This article explores the form and content of West African Arabic poetry, with particular reference to Nigeria and Senegal. It analyses several key poetic features of this region of West Africa, with the focus on nineteenth and twentieth century poetry. The historical context is both the period of European colonisation and the pre-colonial period. The article suggests that Arabic poetry was a much older tradition in the region, that it was in no sense challenged by colonial rule, and that strong religious commitment is visible in its content. This study surveys the key influence of Arabian poetry on West African Arabic poetry. It analyses relevant texts and highlights the importance of a number of signi ficant issues relating to this area of study in the research of West African Islamic literature. The study also explores the extent of the intellectual in fluence of Islam. This is evidenced by the irrefutable presence of Arabisation at a time of Islamic penetration, as de fined by the distinctive Islamic character of West African Arabic poetry.