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A note on Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir b. Muḥammad al-Sanūsī and his relationship with the Caliphate of Ḥamdallāhi

Note sur Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir b. Muḥammad al-Sanūsī et ses relations avec le califat de Ḥamdallāhi
Mohamed Diagayété

Résumés

Cet article explore la relation entre le califat de Ḥamdallāhi et Tombouctou. En particulier, il se concentre sur un érudit de Tombouctou négligé jusqu’à présent dans l’historiographie de l’Afrique occidentale du XIXe siècle : Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Sanūsī. L’article fournit une biographie de cet érudit, qui a agi comme juge de Tombouctou et amīr de la ville au nom de Ḥamdallāhi, et présente sa correspondance avec la capitale du califat. Plus généralement, cette contribution montre le potentiel de l'étude des archives manuscrites pour mieux comprendre l’histoire intellectuelle, politique, sociale et économique de l’Afrique occidentale précoloniale. En outre, dans les annexes, l’auteur présente les traductions de trois lettres écrites par Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Sanūsī.

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Texte intégral

Introduction

  • 1 See A. Sankare, 1986; H.A. Diakite, 2011; I. Traore, 2012; B. Sissoko, 2014; H.A. Diakite, 2015; M. (...)

1The topic of the relationships between the Caliphate of Ḥamdallāhi (1818–1862) and the trading and scholarly center of Timbuktu on the Niger Bend remains an unexplored field for researchers. Scholars have produced few preliminary studies concerning the relationship between the Fulani rulers of Ḥamdallāhi and the Kunta, the prominent Arabophone clan of scholars and traders who made Timbuktu and the Niger Bend the center of their activities between the second half of the 18th century and the early colonial period.1 However, the Kunta were not the only actors in Timbuktu who engaged in intense interactions with Ḥamdallāhi.

2In this contribution, I discuss the case study represented by the relationship between Aḥmad Lobbo (d. 1845), the founding ruler of the Caliphate of Ḥamdallāhi, and one of the qāḍīs he appointed in Timbuktu after the conquest of the city, Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir b. Muḥammad al-Sanūsī (d. 1844). By studying evidence preserved in West African manuscript collections, and especially at the Institut des Hautes Etudes et Recherches Islamiques – Ahmed Baba (IHERI-AB), I provide a short biography of Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir, highlighting his origins, his appointment as qāḍī, and his dismissal, and then I briefly present the content of the correspondence that involved him. In the attached appendixes are images of three of these letters, accompanied by their translation into English.

Biography

  • 2 The name Zanghu is unclear and its rendering here is tentative. It might be that it refers to the w (...)
  • 3 See the list below of these manuscripts.
  • 4 Mama Haidara Library, Ms. 1152, p. 2

3Very little is known about the nasab (genealogy) of Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir. His name is mentioned in most of the manuscripts as Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir b. Muḥammad al-Sanūsī b. Aḥmad Zanghu2 al-Ḥasanī.3 Another manuscript provides a slightly different genealogy, which adds to Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir’s nasab one more ancestor named Ṣāliḥ, giving the full genealogy of Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir as Ibn Muḥammad al-Sanūsī b. Aḥmad Zanghu b. Ṣāliḥ al-Ḥasanī.4

  • 5 The colonial scholar Paul Marty refers to several families claiming to descend from the Prophet, se (...)

4There is no information in the available sources concerning either his father Muḥammad al-Sanūsī or his grandfather Aḥmad Zanghu. Most likely, they did not play an important role in the city of Timbuktu or elsewhere. The title mawlāy and the nisba ḥasanī suggest that ‘Abd al-Qādir was most likely a sharīf, a descendant of the Prophet, of north African origin. However, the manuscripts consulted do not provide any information about the provenance of his family, or the period and the circumstances of their arrival in Timbuktu.5 In any event, Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir’s fortunes are related to the establishment of Ḥamdallāhi’s rule over Timbuktu.

  • 6 The Arma (from the Arabic al-rumāt, “the musketeers”) are the descendants of the Moroccan soldiers (...)
  • 7 M. Abitbol, 1979, p. 235.
  • 8 M. Abitbol, 1979, p. 235.

