Arabs' Entrance into the Sudan and their role in Propagating Arab and Islamic Culture in the Sudan

Wed, 21 Mar 2018


Dr. Mohamed Mostafa Ismail



This paper discusses the Arabs' entry into the Sudan, and their role in propagating Arabic and Islamic culture therein. The paper is comprised of an introduction that handle the term "Sudan" Nuba land. After that the paper deals with the foreign relations of the Sudan in the pre-Islam period, Muslims relations with the Nubians and Bija, Arab tribal presence in those lands and the emergence of Islamic kingdoms and sheikdoms in the Sudan. Then the paper deals with the role of Sudanese Kings and Sultans, as well as the Sophist creeds proponents in propagating Islam and Arab and Islamic culture, through Islamic elementary schools (Khalwas) and mosques, as well as recruiting Muslim scholars from abroad.


Sudan's foreign relations in the pre-Islam period

Memluke military campaigns and impacts thereof

Relation between the Bija and Muslims in Egypt

Islamic Kingdoms in the Sudan

Propagation of Islam and Islamic culture in the Sudan



The Sudan occupies a significant strategic location, as important as that of Egypt, for it is the link between the South and North. At the same time, it connects the central and western Sudan with the countries of Hijaz and Yemen, across the Red Sea. This location made the Sudan affected by whatever occurs in Egypt of political, economic and cultural events in all ancient, middle and modern ages, for it represents the strategic depth of Egypt, and includes a huge reservoir of various resources.

The word "Sudan" was first mentioned, in some Arabic sources, to mean all the blacks in the ancient world. It was not intended, in the beginning, to mean specific territories in Africa, or any other country. The origin of the word (in Arabic) is from blackness, the singular of which is "aswad" and the plural "sood". The Arab writers added the (a) and (n) to become (Sudan), in contrast to 'al-Beedh' {the whites} ' or al-Beedhan'. The man of letters, Al-Jahizh, for example, says that the word 'Sudan' denotes all blacks, including some people of India, Sirindib, Sind, Abyssinia, Nuba and negroes, and that there are the black and the red, but they do not have a name other than the Sudan[1]. Ibn Kholdoun says that the Abyssinians, Negroes and the Sudan are synonyms for the nations affected by blackness. And such names are not theirs for being affiliated to a black man[2].

Al-Mas'oudi determined the aspects of difference between Sudan India and Sudan Africa, with respect to colors, softness of hair and otherwise[3]. The Greek writers named all those blacks 'Ethiopians', i.e., those of burnt faces. Also, the Greek myths included reference to the Eastern Ethiopians, who were some of the peoples of India and Sind, being different from the Western Ethiopians[4]. The Historian Herodotus expressly indicated that (Ethiopia) included vast areas in Africa, Asia and India[5], but- rather- there is evidence indicating that Egypt, North Africa and Moroccan country were inhabited by blacks, whose countries experienced   Caucasian migrations from the North and East[6].

Therefore, it seems that this term was given to all blacks, and those of dark skins in the ancient world, with the existence of a clear relation between the terms (Sudan), (Negroes), (Ethiopia), (Abyssinia) and (Africa), which prompted the researcher to believe that such nomenclatures were but synonyms meaning the same thing.

However, in the period between the fifteenth and the twentieth Gregorian centuries, some amateur historians made a adopted a different approach to the term (Sudan), for they named some blacks in Africa by such, like- for example- Al-Hassan ibn Al-Wazzan, and later Tirmingham[7]. Subsequent to that, the name (Sudan), except Mohammed Ali Pasha dominated the country, and it became known as the (Egyptian Sudan)[8].

 Sudan's foreign relations in the pre-Islam period  

  1. Nubian land and Egypt:

The relation between the Nubian land and Egypt is ancient, and commenced prior to the Gregorian calendar. The Nubian land remained representing a significant reservoir of a lot of commodities needed by Egypt, which has always been trying to impose its dominance over the Nubian land in the days of the ancient Egyptian Kingdom. In the middle Egyptian Kingdom, the Egyptian designs increased in the Nubian land, hence fortifications were constructed up to Samna area to, perhaps, secure the export and import trade, as well as to defend the southern Egyptian boundary.  In that period, the beginnings of Kush Empire emerged in Karma (2,500 – 1,500 BC), which constituted a regional outstanding entity that shook the entity of Upper Egypt when relations were strengthened between Karma rulers in the south and the Hyksos, who established the fifteenth and sixteenth dynasties in Lower Egypt. After the Pharaohs  got rid of the Hyksos in the north, at the beginning of the modern Egyptian Kingdom (1580 – 1500 BC), they turned towards the south, placed the Nubian land under their dominance and formed an Egyptian administration. They followed a policy that led to Egyptianizing the Nubians. However, despite all that, the Nubian land remained constituting an original regional entity that paid back twice in intensity when Kush empire emerged in Nepta and  Meroe , in the period from 750 BC to 350 AC. The Kush advanced and occupied Egypt, and established the Sudanese twenty-fifth dynasty. They, rather, constituted danger to Ashur interests in Syria and Palestine, which led, finally, to the Sudanese falling backwards to Meroe, after foreign pressures and attempts at controlling Egypt.

      On the other hand, the Kush in Meroe suffered a lot from foreign intervention from the north during the rule of Persians, Greek and Romans in Egypt. At the same time, Meroe suffered a lot from the attacks of other Sudanese tribes from the west and east, which led to the recess of regional trade in the north. Hence, the country entered in internal wars and a state of chaos, which were exploited by the Ethiopians, under the leadership of King 'Izana (350 AC), and terminated Meroe authority. The country fell under the mercy of tribal groups on one part, and the Egyptian influence in the north, on the other. All such led to the division of meroe Kingdom into three kingdoms, which were exposed to the Christian extension and church missionaries from Egypt. Such were known in history as the 'Christian Kingdoms', which were: Nobatia "El-Maris" in the north, Al-Magara in the center and Alawa in the south. Those Kingdoms remained adhering to Christianity, and affected by the events occurring in Egypt[9].


B. Bija land:

It represents Eastern Sudan overlooking the Red Sea, thence to Hijaz and south Arabia. It was crossed by the land road connecting Egypt and the Nubian land, with Hijaz, Yemen and others, across the Sudanese ports. The Bija constituted a permanent threat to the Nubian land and Egypt by staging recurrent raids. It seemed that many Arab migrations from Yemen and Hadramot headed to the African Horn for economic reasons. Some groups settled down in Eritrea and Bija land; some of them, perhaps, reached the Nubian land[10]. It seemed that some of the Himiaris came to the Nubian land, through Ethiopia, and settled there. Sun-worshiping, for example, spread among the Himiaris in Yemen and Ethiopia, and we found such gods worshipped among the Nubians in Kalabsha area[11], and in Maroe also.

To such Himiaris were affiliated the Al-Hadarba (Hadramis), who came from Hadramut since about the sixth Gregorian century, mixed with the Zanafig Bija, embraced Christianity and mixed with the Bija. And through the system of throne succession to the son of the daughter, or son of the sister, they became rulers over the Zanafig[12].

With respect to the Blaimi Bija to whom the sources of the first century referred as the inhabitants of Eastern Desert, from the southern boundary of Egypt up to Axom in the south, a part thereof settled in the Nubian land since the Ptolemy era (332-30 BC). They constituted a threat to the Romans in Egypt since the year 250 AC by staging recurrent raids, and non-commitment to treaties and covenants, until they were defeated in about the year 450 AC. The sources speak about five ancient Bija kingdoms, which were: Naqis or Naqees, Baglin, Jarin, Yazin and Qit'a or Qita'[13]. The Ethiopian King 'Izana mentioned, in his famous painting, at about mid-fourth century, that he waged a war against them, and alleged that they were his subjects[14]. And in the year 543 AC, the Nubian Kuing Salko expelled them from Kalabsha area[15]

Relations between Muslims and Nubians:

After the Sham country was decided in favor of the Muslims after the Yarmuk Battle (21H/636G), 'Amr ibn Al-'as headed towards Egyp; and in the same year the Muslims fully dominated it[16].

