Prof. Mohammad Ibrahim Abu Saleem: Pioneer Of The Culture Of Documentation

Prof. Mohammad Ibrahim Abu Saleem: Pioneer Of The Culture Of Documentation

By: Rogia al-Shafee


KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Prof. Mohammad Ibrahim Abu Saleem is an international historian and documentarian, widely known as the scholar who Sudanized the prestigious National Records Office at the departure of the Britons from Sudan. Contrary to expectations at that time, Abu Saleem managed to advance and organize the office in terms of document arrangement, tabulation and preservation. He also managed to associate the office with international documentation bureaus.

Prof. Abu Saleem is also attributed to have disseminated the documentation culture and to have documented the Sudanese memoirs for his generations and for the coming generations.

According to his website, historian Abu Saleem was born in the village of Serkamto in the then Northern Province in 1927. He finished his elementary and intermediate education in the towns of Abri and Wadi Halfa of the same Northern Province, respectively, and then finished his secondary education in Wadi Sayyidna, North of Khartoum.

He then graduated from the University of Khartoum in 1955 with a BA in history and documentation. Immediately after graduation he joined a small office assigned to keep documents in the Ministry of the Interior. In 1966 he obtained his doctorate degree in the philosophy of history from the University of Khartoum.

Former Prime Minister, Sadiq al Mahadi related that British scholar Peter Holt who was in charge of the post subsequently sudanized by Professor Abu Saleem, was a great admirer of his disciple. According to Mahdi, Holt described Mohamed Abu Saleem as an industrious researcher. Holt argued that he couldn’t find any one personifying the German thoroughness than Abu Saleem.

 Sadiq al Mahadi

Mahdi said the man was able to extract precious information from the Fur and Funj documentation and was able to write the history of many a place and personality leaving behind for the Sudanese people a valuable historical library that delineates the Sudanese civilization. He will go into history as one of the most important scholar who have undusted this civilization.  

Emeritus Professor at the Missouri University in Colombia Abdalla Ali Ibrahim says “Abu Sleem is a thinker, historian and academic who coupled these specializations with interests in novel, journalism and theatre.”

For her part, Archeology Professor, Minister of Higher Education Entisar Seghayroon said: I take leave from the grandeur of Abu Saleem, all his knowledge and gorgeousness to say very little about what I know about archeology and its bonds with documentation.

Abdalla Ali Ibrahim

The document is an important part and source in the study of artifacts.

Abu Saleem’s interest in written documents had lead him to collect a vast sum of information about material culture. He spoke about the Persian wheel he lived near to in his home village as a child. Then he delved into the tools of government, namely the kakar (the monarch’s chair) and the monarch’s scepter and swords. He also did not forget the land, its documents and its stamps. After these studies of Abu Saleem we became able to discern the clear differences in the inscription of documents and the use of different stamps and who was authorized to own a stamp in the Funj and Fur sultanates.

Entisar Seghayroon

Prof. Abu Saleem has presented an elaborate study about the dufoofas archeological site, their stone and their clay buildings, the existence of one or more towers in the Sukoat and Mahas districts.

Abu Saleem had transcended Arabic documents to the documents of Sudanese languages, starting with the Nubian language as revealed in the documents found in the Ebreem Palace. I was also witness when Professor Ali Osman Mohammad Salih handed Abu Saleem all books of his personal library on the Nubian studies to be part of his (Abu Saleem’s) Center.

It was when he accompanied us to the town of Karima in 2000 to attend the tourism conference that we noticed how human and fatherly he was. He noticed our shyness before his great person and approached us with all humility that we eventually felt that we knew him for a long time.

Prof Abu Saleem had written or developed a lot of books (in Arabic and English) on history, heritage, sociology, literature, archives and documentation that include:

-The Intellectual Movement in the Mahdiyya State

-The Funj and the Land

-The Fur and the Land

-Land in the Mahdiyya State

-Khartoum History

-The Sudanese Personality

-Historians, Poets and Men of Letters from Sudan

-Researches in the History of Sudan

-Tools of Government in Sudan

-The poetry collection: Horizon and Twilight.

-The poetry collection “Ibn Omar”.

-The Sagya (Persian Wheel)

-The Date Palms (development)

-Lights on the Khatmiyya sect

-Allah’s easy pathway (development)

-History of Sudan, By Naoam Shgair (development)

-History of the Sinai Desert (development)

-Memoirs of Othman Digna

-Poet Alabbadi

-Alhusein Alzahra

-The complete artifacts of the Mahdi (three volumes).


Prof. Abu Saleem’s Scholarly, Academic and Professional Activities:

-board and committee member of several universities

- member, committee of the history of the Arab nation

-chaired several national committees, foremost the committee assigned to draw out Sudan’s provinces

-visiting professor, University of Khartoum 1967

-professor of documentary science and archives, Omdurman Islamic University (1975-1981)

-visiting professor, history department, Bergin University, Norway (1989-1994)

-fellow at professor’s status, Alnelain University (1995-1996)

-lecturer of archives and documents, school of information, Rabat, Morocco 

-lecturer, the jihad heritage institute (Libya)

-UNESCO accredited expert in archives

-wide activity in the international council for archives and its specialized committees

-took part and supervised tens of university theses at the diploma, MA and doctorate levels

-prepared university lecturers’ evaluation memos

-prepared several reports for the government of Sudan in different domains, foremost tribal disputes and border problems

-chaired the Sudanese History Society

-member of the general secretariat of Arab historians

 -member, the Sudanese National Council for Arts

-an authority on the history of the Mahdiyya State (1983-1900)

-developed several literary books, a matter that rendered him the pioneer of book development in Sudan

-launched the Abu Saleem archive studies center

-a founder, chairman, general secretary for several sessions of the Arab regional branch of the international council for archives.

-took part in several sessions of the international council of archives

-elected deputy chairman of this council

-obtained the honorary membership of this council

-took part in several UNSECO conferences and committees

-took part in the regional circle for central, east and southern African regions of the international council for archives and elected member in this circle

- Recipient of State Medal of Merit, Government of Sudan

-recipient (1980) of the Golden Medal of Sciences and Arts,

-recipient Silver medal of Local Government.


The late Professor Abu Saleem died on 7 February 2005.




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