The Role of Migrant Scholars in the evolution and development of Islamic Schools in Jos Town, 1915-1957

Cite this article: Adam, U. A. 2023. The Role of Migrant Scholars in the evolution and development of Islamic Schools in Jos Town, 1915-1957. Sokoto Journal of History Vol. 12. Pp. 35-49. www.doi.org/10.36349/sokotojh.2023.v12i01.004

 The Role of Migrant Scholars in the evolution and development of Islamic Schools in Jos Town,1915-1957 

Umar Abdulhamid Adam
Department of History and International Studies,
Sule Lamido University, Kafin Hausa, Jigawa State- Nigeria


This paper is an examination of the migration of Islamic scholars to Jos Town and the consequential establishment of Islamic schools between 1915 and 1956. Jos, a town located in central Nigeria, witnessed a significant influx of Islamic scholars during the period between 1915 and 195. These scholars, hailing from diverse backgrounds, converged in Jos and brought with them a wealth of knowledge, religious teachings, and cultural influences. The paper chronicles the circumstances that facilitated their migration, the impact of their arrival on the religious landscape of Jos, and the crucial role played by the Islamic schools they established in propagating Islamic education. Through a meticulous examination of historical records, oral traditions and primary sources, the paper unveils a captivating chapter in the cultural and educational history of Jos, shedding light on the enduring legacy of these migrations and the establishment of Islamic schools in this vibrant town.

Keywords: Migrant Scholars, Evolution, Development, Islamic Schools, Jos Town


Since the beginning of the 20th century, Jos Town has attracted numerous individuals from within and outside Nigeria. The allure of the area can be attributed to the economic opportunities it offered, including tin mining, colonial administration, and its favorable climate. As a relatively young city compared to other urban centers in Nigeria, most of Jos Town's residents in the formative period were born and raised elsewhere. The cultural milieu of Jos differs from the traditional way of life found in cosmopolitan traditional urban centers across Nigeria, making it a place where everyone is a ‘stranger.’[1]

This paper is an attempt to explore the history of the migration of Islamic scholars in Jos Town between 1915 and 1957, and the subsequent establishment of Islamic schools in the town. The choice of the two periods was deliberate. The early 20th century witnessed the influx of the Islamic scholars into the town and by 1915 Jos was officially founded as a town by an Order from the Governor General of Northern Nigeria.[2] The year 1957 was the period when Mallam Arabi established a new Islamic school (Islamiyya Annazamiyya) with different outlook and system. The paper is divided into sections the first of which is an examination of the settlement pattern of Jos town by the 1920s and this is followed with a discussion on the introduction and spread of Islam in the town. The remaining sections of the paper deal with migration of Islamic scholars into Jos town; the establishment of the early Islamic schools and lastly specialization of some selected Islamic schools in Jos town.

Settlement Pattern of Jos Town by 1920s

Jos, as a migrant community, was deliberately divided into two sections by the colonial government and these were Jos Township and Jos Native town. The Jos Native town is the focal point in this paper because it was the area occupied predominantly by Muslims. The town began to be populated in 1910 via a ‘rough’ motor road built from Rahma at the foot of the Plateau to link the mineral fields in Jos with the Baro–Kano railway at Rigachikun, few kilometres north of Kaduna[3]. There was in 1914 the establishment of Hausa settlement in Gangare as mining camp, and in 1915 Jos was officially founded as a town by an Order from the Governor General of Northern Nigeria.[4] Between 1917 and 1918, a town plan, which was called “Government Station Jos” was adapted[5]. This plan was drawn up by the Ministry of Land and Surveys, Kaduna, when it was the capital of colonial northern Nigeria. The plan divided the Jos urban centre into two separate administrative units: a native town, subordinated to the Jos Divisional Administration, and the Township including Government Residential Area (G.R.A.), which was to be subordinated to the Local Authority. In the former, the local police was to maintain law and order and in the latter, the law and order was to be maintained by the Nigerian police. The Bauchi-Light-Railway line from Zaria, which had been completed in 1917, marked the boundary between the two areas.[6]

Further development of Jos took place in 1927 with the arrival of eastern railway line, which was extended from Kafanchan Junction. This marked an important stage in the rapid increase of population in the town. However, in 1926, a year before the eastern railway arrival, there was a system of registration by the Native Administration of the holders of ‘plots’ in the Jos Native Town.[7] It is clear that the presences of the mining camps, the Jos Town Plan, and the System of Registration, made the settlement pattern of Jos town to be completely influenced by having a concentration of a particular set of ethnic group and religion dominating an area.

Although Mallam Adamu Musa argues that it was not really the colonial division that made the high concentration of Hausa people in one place, but the nature and reason of going to ci-rani[8] (seasonal rural-urban migration) in Hausaland. He stressed that mostly people went for ci-rani to places where they had someone who was from their locality. Among the seasonal rural-urban migrants, the ‘flourishing ones established themselves in the urban areas without going back to their home areas, except occasionally. Those that were established accommodated those that seasonally came from the same locality. For Mallam Musa, this was the reason behind the settlement pattern of most migrant communities in Jos and several other towns[9]

Mahdi Adamu discusses extensively the nature of Hausa people movements, which strongly support the above perspective. He emphasized the importance of speaking the same language in attracting new migrants to the established settlement[10]. In his opinion it was mainly through voluntary settlement of individual migrants that the communities of Hausa immigrants (called zango) grew up, comprising people of hardly any blood relationship and united only by two factors: their common desire to better themselves through their own professions and their membership of one cultural entity.[11] The argument of Mahdi was on the Hausa moving from one place to another for businesses, which they normally moved as caravans, and his assertions were on the Hausa of 19th century, before Colonial Administration restricted movements.