. In the same year, the Muslims sent a campaign against the Nubians, but did not achieve any success, and they witnessed the Nubians skill in fighting and arching, and they named them "archers of eyes."  'Amr ibn Al'as did not reconcile with them. However, Abdalla ibn Sa'ad ibn Abi Al-Sarh came in the year 25H/646G, and reconciled with them after a severe battle at the outskirts of Dongola. That conciliation was, in the Arabic sources, called the "Nubian conciliation", or 'Al-Baqt Agreement'. It seemed that the Nubians felt the extent of Muslims' strength and asked for conciliation[17]. It was reported from Yazid ibn Abi Habib, the Nubian jurisprudent in Egypt, his saying, "There is neither a treaty, nor a covenant between us and the blacks, but such was a truce between us, provided that we give them some wheat and lintels, and they give us slaves…" Ibn Abdul Kakam stated a text close to such[18]. It was reported from Al-Leith ibn Sa'ad his saying," The conciliation stipulated non-fighting, and the Nubians should provide slaves, in return for food at a similar price, and if they offer their women and sons for sale, there should be no objection to purchase them[19]. Other reports have been stated, as well as a lot of details, but the agreement was, in its entirety, expressing the extent of the Muslims' concern about securing Egypt's southern boundary, and resumption of trade across land and Nile routes. That agreement continued governing the two parties' relation for six centuries. The Nubian merchants in Egypt were allowed to resume their commercial activity between Egypt and Nubian land, provided that they assist the Muslims with men and horses[20]; and such was similar to the agreement concluded between Muslims and people of Egypt.

It seemed that the Muslims neighboring the Nubian land started to settle in the Nubian territories since the Amawis' days in Egypt. They owned lands by purchasing such from the Nubians, which made the Nubian King protest against such a practice, and demand cancellation of the sale, with the argument that the venders were his slaves, but the vendors did not acknowledge slavery before the ruler of Aswan, and he passed the sale to Arabs. The Nubian Maris Kingdom was divided into two, sections: a section in which lived the free Nubians, and the King's slaves lived in the other section[21]. As a result of that, the area south of Aswan to the second cataract was crowded with Muslims, who were owners of lands and merchants, with the Maris land since the beginning of the 3rdH century/9thG century[22].

After the Abbasite dominated Egypt, the sons of Morwan II, the last of Bani Ummaya Caliphs, Abdulla and Obeid Allah, escaped to the Nubian land, accompanied by thousands of Muslims, and became guests of the Nubian King, who refused to host them, and advised them to leave his country, although they, according to Al-Ya'qoubi's report, wanted to reside with the purpose of recovering their throne[23]. They headed eastwards to the ports of the Red Sea. Obeid Allah Badhi' port, accompanied by 40 or fifty persons only[24]. This meant that many of them stayed back in the Bija land and the Southern Nubian land. In the days of the 'Abbasi Caliph Abu Ga'far Al-Mansour, Egypt's Wali, Ka'b ibn Musa, expressed, to the Nubian King, his dissatisfaction for not providing protection to Egypt's merchants and repatriate those who escaped from Egypt, as well as the delay of Al-Baqt. In the era of the Caliph Al-Mu'tasim (218-227H/833-842G), the Nubian King, Zakaria ibn Yahnis, was demanded the Baqt arrears of fourteen years; and was threatened to invade his country if he did not honor his debts. The Nubian King had no option, save resorting to diplomacy. He sent his son George to Baghdad to negotiate with the 'Abbasites. Calph Al-Mu'tasim liked him, and lifted the Baqt arrears from the Nubians, provided that they pay the Baqt every three years. George returned with heavy loads of gifts.

It seemed that normalization of relations with the Nubian King was necessary, due to the bad situations in Egypt, revolutions of Arab tribes persisting as from the reign of the Caliph Al-Ma'moun. In addition to that, Caliph Al-Mu'tasim had decided to replace the Arabs in his court with Turks, which created a general Arab renunciation against that policy that included all the Islamic state. Hence, the Arabs in Egypt were forced to make the Nubian land a center for staging their attacks against Egypt rulers, or a safe haven for them from the Turks' suppression in Egypt[25].

On the other side, it seemed that the Nubians exploited the lapsing situation in Egypt at the end of Ikhshidis era, and attacked Al-Kharija Oasis in 951. Then they staged another campaign against Aswan in 956, and killed numbers of Muslims. They staged a third attack against Egypt and advanced northwards up to Edfu[26].

In the reign of Al-Hakim bi Amri Allah, the Fatimi, an insurgent called Al-Waleed ibn Hisham (Abu Rakwa), seized parts of Egypt, but he was defeated, and took refuge in the Nubian land. This news was carried by Abu Al-Makarim Hibat Allah, leader of Rabi'a who were adjacent to Aswan, to Al-Hakim bi Amri Allah, and Abu Rakwa was apprehended. Al-Hakim rewarded Abu Al-Makarim and granted him {Kanz A-Dawla} title, and his family were named Banu Al-Kanz, and they were very important in what pertained to the Nubian-Egyptian relations[27]. They established an Arab Emirate in the Nubian land, and the Fatimis recognized them. Even in the Ayoubis reign, they had good relations with the Nubian Kings. The commercial activity between Egypt and the Nubian continued in a good manner. However, the policy adopted by Salahu Al-Din Al-Ayoubi himself by approximating the Turks and giving them posts, as well as his severance of Qous, Aswan and 'Aithab to his brother Thawran Shah, perhaps for defensive, strategic purposes to confront the Crusaders, led to a wave of rage and insurgence after which Salahu Al-Din's brother, Abu Al-Haigaa, was killed Thawran Shah marched, with a Muslims army under his command, to the Nubian land in 1173, and defeated the Nubians. He left a part of his forces at Ibrim Palace, and returned to Egypt[28]. Another Ayoubi campaign was dispatched to Egypt in 1174 against Kanz Al-Awla (Matouj), and he was defeated.


Memluke military campaigns and impacts thereof:

The Turkish Memlukes seized power in Egypt in the year 648H/1250G after a state of chaos, and expressed enmity to the Arabs at a time the Crusades against Muslims were at their highest. In the year 663H/1265G, Baibars dispatched a campaign that seized Suakin, with the purpose of securing trade and preserving the merchant rights. However, in 671H/1272G, Dawod, the Nubian King, raided Aithab port and sabotaged it, seized the moneys of merchants coming from Yemen and killed the city judge, as well as his sons[29]. This  was followed by a Crusade attack on Aithab once more. The Indian ships, as well as the trades coming from Qoas, were looted in 1282[30].

Dawod had staged a campaign against Aswan and ruined the city. Perhaps such was a prelude to Crusade attacks against the Muslims. However, the Memlukes' reaction was violent. 'Al-Magara', wher Dawod's armies were defeated at the outskirts of Dongola city, and Dawod escaped to 'Al-abwab' Kingdom. The Memlukes decided to place half of the Nubian land under their administration, and that the Nubian Kings paid the tribute. They  dispatched some skilled workers, farmers and others to the Nubian land. They also established a mail system from Qoas to Nubia. Glawoon dispatched several delegations to 'Alawa, Bija, Al-Baza tribes, Al-Taka ruler and Garri ruler, as well as emissaries to the Abwab King. Such was an unprecedented diplomatic act to discuss the conflict between Al-Magara and 'Alawa Kingdoms. It became evident that the King of Al-Magara was the one at fault and the assailant. This confirmed the extent of the Memlukes strength and their keenness on securing the country.

Glawoon dispatched a campaign against Al-Magara in which participated, for the first time, the Arabs living near Al-Magara, Such as Al-Ksnz sons, Banu Hilal, Abu Bakr sons, Omer sons, Sharif sons and Shaiban sons[31]. The campaign Commander became stationed at Dongola. After that, military campaigns were started against the Nubian King Shamamon.  King Al-Nasser's reign in Egypt was characterized by the attack and flee operations practiced by the Nubian Kings in their rejection o f the Memlukes' presence in their country, as well as persistence to shake the state in Egypt. This continued until the first Muslim King succeeded to the Nubian throne in the year 716H/1316G, who was Abdalla Barshambo, the nephew of King Dawod that was killed in the struggle for power. Banu Kanz assumed power as the first Arab kings in the Nubian land. The Memlukes accepted that unwillingly, because the Arab and Nubian public opinion supported Kenz Al-Dawla[32].

What concerns us from all this is that the Egyptian intervention in the Nubian land up to 1318G, led to the influx of Arab elements, which participated in the military campaigns, as well as the commercial activity, which caused the settlement of many Arab tribes. Hence, the Nubian land opened up to the Arab merchants, professionals, travelers and others from the Abwab Kingdom. There was a lot of tribal elements that migrated. after Al-Mu'tasim's decision and the policy adopted by the Memlukes against the Arab tribes, to the Abwab Kingdom, Kordofan and Darfur. In addition to that,a lot of the warriors, who participated in the Nubian campaigns, preferred to stay in the Nubian land[33]. The sources also indicated that Kanz Al-Dawla, ibn Shuja' Ad-Din Nasr ibn Fakhr Ad-Din ibn Malik sought the assistance of some Arab elements in his conflict with the Nubians[34].

