|Sultan of Sokoto|
|Place of death||Wurno|
|Predecessor||Usman dan Fodio|
|Successor||Abu Bakr Atiku, a brother|
|Father||Usman dan Fodio|
Muhammed Bello (Arabic: محمد بلو) was the second Sultan of Sokoto and reigned from 1815 until 1837 and was 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. 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.
Muhammed Bello was born to the fourth wife of Usman dan Fodio, known as Hauwa or Inna Garka, in 1781 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).
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, and Abu Bakr Atiku, who would become his successor as Sultan.
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. Usman retired from administration of the state in 1815 and put Muhammed Bello in charge. Upon his father's death, Bello was appointed the Sultan and provided direct sovereignty over the eastern part of the caliphate. His uncle Abdullahi dan Fodio was given sovereignty over Gwandu as Emir but did not take on the title of sultan. There was a brief succession struggle between Bello and his younger brother Atiku, but it was ended quickly and bloodlessly.
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. 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. 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.
After ending some early opposition, the Sultan focused on consolidating his administration throughout the empire with significant construction, settlement, and uniform systems of justice. 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.
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 he lavished upon him in his own writings. To affirm a permanent alliance, Umar Tall married one of Bello's daughters. He remained in Sokoto as an advisor 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. 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.
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. He wrote hundreds of texts on history, Islamic studies, and poetry during his lifetime.
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- http://www.ibnfodio.com/index.php/download/category/1-uthman-dan-fodio?download=14:english-ihya-as-sunnah. In his work Bayaan Ma Waq'a Baynanaa wa Bayna Amir Masina, Umar Tal mentioned about Sultan Muhammad Bello, "There is no scholar in these times of ours with the exception of Imam Muhammad ibn Shehu Uthman. For he has knowledge of tasting (dhawq) from the Book and the sunna and his knowledge of these is a divine gift which predisposes itself to him.” (Shareef 65-67)
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- John Renard, ed. (2009). Tales of God's Friends: Islamic Hagiography in Translation. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Usman dan Fodio
|2nd Sokoto Caliph
Abu Bakr Atiku