Drought as Portrayed in Gangar Wa’azu

Citation: Bunza, D.B. (2024). Drought as Portrayed in Gangar Wa’azu. Dynamics in the 21st Century Hausa Prose Literature. Tasambo Journal of Language, Literature, and Culture, 3(1), 167-174. www.doi.org/10.36349/tjllc.2024.v03i01.019.

Drought as Portrayed in Gangar Wa’azu  


Dano Balarabe Bunza, (PhD.)
Department of Nigerian Languages,
Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto.
Email: danobunza@gmail.com
Phone No. 07035141980


The paper aimed at drawing the attention of human beings to the danger of drought to their life: experienced from time to time as a result of the attitudes of tyrant leaders, remarrying without observing the prescribed period a widow or divorcee should wait, bearing children outside wedlock, same-sex marriage, handling the glorious Qur’an in a state of impurity, leaving graves in ugly shapes, denying giving out of alms and waging wars and killings among Muslim community. Drought is meant to serve as a punishment to people for their wrongdoings. As far as people engage in doing wrongs, God may reprimand them in one way or the other for precautions. The paper is meant to serve as a reminder to desist from doing wrong. It discusses thirteen habits or instances or wrongs that bring about drought that are all human makings. Some problems were caused by the people themselves besides the ones that God sent down to his creatures.“God never changes for people unless they change for themselves (Innaallaha laa yughayyiru maa bi qaumin hatta yughayyiru maa bi anfusihim, (Quran: chapter 76, Verse 21). The paper used eleven stanzas of Gangar Wa’azu poem and discovered some instances that cause drought. There are some measures pointed out in the paper as the way out of drought Lastly, rainfall is of great importance; all people face difficulties in life without it which means the importance of rainfall cannot be overemphasized. The paper supports the Hausa saying “In kunne ya jiya jiki ya tsira” and “Tuntu ɓ e mai gyaran tafiya” The paper looks at the importance of rain water to human and animals’ lives and, at the same time lists problems that cause drought. In conclusion, the paper is of the view that disobedience to God is the major cause of all human problems. Again, it cautioned all to be very careful concerning the disobedience to their Creator.

1.0 Introduction

Drought is a long period when there is little or no rain (Macmillan School Dictionary, 226). Life is full of happiness and sorrow. In Islam every action is rewarded whether good or bad (Fa man ya amal misqala zarratin khairan yarah, wa man ya’amal misqala zarratin sharran yarah, (Qur’an). Naturally, some places in the world experience rainfall for some time in a year while others do not. Drought is witnessed where rain is needed in places where farming is practised like Northern Nigeria. Other countries such as Niger, Mali, Benin e t c, are also among those where rainfall is used for the cultivation of cash and food crops (millet, guinea corn, maize, beans, cotton, ground nut, cocoa, kola nut and the rest. There are natural and human causes of drought. Here in the paper, a few man-made causes were mentioned from Gangar Wa’azu (Preaching Drum) poem in which a scholar, by name Malam Ɗ an’iya narrated to his disciples things that cause drought in Islamic perspectives or dogma. The poet mentioned thirteen wrongdoings that engender drought as a punishment to mankind. People are reprimanded to realize their mistakes. Drought serves as a query to human mistakes. The wrongs mentioned in Gangar Wa’azu are not the only ones that cause drought but a few among others and all are of human making. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) offers prayers due to lack of rain and vice versa. That is why Islam enjoined Muslims to offer prayers for the shortage of rainfall (Salatul Istis ƙ a’i ) and the prayer to subside the rainwater at a time of its abundance. The paper looks at the importance of rainwater to human and animal lives and at the same time lists problems that cause drought.

