book in its entirety is either speech about man or speech addressed to man.

The Quran is therefore human in its purpose and this does not preclude the fact that it is Divine in its aims, inasmuch as the Creator is not the opposite of the creature. This is indeed what may be inferred from the attributes which honor humans on three occasions in the self-same sentence thus: Allah (Glory and Majesty be to Him) says: “Say: I seek refuge with the Lord and Cherisher of humanity, the King (true Sovereign) of humanity, the God of humanity from the mischief of the Whisperer (of Evil), who withdraws (after his whisper)”.

What is intended by humanity here is a set of characteristics defining an individual or a group of individuals, or even an Ummah (or, community) in the framework of kindly social awareness which aspires after perfectibility and materializes in the kind of relations binding individuals or nations to one another. These characteristics or values may indeed be summed up in Almighty Allah’s command: “Help ye one another ln righteousness and piety”.

On the basis of the foregoing, the words making up the verse which constitutes the guiding and unifying thread of the present lecture: ”0 ye mankind!” and thereafter “a male and a female” are suggestive of the human ties that bind all the members of humankind. Indeed, among the things that may be inferred from this Divine Call is the principle of equality among the members of humankind. May Allah be pleased with the father of Al-Hassanayn, Ali Ibn Aby Talib who actually said that “people are of two kinds: either a brother in faith or a fellow peer in creation”.  It is as though he were explaining the afore-mentioned verse.

What may be understood from the above call is the principle of equality among the members of humankind. And in Islam, a new faith which Moroccans had introduced in Nigeria, Nigerians had actually found a faith attuned to their natural disposition -a religion that has no room whatsoever for racial divisions or ethnic discrimination. This lofty human principle has continued to inspire and guide Moroccan-Nigerian relations. Accordingly, the Marrakech-based Sovereign allowed a Nigerian man of letters, Aby Ishâq Al-Kanemy to lecture in one of the most prestigious institutes, a beehive of scholarship attended by countless scholars -at a time when his African brethren were being led in chains and manacles towards Western markets to be sold into slavery!

The only reason why Nigerian Kanem-Borneo kings used to invite Moroccan scholars to come to their kingdom was that the scholars had high ethics and exemplary patterns of conduct. This is explicitly stated in a letter addressed by one of the Sultans of Borneo to Moroccan scholars during the Merinid Era. In 843 of the Hegira, he wrote to them, reproaching them the long absence: “why have you forsaken the tradition of your elders? Why have you refrained from coming to us and sending delegations, as had been the case with your predecessors with our elders? You ought to come as had been your habit because this country is yours, as it has been since the days of your ancestors”.

One of the human features of this relation is peaceful co-existence notwithstanding differences in faith. On account of their famed trustworthiness, pagan kings in Western Africa used to enlist the help of Moroccans in managing the affairs of government and to appoint them to the highest positions in their kingdoms, as has been historically established in the kingdoms of Ghana and Oweo -the latter being located in South-west Nigeria. And thanks to the noble and virtuous ethics that these consultants possessed, Islam managed to spread in the area.

The theme revolving around civilization

More aptly than any other epithets perhaps, the word that describes Moroccan-African relationships best is Ta ‘âruf (or, mutual acquaintance), a key word in the verse which serves as the basis of the present lecture. It is noticeable that the Qurânic context did not stop at the limits of uni-directional and uni-dimensional “knowledge”, for Almighty Allah did not say: “that ye may know”.  Instead He said, “that ye may know each other”. Ta ‘âruf (or, mutual acquaintance) is characterized by mutual recognition of the specificities and the avoidance of any attempt to negate the cultural identities of the peoples seeking mutual acquaintance.

While theorists have differed in their definitions of the concept of ‘civilization’, the raw material from which all definitions of civilization have been derived and formulated is Ta ‘âruf (or, mutual acquaintance). The other derivative term, I’tirâf (or, recognition of the other), is indeed stronger and more eloquent than At-Tassâmuh (or, mutual tolerance), which is frequently utilized today. If we are looking for an agreed upon term, talk about mutual acquaintance is bound to lead us to civilization -a term defined by a theorist as “every product or work reflexive of the intellectual, emotional, and behavioral characteristics pertaining to a socially aware being, brought forth or done in the framework of some ideal principles and lofty values which delight and furthers the happiness of humanity, at large.”

