|Mansa (‘King’) Musa of Mali|
The exact period that Yorùbáland came in contact with Islam is still unknown, but more significant facts suggest that it was during the reign of Mansa (‘King’) Musa of Mali Empire in the 13th century. It is believed that the Dyula traders from Mali that reached the Yorùbáland about that time facilitated the contact.
In furtherance of the position, Islam was known to the Yorùbá people as Esin-Imale; a patronymic allusion to Mali.
Also, some words like Alfa; a Songhay word for a holy man and barakoi/baray-koi (adopted by Yorùbá as Parakoyi) used by Governors in the Bara province in the north inland delta of Songhay have been borrowed from Songhay with similar connotation and political authority among the Yorùbás.
Erudition among Muslim Yorùbás predated the advent of Europeans in Yorùbáland. The Yorùbá language itself used to be written with Arabic script long before the return of Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther (the first Yorùbá to translate Bible to Yorùbá language).
Nevertheless, the advent spread but, the consolidation of Islam in Yorùbáland, was not uniform. Islam came to Ilorin, Ijesha, Oshogbo, Iwo, Ibadan, Oyo, Epe, Badagry, Eko, Ijebuland and other parts of the Yorùbáland at a dissimilar time and through different approaches and scholars.
Prior to the early 1800s, the Ilorin settlement had attracted Muslims of diverse origins including Kanuri, Nupe, Baruba, Yorùbá, 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. Ilorin; the port of Arabic and Islamic Scholarship in Yorùbáland contributed in no small measure to the spread of Islam and the development of Arabic and Islamic Studies in Yorùbáland. The city produced numerous scholars who occupied enviable positions in the history of Islam in different parts of Yorùbáland.
After the collapse of the old Oyo empire, many refugees migrated to Ibadan to settle because the latter was a war camp that provided security and hope for some immigrant refugees who were displaced from their homelands. By 1830, the dominant Yorùbá and Hausa Muslim groups that settled in Ibadan included the Oyo-Yorùbá, Ife, and Egba, Bornu and Nupe groups. Between 1830 and 1850, the Oyo Yorùbá group in Ibadan resisted the implantation of Islam in their domain for fear of Islamic domination. This hostility to Islam became widespread such that the first central Mosque that was built in the town was demolished during the reign of Bashorun Oluyole, the ruler of Ibadan (1836-1850).
Islam was said to have reached Ibokun, the headquarters of Obokun in Osun; an offshoot town of Ilorin before the Osogbo war in the 1840s. However, it was after the defeat of the Fulani Jihadists by the Ibadans in the battle of Osogbo in 1843, that Kusi, an Ilorin native of Ibokun escaped back to his hometown as a Muslim. Thus, the spread of Islam within Osun is closely connected with the Ilorin people.
Paakoyi, who was regarded as the father of Islam in Osogbo, was a trader and as a result of his trade contacts with the Ilorin people converted to Islam. He introduced the religion to Osogbo during the reign of Oba Dabira Alomilagba in the latter part of the 18th century. However, Islam became more popular during the reigns of Oba Fabode (1870-71) and Oba Bamgbola (1891-93) when various socioreligious organisations like Egbe Alasalatu and Egbe Binukonu were formed.
Although the actual date of its introduction into Lagos remains unknown, what is known was that Islam was being practiced as far south of Lagos as Badagry by the late 1790s. Going by the history of the chronological sequence of the Lagosian rulers, it is reasonable to suggest that Islam was introduced into Lagos in the 1760s during the reign of Adele Ajosun 1 (c. 1805). Epe’s contact with Islam was during the 1851 exile of Oba Kosoko and his staunch supporter, Salu, who was then the Imam of the Lagos Muslims. While in Epe, Salu and his followers continued the proselytization of their faith, which later reached the Ijebu Epe areas, a hitherto secluded coastal town with a link to Ijebuland.
Islam came to Ijebuland around 1879 during the reign of Awujale Afidipote (d. 1885), through an Ilorin slave servant of Tubogun, a merchant from the Porogun ward of Ijebu Ode. According to another account, Epe was the point of contact through which Islam came to Ijebuland.
Predictably, the new converts, faced series of maltreatments from the people who were not keen on exchanging their age-long traditional beliefs with the new faith. In order to propagate the religion of Islam. Consequently, the Muslim converts employed various methods such as open air Da’wah, [Call people to Islam], the establishment of Qur’anic, Arabic and Islamic schools, caution against syncretism and embarking on literary productions. Without delay, Islamic scholars and local Imams started establishing Koranic centers to teach Arabic and Islamic studies. Much later, conventional schools were established to educate new converts and to propagate Islam.
No discussion about the consolidation of Islam in the Yorùbáland would be complete without the mention of places like: Ilorin, Iwo, Osogbo, Ibadan, Epe, Badagry, Ijebu, Ijesha among others or the mention of organisations such as: The Ahmadiya Muslim Community of Nigeria, Muslim Students Society of Nigeria, Ansarudeen Society of Nigeria, Nawair-ud- deen Society of Nigeria, Anwar-ul-Islam, The Young Muslim Brothers and Sisters of Nigeria (YOUMBAS ANJAENA), Nurul-Islam Missionary Society of Nigeria, Zumratu Islamiyya Society of Nigeria among other.
The name of great institutions like Markaz Talimul Arabi, Agege of Shaykh Adam Abdullahi Al Iluri, Ma’ahadul Ulumil Arabiyyah of Shaykh Kamaluddin Al Adaby in Ilorin and Ma’ahadul Arabi Annaijiri (Arabic Institute of Nigeria) Elekuro, Ibadan of Sheikh Murtadha Abdus Salaam and others cannot be ignored.
In the same vein, of a high relevance, are the names of great Islamic scholars, preachers and teachers such as: Imam Muhammad Ibn Sanni Idiagbon, Shaykh Abubakar Ibn Al Qasim Alaga , Alfa Salaudeen Parakoyi, Shaykh Haruna Matami, Alikai Sulayman Bolugi, Shaykh Muhammad Salisu b. Muhammad Sanusi (Alfa Kokewu-Kobere), Shaykh Muhammad Al-Jami’al-Labib (Taj Al-Adab). Shaykh Ahmad Ar-Rufa’i b. Muhammad Al-amin b. Abubakr Bubay (Alfa Nda Salati) Shaykh Muhammad b. Habibu’l-lahi b. Musa (Kamalu’d-din al-Adabi), Shayk Abubakri Salah’d-din Agbarigidoma, Shaykh Salih Esiniobiwa, Shaykh Kadir Salaudeen Apaokagi and Shaykh Adam Abdullahi Al-Ilori, Sheik Muhammad Kamaludeen Habibullahi Al-Adabiy and a host of others.