2.0 Brief History of Gangar Wa’azu Poem and the Writer (Poet)

The name of the poet is Muhammad Na Birnin Gwari, though some claimed that Malam Iro Mu’azu was the writer of the poem (In Hausa a Rubuce: Tarihin Rubuce-Rubuce a Cikin Hausa). He was born in Katsina in the year of hijra 1178 which is equivalent to 1758. After he was born, his parents migrated to a town called Sabon Ɗ an Halima, near old Gwari in Birnin Gwari land. He started studying under his father for some years in Katsina and later travelled in search of knowledge from other learned individuals. Among the places he went for the search of knowledge include Borno where he spent five years, Kano where he spent seven years and Sokoto where he spent three years.

There was also Gwandu where he spent three years. Wherever he went he combined study with preaching. Before Muhammadu Na Birnin Gwari became a scholar, he studied under many teachers who brought him up as a scholar. His father was Malam Jibrin ɗan Idris ɗan Ta ƙ iyyi and Bawangare by the tribe. Malam Muhammadu Na Birnin Gwari wrote many poems in Arabic and Hausa. He wrote Ma’akusa and jawahiratu in Arabic, whereby he wrote wa ƙ ar Billahi Arumu , wa ƙ ar Kankandiro, wa ƙ ar Dumbula, wa ƙ ar Durratus Sana and Gangar Wa’azu/Bakandamiya all in Hausa language. He was brought up by many learned individuals. He travelled far and wide in search of knowledge. His parents were related to Bunza, but those who didn’t know may assume he had no relation with Bunza, but only Birnin Gwari (Interview with Prof. Aliyu Muhammadu Bunza, one of Malam Muhammadu Na Birnin Gwari relatives). He wrote many songs related to Islam in so many aspects of human life as portrayed in Gangar Wa’azu. He listed some of his teachers who taught him lessons and those who taught his teachers and also his colleagues. He mentioned one of his teachers who is very brilliant by the name Mallam Dan’iya who mentioned thirteen things that can cause drought. These are what he said on issues that may cause drought:

135. Malamina Malam Dan’iya,

Zuciyarsa gani kwar ba ido.

My teacher, Malam Dan’iya,

His heart is not blind like the eyes.

136. Ya ce abin da yake sa ai fari,

Su goma sha uku na zana muku.

He said “What brings about (causes) drought,

Are thirteen as follows.

Gangar Wa’azu is one of the Islamic songs written by Malam Muhammadu Na Birnin Gwari to teach the Muslim community lessons on dos and don’ts slated by Islam. There are so many aspects of Islam talked about by Malam in his popular song relating to the life of Muslims, here and hereafter. Gangar wa’azu is also called Bakandamiya because, all his songs, it was the one that contained more preaching than the others with different lessons inside.

In the whole of Hausa land, the poem is well known to all especially when it comes to the side of preaching. It helps to clarify to the people about dos and don’ts of Islamic affairs, which helps the Muslim community in running the affairs of their religion.

3.0 Methodology

The methodology used in writing this paper includes interviews with learned scholars and other individuals. Studying the poem before analyzing it is also among the methods employed in writing the paper. More so, the method of word selection is another way to foster a quick understanding of the paper. Dictionaries and Hausa Ƙ amus were used to foster easy understanding and selection of words to convey the simple meaning of the message to the audience.

4.0 Drought as Portrayed in Gangar Wa’azu

The main purpose of Gangar Wa’azu is to preach to people to stop doing bad and continue with good habits. God promised that he would not change the affairs of the people unless they change them by themselves (Innallaaha la yughayyiru maa bi ƙ aumin hattaa yughayyiru maa bi amfusihim). Every action is rewarded in Islam either good or bad. Drought is not the only way of punishing people for their wrongdoings. There are unlimited ways of rewarding and punishing the servants of God. Drought is among the many ways of dealing with those who offended the God of creatures. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) said “Whoever did what he liked will see what he didn’t like, (Man fa’ala maa shaa’a. la ƙ iya ma sha’a)”. Among the causes of drought mentioned in Gangar Wa’azu by Malam Muhammadu Na Birnin Gwari in his song are thirteen which reads as follows:

