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Hijab: Open letter to Lagos governor, Akinwunmi Ambode,

By Mutiat Orolu-Balogun

We write to draw your attention to the continuous harassment of Muslim girls in many secondary schools across Lagos State. As Your Excellency has shown commitment to uphold the human right of every Lagosian and, indeed, every Nigerian as guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

The Court of Appeal in a Judgment delivered by a full Constitutional Panel (coram A. B Gumel, M Fasanmi, A. Jauro, J. S Ikeygh, and C .I. Jumbo- Ofo, JJCA) in the Lagos Division of the Court on 21st July, 2016 upheld unequivocally, absolutely and without qualifications, declared the rights of willing Muslim female students in secondary schools to use the Hijab on their School Uniform and forbade the victimization and abuse of children due the use of the Hijab, and perpetually restrained the officials of the State from further discrimination based on the use of the Hijab.

It is disturbing that this ABUSE, STIGMATIZATION, VICTIMATION and, in many cases, the PUNISHMENT of our children who choose to live within their God-given and Constitutional rights happen daily in schools across Lagos State. Even sometimes, extending to higher institutions. This harassment is usually carried out by teachers, Principals, Inspectors and in some cases Tutor-Generals; who are meant to stand in Loco Parentis for our children.

To reiterate our point, we will mention a few cases: In September 2017, a student of Jakande Estate Comprehensive College, Abesan, Lagos was slapped and punished by one Mrs. Toke Olatunji and another Mrs Ola Olohun; her Government and English Teachers because she wore her Hijab with her school uniform.

On Friday, 22nd September, 2017, Mrs O. O. Dada, a.k.a. ‘Aya Dada’; the Yoruba Teacher, who is notorious for calling the Hijab ‘Akisa’ (rags in the Yoruba language), met two students on their way home after the Friday prayers outside the school, asked them to remove their Hijab and dropped them in the gutter! She also slapped one of them for failing to comply with her instruction.

On the 15th of November, 2017, in Ilogbo High school, Otto Awori, Ijaniki Lagos, Mrs Onkwocha; Mrs Oladipupo-George  and Mrs Akinbolade, with impunity, went round the school to remove Hijab from students whom, prior to this time have been peacefully wearing their Hijabs.

Ogunyemi; wife to Honourable Ogunyemi; Chairman, House Committee on Education, Lagos State House of Assembly who was hitherto a class teacher and recently moved to the Inspectorate, has turned herself into a self-acclaimed Task Force who goes around classes to personally remove Hijab from students anytime she comes around for inspection in any of the schools and, specifically, giving instruction to teachers to do the same. She does this with the brazen audacity that her husband is in charge and no law can challenge her authority.

Adewunmi, a Primary Six teacher at Sabo-Oniba Nursery and Primary School 2, Ajangbadi-Sabo, Ojo Lagos has also made it a duty to remove and flog any child wearing the Hijab.

Some Teachers and Principals of the following Lagos State Secondary Schools: Iba Housing Estate School, Iba, Lagos; Jakande Estate Comprehesive College Abesan, Lagos; Kadara Grammar School, Ebute-Meta, Lagos and St. George Primary School, Epe, Lagos, to mention a few, have equally taken the Laws into their hands by beating, harassing and humiliating female students who wear the Hijab in compliance with their religious Faith and in compliance with the Judgment of the Court.

There are several other cases which time and space will not permit to be cited here. It is no doubt that while this Government is working hard to make Lagos State a Mega City; where peace, unity, mutual trust and respect thrives, the harassment and victimization of a section of society; especially children, is antithetical to this Vision. The narrative that: ‘If you want your children in Hijab, let them attend Muslim schools.’ does us all no good; it only breeds a more fractured and segmented society.

It becomes more disturbing with the uncontested fact that the Muslims in Lagos are the bulk of the taxpayers, have the highest number of votes at elections, yet there will be attempts by officials of the State to deny them their right to attend Government schools.

The education of the Girl-child is paramount in our hearts. To tell a Muslim girl to choose between her Faith and education should not even be a question she has to answer. Never! She definitely has a right to both as they are not mutually exclusive rights!

We at Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative volunteer to assist in educating and sensitizing everyone in this regard, as well as help to design  School Uniforms and Sports Wears that will incorporate the use of the Hijab, as expected of any Muslim female who has attained the age of puberty and chooses to if need be.

We ask you to look into this matter urgently and, for the avoidance of doubt, restate your Government’s commitment to the Rule of Law by addressing this issue as quickly as possible in favour of Human Rights and the Girl-child.

Mutiat Orolu-Balogun is Executive Director of Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative

My companion and I

By Waseelah Kabiawu

I have this friend who has been amazing and loving, she’s a Christian but she’s been one of those few that have realised the fact that there’s more beneath the Hijab. She saw the real me and decided difference in religion wasn’t a problem so she stuck with me.

During school days, we stayed together for a while. Tokunbo will run to the door to quickly block whoever was approaching so I could quickly cover up in case it was a man (even if the door was locked). One time she left the door open and a female neighbor entered my room without knocking. Tokunbo kept on apologising for the fact that it could have been a man that entered and also because I wasn’t really comfortable with the nature of the person that barged in. I smiled and told her it was OK. Yes she’s that amazing and understanding.

So she once asked me if I would even remember my hijab in a case of emergency, perhaps fire or something. She said she was sure I would run for my life without remembering my hijab. Honestly, I didn’t know if I would remember my hijab. I imagined such happening but I wasn’t sure if my hijab will be the next thing on my mind when I actually have to dash out from danger. Something then happened which answered her question and even my own uncertainty.

One night, I saw a thin and not so long thing crawling near me, although our eyes were focused on the laptop, I could sense there was something beside me. I told myself it was the laptop charger, but sincerely I knew it wasn’t. So I decided to turn and confirm what I thought it was. I was right, It was a snake!

“Tokunbo, Tokunbo! snake!”. I called her attention to it.
“Snake? Ah, are you serious. Ah Ayam dead” Tokunbo said.
I was like “wait, just calm down”.