5In 1825/6 the last Arma pasha6 of Timbuktu, ‘Uthmān b. Abī Bakr, agreed to pledge allegiance (bay‘a) to a messenger of Aḥmad Lobbo, al-Ḥājj Mūdi b. Sa‘īd, who had entered Timbuktu with a powerful army.7 However, Aḥmad Lobbo did not alter the administration of Timbuktu immediately after the city’s submission. For instance, ‘Uthmān b. Abī Bakr was confirmed as amīr of the city. His first concern was to neutralize the Tuareg who threatened Ḥamdallāhi’s control over the region of Timbuktu. It was not until after the battle of Ndukkuway, in 1825/6, during which the Fulani defeated the Tuareg coalition led by Sirim ag Bādi that Aḥmad Lobbo made the first appointments in Timbuktu.8

6The available secondary literature locates Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir’s appointment as amīr of Timbuktu after the dismissal of ‘Uthmān b. Abī Bakr, which took place c. 1833. For example, Elias Saad in his Social history of Timbuktu records that after the revocation of ‘Uthmān b. Abī Bakr:

  • 9 E. Saad, 1983, p. 216-217.

One action taken by Aḥmad Lobbo which had an effect on later configurations of power was the appointment of ‘Abd al-Qādir b. Muḥammad al-Sanūsī, a member of the Shurfa, as Qādī and Amīr of Timbuktu. This took place immediately after the defeat and capture of ‘Uthmān, who was taken to imprisonment for two and half years at Hamdallahi. Subsequent events are rather obscure, but San Sirfi, who acted as kātib under ‘Abd al-Qādir, continued to do so when the latter was deposed in favor of al-Qādī Alfā Sa‘īd b. Bābā Gurdu. ‘Abd al-Qādir had studied under the Gūrdus and, therefore, his dismissal in favor of Alfā Sa‘īd is not easily explained. However, San Sirfi outlived both, and emerged as the most powerful figure, closely allied to Aḥmad al-Bakka’ī, in the mid-nineteenth century.9

  • 10 G. Bohas, A. Saguer, B. Salvaing, 2011, p. 48.

7Bernard Salvaing in his introduction to the hagiography of Aḥmad Lobbo by Muḥammad b. ‘Alī Pereejo, the Fatḥ al-Ṣamad fī dhikr shayʾ min akhlāf shaykhinā Aḥmad (The Inspiration of the Eternal in Remembrance of Some of the Exemplary Peculiarities of Our Shaykh Aḥmad), repeats the same information provided by Saad, saying that “Sheku Amadou Lobbo then appointed Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir—after the dismissal of ‘Uthmān.”10 

  • 11 M. Nobili, 2013.
  • 12 Institut de France (Fonds de Gironcourt), ms. 2406 (72), p. 6.
  • 13 IHERI-ABT, ms. 2508.

8Primary sources indicate that his appointment as qāḍī took place earlier, in 1829. A fragment of the chronicle known as Tārīkh al-fūtāwī that is preserved in the Fonds de Gironcourt at the Institut de France records information about Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir’s appointment.11 The author, the son of another notable of Timbuktu close to Ḥamdallāhi, San Shirfi, records that al-Ḥājj Mūdi b. Sa‘īd returned to Ḥamdallāhi in 1245/1829 after having defeated the rebellious Tuareg and that Aḥmad Lobbo appointed Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir as qāḍī of the city and San Shirfī as secretary.12 This is also confirmed by the fact that Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir began to receive letters from Aḥmad Lobbo in 1829, only after his appointment. The earliest letter available regarding Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir is a reply to Aḥmad Lobbo in which the Timbuktu scholar informs the caliph of Ḥamdallāhi that one Kara Farma, whose status as a free person was contested, was in fact a slave.13

  • 14 IHERI-ABT, ms. 2508.

