ISLAM IN EDO STATE
What is now Edo State has been in existence since pre-colonial times. The cradle of Islam in South South – Edo State is Agbede.
The current population of Muslims in Edo State is put at 40% by Edo State Muslims for Equity and Good Governance, EMEGG.
Minhaj Publicity Project pitch for Princess Hajia Khadijah Akenzua’ An-Nur Islamic Foundation put the population at 30%
ISLAM IN AGBEDE
Islam came into Edo State through the efforts and proselytization zeal of Oba Momodu I of Ayuele-Agbede.
He was the son of Oba Emokpare.
Oba Momodu I was half Afenmai and Half Esan. His mother was from Idoa. His name was Akhigbe which translates in Esan as undestructible. Literally would translate as “Can’t be killed or can’t be defeated.”
The parallel Afenmai-Agbede word is Ahagbe, Akhagbe.
Many Agbede Muslims consider him a saint for two reasons.
- That He prayed five times a day with Sujuud (head to the ground) before ever meeting with Muslims Nupes, Yorubas (called Yaggi by Agbedes) and Hausas (called Nupe with diminutive “Ipe”).
- That he was able to establish Islam in Edo State (In Afenmai, Esan land).
He was known to have had close contact with the Nupe Empire. But before then, he was a Muslim. When Oba Momodu came into the company of Muslim Scholars of Nupe origin, he find a system of worship he was acquainted with (Auto Audu, 1997). Oba Momodu was a regular visitor to Bida. He established a relationship with Bida Emirate of the Etsu.
Agbede – Ayuele Kingdom already had a heart in the Benin Empire before Oba Momodu was born.
It was the Administrative capital of Benin Empire in Afenmai land just as Irrua is to Esan land (Otoesan).
When He ascended the throne, Agbede became very powerful militarily and educationally. Militarily it was only second the great Benin kingdom and educationally the first because of the advent of Islam in Agbede Ayuele Kingdom.
AGBEDE RELATIONSHIP WITH EMPIRES & KINGDOMS
Agbede was so powerful Islamically that it had relationship with great kingdoms;
- The kingdom in lokoja
- The Bida Emirate of Etsu
- The Ilorin Emirate and
- The Kano Emirate established by an Agbede-Ayuele Muslim Scholar, Sheikh Shuaib.
This relationship was reinvigorated by Sheikh Bilal. An astute Muslim Scholar who is known for establishing Islamic centre of learning wherever he went to.
He was the many Muslim scholars who studied Islam Traditionally and academically.
Before his demise, he had islamic centre for learning in Kano, Benin and finally Agbede.
Until his demise, he was the chief Imam of Agbede.
Oba Momodu established a relationship with Bida Emirate of the Etsu. He always returns with Muslim scholars from Bida. His Administrative capacity and linguistic intelligence set him apart from all. Oba Momodu was a regular visitor to Bida.
He was said to be fluent in
It is said he could speak any language he comes across. All he needed was to hear the speaker for a while and he would continue with the speaker in conversation.
GROOMING OF MUSLIM SCHOLARS:
Having declared Islam the state religion after sending Muslim scholars to different areas of Ayuele Clan, he proceeded to inviting other kingdoms and villages in Afenmai to Islam.
According to Sheikh Sadudeen, the present chief Imam of Agbede, whose father was the first Muslim of Afenmai to study Sarf (and perhaps nahwu), Oba Momodu sent messages all across Afenmai land, instructing them that Islam is the next “new to become part of.”
To enable this become a success, he made sure the royal families become the most learned in islam.
He so much made this an objective that islamic scholarship and leadership was dominated by the royalties. As at today, there are more learned muslims and Islamic scholarship among the royal families than among commoners (Omiogwe) in the whole of Agbede Ayuele clan, Edo State and South South Nigeria.
In fact, in those early days, there was only one non royalty to have finished the Quran cover to cover.
Muslim Scholars sent to other Ayuele area by Agbede are;
- Alhaji Braimah Emokpare (Alhaji Nikere) sent to Ubiane.