Along the same lines, Muslim scholars, having explored the signification of the term civilization in the Noble Quran, have defined it as “beholding and bearing witness to all the signs and meanings of civilization which result in a humanistic model that probes into the values of Tawheed (Unity of God) and Rubübiah (the Lordship of Allah over all the Creation). The model is then used as an unseen dimension related to the unity of the Creator of the Universe, the Originator of its Laws, and the Manager of its course. Accordingly, the mission and role of man is to assume Lieutenancy on behalf of the Creator, to subject the elements dwelling therein, to benefit from its boons, to internet with its components that have been subjected to man well, and to establish peaceful relations with them. This is significant because these elements are either creatures singing the praises of Allah or provisions which are worthy of preservation and care. As a vicegerent on earth man is also required to establish relations with his fellow human beings on the face of the earth, based on brotherhood, mutual affection, good disposition to do good, and readiness to do anything possible to promote happiness in this world and bliss in the Hereafter.”

This Qurânic conception of civilization actually characterizes Moroccan-Nigerian relations which date back to ancient times -to the fifth century B.C, the era dubbed by Herodotus as “the era of the mute trade,” in reference to a silent exchange of goods and commodities. The mute trade is the oldest exchange known to humanity; it is barter or monetary trade based on mutual trust.

A little time after the middle of the Eleventh Century, Moroccan geographer Aba ‘Ubaid Al-Bikry completed a full description of the main trans-Saharan trade-routes. At the time there were several routes used by caravans. Caravans would thus set out from such cities as Marrakech, Tlemcen, Tunis, and Tripoli, to traverse the great desert before reaching the main trading posts in West Africa.

British historian Fagh recounts how some Moroccan traders played the role of agents between Nigerians and Europeans. They lived in trading centres in present-day Nigeria where they would receive goods. They would in turn distribute them among the locals. They then undertook to collect locally produced goods and dispatch them to the trading posts on the coastline for export.

It was, in fact, through these Moroccan traders that Islam was spread in this part of the world: it actually spread very much like water coming downstream and reached out for regions in what came to be present-day Nigeria. Many Moroccans mixed with the local populations, settled down, and intermarried with the natives. Arab people in Nigeria, who are known as As-Shwa Arabs, consist of millions of people and represent a high percentage of the population. Essentially concentrated in the north-eastern province, these people descend from old Arab tribes some of whose branches had migrated from Morocco to Nigeria. They claim descent from such tribes as Al-Qawâlem, At-Thawâbeth, Al-Hamidiah, and As-Shawâfi’, The descendants of these tribes still preserve their authentic Arabic language and traditions. One of their most notable figures is Allâmah (senior scholar) Sherif lbrahim Sâlih Al-Husseiny, the present-day Mufti of Nigeria.

Some Moroccan researchers consider that the Hausa language, one of the major African languages after Arabic, had derived much of its substance, customs, and ways from Moroccan-Nigerian cross-cultural interactions. As one scholar points out, “accordingly, Berber people mingled with black people and Arabs in the deserts and its western and southern parts. Different bloods mingled and so did the traditions, mores and ways, lending strength to ties. From such mingling, there emerged the Hausa people.”

By the Eight-century of the Hegira, cross-cultural interactions had reached their apogee. As the Venetian writer, Giovani Leonzo, noted, on the basis of information he gathered in 1575: “Besides, Fez and Cairo, Kano is now one of the most important cities in Africa. According to Moroccan reports, a visitor can find therein anything he may want. This city is located at the head of a triangle the base of which consists of Fez and Cairo, with the distance separating each of the cities being roughly the same.”

This statement is true: Kano, the major Islamic city south of the Sahara, was indeed re-planned after the fashion of Fez thanks to Malian Wanaghra builders and architects who had been trained by the highly-gifted Moroccan architect, Aby Ishaq Ibrahim As­Sâhily,

Besides, because of the disturbances which had taken place along the routes typically used by Moroccan pilgrims, on account of the violent confrontations between the Ottomans and the Europeans across much of the Mediterranean during the first half of the Sixteenth Century, the Hausa land became the travelling station where Moroccan pilgrims would stop, rest, and trade on their way to Hijâz.

