ʿUmar Tall

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Mural by ʿUmar Tall in Dakar

Umar ibn Sa'id al-Futi Tall , also called al-Hajj Umar , (*  1797 in the Fouta Toro , †  1864 in the Bandiagara Escarpment ) was a Sufi of Tijaniyyah -Ordens, general and an African empire builders. He is considered to be the second most important sheikh of the Tijānīya after the founder Ahmad at-Tijānī . After the European colonization had already started, ʿUmar Tall was the last African founder of an empire.


ʿUmar Tall came from the Tukulor people , a sub-tribe of the Fulbe in Senegal . After a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1820, he began to work as a preacher, but without having any particular success. During this time, however, he became an advisor to several West African rulers. In 1845 he wrote his Arabic work "Spears of the Divine Party against the Throats of the Devil's Party " in Jegunko in the Futa Jalon ( Rimāḥ ḥizb ar-Raḥīm ʿalā nuḥūr ḥizb ar-raǧīm ), a manual for carrying out religious exercises. With this work and a number of smaller tracts he had a great influence on the thinking of many intellectuals in West Africa.

The Tukulor Empire founded by ʿUmar Tall around 1864

In 1850 El Hadj had the fortress Dinguiraye built in the headwaters of the Niger . There he also housed his wives and numerous concubines. A year later he began a jihad in Futa Toro, which later took him to what is now Mali , where he conquered several smaller Muslim and pagan territories and established an empire. In 1855 ʿUmar had the "Christian" merchandise confiscated by Muslim traders from Saint-Louis . He warned against loyalty ( muwālāt ) to Christians in scriptures .

As early as 1854 there was the first fighting with French colonial troops. El Hadj 'troops, lacking artillery, suffered several defeats. In 1857 his troops were defeated by the French governor Louis Faidherbe . After that El Hadj avoided further fighting with the French in Senegal and turned east. In 1861 he took Segu , the capital of Bambara , and moved his harem there. However, in 1864 he was severely beaten by the Bambara and murdered shortly afterwards.

The Umarians after his death

After ʿUmar's death, his son Amadu Shechu succeeded him on the throne. He ruled from Ségou and installed brothers in Nioro du Sahel and Dinguiraye as governors. Fights with these governors took much of his attention. His brother Agibu, who ruled Dinguiraye, accepted a French protectorate in 1887 and the establishment of a French garrison in 1891.

Amadu Schechu, on the other hand, stuck to his anti-French course, but in 1890 and 1891 the French commander Louis Archinard captured his two cities of Ségou and Nioro and drove the ʿUmarians who had immigrated from the Fouta Toro out of Kaarta . Bandiagara , the last fortress of Ahmadu Schechu fell in 1893. While Archinard Agibu was enthroned as the new "King of Massina ", Amadu and his followers performed the hijra in the areas near Niamey that were still under Muslim rule . Some returned to Bandiagara in 1894/95 and came to terms with the French colonial power, others emigrated to Hausaland in 1897 . Amadu died that same year near Sokoto , the capital of the still independent Sokoto Caliphate , near his mother's home.

The French gave their ally Agibu little autonomy, and in 1902 he was downgraded to a simple head of Bandiagara. Alfa Haschimi (approx. 1866–1939), a cousin of Amadu Schechu, became the most important leader of the Umarians after the turn of the century. After the British occupation of Hausaland in 1904/05, he emigrated to Medina . His dormitory there became an important point of contact for West African pilgrims.

Other important leaders of the ʿUmarians at the turn of the century were Muntagu Amadu, a son of Amadu Schechu, who had joined Samory Touré after the fall of Ségou in 1890 and returned to Ségou in 1905, and Murtada Tall, a son of ʿUmar Tall, who lived in Nioro du Sahel for a long time lived, and was allowed to return there in 1906. He made the pilgrimage to Mecca in 1910/11 with French consent and helped the French recruit soldiers during the First World War. Among the umarian returnees in Fouta Toro, the leading figure was the legal scholar Amadu Muchtār Sacho (1860s-1934), who was appointed Qādī of the new tribunal noir by Xavier Coppolani in 1905 . He developed close relationships with Henry Gaden (1867-1939), who later became governor-general of Mauritania .

