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Sufi Poetry in Twentieth-Century Nigeria

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A Khamriyya and a Ghazal by Shaykh Abū Bakr al-ʿAtīq (1909–1974)

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This article presents the translation and analysis of two poems (the first in Arabic, the second in Hausa) authored by one of the most famous twentieth-century Islamic scholars and Tijānī Sufis of Kano (Nigeria), Abū Bakr al-ʿAtīq b. Khiḍr (1909–74). As examples of two genres of Sufi poetry that are rather unusual in West Africa (the khamriyya or wine ode and the ghazal or love ode), these poems are important literary and religious documents. From the literary point of view, they are vivid testimonies of the vibrancy of the Sufi qaṣīda tradition in West Africa, and of the capacity of local authors to move across its various genres. From the religious point of view, they show the degree to which the West African Sufis mastered the Sufi tradition, both as a set of spiritual practices and techniques and as a set of linguistic tools to speak of the inner.

Affiliations: 1: University of Cape TownSouth Africa


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