At the official level, there was some correspondence between the Saadi prince, Ahmed Al-Mansür, and the sovereign of the Kingdom of Kanem Borneo, which culminated in the drawing of a document pledging allegiance to the former by the latter. However, the sudden death of the Kanem ambassador on the way resulted in the loss of the document which never reached its addressee. Similar correspondence continued between Saadi princes and the leaders of the Kobi Kingdom, which was formerly established in the North of present-day Nigeria.

As for the visit paid by Allâmah (or, senior scholar) Mohammed Ben Abdelkarim Al-Mghily to Kano in the Ninth Century of the Hegira, it was a major event not only for Kano per se but also for all Hausa provinces. Al-Mghily played a crucial role in establishing the legal policy in these provinces. He thus advised the local leaders to appoint judges, to establish Hudud (or, prescribed punishments), and to reform the affairs of the society through the adoption of Hissbah (market inspection), the establishment of educational systems, the training of Imams and Murshideen (religious counsellors), and the banishment of nudity, which was still quite widespread in certain areas in that epoch. In fact, the author of Al-Athâr Al-Kanâwiah (Kano Vestiges) has pointed out that Kaftans, turbans, and long and loose garments, which now constitute the traditional dress of all Muslim tribes in Nigeria, actually became fashionable in the era of Mohammed Ramfa, the King of Kano, who had invited Imam Al-Mghily to his Kingdom. In all likelihood, the items making up the new attire was part and parcel of the gifts offered by Moroccans to the people of Nigeria.

The Theme revolving around the Spiritual Aspect

In the verse under study, Almighty Allah has set up a balance for the attainment of His Good-pleasure and established an arena for his good servants to vie with one another. He (Glory and Majesty be to Him) said: “Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (he who Is) the most righteous of you”. Piety has almost become the equivalent of Tawheed (Unity of Allah) in the Revelation, as evidenced by Almighty Allah’s words: “He made them stick dose to the command of piety”. In this respect, Ibn Rajab says: “piety is Allah’s recommendation to all of His creatures; it is also the state and course of action recommended by the Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) for his Ummah. In fact, when he (Peace and blessings be upon him) dispatched an Emir (or, commander) at the head of a military expedition, he advised him to fear Allah in his most inner self and to fear Him out of consideration for Muslim people under his command. Also, when the Messenger of Allah delivered his speech on the Sacrifice Day at the end of Hujjat Al-Wadâ’ (or the Farewell Pilgrimage), he advised people to be God­fearing and to listen and obey their Imams. When he delivered his speech, people said: “it is as though it were an admonition offered by someone who was bidding us farewell, advise us, then. He told us: ‘I advise you to be pious, to fear Allah, and to obey (those in charge) of your affairs.”

Taqwa (piety) is Wilâyat (Protection and support) and the Mutaqqûn (the pious ones) are Awliâ ‘ (Protectors and supporters) and the two are collocations as testified to by the Quran. The Almighty says: “No men can be its guardians, except the righteous”. Elsewhere, the Gloried One says: “Behold! Verily on the friends of Allah there is no fear, nor shall they grieve; those who believe and (constantly) guard against evil”.

Now some righteous people have defined Taqwa (or, piety) as absolute compliance with Allah’s commands and absolute eschewal of all prohibited deeds. Accordingly, Allah’s Good pleasure is given precedence over his servant’s pleasure. This definition is also known to have been given to Tassawuf (or, Sufism); in fact, it is the definition chosen by Mawlâna Abu Al- ‘Abbâss Ahmed Ibn Mohammed At-Tijâny (May Allah be pleased with him). On the basis of this detail, any discussion which revolves around piety can be a talk centered on Sufism. All Ummah scholars concur that Sufism is the Sunni pathway conducive to Tazkiah (purification), as well as one of the most significant spiritual revolutions in Islam.

Islam made its way to Nigeria through Sufi Orders owing to the Almoravid movement. Islam may well have reached out the areas well before the establishment of the Almoravid State, thanks to merchants and traders, as has been pointed out by several chroniclers and historians. However, it was the Almoravids who had actually sped up the process of spreading Islam in the Western part of what was then called Sudan (or, the land of darker skinned people), instead of letting the process follow its slow and gradual pace.