Seydou Nourou Tall, a grandson of ʿUmar Tall, entered the service of the French colonial government in the 1930s and traveled on their behalf through the various areas of French West Africa to promote French colonial policy among the population. During the Second World War he worked intensively with the Vichy regime .


  • Bicentenaire de la naissance du cheikh El Hadj Oumar al-Futi Tall, 1797–1998: colloque international, 14-19 December 1998, Dakar - Sénégal, Actes du colloque . 2 vols. Maʿhad ad-Dirāsāt al-Ifrīqīya, Rabat, 2001.
  • Jamil Abun-Nasr: Art. "ʿUmar ibn Saʿīd al-Fūtī" in The Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition Vol. X, pp. 825b-826b.
  • Samba Dieng, L'épopée d'Elhadj Omar. Approche littéraire et historique, Dakar, Université de Dakar, 1984, 2 t., TI, 1-299, t.II, pp. 300-606. (Thèse de 3e cycle)
  • Elikia M'Bokolo, Afrique Noire, Histoire et civilizations, Paris, Hatier-AUF, 2004 (2nd edition ), ISBN 2-218-75050-3 .
  • M. Puech, Le livre des Lances (Rimàh) d'El Hadji Omar (1845), Dakar, Université de Dakar, 1967, (Diplôme d'Études Supérieures)
  • David Robinson: The Holy war of Umar Tal: the Western Sudan in the mid-nineteenth century . Clarendon Pr., Oxford, 1985.
  • David Robinson: "Between Hashimi and Agibu. The Umarian Tijâniyya in the Early Colonial Period" in Jean-Louis Triaud, David Robinson (ed.): La Tijâniyya. Une confrérie musulmane à la conquète de l'Afrique . Éditions Karthala, Paris, 2000. pp. 101-124.
  • David Robinson: Paths of accommodation: Muslim societies and French colonial authorities in Senegal and Mauritania, 1880–1920 . Ohio University Press, Athens, Ohio 2000. pp. 143-160.

supporting documents

  1. See Jean-Louis Triaud: "Khalwa and the Career of Sainthood. An Interpretative Essay" in Donal B. Cruise O'Brien and Christian Coulon (ed): Charisma and Brotherhood in African Islam. Oxford 1988, pp. 53-66.
  2. See Robinson: "Between Hashimi and Agibu." 2000, p. 102.
  3. See Robinson: Paths of accommodation . 2000, p. 148.
  4. See Robinson: Paths of accommodation . 2000, p. 120.
  5. See Robinson: Paths of accommodation . 2000, p. 145.
  6. See Robinson: Paths of accommodation . 2000, p. 149.
  7. See Robinson: Paths of accommodation . 2000, pp. 147, 151.
  8. See Robinson: Paths of accommodation . 2000, p. 152.
  9. See Robinson: Paths of accommodation . 2000, p. 157.
  10. See Robinson: Paths of accommodation . 2000, p. 152.
  11. See Robinson: Paths of accommodation . 2000, p. 147.
  12. See Robinson: Paths of accommodation . 2000, pp. 145f.
  13. See Robinson: Paths of accommodation . 2000, p. 152.
  14. See Robinson: Paths of accommodation . 2000, p. 150.
  15. See Robinson: Paths of accommodation . 2000, p. 151.
  16. See Robinson: Paths of accommodation . 2000, pp. 154f.
  17. See Robinson: Paths of accommodation . 2000, pp. 155f.
  18. See Robinson: Paths of accommodation . 2000, p. 158.
  19. Cf. Ruth Ginio: French Colonialism Unmasked: The Vichy Years in French West Africa . Univ. of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 2006. p. 207.