The Mohammed VI Foundation of African Oulema aims to revive and preserve the African Islamic heritage through a series of activities and programs designed for this purpose, which the Foundation has set as its supreme goal to preserve and disseminate the values of Islam.
From this point of view, the conference on the Islamic heritage of Africa between the past, present and future prospects organized by the section of the Mohammed VI Foundation of African Oulema in Niger, on Saturday and Sunday 17-18 Dhul Qa’da 1440 H, corresponding to 20-21 July 2019 in Niamey, reffered to the most important features of this heritage and all those who contributed to its establishment, conservation and maintenance.
A Rich History of Documented Manuscript
In this regard, Dr. Ali Yaqub, professor of the Islamic University of Niger, emphasized the role of Oulema in the West of Africa which was not limited to teaching, but included all aspects of life. Hence, those Oulema are aware of what Nigeriens left as heritage in terms of its content which clearly indicates their great role in society.
Moreover, the professor added that the heritage of Islamic manuscripts varied, and reminded on the point that a large part of those books did not reach the Nigerien community.
If African Oulema in the West Africa have a clear footprint in the establishment of this rich African Islamic heritage, the Islamic kingdoms that emerged in the region have a key role to play in preserving it. This is what Dr. Osman Junaid, Director of Higher Arab Education in Niger, said when he spoke about the role of different kingdoms in the spread of Islam and its roots in those areas.
Professor Othman Junaid highlighted how those great kingdoms and even smaller ones, which emerged in the north and east of Niger, stand as an impenetrable barrier to counter all movements that target Islam. He also mentionned its role in separating things that are inherent in religion and those related to customs and traditions among the people of the region, and how those kingdoms also had historical relations in Morocco.
Furthemore, Dr. Mohammed Al Farran, Director of the National Library of the Kingdom of Morocco, stated during his speech on the first day of the Islamic Heritage conference organized by the section of the Mohammed VI Foundation of African Oulema in Niger, that these relations are based on mutual influence and effective interaction between North and South. Also, he cited many examples of the nature of this relationship, such as the large quantity of the Arabic-African manuscripts in the National Library.
The Need to Preserve the African Islamic Heritage
Dr. Hamid Lahmer, Professor of Higher Education, at Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdallah University in Fes, during the conference on the Islamic Heritage of Africa, affirmed that Islam of the west region knows a rich and varied Islamic heritage that extends to all aspects of life and called on the importance of its preservation and protection.
In addition, the coordinator of the Committee of the Revitalization of the African Islamic Heritage of the Mohammed VI Foundation of African Oulema added that this heritage reflects the Islamic culture of African societies and provides clear evidence of the strong relations that bind the communities of the region. In this regard, he presented a series of proposals to preserve the African Islamic heritage, in which he called on graduate students, researches and specialized institutions to unite efforts and create effective means to carry out this work.
This is the work carried out by the scientific centers in different regions of Niger, as mentioned by Dr. Mahdi Al Haj Moaz in his intervention during the conference, which emphasized the role of this heritage to document the history of the region, as confirmed by Dr. Ayoub Gharb, Professor at the Islamic University of Niger, while talking about the heritage which consists of two physical and moral sections revealing the manuscripts of all the centers of Niger.