Ever since that time, a number of Sufi Order Zawâyâh (or, Sufi gathering, praying, and living quarters) have been set up. While it is true that some Orders had originated in the Levant, such as Al-Qâdiriah or Ar-Rifâ ‘iah, but they had all spread to West Africa, in general, and Nigeria, in particular, through Moroccan passageways. They actually acquired typically Moroccan characteristic traits before being implanted in West Africa. The Qâdirian Sufi Order spread thanks to Kentian Sheikhs, “whose clans had dwelt in the Touat region before moving into the depth of the Sahara and other regions in the Western Sudan”. Some analysts believe that Imam Mohammed Ibn Abdelkerim Al-Mghily was the first person to have introduced the Qâdiriah Order to Nigeria. The Sheikh of the Qâdiriah Order in Nigeria, during the era of the great Mujahid (or, militant), Othman Ibn Fodi, the founder of the Fodi Islamic State, had Qâdiriah source-books whose Issnâd (or, chains of ascription) all converge with the writings of Sheikh Mohammed Ibn Abdelkrim Al-Mghily.

However, the most noteworthy upturn in these spiritual relations actually occurred with the establishment of the Tijâni Zâwiah in Fez, by the founder of the Tijâny Sufi Order, Mawlâna Aby Al- ‘Abbass Ahmed Ibn Mohammed At-Tijâny. This was really a new page in the history of Moroccan-Nigerian relations, which deepened the attachment of Nigerian Muslim people to Morocco and strengthened the affinities between the two peoples in ways and extents known only to Allah. Today in Nigeria there exists thousands of Tijani Zawayah, each one of which serves as a cultural representation of the Kingdom of Morocco in Nigeria. One might just imagine the extent of loyalty, loving-kindness, emulation (of the patterns set by Morocco), the prayers said on behalf of the Kingdom and its people, both openly and privately, as well as the matchless attachment of Nigerian Muslims to Morocco.

It would be recalled that the Tijâni Sufi Order started its outreach from Fez, which served then as the well-protected Capital of the Alawite King, Sultan Mawlay Slimane, and the founder of the Tijâni Order, Mawlâna Aby Al-‘ Abbass Ahmed Ibn Mohammed Tijâny. It started full-fledged, with plenty of momentum, in order to spread Islam and establish the Tijâni Order in Africa. This outreach yielded good and bountiful fruits for all. The Tijâni Order accessed West Africa thanks to the learned and pious Sufi Sheikh, Mohammed Al-Hafid Al-Alaoui At-Tijâni, one of the most distinguished students of the founder of the Order. The militant Sheikh Omar Al-Fouty, drew on that learned Sheikh, through the offices of a third party. Sheikh Omar thereafter undertook to disseminate the Tijâni Sufi way in different parts of Africa. It was he that introduced the Sufi Way in Nigeria, thanks to the strong and excellent ties that bound him with the Foudy dynasty and the sovereigns of the Kingdom of Kanem-Bornu. The relations were such that many people came to believe that Sultan Mohammed Bellou Ibn Sheikh Othman Ibn Foudy had learned about the Tijâni Sufi way from Sheikh Omar Al-Fouty.

In the Twentieth century, Sheikh Ibrahim Iniass Al-Koulkhy played a major role in spreading the Tijâni Order. His followers now represent one of the most important social categories in West Africa, in general, and in Nigeria, specifically. A Moroccan newspaper reckons that during his lifetime, the followers of the Sheikh and his Order added up to forty million, at least. In sum, “Africa and its Sahara have found in this Sunni duality, that is, the Alawite State and the Tijâni Sufi way the best mix to spread Islamic thought and the main components of the Mohammadan Sunni tradition. As a result, Morocco has rightfully acquired such renown and established the Alawite kings as the leader of (Islamic) unity from the Mediterranean to the Niger.”

