The education that preceded the Islamic education system in Nigeria was the traditional system as you have learnt in the previous unit. The traditional system of education has been proven to be a potent and functional means through which societal lores and norms are transmitted from generation to generation. You have also learnt that the system allows for the inculcation of positive values, skills and attitudes that prepare individuals to become useful members of their respective communities. The system is still found to be relevant in offering solutions to the multi-faceted problems of the present day complex Nigeria.
The advent of Islam and Islamic type of education in Nigeria did not altogether condemn the hitherto existing education of the people. Rather, it has sought to consolidate those aspects of the beliefs and practices of the people that emphasized such virtues as valour, tolerance, respect for others, dignity of labour and unity of purpose.

You will learn from this unit how Islamic education has been used as a vehicle for spiritual re-awakening and social rejuvenation of the people whose belief-systems were rooted in superstitions and hearsays. The Islamic system of education is found on the divine revelations from Allah (S.A.W), which deals with norms and etiquettes of life for the Muslims. The Islamic divine message is contained in the Islamic Holy Book called “Al-
Qur’an” and it is further expatiated by the “Ahadith” (sayings and practices) of the Prophet Mohammed (S.A.W.). These primary sources of Islamic Knowledge together with the works of the later scholars of Islam formed the fountain of Islamic system of education.
The history of Islamic education in Nigeria cannot be complete without recasting our minds on the impacts it had made on the world at large. Islamic education generally started with the first Qur’anic revelation to the prophet of Islam, Muhammad (S.A.W.). The first five verses revealed contained clear directives to him and the rest of the Muslims to pursue the course of knowledge, signifying that the religion is solidly rooted in the pursuit of knowledge. The verses in question are as follows:
In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
1. Read in the Name of your Lord who created;
2. Created man from a congealed blood;
3. Read and your Lord is the Most Great;
4. Who teaches man the use of Pen;
5. Teaches man what he knew not; (Q96:1-5)

The above verses illuminated the world, which was hitherto groping in darkness and sauntering in the shackles of ignorance. The virtue of knowledge is extolled and the power of the pen for its documentation and preservation is clearly pointed out. Since then, the Muslims have been working relentlessly to establish themselves as patrons and/or custodians of knowledge. The tremendous achievements recorded in the fields of architecture, history,medicine, philosophy and other branches of liberal and natural sciences were credited to theperiod of the reign of the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties who ruled in the third century afterthe Hijrah. The scientific and technological breakthroughs of the modern world owe a lot tothe researches conducted by the great scholars of Islam. Centres of learning in Basra, Kufah, Baghdad, and elsewhere in Europe particularly Cordova which began from mosques asreligious centres developed into full fledged centres of higher learning and universities, from where a great number of Muslims scholars emerged. Notable among them were Averron (IbnRushd) who was “responsible for the development of Aristotle’s philosophy, which made a clean distinction between religious and scientific truths’. His achievements in the area of philosophical discourse “paved the way for the liberation of scientific research from the theological dogmatism that was prevalent in churches and mosques”. Others like Muhammad Ibn Musa, the Mathematician responsible for the introduction of decimal notation and assigning digits the value of position; Avicenna (Ibn Sina), the physician and other Arab scholars spearheaded the introduction of geometry and the development of spherical trigonometry, particularly the sine, tangent and cotangent.
In the field of physics, to say the least, the Muslim Arabs discovered the pendulum and were able to advance “the world’s knowledge of the optics”. They dominated the field of astronomical research and invented many astronomical instruments, which are still in use today. The angle of ecliptic as well as the precision of the equinoxes worked out by the Arab scholars have been and are still sine-qua-non to the world’s technological advances. The Arab Muslims discovered such substances as potash, silver nitrates, corrosive sublimate and nitric and sulphuric acid, which set the edifice for the scientific breakthroughs the world is witnessing today. The Muslim scholars have also made their marks in the field of agriculture and manufacturing which helped to boost trade among nations. It was indeed, the trading activities that transpired between the Arabs and the Africans that brought about Islam and the Islamic system of education to Africa.

Historical records show that Arab scholars and traders played a great role in the propagation of Islamic faith and education in Africa and Nigeria. Great cities like Cairo, Timbuktu,Djenne, Gao and the regions of the Western Sudan flourished as centres of commerce and religious learning. Many notable judges, doctors, clerics and historians were produced in these centres, which impacted significantly on the lives of the people. The civilization that came to Africa, especially the North Africa and the Western Sudan, owe much to the activities of the Arab traders and scholars who visited the land hundreds of years before the coming of the Europeans.
1. “The modern scientific and technological breakthroughs owe a lot to the great works of the early Muslim scholars”. To what extent do you agree with this statement?
2. “Trade rather than religion was the main factor that brought about Islamic system of education to Africa”. Examine the statement in the light of the reasons for the development of Islamic education in Africa.
3. What is the significance of the first verses of the Qur’an revealed to mankind through the Prophet of Islam Muhammad (S.A.W.)?