For Islamic education in Jos town, the settlement pattern was paramount, because the early Islamic scholars were expected to settle closer to their students, especially the elementary Islamic schools. The proximity of the schools to the students’ residence is essential, because some of the students were of younger age like 5 years. Another factor that influenced the settlement pattern of Islamic scholars was their roles as Imams in the mosques, preachers for the communities, and leaders in other spiritual matters.

The settlement pattern of Jos by the 1920s featured people with a similar religion and ethnic affiliation dominating one place. In the 1930s, Jos Township population figures of 3,250 showed the Igbo occupying 53.8 % of the population followed by Yoruba with 11.8% and Hausa with only 6.2%.[12] In contrast, the Native town being the opposite of the Township, had a population of 11,000 people, and the Hausa people occupied more than 60% of the population.[13]

The Spread of Islam and Migration of Islamic Scholars to Jos Town

As early as the seventh century B.C. when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was given the message of Islam, Muslims considered education to be a lifelong process.[14] The construction of transportation network, especially railway lines, contributed significantly in the introduction and spread of Islam in Jos town. Abdulkadir stressed that during the early period of colonial domination, the movement of personnel and conveyance of export produce from imported machandise to the interior, led to the construction of road networks that connected administrative headquarters, urban economic-nerve centers, major markets and river and seaports.[15]

Jos town was a major tin mining centre attracting Muslim miners and workers to the area. The construction of communication networks witnessed the influx of a sizeable number of Muslims to the town. For example in 1932, there were 12,944 semi-skilled Hausa laborers in Jos Division, and by the 1940s, Muslim population had grown in Jos Native town where they mostly settled and their religious and economic impact were being felt. The improvement in communications facilitated the growth of Muslim population and the growth and development of Islam in Jos town.[16]

The religion of Islam and Islamic education evolved altogether. In Jos town, the spread of Islam was not in a form of evangelism, but people that migrated to the tin mining fields, for business activities or working, in the Native Administration migrated with their respective religion. The settlement pattern of the area restricted many activities including the Christian missionaries’ activities.[17] When the question of spread of Islam was thrown to Mallam Abdulwab he said “there was a common saying among our elders in Jos which says ‘kowa ka ganshi a Jas da hakoranshi talatin da biyu yazo’ (anyone you see in Jos, he came as a matured mind, full grown and ready for life challenge).[18] Others, like Mallam Tijjani Ahmad, Mallam Anakallahu, Mallam Sani Aliyu, added that the attention and concern of the early scholars in Jos town was in educating the already existing Muslims in the town who were in need of the Islamic knowledge, but not in converting or spreading the message of Islam to the non-Muslims. However, in other areas of the Plateau Province, there were missionaries’ activities during the colonial period, especially in the rural areas of the Province. As a result, it facilitated the conversion of many people to Christianity[19].

Trade and scholarship among the Muslims have never been separable.[20] In the early period of the 20th century, Muslims’ scholars mostly stayed at home to teach, led prayers and served as business consultant (nemansa’a) to the Muslim traders[21]. These were among the reasons Islamic scholars rarely engaged in business or seen at the market, unless for a special reason.

Islamic scholars many times followed people and settled with them wherever they were. Sometimes the scholars not only go together with the people, but were either invited or advised to go to a particular area where there was need for Islamic knowledge. This could be seen in the subsequent accounts on how some scholars found their ways to Jos town.

The process of migration and settlement of Islamic scholars into Jos town could be traced back to 1917, when Bunu, the Chief of Naraguta, died and was succeeded by Barde[22]. The successor refused to stay in the village and instead he founded a new settlement around Jos Native town in 1918. His desertion of Naraguta was due to the abandonment and zero interest of the Tin mining company in the Naraguta tin, because it was discovered by the mining companies after 1903, that the area which had rich deposit of tin ore lay not around Naraguta but to the south of it. As a result, it led to the transfer of mining activities to the upper reaches of Dilimi River around Gangare, Rayfield and Bukuru. This resulted to the establishment of Gangare as the largest mining camp along the Dilimi River.[23]

When the mining companies relocated to Gangare, many laborers also relocated to the new area. In the early months of 1918, Barde, the Chief of Naraguta, his officials and the members of his family came to settle in Jos town. As a chief who was appointed from Bauchi, he came along with officials from his former territory of Naraguta, but no available record to know the number, portfolios and profiles of those that relocated with him.[24]

Despite the vices that took place at the mining area/camp of Gangare, Mallam Yahaya Idris[25] argues that there were people who led prayers and counseled those who they thought could listen to them. He affirmed that his father, Mallam Idris learned a lot about Islamic knowledge from one Mallam Muhammad whom they worked with at the mining camp around the 1920s. With the above account, it is obvious that the people, who settled in Gangare and other locations after relocation from Naraguta, were learnerd; despite the absence of a formal Islamic school.

In 1926, the British colonial authorities established Plateau Province and Jos Town as the headquarters of the province, where the central departments of the Native Administration were situated, which included the native court. This attracted the second wave of the migration of Islamic scholars en mass. As a result, many Islamic schools came onboard. The court came to be headed by Mallam Bawa Alkalin Jos, who died in 1930. Mallam Ibrahim succeeded him. The successor converted to Christianity in 1932, which necessitated his removal and replacement with Mallam Abubakar a former Alkalin Gombe. The reason for Alkali Ibrahim’s conversion to Christianity was not clear, but the only historical possibility was the growing intimacy between the European and the native elites and the decline in moral esteem since the fall of the Ottoman Caliphate[26]. Mallam Abubakar served as both a judge and a teacher outside the court.