The present thematic section cannot be rounded off without a passing reference to one of Awliâ’ Allah (or, saintly people) whom Ahmed El-Yamani met in one of his trips from Fez to West Africa. We have in mind Sidi Abdellah Ibn Abdeljalil Al-Bornaoui, whose Karâmât (miraculous deeds) gained such a notoriety in Morocco thanks to the report made by Ahmed El-Yamani and thanks to the compilation thereafter penned by Ahmed Ibn Abdelhay Al-Halaby, under the title Raihân Al-Qulûb fîma Li-Sheikh Abdellah El-Bornaoui min Asrâr Al-Ghuyûb (Sweet Basil for the Hearts: the Secrets of the Unseen as attributed to Sheikh Abdellah El-Bornaoui).


One of the most wonderful occurrences, as decreed by the All-wise, All- knowing, is that the Nigerian Sheikh met with his disciple, Ahmed El-Yamani, who had travelled from Fez to Northern Nigeria, coincided with the year the era of the Sherifyan Alawite State began to establish itself.

The Scholarly and Cultural Aspects of Moroccan-Nigerian Relations

Knowledge is at the source of goodness: it liberates the minds from illusions and prepares the ground for acceptable deeds. Besides, it shows its bearer the path to rightness and goodness, illuminates for him the alleys conducive to guidance and salvation, and opens his breast and intellect to understand the signs and parables given by the Lord of All Beings. In this respect, Almighty Allah (Gloried be He) says: “And such are the Parables we set forth for mankind, but only understand them those who have knowledge”.

Islam has a stand vis-à-vis scholarship unmatched by any other revealed religion or worldly system: Islam exhorts people to seek it (wherever it may be had) and to acquire it; it urges them to show sincere intention in using it and sharing it; it recognizes its possessors as being its God-fearing safe-keepers; it raises their standing in this worldly existence; and promise them eternal bliss in the Hereafter.

As far as relations between Morocco and Nigeria are concerned, they have transcended mere taking and attained the stage of full cross-cultural exchange -with all that this term suggests in terms of interactions between human beings-in order to achieve their sought-after goals. This is perhaps what has impelled some to put forth the concept of “scholarly/scientific culture” which they perceive to be the outcome of a triadic relation between three elements, notably: culture, science, and a scientific method.

Culture here should be taken to refer to a range of knowledge, sciences, literatures, and arts which people learn and appropriate. Specific to the realm of the mind and intellect, essentially, these practices constitute the bridge leading to civilization -which should be perceived as something concrete, like a machine that is invented, a building that is erected, or a system of government that is established. In a nutshell, civilization is material and culture largely is mental.

In the cultural and scholarly sphere, Morocco’s strong influence on Nigeria is seen in the Malekite Rite which has spread in West Africa and still enjoys a powerful presence, notwithstanding all the forces which attempt to uproot it from areas where it is well entrenched. Indeed, the educational curricula in Nigeria are founded on Malekite jurisprudence. Besides, the Nigerian Constitution stipulates that Shar’ Courts should abide by the Fatwas (or, expert legal opinions) pertaining to the Malekite School of Islamic Law. Malekism is the school of jurisprudence that is approved by the Fatwa Authority. And all the scholars that have really risen to prominence in Nigeria are Malekite jurists, without exception.

The firm entrenchment of the Madhab may be attributed to the wealth of the school itself and the mighty efforts expended by Moroccan scholars in order to bolster its foundations in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nigerian scholars and jurists take much of the credit in this regard in view of their solicitous care for the Malekite heritage. They have indeed shown such rigor and diligence in studying it, teaching it, and writing about its many subjects. They have also fully explored its depths and drawn on its various sources so much so that the term ‘Alim (scholar) in Nigeria has become synonymous to that of the Faqih (or, jurist) in the Malekite School of Law.

With the exception of a few Eastern sources that have reached Nigeria by way of Morocco, a researcher will find a virtually limitless list of Moroccan books which knowledge-seekers study voraciously in Nigeria in order to graduate in their area of studies. In his introduction to an authentication study of Al-Walaty’s Fath As-Shakour (Opening the Way to Gratitude) the late professor Mohammed Ibrahim El-Kettani quoted a long list featuring the titles of Moroccan books which knowledge-seekers study in their own disciplines for the purpose of getting a thorough grounding in jurisprudence, in Western black Soudan, including Nigeria, which constitutes no exception to the rule in that regard.