4.1 Attitudes of Tyrant Leaders

Every person is expected to behave in good manners not otherwise. People are enjoined to behave the way their prophet did. The prophet (S.A.W.) was of good behaviour/character as mentioned in the Holy Qur’an where God says “Innaka la ala khulkin azim” (Surely, you are on good/best character). He is the leader of all and the best who all are expected to copy from. Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) is not a tyrant leader but well-behaved and every person is to copy his behaviour. The writer of Gangar Wa’azu listed thirteen offences that may cause drought which he heard from his teacher, Malam Dan’iya who said:

137. Farkonsu zalunci na sarakuna,

Sannan da takewar sani gun maluma.

First among the thirteen offences is the transgression by rulers.

 Again, religious scholars don’t practice what they preach.

In the above stanza, two offences are mentioned by the poet; rulers and scholars who hide their knowledge or tell people. A tyrant leader is the type of leader who does not care about the rights and privileges of his subjects/followers. He cheats them on every issue rather than protecting their interest. They confiscate the belongings of their subjects and they show no sympathy for any one of them. Leaders are supposed to protect the interests of their followers in every aspect of life. They practice injustice rather than justice to the followers; at times their subjects cried for the injustice of their leaders on all levels of life whether religious, political, social or other ways the injustice done to people by their tyrant leaders was among the things that cause drought which God sends down to human beings as a punishment for the injustice done by leaders to their subjects.

Allah ordered all people to do justice to one another and that was why He said “Do justice, verily is the nearer to the fear of God (I’idiluu huwa aqrabu lit taqwaa). To this end, it could be concluded that any leader who is not doing justice to the people is not God-fearing. That was why many tyrant leaders would go directly to hell fire, for example, Fir’auna (Pharoah).

Not only the behaviours of tyrant leaders can cause drought but also the habit of religious leaders who go contrary to their sayings. Going contrary to what a person says is not a small sin. Therefore, going contrary to what is said by scholars is among the things that Almighty God hated more than the person who did not know. For this, the Almighty God asked the learned scholars saying “Why do you say what you don’t do (Li maa taquuluuna ma laa ta’alamun?” To God, this is a very serious matter (Kabura maqtan indallaahi an ta quuluu ma la taf’alun) which may cause drought during the rainy season to serve as a punishment for going contrary to what religious scholars say. For this, it could be said that the habit of tyrant rulers and doing what is contrary to what religious scholars say are the two offences that may cause drought during the rainy season as mentioned by the poet.

  4.2 Remarrying Without Observing the Prescribed Period (Aure Cikin Idda)

Spacing period is a period covered before a woman is allowed to remarry (Bargery, 1934:472). Again, it is a period of menstruation time, not three months as other people think. It is a period of confirming whether a woman is pregnant or not according to Islamic law. It is mentioned in the poem that the act of remarrying by women before they are allowed is what is called marriage in the spacing period. There is a good example of the issue of remarrying in the spacing period in Akilu Aliyu’s poem of ‘Yar Gagara where he mentions that most prostitutes remarry before finishing their allowed period. Thus:

63. Ta fi ganin toshi da sadaki,

Kullun za ta ta kwaso kaya.

63. She chooses gift over dowry,

She is every day in haste to park from her house.

64. Har abada ba ta gama idda,

Sai kuma ga ta da sabon aure.

64. She never waits until the end of the waiting period,

You will see her with a new marriage.

65. Yaya aka soma ne ‘Yar Gagara?

Ai ba a haka. “Kai ni na yi”.

65. What happened ‘Yar Gagara?

This is wrong! Oh, I have done it.

About marrying before the end of the spacing period, the Gangar Wa’azu poet said that it can cause drought when it becomes rampant. Below are the stanzas to that effect.

138. Amre da idda Allah Ya hana,

In ya yawaita yana sa ai fari.