- Mallam Mamudu Emokpare sent to Ughiolli (erroneously called Aviele (Ayuele).
- Mallam Momodu Emokpare sent to Odigie.
- Mallam Sule Emokpare sent to Egho.
After that, Muslim Scholars were sent to the following places;
- Mallam Garuba Emokpare to Warrake.
- Mallam Feli Emokpare to Uzairue
- Alhaji Braimah Nikere was sent to South Ibie from Ubiane.
Agbede sent Muslims Scholars to Auchi, Warrake, the Two Owan, Akoko Edo, and The three Etsakos.
These Mallams in turn trained other Muslim scholars that aided swift Islamization of areas.
Same was for Ugiagbe and the Agbede system also groomed Ugiagbe as scholars during the reign of Onogie Omogua. By 1922, Islam was declared a state religion in Ugiagbe.
The Agbede Islamic Education centre groomed Muslim scholars for Idoa, Irrua, Ukhun and Ewu.
Oba Momodu I further extended his message of Islam to his good friend Oba Ovoranmwen nogbaisi, the Oba of Benin.
Oba Ovoranmwen didn’t accept Islam but, requested a Mallam sent to him. His network of relationship established with a Muslim Kingdom in Lokoja enabled him to get a mallam that was sent to Benin for Oba Ovoranmwen.
METHODS OF CONVERSION
Oba Momodu established different methods of conversion. Some of which were employed by kings after him in Ayuele (Oba Yesufu and Oba Abdullahi) or in other clan like Otaru Momoh of Auchi who fell in love with Ayuele Agbede Islamic nature and Oba Abdullahi rulership. The methods are;
- Convert a king to Islam through marriage.
- Convert the people to Islam
- Convert the eldest children of royalties to Islam
- Send Muslim Scholars to live with a people.
- Send Muslim Scholars to live in the court of a king. Etc.
THE ISLAMIC STUDY CENTER
The Islamic center of learning established is called Mokaata (called makaranta in Hausa).
Studies is called Qaatu. A corruption of the Arabic word Qaratu (I read-in past tense).
Agbede through Oba Momodu established an Islamic centre and system of learning through which Muslims of different areas studied in.
When Otaru Momoh accepted Islam and made it a state religion, he sought the assistance of Agbede Muslim scholars through Oba Abdullahi.
The two sons of Otaru Momoh of Auchi studied on the Mokaranta system established by Oba Momodu though now in the care of Oba Abdullahi at that time.
Otaru MJ Momoh and Otaru AK Momoh were product of Agbede Islamic civilization.
Muslim scholars in Agbede and of Bida, and Hausa origin were sent to Auchi to aid Otaru Momoh on Islamization of Auchi.
Many Muslims in Afemai land came to Agbede to study and later returned to their home town to become scholars, Imams, etc.
For example, one of the son of Onojie eromosele studied in Agbede. Muslims of Idoa, Ukhun and Ewu in their early islamic stage studied at Agbede. Islam became the Al-Azhar of Edo State (Auto Audu 1997).
FACTORS ENABLING OBA MOMODU ESTABLISHING ISLAM IN EDO
- Being a ruler
- Agbede being an old center of Benin Empire in Afenmai land.
- Being an enthusiastic leader with foresight.
- Oba Momodu being a good administrator.
In fact, when his friend, Oba Ovoranmwen was exiled to Calabar, Oba Momodu was called upon by the British Colonialists to take over the throne.
Oba Momodu I rejected and said, “a good king would never wish his fellow king buried in a dung-hill.”
Oba Momodu passed away in 1919. (May Allah rest his soul in Jannah. Aameen).
After Oba Momodu passed on, Oba Amedu, followed by Oba Yesufu and then Oba Abdullahi came. They all had zeal of spreading Islam to any corner they felt they could cover.
During Oba Abdullahi’s reign for example, Muslim Scholars were sent directly from Kogi to him. These scholars were led by Mallam Mamudu to help in Islamizing Warri and Sapele area of Delta state. Many of the scholars didn’t return. It could be said they helped in the establishment of Afenmai Muslim community of Delta state that is still in existence today.