 The coming of Mallam Abubakar in 1932 attracted other scholars to Jos. However, Abubakar became the Alkalin Gombe in 1904 and together with Emir Umaru, they built the native administration in Gombe,[27] but with the demise of Emir Umaru in 1922, and the ascension of his son, Haruna, to the throne, Alkali Abubakar was relieved of his position as Alkalin Gombe.[28]

In Jos, with the conversion of Alkali Ibrahim to Christianity in 1932, Alkali Abubakar got the opportunity to bring his wealth of knowledge and experience to Jos. Unlike most of those that served in the Jos Native Administration, Alkali Abubakar brought along his entire family to Jos, and subsequently some of them came to occupy responsible positions in Jos town.[29]

Another migrant was that of Mallam Ahmad Arabi in 1934 from Nafada, Gombe State. Mallam Arabi was a nephew to Alkali Abubakar. Mallam Arabi re-settled with his uncle Alkali Abubakar in Jos, because he was said to have been learning from his uncle until his sudden move from Gombe to Missau and from Missau to Jos[30]. With the approval of his parents, Mallam Arabi decided to reunite with his teacher in Jos from whom he continued to acquire Islamic knowledge. Mallam Arabi subsequently established his own school and became an outstanding Islamic scholar in Jos town and beyond.[31]

In 1934, Mallam Abdullahi Alkalin Shandam migrated to Jos from Adamawa. Mallam Abdullahi left Kano, his place of birth, around 1920 for Adamawa in search of Islamic knowledge. He studied all the Maliki books from the elementary to Muktasarul Khalil (Lauwaliin Hausa). With his graduation, he acquired certificate (ijaza) that certified him as a scholar of authority, who could teach anywhere as Islamic scholar. Around 1934, he decided to go back to his place of birth, Kano, but while he was schooling in Adamawa, he was informed about Jos and the wealth of knowledge of Alkali Abubakar. He developed interest of coming to Jos not because he wanted to teach but to meet with Alkali Abubakar. After his arrival in 1935, he decided to settle down as an Islamic teacher and to contribute to the spread Islamic knowledge.[32]

In 1939, Mallam Aliyu Muhammad Dan Takai migrated to Jos from his hometown, Kano. According to his son, Mallam Musa Aliyu, he was motivated to come to Jos because of how the people from his hometown, Kano, had negative impression about Jos. Mallam Musa Aliyu said the perception then was that Jos town, as a migrant community, was an area where vices are common among the people. The conclusion then was that most of the people in Jos town working in the mining camps or engaging in business spent what they realized in immoral activities such as gambling and patronage of brothels. For Mallam Dan Takai, if that was what was happening in Jos, then, it is more important to be in Jos than Kano in order to preach and teach, and he migrated to Jos in the 1939.[33]The antecedent of Mallam Ali Dan Takai seems to be as the same as Mallam Aliyu Muhammad.

Mallam Aliyu migrated to Jos in 1938 from Zaria where he had been since 1929 studying under his teacher Mallam Na Iya. After he completed his studies, Mallam Aliyu decided to go back to his hometown Keffi, of present day Nasarawa State. However, his teacher, Mallam Na Iya, asked him not to go back to Keffi but Jos where his knowledge would be more useful to the people of both Jos than Keffi.[34]

Above were some of the prominent Islamic scholars that migrated to Jos town between 1917 and 1940s. From the above we could see that some of the reasons that attracted the Islamic scholars to Jos were purely to teach the religion to others, and they considered it as an act of ibada (worship), so the scholars were ever ready to travel miles away for teaching others the religion.

Similarly, the environment of Jos also influenced their migration. The society of Jos was not as other societies of Northern Nigeria like Zaria and Kano Provinces, where Emirates system had exited and traditional institutions were strong, Jos was quite different. The difference was in the social composition and interaction due to the factors that gave birth to the town such as the mining activities and the railway lines.

It is imperative to emphasize the fact that the migration of these scholars continued throughout the period of study. For instance, Sheikh Lawan Sa’adu left Kano and moved to Zaria and thereafter to Jos in the late 1950s due to NEPU/NPC political rivalries.[35] In the late 1960s, Mallam Muhammad Sharu Lawal also moved to Jos, and his migration to Jos was said to be as a result of his visit to his brother, but later he discovered a greener pasture in Jos Town[36]. However, Mallam Sharu’s student, Mallam Abdulhadi Gotal debunked this narration and claimed that his teacher (Mallam Sharu) came to Jos not because his brother was in Jos, but because he had seen it as an obligation to settle and teach wherever he deemed it necessary. Whether Mallam Sahru was attracted by his brother or the obligation to impart Islamic knowledge, Jos served the two purposes for Mallam Sharu.

Establishment of Early Islamic Schools in Jos Town

The establishment of the early Islamic schools in Jos town went hand-in-hand with the settlement of the migrant scholars in Jos town. The first challenge of any migrant into a new place is accommodation, unless if he was invited. Alkali Abubakar, who was in Jos to serve as a judge, did not face such problem, likewise his nephew Mallam Arabi, who was in Jos based on his uncle’s invitation.

In northern Nigeria, for instance, the Islamic scholars were largely accommodated by their counterparts (Islamic scholars), wealthy people or traditional rulers before they settled as independent entities. In Jos town, it was not different because the well-doing individuals in the town accommodated most of the scholars that migrated in the early period. Mallam Abdulwahab narrated that many scholars were accommodated by the richest people among their parents, who sometimes engaged in competition on the numbers of Islamic scholars one accommodated or taking care of. In Jos town, he added, many children of Mallams assumed their parents owned their residence, until both the host and the beneficiary died, and then the issue of sharing inheritance came up.[37]After the scholars were accommodated, the scholars engaged in teaching the immediate children of the host community. Nevertheless, if the scholar travelled to the area with his students (Almajirai), they became his priority. The scholar’s presence usually attracted the people of such community to engage their children alongside the Almajirai. However, in Jos town, the trend was different, and the Islamic scholars focused largely on the host community. From the early 20th century, the older forms of Islamic schools in Jos town began to emerge in a unique way when compared with the emergence of Islamic schools in other societies of Northern Nigeria. The bulk of Islamic students in Jos both the elementary and the higher Islamic schools were largely the people of the host community.

