Muhammed Bello
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Muhammed Bello
Muhammadu Bello
Sarkin Musulmi (Commander of the Faithful)
PredecessorUsman dan Fodio
SuccessorAbu Bakr Atiku, a brother
Born3 November 1781
Died25 October 1837
FatherUsman dan Fodio

Muhammadu Bello (Arabic: ? ‎) was the second Sultan of Sokoto[2] and reigned from 1817 until 1837. He was also an active writer of history, poetry, and Islamic studies. He was the son and primary aide to Usman dan Fodio, the founder of the Sokoto Caliphate and the first Sultan[3]. During his reign, he encouraged the spread of Islam throughout the region, increasing education for both men and women, and the establishment of Islamic courts. He died on October 25, 1837 and was succeeded by his brother Abu Bakr Atiku and then his son, Aliyu Babba[4].

Early life

Muhammed Bello was born to the fourth wife of Usman dan Fodio, known as Hauwa or Inna Garka, in 1781[5] Similar to all his siblings, he was involved in studies directed by his father in Degel until the family and some followers were exiled in 1804. In 1809, Bello was responsible for the founding of Sokoto which would become the key capital for his father's conquest of Hausa lands in the Fulani War (1804-1810).[5]

Many of his siblings dedicated significant time to scholastic efforts and became well known in this regard. Notable amongst these were his sister Nana Asma'u, a poet and teacher,[6] and Abu Bakr Atiku, who would become his successor as Sultan.[7]


Following the Fulani War, the Sokoto Caliphate was one of the largest states in Africa and included large populations of both Fulani and Hausa. Usman dan Fodio tried to largely suppress Hausa systems, including traditional leadership, education, and language.[7] Usman retired from administration of the state in 1815 and put Muhammed Bello in charge of some of the western Emirates of the Caliphate. Bello Presided over this Emirates from the city of Wurno close to Sokoto.

Upon the Death of Dan-Fodio, the Caliphate was thrown into disarray when the supporters of Bello encircled and sealed the gates of Sokoto, preventing other notable contenders to the office of Caliph ( including Bello's uncle Abdullahi Ibn Fodio ) from entering the city. The Caliphate eventually fractured into four Self-governing parts of which only the parts ruled by Bello's uncle; Abdullahi Ibn Fodio were to recognize and pay allegiance to Bello[].

Sultan Bello faced early challenges from dissident leaders and the aristocracy of both Fulani and Hausa populations. In contrast with his father, his administration was more permissive of many Hausa systems that had existed prior to the caliphate.[8][5] For Fulani populations, who had been largely pastoral prior to this point, Bello encourages permanent settlement around designed ribats with schools, mosques, fortifications, and other buildings.[9] Although these moves ended much opposition, some dissident leaders such as 'Abd al-Salam and Dan Tunku continued to cause early resistance to his rule. Dan Tunku remained a significant dissident leader as the head of the Emirate of Kazaure. Although Dan Tunku had fought on the side of his father in the Fulani War, when Bello named Ibrahim Dado the Emir of Kano in 1819, Dan Tunku organized oppositional forces in revolution. Bello assisted Ibrahim Dado in defeating the forces of Dan Tunku and building significant fortresses throughout the region where Dan Tunku had drawn his power.[9]

After ending some early opposition, the Sultan focused on consolidating his administration throughout the empire with significant construction, settlement, and uniform systems of justice.[7] One significant aspect that he expanded from his father was greatly expanded education of both men and women. His sister, Nana Asma'u, became a crucial part of expanding education to women becoming an important teacher and liaison to rural women to encourage education.[10]

During Muhammad Bello's rule, El Hadj Umar Tall, future founder of the Toucouleur empire, settled in Sokoto on his return from Mecca in 1822. Umar Tall was greatly influenced by Sultan Muhammad Bello as evidenced by the praise Tall lavished upon the Sultan in his own writings.[11] To affirm a permanent alliance, Sultan Bello married one of his daughters to Hajj Umar [12] who remained in Sokoto as a judge (qadi), and as a commanding officer in the Sultan's infantry until Bello's death.

Hugh Clapperton visited the court of Bello in 1824 and wrote a lot about the generosity and intelligence of the Sultan. Clapperton was very impressed at the writing works by Bello and his exhaustive knowledge regarding British exploration in India.[13] In 1826, Clapperton returned for a second visit, but Bello would not let him cross the border because of warfare with the Bornu Empire and Clapperton became ill and died.[13]

In 1836, the kingdom of Gobir revolted against Sokoto rule. Sultan Muhammed Bello gathered his forces and crushed the rebellion on 9 March 1836 at the Battle of Gawakuke.[14]

While ruling, he continued with significant educational pursuits, mainly history and poetry. His Infaku'l Maisuri (The Wages of the Fortunate) is often considered a definitive history of the Fulani Wars and his father's empire.[15] He wrote hundreds of texts on history, Islamic studies, and poetry during his lifetime.[7]

He died of natural causes, at the age of 58, on October 25, 1837 in Wurno[16] and was succeeded by his brother Abu Bakr Atiku as Sultan.[7]

Family Tree


  1. ^ ISLAMIC CULTURE - AN ENGLISH QUARTERLY: "And say: My Lord! Increase me in knowledge - Qur'an" Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine Vol. LIV No.4 - OCTOBER 1980
  2. ^ Wilks,Ivor. Wangara, Akan, and Portuguese in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries (1997). Bakewell, Peter (ed.). Mines of Silver and Gold in the Americas. Aldershot: Variorum, Ashgate Publishing Limited. p. 17.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "Log In - Oxford Islamic Studies Online". Retrieved .
  4. ^ "History Atlas". Retrieved .
  5. ^ a b c Boyd, Jean (1986). Mahdi Adamu (ed.). Pastoralists of the West African Savanna. Manchester, UK: International African Institute.
  6. ^ John H. Hanson (2012). Elias Kifon (ed.). The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to African Religion. West Sussex: Blackwell. pp. 365-376.
  7. ^ a b c d e Mikaberidze, Alexander (2011). Conflict and Conquest in the Islamic World. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
  8. ^ Last, Murray (1967). "A Note on Attitudes to the Supernatural in the Sokoto Jihad". Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria. 4 (1): 3-13. JSTOR 41971197. Retrieved 2020.
  9. ^ a b Salau, Mohammed Bashir (2006). "Ribats and the Development of Plantations in the Sokoto Caliphate: A Case Study of Fanisau". African Economic History. 34 (34): 23-43. doi:10.2307/25427025. JSTOR 25427025.
  10. ^ Boyd, Jean (2005). Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill.
  11. ^ Shareef, Muhammad. "The Revival of the Sunna and Destruction of Innovation" (PDF). Sankore Institute of Islamic African Studies International (SIIASI). Retrieved 2016.
  12. ^ Roberts, Richard L (1987). Warriors, Merchants, and Slaves. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. ISBN 9780804766135.
  13. ^ a b Kemper, Steven (2012). A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles Through Islamic Africa. New York: W.W. Norton.
  14. ^ Last, Murray (1967). The Sokoto Caliphate. New York: Humanities Press. pp. 74-5.
  15. ^ Adebayo, A.G. (1991). "Of Man and Cattle: A Reconsideration of the Traditions of Origin of Pastoral Fulani of Nigeria". History in Africa. 18: 1-21. doi:10.2307/3172050. JSTOR 3172050.
  16. ^ John Renard, ed. (2009). Tales of God's Friends: Islamic Hagiography in Translation. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. External link in |title= (help)

External links

Preceded by
Usman dan Fodio
2nd Sokoto Caliph
Succeeded by
Abu Bakr Atiku

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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