OTARU MOMOH I OF AUCHI
Otaru Momoh I Followed suit during the time Oba Abdullahi and sent Mallams to different areas.
Below are places that Otaru Momoh I sent Scholars to;
- Mallam Umoru Zegi Idaeo (Utsugu, Auchi) was sent to Apana/lyuku.
- Mallam Abu Edegbai (Utsogu, Auchi) was sent to Igbido/Ayoghena.
- Mallam Aliu Mesango (Utsogu, Auchi) was sent to Ikpeshi/Egbigele.
- Mallam Amedu Inogu (Utsogu, Auchi) was sent to Ikpeshi.
- Mallam Momoh Ododogene (Utsogu, Auchi) was sent to Imeke.
- Mallam Braimah Ogono (Akpekpe, Auchi) was sent to Jattu.
- Mallam Momodu Abdullahi (Akpekpe, Auchi) was sent to Fugar.
- Mallam Abubakar Ukhiekhie (Akpekpe, Auhi) was sent to Ayua/Elele.
- Mallam Abu Momoh (Igbhei, Auchi) sent to lyerekhu, S, Ibie.
- Mallam Madugu Otsu (Igbhei, Auchi) sent to Ogbona .
- Mallam Aruna Egah (lyekhei, Auchi) sent to Iraokhor/Ogbido.
- Mallam Sule Musa Ebibi (lyekhei, Auchi) sent to Ayogwiri.
- Mallam Yakubu Itebalume (lyekhei, Auchi) sent to lyora
- Mallam Yesufu Braimah (Yoruba) was sent’to Afashio.
- Mallam Babagba Momoh (Ogbomoso, Yoruba) was sent to Iviarue/Fugar. 65
- Mallam Musa (Agbede) was sent to [yakpi, S. Ibie.
- Mallam Hassan Megiemu (Hausa) was sent to Okpella.
- Mallam UmarZeggi (Hausa) was sent to Ate/lyuku
- Mallam Aliyu of lyetse (Utsogu, Auchi) was sent to Ikpeshi.
- Mallam Musa (Utsogu, Auchi) was sent to Ogboha.
PROMINENT EDO MUSLIMS
- “Professor Tijani M. Yusuf (1974-1978).
The first vice chancellor of University of Benin from Edo State. Before his demise, he was the Pro Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Illorin, University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma. Prof Zakariyyau Oseni called him, “A silent Jihadist.”
- Shaykh Shuaib.
The Muslim Scholar of Agbede origin who became a remarkable scholar in Kano state. He is said to have gone on a height while on a dispute with a king of kano. Shaykh Shu’ayb, was the son of Oba Momodu I of Agbede who made a mark at Agbede, Lokoja and Kano. He was one of the leading Ulama of Kano in the middle of 20th century. He trained many Hausa and Afenmai Scholars. He was popularly known in Kano as “Mallam Shuaibu Kukuruku.”
- Amodu Shuaib
A two times coach of the Nigeria super eagles team. He is credited to have qualified Nigeria to the world cup.
- Muritala Ramat Muhammad.
The one time Military President of Nigeria is from Auchi- Edo State.
- Aishat Yesufu
The outspoken full hijab wearing lady who is credited for the fight to release Chibok girls, and engineering the #endsars protest is from Agbede Edo State.
- Princess Hajia Khadijah Akenzua
Oba Momodu may have not been able to convert anybody from the Benin Royalty, but Allah guided the Sister of Oba Erediauwa to Islam. The Oba whom an outspoken Muslim Scholar, Barr. Nurudeen Asunogie, told; May Allah untie your hand (to becoming Muslims). Hajia Akenzua, is reputed for striving in establishing a massive Islamic center in Benin. A center with solely Muslim Female Doctors and Nurses. A center that cares for the Muslim women folks. This plans were design by Minhaj publicity under the demands of the princess of royalty.
