Yahya Bin ?Abdallah Ramiya (1856–1931)

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Yahya bin ˓Abdallah Ramiya was born named Mundu, in eastern Congo, in 1856. He became a house slave of Shaykh ˓Amr bin Sulayman al-Lemki (d. 1901) at the age of eight, embraced Islam, and became a successful merchant, plantation owner, Sufi shaykh, and colonial administrator. Owing to the endogamous nature of the ˓Ibadi sect to which Ramiya's master adhered, he became a Sunni. His religious studies began at the age of thirty, and he completed the Qur˒an under Sharif ˓Abdallah bin ˓Alawi al-Jamal al-Layl around 1889. He continued studying jurisprudence (fiqh), mysticism (tasawwuf), exegesis (tafsir), theology (tawhid), and logic (mantiq) under Shaykh Abu Bakr bin Taha al-Jabri, matriculating around 1900.

In 1911, Shaykh Ramiya received an Ijaza (certificate of instruction) from Shaykh Muhammad bin Husayn al-Lughani, became a khalifa of the Qadiriyya Sufi order, and was selected the shaykh of Bagamoyo after the death in 1910 of his master, Shaykh Muhammad Ma˓aruf bin Shaykh Ahmad bin Abu Bakr. Shaykh Ramiya established the Maulid in Bagamoyo, to celebrate the Prophet's birthday. This ritual became the most popular Muslim celebration on mainland Tanganyika during the colonial period, equaled by that held at the Riyadha Mosque in Lamu. In 1916, he was appointed Liwali (district governor) of Bagamoyo, making this former slave an influential personality throughout East Africa. He died on May 1931 and was succeeded both materially and spiritually by his son, Shaykh Muhammad Ramiya.

See alsoAfrica, Islam in ; Tariqa .


Cruise O'Brien, Donal Brian, ed. Charisma and Brotherhood inAfrican Islam. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988.

Nimtz August, H. Islam and Politics in East Africa: the SufiOrder in Tanzania. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1980.

Hassan Mwakimako