What do we do next? we wondered, killing it wasn’t an option then we decided to run outside and by Allah the next thing I did was to look for my jilbab. With my hands shivering I wore it and then we both dashed out screaming. (I can’t forget that night).

We ran pass some guys and they were like “come back, what happened.” So they followed us to look for the snake but it had also run away when we screamed. We saw it run but we didn’t see it leave the room. They didn’t find it and for that reason we couldn’t sleep in the room for that night.

Later on I told Tokunbo that she got the answer to her question “will you even remember your hijab when something happens?”

During NYSC camp, one midnight almost all the girls in my hostel suddenly started running. I woke up to the sound of feet stamping so heavily on the ground as though giants were at war. I sat up and stretched my neck to see what was up but I didn’t see anything, I didn’t see fire which could have been the case.

However, I was really scared. I decided whatever it was will come and meet me there as I wasn’t ready to start running for what I didn’t know, besides I thought they could probably be running into the danger itself. While those thoughts were on, I started looking for my hijab, it was just the next thing on my mind.

Every where was dark and my eyes weren’t quite clear yet so I was searching with my hands, I just wanted to cover up just in case I needed to run too or if it were thieves or rapists invading. I didn’t find the hijab anyway. Not long did someone shout “ki lo nle yin gan?” (what exactly is chasing you?) only then did we realise there was nothing dangerous actually happening. The racers turned back.

In the morning I learnt that someone actually screamed ‘Jesus’ from sleep and that was it. Perhaps the innocent lady was only having a nightmare and then someone decided to run which caused commotion, who knows.

A lady sprained her Ankle because she hopped from her bunk on two more bunks and then jumped down.

I learnt some lessons that night; first, there’s need to develop shock absorbers in us. We need to learn how to control panic because most times, panic itself kills rather than the danger we are faced with.

Secondly, sometimes you just have to know what the problem is in order to know the right solution. Be sure you need to run before you actually run so you don’t run into death itself.

Also, never should a lady sleep stark naked. That night some ladies were naked and still ran off like that. Say thieves invaded and didn’t even plan to rape but there you are, all naked. Their plans might just change. Or say your house was on fire and you couldn’t pick a pin. You run out naked, that’s embarrassing.

So there, I got another answer; my hijab will always be my companion in shaa Allah. If snake and false alarm didn’t take it away from me, your judgmental looks, your hatred towards me, your condemnation, side comments and insults won’t separate us, with Allah’s help.

PS: please don’t stay in a burning building or a dangerous place because you’re not with your hijab. If you can, grab it. If not please run for your life! Only the living can wear hijab.

My hijab, my companion, my soul mate, my life!

Jesus: A crucifixion?

Written by Muslim Footsteps

The end of the story of Isa AS is shrouded in controversy between the Muslims and the Christians. Apart from the concept of the trinity (which is strongly refuted in Muslim scriptures), Christian doctrines claim that Isa AS was crucified: to the extent that the cross or the crucifix is accepted as the symbol of Christianity. According to the Muslim teachings, Isa AS was neither killed nor crucified, but was raised to heaven.

There are several accounts of how the attempt on Isa’s AS life took place. In one version, the king of the time commanded that Isa AS be killed, and one of the disciples, Judas Iscariot, betrayed Isa AS and revealed his whereabouts to the king’s men. As a punishment, Allah transformed his features so that he resembled Isa AS, and he was the one who was arrested and crucified instead. In another version, when the king’s men entered the house where Isa AS was in, Isa AS asked his disciples which of them would like to bear his likeness and be killed in his place, upon which one of his disciples volunteered and was crucified in his place. There are other versions of the story, but there is no single authenticated version under Hadith or Qur’an.

What is certain is that Isa AS was neither killed nor crucified, but someone else was made to bear his likeness. This is clearly stated in the Qur’an:

“And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Isa, the son of Maryam, the messenger of Allah.” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain.” (Al Qur’an 4:157)

Instead of crucifixion, the Qur’an confirms that Isa AS was raised to Allah:

“Rather, Allah raised him to Himself. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise.” (Al Qur’an 4:158)

“[Mention] when Allah said, “O Isa, indeed I will take you and raise you to Myself and purify you from those who disbelieve and make those who follow you [in submission to Allah alone] superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me is your return, and I will judge between you concerning that in which you used to differ.” (Al Qur’an 3:55)

Given that Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the word of Allah, we consider the subject closed and not worthy of any further debate. In particular, there is no advantage in relying and refuting contrary beliefs based on Christian scriptures, as the Qur’an has the overriding and final say on this subject, and as Muslims, we are not to accept any other information that contradicts with the word of the Almighty.

What Happened to the Message?

Over the centuries, the message of Isa AS steadily distorted, and when combined with the existing corruption already done by the scholars of Bani Israel to the Taurat and Zabur, the message of Islam became corrupted. Fundamental notions of the Almighty’s Oneness were openly contradicted through the concept of Isa AS being the son of God, and also the concept of the trinity: these deviations challenge the very root of Allah’s Oneness and His attributes and are an abomination of the original message of Islam.

The teachings of Isa AS were subsequently consolidated with the previous scriptures, but these were intermingled with the existing lies and falsehood propagated by Bani Israel to the divine message. The origins of the Bible in its present form cannot be authoritatively traced back to the time of Isa AS, although some Christian historians assert that the form of the Bible available today was compiled 100 to 600 years after the supposed crucifixion of Isa AS.

This phenomenon is already described in the Qur’an:

There is among them a section who distort the Book with their tongues: (As they read) you would think it is a part of the Book, but it is no part of the Book; and they say, “That is from Allah,” but it is not from Allah: It is they who tell a lie against Allah, and (well) they know it! (Al Qur’an 3:78)

They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah (by obeying them in things which they made lawful or unlawful according to their own desires without being ordered by Allah), and (they also took as their Lord) Messiah, son of Maryam, while they (Jews and Christians) were commanded [in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)) to worship none but One Ilah (God – Allah) La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He). Praise and glory be to Him, (far above is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him).” (Al Qur’an 9:31)

This is nothing new, which is why Allah has repeatedly sent Prophets and Messengers to different communities in order to correct them every time they deviated from the message.