Al-Magara was conquered by Banu Kanz, who were assisted by Banu Ga'far and Banu 'Ikrima. Such an event was not accepted by the Memlukes; and Al-Magara entered a state of chaos, due to the Memlukes' campagns. However, what is important here was that the Al-Magara conquest opened the door for more Arab migrations to the Nubian land in various directions. Al-Magara's name vanished, and other names of states appeared in the sources, such as Al-Takaki, Al-Abwab and so on. Therefore, the Fong might have been one of such states.


 Relation between the Bija and Muslims in Egypt:

The Bija and their country differ from the Nubians and their country. The Bija country was traversed by a caravan route that connected Egypt to the Red Sea ports, and from there to Abyssinia, Hijaz, Yemen, Arabian Gulf and up to India. Also, they were not civilized like the Nubians for they were nomad people, shepherds of camels and sheep. A few of them worked as caravan guards, work in the Sudanese ports and guard the miners (in the mining lands). However, their country was rich in minerals, gold, emerald and others[35].

Many sources indicated that they were a category of Abyssinians. Others said that they were a category of the Sudanese, with the same meaning. Some of the Bija were Jacobean Christians, and the majority were pagans. They lived on whatever was imported from Abyssinia land, Egypt and the Nubian land, and their capital was Hajar (Um Hajar). The Pharaos in Egypt, as well as the Romans used to invade them due to their need of minerals. Abdalla ibn Sa'ad ibn Abi Al-Sarh was not interested in them due to lack of a state and a ruling King[36]. However, we do not believe that ibn Abi Al-Sarh was ignorant of the strategic importance of their country, but it seemed that he did not find a justification for fighting them, or concluding an agreement with them.

The Bija did not pose a real threat, save in the reign of the Abbasite Caliph Al-Mu'tasim, who dispatched Abdalla ibn Al-Jaham in 212H/831G to fight them, and conclude an agreement with their leader Konun ibn Abdul Aziz[37]. Ibn Al-Jaham fought several battles against them. An agreement was concluded wherein the Bija land was placed under the Abbasite administration, became a property of the Caliph in Baghdad and Konun, as well as all the Bija were considered slaves of the Caliph; and the Bija should pay an annual land-tax of a hundred camels, or three hundred dinars to the Treasury.  The agreement also obliged the Bija not to kill any Muslim or Dhimmi in the Bija land, or the Nubian land, or Egypt. Also, they should not demolish the Muslim mosques in Hajar and Sabha. If the Bija entered Southern Egypt as traders, or transit travelers, they should not enter cities and villages, and should not show a weapon. The agreement also obliged the Bija to allow the Caliph's workers to enter the Bija land to collect the alms from Muslims[38]. Such an agreement affirmed the extent of the Bija land importance to Abbasite state, as well as the danger they posed to the cities and villages in Southern Egypt, and to the Arab economic activity in the mining areas, where the Bili and Juhaina lived. The agreement also affirmed the existence of large numbers of Muslims in the Bija land.

During  the reign of Al-Mutawakil, the Abassite Caliph, the Bija breached the agreement, raided Southern Egypt and killed a lot of Muslims in the mining areas in Al-'Alaqi valley. In 241H/854G, Mohammed ibn Abdalla Al-Qami fought them. The Bija were defeated, and requested conciliation. He agreed on condition that their leader Ali Baba presented himself before the Abbasite Caliph. Such was done, and Arabs in the mining areas and Southern Egypt enjoyed the Islamic state protection. Ali Baba was appointed a Wali of the Bija land by the Abbasite Caliph[39]. In that period, groups of Juhaina and Rabi'a tribes came to Al-Alaqi valley after hearing the news of the existence of minerals in the soil of that valley. In  that period, people heard from each other about the existence of gold in Al-Alaqi valley, and Abdulla ibn Abdul Hamid Al-'Omari prepared a campaign comprised of groups of Rabi'a and Juhaina Arabs, as well as a lot of slaves, and marched southwards to the Nubian and Bija lands. This incident took place in the reign of Ahmed ibn Tolon in Egypt. Perhaps the purpose from that personal adventure was discovering new lands for mining. Al-'Omari succeeded in such despite his conflict with miners from the Sham Arabs, like, Sa'ad Al-'Ashira, Qeis 'Ailan and Rabi'a tribe as well. Al'Omari was enabled to defeat them, but  was himself killed by an Arab from Mudhar[40].

After the death of Al-'Omari, another conflict broke out between the Juhaina and Rabi'a Arabs and others in Aswan, over possession of minerals in the Al-'Alaqi valley mine, a sub-clan from Rabi'a formed an alliance with the Bija and married from them, and both parties benefited from such an affinity. Perhaps Rabi'a's objective was the sole possession of the mines , apart from other Arab tribes.

Al-Mas'oudi said:

"And the ruler of mines' land, in our time, rides in three thousand men from Rabi'a and allies from Mudhar and Yemen, as well as thirty thousand lancets on camels from the Bija, on the Juhof camels. Such were the Hadarba, the only Muslims of the Bija, whereas the rest of the Bija were unbelievers who worshipped an idol"[41]. Based upon the above, the form of the Arab-Islamic presence, in the Bija land, seemed clear. Hence, ensued the influx of such tribes, towards the mines land, from Egypt in the north, from the Nubian land in the west and from the east. Therefore, we can restrict the Bija tribes to the following:

  1. The Bisharis in the north, in the area of ancient Naqis Kuingdom, and they are divided into two parts: (Om Ali) Bisharis in the north, and to the south were (Om Naji) Bisharis. It is said that the Bisharis were affiliated to Bashar, or Bishara, whose father was a Kahli, and mother from the Bija[42].
  2. The Amara'r: lived to the south of the Bisharis. Their land extended from the south-west to the north-east in the direction of Port Sudan. It seemed that such was the location of the ancient Baqlin Kingdom. They were known by that name in the writings of the 9th Gregorian century.
  3. The Hadandawa: Their lands were located to the south of the Amra'r, and they were the largest in number amongst the Bija tribe. Their lands extended from Suakin to Sinnar and the adjacent land, including the shores of Atbara River. Such were the lands of the ancient Bazib Kingdom, and they speak the Tibdawi language[43].
  4. Banu 'Amir: Their land extended from Tokar in the north, to within the Eritrean boundary in the south. And such was the land of ancient Garin Kingdom, and their language was the Tigrai[44].
  5. The Kingdom of Qat'a, or Qata', is currently occupied by Hadandawa tribes. It was originally the area of Bili tribe, who blended with the Bija. It is also currently occupied by the Halanga in Kassala and its environs.
  6. In addition to these tribes, there were small ones living in the Bija land, like Al-Ashraf, Artiga, Al-Malhaiktab and the Rashayda, who claim to be descendants of Haroun Al-Rasheed. They had settled in Tokar region, then moved to the Eritrean boundary. Some of them lived in Atbara region. Those migrated recently between 1846 and 1910.

Al-Humran was one of the small tribes neighboring the Hadandawa and Bani 'Amir. Their current area is near Satit River. They are camel shepherds; they also breed horses and use them[45].

Nubian tribes in the north:

The Nubians used to live in vast areas along the River Nile, up to the south of the Blue and White Niles confluence. This was the case during the three Christian Kingdoms. However, their lands contracted, and became restricted to the Area between north of Aswan in the north, up to Al-Dabba city and Korti in the south, which is the area currently inhabited by five major tribes, namely:

  1. Danaglah: Their land extends from Al-Dabbah up to the boundary of Argo island. They are all Muslims.
  2. Sakoat and Mahas: They constitute one group as to the origin and language. They live in Al-Ganadil region, and they claim that they are affiliated to the Khazraj. Al-Shareef Al-Tahir's manuscript, in the beginning of the sixteenth century, indicated that they were descendents of Abdul Aziz Mahas ibn Thibian[46].
  3. Al-Fidaijah: They live in the area between Wadi Halfa and Korusku.
  4. Al-Konuz: They live in the northern part, extending from Karsaku to Aswan. We note that Al-Konuz and Danaglah differ from the Sakoat and Mahas, in that they speak the same language, and theirs is different from that of the Sakoat and Mahas. Of course, Al-Konuz are Muslims like the Danaglah .



Arab tribes in the mid-Nile region:

The tribes which settled in the mid-Nile basin are divided into two groups. The Adnanis and the Gahtanis.

  1. The Adnani group is comprised of the Kawahlah and Ja'alis:
  1. The Kawahlah came to the Sudan via the Red Sea, and started deploying in the Eastern Region, then the Central regional until they reached North and South Kordofan. Some of the Kawahlah mixed with the Bija and knew their tongue. It is said that they are affiliated to Kahin ibn Musa ibn Tanin ibn Abdalla ibn Al-Zubeir ibn Al-'Awam. To that Kahil are also affiliated to the Ahamdah, Hassaniah, Kababish, Dilaigab, Kimailab, Nifaidiah and Bishariyeen Arabs. Also, the 'Ababdah say that they are cousins of the Kawahlah, because their grandfather 'Abbad was Kahil's grandfather, and that he came from Arabia in the thirteenth Gregorian century.

