Islam, Shuwa Arabs, and Nigeria

By (Sheikh Sheriff Ibrahim Saleh)

The Arab tribes came from the Middle East to Sudan, and then entered the land of Waddai, Bagirmi and Kanem before the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, and their presence (Shuwa-Arab) in these areas is not doubtful for any one that know these places.

The Arabs inhabit a large area in Nigeria, just like in Chad. And there is a clear difference between the case of the Arabs in Chad and the Arabs in Nigeria.

 While we see Arabs and other Arab dialects make up the majority of the population of Chad, we find out that it differs a lot in Nigeria as the Arabs in Nigeria are among the minority as their estimated number is 9% or 10% of the total population of Nigeria,

Perhaps some researchers would doubt the veracity of these numbers, but we are of this uncertainty because the Census conducted relied on by many people is inaccurate to some degree.

I have confined these statistical operations and population estimate to the residents of the villages and cities and the people nearby only because it is not easy to count the “Baggara”(The Shuwa-Arab cattlemen) like other citizens.

The Premier of Northern Nigeria has on some occasions revealed that his country’s Arab citizens are estimated at two million.

 Consequently, it is therefore not doubtful that the estimate given by the Census board is at its minimum because the population of the Arabs in Borno state alone is very high, not to mention the population of the Arabs from Hausa lands, the east and west regions, and Lagos State put together.

Over the past, there has been an uncertainty among some people about the authenticity of the Arabs in Nigeria based black color of their skin.

 However, this is said to b a weak argument because the dark colour on their skin is dictated by the heartland or the environment in which they are living as established by anthropologists.

The humanitarian terms are the same in all humans, though they vary in their physical attributes and same is true for the Arabs as well. History has also recorded the presence of Black Arabs, even in the pre-Islamic era, the days in which the Arabs were prominent in the Arabian Peninsula.

“Qalqashandi” says in his book “NihaayatulArabi”:

“It is still on-going the Arab movement from the Arabian Peninsula and their spread in many countries up to the Islamic conquest of kingdoms and empires.

They spread Islam to many countries until they came to the land of the Turks and nearby, to extreme Morocco, to Island of Andalusia, to countries of chad basin, filled the horizon, urbanize villages and civilize generation ”

Until he (Qalqashandi) even said:

“And among them, there are Arabs who dispersed in countries and their outlook has filled the globe.”

This is to say that the Arab nation had been widely diffused which is unprecedented in the history of other nations.

In 1391 AD, The Arabs became so powerful in Kanem-Borno and began to interfere with the Empire’s interior affairs, as they were involved in some civil wars that lasted for a few years between tribes of Bulalah and the legitimate government of Saifawa Dynasty as recorded by all local writers and that significant historical document exchanged between Borno and Cairo in the era of Mamalik Albargien.

Subsequently, if these Arab tribes had established an Emir or king in this country, the spread of Islam on a large scale should be attributed to them by now.

(Sheikh Sheriff Ibrahim Saleh)

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