Caliph Attahiru: A symbol of Islamic Resistance and Sacrifice

 In the name of Allah the Beneficent, the Merciful

“All that is with you comes to an end; but what is with Allah is everlasting” (surah Nahli 16:92)

Our lives are the precious commodity we valued most; therefore, sacrificingone life for the sake of Allah is the greatest achievement in conquering the evil of oneself and the so called aroma and material inclination of this temporary world. No doubt, Islam has encourage martyrdom or sacrifices for the sake of Allah and His religion, that is why men and women who have attained greater adorations, praises, love and inspire passions and energies people to actions and restlessness are people who have sacrifice their lives for the sake of Allah. A classical example for our reflection is the sacrifice of Imam Hussain (as) and his children and companions. It is against this background that Allah gave glad tiding to the believers and martyrs thus:

“And say not on those slain in Allah’s way, “They are dead”: nay, they are alive but you perceive it not.” (al-Bakarah 2:154)

This is the greatest reward, accomplishment and exalted positions martyrs on the side of Allah enjoy from Allah. What is the value of our life in current our sojourned in this temporary world, that we cannot sacrifice for Allah? This is a question believers need to ask themselves and answers with absolutes truth especially if the contemporary reality is anything to go by. This is because; a time may come in our lives, when we will be required to sacrifice our life for the sake of Allah, taking into cognizes, that, life is your most precious possession to Sacrifice.

It is against this background we view our searchlight into the life of one of the greatest hero and sunshine of martyrdom in West Sudan, Caliph SidiAttahiru, the former Sultan and leader of the Muslims in Western Sudan (Nigeria). The martyrdom of Caliph Attahiru is an important tragic event that took place on the 27th of July 1903, at Bormi in current Bajoga Local Government area of Gombe State. It is an event that shook the Muslim Ummah of this continent. Caliph AttahiruAhmadu was the great grandson of the renowned Islamic teacher, leader, mentor, and revolutionary,Sheikh UsmanbnFoduye (Fodio). Caliph AttahiruSidiAhmaduwas the lasttrue Islamic leader to have maintained the true Islamic empire before it was taken over by the British Conquest.

The story of Caliph Attahiru and his martyrdom is directly related to the destruction of the Islamic society and religion by the British colonialist. Caliph AttahiruAhamdu’s struggles and sacrifice reminded us about the true spirit of Islamic sacrifice for the sake of Allah. Caliph Attahiru’s jihad was predicated on the sanctity and protection of Islam against certain egoistic and self serving British colonialist. That is why the final battle at Mbormi that precipitated to the death of Caliph Attahiru will always remind us two issues: one on how Islam was conquered, mutilated, contained and destroyed by the colonialists with the connives of some polluted few emirs.  Secondly, how the bravery and sacrifice of the Caliph Attahiru and his few companions struggle gallantly and face their death without compromising their principles and religion; which is equally a pace set by Imam Hussain (as) at Karbala during on the day of Ashoura.    

The lessons,struggles and sacrifice of Caliph Attahiru demonstrative firstly, that living together and undertaking struggle in the cause of Allah requires sacrifice and without this sacrifice there will be no strong cohesive collective life that can come into being and no struggle can be made with some hope of success. Therefore, struggles and sacrifices in the side of Allah is the essence of our existence. 

Secondly, Caliph Attahiru showed us that Islam is not a religion of compromise, surrendering in peace with the forces of inhumanity, tyrants and oppression is wrong. If Caliph Attahiru had surrender to British he could have save his life and would have most likely given a higher post by theBritish colonial rulers,but, with all these luxuries of life at his disposal, but, Caliph Attahiru refuses these worldly pleasures, status and aroma of power, for the sake of struggles and sacrifices for the sake of Allah. In nutshell, hard way the only way especially on the side of struggles and sacrifices for Allah and His divine religion.  

Thirdly, Caliph Attahiru demonstratively showed us that a person’s achievement in life cannot be measured by his wealth, degree, speeches or writings not even by his moral character judged by others,  butrather by what you did at the end of your life or rather at the final moment of your life. The struggles and sacrifices of Caliph Attahiru will ever remind us, about upholding the principles of Allah, and facing death with bravery and sanctity. He did not waiver from the right path and did not panic while discharging his obligations towards Allah (S.WT), he confronted the forces of Luguard until his last breath chanting the word LAILAHA ILLALLAH, MUHAMMADURRASULULAH.

Finally, the struggles and sacrifices of Caliph Attahiru will continue to remind us about the ongoing war between total belief and total blasphemy. This is an ongoing war that is going on fiercely on all fronts namely; militarily, economically and culturally. The most severe among the three is the cultural onslaught being waged by the enemies against Muslims, especially in twisting history of Islamic religion and pious and courageous leaders of Islam. This cultural battle is most crucial, because once people are deprived of their ideology and culture, then the enemy becomes victorious without firing a single bullet and without waging a single military operation. This is one important, battle the Muslims in this part of the country found themselves; we have been stripped of their history, religious principles, and culture.


Therefore, the 110 Years commemoration of the Martyr of Caliph Attahiru, organised by the Academic Forum of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, is a direct reflection of changing this historic distortion. The conference is a direct reminder to Muslims that they have history, culture, sound religionand strong leaders who courageously stood with bravery to challenge slavery, humiliation, exploitation, plunder, dehumanization, and outright reduction of man beyond his human values. The conference is coming at a time when the Federal Republic of Nigeria is about to celebrate its centenary (100) years of Amalgamation of the Southern and Northern Protectorates into what is later known as Nigeria today. This celebration is nothing but celebration of the collapsed and destruction of Islam by the British colonialists, continue by the clientists Nigeria state and their hopeless and unproductive ruling elites. We reject this celebration and we celebrate the Martyrdom of Caliph Attahiru, a symbol of Islamic resistance and sacrifice.           




In conclusion as the result of what the British colonial masters did to this great man and his followers, warmth is kindled in our hearts that shall not become cold till the day we find that Islam is back to this Nation and Islam is humanity ,peace ,development, justice and equality.Despite the fact that Caliph Attahiru gave his life 110 years back,his indestructible soul rules the heart of the believers even today. We are grateful this Islamic revival and changing this historic distortion is happening in our eyes, with the rise of the moral, spiritual, sunshine and conscience of Africa, Sayyeed Ibrahim Y. Alzakzaky (H). Sayyeed (H) has discovered and corrected our distorted past; motivated, energises, and challenges our Present and projected a beautiful future for us, under the banner of Islam with certainty.