The Kawahlah started settling in the Red Sea region, then they deployed in the region of Rahad River, Atbara region, Gash Khor and the Blue Nile. All this occurred in the fifteenth Gregorian century. Some of them settled in Shendi and Matama (Hassaniah mountain). Some of them headed towards the region of Gezira and White Nile, like the Hassaniah and the Hasanat. They befriended the Kababish in north Kordofan, the Baqqara in south Kordofan and their economy relied on cultivation and animal breeding[47].

  1. The Ja'alis: They also settled, like the Kawahah, between the Nile banks, between the Nubian land and the two Niles' confluence. Then they deployed to various parts of northern Sudan. This tribe is comprised of a large group of tribes, such as the Ja'alis tribe between the 6th Cataract and Atbara River. They are affiliated to Ibrahim Ja'al, who has likely descended from  Al-'Abbas ibn Abdu Al-Muttalib, the paternal uncle of the Prophet Piece be upon him. The Ja;alis meet in Hassan Karoum ibn Abi Al-Dees ibn Qudha'a. The rest of the Ja'alis group are, from the north to the south, the Rikabiah, Shaigiah, Manasir, Rubatab, Merfab, Jamou'ia, Juma', Bideriah, Jawam'ah, Girrayat, Batahin and Fazarah[48].
  1. Jihainah Gahtani Arabs: They are divided into three groups:

First group:

  1. Rufa'a tribe and kinfolks of the 'Abdallab, 'Arakiyeen and Gawasmah.
  2. The Lahawiyeen.
  3. Al-'Awamrah.
  4. Al-Khawaldah.
  5. Al-Shukriyah, whose habitats are the Blue Nile and Butanah region

Second group:

  1. Dar Hamid.
  2. Bani Garrar.
  3. Al-Ziyadiah.
  4. Al-Baz'a
  5. Al-Shanablah
  6. Al-Ma'alia.

And those live in the central and eastern region of Kordofan[49]

Third group:

  1. Al-Dowaihiah.
  2. Al-Musallamiah.
  3. Al-Baqqarah, who came, perhaps, through Tunisia, Banu Halbah and Al-Jabiriyoun.
  4. Al-Mahamid.
  5. Al-Mahiriyah.
  6. Al-Kababish.
  7. Al-Magharbah, who came from Arab Maghrib
  8. Al-Humur.

This group is deployed in Kordofan and Darfur. Some of them have homelands in the Blue Nile and Gezira, like Al-Musallamiah and Al-Dwaihiyah[50].-

  1. The Jihainah tribe is a Hijazi one affiliated to the Honorable Companion Abdallah al-Juhani. They were a sub-clan of Qudha'a, who participated in the Arab conquest of North Africa. In the year 869G,they divided into Rabi'a tribe, and advanced southwards to the Bija land. In the year 1,400, they represented the largest tribe in Upper Egypt. They intermarried with the Nubians and became their rulers. Then they moved southwards and settled in parts of Abyssinia. It is said that , in the days of the Fonj Kingdom, they  were stationed in Soba area, and some of them moved to the south-west of Kordofan and Darfur.
  2. Jitham is a Qahtani tribe and is divided into two groups, which were Banu Jasham and Banu Haram. They were the first who had accompanied 'Amr ibn al-'Aas to Egypt. Some of them settled in Al-Qa'ab valley, west of Dongola; and perhaps some of them moved to Kordofan and north Darfur[51].
  3. And of the Baqqarah are the Misairiyahn in Abu Zabad and Sunut in west Kordofan and south Darfur; the Hawazmah in Kordofan, the Habaniah in east Kordofan and south Darfur and Bani Hilbah south Darfur[52].

 Islamic Kingdoms in the Sudan:

Tribal administrative authorities were established in the Nubian and Bija lands, as well as Kordofan and Darfur, which dates of establishment we cannot accurately determine. However, it came to pass that those authorities intermingled with the locals in the east, center, west and north. According to what are available from the historical sources, verbal narrations and some contradictory statements, we can say that such entities were able to establish Islamic Sheikhdoms and Sultanates, on the remains of the Sudanese Christian Kingdoms in the north, center, west and east of the country. It seemed that the emergence of kingdoms and sheikhdoms was concurrent and consistent with the political and economic circumstances in Egypt, the Nubian and Bija lands, especially during the period of the Memlukes presence in Egypt (1,250 – 1517). At the same time, the gold resources in Al-Alaqi valley were depleted, which made the Arabs move to the mid-Nile basin area, Butana land, Gezira and Kordofan[53].

a/ 'Abdallab Sheikhdom:

The 'Abdallab were ancestors of  Abdullah Jamma', who took Garri city as his capital. The Abdallab are pure Arabs from the Qwasmah, who were a sub-clan of the Juhaina Rufa'a. After Abdullah Jamma' and Sheikh 'Ajeeb, sixteen sheikhs succeeded, the last of whom was Sheikh Nasser wad Ajeeb, who was deposed by Ismail Pasha in May 1821. Their rule was restricted to the area between Hajar Al-'Asal and Arbaji, and they moved their capital from Garri to Halfayat Al-Molouk.

b/ Fonj Kingdom and Sinnar alliance:

There are three theories on the origin of the Fonj, but the most likely one is that they descended from Bani Ommaya or Bani Hilal. According to Al-Shatir Busaili, the turbulence in the Ethiopian states, and the conflict between Muslims and Ethiopians, compelled ('Amara Dungus) to migrate from his capital in Om Hajar, in Eritrea, to the Blue Nile basin. Then he had Sinnar city built. It seemed that the origin of 'Amara Dongus's name was 'Omeira Du Noqs, meaning the Great Najashi to the Eritreans[54].

It is in the opinion of Makki Shibaika that the agreement between Abdullah Jamma' and 'Amara Donqus was concluded just before 'Amara's death in 1534G[55]. One of the conditions of the Funj and Abdallab alliance was for Amarah to be senior to Abdullah Jamma' in leadership, with the title of 'King." Abdulla Jamma' will act on his behalf in case of his absence, and carry the title of 'Sheikh.' We do not know the real reasons for such a condition, given that Abdallab were present in the region, and their capital Arbaji was built thirty years prior to building Sinnar city. It seemed that the Funj had a kingdom in the east prior to the Abdallab Sheikhdom. However, after the demise of 'Amarah Dunqus (1505 – 1534), seventeen kings succeeded him, according to Sheikh Dafa' Allah's report, on rule of the Funj. The last of those was Badi VI ibn Tanbal, who was deposed by Ismail Pasha in 1821[56]

There were kingdoms and sheikhdoms, which were direct subjects to Sinnar's Sultan, whereas others were subordinated to him through the Abdullab. The sheikhdoms which were under director command of the Fonj were: sheikhdom of Khashm Al-Bahar between Rangah and Rusairis, with its center in Ranga, Fazoughli kingdom, which was located to the south of Khashm Al-Bahar sheikhdom, and extended from Rusairis to Fadasi, with its capital in Fazoughli, Al-Hamdah sheikhdom, which was established on the Dinder River, east of Khashm Al-Bahar sheikhdom, with its center in Dabarki, Bani 'Amir kingdom in the eastern desert, between the Red Sea and Khor Baraka, Al-Halanga kingdom, with its center in Kassala Mount on the Gash[57].

The kingdoms and sheikhdoms, which were subject to the Funj through the Abdullab were: the Ja'alis kingdom, Jammo'iya kingdom, Shanablah sheikhdom, Mairfab kingdom, Rubatab kingdom, Manaseer sheikhdom, Shaygiya kingdom, Dafar kingdom, Old Dongola kingdom, Khandag kingdom

 c/ Fur kingdom:

The Fur have seized power from the Dajo and Tangar in the late sixteenth century, and they were classified as  semi-negro. It is said that they were a mixture of negroes and Hams. Some scholars hold that they were from the Faratit, or Nubians[58].

On the other hand , the Fur themselves claim that their lineage is connected to Al-'Abbas.

With respect to the origins of the ruling family, there were several speculations. Al-Tunisi had mentioned that they were from Bani Hilal. Naom Shgair quoted more details about how the Abbasites dispersed after losing their power, and their diasporas since the year 1421G. From such incidents was the one about the two brothers who migrated to Tunisia, accompanied by some nomad Arabs and how one of them made it to Darfur after his brother wounded him and how the Fur King admired him and gave him his daughter in marriage and how his son Suleiman succeeded to the throne in keeping with the tradition of instating the daughter's son, or the sister's son, as head of the Sultanate. The reign of that family extended from the year 1445 up to the Mahadi revolution in 1884. Twenty-six Sultans succeeded to the throne of the Sultanate, the last of them was Sultan Ibrahim[59].