9The reasons for Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir’s appointment can be numerous. First, it seems that he was close to Aḥmad Lobbo. In a correspondence dated 19 January 1828 (3 Sha‘abān 1243) between the two, Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir describes himself as a pupil of Ahmad Lobbo.14 Second, Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir’s education, his knowledge of religious sciences, and his piety were remarkable. In a letter that Aḥmad Lobbo wrote to his amīr, the abovementioned ‘Uthmān b. Abī Bakr, he suggested what follows:

  • 15 IHERI-ABT, ms. 14058.

If they [i.e. the people of Timbuktu] have any problems in understanding religious texts, they must refer to Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir, because he is a great scholar and a man of great piety, according to the information I received.15

  • 16 IHERI-ABT, ms. 25858.
  • 17 IHERI-ABT, ms. 8960.

10Finally, the unwillingness of the inhabitants of Timbuktu to submit to Ḥamdallāhi probably pushed Aḥmad Lobbo to appoint local representatives who were supportive of him. This is confirmed by a long Naşīḥat (advice) composed in 1828, in which Ahmad Lobbo recommends the people of the city to gather around his representative.16 However, the role of Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir was also that of making sure that the complaints of local people could be taken up and discussed by the ultimate authorities in Ḥamdallāhi. For example, the qāḍī wrote to Aḥmad Lobbo to make sure that the case of the orphaned daughters of one Sīdī Muḥammad al-Sammār, who had been wronged by the people of Arawān, would be addressed (see Appendix 3 for a full translation of this letter).17

  • 18 IHERI-ABT, ms. 2494.
  • 19 IHERI-ABT, ms. 12150, P. 1-2.
  • 20 IHERI-ABT, ms. 11318
  • 21 IHERI-ABT, ms. 11557; IHERI-AB, ms. 9013.

11Eventually, Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir was dismissed from his position and replaced by one Alfā Sa‘īd b. Bābā al-Fullānī. But the manuscripts consulted are still silent on the actual date of his dismissal. Tentatively, it is possible to argue that Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir’s dismissal was related to a series of administrative errors. For example, very early on in his role as qāḍī, a letter he wrote to Aḥmad Lobbo during his early days as qāḍī in 1829, implies that the caliph of Ḥamdallāhi interpreted some gifts that Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir had received as corruption (see Appendix 1 for a full translation of this letter and of Aḥmad Lobbo’s response).18 This was not the only case of disagreement between the two. In a correspondence with Aḥmad Lobbo dated 21 August 1829 (21 Ṣafar 1245), Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir was blamed for having sold a slave from the public treasury (bayt al-mal).19 He was accused of debt issues and non-compliance with sharī‘a rules, as it emerges for an undated letter from Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir Aḥmad Lobbo.20 In addition, Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir also had very difficult relations with Aḥmad b. ‘Umar, the amīr of Timbuktu appointed by Ḥamdallāhi. Aḥmad b. ‘Umar was very harsh and rigorous in implementing his decisions, which very often opposed him to the notables of Timbuktu.21

  • 22 Institut de France (Fond de Gironcourt), ms. 2405 (03), p. 1.
  • 23 IHERI-ABT, ms. 3548.

12The death of Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir is recorded in a manuscript preserved in the Fonds de Gironcourt. This document, a list of necrologies of notables of Timbuktu, records that Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir died on Sunday 22 December 1844 (12 Dhū al-ḥijja 1260).22 The IHERI-ABT hosts an undated letter written by a group of local notables expressing condolences for his death.23

  • 24 Institut de France (Fonds de Gironcourt), ms. 2405 (3), p. 2.
  • 25 IHERI-ABT, ms. 5752.
  • 26 IHERI-ABT, ms. 11564.

13The available manuscripts provide scanty information about Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qāir’s relatives. His wife, named Nāna Siri bt. al-faqīh Aḥmad b. al-Muṣṭafā, died two years after the death of her husband—that is, in 1846.24 Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir had a son named Muḥammad al-Amīn, the namesake of his father. Muḥammad al-Amīn is the author of a letter addressed to Sa‘īd b. Bābā al-Fullānī, who replaced Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qāir as qāḍī of Timbuktu, in which he asks the qāḍī to treat him with justice.25 Lastly, in another letter to Aḥmad Lobbo, Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir makes reference to his cousin, the son of his paternal uncle, named Alfā Bania b. Bāber b. Aḥmad.26

  • 27 Institut de France (Fonds de Gironcourt), ms. 2405 (3), p. 2.