The legacy bequeathed to mankind through the divine precepts and the efforts of the early Muslim scholars were the major reasons for the development of Islamic system of education in the North. Ozigi (1981) observed “there were many scholars in Borno almost a thousand years ago”. The trend in the spread of Islamic education is similar to North Africa and the Western Sudan. The Arab traders poured into the Savannah region, which included the Northern part of Nigeria as early as the first half of the eighth century. They gradually moved into the interior until they reached the Kanem area in the eleventh century. The King of Kanem, Umne Jilmi (1085 – 1097) embraced Islam and became zealous of the Islamic learning, a course that he pursued until his death in 1097. The successive rulers sustained the tempo of Islamization through Islamic education in the Kanem after Jilmi. They pursued Islamic education and established strong ties with the West African states. This relationship facilitated the pursuance of further learning abroad.

The Kingdom of Kanem expanded later to include Borno, which became the seat of rule and a centre of learning. Between Kanem and the Songhai Empire, observed Ozigi (1981) laidthe “Hausa States comprising of Katsina, Kano, Daura, Zamfara, Gobir, Kebbi and Zazzau”.The rulers of these areas became influenced by their trading contacts with the North Africans and converted to Islam. The Islamic practices were mixed with the traditional forms of worship i.e. spirit worship by the rulers, who saw it as a potent source of power over their people. This was the initial problem that set the Muslim clerics against the rulers and thus provided strong bases for the series of Jihads (holy wars) waged in the Western Sudan, which aimed at purging the area of unIslamic practices. The Jihad of Shehu Usman Dan Fodio in the Sokoto Caliphate was one such religious war fought to rid the area of the heathen practices and excesses of the Hausa rulers.

The Southern part of Nigeria, particularly Yoruba land, was known to Muslims long before Islam actually reached there. History has it that there was the presence of Islam in the South long before the Jihad of Shehu Usman Dan Fodio. As contacts began to increase between the Yorubas and the Muslim scholars, the former started embracing Islam while at the same time learning the rudiments of the religion through the study of Qur’an, Hadith and the Shari’ah(Islamic Canon Law). This saw the emergence of notable Islamic scholars in the South with their initial base at Ilorin.

According to Fafunwa (1974), Usman Bin Abu Bakr was a learned scholar who hailed from Katsina, a seat of Islamic learning at that time, and had settled down at Borno and wanted to teach and preach Islam in the South. He was eventually made Imam of the Ibadan Muslims in 1839”. Ibadan later transformed into a formidable centre of learning to pair with Ilorin down South. Scholars of eminence were produced and they made their marks in the development of Islamic education in the South. Such scholars include among others, Shaikh Abu Bakr Bin al Qasim, Shaikh Harun whose contributions to the propagation of Islam in the South were monumental and unparalleled.
Soon, the religion spread and Qur’anic schools sprang in towns and villages with Ibadan and Ilorin as the main centres of higher learning.

Questions II
1. Account for the claim that Islamic education in the Kanem predates the one in the Hausa States.
2. What were the factors that led to the religious wars in the North?
3. How did Islam gain acceptance in Southern Nigeria?

Islamic Education in the Qur’anic schools, otherwise known as Informal Education, is carried out in stages. These stages according to Dambo (1994), are the early childhood or Nursery stage called Makarantan Yara, the elementary state (tittibiri) and Adult Education stage.
Varied curricular activities are daily being operated in each of the stages, which commensurate to the age, ability and interest levels peculiar to the students.

This stage consists of children of tender age of say between three to five who normally follow their brothers and sisters to school. These are grouped together in one corner of the circle and instructed orally to recite and commit to memory shorter chapters (surahs) of the Qur’an and other Islamic rituals of purification, ablution, prayer and ethics. “The only pleasure they (children) derive from the system at this stage lies in the choral recitations which often follow a sing-song pattern. The pupils seem to enjoy reciting these verses to themselves in their homes and at play”. (Fafunwa, 1974.)

The instructional technique at this stage is such that the teacher recites the shorter surahs to the pupils and the pupils in turn repeat after him. This routine is repeated several times until the teacher is fully convinced that his pupils have mastered the correct pronunciation. The pupils are then allowed to retire and continue reciting these ayats (verses) on their own until they have been thoroughly memorized before proceeding to the next set of ayats. This way, the pupils progress in their studies before entering the next stage of learning.
This consists of pupils of about five (5) to fourteen years old. At this stage, the pupils are introduced to Arabic alphabets just as children in the formal type of Education are introduced to A, B, C, and D. They first learn the consonants (Babbaku) without vowels, and after learning all the consonants, which are twenty-eight in number, they learn each of the consonants with vowels (wasulla) called Farfaru. The vowels in Arabic are five (5). They areFat’ha, Kasra, Damma, Sukun, and Tashdid, and they are used in forming words. Learning ofBabbaku and Farfaru in Qur’anic Education are indispensable. It is very necessary in ensuring fluency in the proper pronunciation of Arabic letters from their roots and proficiency in word articulation pertinent in realizing and appreciating the correct interpretation of the Qur’an, its melody and unique features.

