1.1 Background to the study
It is axiomatic that one of the factors that contributed to the development to Islam in Nigeria was poetry works. Arabic poetry began in Iwo town some years after the town came in contact with Islam in the year 1655 as said by Al-Iloriy. There were different types of themes used by the scholars such as Didactic, Ascetic, elegy, descriptive, panegyric, and thanksgiving poems.
The most popular among the poets are: Shaykh Ahmad Amin, Shaykh Muhalliy Aroworeki, Shaykh Muhally Badrudeen, Shaykh Abdul Baqi Muhammad etc. Their poetry works were rendered eloquently so much so that its rendition is made possible for their students to understand their message because it serves as a way of imparting knowledge.
Ascetic poem of Shaykh Ahmad Amin:
(1) Enough to renounce pleasure in the worldly things for acquisitive nature of human property (after him). For the inheritor and the properties are subjected to destruction.
His didactic poem:
In the name of Allah and His grace, I hereby list the battle fought by the Prophet comprehensively.
Thirdly, I salute the best mankind and the universal prophet after which I have praised the Almighty Allah.
Later another poet emerged after them, and those who emerged after them were their students and those who went further to study in Abroad.
Shaykh Tajudeen emerged and his work was quite different from the previous works because he did not rely only on the poetry works of those who came before him but went extra miles than the previous poets.
All Al-Umari‟s work was written to wake the students up and for the understanding of their religion. He narrated in Rijāl al-‘Ilmi that knowledge is light which guides the owner in the darkness and wealth which cannot be vanished while reward of this life and the hereafter have been prepared for such person who searches for it.
However, most of these poetry works are not published, perhaps this sabotages the effort of these poets by buying their erudition and talent in the field. It is only displayed occasionally in some social gatherings like naming, marriage, graduation from Quranic school and so on. Today, poetry has become so rampant among the scholars in Iwo to the extent that even the contemporary students are even showing their appetite in composing Arabic poem.
1.2 Statement of the problem
The work Rijāl al-‘Ilm is an Arabic text which cannot be understood to the large number of people who are not Arabic literates. So, I wish to translate and analyze the work for social transformation. Especially, for those who are English literates that use English language as their means of communication.
1.3 Objective of the study
This work aims at achieving the following aims:
To translate the text of the work Rijāl-al-‘Ilm into English language for it to be enjoyed by wider audience.
To contextualize the content for further understanding
To determine how the message could be explored for social transformation.
1.4 Scope and limitation of the study
(1) Shaykh Tajudeen is modern Arabic poet.
(2) He has to his credit a corpus of al-qasa’id (odes) which cuts across various themes such as Al-Madhi, Al-Rithā’, and Al-wa‘dh. This work however shall be based on one of his composition on extolling the virtue of knowledge entitled “Rijāl al-‘Ilm”.
1.5 Iwo town at Glance
Iwo Township, currently located in Osun State of Nigeria owes its original development to Ile-Ife. History has it that its founding father Telu, the prince of the Ile-Ife left Ile-Ife in 1049. He was accompanied by his allies. They settled at Igbo-Orita, along Ibadan-Iwo road which was about three miles from the present town.
Telu, being a prince and the leader of the delegates, he acted as the king in the settlement. The delegate later relocated to many places before they finally got to the present place called Iwo. That was under the kingship of Oba Parin a grandson of Telu. Then later, the development arrived1.
Geographical location of Iwo
Iwo, one of the towns in Osun State Nigeria, has an area of 245km2 and a population of 191.348 (central city/local government) most populous Local Government in Osun State by the 2006, Nigeria National census figures. The other Local Governments in Iwo kingdom from the satellite town are Aiyedire Local Government, 265,782km2 area and 76,309 by population, as well as Ola-Oluwa Local Government, 332,117km2 area and 76,227 by population. The Headquarters of the Local Governments are; Iwo central, Iwo, Aiyedire, Ile-Ogbo and Ola Oluwa Bode-Osi. The postal code of the area is 2322
People of Iwo
Iwo is a predominantly Muslim town as 80.9 percent of the people are Muslims. Christians account for 12.9 percent of the total population. The remaining 6.2 percent is made up of people of other beliefs and traditional pagans. It is interesting to note that majority of the Christians are non-native of Iwo town.
The people are predominantly Yorubas with few Fulani nomads. Iwo indigenes engage in various occupations like cattle rearing, butchery, farming, trading, craft, teaching to mention just a few.
Iwo is truly a Muslim town due largely to its adoption of Islam as a religion. It therefore has many Quranic schools as well as Madāris and Marākiz.3
Islam in Iwo is as old as the ancient town itself. The town is always referred to as the town of Islamic scholars. It has many Muslim Scholars and students in its domain.
The town as other West African towns is said to have come in contact with Islam as earlier as 14th century. Al-Ilori says Islam emerged into Yoruba land from Mali Empire in 1337 CE. It is through an etymological deduction that the Yoruba refer the religion as Esin Imale meaning the “Religion of Mallians”.
No sooner Islam got to West Africa than it began to spread to nooks and crannies of the regions. Iwo as one of the major towns in this geographical region also witnessed a number of factors accounted for the emergence of Islam.
Among of which were the influence of some notable rulers e.g. Oba Alawusa, who hosted Hausas.4
Al-Ilori says: when the Kind Ande was yearning for the child and went to one of the Muslim scholars who went to Oke-Sunnah in Ilorin to ask Allah to bless him with child, the scholar promised him good with the aim that if the child is a boy, he would be named Muhammad and if a girl, she would be named Aminah. The wife of the king became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy and was named Muhammad (1755-1785). The child was trained and educated in Islamic way under Muhammad Hadeetha, grew up and later became king. Muhammad worked on how Islam will be spread with his power. He lived for a longtime like 120 years and died in 1905.It was during the period of Muhammad Hadeetha, the first chief Imam of the town.5
Another major factor that was responsible for the Islamization of the town was healing potentialities in the religion. This is because the Holy Qur‟an contains efficiency to solve problems of any sort.
It was reported that Oluaji a brother of King Ande visited a friend at Olukoji‟s palace near Ogbomoso, where he met some Hausa who had the knowledge of Qur‟an and
were invited to offer prayer for them. Having returned, Oluaji reported the scenario to his brother king and persuaded him to embark on the same thus, Hausas were invited to Iwo in order to rescue the town from serious diseases. Many inhabitants benefited from those visitors. They were subsequently prevailed upon to settle down in the town.
In the Islamization of Iwo land, Hausa influence aids it, MervynHiskett in his book Development of Islam in West Africa, maintains that from 1214AH – 1799A.D. Islam began to make rapid in roads into Yoruba land and at that juncture conversion to Islam became frequent Hausa contributed a lot to the spread of Islam among Yoruba. They did so as medicants, crafts men, both slave and free, as teacher and advisers in the courts of Yoruba chiefs. They also became opponents of the Christians Missionaries when they arrived Yoruba land.