This article is about the preacher. For the military officer, see Mohammed Buba Marwa.
Mohammed Marwa (died 1980), best known by his nickname Maitatsine (and less commonly, as AllahTatsine), was a controversial Islamic preacher in Nigeria. Maitatsine is a Hausa word meaning "the one who damns" and refers to his curse-laden public speeches against the Nigerian state.
He was originally from Marwa in northern Cameroon. After his education he moved to Kano, Nigeria in about 1945, where he became known for his controversial preachings on the Qur'an. Maitatsine claimed to be a prophet, and saw himself as a mujaddid in the image of Sheikh Usman dan Fodio. Although a Koranic scholar, he seemingly rejected the hadith and the sunnah and regarded the reading of any other book but the Koran as paganism. Maitatsine spoke against the use of radios, watches, bicycles, cars and the possession of more money than necessary. In 1979, he even rejected the prophethood of Mohammed and portrayed himself as an annạbi (Hausa for "prophet").
The British colonial authorities sent him into exile oshi, but he returned to Kano shortly after independence. By 1972 he had a notable and increasingly militant following known as Yan Tatsine. In 1975 he was again arrested by Nigerian police for slander and public abuse of political authorities But in that period he began to receive acceptance from religious authorities, especially after making hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. As his following increased in the 1970s, so did the number of confrontations between his adherents and the police. His preaching attracted largely a following of youths, unemployed migrants, and those who felt that mainstream Muslim teachers were not doing enough for their communities. By December 1980, continued Yan Tatsine attacks on other religious figures and police forced the Nigerian army to become involved. Subsequent armed clashes led to the deaths of around 5,000 people, including Maitatsine himself. Maitatsine died shortly after sustaining injuries in the clashes either from his wounds or from a heart attack.
Despite Mohammed Marwa's death, Yan Tatsine riots continued into the early 1980s. In October 1982 riots erupted in Bulumkuttu, near Maidaguri, and in Kaduna, to where many Yan Tatsine adherents had moved after 1980. Over 3,000 people died. Some survivors of these altercations moved to Yola, and in early 1984 more violent uprisings occurred in that city. In this round of rioting, Musa Makaniki, a close disciple of Maitatsine, emerged as a leader and Marwa's successor. Ultimately more than 1,000 people died in Yola and roughly half of the city's 60,000 inhabitants were left homeless. Makaniki fled to his hometown of Gombe, where more Yan Tatsine riots occurred in April 1985. After the deaths of several hundred people Makaniki retreated to Cameroon, where he remained until 2004 when he was arrested in Nigeria.
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