Mallam Abdulwahab added that the Mallams who came with Alamjirai in the early period faced fundamental challenges. Firstly, the economy of Jos was largely trading and mining in the early years, unlike in some other places like Zaria and Kano, where agriculture and commerce were the main economic activities. The absence of agricultural activities in the area left the Mallams without the land to cultivate, which would serve as source of food for them and their students.

The second challenge faced by the Mallams, particularly in a place like Gangare, was the presence of brothels, bars and gambling spots where the Almajirai frequented for their daily begging. This made it very difficult for the Mallams to maintain the moral behavior of their students. Because of this problem, in 1944, Mallam Haruna who was the first chief Imam of Gangare community, had to send the Almajirai back to where they came from and maintained only the children of the host community and his children.[38]

Evolution of the Early Islamic Schools in Jos Town

Early Islamic schools in Jos town came even before the building of a fully pledged mosque in the town. This assertion could be valid looking at no available record to counter it, but record that supported the declaration. This is not a rejection of the existence of massalla[39]. Mallam Gambo Hamza observes that while he was conducting personal research on mosques in Jos, he found that the first mosque that was built in Jos was in the 1930s by Sarki Aliyu Barde, and the mosque was called Massallacin Alkali in present day Adebayo Street, headed by Alkali Abubakar in 1933. The mosque was built by Aliyu Barde the son of Barde Muhammad.[40]But Mallam Tijjani, argues that the mosque was not built by Sarki Aliyu Barde but by Alkali Abubakar, few months after his arrival in Jos.[41]Mallam Tijanni’s argument was that, if truly the mosque was built by the Sarki Aliyu Barde and being the first mosque to be built in Jos town, Sarki Barde Aliyu could have taken the credit and called it Massalacin Sarki not Massalacin Alkali, like the case of Sarki Isiyaku’s mosque.

 In 1942, Sarki Isiyaku built a mosque in Jos town located at the present day Yan Taya Street and it was called Masallacin Sarki Isiyaku, later changed to Masallacin Yan’ Taya. With this, Mallam Tijani’s view seems to be more accurate and reliable, although Mallam Gambo’s view could also gain a ground, because the mosque could be attached to Alkali Abubakar not because he built the mosque, rather he made it as the firstschool where he taught people Islamic knowledge and conducted Ramadan Tafsir. Moreover, Sani Salihu in his Project titled The Making of Jos, he argued that the mosque was built long before the arrival of Alkali Abubakar to Jos, which he mentioned one Mallam Haruna as the Chief Imam at Naraguta and continued as Imam in the Alkali mosque at Jos after relocation. The implication of accepting Salihu’s view is that he relied largely on oral tradition, which when corroborated with other sources, it has proven to be a fairly tale, and even the subsequent Imams he tried to study, there were no date of transition, until the era of Mallam Adamu who said to have led the mosque between 1924 and 1950.[42]

The mosque was utilized for Friday prayers and served as Islamic school in Jos town. Being an outstanding Islamic scholar, Alkali Abubakar, started teaching and preaching in the mosque.[43]As the result, the mosque became the first formal advanced Islamic school (Zaure school) in Jos town, and Alkali Abubakar continued to teach many students until his death in 1953[44].

However, prior to the establishment of the Alkali Mosque in Jos town, there were informal platforms where individuals sought for Islamic knowledge, which included one-on-one discussion among friends. This could be seen in the account of Mallam Salisu Haliru who narrated that when he came to Jos, his friend, Mallam Muhammad, was his first Islamic teacher who volunteered to teach him Qur’an and other subjects like Fiqh, hadith, tajweed, etc, and it was not in a school.[45] Mallam Salisu Haliru stated that they started at night after their daily routines, and when they finished the first book Kawaidil Sallat his teacher (Mallam Muhammad) told him “both of us now need a teacher because I taught you all I know in Islamic jurisprudence”. The two of therefore joined Mallam Arabi’s Zaure School in 1963. With the experience of Mallam Haliru and the nature of Muslims in any society, it is doubtful to believe that prior to Alkali Abubakar there was no school in Jos, but it can be understood if Alkali’s school is referred to as the first formal Zaure School in the town. With the absence of other sources to debunk Mallam Muhammad Gambo and Mallam Ahmad Tijjani’s arguments, the paper argues that the first Islamic school in Jos town was the Alakli Abubakar’s school established in 1933.

 From the unique nature of Jos environment in terms of social and political institutions in the early period, the advanced Islamic schools (Zaure School) can be said to have emerged before the elementary Islamic schools(Makarantun allo). This is contrary to what had existed in Hausaland where the Makaratun allo served as the foundation of Zaure school.

On the other hand, the Makaratun allo in Jos town unlike other societies in Hausa land, were largely populated by the children of the host community, so the elementary schools emerged in the late 1940s when the bulk of the population brought their families instead of going back to their former home towns occasionally. Plotnicov submitted that by 1940s Jos had become an urban community with stability and families during the period regarded Jos as a place where they can raise their children.[46]

For a clearer picture of the origin and development of this form of Islamic Education, the narration would be clearer if some selected schools are explored rather than to capture the development in a single narration. The first Makarantan zaure in Jos town was established by Alkali Abubakar in 1933, the same year he arrived at Jos, and the year the first mosque was built and named Massalacin Alakali in present day Adebayo Street in Jos town.

Alkali Abubakar was a prominent Islamic scholar, because he was appointed Alkalin Gombe as early as 1904[47], only one year after the conquest of Northern Nigeria by the British that marked the end the Sokoto Caliphate.[48] In Gombe, Alkali Abubakar with Emir Umaru built the native administration of Gombe, as a result, he acquired power in the Emirate. Emir Umaru died in 1922 and his son Haruna took over from him. At the end of 1930, Alkali Abubakar was removed and his removal and banishing from Gombe compelled him to relocate to Missau and thereafter to Jos in 1932 where he was appointed an Alkali.[49] As the Alkalin Jos, unlike most of those that held high positions in Jos NA, Alkali Abubakar brought along with him his entire entourage to Jos.