There were tribal groups, other than the Fur, living throughout the Sultanate, like the Bidayat, Qur'an, Zaghawa, Maydoub, Barti, Tangar, Dajo, Bargo, Bigo, Mima, Falata, Gimir, Tama, Masalit, Arnaga and the Moun (Hawamid)[60].

d/ Kordofan kingdoms: 

They were the Musabba'at sultanate and Tagali kingdom. They were small kingdoms.  The first was established in central Kordofan, and the second in the Nubian Mountains. They did not constitute independent statehoods, but remained subjects of conflict between the Fonj and Fur sultanates.

 Propagation of Islam and Islamic culture in the Sudan:

Like Christianity, which spread very slowly into the Nubian and Bija lands, at the beginning of the fourth Gregorian century, by merchants and travelers, the early Arab Islamic culture started making its way to the Bija and Nubian lands, slowly also since the dawn of Islam, where the merchants and travelers heard that great news, the Companions' migration to Abyssinia twice and the Abyssinian Najashi's positive attitude towards the Islamic call, prior to the arrival of first Muslims to Egypt.

After the conquest of Egypt, the propagation of Islam started to take new dimensions, which were associated with whatever occurred in Egypt of events, government policies and economic activities, the effects of which were reflected on the Bija and Nubian lands.[61]

a/ Bija land:

The Sudanese ports were considered the major centers through which the tenets of Islam, as well as the Islamic culture were propagated among the Bija, who worked in the field of commercial transport, caravan guarding, working in the Sudanese ports and guarding the mineral land and miners. It seemed the Fatimis

and Ayoubis were keen on spreading Islam in 'Aithab port after subjugating it to their direct administration. They appointed judges, officials and mosque preachers in it. A number of jurisprudents and judges assumed the call responsibility in 'Aithab, such as the jurisprudent Abu Al-Qasim Nofal ibn Ga'far (1176G), who occupied the judge post for forty years in the reign of the Fatimis. He also assumed many of the Call aspects, such as leading the prayers in the mosque[62].

In the reign of the Ayoubis, Mohammed ibn Muslim Al-Oqsori served as judge for sixty years. Added to that, there were a lot of scholars, literalists and travelers in intermittent periods. They did, for different reasons, some preaching and cultural activities during their presence in the port, such as the Traveler Nasiri Khasru, who occupied the job of the mosque Imam for three months, the Shafi'I Jurisprudent Abu Al-Imam Al-Qasim Abdul Rahman ibn Al-Hassan ibn Al-Habhab, who died in 'Aithab in 1165G. Some of the scholars built mosques as their contribution to the propagation of Islam in the Bija land[63]. Regarding Suakin, it was a resort for a lot of Muslim migrants. Many of them settled there early and built mosques therein, which finally led to converting the Bija of the city from paganism to Islam; and Suakin's ruler became a Muslim Bija. When Ibn Batota arrived at Suakin port, he found that its Sultan was the son of Mecca prince, Zeid ibn Abi Nami, to whom – it was believed- the Bija were maternal uncles. He had soldiers from the Bija, some Kawahlah and Juhainah Arabs[64]. After he left Suakin, Ibn Batota reached a city called Hali, and said it was known as 'Ibn Ya'goub', who was one of the Yemen kings who resided there in the old times. Ibn Batota mentioned that Banu Haram and Banu Kinanah resided in the said city, that its mosque was one of the best mosques, and it accommodated a lot of old dedicated worshipers. Also, Sheikh Gaboula Al-Hindi was stationed in the mosque, and had a khalwa annexed to it. Ibn Batota also mentioned that its Sultan was a virtuous man from Bani Kinanah called 'Amir ibn Thu'eib[65].

However, from the description of Ibn Jubeir of the Bija in general, it seemed that Islam had not struck roots yet, because- as he mentioned- they practiced pagan customs, such as deprivation of women of inheritance, and referring to sorcerers (for help) and otherwise. However, the same applied very much to the Nubian land and others, due to the fact that life in the badiya differed from city life and settlement, even in Arabia itself. Whatever the case, Islam has refined them and rationalized their pre-Islamic conduct. So, they reduced their attacks on Muslims, spoke Arabic language and some Arabic words found their way to their Tibdawi language[66].

b/ Nubian land:  

The Baqt Agreement played a relatively important role in normalizing relations between the Nubians and Muslims in Egypt. Thus the economic relations between the two countries flourished, the roads were paved to facilitate the flowing of Arab tribes from Egypt into the Nubian land. Such were for the purposes of trade and mining, or travel to perform pilgrimage and Umrah, through Sudanese ports, or migration with the purpose of herding or farming, due to the Arab tribes' dissatisfaction and frustration in Egypt, because of the Abbasite and Memluke policies.

The migrants, merchants and miners' contribution to the propagation of Islam and Islamic culture was poor in the beginning. That was due to the absence of governmental interest from Muslims in Egypt, contrary to what has been done by the Christians in their regular missionary operations in the Nubian land. On the other hand, the migrant Arab tribes had nothing to offer in terms of religious-cultural practices, because one cannot offer what one doesn't have. At the same time, the Christian Kingdoms remained suffering from spiritual emptiness, and did not find anyone to fill the vacuum. What has been stated by the author of 'Al-Tabagat' about the people of 'Alawa's ignorance of religious matters, did not apply to all the people of Alawa[67]. The Alawa people differ very much from the Bija, who were originally nomads moving with their animals, whereas the former lived in the cities. Consequently they were qualified to receive everything new.

Prior to the emergence of the Funj Kingdom, the eastern part of the Gezira was blessed with the presence of the seven sons of 'Awn who were Nubians and one of whom was the judge of the 'Anaj city It was also said that Sheikh Idriss wad Al-Arbab (born in 1508) " used to study the Qur'an with Walad Bandar outside Al-Halfaya"[68]. Added  to that was the construction of mosques in Dongola since the mid-seventh Gregorian century and the emergence of Banu Al-Kanz, and their assuming the throne of the Nubians in the north since 1323G[69], and many such events, which the Tabagat author did not have the opportunity to know. An example of such developments (was the arrival of) the ghrandfather of the 'Oraigab, who came to Dongola in the second half of the second Hijri century. Of the scholars who came to Dongola, was Sheikh Gholam Allah ibn 'Ayid Al-Yamani, who arrived there in the second half of the 14th century. He constructed mosques, established schools and taught the Qur'an. He also taught his sons, students and sons of Muslims the jurisprudence of religion[70].

Also, it was stated in 'Al-Tabagat' that Ibrahim Al-Bolad ibn Jabir taught 'Al-Risala' and 'Mukhtasar Khalil' when he returned to the Shaygia land. This indicated that he taught the students who needed advanced studies, after they acquired the education that qualified them for such[71]. It was said that Mahmoud Al-'Araki (of the Maliki School of Thought) came from Egypt and established fifteen Khalwas between Khartoum and Al-Kawah, wherein he taught the Qur'an and religious knowledge, which confirmed the increasing desire to acquire Islamic sciences. The sources also spoke about Sheikh Sugheiroun, and his teaching Jurisprudence in the mosque of his maternal uncles in Dongola; how he moved to Al-Goz and established another mosque. That sheikh was a scholar renowned for his extensive knowledge of religion. He was one of those to whom student mount their camels from afar[72].

Of course, Egyptians played a great role in Islamic education and culture in the Sudan. Al-Azhar Mosque, which was constructed in 972G, was considered the Islamic World's most influential education institution, especially the Sudan. Each country had a shed therein for sustenance and residence, as well as clothing and serving the students[73]. Students used to head for Al-Azhar to acquire religious knowledge and return home to practice education. Of those who studied at Al-Azhar were: Mahmoud Al-'Araki, Ibrahim ibn Jabir and Eesa ibn Bushara. Of the Egyptian scholars who came to the Sudan to practice education were: Sheikh Mohammed Al-Ginawi, who taught jurisprudence, grammar and the rest of Islamic sciences; Sheikh Mohammed ibn Ali Qarm Al-Kimani, who taught in Berber, and of his students were: Abdalla Al-'Araki, Ibrahim ibn Al-Fardhi and Judge Dishain. Such scholars were interested in the language, inheritance and the Shafi'i jurisprudence[74]'.

 Some of the Islamic sciences found interest, such as the science of beliefs, learning the Qur'an by heart, coupled with studying 'Al-Risa la', 'Mukhtasar Khali' and the science of monotheism, in addition to studying the Arabic language and the branches thereof, as well as the science of Prophetic Tradition. Utmost care was given to bringing books from Egypt and Hijaz.