14In summary, the sources agree in presenting Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir as a powerful notable of Timbuktu during the time of the Caliphate of Ḥamdallāhi. As underlined by the list of necrologies that records his death, Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir was among the few notables who combined the position of qāḍī of Timbuktu with that of amīr of the city, being qāḍī for about ten years (c. 1829–1839) and as amīr for about three (c. 1833–1835/6).27

An inventory of the correspondence related to Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir

15The IHERI-ABT collection holds more than twenty-five letters exchanged between Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir and Aḥmad Lobbo or other notables of the time. No manuscripts concerning Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir have been found in private or family libraries in West Africa.

16The chronological time frame of these letters is 1828–1842, as the earliest date mentioned is recorded in IHERI-AB 11570—that is, 11 January 1828 (24 Jumādà II 1243)—and the most recent in IHERI-AB 11292, dated the beginning of Ramaḍān 1259 (September–October 1843).

17Below is a list of all the available manuscripts containing correspondence from Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir or to him, sorted according to the sender. The list is followed by another one in which the manuscripts are arranged by date.

Sender

No. of mss

Mss no.

From Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir to Aḥmad Lobbo

16

IHERI-ABT nos. 2317, 2494, 2508, 2881, 3219, 3648, 3649, 8960, 11318, 11425, 11557, 11564, 11565, 11566, 11570, 12150.

From Aḥmad Lobbo to Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir

6

IHERI-ABT nos. 2885, 8924, 9013, 9014, 12147, 12151

From Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir to other recipients

5

IHERI-ABT 3693, 6011, 6094, 10273, 11292

Mss composition date

No. of mss exchanged

No. of mss exchanged

1243/1828

04

IHERI-ABT nos. 2508, 8092, 11570, 11566

1245/1829

01

IHERI-ABT no. 2494

1246/1831

01

IHERI-ABT no. 11565

1248/1833

01

IHERI-ABT no. 3647

1249/1834

01

IHERI-ABT no. 3649

1251/1835

01

IHERI-ABT no. 11557

1259/1842

01

IHERI-ABT no. 11292

Not dated

19

IHERI-ABT nos. 2317, 2881, 2885, 3219, 3648, 3693, 6011, 6094, 8924, 8960, 9013, 9014, 10273, 11318, 11425, 11564, 12147, 12150, 12151.

18Here below is a sample of the contents of some correspondence (not discussed previously) between Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir and Aḥmad Lobbo that demonstrates the diversity and richness of this corpus. For example:

  • IHERI-ABT, ms. 2317: Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir requests from Aḥmad Lobbo an increase in the financial aid that comes from zakāt (alms).

  • IHERI-ABT, ms. 2885: Ahmad Lobbo advises Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir to implement the rules of sharī‘a and dissuades him from listening to what people say about his conduct. The caliph of Ḥamdallāhi also urges his qāḍī in Timbuktu to make tireless efforts to bring about justice and to support the effort of ribāṭs—that is, forts where soldiers were settled to control the borders of the caliphate.

  • IHERI-ABT, ms. 3649: Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir acts as an intermediary between Ḥadmallāhi and the powerful Kunta family (see Appendix 2 for a full translation of this letter)

  • IHERI-ABT, ms. 9013: Ahmad Lobbo advises to settle a dispute between Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir and Aḥmad b. ‘Umar by al-Mukhtār al-Ṣaghīr.

  • IHERI-ABT, ms. 9014: Ahmad Lobbo requests to enforce the rules on prohibiting tobacco smoking.

Conclusion

19This short contribution has provided a biography of one of the most relevant, yet obscure, figures that dominated the history of Timbuktu at the time of the rule of Ḥamdallāhi: Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir. I have shown the potential of studying the correspondence available in manuscripts between Aḥmad Lobbo and his representatives in Timbuktu, with the hope that such contribution will further the study of the career of Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir as well as similarly relevant figures of Timbuktu in the first half of the 19th century. More generally, this contribution shows the potential to investigate manuscript archives to better understand the intellectual, political, social, and economic history of pre-colonial West Africa.