It was in Masallacin Alkali Abubakar that people were first taught the tenants of the religion of Islam. This means Abubakar worked both as Alkali and as teacher during his lifetime. The school became the first Makarantan zaure in Jos town, which attracted many people who were eager to further their Islamic knowledge. His position as Alkali led to the emergence of other schools, because it was not easy for him to combine the two. Despite the difficulty, records have shown that he did not cease to perform the two functions until his death in 1956.[50]

The second Zaure school that was established in Jos town was the Makarantan Mallam Abdullahi (Audu) Alkali Shandam. As highlighted above, Mallam Abdu was in Jos town after he was invited by his teacher in Adamawa to come to Jos instead of going back to his home town (Kano) after he finished his study in Adamawa. He was initially a student in Alkali Abubakar's school. But after few months in the school, Alkali Abubakar noticed that Mallam Audu was never a student but a scholar himself disguising as a student, so he encouraged him to either become his assistant since he combined court and teaching, or he should open his own school so that the curious Jos students would join him. In 1935, Mallam Abdu established his school at Ndu Street. He started in the vestibule of his house, until 1937 when they moved to a tree shade which was directly opposite of his house for the morning and evening sessions.[51] But in the raining season or when it was rainy, the school would move back to its initial venue which was the teacher’s vestibule.

By 1937, Mallam Audu was appointed as Alkali in Shandam, a Division under Plateau Province. He served for only two years and came back to Jos. When he came back in 1939, he continued as a teacher, but now in a mosque at Ndu Street.[52] According to Mallam Anakallahu, Mallam Abdu being a full teacher in Jos unlike Alkali Abubakar made him more popular. His acceptance by the people was as the result of his eminent contributions to Islam and Islamic knowledge, which led many people, named their children Abdullahi during and after his lifetime in Jos.[53] Mallam Audu, was privileged to live longer than many scholars that lived in Jos, and he taught for almost 55 years before he answered the call of Allah at the age of 94.[54]

Alhaji Na-Mallam, Mallam Sunusi and Mallam Alin-Iliya, were contemporaries with Mallam Audu in Jos town, and Mallam Gambo Hamza is of the opinion that Mallam Audu came to Jos because he heard about the activities of these three scholars in Jos not that of Alkali Abubakar.[55] Mallam Gambo’s opinion would be accepted base on the fact that Mallam Audu heard about these three scholars in Jos, but when he arrived he met them without students or even school where they taught. Therefore, with that, he had to switch to Alkali Abubakar as companion, because Alkali Abubakar had a school where Mallam Audu seemed to have more interest. Another historical possibility may suggest that the three scholars where initially seasonal scholars from their hometown outside Jos but later moved and settled in Jos. This became so because among the scholars residing in Jos town there was Mallam Mai Jalalaini who visit Jos occasionally, especially during Ramadan and Maulid. In Ramadan, he came from Kano for annual Ramadan Tafsir in the present day Zawiyya of Tijjanniyyah around Bauchi road.[56] This is to validate that the three scholars lived in Jos town but initially seasonal visiting scholars who did not establish formal schools.

Another important school to explore was Mallam Ahmad Arabi’s school. Like Mallam Audu, he was also a student to Alkali Abubakar. But he was different from other students because he was his nephew. Sheikh Ahmad Arabi was born in 1909 in Nafada in the present Gombe state. He pursued his elementary school in Dukku, after which he worked briefly as court scribe. He later moved to Jos where he continued his Islamic education under his uncle, Alkalin Jos, Mallam Abubakar. He was appointed an Arabic Teacher at Jos Native Authority Elementary School. His search for knowledge took him to the famous School for Arabic Studies in Kano, where he later served as a teacher. He was called back by the Jos Native Authority in 1950. In 1950s he founded the Islamiyya Nizamiyyah Schoolin Jos.[57] Indeed, he was both a teacher in the Makarantanzaure and the new Islamiyya Nizamiyyah School. He also had students in the Zaure School like other scholars that settled in Jos town. He was referred to as Mallam Arabi because he was appointed an Arabic teacher at Jos Native Authority Elementary School and because of his passion to teach his students using Arabic Language not in vernacular.[58].

In late 1940s and early 1950s, Zaure schools continued to be established in Jos town. Among them was the School of Sheikh Aliyu Dan Takai, who was also in Jos town as an Islamic Scholar from Kano and shared similar antecedent with Mallam Audu except that Mallam Audu came from Adamawa while Mallam Aliyu was from Kano. His school, which was in Bauchi Road, taught many people Islamic education. In 1948, he left Jos for Ganan Daji, 52 kilometers away from Jos in the present day Barkin Ladi Local Government of Plateau State. He settled in Ganan Daji with his brother and continued as an Islamic teacher. His influence in the area attracted the neighboring areas of Ganan Daji, and by 1950 he started going to Jarmai (an area in present day Kanam Local Government of Plateau State) to conduct Tafsir in the months of Ramadan. He Stayed in Ganan Daji for only 10 years, and by 1958 he came back to Jos where Alhaji Adamu Na Marai gave him a place to settle; and while in Jos, he continued teaching in the Town.[59]

