Quranic schools popularly known as Ile Kewu are traditional Islamic schools in Nigeria where children learn the Qur’an and other Islamic teachings. These schools are often set up in the rural areas, and students usually live with their teachers during their studies. The teachers, or mallams, are usually respected Islamic scholars who have devoted their lives to teaching and spreading the message of Islam.
Morkas is a well-known Quranic School across the country. This Institute of Arabic and Islamic Training Centre, was founded in 1952 in the city of Abeokuta, Nigeria. Its founder, late SHEIKH ADAM ABDULLAHI AL-ILORY, relocated it to its current location in Agege, Lagos in 1954. Since then Morkas has remained a prominent and well-respected institution for over six decades, continuing its founder’s legacy.
The founder, Sheikh Adam Abdullahi Al-Ilory, established this Arabic institution for the purpose of promoting Islamic education and values. The name Morkas is now synonymous with excellence in Islamic learning, and the institute has become a well-known and respected institution within the Muslim community.
While the Islamic Primary School in Ilorin was the first Arabic school in Nigeria which was founded in 1859, Morkas is still considered by many to be the first choice for Arabic education. Parents looking for the best Arabic and Islamic education for their children know that Morkas is the place to be. With a stellar reputation for excellence, Morkas is the gold standard for Islamic education in the country. Parents who send their children to Morkas know that they are getting the very best.
Its reputation has stood the test of time. For decades, this institution has produced some of the most respected clerics and scholars in the country. It is a place where knowledge is valued, and its students are given the tools they need to succeed in life. The institution’s legacy is one of excellence, and it continues to be a source of pride for the country.
In a bid to inquire more reasons why the Arabic school is so popular and how it has contributed to Islamic education as well as training numerous scholars, we had a brief chat with a few scholars who are graduates of Morkas or had benefited in one way or the other from Morcas. Below are what they said.
In a chat with Ustadh Abdul Hakeem Salisu who studied under the esteemed Ustadh of Daruh Daawat, Shehu Mustapha Jubril Sanusi, an alumnus scholar of Morcas has this to say:
I was fortunate to be educated in Arabic and Islamic teachings by the students of Sheikh Adam Abdullahi, who are some of the most prominent scholars in Nigeria. In particular, I studied under the esteemed Ustadh of Daruh Daawat, Shehu Mustapha Jubril Sanusi.
On why Morkas is the most preferred Arabic School in Lagos and Southwestern part of country, he said:
“Morkas Arabic School is so highly regarded and unique because it was the first institution to bring advanced teaching methods and facilities to Arabic and Islamic education in Nigeria. Morkas Arabic School stands out because its curriculum is designed for efficient and effective learning. Students are able to achieve impressive results within a short time frame, compared to other Arabic schools, which can take years to impart the same level of knowledge. This is why many of the leading Islamic scholars in Nigeria today are either direct alumni of Morkas or have been influenced by its methods and approach. In this way, Morkas has had a significant impact on the development of Islamic scholarship in Nigeria.
He also revealed that as a result of the many successes recorded at the Agege based Arabic school, many of those trained in Morkas have set up their own Arabic schools and named it Morkas.
“There are many other schools in Nigeria that bear the Markas name, though they are not direct branches of the Abeokuta school. Rather, these schools were founded by graduates of Markas, who have been influenced by its teaching methods and philosophy. These schools carry on the tradition of Markas, but are not direct branches of the original school. It is important to make this distinction when discussing the influence of Markas on Islamic scholarship in Nigeria.
During my chat with another Islamic scholar whose name is Ustadh Abdul-Qadri Zakariyah spoke at length about the founder of Morcas,
Late Sheikh Abdullahi Adam Al-Ilory with emphasis on his formative years. He revealed that:
“Sheikh Adam Abdullahi was born in Waasa, a town in the Ilorin region of Nigeria, in 1917. He was born into a Muslim family and began his studies at a young age, under the guidance of local Islamic scholars. Waasa was a key center of Islamic learning at the time, and Abdullahi received a strong foundation in Islamic thought and scholarship there.