In the case of Isa AS, only one subsequent Prophet was sent to correct these deviations, this time to the entire mankind instead of the community of Bani Israel specifically. The guidance is through the Qur’an, which completed the message of the previous holy scriptures, and the messenger is Muhammad SAW:

And this Quran is not such as could ever be produced by other than Allah (Lord of the heavens and the earth), but it is a confirmation of (the revelation) which was before it [i.e. the Taurat (Torah), and the Injeel (Gospel), etc.], and a full explanation of the Book (i.e. laws and orders, etc, decreed for mankind) – wherein there is no doubt from the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns ,and all that exists). (Al Qur’an 10:37)

In the case of the Qur’an, there is only one single version in existence. There is no deviation at all, no matter which part of the world the Qur’an is located and which century it was published. The only differences are in the translation and the interpretation, but it is unanimously agreed that there is only one version of the Qur’an, which has not changed by a single letter since the time it was revealed over 1400 years ago.

The Qur’an warns:

Indeed, We sent down the Taurat (Torah), in which was guidance and light. The prophets who submitted [to Allah] judged by it for the Jews, as did the rabbis and scholars by that with which they were entrusted of the Scripture of Allah, and they were witnesses thereto. So do not fear the people but fear Me, and do not exchange My verses for a small price. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed – then it is those who are the disbelievers. (Al Qur’an 5:44)

That aside, the deviation of the priests and rabbis from the original message of Allah is already mentioned in the Qur’an, together with a warning on their fates:

O you who have believed, indeed many of the scholars and the monks devour the wealth of people unjustly and avert [them] from the way of Allah. And those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah – give them tidings of a painful punishment. (Al Qur’an 9:34)

We can see live examples of these, and the abuse and corruption of the teachings of Christianity and its message. However, like many of the religions, it is not the original doctrine that is the issue, but the corruption of man that has tainted the original message.

The Second Coming

The story of Isa AS is unique in one final sense: it is not over yet. All other Prophets and Messengers (including Rasulullah SAW) have passed away after the completion of their missions, and their time on earth is over. In the case of Isa AS, he will, close to the end of the world, descend back to the earth to complete his mission, which is to defeat the Dajjal (the Antichrist) and to lead the Muslims in waging a final battle against the disbelievers and restoring peace on earth. He will then, like the rest of his prophets in brotherhood, die a natural death.

All this lies in the realms of the unknown, but have been prophesised in various ahadeeth. In part of one long hadith on the end of time, the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “Dajjal (the Antichrist) will appear in my Ummah and he will stay in the world for forty. I do not know whether this will be forty days or forty months or forty years. Allah will then send Isa, son of Maryam. Isa will pursue him and slaughter him. Then people will survive for seven years (i.e., after the demise of Isa) in the state that there will be no rancour between two persons.”(Bukhari)

In another account, after explaining the coming of the Dajjal and the horrifying events that follow, the following Hadith describes in detail:

“… and it will be at this very time that Allah will send Isa, son of Maryam who will descend at the white minaret in the eastern side of Damascus, wearing two garments lightly dyed and placing his hands on the wings of two angels. When he will lower his head, there would fall drops of water from his head, and when he will raise it up, drops like pearls would scatter from it. Every disbeliever who will find his (i.e., Isa’s) smell will die and his smell will reach as far as he will be able to see. He will then search for Dajjal until he will catch hold of him at the gate of Ludd (village near Jerusalem), and will kill him. Then the people, whom Allah will have protected, will come to Isa son of Maryam, and he will wipe their faces and will inform them of their ranks in Jannah, and it will be under such conditions that Allah will reveal to Isa these words: `I have brought forth from amongst my slaves such people against whom none will be able to fight, so take these people safely to the mountain.’ And then Allah will send Ya’juj and Ma’juj (Gog and Magog people) and they will sworn down from every slope. The first of them will pass the Lake Tabariyah (near the Dead Sea in Palestine) and drink all its water. And when the last of them will pass, he will say: `There was once water there.’ Prophet Isa (AS) and his companions will then be so much hard-pressed that the head of an ox will be dearer to them than one hundred dinar, and Isa along with his companions, will make supplication to Allah, Who will send insects which will attack their (Ya’juj and Ma’juj people) neck until they all will perish like a single person. Prophet Isa and his companions will then come down and they will not find in the earth as much space as a single span which would not be filled with their corpses and their stench. Prophet Isa and his companions will then again beseech Allah, Who will send birds whose necks will be like those of Bactrian camels, and they will carry them and throw them where Allah will desire. Then Allah will send down rain which will spare no house in the city or in the countryside. It would wash away the earth until it appears like a mirror. Then the earth will be told to bring forth its fruit and restore its blessings …‘” [Muslim] (part of a longer hadith)

Lessons learnt:

Throughout the history of mankind, every time the Almighty sent messengers and prophets to convey His message to mankind, the disbelievers always asked for proof. The Creator, according to His own wisdom, chose different miracles for different times. Even then, we can see human being’s stubbornness, arrogance and argumentative nature, and even denying his own faculty and basic common sense when the Creator shows him the miracles.

In the story of Isa AS, the people went into two deep trials. First, in the presence of Isa AS, the disbelievers denied him even after witnessing all the miracles they asked him to produce. In fact, their disbelief increased in spite of the miracles they saw.

The second group was so impressed by all the miracles that later on in history, they went the other extreme and claimed that Isa AS could not have been a human being. They generated Christianity with the basis of, depending on the denomination of Christianity, Isa AS being either God or the son of God or a part of the divine trinity.

Isa AS never got married or owned property, and like all previous Messenger and Prophets, had a beard. He greeted his disciples with greetings of “Peace be upon you.” He prostrated to the ground in worship. As with the people during his time, some have chosen to imitate his life to the extreme, while others chose the status quo to remain in dunia. This is no different from all the earlier cycles of humanity when a prophet and messenger was sent amongst them.