  Marriage in spacing period (idda) is prohibited by God,

If prevalent, it can cause drought.

4.3 Unwanted Children or Single Parents (Shegu)

Another cause of drought mentioned by Malam Muhammadu Na Birnin Gwari is getting children through unlawful ways such as fornication (unlawful sex). This issue is also related to prostitutes and other women and mature girls. A prostitute is any woman or girl who engages herself in prohibited sexual intercourse. Through that, some might become pregnant and get children in that way. They are bastards since they did not get the children through a good marriage. Fornication is an evil doing which is not allowed by God but warned people to run away from. God said, “Do not go near adultery/fornication (Qur’an)”. About this issue, the poet said what his teacher Malam Dan’iya told them which is among the causes of drought as follows:

139. Shegu kadan sun yawaita a duniya,

Jarrabu sukan ri ƙ a aukuwa duniya.

 When unwanted children were many in the world,

People will be sanctioned by God from time to time.

The above stanza explains that one of the factors that may cause drought is illegal childbearing. In this respect, there is a total prohibition of adultery in Islam by God as explained in the Holy Qur’an. Also, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) judged that a person who committed adultery/fornication should be stoned to death, if he is married and one hundred lashes for unmarried individuals (Hadith). There is a complete prohibition of illegal intercourse in the community and if a person is caught committing so must be punished. This is a reality since Islam knows what is good and bad as related to human beings. This decree is meant to protect the integrity of every individual. Also, the issue of illegal childbearing is strongly taken care of by Islam where it is said, a bastard has no father, therefore he/she will not inherit any person.

4.4 Same-Sex Marriage (Sodomy and Lesbianism), Fornication and Gambling

Same-sex marriage is a situation where a man marries another man and a woman marries a woman like her. A situation where a man marries a man like him is known as sodomy. Lesbianism on the other hand is a situation whereby a woman marries a woman like her. Fornication is also called adultery. It is a situation where sexual intercourse happens between a man and a woman or mature boys and girls. Again, gambling is a situation of betting money to get more. In Islam, all these are prohibited in both the Qur’an and the sayings of the prophet (S.A.W.). Concerning doing the above-mentioned actions the poet said that, his teacher told him that all of the above may cause drought where he said:

140. Masu ludu da mai yin madigo,

Da masu ɓ ata budurwa da yin dara.

 140. The sodomises and the lesbians,

And those engaged in fornication and gamblers

Sodomy is completely prohibited in Islam by the Almighty God. It was the sin that made God wipe out the people of Prophet Lut with others. Before the happening, Lut and his followers were asked to leave the town and later Angels were sent to turn the town upside-down. Up till today, the judgment for sodomy persons is the death penalty. Today, some people do it to make money or to obtain high positions either in politics or something related. In this regard, Suratul Lut is a very essential reference to believers on the issue of sodomy in Islam. Another action which may cause drought is when a female goes to another female for sexual satisfaction. It is not allowed in Islam and whoever (Muslim) is caught doing so his penalty is sentencing to death. Those who fornicate with mature girls before marriage may also cause drought to happen. Gambling is also among the thirteen offences that may cause drought during the rainy season. To this end, it is clear that the above-listed actions are against the religion of God (Islam). Whoever indulges in them will suffer and make other people suffer the challenges of drought.

4.5 Handling the Glorious Qur’an in a State of Impurity

Here, it means taking the glorious Qur’an by a person who has no purity of body for example, who did not perform ablution or who had sexual intercourse and takes or picks the book of Allah before taking a bath. This implies to both male and female and every Muslim who recognize and have respect for the book. A person who goes to the toilet to ease himself is not allowed to touch the Qur’an unless and until he uses water to wash the stool or the urine he passes out. The poet mentioned in his poem (Gangar Wa’azu) that picking holding or touching the Holy Qur’an in such a state is strongly not allowed and prohibited. Here is what he said about picking the Holy Qur’an concerning the cause of drought:

141. Ɗ aukar kitabullaahi da jannaba,

Shi ma yana sa ai tsananin fari.