“Sheikh Abdullahi Adam was strongly influenced by the intellectual traditions of his father, who was an Islamic scholar in Ilorin. He continued his studies in Ilorin, and in 1929, he moved with his father to Ibadan, where he had the opportunity to study under a variety of Islamic scholars. He also travelled to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan, where he gained even more knowledge and experience in Islamic thought and scholarship. Upon returning to Nigeria, he was well prepared to become a teacher in Arabic and Islamic teachings.
He went further to give insight on why the late Sheikh Adam relocated his Arabic school from Ogun State to Agege in Lagos State.
“In 1952, Sheikh Abdullahi Adam established Morkas in Abeokuta, where he remained for three years. During this time, he realized that the progress he envisioned for Morkas would not be possible in Abeokuta. The reason for this was twofold: First, Nigeria’s independence was approaching, and Lagos was set to become the capital of the country. This meant that embassies from Arab nations would be established there, which would provide Sheikh Abdullahi with valuable connections. Also Lagos was more populous than Abeokuta.
On the Al-Ilori which was the nickname of the great scholar, Ustadh Zakariyah has this to say:
“The Al-Ilori title, which means “the one from Ilorin,” was given to Sheikh Abdullahi because he was born in Ilorin, a city in Nigeria with a strong Islamic tradition. Many Islamic scholars in Nigeria bear the name of the town or village in which they were born, as it signifies the importance of their place of origin and the cultural heritage they carry. By retaining the name of his hometown, Sheikh Abdullahi honours his roots.
I also spoke to a renowned scholar whose name is Muhammad Salaudeen. He studied at Daruh Daawat Al- isat in Lagos from 1995 to 2001. He has this to say on why Markas Arabic Schools is more popular than every other Arabic school. He said:
“People choose to enrol their children at Markas Arabic School for a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons is the certificate issued by the school, which is internationally recognized and highly respected in Islamic countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. This allows students to further their studies in these countries if they choose to do so. Additionally, the high quality of education provided by Markas and its excellent reputation are also major factors in its popularity.”
“The thing is there is hardly any Arabic and Islamic teaching institution that is close to the standard of Markas. Saudi Arabia takes responsibility in the sponsorship of students to engage them in teaching practice in other Arab countries. Before the demise of Baba (Sheik Abdullahi Adam) he usually travelled to represent the Nigeria Muslim board international ground. In fact the school is looking to establish its own university.President Buhari’s support was crucial in gaining government authorization for the proposed Markas university. Likewise the then Governor of Ogun State promised acres of land to assist the project.
Lastly, I engaged one of the late Shiekh Adam’s students who graduated from Morcas Arabic School in the 80s. His name is Alhaji Kehinde. He spoke about the many alumni of Morcas who are now known scholars. Meanwhile, he mentioned a few of them.
“Markas has produced many well-educated graduates over the years. These graduates have become influential scholars all over the world. It was purely Arabic language and in fact in my set we a non-native speakers like Igbo student named Taofiq. Markas has a proven track record of producing knowledgeable graduates. People like: Shehu Abdul wahab Gamowiy is a prominent Islamic scholar and writer based in Oyo State, Nigeria. Baba Assalam Ramadan is a popular Islamic scholar and preacher based in Lagos, Nigeria, Alfa Sulaimon Onikijipa is a leading Islamic scholar and cleric based in Ibadan, Nigeria. These individuals are all highly respected and influential figures in Nigeria’s Islamic community.
He spoke a bit about his experience when he was a student at Morcas and how scholars from Arab countries visited Morcas in Agege to meet its founder. He also revealed how they give scholarships to students to further their Arabic studies abroad.
“Before I graduated in 1986, Baba (Sheik Abdullahi Adam) was still alive and welcoming visitors from Kuwait and other Arab countries. These visitors would often stay with Baba and offer scholarships to deserving students. During this time, Baba enjoyed a high level of respect in these countries and was warmly welcomed wherever he went. However, it is unclear whether these scholarships still exist since Baba’s passing in 1992.
-Abdulazeez Adeola M.