Image of the first folio of the at-Takhmees’l-Hijaa’iyya of Shehu Uthman Dan Fodio

“This excellent qasida or poem by Shehu Uthman Dan Fodio is known as the Ishriniyyat of the Shehu or at-Takhmees al-Hija’iyya.

Shaykh Muhammad Bello ibn Abdullahi ibn Umar ibn Yusef ibn Sultan Muhammad Bello ibn Shehu Uthman Dan Fodio said that this poem was composed around 1778, at the beginning of the Shehu’s reform mission in the central Bilad as-Sudan.

The at-Takhmees al-Hija’iyya is called a “takhmees” (quintain) because it is made up of five hemistichs with a quintain for each of the Arabic alphabets. The total number of quintains is thus 29, consisting of 145 hemistiches.

The Shehu composed this work after he had studied the al-Ishriniyyat of Abd’r-Rahman al-Fizazi, the al-Witriyyat of Muhammad ibn Abu Bakr al-Waa`idh as well as other poetic works in praise of the Prophet with his uncle Shaykh Uthman Biddu al-Kabawi.

This famous poem by the SHEHU was written to demonstrate the unique approach which he had developed in the spiritual Path of the Sufis.

The SHEHU emphasized an interpersonal relationship between the seeker and the person and Way of Prophet Muhammad. It is for this reason the SHEHU used the present tense address in praising and describing the virtues of the Prophet, may Allah bless him ad grant him peace.

Shaykh Muhammad Bello ibn Abudullahi said that this qaseeda in praise of the Prophet by the Shehu has immense baraka which can be experienced by the one who is persistent in reciting it. He said that whoever recites the Ishriniyyat or at-Takhmees al-Hija’iyya of the Shehu will encounter existential baraka, attain social respect, and garner lawful wealth. In this takhmees is a formula for warding off the evils of land and sea. In addition it contains an immense secret with regard to garnering the respect and service of people and attracting expansion in the outward.”

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