6/Soufist Creeds: 

The Soufi Creeds are spread in the Sudan more than any other country, because the Sudan has a fertile soil and an appropriate climate. Of such is the people's thirst to know the matters of their religion and mundane affairs. All such was at a time when governmental education foundations were lacking. Therefore, Sufi creeds had a good standing in the people's inner selves, because they were the only creeds present. The Sufi creeds are considered a religious and social amalgam with many advantages, such as strengthening the relations between tribal groups and various races. Sufism is not based on tribal or political foundations. It did, on the other hand, show similarities to the tribal system, because the one creed has several branches, and is divided into several schools. Cosequently, Sufi creeds played a significant role in weakening tribal fanaticism[75].

These Sufi creeds grew and flourished, and had religious, cultural and social achievements on the Sunni school of thought. Also, people's admiration of the Sufi Sheikhs made many scholars combine religious knowledge and Sufism. This confirms that Suufism had not lost its standing throughout its middle and modern history. There are so many sufi creeds in the Sudan, and each has its litanies, remembrance and its daily, as well as seasonal activities. The most renowned of these creeds are: The Qadiria, Tigania, Sammania, Magzoubia, Idrissia, Khatmia and others. Although they were very numerous, they always found appreciation and respect from the Sudanese Sultans and Kings. They were granted fiefs and gifts, and were invited to visit the country.

The system of the Sufis' constant obeyance is divided into three stations, which are the unique, perfect man and the four pillars. The seventy-four nobles the substitutes and chiefs are deemed as the People of Badr. It is also said that the ranks of the people of Allah are three: the upper, medium and junior. The junior is that the devotee of Allah can fly or walk on water. The medium is that one whom Allah grants the universal rank that if he says to a thing "Be"  it will!; whereas the upper one is the polarity rank[76].

Khalwas role in propagating Islamic knowledge and culture:     

'Khalwa' in Arabic is originally the place wherein a person is secluded with himself. To the Sufis, it is the place in which the Sufi is secluded with himself to worship his God, far away from creatures, until his God grants him perfect purity. In the Sudan, it means the place of teaching the Qur'an, some principle of reading and writing, and the places of worships are given this name. In the Islamic countries, it is called the 'Kuttab' and Katatib. The beginning of such in the Sudan dated back to the mid-fourteenth Gregorian century, perhaps by Sheikh Gholam Allah ibn 'Ayid Al-Yemani[77], or perhaps by Sheikh Mahmoud Al-'Araki[78].

The religious education was of two stages. In the first stage, the Qur'an was taught and learnt by heart, prior to adulthood. The second stage started after adolescence, and it was the stage of interpretation, clarification, delivery of lectures and moving to the Sheikh's place of residence[79]. The study period of both stages differed from one child to the other, according to the child's circumstances, abilities and degree of comprehension. It seemed, as was indicated in the 'Tabagat' that the period was seven years, give or take[80].

The teaching method started with imparting and writing on sand, then on the wooden slate with imparting, wiping  the slate clean and painting it with white-wash. The pen used was mostly made of cane. After the 'khalwa' came the school, the name of which was given to the mosque wherein teaching is conducted, besides the obligatory prayers and other functions. Of such schools was Jabirsons' school in the Shaygia land, where the 'Risala' was taught to the beginners, and 'Al-Khalil' was taught to the advanced students[81]; the school of Sheikh Mohammed Eesa Sowar Al-Dahab in Dongola, the school of  Sheikh Mohammed ibn Ali ibn Garam in Berber, where the Shafi' jurisprudence was taught, and where renowned scholars studied, such as Abdallah Al-'Araki, and Judge Dishain, in addition to the Ghobush khalwa in Berber also, which was founded by Sheikh Abdalla Al-Aghbash[82]. The Egyptian Sheikh Al-Mudawwi came with his students to Shendi from Berber, and started teaching the 'Risala', grammar, logic and dogmatic theology. His teaching circle was attended by Sheikh Abdulb Gadir Al-Bakkai[83].

In addition to all of those were the schools of Khartoum area, such as Aslanj Island mosque, which was founded in the reign of Sheikh 'Ajeeb Al-Manjuluk; Al-Bandari in Hafaya; the School of Arbab Al'Aqayid, who was renowned for teaching the doctrines, and the number of his students amounted to more than one thousand, some of whom were from Darfur and others from the Barnu land[84]; the school of Sheikh Hamad wad Um Maryom in Khartoum North, the school of Kataranj, which was founded by Sheikh 'Olaish ibn Bushara after graduating from Al-Azhar, and the hamlet was built around that mosque. All of the above in addition to the school of Mahmoud Al-'Araki in the White Nile, as well as Arbaji schools[85], which were crowded with scholars, like the jurisprudent Al-Bisailabi and Shummu walad Mahmoud 'Adlan. Also, Judge Dishain was the most renowned of Arbaji scholars85.

With respect to the Sultanate of Darfur, there was one mosque, or more, in each town wherein writing and the Qur'an were taught. Each scholar had a mosque near his house for performing prayers. Adjacent to such were khalwas for regular resident students, wherein Shari'a sciences were taught. The scholar would be granted a fief by the Sultan, from which proceeds he would provide sustenance to his students. It was noted that many students used to travel to Egypt to join the Al-Azhar mosque after finishing their studies in Darfur, and they lived in the shed of Darfurians there. Sultan Suleiman was enabled to bring together and unite the tribes, and make the fur of one opinion. He made an alliance with the Arabs to stand against the hostile elements, like the Zaghawa, Bargu and others[86].

The Fur Sultans endeavored to culturally and religiously link their country with the Islamic World.  They had established close commercial and cultural relations with Egypt. Besides, Darfur had always been committed to dispatch to Hijaz, a package of donations as camel transported palanquin (mahmal) to the Two Holy Mosques, every year. Sultan Abdul Raman Al-Rasheed had strong relations with the Ottoman state. In the reign of this Sultan (1787 – 1801), the Faqih Siraj Al-Fallati was one of the most important men of the Court, and was granted complete dominance of all the Sultanate affairs. In the reign of Sultan Mohammed Al-Fadl (1801 – 1839), Malik Al-Fotawi was the Sukltan's minister, as well as being the scholar-in-chief of Fasher scholars, and Sultan Abdul Rahman Al-Rasheed was one of his students[87]. Of the religious knowledge centers in Darfur were Jadid Al-Sail village and Kobs city, wherein the Jawam'a tribe scholars had studied.

We have noted that Darfur Sultans' cared about the scholars and teachers. Sultan Ahmed Babiker (1682 – 1732) recruited scholars from the Islamic countries, gave them fiefs and exempted them from taxes. Also, Sultan Tairab (1752 – 1787) exerted considerable efforts in bringing books from Egypt and Tunisia. It was said that he had built ninety-nine mosques. The generosity of Sultan Abdul Rahman Al-Rasheed attracted a lot of the Arab World scholars, such as Sheikh Al-Nimir, Sheikh 'Ammari of Al-Azhar and Al-Shareef Musa'ad from Mecca.

Of the scholars who came to the Sultanate was the Jurisprudent Omer Al-Tunisi father of the traveler Mohammed ibn Omer Al-Tunisi, and Sultan Abdul Rahman Al-Rasheed granted him, as fiefs, three villages for cultivation. He also owned a flock of sheep and herds of cows and donkeys, as well as female and male slaves. In addition to that, he granted Sheikh Hussein wad 'Ammari a plantation, of which tobacco was the most important crop, which was later named after to him. Also, the traveler Mohammed ibn Omer Al-Tunisi was warmly welcomed and appreciated in the Sultanate.

Kingdom of Tagali was one of Kordofan Kingdoms. It emerged in the second half of the sixteenth century in the Nubian Mountains. Although it was small in size, it is considered a model of the blending of Islam and Arab culture, with the local heritage, without one prevailing over the others. Tagali's religious and cultural history was associated with a scholar named Mohammed Al-Ja'ali. At the hand of this scholar's son, the Kingdom became stronger and more famous. Islam was propagated therein by recruiting some Ja'ali, Bidairi, Jawam'a, Kawaha and Kinana scholars to the Kingdom. Each group of such scholars was assigned to one of the African Horn countries, and open to the Yemen and Hijaz countries across the Red Sea. The impact of all these efforts, however, was not as strong as that of Egypt. Due to the strategic location of Egypt, it represented a center for accumulation and spreading of civilizations, because of the foreign presence it was subjected to through its long history. Being a neighbor of Egypt Sudan was influenced  by all that had occurred in there as a result of foreign presence, military colonizing interventions, as well as the existence of various cultures.

