Muhammad al-Maghili

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Muhammad ibn Abd al-Karim al-Maghili, commonly known as Muhammad al-Maghili (c.1440 – c.1505) was a Berber 'alim from Tlemcen, the capital of the Kingdom of Tlemcen, now in modern-day Algeria. Al-Maghili was responsible for converting to Islam the ruling classes among Hausa, Fulani, and Tuareg peoples in West Africa.[1]

Maghili led a campaign to expel the city's Jewish community,and was successful. Many of the Jews were indeed expelled from Tlemcen and their synagogue was destroyed.[2] He also served as an adviser for Muhammad Rumfa, Emir of the Hausa city-state Kano, and wrote a treatise on government, On The Obligations of Princes.[3]

Original manuscripts of his work are available from the United Nations World Digital Library.[4]


Muhammad al-Maghili was born in Tlemcen c.1440 into a Berber family of the Maghila tribe.[5][6][7] There he spent his childhood learning the rudiments of the Qur'an, which he quickly committed to his memory.[6] He studied under al-Imam Abd al-Rahman al-Tha'alibi (d. 1470/1) and the Qadi of Touat, Abu Zakariya Yahya ibn Yadir ibn 'Atiq al-Tadalsi (d. 1472/3) as well other sholars.[6][7] In the fifteenth century al-Maghili had denounced the corrupt and unIslamic practices of West African Muslim states. He condemned their methods of taxation, and the seizure of private property. He also donounced pagan ceremonial practices common in West African Muslim state courts and palaces. Al-Maghili also denounced the mallams (Islamic teachers) who served rulers without basic knoweldge of Arabic or Islam. Al-Maghili called for the implementation of Sharia Law and introduced the concept of the Islamic mujaddid (the renewer of Islam). Al-Maghili became highly influential amongst West Africans and was a direct inspiration to the militant reformers and West African jihads of the 15th century onwards.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Wodaabe People". "University of Iowa ". Archived from the original on 2005-11-05.
  2. ^ "Jews of a Saharan Oasis: Authored by John Hunwick". Markus Wiener Publishers. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
  3. ^ "50 Greatest Africans - Sarki Muhammad Rumfa & Emperor Semamun". When We Ruled. Every Generation Media. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Holt, P. M.; Holt, Peter Malcolm; Lambton, Ann K. S.; Lewis, Bernard (1977-04-21). The Cambridge History of Islam: Volume 2A, The Indian Sub-Continent, South-East Asia, Africa and the Muslim West. Cambridge University Press. p. 353. ISBN 9780521291378.
  6. ^ a b c Batran, 'Abd-Al-'Aziz 'Abd-Allah (1973). "A Contribution to the Biography of Shaikh Muhammad Ibn 'Abd-Al-Karim Ibn Muhammad ('Umar-A 'Mar) Al-Maghili, Al-Tilimsani". The Journal of African History. 14 (3): 381–394. doi:10.1017/S0021853700012780. JSTOR 180537.
  7. ^ a b Hunwick, J.O. (1986). "al- Mag̲h̲īlī". In Bearman, P.; Bianquis, Th.; Bosworth, C.E.; van Donzel, E.; Heinrichs, W.P. Encyclopaedia of Islam. V (2nd ed.). Brill Publishers. ISBN 9004078193.
  8. ^ Lapidus, Ira M. (2014). A History of Islamic Societies (3rd ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 467. ISBN 9780521514309.