This stage is often regarded as the most primary to the Educational progress of pupils later in life. That is why muslim parents make sure that their children are well grounded with the requirements of this stage.After the pupils have learnt these, the teacher will start writing on their wooden board, the slate (allo), short verse and surah for them to learn and commit to memory. As the pupil progresses in this stage, he is gradually introduced to the art of writing, which develops his writing skills. In this, the teacher or other senior students in the school continuously guidehim. After writing, he now goes to the Malam or his representative to read the written portion in a process called Darsu or Biyawa. The teacher reads and the pupils repeat after him until he is satisfied that the pupils are reading correctly as is expected. This continues until the artof writing is perfected after which the pupil is now allowed by the Mallam to be reading from pages of the Qur’an directly. He reads and observes some of the rules of Tajwid (The Scienceof the recitation of the Holy Qur’an) unconsciously, until he completes learning the whole Qur’an. You should at this juncture note that not all the students would complete this stage of learning. Some would withdraw and take on some trade to earn a living, and others, especially girls will be withdrawn by their parents for marriage. Some of course would continue depending on their husbands. This stage concludes what may be called the elementary education. Whatever the child may learn after this stage is considered within the scope of Adult Education in which specialization features most.
In addition to these, further instructions on Islamic rituals are given, and in most cases, the teacher demonstrates how these rituals are performed. Hence, direct acquisition of the rites of ablution, tayammum, prayer and other rituals are issued at this stage, although much of it are to be later learnt at the next stage.
“Pupils in this stage are mostly adolescents who in most cases have completed the reading ofAl-Qur’an at least once and also know some basic principles of Islam” (Fafunwa, 1974). The curriculum of this stage is diversified and structured to reflect areas students wish to specialize in. He first starts learning what may be called general studies. The meaning of what he learnt and committed to memory before is now taught to him in the process calledTarjama and exegesis (Tafsir). He is equally introduced to the tradition of the prophet (S.A.W) called Hadith being the most comprehensive details of the content of the Qur’an, which he learnt during his elementary level of studies. Other courses include Arabic grammar and its components i.e. as-sarf (grammatical inflexions) an-nahw (syntax) al-mantiq (logic), al-ma’ni wal bayan (rhetoric and versification) and Ishiriniyat (poetry). Islamic jurisprudence(fiqh), al-aqaid (theology), Ilmul usul (rules and principles of the interpretation of laws), al-Jabr wal muqabalah (algebra) and al hisab were equally taught.
Normally as is the case the student spends much of his time learning these subjects from different teachers as no one teacher specializes in all these areas.

Alternatively, different teachers teach the different subjects where they are available. Having learnt these different subjects, the student now chooses a subject for specialization. In the olden days, he proceeds to a university of international repute to continue with his studies there. Universities of al-Az’har, Timbuktu, Sankore and Jenne used to and still serve as international centres of learning. With increased understanding and difficulties in getting access to these institutions nowadays, renown Islamic scholars, competent enough to teach these areas do the job.

1. Briefly describe the stages of Islamic education in a typical Qur’anic School.

· You have learnt in this unit that Islam is a religion with a divine book called the “Qur’an”, which was revealed in stages to the prophet of Islam, Muhammad (S.A.W.). The religion emphasizes the importance of knowledge, which is conveyed in the first revelation. Most disciplines in modern sciences and philosophy owe their roots to the Islamic system of education. Islam and Islamic education came to Africa, and indeed, Nigeria through the trans-Saharan trade between natives and the Arab traders.The acceptance of Islam by the rulers facilitated the rapid expansion of the religion and the Jihads further consolidated it. The desire among scholars to preach the religion and teach its principles made it possible to spread through to Ilorin and Ibadan to the South and the entire Hausa land and Kanem to the North. You also learnt from the unit that Islamic Education was carried out in stages, each with its curriculum of studies. The students learn systematically from the elementary stage to what can now be called the university stage,

1. Review the development of Islamic education in Nigeria from the 8th Century.
2. Carefully assess the impact of the system on the socio-political and economic life of
the people.

Dambo, L (1994), Instructional Materials Development for Improvement of Qur’anic
Education in Nigeria, Conference Paper, Kaduna.
Fafunwa B. (1974); History of Education in Nigeria, George Allen & Unwin Ltd. London
Ozigi, A and Ocho, L. (1981); Education in Northern Nigeria, George Allen & Unwin Ltd,
Taiwo, C. O. (1980); The Nigerian Education System Past, Present & Future, Butler &
Tanner Ltd, London.



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