Biography of Sheikh Hattab Bojang, Part 1
Culled from “The Life Story of Sheikh Hattab Through the Lens of His Acquaintances” by Sheikh Sulayman Danjo”
Translated by Basidia Drammeh and Abdullah Samateh
His birth and upbringing
In 1931 Mr. Fasano Bojang was blessed with a male child whom he named Hattab Bojang. Mr. Fasano was a wealthy merchant, a devoutly religious man, and a keen admirer of knowledge. Sheikh Hattab spent the first nine years of his childhood with his father, during which the father appreciated Sheikh Hattab’s real genius. Mr. Fasano Bojang nurtured his son, preparing him to be the seed that he would plant in Mauritania’s desert to flourish in an environment of knowledge and scholars. Indeed, Sheikh Hattab drank deeply from an ocean of knowledge, becoming an accomplished and widely respected scholar whose knowledge spread across the world, and has been handed down from generation to generation.
His journey to Mauritania:
In Mauritania, Sheikh Hattab Bojang lived in one of the Boutilimit valleys called ‘Ajfal Mahal’ for around eight years. During this period, he memorized the Holy Qur’an, beginning his studies under the Qur’an memorization expert and reciter, Sheikh Ahmed Hamdi Mawloud Al-Shanqeeti, while he was no more than 14. After completing his Qur’an memorization studies between 1937 and 1945 AD, Sheikh Hattab returned to the city of Boutilimit, where he learnt the ten modes of recitation studying under another expert reciter, Sheikh Muhammad Ould Ahmed Al-Shanqeeti. He then remained in Boutilimit, studying religious knowledge and revising the Holy Qur’an alone and sometimes with guidance from his sheikh. His teachers and mentors were deeply impressed with his unique talent.
In 1956 AD, Sheikh Hattab Bojang was awarded his ijaza or ‘teaching license’ in recitation modes. Sheikh Hattab Bojang used to combine formal and traditional methods of learning in the institutes where he memorized the Holy Qur’an with its modes of recitation, achieving native-level fluency in Arabic, and mastering the Maliki jurisprudential system. He used to graze camels and sheep for his sheikh on vacation days in the village of ‘Ajfal Mahal’ (may Allah have mercy on them) – an opportunity he used fruitfully to memorize various texts and studying the Holy Qur’an and other subjects.
After completing his studies in Boutilimit Islamic Institute in 1960, Sheikh Hattab was finally granted permission by Sheikh Abdullah Ould Sheikh Sidiya to return to The Gambia, having spent almost twenty-three years of his life between the corridors of the ‘traditional school’ of Boutilimit and the Boutilimit Islamic Institute.
To be continued