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The Great Mosque of Kairouan (also called the Mosque of Uqba or Mosque of Oqba) had the reputation, since the 9th century, of being one of the most important centers of the Maliki school.[12] The Great Mosque of Kairouan is situated in the city of Kairouan in Tunisia.


Most historians are of the view that Islam paved its way in Western Sudan in the 8th century through trade, but there was no conscious effort to spread the religion. Islam at this juncture was mixed with the African Indigenous Religion because Western Sudanese at the age saw Islam as an appendage to the African Indigenous Religion. Islam appealed to the conscience of Western Sudanese, therefore, the people accepted the religion without understanding the core values of the religion.
Islam had gone through three important stages after its introduction in Western Sudan. The quarantine stage where Islam was limited to the North African Berbers, the syncretic stage where Islam was mixed with the culture of Western Sudanese, and the reformation stage which gave birth to the advent of the Maliki School of Law in Western Sudan.

There are five main Jurisprudential Schools of thought in Islam termed: Maliki, Shafi, Hanafi, Hanbali and Jafariyya Schools of thought. The Maliki School of thought was friendly to some states around the African continent especially Egypt and Tunisia but was strange to Western Sudanese. Pilgrimage was an important factor that called for the reformation of Islam in Western Sudan, hence the introduction of the Maliki School of Law in Western Sudan.
Pilgrimage to Makkah made Western Sudanese come into contact with the unadulterated Islam, and this called for the introduction of scholars to reform Islam. The rulers of some states in Western Sudan brought scholars from abroad to reform Islam. Among these rulers was Yahya ibn Ibrahim, who was accompanied by Abdullah ibn Yasin to reform Islam among the Sanhaja Berbers.

Yahya ibn Ibrahim made a historical journey in 1040 to Makkah and came into contact with the unadulterated Islam. The King saw the need to reform Islam therefore on his return home from Makkah, he passed through an Islamic center in Kayrawan, which specialized in the Maliki School of Law for assistance. Fortunate for the King, there was an energetic Sanhaja scholar in Kayrawan called Abdullah ibn Yasin who agreed to assist the King in the reformation of Islam.
Abdullah ibn Yasin, a disciplinarian scholar enforced the Maliki School of Law with the royal support among the Sanhaja. The scholar made compulsory the congregational Friday Prayer and punished absentees, established an Islamic school and stood unopposed to the other schools of thought. In other words, any form of Islam apart from the Maliki School of Law was not accepted by Abdullah ibn Yasin.

The reformation of Islam among the Sanhaja was moving successfully until after the death of Yahya ibn Ibrahim. The successor of Yahya ibn Ibrahim decided not to assist Abdullah ibn Yasin in the reformation of Islam, therefore life in the quarters became difficult for the reformer. In order to cater for his needs, Abdullah ibn Yasin charged a fee for converting people to Islam, and the straw that broke the camel’s back was when other scholars opposed him.
Abdullah ibn Yasin left the King’s quarters and secured a place at the Ribat, which was a fortress used as a shield against the Byzantine. His followers followed suit. Low and behold Abdullah ibn Yasin became a leader of a huge army ready to reform and impose the Maliki School of Law in Western Sudan.
Abdullah ibn Yasin during this expedition captured the Tran-Saharan trade route, conquered the Western Sudanese States and enforced the Maliki School of Law in the region. Any form of Islamic Jurisprudence apart from the Maliki School of Law was not accepted by Abdullah ibn Yasin. The Al-moravid movement extended its borders to Andalusia (Spain) but was disestablished in 1147.
Though the Al-Moravid movement was disestablished in 1147, the Maliki School Law that the movement enforced could not be wiped out from the minds of Western Sudanese. Hence the Maliki School of Law became the dominant school of law in Western Sudan, and even after the decline of the Western Sudanese States in the 11th century, Western Sudanese still adhered to the school of law.

The Maliki School of Law was not strange to Ghana because Ghanaians were part of the Western Sudanese States. It became the dominant Islamic School of Law in Ghana. However, in the 1950s and 1970s, some scholars in Ghana started pursuing Islamic education abroad, and these scholars introduced other Islamic schools of thought in the region.
Majority of Ghanaian Muslims are Sunni Muslims and therefore adhere to the Sunni schools. However, there are two adherents of the Sunni Schools in Ghana. The first adherents of this Sunni school is the Hanbali School of Law who refer to themselves as Ahlus-Sunna wal Jama’ah. Majority of the scholars of this group pursued their tertiary education in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait. The Ahlus-Sunnah Wal Jama’ah is headed by Hajj Umar Ibrahim Imam, who had his tertiary education in Saudi Arabia in the 1970’s.

The second adherents of the Sunni School adhere to the Maliki School of Law referred to as the Tijaniyya order. The early scholars of this group also had their tertiary education abroad. These early scholars studied at Azhar University in Egypt. Some of them include; the late Sheikh Abdul Razak Tahir, the late Sheikh Ahmad al-Badawi Abdullah Maikano Jallo, the late Sheikh Jamal Baba among others. Most of these scholars left Ghana to study in Egypt in the 1950s.
Although the Ahlus-Sunnah and Tijaniyya are Sunni Muslims, the differences could be due to adhering to different Sunni Schools; thus the Hanbali and Maliki Schools respectively. Secondly, while the Hanbali School has been influenced by the views of Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahab, the Maliki on the other hand has been influenced by Sufi ideas. Adhering to different schools of law sometimes amounts to different interpretation of the Islamic law, and this sometimes creates unwholesome situations among Muslims in Ghana.



Nurul-Anwar (The light of the lights) is based on the current G.E.S and WASSCE syllabus in Islamic Studies (history section). The book even though written according to the WASSCE syllabus, it will be good for tertiary students as well.
The book traces the historical development of Islam from the Arabian Peninsula to the spread and impact of Islam in Western Sudan (Ancient West Africa). Students will understand from this book that Islam in some cases was spread through the territorial expansion of the Islamic territories but was not spread by the sword. Readers will get to understand that Islam expanded its territories from the Arabian Peninsula to North Africa but people were not forced to profess the faith. It is important to state that this was a period of territorial expansion just as the world experienced the period of colonialism.
Students will be enlightened that Islam came to Ancient West Africa in the 8th century and Ancient West Africans willingly accepted the faith.


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About Abdul Mannan Yusif

The author, Abdul Mannan Yusif, holds Master of Arts (African Studies) and First Class Honors in Bachelor of Arts (Study of Religions) from Islamic University College and University of Ghana, Legon. He studied Arabic at Hamdaniyyah Islamic School and holds a certificate in Early Childhood Education from National Nursery Teachers’ Training Centre Accra.
Currently, the author is the headmaster of Hamdaniyyah Islamic Senior High School and teaches Islamic Studies following years of experience of teaching the discipline at Top Accountancy School and other remedial schools respectively. The author was the vice president of the Ghana Muslim Students Association (GMSA) and the organizing secretary of the Religious Students Association both at Islamic University College Ghana.
The author’s many years of teaching Islamic Studies has convinced him that a combination of careful discussion and comprehensive presentation of the discipline will enhance the students understanding and appreciation of the historical development of Islam.

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