The main message of Isa AS warns us against the material life and how it pollutes the heart and soul of humanity. When the religious message becomes tainted through corrupt dissemination by the leader or follower, it leads to people becoming completely astray. We, Muslims and non Muslims alike, are in this condition because of corruption, ignorance and even neglecting or fighting the truth. In every era, a very small number seek the truth and the majority seek corruption. However, the truth, by the will of God, will always be apparent for those who sincerely seek it. All the miracles, and all the incidents were only to help the people to believe.

If you are a Muslim, thank Allah for His guidance, learn your faith thoroughly and try to help others to understand by understanding your own faith. As Muslims, we have a lot of work to do to save our soul and help others.

As a final word, this is not intended to be a discourse of Islam v Christianity. If you are interested in this topic, there is plenty of material, online and in printed materials, that we will be happy to refer you to and which you can research independently.

A Short Note about the Bible

According to Muslim scholars, even the Arabic terminology of “Injeel” is misunderstood. The Injeel as mentioned in the Qur’an refers to the sacred scriptures given by God to Isa AS, while the Bible originally means the Holy Book. Hence the Bible as described above, is not to be confused with the Injeel or gospel described in the Qur’an.

Unlike authentic Hadith, where the chain of transmission is carefully recorded to protect authenticity (the criteria for an accepted chain of transmission includes the moral integrity of the transmitter as well as his ability to listen and record accurately), no equivalent record is maintained in the chain of transmission regarding the additional texts to the modern day Bible.

Added to the fact that much of the original message was lost in translation (the transition from Aramaic to Greek or Latin, when historically Isa AS lived amongst the Hebrew speaking Bani Israel who had no association with these languages), it is doubtful as to which of the passages of the Bible are from the pure scriptures. From the already unauthenticated versions in Aramaic, Latin and Greek, the Bible was then re-translated into English, German and other European languages, adding to the misinterpretations of the translators and scholars.

There is not a single version of the modern day Bible which is unanimously agreed to by Christian scholars as being the unadulterated and definitive version of the Bible, due to its many versions and revisions. It is not just variances caused by translation, but also the substantive contents, which differ from one version to another, and the constant reinterpretations and new editions over the passage of time. These various versions of the current Bible are not in conformity with each other. The current version of the Bible contains some of the words of God, some of the words of Isa AS, and the remainder cite the texts and opinions of others such as John, Luke, Paul and Matthew.

There is also a “red letter” editions of the Bible, where instead of quotation marks, texts claimed to be from the original word of God and Isa AS are marked in red. We do not intend to provide a commentary on this, save that on a high level reading of it, such passages make up a fraction of the contents. Hence we leave it to the reader to analyze and draw his own conclusions on whether the current form of the Bible, if seen in totality, can be stated authoritatively to be the sole word of God.

 

Crookedness in the path of salvation

By Bello Abdulrahman

Over the years, people contemplated on who actually deserves the right to be worshiped and who has the power to give and ungiven. Therefore, they came up with ideas, many people chose to seclude the wonderfully created beings on the earth surface and taking them as gods afterward, while some concluded on worshipping the righteous doers amidst them, who have deceased but have their structures sculptured by their people.

This was the whole beginning of the chaos in the late world, but since everyone worshiped based on the opinion that pleased him/her, they kept on living their life.

Tripping down the pit of history, the first mankind created on earth was Adam and his wife Eve, then history has it that they both worshiped nothing but their Lord. But after several years, while Adam and Eve were no longer on the surface of the earth, and generations upon generations have come up with their children, people left the path of worshipping God laid down by Adam and his wife eve and they started worshipping idols.

People followed the deceit of devil, who deceived them to worship the sculptures of some righteous scholars among themselves, giving them a rest of mind that, idols was what their forefathers worshiped while alive.

And, of course, they followed his deceit. That is why God says in the Qur’an, chapter4:120:

“He gives them promises and excites vain desires in them, and the Shaitan does not promise them but to deceive.”

Therefore, they worshiped different idols ranges from one name to another as Qur’an mentioned them while narrating Prophet Noah discuss and the unbelievers. Qur’an71:28:

“And they say: By no means leave your gods, nor leave Wadd, nor Suwa; nor Yaghus, and Yauq and Nasr”.

This, however, was the ocean of blindness that the people of the world were swimming in reluctantly then. But, very pertinent to take note of this is that whenever those people wished to seek any assistance from their idols or they wanted to worship them in the morning hour, they first and foremost bow down their heads or fall upon their faces to greet their idols before seeking anything, that is, despite their foolishness of thought to have taken stone, tree, rocks and some none living things as their gods.

Yet they still acknowledged the fact that they have to prostrate and respect their Lords before seeking any assistance from them. Truly, they subjected themselves to the inferiority among those idols, nevertheless, it didn’t bury their sense of normality.

Meanwhile, it is not so much astonishing too, that one of the pertinent cultures of the Yoruba people and some other African cultures is to bow down their heads for elders, to show them respect. That is the common logical sense of humanity that bowing down is a complete means of being respectful.

Moving on, when there was continuity of the act of worshipping idols and beseeching them of evils, which is a restricted task to God alone, therefore God sent down his prophet, Noah to inform the people that the creator of heaven and earth is the only one duly deserves to be worshipped and that He is the only one that possesses the power to give and ungiven, just as my Bible has it Isiah 43:11 that,

“I, even I, am the Lord; and there is no savior but me,” Yes. The Qur’an also says in chapter 112:1-4 that,

“Say: He, Allah, is one. Allah is He on whom all (beings and things) depend. He does not beget, nor is He begotten. And none is like Him.”

Now, the problem is this, Noah that was calling people to the path of God then only served that God by falling upon his face, according to scriptural history. And when Jesus too was also sent, he did the same thing in the book of Mathew 26:39

“And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me.”

Also the angels too, they did the same in the book of Revelations 7:11-12

“And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.”

Now, to pinpoint, all the prophets, the angels, and even the idol worshippers acknowledged the fact that, worship is only done by falling down upon one’s face and later pray. But, who exactly deserves that right was the problem.

From this evidence, it is a crystal clear that bowing down remains the viable pathway to salvation. But, the crookedness to this path up to date is quite numerous. Although, nobody says someone should not practice his belief.  But the question is that how did singing, clapping, dancing and waving become a viable mode of worship or salvation, since my Bible says Jesus himself worshiped only by falling down on his face.