 Picking the book of God in the state of impurity,

Can also lead to a serious drought.

Picking the Holy Qur’an with impurity is strongly prohibited by the God of creation. Not only the Holy Qur’an but also its sections are not allowed to be touched without purity.

In this respect, the issue involves all people, men and women, boys and girls whether small or big. This is done to show respect to the book of Allah (Qur’an). The writer cited a verse of the Qur’an which stands as a rule of God concerning the touching of the Qur’an where he quotes:

142. Wannan fa zance ba na musu ba ne,

Kowa yai musun sa ya dubi Izawaka

 The verse of the Qur’an is not the one to argue,

Whoever wants to argue should refer to the verse of the

 Holy Qur’an and see Suratul Waqi’a Verse 56:79.

Besides mentioning the name of the verse for reference, the poet quoted the name of the chapter itself to support his argument and clarified whosoever didn’t know the rule with regards to touching of the Holy Qur’an. The poet made use of the reference to support the Hausa saying, thus: “Seeing is believing” (Gani ya kori ji).

143. Layamassuhu illal mu ɗ ahharuna,

Ayar dalilin hanin ɗ auka nasa.

 Only those with purity are allowed to touch it,

 It is the verse that prohibits any person from touching it.

Concerning the touching of the Holy Qur’an, learned individuals commented about the touching of the Glorious Qur’an by saying the following:

Some were of the view that a person who had sexual intercourse should not touch the Holy Qur’an unless he took a bath. Others said that, even if one is free from impurity, he should not touch the book unless he performs water ablution or dry/sand ablution as condition may warrant. In addition, others said women who were in menstruation and birth period should not hold the Holy Qur’an provided they did not take the bath of purity.

Again, more explanation on this verse is that whoever needs to see it should refer to chapter 56, verse 79. This serves as a reference to those who like to see with their naked eyes.

4.6 Abandoning Graves in Ugly Shapes

Sometimes people experience drought due to neglecting the graves of pious individuals. That is why up till today, Muslims usually organize community work to look after the graveyards that have rifted and opened to take care of them. That was why the poet brought up what their teacher told them, when the graves of pious people rift it, shall cause drought. Knowing the danger of leaving the graves open is among the reasons why Muslims go to the graveyards to see the problems there and take action. This was what the poet reported from his teacher:

144. Malam ya ce mana kabarin mummuni,

Kadan ya ɓ urme yana sa ai fari.

144. The leaned informed us that the graves of the faithful,

When rifted may also invite a serious drought.

No doubt, there were pious individuals in the world. They are those who keep to what God tells them to do and shun away from doing wrong. They are good people of God and He cannot allow a drop of water into their graves due to their goodness. Going to the graveyards to close the opened graves is among the things to be done when drought is experienced by people. It is obvious that when the graves of pious individuals are opened or rifted, rain will not fall unless they are covered. This has been the tradition since the time of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.).

4.7 Denying Giving out Alms (Zakat) of Grains and money (cash)

Almsgiving is one of the five pillars of Islam that a Muslim must agree with and obey in his lifetime. Those wealthy and who cultivate more from their farm s that reach the amount (nisab) in what God gives them were asked to give out some percentage. Besides, there are eight categories of people whom God ordered to be given the zakat. Whoever gives his alms to people outside the eight categories prescribed by God did not give out the alms but a charity (sadaqat). There are two types of alms, that of cash and kinds. Whoever denies giving out the alms is directly opposing the rule of God, which in the hereafter will be punished in hell fire. If cash and kinds reached the prescribed amount to give out zakat, should be given. If denied by people, they will face the problem of droughts. One should not give zakat to the person he likes but, one who God ordered to be given. Both males and females give out zakat provided they possess the means. According to the poet, he reported from his teacher that:

145. Rashin zakkar noma da na dukiya,

Inji Malam yana sa ai fari.