The curriculum followed, as devised by Moroccan scholars, is still being accredited by antique scholarly institutions. Typically, “access to Kuttâb (traditional elementary class) begins with the process of memorizing the Quran, according to the reading method of Warsh. In the meantime, pupils begin learning to write in the well-known Moroccan Arabic calligraphic style, which is distinguished by its forms, arrangement of letters, dots, and style. Once a student has mastered the basics, he moves on to study scholarly, juristic, linguistic, and literary texts. The influence exercised by Moroccan scholars is sometimes direct by means of actual contacts between students and scholars who have not ceased to travel to Sub-Saharan African countries in order to share their knowledge with the local people. At other times, this influence is exercised indirectly by way of Moroccan books and anthologies which have spread, gained renown in Nigeria, and become the accredited and reliable sources of knowledge.

As far as direct contacts are concerned, one of the earliest African persons to have ever come to Moroccan institutions for the purpose of learning and study was the Kanem poet, Ibrahim Ibn Ya’cub (died 609 A.H). The poet became all the more famous because of the verses he said before the Almohad Emir, Al-Mansür:

When the veil he removed my eyes

Beheld charisma personified veiled

His grace drew me ever so close

But my awe set me afar as I drew near

Among the most famous Nigerian leaders who had received their scholarship in Morocco, mention could be made of Sheikh Mohammed El-Amine Al-Kanemi, who resided in Fez for two years and visited Tripoli, Al-Qayrawân, and Tlemcen during his sojourn. Upon his return to Bornu, he played a venerable role in disseminating knowledge and assuming the position of an Emir in the Kanem-Bornu Kingdom. He was famous for his extensive knowledge, justice, piety, (ambassadorial) missions to the Arab world, and his debates with the leaders of near and far-away Islamic Kingdoms.

In regard to Moroccan scholars who have visited Nigeria and left some praiseworthy legacies, which have been acknowledged with gratitude and commended by successive generations, one could cite the following: jurist Makhlouf Ibn Ali Ibn Sâlih Al-Balbaly (died in 940 A.H) and Abderrahmane Ibn Saqqeen (died in 956 A.H). However, the scholar who takes most credit for disseminating Islamic scholarship in Nigeria is Imam and Allâmah (or, senior scholar) Mohammed Ibn Abdelkarim Al-Mghily (died 909 A.H). This scholar had settled for sometimes in Kishna and Kano and established close and strong ties with the King of Kano then, Mohammed Ramfa (died 903 A.H). Soon the king appointed him as his adviser on religious affairs. Al-Mghily was the first to have established the systems of: Qadâ ‘ (judgeship), Hisbah (market inspection and audit), and administration, on behalf of the Kano King, mainly via advisory epistles, as the author, referred to earlier in the Civilizational Aspect. The epistles were later collected under the title, A Collection of Letters dealing with Administration and State Policy. Another letter, which was printed independently, was titled: Advice on What is Permissible for a Ruler to do in order to deter People from illicit Things.

Al-Mghily had left these epistles and Fatwas (expert legal opinions), which for many centuries remained the prime reference in defining and furnishing the landmarks to be heeded by governors in running state affairs. His influence continued for many generations after his lifetime. In fact, the founders of the Fodi state, which was established three centuries after his death, deemed Al-Mghily’s epistles to be a sort of lamplight illuminating their ways and their author to be the master providing the right guidance for them to follow. They continued to refer to his legacy and use his sayings and opinions as evidence to substantiate their decisions and actions.

Allâmah (or, senior scholar) Sheikh Othman Ibn Fody, as a matter of fact, relied on the writings of Imam Al-Mghily not only to organize the affairs of his Imârah (or, Principality and governance), administratively and politically, but also to handle matters of governance and Jihad (or, Holy struggle ). Prior to this, he had made use of Al-Mghily’s teachings in theorizing about the intellectual fundaments upon which the Fody State was established. In this respect, some researchers consider that Sheikh Othman Ibn Fody was influenced by Al-Mghily more than any other authority. And this is manifest in the literature he has left us. A Moroccan scholar who had done research into the sources utilized by Sheikh Othman Ibn Fody in his books (which add up to about a hundred) and he found them to be based, with but a few exceptions, on Moroccan sources.