And, more so in Deuteronomy, a chapter in my bible 5:9 states

“thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them nor serve them.”

That is, only God deserves the worship of duties and it is only done by bowing.  But, why is something contradicted to what the bible stated and what the Jesus did, is being done in the name of that same Jesus today? I remain baffled.

Saudi Ambassador, Seyfan, era in Nigeria

By Abubakr Siddeeq Muhammad

Nigeria has not seen a better representative of the custodian of the two holy mosques, King Salman bn Abdulaziz, than His Excellency, Sheikh Fahad Abdullah Sefyan – humble, conscientious, – a diplomat par excellence.

This brilliant diplomat’s career and his 20-month stint in Nigeria came to an end last week with his retirement and subsequent return to Riyadh on Friday, March 31, 2017.

When I answered His excellency’s summons at the beginning of his sojourn in Nigeria sometime last year, I went to the Saudi Arabian Embassy with the feeling that my first encounter with the then new ambassador would be uneventful.

I met the door to His excellency’s office wide open. ‘Come in Ustaz Abubakr.’ Said a voice in an avuncular tone. Sheikh Fahad, after shaking my hand warmly, urged me to sit on the sofa next to him, and personally served me qahwah (Arabian green coffee laced with cardamom) and dates.

I was deeply touched by his simplicity and humbleness even when I called to mind the Prophetic dictum ‘the leader is the khaadim..(one who serves)..’ Whenever I drained my cup, he replenished it to the brim. Sheikh Fahad’s speech, though a diplomat, was reminiscent of a khutbah interspersed with ayaat and ahaadeeth delivered by an ‘Aalim conversant with world politics and current affairs.

In a very short time during that first encounter, I became relaxed and confident to speak freely with my host, especially as he encouraged me by telling me my ‘command of the Arabic language is good’; whatever that meant. The discussion drifted towards my writings which I reckoned the subject of the summons.

’As a Muslim scholar, a writer and a columnist with The Guild (theguildng.com), online newspaper, and another  reputable daily, the ambassador said, ‘you should be objective, as you have been, in what you relate to your readers. I have read some of your articles; I concur with some of the sentiments you express and take exception to some.

But that is life. People are bound to disagree on certain issues; call it, if you please, the divergence of perspectives.’  At my insistence, he mentioned some of the areas in certain articles I wrote to which he took exception. I gave my reasons on why I held the position I did and promised to send him more write-ups published years before he came in support of my constancy in upholding the opposite of what he thought.

‘My office,’ His excellency finally said, ‘is open physically and metaphorically.’ Of course, when I came in it was wide open. ‘You are welcome anytime.’ he assured me.

I went out of the Saudi embassy that day wondering what type of man this new ambassador was. Obviously, he did not like my approach to certain issues; he made his objections apparent in a very diplomatic phraseology which left no bad taste in one’s heart or rancor. His demeanor at once subtly urges you to attune to his words and encourages you to voice out a different opinion in case you see the point from another perspective. That is a man you meet, befriend and love instantly.

From that first meeting and instant friendship, Sheikh Fahad invited me to almost every function organized by his office – Saudi National Day Celebrations, seminars sponsored by the embassy or another Saudi agency, dinner in honor of visiting dignitaries at his residence, and whatnot. I was able, therefore, to know first-hand the way he conducted himself in his office as well as at his residence and at public functions.

Guests at any function he hosted have done honor to him, and not the other way round; that was his philosophy. Thus he would exert his utmost to serve his guests personally however much his retinue were averse.

His blissful tenure aimed at one thing – strengthening of relations between Nigeria and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which he has achieved, a crowning glory to his calling as the representative of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in Nigeria.

Even President Muhammad Buhari attested to improved ‘relationship between the two countries’, during Mr. Sefyan’s farewell visit to the state house.

It was during ambassador Fahad’s tenure that President Buhari undertook that state visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which was followed shortly after, by another visit by members of the Nigeria-Saudi Arabia Parliamentary Friendship Group to the Shura Council in Riyadh.

Ambassador Fahad facilitated this ‘return visit’ of Nigeria’s National Assembly Members which was occasioned by an earlier visit of a delegation from the Shura Council of Saudi Arabia, led by Prince Khalid Abdullah. This has advanced bilateral ties in trade and investments, parliamentary cooperation and exchange between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.

He personally went out of his way to see to the comfort of the visiting members of the Federal House of Representatives led by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yusuf Sulaimon Lasun. This left such a lasting impression in the minds of the lawmakers that they organized an unprecedented send-forth dinner in his honor. No outgoing diplomat in Nigeria has been so honored.

Ambassador Sefyan brought a fresh outlook to the way the Saudi Embassy in Abuja was run. He was open to suggestions and he was accessible. He thought up many projects to help the poor and indigent; some of which he confided in me. It is with mixed feelings one has to accept that he has retired. Naturally, his retirement should delight him, and as a friend, I should be happy for him. However, his departure means some of these lofty plans may never come to fruition, for he has left us.

If you are a regular reader of my column, you will recall that I wrote a column titled Guardian of the Orphans, about Hajiya Uwani Yusuf Waziri, also known as ‘Uwar Marayu’ (Guardian of Orphans), a resident of Unguwar Kaji, Kaduna.

She rescues abandoned babies (calling them motherless is callous and untrue) and nurtures them. A publication had brought this woman’s selfless devotion to the attention of His Excellency, the ambassador.

After reading the article, he called me and asked to get access to the woman so that he could give his widow’s mite. I arranged a meeting between Hajiya Uwani and the Ambassador. It was an emotional moment when the old man looked at one of the orphans, Baby Zainab, pointed at her and said words that are forever etched in my mind, “This has done no wrong for coming to the world. It is blameless.

He tried to control his emotions but was overcome. As he wept, all of us wept too. If you are reading this, Your Excellency, Zainab did not make it. She passed away recently. I could not bring myself to tell you, seeing the empathy you displayed that day.

