Advice to the Friend
This book is concerned with earning a living, business and, to some extent, the purpose of economics. It uncovers the hypocrisy of those Muslims who sit at home and do nothing to provide for themselves and family, who use the excuse of sufi ‘asceticism’ to justify divorcing themselves from being in the middle of active change and development of themselves, their families and society. Fortunately, the author of this book was a staunch Sufi and member of the famous Qaadiriyya, Khalwatiyya and Shadhiliyya brotherhoods, but unlike the corrupt ‘mystics’ of these times, he was thoroughly aware of the responsibility to family and society.
The asceticism of Sultan Muhammad Bello included not taking funds from the public treasury, even though he was the ruler of an empire, which included the wealth of more than fifty city-states. He only consumed what he earned from the labor of his hands. It is reported that he made grass mats and went and sold them in the markets alongside his subjects. This was a time when the so-called founding fathers of America had African slaves laboring without pay to enrich them and make that nation one of the richest nations of the world.
One of the reasons that this text is so important is that it contextualizes the reason that Islam spread so rapidly in the Bilad’s-Sudan. The spread of Islamic civilization in Black Africa was the by product of the global economic networks which was a part of the famous Silk Road which brought manufactured goods, textiles, spices, precious minerals throughout the world. The spread of Islam among Africans was tied to international commerce. Initially, this is how Islam began to successfully compete with indigenous African belief systems. The spread of Islam by the sword in Africa, is a European myth an urban legend utilized (as Chiekh Anta Diop pointed out in his Pre-Colonial Black Africa) for the sociological purposes of the European colonizers. Today, the daa`ee (caller to Allah and Islam) must resurrect the global economic networks in order to desseminate Islam again. Just as Islam spread throughout Africa through global commerce, the resurgence of Islam in Africa and among its Africa Diasporan populations in the US, the Carribean, Central and South America should be at the hands of vibrant global trading networks.