One of the important events that influenced the Sudan through Egypt, was the arrival of Christianity in a regular manner that lead to the establishment of the three Nubian kingdoms (Nobatia, Magarra and 'Alawa) embracing Christianity. With the arrival of Islam, Egypt and the Nubian land entered a new reality that terminated paganism in some of the Bija and Nubian lands. Also, the Arab presence in Egypt and North Africa after the Islamic conquest therein,  persuaded some Arab tribes to migrate to the Nubian land especially after the end of the Amawi state's era, when the Abbasites adopted a policy of harassment to the Arabs in Egypt and elsewhere. Added to that was the Memlukes' mistreatment of the Arab tribes in Egypt and the Nubian land.

All these factors  led an influx of Arab tribes into the eastern Sudan with the purpose working in mining. Others spread southwards in search of water, pastures and cultivable lands in the mid-Nile basin, Kordofan and Darfur. The need of Muslims in the Sudan to learn religious knowledge and Arabic culture followed. Hence, it was natural for Egypt to play a significant role in this aspect. This was evidenced in the arrival of Egyptian scholars into the Sudan, as well as the Sudanese students being received to study at Al-Azhar mosque. Also, Yemen and Hijaz played a significant role in such by the arrival of some of their scholars into the Sudan.

The encouraging attitude of the Sudanese Sultans, Kings and Sheikhs towards those scholars, by facilitating their mission, and in reflecting their desire to propagate Islam and Islamic culture in the country, constituted the principal drive behind the propagation of Islam and Islamic culture in the Sudan. This made of the Sudan a significant factor among the Arab and Islamic countries later.

    Sources and references

First: Sources:

1/ Abu Al-Hassan Al-Balathari, Futouh Al-Buldan, Beirut, 1988.

2/Abu Al-Hassan Ali ibn Al-Hussein Al-Mas'udi, Morooj Al-Thahab wa Ma'adin Al-Jawhar, Dar Al-Fikr, Beirut, 2005, 4 parts, part 1, p.94.

3/ Al-Tanbeeh wa Al-Ishraf, Beirut, 1993.

4/ Abu Al-Qasim ibn Obeid Allah ibn Abdallah ibn Khardathbah, Al-Masalik wa Al-Mamalik, prepared and introduced by Khair Ad-Din Mahmoud Gilawi, Damascus, 1999.

5/ Ibn Batota, Rihlat Ibn Batota,, Al-Maktaba Al-Tawfiqia, dateless.

6/ Al-Hassan ibn Al-Wazzan, Al-Zayati, Description of Africa, Translated by Mohammed Hijji and others, 2nd edition, Beirut, 1914.

7/ Abdul Rahman Mohammed Ibn Kholdoun, Moqaddimat Ibn Kholdoun, veriofied by Hamid Ahmed Al-Taher, 2nd edition, Cairo, 1432H/1984G.

8.'Amr ibn Bahr Al-Jahizh,n Rasa'il Al-Jahizh, verified by Abdul Salam Mohammed Haroun, Egypt, 1384H/1984G, part One.

9/ Mohammed Al-Nour ibn Deif Allah, Kitab Al-Tabagat fi khosous Al-Awliya' wa Al-Salihin wa Olama' wa Al-Shu'araa fi Al-Sudan, verified by Yusuf Fadl, University of Khartoum, 2nd edition, 1974.

10/ Mohammed ibn Jarir Al-Tabari, Tarikh Al-Russul wa Al-Mulouk, 4th edition, dateless, part four.


Second: Post-graduate Theses:

1/ Ismail Makki Ahmed, The Ethiopian Road, a study on the Islamic migrations from the African Horn to Eastern Sudan, a master thesis in history, Al-Nilein University, May 2000.

2/ 'Isam Mahmoud Othman Al-Balla, Arab Migrations to the Bija land, (815 – 1203G), a master research in history, Yarmuk University, Jordan, 1997G.

3/ Mohammed Al-Mustafa Abu Al-Qasim, Migrations of Takarir and their Settlement in Eastern Sudan ( Gallabat Takarir), a master thesis, University of Khartoum, 1990.


Third: Edited Periodicals and Books:

1/ Babiker Fadl Al-Mawla Hussein, Appearances of Civilization in the Islamic Funj State (1504 – 1821), publications of Khartoum: Capital of Arabic Culture, 1st edition, 2004.

2/ Bashir Ibrahim Bashir, The Crusades and the Red Sea in Islam in Africa, papers presented in Islam in Africa Conference, April 1992.

3/ Hassan Ali Al-Shaygi, Life Account of Abdallah ibn Abi Al-Sarh between Egypt and the Sudan in : Islam in Africa, te internationall conference in the period from 6 to 7/11/1427H, coinciding with 26 to 27 November 2006.

4/ Mujahid Tawfiq Al-Jundi, Al-Azhar Mosque Sheds, International Conference: Islam in Africa, 26-27 November 2006G, 12th book.

5/ Mohammed Abdul Rahim, A lecture on Arabicism in the Sudan, 1st edition, Khartoum 1935.


Fourth: Compilations in Arabic:

1/ Osama Abdul Rahman Al-Nour, Studies on the Ancient History of the Sudan, Abdul Karim Mirghani Cultural Center, Om Dorman, 2006.

2/ Al-Shatir Bisaili Abdul Jalil, The History Features of the Nile Valley Saudan, 1st edition, December 1955.

3/ Bazel Davidson, Africa under New Lights, translated by Jamal Mohammed Ahmed, Beirut, dateless.

4/ Abdul Hadi Mohammed Al-Siddig, Sudan and Africanism, Strategic Studies Center, Khartoum, 1st edition, January 1997.

5/ Mohammed Salih Dirar, History of Eastern Sudan, the Bija Kingdoms: History and Tribes, Cairo, 1992, two parts, 1st part.

6/ Mohammed Awad Mohammed, the Northern Sudan: Population and Tribes, 2nd edition, Cairo, 1956.

7/ Mustafa Mohammed Mus'ad, Islam and the Nubians n the Middle Ages, Cairo, 1960.

8/ Makki Shibaika, The Islamic Funj Kingdom, Kartoum 1964.

9/ Naom Shugair, History of the Sudan, verified by Mohammed Ibrahim Abu Saleem, Dar Al-Jeel, Beirut, 1981.

10/ Harold McMichael, History of Arabs in the Sudan, translated by Sayed Mohammed Ali Daidan, A/Karim Mirghani Cultural Center, 1st edition, March 201`2, two parts, 1st part.

11/ Yahya Mohammed Ibrahim, History of Education in the Sudan, Dar Al-Jeel, Beirut1987.

12/ Yusuf Fadl Hassan, Early Stages of Islamic Call in the Sudan, Records Office.

13/ Yusuf Fadl Hassan, Introduction to the History of Islamic Kingdoms in Eastern Sudan, 1450H/1821G, 4th edition, 1422H/2003G.

Fifth: Compilations in English:

  1. Du Bois E. Burckhardt, The World and Africa, New York, 1980.
  2. Sheikh 'Anta Diop, "The Origin of the Ancient Egyptians" in:

Jamal, Mukhtar, (Edit) General History of Africa, UNESCO, Italy, 1985, Vol. 2.

  1. Yusuf Fadl Hassan, The Arabs and the Sudan, Edinburgh, 1967.



















































































[1]  'Amr ibn Bahr Al-Jahizh, Rasayil Al-Jahizh, verified by Abdul Salam Mohammed Haroun, Egypt, 1384H/1984, part 1, p. 18.

[2] Abdul Rahman Mohammed ibn Kholdoun, Moqadimat Ibn Kholdoun, verified by Hamid Ahmed Al-Tahir,2nd edition, Cairo. 1431H/2010, p. 116.

[3] Abu Al-Hassan Ali ibn Al-Hussein Al-Mas'oudi, Morouj Alzahab wa Ma'adin Al-Jawhar, Dar Al-Fikr, Beirut, 2005, four parts, part 1, pp.93-94.

[4] Osama Abdul Rahman En Nour, Studies in the Ancient History of the Sudan, A/Karim Mirghani Cultural Center,, Um Durman, 2006, p. 20 +.

[5]  Mustafa Mohammed Mos'ad, Islam and the Nubians in the Middle Ages, Cairo, 1960, pp. 8-9.

[6] Naom Shugeir, History of the Sudan, verified by Mohammed Ibrahim Abu Ssleem, Dar Al-Jeel, Beirut, 1981, p. 42.

[7]  Du Bois, E Burchardt, The World and Africa, New York, 1980,p. 115.

[8]  See: Abdul Hadi Al-Siddiq, Sudan and the Africanism, Strategic Studies Center, Khartoum, 1st edition, January 1997, p. 47.

[9]  Mustafa Mohammed Mus'ad, ibid, pp.108-109, William Adams, Nubians, The Entrée to Africa, translated by Mahgoub Al-Tigani Mahmoud, Cairo, 1984, p. 277+.  Yusuf Fadl Hassan, The Arabs and -the Sudan, Edinburgh, 1967, pp. 8-9.