- Alhaji, Mallam, Barrister Nurudeen Danesi Asunogie.
A Mallam and leader of Muslims in Benin city. He is known to be in command of grammars. He was once an officer of the national orientation agency, Benin city. He obtained his B.A. Hons degree in Islamic studies and MPA degrees from the University of Illorin and then studied law at the University of Benin. He was called to Bar in 2006. He was the leader of Muslim Student Society of Nigeria. His father was the Traditional ruler of the three Ibies.
- Hon Gani Audu
The first Muslim to be chosen by a major Political party, APC, as a deputy Governor in the September 19, 2020 Edo Election.
- Alhaji Muhammad Ali (Popularly referred to as Muhammad Furniture) an entrepreneur and philanthropist in Benin is one of the known leader of Muslims in Benin. He is referred to as Abu Masaajid (Father of Mosques) for building mosques to needy Muslim areas. He and Alhaji Yusuf Bello organized what is called the Yam Festival in Benin City for Muslims during Ramadan.
- Kamaru Usman, professional mixed martial arts fighter contracted to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and current welterweight champion.
- Maymunah Kadiri, Nigerian mental health advocate.
- Hakim Bello Osagie
Born 1955, in Lagos, and he is from Edo State. A lawyer and a Nigeria Businessman. Hakeem Osagie has a degree in Law from Cambridge University, MA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from University of Oxford and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He is the son of Tiamiyu Belo Osagie, a renowned Gynecologist who was the family doctor to Former Nigeria Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida. Hakeem, was the former special assistance to Presidential adviser on Petroleum and Energy and former Chairman of Etisalat Nigeria. Hakeem Osagie and wife are both member of Harvard University Global Advisory Council. He is the founder and Chairman of FSDH Holdings Company.
- Alhaji Ja Usman
He was the founder of Muslim Relief Organization (MIRO) in 1970. It was a platform to aid relief materials to victims of war ravaged area in the Igbo land. He leveraged on this opportunity to bring Igbos who sought islam to study in Agbede and returned back to their land after the completion of their Islamic studies. Alhaji Ja Usman was also the Founder of famous Mid-west Muslim Congress and renowned Journalist.
- Prof Zakariyya Oseni
He is a scholar of Arabic and Islamic studies born in 20th of December 1950. He is the Imam and Wazir of Auchi. He studied at the University Arabic and Islamic studies of ibadan. He is the HOD of Arabic and Islamic University in University of Ilorin. A well read professor with 100+ publications to his credit. He has served many capacity which includes but not limited to; Visiting Professor and Head, Department of Languages, Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin, he is a Fellow of Arabic Studies, Nigeria (FASN). He is credited with one if not the first Muslim Scholar in Nigeria and solely of South south who called for writing arabic plays. He has various arabic plays to his credited. Professor Zakariyya Oseni is also a poet (in arabic). He is a pride of Edo and South south muslims. Muslims who couldn’t study islam in Universities in south south because of the non availability of it (muslims existence not put into consideration) migrated to the north and south west to study their religion academically in a department dedicated to the academic studies of islam (department of Arabic studies ). We hope things begin to change.
- Alhaji Auto Audu
Auto Audu is a prominent Islamic Activist, a leader in the struggle to entrench Ansur-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria in Afenmai in the early days of Muslim acceptance of conventional education. He is also an Educationist.
- Hon. Kessignton Momoh (1921 – 1928).
A minister in the old western region and later a judge in Bendel State of Nigeria. He was the first chairman of mid-west pilgrims board.
- Alhaji Muhammadu Salisu Aliu
An Auchi Scholar who taught Islamic Studfies in Ijebu Ode and Ikorodu. He was the Vice Principal of Government College, Ikorodu until his death in 1922. He was one of the leading examiners appointed by the West African Examinations Council for Islamic Studies.
- Dr. Muhammad Sani Bawa
Senior Lecturer in Arabic , Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He hails from Ayuele – Ubiane. He is a descendant of Mallam Sule Bida, one of the early Nupe Islamic Scholar in Ayuele Afenmai Country.