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Bibliographie

Abitbol, M., 1979, Tombouctou et les Arma: de la conquête marocaine du Soudan nigérien en 1591 à l’hégémonie de l’Empire Peulh du Macina en 1833, Paris, G.-P. Maisonneuve et Larose.

Bohas, G., Saguer, A., Salvaing, B. [ed. and trad.], 2011, L’inspiration de l’Éternel: éloge de Shékou Amadou, fondateur de l’empire peul du Macina, par Muḥammad b. ‘Alī Pereejo, Brinon-sur-Sauldre, Grandvaux – VECMAS.

Diagayété, M., 2019, Barth à Tombouctou: Lettre d’Aḥmad al-Bakkāy al-Kuntī à Aḥmad b. Aḥmad, émir du Māsina (1854), Paris, Geuthner.

Diakite, H.A., 2011, Édition et traduction du Kitāb al-Iḍṭirār de Aḥmad Lobbo, Unpublished MA Thesis, École normale supérieure de Lyon.

Diakite, H.A., 2015, Al-Mukthār b. Yerkoy Talfi et le Califat de Hamdallahi au xixe siècle: édition critique et traduction de Tabkīt Al-Bakkay. Á propos d’une controverse inter-confrérique entre al-Mukhtār b. Yerkoy Talfi [1800–1864] et Aḥmad Al-Bakkay (1800–1866), Unpublished PhD dissertation, École normale supérieure de Lyon.

Hacquard, A., Dupuis-Yakouba, A., 1897, Manuel de la langue Soñgay parlée de Tombouctou à Say dans la boucle du Niger, Paris, Maisonneuve.

Marty, P., 1920, Islam et les tribus du Soudan, t. II: La région de Tombouctou (Islam Songaï); Dienné, le Macina et dépendances (Islam Peul), Paris, Leroux.

Nobili, M., 2013, Catalogue des manuscrits arabes du Fonds de Gironcourt (Afrique de l'Ouest) de l’Institut de France, Roma, Istituto per l’Oriente “C.A. Nallino”.

Nobili, M., 2020, Sultan, Caliph, and Renewer of the Faith: Aḥmad Lobbo, the Tārīkh al-fattāsh and the making of an Islamic state in nineteenth-century West Africa, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Saad, E., 1983, Social history of Timbuktu: The role of Muslim scholars and notables, 1400–1900, Cambridge – New York, NY, Cambridge University Press.

Sankare, A., 1986, “Rapports entre les Peul du Macina et les Kounta (1818–1864)”, Sankore, 3.

Sissoko, B., 2014, Bayân ma jara: édition, traduction et commentaire, Unpublished MA Thesis, École normale supérieure de Lyon.

Sissoko, B., 2019, Le cheikh al-Muḫtār aṣ-Ṣaġīr al-Kuntī (1790–1847): médiation entre l’État peul du Macina et les Touaregs de Tombouctou de 1826 à 1847, Unpublished PhD Dissertation, Université Lumière Lyon2.

Traore, I., 2012, Les Relations épistolaires entre la famille Kunta de Tombouctou et la Dina du Macina (1818–1864), Unpublished PhD dissertation, École normale supérieure de Lyon.

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Annexe

Appendix 1

IHERI-ABT 2494

A letter from Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir to Aḥmad Lobbo, which includes at the bottom the response of the caliph of Ḥamdallāhi.

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. May God’s blessings and abundant peace be upon our master, Muḥammad, his household, and his companions. Praise be to God, who considers the most noble of the beloved ones the one who contradict you [when pursuing] worldly aspirations to preserve your salvation in the hereafter. May blessings and peace be upon the one who is above all the prophets and kings.

This is addressed to the Commander of the believers and the imām of the Muslims, our leader, elder, and support, the bounty of God that He put in authority over us, and ship of our salvation, imām Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Abī Bakr al-Māsinī [Aḥmad Lobbo]. May the choicest and most abundant of salutations, the noblest and purest of greetings, and most complete and all-encompassing mercy be on you and your beloved and companions.

