(Cultural and Intellectual)

Practices of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam. The exact date of the founding of the settlement is unclear but prior to the early 1800s, the settlement had attracted Muslims of diverse origins including Kanuri, Nupe, Baruba, Yoruba, Fulani, etc. Some of these Muslims were involved in developments that led to the establishment of Ilorin Emirate during the third decade of the 19th century while their descendants in different parts of Ilorin have continued to play prominent roles in the sustenance of Ilorin’s reputation for Islamic learning and propagation in the emirate. Ilorin Emirate was established in c.1823 following the success of an Islamic movement initiated by a renowned Fulani Islamic scholar, Shaikh Salihu ibn Janta (d. c.1823). Its first Emir, Abdulsalami (reigned c.1823-c.1836) was the son and successor of the Shaikh. Ilorin city, in west-central part of modern Nigeria has remained the headquarters of the emirate since its inception and is today the capital of modern Kwara State. The Emirate has a dual identity as one of the ”successor states” of Old Oyo Empire as well as a ”Frontier Emirate” of the Sokoto Caliphate. The city of Ilorin is particularly described as a melting pot of peoples and cultures as well as a city of scholars, saints, preachers, and teachers. The attainment of this status was facilitated by a number of factors including the geographical location of the city and the emirate in the transitional zone between the open Savannah to the north and the forest region to the south; the relative peace and security its afforded and still affords migrants and settlers and its rich and sustained tradition of Islamic scholarship. This has made the city attractive to Islamic scholars and Muslims in search for Islamic knowledge from different regions up till recent times. Thus, the city is home to various linguistics groups including the Yoruba, Fulani, Hausa, Kanuri, Nupe, Bariba, Gwari, Malians, Sudanese, Songhays, Dendi, etc. The emirate is, therefore, endowed with a very rich history, culture and dynamic tradition. Though the emirate is famous in different human endevaours such as traditional industrial activities (including pottery making, cloth weaving, ironworking, bead making etc.), trading, warfare, etc., it is in its tradition of Arabic and Islamic scholarship that the emirate has been most famous up to the present time. Hence, for almost two centuries now, its indigenes are renowned for their commitment to Islam and their immense intellectual contributions in various fields of Arabic and Islamic scholarship as well as in the Islamization of other parts of modern Nigeria particularly in the region south of River Niger.

Attainment of this status was facilitated by a number of factors including the geographical location of the city and the emirate in the transitional zone between the open Savannah to the north and the forest region to the south; the relative peace and security its afforded and still affords migrants and settlers and its rich and sustained tradition of Islamic scholarship. This has made the city attractive to Islamic scholars and Muslims in search for Islamic knowledge from different regions up till recent times. Thus, the city is home to various linguistics groups including the Yoruba, Fulani, Hausa, Kanuri, Nupe, Bariba, Gwari, Malians, Sudanese, Songhays, Dendi, etc. The emirate is, therefore, endowed with a very rich history, culture and dynamic tradition. Though the emirate is famous in different human endevaours such as traditional industrial activities (including pottery making, cloth weaving, ironworking, bead making etc.), trading, warfare, etc., it is in its tradition of Arabic and Islamic scholarship that the emirate has been most famous up to the present time. Hence, for almost two centuries now, its indigenes are renowned for their commitment to Islam and their immense intellectual contributions in various fields of Arabic and Islamic scholarship as well as in the Islamization of other parts of modern Nigeria particularly in the region south of River Niger.

Malians, Sudanese, Songhays, Dendi, etc. The emirate is, therefore, endowed with a very rich history, culture and dynamic tradition. Though the emirate is famous in different human endevaours such as traditional industrial activities (including pottery making, cloth weaving, ironworking, bead making etc.), trading, warfare, etc., it is in its tradition of Arabic and Islamic scholarship that the emirate has been most famous up to the present time. Hence, for almost two centuries now, its indigenes are renowned for their commitment to Islam and their immense intellectual contributions in various fields of Arabic and Islamic scholarship as well as in the Islamization of other parts of modern Nigeria particularly in the region south of River Niger.

As a widely acknowledged centre of Islamization and Islamic scholarship since the early 19th century, Ilorin scholars and their successors have made immeasurable contributions to indigenous production of knowledge. Through their numerous manuscripts (both in Arabic and Ajami) covering various aspects of knowledge and human endeavours, scholars of Ilorin have left a big pool of sources of information and knowledge that is waiting to be explored by present and future generations. Among others, such manuscripts have served and still continue to serve as primary sources for studies on Ilorin emirate history,

Arabic language and literature. In addition, the manuscripts also contain materials, which are believed to have potent powers for providing spiritual and herbal solutions to various mundane and spiritual problems. Ilorin is geographically located in the west-central part of modern Nigeria where the population is largely Yoruba-speaking. However, the culture of its people is a hybrid of the cultural heritage of various groups of people that have over the years settled in the region. Hence, although the peoples speak the Yoruba language, their culture is quite distinct from that of the Yoruba people further south. Though different aspects of Ilorin’s history and culture have continued to receive scholars’ attention over the years, it is, however, observed that a lot of archival records on Ilorin or manuscripts produced by the Ilorin has either been lost, buried or destroyed by various factors including termites, harsh weather conditions, natural or man-made disasters. Those materials that have survived are either scattered in various hands and places or are being actively endangered and on the verge of extinction or disappearance. In 2004, a non-governmental organization named Ilorin History and Culture Bureau was set up by a group of Ilorin indigene. Its main mission was to rescue the historical and cultural heritage of the Emirate from total extinction. Little success was recorded in this regard due largely to financial constraints and lack of support from government, individuals and corporate bodies.