Shari‘ah on Trial Northern Nigeria’s Islamic Revolution By Sarah Eltantawi (Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2017. 272 pages.)

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Ousmane Kane



At the turn of the nineteenth century, a movement of religious reform and
state building took place in present-day northern Nigeria, culminating with
the establishment of the Sokoto Caliphate. This movement was as central to
West African history as was the 1789 French revolution to European history.
Its leader, the Muslim scholar Uthman Dan Fodio (d. 1817), deserves
recognition as a towering figure of nineteenth-century African Islam. Dan
Fodio’s community (jamā‘a), which included many scholars, toppled the
preexisting Hausa kingdoms, replacing them with emirates ruled by Fulani
leaders who all paid allegiance to the Caliph based in Sokoto. At its zenith,
the Caliphate, which became the most powerful economic and political entity
of West Africa in the nineteenth century, linked over thirty different
emirates and over ten million people ...

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