Specialization of some selected Makaratun Zaure in Jos town

Despite the absence of visible classification and structures, the Zaure schools have some specifications and peculiarities, which distinguished one from the other. The specialization of a school is defined by the nature of the books the school taught. Moreover, students of Islamic knowledge identified the peculiarities of different schools, and by so doing, they usually refused to confine themselves to a particular school. Zaure schools In Jos town during the period of study, largely specialized on Islamic Jurisprudence. This was expected according to Mallam Abdulwahab, because the early Islamic scholars in Jos were largely Judges or studies Islam from judges who were expected to be an experts in Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh).[60] Islamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh) is a process by means of which Islamic scholars derive sets of guidelines, rules and regulations from the rulings laid down in the Qur’an and the teachings and living example of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W). Over centuries, these have been formulated and elaborated upon by successive generations of learned Islamic scholars, through interpretation, analogy, consensus and disciplined research.[61] In Jos, Alkali Abubakar and Mallam Audu Alkalin Shandam were both judges and well learned in Islamic Jurisprudence, and their Zaure Schools largely concentrated in teaching Islamic Jurisprudence, because that was their area of specialization.[62]

But it is worth noting that Mallam Arabi’s school was not only Fiqh but also Arabic Language (Luggah) school. His specialization in Fiqh was associated with the influence of his uncle Alkali Abubakar who taught him almost throughout his learning period. Mallam Arabi’s specialization in Fiqh became more visible when he wrote a book called Sahalul Ma’akazi Ala Kitabul Akhadari in the 1970s. The book simplified the basic Islamic jurisprudence in a form of questions and answers, and it became widely accepted within and outside Jos town[63]. But for Arabic language, Mallam Arabi was passionate about the language and teaching of the language to his students. His wealth of knowledge in the field of Arabic language was more of a passion than a specific trend of acquaintance.[64]

Mallam Mai Jalalaini and Mallam Hammajan specialized more on Tafsir than Fiqh. The former got his name from an important Islamic book that interpreted the Holy Qur’an, and he was among the early Islamic scholars to interpret Qur’an during Ramadan in Jos town after Alkali Abubakar. The latter also specialized in the interpretation of the Qur’an, which he taught to many students in Zaure platform and during Ramadan he conducted Tafsir in Jos Central Mosque.

Indeed, some students attended more than one school because of the differences in specialization. For instance, Mallam Abdulwahab attended the school of Mallam Audu Alkalin Shandam and Mallam Arabi. On daily basis he usually started with Mallam Audus’s School and after moved to Mallam Arabi’s school with different books. All of the informants of this research did the same, as narrated. However, this is not to conclude that the teachers only stick to their specialization, some were able to engage in other fields despite the peculiarities. For example, Alkali Abubakar and Mallam Audu were not only teaching the Fiqh but also other areas such as Tafsir and Hadith. However, the Zaure schools teachers largely specialized in Fiqh. This is so because the subject is instrumental in the field of Islamic knowledge and beliefs, which is a basic requirement for Muslims to practice the religion as prescribed by the Prophet.


As discussed above, the policy of the colonial state to segregate settlements along ethnic and class lines influenced the settlement pattern of Jos town since the early period. Meanwhile, other developments such as the railway line and system of registration by the Native Authority contributed to the development of segregated residential areas in the town. Moreover, the early period marked the beginning of Islamic scholars’ migration into the town. As demonstrated in the paper, many of the Islamic scholars were invited or enticed to Jos by their teachers or people who noticed their relevance in the area. Their invitation to the area was not far away from the need to have more Islamic scholars to educate the people and propagate the teaching of Islam. Most interestingly, the emergence and evolution of the older forms of Islamic schools in Jos town was different from most Nigerian Muslim societies, because in Jos town it was much later in the 1930s that establishment of formal Islamic school as confirmed by both oral sources and available written documents.


A.     Published Works

Abubakar G., Isma’il T., Where I Stand, Kaduna, Spectrum Books Limited, 1992

Arnold J.T, A Study of History, New York, DELL Publishing CO., INC, 1946

Ames C., Gazetteer of the Plateau Province (Nigeria), Jos Native Administration, 1932

Armijo J. “Muslim Education in China: Chinese Madrasas and Linkages to Islamic Schools Abroad.” The Madrasa in Asia: Political Activism and Transnational Linkages, edited by Farish A. Noor et al., Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam, 2008, pp. 169–190. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt46n10w.10.

Australia, 2019, pp. 98–112. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctvb4bt41.14.

Berkey P. “Textual Aspects of Religious Authority in Premodern Islam.” Islamic Studies in the Twenty-First Century: Transformations and Continuities, edited by Léon Buskens and Annemarie Van Sandwijk, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam, 2016, pp. 47–66. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1zxsk97.6.

Chalk P. “Islam in West Africa: The Case of Nigeria.” The Muslim World After 9/11, by ANGEL M. RABASA et al., 1st ed., RAND Corporation, 2004, pp. 413–432. JSTOR,

Elisha P. Renne, Educating Muslim Women and the Izala Movement in Zaria City, Nigeria, Islamic Africa, VOL. 3, NO. 1, Northwestern University Press, 2012, www.islamicafricajournal.org

Plotnicov L., Strangers to the City: Urban Man in Jos, Nigeria, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1963, p76

Lugard F., The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa, New York, Cornell University Library, 1891

Mahmud M. T., British Colonisation of Northern Nigeria; 1897-1914, Dakar, Amalion Publishing, 2016

Umar M., Mass Islamic Education and Emergence of Female ‘ulama’ in Northern Nigeria: Background, Trends and Consequences, The Transmission of Learning in Islamic Africa, ed. John Hunwick and Knut Vikor, Brill NV, Netherlands, 2004

Tanimu Hussaini., History of Arabic Language and the Promotion of Islamic Learning in Jos, Tifama Printing and Publishing Company, 2019, Jos

B.     Journals

Aminu, Jibril. “Education in Nigeria: Overcoming Adversity.” Journal of Education Finance, vol. 15, no. 4, 1990, pp. 581–586. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40703846.