[10]  Mustafa Moohammed Mus'ad, ibid, pp. 108-109.

[11]  This was what made the Nubian claim that they were descendent of Himiar, see Al-Mas'udi, ibid, part one, p. 88. See Harold McMichael, History ppf Arabs in the Sudan, translated by Sayid Mohammed Ali Daidaan, A/Karim Mirghani Center, Um Dorman, 1st edition, March 2012. Twp parts, part one,p. 8.

[12]  Mus'ad, ibid, pp. 108, 109 and 128. Usuf Fadl Hassan, Op. Cit., p. 11.

Ibid, p.10.

[13] Mus'd, ibid, p. 29.

[14] Bazel Davudson, Africa under New Lights, translated by Jamal Mohammed Ahmed, without a date, p.23.

[15]  Ismail Makki Ahmed, The Ethiopian Road. A study of Islamic migrations from the African Horn to Eastern Sudan, a master thesis in history, Al-nilain University, May 2,000, p. 21.

Hassan, OP. Cit., p. 10.

[16] Abu Al-Hassan Al-Balazri, Fotouh Al-Bildan, Beirut, 1988,, pp. 210-221.

[17] Mus'ad, ibid, pp. 113-114.

[18] Ibid, p.235, Hassan AliAl-Shaigi, Life Report of Abdalla ibn Abi Al-Sarh between Egypt and the Sudan in: Islam iin Africa, International Conference n the period from 6-7 Dhu Al-Qa'ida 12427, coinciding with 26-27 November 2006.

[19]  Al-Balathari, ibid,p. 335.


[20]  Al-Tabari, Tareekh Al-Rusul Wa Al-Molook,, 4th edition, without a date, part fout, p. 109.nn

[21]  Al-Mas'oudi, ibid,, part two, p. 23.

[22]  Mus'ad, ibid, p. 130.

[23]  Hasan, OP. Cit., pp. 31-32.

[24]  Al-Mas'oudi, al-Tanbeeh wa al-Ishraf, Beirut. 1993, pp. 301-302.  Al-Mas'oudi, Morouj al-thahab, part III, pp. 295-296.

[25]  Mus'ad, ibid, pp. 124-125.           Hasan, Op.  Cit., pp. 26-36.

[26]  Mus'ad, ibid, p131.

[27]  Hasan, OP. Cit., p. 47.

[28] Shugair, ibid, pp. 68-69.

[29]  Hasan, Op. Cit., pp. 107-108.

[30]  Bashir Ibrahib Bashyr, The Crusades and Red Sea in 'Islam in Africa.' Papers presentedin 'Islam in Africa' Conference, April 1992, pp. 138-143.

[31]  Mus'd, ibid, p. 156.

[32]  Ibid, p. 176.

[33]  Hasan, OP. Cit., p. 143.

[34]   Mus'ad, ibid, p. 171-f.

[35]   Al-Mas'oudi, Morouj Al-Thahab, part two, p. 19.

[36]   Shuqair, ibid, pp. 80-81.

[37]          Hasan, OP. Cit., p. 38.

               [38]          Shoqair, ibid, p.84.

            [39]  Mus'ad, ibid, pp, 122-123.

                       [40]   Ibid, p. 126.          Hasan, OP. Cit., pp. 32-34.

                       [41]  Al-Mas'udi, Morooj Al-Thahab, part two, p.19.

                      [42]   Mohammed Awadh Mohammed, The Northern Sudan: Population and Tribes, 2nd edition, Cairo,    1956, p. 68                                                                .

[43]   Harold McMichael, History bof Arabs in the Sudan, translated by Sayed Mohammed Ali Daidan, A/Karim Mirghani Cultural Center, 1st edition, March 2012, Two parts, part one, pp. 57-58.

[44]   There was a manuscript written by Abraha, wherein he mentioned his march towards the Ka'ba,  his meeting with Bani 'Amir warriors in the south of Arabia and his conquering them. See Dirar Salih Dirar, History of Eastewrn Sudan: Bija Kingdoms: Tribes and history, Cairo, 1992, twp parts, prt one, p. 103.

[45]  Mohammed El-Nouribn Deifalla, Kitab Al-Tabaqat fi Khosous Al_Awliya wa ll-Salihin wa Al-Olama wa Al-Shu'ara ifi Al-Sudan, verified by Yusuf Fadl, University of Khartoum, 2nd edition, 1974, footnote on pkage 138.

[46]  Mus'ad, ibid, p. 10.  McMichael, ibid, part one, pp. 34-35.

[47]  Mohammed Awad Mohammed, ibid, p. 143; A/Karim Sa'id Abdul Majid Abdalla, Mawahla Tibe: History in the period between 1505 and 1955, Um Dorman, pp. 48-49, pp. 58-66.

[48]  Shugair, ibid, p. 138; McMichael, ibid, pp. 180-181; Mus;ad, ibid, p. 199.

[49]  Mohammed wad Mohammed, ibid, p. 208;  Mus'ad, ibid, pp. 201-202.

[50]  Mohammed Awad Mphammed, ibid, p. 208.

[51]  McMichael, ibid, p. 171; Hasan, OP. Cit., pp. 164-165.

[52]  Mohammed Abdul Rahim, a lecture on Arabism in the Sudan, 1st. edition, Khartoum 1935, p-p. 28-31.

[53]  Yusuf Fadl Hassan, Introduction to the History of Islamic Kingdoms in Eastern Sudan 1,450H/1,821G, 4th edition, 1,422H/2,003G, p. 21.

[54]  Al-Shatir Bisaili Abdul Jalil, Features of the history of the Nile Valley Sudan, 1st eition, Cairo, Dec3mber 1955, pp. 27-32.

[55]  Makki Shibaika, Islmic Funj Kingdom, Khartoum, 1964, p. 41.

[56]  Naom Shugair, ibid, pp. 100 – 126.

[57]  Naom Shgair, ibid, , pp. 100 – 126.

[58]  Yusuf Fadl, ibid, pp. 92 – 93.

[59]  Shugair, ibid, pp. 155 – 173.

[60]  McMichael, ibid, part two, pp. 73 – 119.

[61]   Mohammed El-Nour ibn Deif Allah, ibid, p. 4.


[62] Mohammed El-Nour ibn Deif Allah, ibid, p.4.

[63] Ibid, pp. 223 – 224.

[64]  'Isam Mahmoud Al-Ballal, ibid, p. 157.

[65]  Ibn Batota, Ibn Batota's journry, Tawfiqiya library, without a date, p. 223.

[66]  Yahya Mohammed Ibrahim, History of Education in the Sudan, Dar Al-Gil, Beirut, 1987, p. 28.

[67]  Mustafa Mus'ad, ibid, p. 169.

[68]  Yusuf Fadl, ibid.

[69]   Yahya Mohammed Ibrahim, ibid, pp. 30 – 31.

[70]   Hassan Ahmed Mahmoud, Islam And Arabic Culture in Africa, p. 261.

[71]   Mujahid Tawfiq Al-Jundi, Arwigat Al-Azhar in the International Conference in Africa, 26 – 27 Nov. 2006, the 12th book, pp. 13 – 16.

[72]   Yahya Mohammed Ibrahim, ibid, pp. 40 – 41.

[73]  Yusuf Fadl, Early Stages if Islamic Call, Record Office, pp. 70 = 71.

[74]  Mohammed Awad, ibid, pp. 17 – 18.

[75] Babiker Fadl Al-Mawla Hussein, Appearances of Civilization in the Funj Islamic State,(1504G/1821G), publications of 'Khartoum the Capital of Arabic Culture', 1st edition, 2004, pp. 210 – 214.

[76]  Yahya Mohammed Ibrahim, ibid, p. 76.

[77]  Mohammed Al-Nour ibn Deif Allah, ibid, p. 41.

[78]  Ibn Kholdoun, Al-Moqaddimah, p. 494.

[79]  Ibid, p. 395.

[80]  Yahya Mohammed Ibrahim, ibid, p. 116.

[81]  Mohammed Al-Nour ibn Deifalla, ibid,pp. 249 – 280.

[82]  Ibid, pp. 100 – 101.

[83]  Yahya Mohammed Ibrahim, ibid, pp. 138 – 139,  144 – 145.

[84]  Ibid, p. 237.

[85] Mohammed Al-Mustafa Abu Al-Qasim, Migrations of the Takarir and their Settlement in Eastern Sudan (Al-Gallabat Takarir), master thesis, University of Khartoum, 1990,pp. 21 – 23.

[86]  Yahya Mohammed Ibrahim, ibid, p.238.

[87]  Hassan Ahmed Mahmoud, ibid, p. 261.

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