A Hausa poem from northern Nigeria. This is an Islamic poem, composed in writing but intended for public performance. The prospect of the day of resurrection is a warning to all who do evil.
Know you that tyranny will be darkness on the Day of Resurrection,
It is the word of the Messenger of God, Muhammed:
Spread out justice as a carpet in east and west,
South and north, all over, for the community of Muhammed:
Where are bodyguards and harem messengers and concubines,
And the women of the palace? Come, listen to what will benefit you;
So you too cavalry soldiers! and you musketeers! all
You footmen listen, that you may obtain benefit!
Grooms, too, and shield-bearers! All!
And you, the King’s courtiers, stop going around the town
Confiscating the people’s property with unlawful acts,
Riding around on horses in order to peer into the compounds!
And you, too, you peasants, poverty-stricken ones, keep listening,
Courtiers belong to Kings, but the peasant belongs to our Lord God!
from A History of Islamic Verse (1975),
(extract) trans M. Hiskett
School of African & Oriental Studies
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