 Refusal of giving out alms (that of grains and cash),

According to Malam may also cause drought.

The poet added that his teacher also lamented on refusal to give out alms to the needy as among the things that may cause drought. There is complete and partial refusal of giving out alms. The complete refusal is the total denial by the owner of the wealth after it becomes compulsory on him. Partial almsgiving is where a person delay giving the alms when the time is due or gives some part and keeps some with him. This usually happens when the person considers the percentage to give out as high; whereby he assumes in his mind that the wealth will finish if he gives the prescribed percentage according to the law of God. The attitude of refusing to give out alms is a great sin which may cause drought. That is why God says “Fear a problem which if it comes will not touch only those who invite it but will generally involve all”. Refusal to give out poor rates is confronting the rules of Allah which may also cause drought.

4.8 Waging Wars and Killings mong Muslim Community

War is an intentional fight between two parties for one reason or the other. Every Muslim is a brother to another Muslim as mentioned in the Qur’an and the hadith of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). The blood of every Muslim is prohibited to another Muslim unless on three issues: A married man who committed adultery, one who kills another person and one who leaves the religion of Islam and is called to return to Islam for three days but refuses should be killed. The issue between Aus and Khazaraj must come here as an example of attacking and killing each other themselves while they were all Muslims. The poet heard from his teacher that:

146. Jama’ar Musulmi in sun yi yaki,

Suna kashin juna yana sa ai fari.

 If the Muslim community dwell in war,

 Killing each other may also cause drought.

Sometimes, Muslims may fall into a war between themselves due to misunderstandings either due to the hypocrisy of some people or issues related to relationships. It may be of worldly affairs or some instigation by Shatan. A best example is the issue of Aus and Khazraj who were Muslims and brothers to each other. A related issue also happened in Nigeria between Izala groups though, there is no casualty. The problem between them is related to leadership which led to a division of the Izala group into two parts. With the help of God, no killings but, there were many wars of words during preaching. This is not a hidden issue in Nigeria. If the Muslim community engaged in war and went to the extent of killing each other is among the things that may cause drought. In this, there is a serious warning to all Muslims that they should not fight themselves but look for a way out of any problem among themselves.

5.0 Findings and Recommendations

From the above discussion of drought and things that may cause it, the paper finds out that they are not the only things that can cause drought. This means that there are others besides them. Again, the paper also finds out that going against the rules of God causes many problems The paper also finds out that, being obedient to God makes human beings live good and hitch-free lives in the world. It is also clear that all bad things that happen to people are due to their actions. More so, anything good that happens to people is not from them but from God. If any one of us wishes to live safe he must obey the rules and regulations of God, the Creator.

The paper recommends every individual obey the rules of God live happily in the world and have His mercy in the hereafter. The paper recommends all run away from wrongdoings and face the reality in life by engaging themselves in doing good. Also, it recommends all not to underrate bad actions however small they are and always pray for Allah’s mercy, in the world and hereafter. We must all pray for God’s forgiveness and mercy since there is no forgiver and merciful except God.

6.0 Conclusion

From the beginning of the paper, it is titled “Drought as Portrayed in Gangar Wa’azu (Preaching Drum) Poem”. After naming it, the abstract follows immediately. The introduction and a brief history of Gangar Wa’azu and that of the poet follow. After that is the methodology of writing the paper. Next to it is the discussion of the content of the paper which includes the causes of drought by human beings which read as follows: Attitudes of tyrant leaders, remarrying in spacing period (Aure cikin idda by women), illegal childbearing, gender marriage (sodomy and lesbianism), fornication and gambling, picking the glorious Qur’an without purity, abandoning the graves of righteous people uncovered refusal of giving out alms (zakat) of cash and kinds to the needy and attacking and killings of each other between Muslim community at time of misunderstanding between them (war). The last item is the findings and recommendations of the paper.


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