British Colonial Encounter with Sokoto Caliphate with Particular Reference to the Shari’ah Legal System (1903 – 1960)



Sokoto Caliphate like other empires in the Africa had an encounter with the British colonialist in the 18th century. The objective of this paper is to analyse the encounter and its impact on the Shari’ah legal system in the caliphate. Theoretically, the paper was built on the functionalist theoretical exposition. Content analysis was used as a method of data.  Findings showed that the encounter produced a long-lasting result in all spheres of the caliphate and its inhabitants including the legal system. Before the encounter or arrival of the colonialist, the Sokoto Caliphate under Uthmanu Ibn Fodiyo had an elaborate and structured Shari’ah legal system in the caliphate. The British colonialists’ encounter with former colonists left behind an elaborate system of administrative roots, including a working understanding of Islamic legal precepts in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. However, before the arrival of the colonialist, African has method of settling disputes, therefore, there need to exhibit our uniqueness and value benefits and to prove to the rest of the world that the African method of criminal justice is not outdated or primitive in outlook and application, as some people in their toga of arrogance want the rest of the world to believe. It is pertinent for Africans to show the world that the African method of criminal justice is all about unity, transparency, love for one another, balance, and peaceful co-existence, respect for tradition and values, and fairness to all the stakeholders when it comes to dispute settlement within an African community or between and among African communities. The paper wrapped up that, the British Colonialist encounter with the Sokoto Caliphate left a negative legacy of a legal system that is alien to the culture of the people of the caliphate. The court system of the British colonialist was accompanied by some complex technicalities, bureaucratic procedures and methods of adjudication and inquiry which differed from the precolonial Islamic Shari’al legal system practised during the era of Uthmanu Ibn Fodiyo. The return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999 led to the revival of the Shari’ah legal system in the Muslim-dominated Northern states including Sokoto State

Keywords: British Colonialism, Sokoto Caliphate, Encounter, Shari’ah Legal System, Revival of Shari’ah

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ISSN (Paper)2224-3240 ISSN (Online)2224-3259

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