The Autobiography of the late Shaykh Adamo Abdulahi Al Ilory

by Adabanija Kamorudeen


Shaykh Adam Abdullahi Al-Ilory, a native of llorin, was born in 1917 at Waza in Dendi Local Government of the Republic of Benin. His father was an Islamic Scholar, preacher and Imam of Waza in his life time. Shaykh Adam himself was actually born during one of his father’s Dawah activities in the birth place of his mother. At that time, his mother, Aishah, was a princess of the reigning king of the town. Sheikh Adam grew up in Benin Republic and started learning the Quran under his father until about the age of 13 when he returned with his parents to the city of llorin. He also studied under Shaykh Umar in Lagos and later furthered his studies under Sheikh Adam Nam’aji. After which a Kano born Islamic Scholar, he was sufficiently confident of himself and satisfied with his acquired knowledge so far.

In 1946, he travelled to Cairo and submitted himself for examination at Al-Azhar University. The results of the examination proved his confidence right as he passed with credits and was awarded the University’s Certificate in Arabic and Islamic Studies that year. He then travelled to Mecca to perform that year’s Hajji where through interactions with some scholars there, he was adjudged to be a brilliant and talented young scholar.

Shaykh also travelled widely. Apart from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, other countries visited in search of Islamic materials and exposure included Sudan, Senegal and Somalia where he also attended many conferences. Shaykh Al-llory founded Markazu’t-ta limi l-Arabi al-lslami in the year 1952 at Abeokuta, Ogun State. The institution later moved to Agege, Lagos State in 1957. The school was the first organized Arabic School with distinct physical structures of classrooms, hostels, mosques clinic and block of offices for teachers in Yorubaland. The school attracts students from within and outside Nigeria with graduates spread all over, occupying different posts while further spreading the message of Islam.

Shaykh Adam was a prolific writer and a multi-talented scholar. He wrote well over hundred books, journal articles and manuscripts on Islam and other related subjects. A lot of his books have been used as source documents for a number of B.A., long essays, M.A dissertations, Doctoral Thesis and articles in recognized journals. His book, al-lslam fi nijiriya, is one of the most consulted references on the history of Islam in Nigeria by different scholars all over the world. Another book, misbau-d dirasat’l-Adabiyyah fi’d-diyari’n-nijiyyah is a text book for Arabic literature on Nigeria at University of llorin M.A. syllabus for Arabic. Shaykh Adam delivered several lectures within and outside Nigeria during his life time. He led congregations at many international seminars organized by the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria. He was regarded as the first person to present Friday Khutbah in both Arabic and Yoruba. Aside this, he conducted daily tafsir for about four hours in the morning periods of Ramadan and public lectures in the evenings.

Shaykh Adam was a renowned Islamic scholar of international recognition. He was a distinguished Muslim scholar who contributed immensely to the promotion of Islamic Dawah and to the progress of Arabic and Islamic education. Shaykh Adam, a fearless and tireless preacher, founded the League of Imams in the South West and was its Secretary General till he died in 1992.His work while on earth still enjoys continuous relevance and referrals to date. He was the first scholar from llorin to bear Al-llory meaning Son of llorin. In recognition of his contributions to scholarship, the Egyptian government honored him in 1989 with the country’s highest honor. Ọkùnrin Ògún Bàbá gbógbó Alfa.


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