Back, Irit. “From the Colony to the Post-Colony: Sufis and Wahhâbîsts in Senegal and Nigeria.” Canadian Journal of African Studies / Revue Canadienne Des ÉtudesAfricaines, vol. 42, no. 2/3, 2008, pp. 423–445. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40380176.

Bala, Salisu. “Arabic Manuscripts in the Arewa House (Kaduna, Nigeria).” History in Africa, vol. 39, 2012, pp. 331–336. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/23471008.

Boyle, Helen N. “Memorization and Learning in Islamic Schools.” Comparative Education Review, vol. 50, no. 3, 2006, pp. 478–495. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/504819.

Salisu Bala, The Contemporary Significance of the Collapse of Makarantar Zaure in Northern Nigeria, C.1979-2015: Implication for Peace, Development and Unity, North-East Regional Conference, Yobe State University, November, 2016

Schacht, Joseph. “Islam in Northern Nigeria.” StudiaIslamica, no. 8, 1957, pp. 123–146. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1595250.

Umar, M. (2001). Education and Islamic Trends in Northern Nigeria: 1970s-1990s. Africa Today, 48(2), 127-150. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/4187415

C.     Unpublished works

Abubakar Y, A History of Islamic Education in Zaria 1806-1960, M.A Dissertation, Department of History, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, 2017

Abubakar Y, A History of Education in Kofan Doka Zaria City c. 1850-1975, B. A Project, Department of History Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, 2008

Bingel A.D, Jos: Origin and Growth of the Town 1900-1972, University of Jos, Department of Geography,

Fatima Auwal, “The Role of Women in the Development of Islamic Education in Jos: A Case Study of Jos North Local Government Area, 1980-2019”, B.A Project, Department of History, A.B.U Zaria,2019

Ramzi Ben Amara, “The Izala Movement in Nigeria: its Split, Relationship to Sufis and Perception of Shari’a Reimplementation”, PhD Thesis, Beirut International Graduate School of African Studies, University of Beirut, Lebanon 2011

Rabiu Isah, “Admistration in Jos Town, 1902-1960”, paper presented at Arewa House Seminar Series, on 12/05/2015

D.     Archival Sources

NAK/JOSPROF/168, Return of Mohammedan Schools, Plateau Province, 1935-1958

NAK/Min of Educ/DDN.418: Mohammadan Elementary Schools Koranic Teachers for 1930

NAK/Min of Educ./DDN.3140:Moslem School Oro 1952-56

NAK, Jos N.A, No. 274/51/1930-1950

NAK/SNP/17/11895/Vol.1, Bauchi Province Annual Report for 1929 by C.N Monsell

NAK/Ministry of Education/ DEN779AI Vol.I/SAS School Policy and Development/1946

NAK/Ministry of Education/ DEN779A Vol II/SAS Policy and Development/1952

NAK/JOSPROF/709/Pilgrimage to Mecca/1953

NAK/Ministry of Education/ DEN779H/ School for Arabic Studies, Course for Non-English Spelling Mallams, (Higher Muslim Studies)/1953

NAK/Ministry of Education/ DEN779D/SAS Students at/1952

NAK/Ministry of Education/ 54158/ 15-man Koranic Schools Delegation to North Africa/1962

NAK/JOSPROF/374/Bye-laws etc. Jos Township/1931

NAK/JOSPROF/729/ Moslem and Non-Moslem Festivals/1930

NAK/Ministry of Education/ DEN883 Vol II/ Girls Education in Northern Province/ 1948

NAK/Ministry of Education/ DEN7793/ School for Arabic Studies Kano: Buildings on New Site/ 1953

E.     List of informants








Mallam Adamu Musa

72 years

Retired Civil Servant

Bauchi Road, Jos



Dr. Muhammad Gambo Hamza

60 years

Civil Servant

Gangare, Jos



Mallam Ahamad Tijjani Aliyu

69 years

Islamic Scholar

TudunFaida, Jos



Mallam Anakallahu Danladi

79 years

Islamic Scholar

Dogon Agogo, Jos



Mallam Abdulkadi Na’Annabi

52 years

Islamic Scholar

Duala, Jos



Prof. Muhammad Auwal Umar

62 years

Civil Servant

A.B.U, Zaria



Mallam Umar Abdulmumin

50 years

Islamic Scholar

Yan Tifa, Jos



Mallam Abdulhamid Adam

63 years


Gangare, Jos



Mallam Sani Mai Walahaula

88 years

Trader/ Islamic Scholar

Ganagre, Jos



Mallam Abdulwahab Adam

80 years

Islamic Scholar

Gangare, Jos



Prof. Sani Umar

60 years

Civil Servant

A.B.U, Zaria



Mallam Musa Sagagi

68 years

Islamic Scholar

Gangare, Jos



Mallam Abbas Yusuf

51 years


Yan Doya Market, Jos



Alhaji Ahga Abubakar

76 years

Retired Civil Servant

Jossey Royal Hotel Jos



Dr. Muhammad Munir Ilyasu

45 years

Civil Servant

Dogon Dutse, Jos



Mallama Fatima Idris

72 years

House wife

Gangare, Jos



Mallam Taninu Aliyu Abubakar

76 years

Secretary to JIBWIS Ulama’u Council, Plateau State Chapter

Yelwa Road, Unguwan Rogo




[1]Leonard Plotnicov, Strangers to the City: Urban Man in Jos, Nigeria, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1963, p3

[2] Anthony D.G,” Origin and Growth of Jos Town 1900 to 1972”, Department of Geography, University of Jos, Publication NO.1, 1976, p.6

[3]Anthony D.G, Origin and Growth of Jos Town 1900 to 1972, Department of Geography, University of Jos, Publication NO.1, 1976, p.3

[4] Anthony D.G, Origin and Growth of the Town.., p.6

[5]Ames C., Gazetteer of the Plateau Province (Nigeria), Jos Native Administration, 1932, p.329

[6]Ames C., Gazetteer of the Plateau Province ……..Ibid p.7

[7]Opcit, C. G. Ames, Gazetteer of The Plateau Province……. p.333 and 343

[8]Ci-Rani means leaving the rural area for urban area in search of livelihood mostly during the dry season and came back when the raining season started.