Ambassador Sefyan was keen about the unity of Muslims. In another earlier article I titled, Darika in Izala Conference, I mentioned the successful of hosting of the respected scholar and Secretary-General of the World Muslim League, Sheikh Abdul Mohsen. What I did not mention was the role Ambassador Sefyan played. He worked behind the scenes with the Izala leadership to include as many darika leaders as possible.

He wanted to build as many bridges as possible with Muslims of contrasting ideologies, schools of jurisprudence and leanings without contradicting anything of his own doctrines. He understood Rudyard Kipling’s words in the epic book, The Jungle Book, where he said in part:

“Now this is the law of the jungle, as old and as true as the sky,

And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die.

As the creeper that girdles the tree trunk, the law runneth forward and back;

For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack”

We are comforted in the knowledge that although we shall miss His Excellency, Sheikh Fahad Abdullah Sefyan a lot, he left behind a capable hand. During his tenure, just like the Prophet Musa (peace of Allah be upon him) had the Prophet Harun (peace of Allah be upon him), Allah blessed the Ambassador with the second in command, Dr. Yahya Ali Mughram. Remembering that the highly intellectual and energetic Chargé d’Affaires is still with us gives me some comfort. Dr. Yayha is indeed a part of the success story of the last Ambassador’s tenure.

The sweet relationship between the two nations, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, is something which should be nurtured, grown and sustained. The Saudi government sent some its finest to represent it in Nigeria these last few years; it should continue. Of course, there are those for whom that is a problem, votaries of the worship of prophetic descendants that they are. They should ruminate over Surah Aali Imraan, Q3:118-119. I am sure they will be comforted.

 

 

Women can perform Hajj without Mahram

By Abubakr Siddeeq

Today’s piece is coming as a clarification of a certain time when more than 1000 female pilgrims from Nigeria were detained and deported from Saudi Arabia for lack of chaperones.

My purpose here is to show that the Nigerian Hajj authorities have been acting rightly on the issue of mahrams for female pilgrims on the strength of the understanding of scholars in this part of the world; the challenge is the interpretation of the law guiding their counterparts in the holy land.

I shall conclude with a prayer for the position of Nigeria on this issue, its peculiarities, and nature of Hajj operations to be respected by the Saudi authorities. I will start by saying people, including the learned, are confusing Muharram with Mahram. The former refers to one of the Islamic months; it literary means the forbidden or sacred.

Mahram is a man whom a woman is forever forbidden to marry because of blood ties, etc. like her father, brother or any unmarriageable kin. A husband could also serve as a mahram. Let us understand the context in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) mentioned the oft-repeated hadeeths barring women from traveling alone.

These hadeeths were reported in Al-Bukhari and other collections, to the effect that women are not to travel by themselves; that it is mandatory on them to be accompanied by their husbands or mahrams. Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “A woman is not to travel except with a mahram, and a man is not to enter upon her except if she has a mahram.”

Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say, when he was delivering a sermon, “No woman should travel except with a mahram.” A man stood up and said, “O Messenger of Allah, my wife has set out for Hajj, and I have signed up for such-and-such a military campaign.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Go and do Hajj with your wife.”

And also on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is quoted to have said: “It is not permissible for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to travel a distance of one day and one night without a mahram with her.”

Based on the above authorities, some scholars in a number of Arab countries assumed, unreasonably, that there is an inherent evil associated with the woman and her dispositions; that, for example, whenever a woman is out, something immoral will occur. Thus, she has to be accompanied at all times, to grocery stores, markets and even to such women-only ceremonies like marriage banquet, etc.

she has to be with a male relative. A woman in some of these countries is not trusted to cross from one side of the street to another unless her husband or any male relative guides her steps lest she falls or be snatched by an evildoer.

This is engrained somewhat in the psyche of average Arabian to such an extent that you do not talk to your friend when you meet him outside his home with his wife. You pass each other like total strangers; when he is alone, you can be friends again.

Of course, you have to avoid him as much as possible in situations like that, because speaking to him, it is believed, may produce a sinful act between you and his wife, even though she is covered in full niqaab (face-veil).

In his answer to the question of a woman performing Hajj without mahram, Sheikh Muhammad Ibn ‘Uthaimeen (may Allah have mercy on him) said: This action – Hajj without a mahram – is haraam; that the ‘mahram’s presence’ is to protect the woman from ‘those who do not fear Allah’.

The Sheikh went further to debunk the position of the scholars who averred that she could travel in a safe company, rifqah ma’munah, citing the above hadeeth of the man ordered to go and perform Hajj with his wife instead of taking part in jihad. Sheikh ‘Uthaimeen concluded by stating that under no condition can a woman travel by herself, on road or air, for Hajj or any type of trip without mahram.

She could be exposed to sin either at the airport, during transit for connecting flights or ‘there may have been a man sitting next to her on the plane who would deceive her and may like her and she likes him.’ Full stop.

What the Sheikh has not addressed in this context is whether the situation will remain unchanged if the woman is 50 years old. Well, some senior citizens are prone to flirting with contemporaries. Therefore, you can now see why authorities acting on the verdict of such scholars would debar more than 1000 female pilgrims from entering the holy land.

These scholars failed to view mahram as a means of care for the woman and a way of upholding her reputation and dignity. A mahram protects her from the desires of those in whose hearts is a disease, from the assault of a rapist or a thief.

They have failed also to consider the nature of travel at the era in which the Prophet’s edict was pronounced; a period in which a traveler must traverse deadly deserts, in a time when there was no sense of security, and where the places were unpopulated.

Islam is a way of life based on mercy and compassion; it is a religion that aims at protecting the weak and the vulnerable. Therefore, it is with the specific intent of safeguarding a woman’s honor, dignity, and reputation that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) forbade women from undertaking long journeys without a mahram.

Since the true intent of the prohibition is safety and protection, women are allowed to travel in a safe company, rifqah ma’munah, accompanied by elders and reputable Muslim men and women, as our Hajj authorities have been doing with Nigerian female pilgrims for many decades.

