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Umar Tal

(c. 1797—1864)


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(d. 1864)

Islamic militant leader and intellectual. Initiated into the Tijani tariqah and became its most prominent leader in West Africa. After making the pilgrimage to Mecca and studying with the son of Uthman Dan Fodio, he began a jihad in 1852. His conquests created an empire that included much of modern-day Senegal, Guinea, Mali, and Mauritania. He faced local resistance and French imperial expansion in the region. His state collapsed soon after his death. This jihad marked an important phase in the Islamization of West Africa, and his writings influenced Tijani and general Islamic thought at the time.

Subjects: Islam.


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