- Dr. Muhammad Kabir Musa.
He was the former Director of the international Islamic Relief Organization, Nigeria office, kaduna. He obtained his B.A. (First Class Honours) and M.A. degress in Arabic from A.B.U., Zaria and then bagged his Ph.D. degree in Arabic from Univerisyt of Ilorin in 2006.
- Sheikh Bilal Mamudu of Agbede.
He was among those who combined traditional Islamic studies with academic scholarly study of islam. After his traditional studies of islam he obtained a degree in Islamic Studies/Education from Bayero University, Kano. He taught in Kano and also was the chief Imam of Edo Muslim in kano. He established an Islamic madrash of learning in Kano, Benin and his home town, Agbede. Sheikh Bilal passed on, in 2019.
- Alhaji Ukashat Sulaiman Okhimamhe
He was a secretary of the Muslim Pilgrim welfare Board of Edo state. He obtained his B.A. degree in Islamic Studies from University of Ibadan for many years, he was head of department of Islamic studies, federal college of education okene. He was also the chairman of senior staff association of the institution.
- Alhaji H.I.B. Monite
A specialist in Islamic Studies who retired in 2004 as principal Federal Government College Illorin. He hails from Uzebba-Owan West
- Late Mallam Tahiru Saliu Balogun
He was an education officer with the command secondary school ojo cantonment, lagos. He was a graduate of Arabic from the university of Illorin. He is from Akoko Edo-Igarra.
- Shaykh Mukhtar Yusuf of Ekperi
A graduate of Islamic law from the Islamic University in Madinah, a school proprietor, politician and businessman.
- Hon Luqman Muhammad.
Former member of Edo state House of Assembly (1999-2003). He is a lawyer trained at the university of sokoto. He combined Shariah and common law. He also went for Islamic Studies in Islamic centre, Enohia.
- Prince Shaka Momodu
Prominent politician. The lion of mid west. A minster in the Midwest regional government (1964-1966).
- Mallam Suberu Aguebo
The first member of the royal family to embrace Islam in Benin City.
- Professor Aminu Momodu
Former Deputy Vice Chancellor of Abrose Alli University Ekpoma and leader of the Muslims in that University
- Professor CS Momoh
Past Dean of the faculty of Art University of Lagos. (wa in Department of Philosophy). He is the founder of the Nigerian Association for Religious Tolerance. (NARETO).
- Alhaji M.S. Umoru
Business man and philanthropist in Kano.
- Professor Mustapha A Danesi
Worked in the Department of Medicine University of Lagos.
- Engineer A. Inabaya
The Amir of Afenmai Islamic Movement in Abuja.
- Alhaji Jimah Yusuf-
Foremost pharmacist and industrialist in edo state. Hails from jagbe.
- Barrister Braimah Momodu
The chairman of the University of Benin Muslim Community and Legal practitioner. Hails from Agbede.
- Suleiman Aledeh
Sulaiman Aledeh popularly known as Sulai was born on April 5, 1973. He holds a degree in Philosophy from the University of Benin in 1999. He also holds a Masters Degree in Humanitarian and Refugee Studies from the University of Lagos. He has presented programmes for radio and television like A.M Lagos and the flagship breakfast show for Radio Nigeria. He is a voice over professional who has done commercials for Multi-national corporations. He also fronts the station’s flagship “The News at Ten”. He’s the producer of the station’s breakfast show “Sunrise Daily” where he also doubles as co-host. He’s an Inclusion Speaker, advocate of Religious Freedom/Respect and an alumnus of the prestigious United States International Visitors Leadership Programme (IVLP 2010). In 2012 when he and his associate, Imam Shefiu undertook a self sponsored trip to the United States to give talks to a select Nigerian Muslim Community in Boston, Rhode Island and Houston.