The majority of scholars are of this view. Ibn Umar used to travel for Hajj leading women from his neighborhood. Imam Hassan Al Basri said: ‘A Muslim is in himself a mahram: meaning the righteous and God-fearing Muslim can serve as mahram to the woman; and in some cases, a non-mahram proves more trustworthy than actual mahram.’ (Sharhu Saheehil Bukhaari vol. 4 p. 532).

Sa’eed Ibn Jubair, Ibn Sireen, Al-Auzaa’ee, Imam Maalik and Ash-Shaafi’ee are of the opinion that women, in the company of trustworthy and faithful women, can travel without mahram (al i’laam biwaa’idi umdatil ahkaam vol. 6 p. 79).

Yes, a woman can travel even with just one free trustworthy and faithful woman, provided the road is safe. Sheikhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said: “Every woman can perform Hajj without a mahram as long as she will be safe.” And he said: “This is directed towards every travel in obedience. Al-Karaabisi transmitted this from Ash-Shafi`i pertaining to the supererogatory Hajj.

And some of his companions also said this about supererogatory Hajj and about every travel that is not obligatory, like visiting and trading.” (Sharhu Sahihil Bukhaari vol. 4 p. 532) Al-Artham transmitted from Imam Ahmad: “A mahram is not a condition in the obligatory Hajj.” His justification for this is his saying: “Because she goes out with women, and with all those whom she is safe with.” Ibn Sireen even said: “With a Muslim it is okay.” Al-Auzaa’ee said: “With a just people.” Malik said: “With a group of women.” Ash-Shafi`ee said: “With a trustworthy faithful Muslim woman.”

And his companions said: “By herself, if there is safety.”  Al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar said: “What is well-known with the Shafi`ees is that it is conditional that there be a husband, mahram, or trustworthy faithful women.” And in another saying: “It is enough for just one trustworthy faithful woman.”

In a saying transmitted by Al-Karaabisi, authenticated in Al-Muhadh-dhab, is that she can travel by herself if the roads are safe. If this is what was said about traveling for Hajj and `Umrah, then this ruling should be uniform concerning all types of travel, as some scholars have agreed.  The conditions pertain safeguarding the woman and protecting her by ensuring that the roadway is safe and that trustworthy faithful men and women are present on the journey.

The proof of the permissibility of a woman traveling without a mahram is incumbent upon there being security and the presence of trustworthy faithful people. What was reported by Al-Bukhari is that during the final Hajj of `Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), he gave permission to the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to perform Hajj.

So he sent with them `Uthman ibn `Affan and `Abdur-Rahman. This act is considered to be a consensus, for all of them, `Umar, `Uthman, `Abdur-Rahman Ibn `Awf and the wives of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) agreed to it, without any objection (Fathul Baaree vol. 4 p. 91 and ‘Umdatul Qaari’ vol. 10 p. 219).

Second is what was reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim from the hadith of `Ataa Ibn Haatim that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told him about the future of Islam and how its light will be spread throughout the earth. Among what he mentioned is: “The day is near when a young woman will travel from Al-Hiraa (a city in Iraq), going to the Sacred House with no husband accompanying her. She will fear none but Allah.” This information does not only prove that this will happen but proves its permissibility, because it was mentioned in a phrase praising the spread of Islam along with its sense of security (Fathul Baaree vol. 4 p. 91).

We have to concede that traveling today is not like traveling in the past. Except on Nigerian roads, traveling is now devoid of the dangers of thieves and highway robbers. Modern means of transportation actually make easy for large numbers of people to travel in peace and security – ships, airplanes, buses, or cars – myriad people traveling in groups. Undoubtedly, this kind of group travel instills confidence and reliability, as well as dispelling the feelings of fear for the woman, because she will not be by herself in any place.

Therefore, nothing stops a woman from performing Hajj under the arrangement provided by Nigerian pilgrims’ welfare boards and agencies that have never been questioned by the Saudi Hajj authorities for decades.

There is a difference of opinion among Muslim scholars, in Saudi Arabia and in Nigeria for example, on the issue of mahram for female pilgrims. Rifqah ma’munah, female pilgrims traveling in a safe company, a position upheld by a majority of Muslim scholars, is what Nigerian Hajj authorities have been using for decades.

They deserve some courtesy and respect from their counterparts in the holy land. The Prophet has warned the Muslims: ‘Don’t prevent women servants of Allah from the Houses of Allah.’ What house of Allah is greater that than the Ka’bah in Makkah or the Prophet’s mosque in Madeenah? The worst part of the whole ordeal was what the poor hapless women bore. They were cordoned off in Jeddah like quarantined animals and they were starved and ill-treated.

This is no way to behave to the guests of Allah from another country. The usual hospitality of the Saudis deserted them this time. Even if they feel the women were wrong; it is no justification for the wrong treatment.

I also wonder why they issued the visas to these women in the first place when they know they would not be allowed into the kingdom. That smacks of double standard and hypocrisy. These people paid to get the visas; the visas were legally obtained and yet they were denied entry. I say do not start what you do not intend to finish.

Endless whispering for Abuja National Mosque Chief Imam appointment

By Muhammad Ajah

Delay from controversies over the appointment of a Chief Imam for the National Mosque Abuja has become of concern to the Muslim Ummah. It is evident that the politics which has marred the selection process have nothing to do with Islam.

In Islam, there is no vacuum in leadership. It is over two years that the Chief Imam of the Mosque, Ustaz Musa Muhammad, died at the age 68.

Since then, it is very worrisome that the leadership of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) in consultation with the Muslim elite in Nigeria has been unable to appoint a Chief Imam to replace him.

How much more of time is required to fill this very sensitive position for the benefit of the Muslim Ummah of Nigeria?

However, it is discouraging that Muslims have been at loggerhead over the selection basically on personal interests, of whims and caprices.

The National Mosque even before the demise of Ustaz Muhammad, who was the pioneer Chief Imam, had three deputies, who conscientiously were appointed to strike a balance. They are all PhD holders appointed in July 2012 after thorough screenings for which the pioneer Chief Imam was also requested to undergo.

The deputies are  Dr. Sheikh Ibrahim Ahmad Maqari, Sheikh Ahmad Onilewura and Dr. Muhammad Adam Muhammad. The three have been leading the Friday prayers in turn for such a long time that the need for the appointment of one of them is ripe.