This said, I bring to your attention that your response to the question I addressed to you reached me. As for the response you sent me, nothing has escaped my comprehension except that I remind you that man is given to error and oblivion. He [unspecified] gave it to me before as a gift; then he said that he gave the gift intending it as a bribe to expose me and blemish my credibility. This is the behavior of the elite from among them. God is a witness and knows that in truth I did not accept the gift from him nor specifically as a gift, but rather through negligence. Nevertheless, I accept your advice and admonishment, may God reward you on behalf of us with the best of the rewards that he bestows upon those who offer sincere guidance.

As from now onward, we will never accept their gifts nor any thing they give, God willing. I have repented to God for past [wrongs] from me in that regard. May multiple, countless and infinite peace return to you as it began. Dated, 21 of the good month of Ṣafar 1245 (21 August 1829).

From the unworthy servant of his Lord, hostage of his sins, ‘Abd al-Qādir b. Muḥammad al-Sanūsī b. Aḥmad b. Zanghu al-Ḥasanī. May God soothe his troubles, conceal the sins that expose him, forgive his stumbling, and that of his parents and his teachers. Amīn. Amīn. Amīn.

The response then of Al-Shaykh, Commander of the Believers, Aḥmad b. Muḥammad to Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir al-Sanūsī, in which he says to the latter: I indeed saw your response and know with certainty your genuine taking heed and acceptance of my advice and my admonishment. May God accept from us and you [our efforts] and let us suffice with what he made permissible from that which he made impermissible and with what He rendered explicitly wholesome from doubtful matters that lead to disgrace. Salutations.

Appendix 2

IHERI-ABT, ms n° 3649

A letter from Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir to Aḥmad Lobbo

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. May God’s blessings and abundant peace be upon our master, Muḥammad, his household, and his companions. All praise is due to God only. May His blessing and salutations be upon the most noble of His creation and the trustworthy bearer of His revelation.

This is addressed to the Commander of the believers and the imam of the Muslims, our elder, master, support, the bounty of God that He put in authority over us, the imām Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Abī Bakr al-Māsinī [Aḥmad Lobbo]. May abundant peace, the choicest greetings and honor, as well as the mercy of God and his blessings be upon you.

This said, the reason that necessitated this correspondence to you informing you that the biḍān [i.e. the Arabs] went to Sīdī al-Mukhtār’s [al-Ṣaghīr’s] house to talk and protest to him about the six thousand mithqāl [of gold] that they are obligated to pay. Sīdī al-Mukhtār [al-Ṣaghīr] requested us to put on hold [the due payment] and wait until he writes to you about their matter. However, we imposed [this payment] on them in accordance with our considered opinion in order to show what is obligatory on and the duty of everyone. Likewise, we have requested from Ahmad b. Hata one third, but Sīdī al-Mukhtār [al-Ṣaghīr] requested us to put on hold this payment until he writes to you about this matter.

May peace return to you as it began. Dated, Saturday, 9 Dhū al-ḥijja 1249 (18 April 1834).

From the unworthy servant of his Lord, captive of his sins, ‘Abd al-Qādir b. Muḥammad al-Sanūsī b. Aḥmad b. Zanghu al-Ḥasanī. May God soothe his troubles, conceal the sins that expose him, forgive his stumbling, and that of his parents, his teachers, and all the Muslims. Amīn. Amīn. Amīn.

Appendix 3

IHERI-ABT 8960

A letter from Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir to Aḥmad Lobbo

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. May God’s blessings and abundant peace be upon our master, Muḥammad, his household, and his companions. All praise is due to God only. May His blessing and salutations be upon the most noble of His creation and the trustworthy bearer of His revelation.

This is addressed to the Commander of the believers and the imam of the Muslims, our elder, master, support, the bounty of God that He put in authority over us, the imām Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Abī Bakr al-Māsinī [Aḥmad Lobbo]. May peace, the mercy of God and his blessings be upon you.