- Hauwa Ojiefo
She studied Business Administration (international business) at Bells University Ota, Ogun State and then got her Master’s degree from the ICMA Centre Henley Business School, University of Reading UK. Hauwa also has a professional certificate from the Fashion Institute, Malaysia. She was a recipient of the Queens Young Leaders award where she was the only female Nigerian recipient. She was also selected as part of the inaugural cohort of the One Young World Young Leaders Against Sexual Violence (YLASV) working to end the prevalence of sexual violence in all of its forms worldwide. Hauwa also bagged the first MTV EMA Generation Change Award in Bilbao, Spain in November 2018. Furthermore, she is a 2019 Obama Foundation Leader. The Africa program is made of a group of 200 leaders chosen from 45 different parts of the world and aims to build a growing network of innovative and ethical change-makers who will drive positive change in their communities, the continent, and the world. Bill and Melinda Gates Goalkeeper Award as a Global Changemaker of the year 2020.
- Mubarak Ukashat
He did his studies on Arabic & Islamic Studies at Islamic Center Enohia. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from the Federal University of Petroleum Resources in Delta State, Nigeria and a Diploma in Petroleum Engineering from the Petroleum Training Institute, Delta State, Nigeria. He then obtained his Master of Science degree in Theoretical Physics from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. He is currently a PhD Student and graduate teaching assistant specialized in Gauge Field Theory, Astrophysics and Cosmology at Utah State University in the state of Utah in the United States of America. He is currently the leader of Muslim community of salt lake in the state of Utar in United state. He called to prayer in church of latter days in an interfaith get together in salt lake of Utar. See video; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7prOOtxfcE
- Prof. Edeki Ghafaru
An Indegene of Agbede. He was a Lecturer in the Department of History, ABU Kano.
- Sheikh Sa’eed of Ekperi
He obtained his Bsc in Islamic studies, Msc in Islamic University of Madina and P.hD in the same institute.
- Amir Sirajudeen Muhammad Osikhotse
He is a trained Mechanical engineer. He is the co-ordinator and leader of Edo Muslim for Equity & Good Governance (emegg). A Muslim pressure group established to check Government in the handling of muslim matters in Edo State; especially political recognizing Muslims of Edo State as being people deserving to also lead the state. “Since Edo was created, a Muslim has never become the Governor or deputy. But Kogi minorities and Gombe get recognized with deputy Governor position.”(Amir Sirajudeen 2020)
EMEGG pressures for the public pronouncement against the hijab ban in government schools in Edo by the state government. It also fights for teaching of Islamic religious Knowledge and Arabic language in Government Schools among other things the group stand and fight for. Amir Sirajudeen, in other to protect the faith of Muslim children in his area, he established an Islamic centre of learning that combined both islamic Education and western Education for the teaching of muslim children.
- Late Hon Zakawanu Garuba
He was a former speaker of Edo State House of Assembly.
- Prof Yesufu Seyyid Momoh Abdulai
He is a world class economist and diplomat based in Vienna, Austria.
- Islam & Edo State by Alhaji Auto Audu (Published in 1997)
- Islamization of Auchi by Prof. Zakariyyau Oseni Oboh
- The Nupe Invasion of Esanland: An Assessment of its Socio-Political Impact on the People, 1885-1897 By Dawood Omolumen Egbefo Ph.D Department of History and International Studies IBB University, Lapai, Niger State.
- Concise account of Islamic leadership in Edo state & the challenges ahead. By Zakariyyau Oseni Oboh
- Edo Delta Arabic pidgin on Ustaz Mubarak Ukashat( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7prOOtxfcE
- Edo Delta Arabic Pidgin on Hauwa Ojeifo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ADg57idk7I
- ObserveNigeria https://observenigeria.com/mubarak-ukashat-founder-better-education-to-africa/
- Observe Nigeria Hauwa Ojeifo https://observenigeria.com/hauwa-ojeifo-honored-with-inaugural-marca-bristo-fellowship-by-human-rights-watch/
- An Nur Islamic Foundation Project Pitch
- Ishan native laws and customs by Christopher Gbelokoto Okojien published in 1960
- A Short History of Benin by Jacob U. Egharevba