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Great Mosque of Kano, Nigeria


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SHORT HISTORY

The Great Mosque, Kano is one of the major Tourist Attractions in Kano city of Nigeria. The Great Mosque of Kano is a well known mosque in this city. Kano city is the second most populated city in this country. The Great Mosque in Kano city stands apart from all the places of interest set in this city of Kano. This mosque can be seen from above the walls of this place in northern part of this country. A majority of the people in this country are Muslims. Many of the residents who practice Islam live in the northern part of this country. Therefore the majority of the people living in Kano are Muslims and so the Great Mosque, Kano is also an important place of worship here.

The Muslims living here merge the primary practices of this religion with traditional native beliefs of this region. The Great Mosque, Kano has been an important shrine for the followers of Islam. This Great Mosque at Kano has no great similarity in appearance or character or nature to any autochthonal Nigerian architecture

The great mosque was built for Muhammad Rumfa in the 15th century. It was made of mud, and was of thesoro, or tower, variety. It was moved to a new site by Muhammad Zaki in 1582, and rebuilt in the mid 19th century by Abdullahi dan Dabo. It was destroyed in the 1950s, and rebuilt with British sponsorship, in appreciation of the the country's role in Second World War.

Being among the renowned Tourist Attractions in Kano, the Great Mosque in Kano is easily accessible by various modes of Transportation in Kano city. The Great Mosque at Kano can be accessed by both buses and cars from various parts of this city of Kano. The prices charged to this place in the city of Kano in Nigeria is also quite quite reasonable.

 

NOTE

There is very little documentation of the original Great Mosque of Kano, which was destroyed in the 1950s, though it was said to have been the most impressive in West Africa. The mosque was probably predated by a low-profile rectangular mosque sanctuary built in the fourteenth century. The subsequent great mosque is attributed to a collaboration between Sarkin Muhammed Rumfa (c. 1463-1499) and the Egyptian Cabd al-Rahman. It was the first mud mosque of the soro, or tower, type in Nigeria. 

By the late fifteenth century, there was a high frequency of commercial and religious contact between the Songhay in present day Mali and the Hausa states of northern Nigeria and the Maghreb. According to the Kano Chronicle, Cabd al-Rahman came to Kano from Egypt to confirm Islam's hegemony and build a friday mosque with a minaret, in lieu of the sacred tree which rose above the modest pre-extant mosque. 

However, upon its construction, the minaret-like tower took on the functions of a mosque, and minarets did not establish a foothold in local design until the period of revived orthodoxy during the West African jihad. The tower, which borrowed terms from the Maghribi and Songhay words for minaret or tower, is described as a sawma' (from the Maghribi) or a sumiya (from the Songhay). What distinguished the Great Mosque of Kano from either of these regional types however is the singular monolithic tower, without external division such as the steps or ramps that mark the Songhay Tomb of Askia, which is said to resemble a southern Algerian shrine. Instead, dum boards, used for re-enforcement, create an internal staircase. The tips of these boards do not project from the exterior as do the toron of Songhay architecture. 

The Great Mosque of Kano is said to have been shifted to a new site in 1582 by Muhammed Zaki, and rebuilt yet again due to disrepair sometime between 1855 and 1883 by Sarkin Kano Abdullahi dan Dabo. This mosque, the one that was lauded and remarked as impressive, was perhaps not structurally different from the first mosque built by Sarkin Rumfa. Its 20 meter tall tower was surmounted with pinnacled buttresses and surrounded by a high wall. After its destruction in the 1950s, the British Government sponsored the building of a new mosque in gratitude of the Nigerian role in WWII. This new central mosque has no outstanding similitude to any indigenous Nigerian architecture. 


Sources: 

Carroll, Kevin. 1992. Architectures of Nigeria: architectures of the Hausa and Yourba peoples and of the many peoples between tradition and modernization. London: published for the Society of African Missions by Ethnographica, Ltd. In association with Lester Crook Academic Publishing. 

Doi, Abdur Rahman. 1984. Islam in Nigeria. Zaria: Gaskiya Corp, 189. 

Leary, A.H. 1966. The Development of Islamic Architecture in the Western Sudan. MA in African Studies dissertation. University of Birmingham, 44-45. 

Saad, Hamman Tukur. 1981. Between myth and reality: the aesthetics of traditional architecture in Hausaland. Ann Arbor: University Microfilms International, 233.

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