This said, the reason that necessitated this correspondence to you is to inform you that the daughters of Sīdī Muḥammad al-Sammār have complained to and petitioned us concerning the estate of their father [i.e. their inheritance] that the inhabitants of Arawān plundered and robbed simply because they carried it without any witnesses, without proper listing, and without the knowledge of anyone according to what came to our knowledge from trustworthy people. He left weak daughters and a son who are now orphaned, and they do not have food for even a day. They are in a most terrible condition. They brought their plight to us, which we in turn place in front of God and your door, for you are their guardian and the guardian of all the oppressed and their protecting fort. May God preserve your life for the benefit of Muslims, support you, and grant you victory. Amīn.

[I hereby request] that you write a response to the inhabitants of Arawān, and in particular to al-Ḥabīb b. Sīdī Muḥammad, to treat them [i.e. the three orphans] in accordance with what the sharī‘a obligates or that they all come to you to judge between them according to what God guides you to.

May multiple, countless and infinite peace return to you.

From the unworthy servant of his Lord, captive of his sins, ‘Abd al-Qādir b. Muḥammad al-Sanūsī b. Aḥmad b. Zanghu al-Ḥasanī. May God soothe his troubles, conceal the sins that expose him, forgive his stumbling, and that of his parents and his teachers. Amīn. Amīn. Amīn.

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Notes

1 See A. Sankare, 1986; H.A. Diakite, 2011; I. Traore, 2012; B. Sissoko, 2014; H.A. Diakite, 2015; M. Diagayété, 2019; B. Sissoko, 2019; M. Nobili, 2020.

2 The name Zanghu is unclear and its rendering here is tentative. It might be that it refers to the word “zangu” (or its variant “jangu”), which means “one hundred” in Songhay (see A. Hacquard, A. Dupuis-Yakouba, 1897, p. 205).

3 See the list below of these manuscripts.

4 Mama Haidara Library, Ms. 1152, p. 2

5 The colonial scholar Paul Marty refers to several families claiming to descend from the Prophet, settled in Timbuktu by the early 20th century; see P. Marty, 1920, p. 10-14.

6 The Arma (from the Arabic al-rumāt, “the musketeers”) are the descendants of the Moroccan soldiers that conquered Timbuktu in 1591 and remained in West Africa. Intermarrying with local women, they developed as a Songhay ruling class.

7 M. Abitbol, 1979, p. 235.

8 M. Abitbol, 1979, p. 235.

9 E. Saad, 1983, p. 216-217.

10 G. Bohas, A. Saguer, B. Salvaing, 2011, p. 48.

11 M. Nobili, 2013.

12 Institut de France (Fonds de Gironcourt), ms. 2406 (72), p. 6.

13 IHERI-ABT, ms. 2508.

14 IHERI-ABT, ms. 2508.

15 IHERI-ABT, ms. 14058.

16 IHERI-ABT, ms. 25858.

17 IHERI-ABT, ms. 8960.

18 IHERI-ABT, ms. 2494.

19 IHERI-ABT, ms. 12150, P. 1-2.

20 IHERI-ABT, ms. 11318

21 IHERI-ABT, ms. 11557; IHERI-AB, ms. 9013.

22 Institut de France (Fond de Gironcourt), ms. 2405 (03), p. 1.

23 IHERI-ABT, ms. 3548.

24 Institut de France (Fonds de Gironcourt), ms. 2405 (3), p. 2.

25 IHERI-ABT, ms. 5752.

26 IHERI-ABT, ms. 11564.

27 Institut de France (Fonds de Gironcourt), ms. 2405 (3), p. 2.

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Référence électronique

Mohamed Diagayété, « A note on Mawlāy ‘Abd al-Qādir b. Muḥammad al-Sanūsī and his relationship with the Caliphate of Ḥamdallāhi »Afriques [En ligne], 12 | 2021, mis en ligne le 25 décembre 2021, consulté le 25 mai 2022. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/afriques/3288 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/afriques.3288

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Auteur

Mohamed Diagayété

Institut des hautes études et recherches islamiques – Ahmed Baba

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