[9] Interview with Adamu Musa, 72 years old, at his resident, Bauchi Road, Jos. 25/12/2019

[10] Mahdi Adamu, The Hausa Factor in West African History. p15

[11] Mahdi Adamu, The Hausa Factor in West African History. p.16

[12] NAK, Jos N.A, No. 274/51/1930-1950.

[13] Leonard Plotnicov, Strangers to the City: Urban Man in Jos, Nigeria, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1963, p76 Also see Anthony Bingel, Jos: Origin and Growth of the Town, 1900-1972, University of Jos, Department of Geography, 1978, P.11

[14]Adan Saman Sheikh. ‘Islamic Education in Kenya: A Case Study of Islamic Integrated Schools……p34

[15] M.S Abdulkadir, Islam in the Non- Muslim Areas of Northern Nigeria,c.1600-1960, Ilorin Journal of Religious Studies, Vol. 1, 2011, P 12

[16] M.S Abdulkadir, Islam in the Non- Muslim Areas of Northern Nigeria…p12

[17] Interview with Mallam Abdulwahab Adam, Adam, 80 years, in his residence, Gangare, Jos, 13/04/2020

[18]Ibid, Interview with Mallam Abdulwahab Adam…13/04/2020

[19] See Amess, C.G, Gazetters of the Plateau Province

[20] Mahdi Adamu, The Hausa Factor in West African History. P84

[21]Opcit, Interview with Mallam Abdulwahab Adam,…………

[22] Jos Division had 15 Districts, and Naruguta was the name of the District Jos fell under, until 1926, when Plateau Province was established and Jos became the Headquarters of the Province.

[23]Opcit. Bingel…Jos: Origin….p.5

[24] Interview with Mallam Gambo Hamza, 60years old, in his residence, Gangare, Jos, on 12/04/20

[25] Interview with Mallam Yahaya Idris, 58 years old, at his residence in Gangare, Jos, on the 26/12/2019

[26] Rabiu Isa. “A Political and Administartive History of Jos Town 1902-1960, M. A Dissertation, Zaria, A.B.U Zaria, 2021, P137

[27] NAK/SNP/17/11895/Vol.1, Bauchi Province Annual Report for 1929 by C.N Monsell.

[28] NAK/SNP/17/11895/Vol.1, Bauchi Province Annual Report for 1929 by C.N Monsell

[29] Rabiu Isah, “Admistration in Jos Town 1902-1960”, paper presented at Arewa House Seminar Series, on 12/05/2015..P11

[30] Interview with Mallam Musa Sagagi, at his residence, Gangare, Jos on the 17/04/2020

[31] Interview with Muhammad Gambo Hamza, 60 year old, at his residence, Gangare, Jos, on the 09/05/2020

[32] Ibid, Interview with Muhammad Gambo Hamza,

[33] Mallam Musa Aliyu, 64 years old, at his residence at Yantifa, Bauchi Road Jos, 12/07/2020

[34] Interview with Mallam Musa Aliyu, ….., on the 12/07/2020

[35]Opcit, Interview with Mallam Abdulwahab Adam………

[36] Interview with Mallam Adam Abdudulwahab Adam, 45 years old, in his shop Yan Doya Market, Jos, on 11/04/2020


[37] Mallam Abdulwab Adam, 80years old, at his residence Gangare, on the 13/04/2020

[38]Ibid, Interview with Mallam Abdudulwahab Adam

[39] A small structure that Muslims use to observe prayers not more than two feet in height, or sometimes in an open place with mat. Many of these types of mosques are seen in rural periodic markets.

[40]interview with Mallam Anakallahu, 79 year old, at his residence in Dogon Agogo Street, Jos, on the 12/04/2020

[41] Interview with Mallam Ahmad Tijani Ali Abubakr, 69 years old, at his residence, TudunFaida, Jos, on 09/04/2020

[42] Sani Salihu, “The Making of Jos”, NCE Project, College of Education, Akwanga, 1983,p32

[43]Opcit, Interview with Muhammad Gambo….

[44] Opcit, Interview with Mallam Ahmad Tijjani…

[45]Opcit, Interview with Mallam Salisu Haliru,..

[46] Leonard Plotnicov, Strangers to the City…. p52

[47]NAK/SNP/17/11895/Vol.1, Bauchi……

[48]Opcit NAK/SNP/17/11895/Vol.1, Bauchi……

[49]Opcit NAK/SNP/17/11895/Vol.1, Bauchi……

[50] Opcit, Interview with Muhammad Gambo Hamza…

[51]Opcit, Interview with Mallam Abdulwahab…..

[52]Opcit , Interview with Mallam Danladi A’akallahu….

[53]Ibid, Interview with Mallam Danladi Anakallahu

[54]Opcit, Interview with Mallam Muhammad Gambo Hamza……

[55] Mallam Muhammad Gambo Hamza’ opinion was based on his personal research about the evolution of Jos Central Mosque

[56]Opcit, Interview with Mallam Tijjanni….

[57] Salisu Bala, Arabic Manuscript in the Arewa House (Kaduna, Nigeria)……p334

[58] Abubakar Yahaya, “A History of Islamic Education in Zaria….. P67

[59]Opcit interview with Mallam Musa Aliyu……

[60]Opcit Interview with Mallam Abdulwahab

[61] Abubakar Salisu, “Islamic Jurisprudence and Conventional Law”, B.A Project, Department of Religious Studies, University of Jos, 2009, p 22

[63]Opcit, Interview with Mallam Gambo Hamza…….

[64]Opcit, Interview with Mallam Ahmad Tijjani..

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