Now if there is a distinguished book which has, more than any other, exercised an influence in directing the Fody reformation movement, it would be Al-Madhkhal (the Access/Introductory Reference), by Ibn Al-Hajj Al’Abdary Al-Fassy. In this sociological and pedagogical book, the author provides an exhaustive description of the conditions of Islamic society in his time, with a particular focus on Bida ‘ (or, unorthodox beliefs and practices) and Inhirâfât (or, deviations) that had cropped up in his society. The author undertook to provide correctives to the patterns of conduct followed by a Muslim person in his day-to-day life. Sheikh Othman’s interest in Al-Fâssy’s book was such that he summed it up in a compendium which he titled Libâb Al-Madhkhal (An Accessible Path to Al-Madhkal). He then wrote a whole book, after the fashion of Al-Madkhal, which he called Ihiâa ‘As-Sunnah wa Ikhmâd Al-Bid’a (Reviving the Tradition (of the Prophet) and Extinguishing (the fire) of Bid’a (or, unorthodoxy).

Mawlay Sahib Al-Jalalah, Ameer Al-Mumineen (Majesty, Commander of the Faithful)

The spiritual, human, and cultural relations binding Morocco and Nigeria are so deeply entrenched in history and endowed with such humanistic vistas that no one can deny them, erase them, or obstruct them by putting obstacles on their way. In the past, foreign occupying forces have attempted to do so but have failed dismally. Now while your noble ancestors have been the guardians of these relations through history, the current venerable endeavors made by your majesty to unite African countries are truly commendable attempts to revive the heritage of your forefathers. There is a pertinent Hadïth-saying which goes: “A genuine Wassil (keeper of good family ties) is not the one that responds in kind to a gesture of good will, but rather one who will attempt to maintain good ties even when they are severed by others”. The lofty Sherifyan attempts to maintain good human and spiritual ties with fellow African nations is certainly a genuine endeavor to foster brotherly ties, which the colonizers have attempted -but attempted in vain- to sever.

The Moroccan outreach initiative have been extended to near and far-away countries alike, so much so that the Director of the French Geopolitical Research Observatory has recently stated that the commitments of Morocco to Africa and its ambitions there have allowed it to become “the only Arab country that has clear and on-going African policy, minute knowledge of the Continent, as well as fruitful human, cultural, and religious relations with African countries.”

In closing, I should like to express my ample thanks, in the first place, to His Majesty, the Commander of the Faithful. We believe that his worthy endeavors to foster Moroccan African solidarity, in particular, and more generally, his righteous and charitable deeds for the purpose of serving Islam and benefiting humans have been commendable and countless, indeed. One example has been the last visit paid by His Majesty, the Commander of the Faithful, to several African countries. It is assuredly an opening for large-scale cooperation opportunities between Morocco and Nigeria. Another example is the establishment of the Mohammed VI Foundation of African Oulema (Scholars), which would certainly fulfil the aspirations of many people after a new dawn-one that would dispel the dark clouds which have often covered our religious discourse. Indeed, all of these endeavors stem from genuine disposition to do good, to spread virtue, and to enact the lofty heritage of the Prophet’s Household.

Allah I implore to prolong the life of His Majesty Ameer Al-Mümineen (the Commander of the Faithful) and to preserve him as precious asset for the faithful people of Morocco and for the entire Islamic Ummah. May Allah delight his Majesty with Crown Prince, Mawlây Al-Hassan and to lend him support through his brother, Mawlây Rachid and all the other members of the Sherifyan Alawite Family.

Amen, 0 Allah, the N ear One -the Hearer and Answerer of all prayers.

[1] A Hassanian lecture dilevered before The Commander of the Faithful, His Majesty King MOHAMMED VI, by Pr. Ibrahim Ahmed MAQARI, Imam at the National Mosque in Abuja and Professor at the University of Bayero-Kano, Nigeria, On Ramadan 6th 1438 A.H. (June 1st,2017), in: “the Hassanian lectures Ramadan A.H./May-June 2017, published by The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs, p:37-51”.