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Walter Miller and the Isawa: An Experiment in Christian-Muslim Relationships

  • Edward Hulmes (a1)

On 27th August 1952 the following lines appeared in an obituary notice in the London Times.

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page 234 note 1 There is no space here for an account of Miller's life. No critical biography has yet been written. He wrote briefly and selectively about his own life, in Miller, W. R. S., Walter Miller: an Autobiography. Gaskiya Corporation, Zaria, 1952. In this short work Miller admits that he writes more about his friends than himself, ‘ … and this is quite inevitable for I am largely what my friends have made me’, p. 7.

page 234 note 2 Miller completed his translation of the Bible into Hausa in 1931. It was published by the British and Foreign Bible Society in October 1932. His command of Hausa was legendary. Earlier in his career he spent three months in Cairo studying Arabic with Temple Gairdner, but made surprisingly little progress.

page 235 note 3 Miller, W. R. S., Reflections of a Pioneer, CMS, London, 1936, p. 218219.

page 236 note 4 Much of the preparatory work for this and other subjects relating to encounters between Christians and Muslims was done in Nigeria, but in this case I am also indebted to Dr Ian Linden, formerly of Ahmadu Bello University, for sending me details of his own work on the Isawa Mallams. See, for example, his seminar paper, ‘The Isawa Mallams c. 1850–1919: some problems in the Religious History of Northern Nigeria’, Ahmadu Bello University Occasional Paper, 1974.

page 236 note 5 Qur'ān 4.171.

page 236 note 6 Qur'ān 3.45.

page 236 note 7 Reflections of a Pioneer, op. cit. p. 106.

page 237 note 8 E. A. Ayandele corroborates this tradition, and gives the impression that he was able to check the facts on a personal visit to Ningi in April 1961. He cites no other authority. See his The Impact of Christian Missions on Modern Nigeria, London, 1966, page 150. Ian Linden notes that Adell Patton, who worked in Ningi more recently, denies the Isawa link there ‘categorically’ (‘Isawa Mallams c. 1850–1919’, p. 7).

page 238 note 9 Miller, Reflections of a Pioneer, op. cit., page 108. The first reference to the Isawa is in ‘CMS Christian Settlement at Gimi’, in the Kaduna archives file (1914–1929).

page 238 note 10 Arabic qiblah, i.e. turning to face the city of Mecca during public prayer.

page 238 note 11 Miller to Goldsmith, 21st February 1914.

page 239 note 12 Ibid.

page 239 note 13 Miller, Reflections, op. cit., page 110.

page 240 note 14 Lugard, later Lord Lugard, became Governor General of Nigeria. His wife is sometimes credited with coining the name Nigeria for the ‘new’ country.

page 241 note 15 As their Christian motivation increased, and their claim to be Muslim (even in a sectarian sense) was challenged, the lsawacame to be known as ansa (Arabic ansdr, ‘helpers’ of Jesus), cf. Qur'ān 61.14.

page 242 note 16 Reflections, page 114, 116. Miller, has a technical ‘Note on the problem of sleeping sickness’ on pp. 121123.

page 242 note 17 Ibid, p. 116.

page 242 note 18 Miller's, Autobiography, p. 54.

page 244 note 19 Linden, Ian, ‘The Isawa Mallams’, p. 9.

page 245 note 20 Reflections, p. 108.

page 245 note 21 Miller, W. R. S., The Coiners, The Highway Press, London, 1938.

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Scottish Journal of Theology
  • ISSN: 0036-9306
  • EISSN: 1475-3065
  • URL: /core/journals/scottish-journal-of-theology
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