However, it was Sheikh Maqari who led the first Jum’at service after the death of the Chief Imam. He also conducted the wedding of the daughter of President Muhammad Buhari, Zara.

Sheikh Muhammad Musa, from Jos, capital of Plateau State, had spent over 30 years as the Chief Imam having been appointed in 1985 when the Mosque was ready for use. The then President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari described him as an inspirational leader who preached love among men and women and fought hard to diminish cleavages and divisive tendencies in Nigeria.

“I am proud to remember a great son of Nigeria. May Allah repose his soul and grant his family and the nation the fortitude to bear his loss,” Buhari said while mourning him. May Allah (SWT) forgive his shortcoming while alive and admit him in Jannatul-Firdaus. Ameen.

Since 2015, there have been insinuations that a new Chief Imam would be appointed. There was a time the news flickered that an Imam has been appointed which the Secretary General of NSCIA, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede dissipated, saying that the three deputy Imams would be acting on rotational basis till when the Abuja National Mosque management committee headed by Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Ibrahim, would meet and make recommendations to the NSCIA before a new and substantive Chief Imam would be appointed.

It is believed that politics has taken over the process. It is quite possible that the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the NSCIA, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar has received the report from the Abuja National Mosque management committee.

It is worrisome why the controversies have persisted while the method of choosing an Imam or leader in Islam is stated in the Qur’an, clearly exemplified by noble Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and adhered to by the companions and the guided salaf.

The Imam can be chosen by consensus (ijma’), by consultation and the exchange of views among the prominent members of the Muslim community or by the Imam nominating his own successor as it happened in the case of Umar who was appointed by Abu Bakr without any objection being raised by the Muslims.

In Fiqh as-Sunnah volume 2, page 56, the one who should be Imam is the one who is the most versed in the Qur’an. If two or more people are equal in this regard, then it is the one who has the most knowledge of the sunnah. If they are equal in that, then it is the one who performed the migration first. If they are equal in that, then it should be the eldest.

Abu Mas’ud al-Ansari reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The one who is most versed in Allah’s Book should act as Imam for the people, but If they are equally versed in reciting it, then the one who has most knowledge regarding Sunnah if they are equal regarding the Sunnah, then the earliest one to emigrate; it they emigrated at the same time, then the earliest one to embrace Islam. No man must lead another in prayer where (the latter) has authority, or sit in his place of honour in his house, without his permission.

The Imam must possess all the qualities required of a believing Muslim. Apart from the moral and physical requirements, the Imam must be the most knowledgeable, most wise, most courageous, most generous, and most God-fearing.

Having a PhD is not the issue. The three deputy Imams should undergo series of screenings to get one Chief Imam for the Nigerian Muslim Ummah.

Merely as an observer and a worried Muslim on this lingering matter, I have monitored their sermons and Islamic activities and found them worthy. I think there is no need for an Imam from outside the three.

But however, there are assurances that the recitation and knowledge of the Qur’an, composure during Friday activities and knowledge in the fiqh of prayer and sunnah cannot be equal. One should, therefore, be appointed and the two remain deputies. If there be the need for more deputies, the committee saddled with that responsibilities should do justice.

Three of them, I repeat, are exceptionally qualified. But some things uncommon reveal of Sheikh Ibrahim Maqary. His Arabic accent is uncommon; why not for an associated professor of Arabic. His sermons often depict scholarly insights. He conducts the Friday sermons without papers, a style of best Imams in the home of knowledge – Egypt, where he graduated from Al-Azhar University, Cairo.

No student of Islamic knowledge can undermine the position of Al-Azhar in the preservation of Islamic library. Students who studied well in Al-Azhar University are exceptionally and credibly wonderful. They are like the day and nothing can be more convincing and intellectually compelling to admit.

Part of the controversies over the appointment of the chief Imam is resulting from the fundamentalism and Islamic sect each of the three deputies professes and belongs to. That is by the way. The seat of the Imam transcends sects. The appointed must be for all Muslims of Nigeria. Term and conditions for the position must be spelt out so that the chosen would sign to accept the offer. And peradventure the bond is violated, the law should apply.

There are also great Imams around Abuja. Imam of Fuad Lababidi Mosque, Sheikh Dr. Tajuddeen Adigun who is the Chairman of Abuja League of Imams, Imam of Ansarudeen Mosque, Sheikh Musa Olaofe, Imam of Alhabibiyyah Mosque, Sheikh Fuad Adeyemi, Imam of Life Camp Mosque, Sheikh Idris, amongst all other Imams of big Mosques in Abuja are great men with vast Islamic knowledge. These great scholars can complement the required workforce, if need be, in the running of the National Mosque Abuja.

May I use this medium to thank all the Imams for their selfless services including the sermon translators to national languages, Sheikh Abubakr Siddeeq and Barrister Haroun Ezeh. And we pray and yearn to have a Chief Imam for our National Mosque as soon as possible, an Imam who will be humble not pompous and arrogant; energetic and vibrant not weak, nationalistic not tribalistic, generous not selfish, humane not insensitive, forbearing not overbearing; and the one who is abreast with Nigerian and global politics not conservative and reserved. May Allah (SWT) continue to guide the leadership of the Muslim Ummah in Nigeria and the world. Ameen.

Fear of Allaah and taming the lower desire

By Abdullah Musa Abdul

I begin with the Name of Allaah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.

“I said (to them): ‘Ask forgiveness from your Lord, verily, He is Oft-Forgiving.”Qur’an71:10

Allaah has been Merciful to some special people by not taking their souls during the period of sinning.

Man is being shackled by his own sins. They are responsible for his depression even in the midst of affluence.

The world is yet to come across anything that destroys the joy of man than sins.

Humanity must yearn to meet Allaah with eeman (Faith) and fear His punishment because these are the two spiritual antibiotics against the virus of lust.

Fear of Allaah is a product of great knowledge from an awakened heart. When man introspects to look for the genesis of his sadness, he will realize that the only thing that is responsible for his sadness is sins and incorrect perception about Allaah.

It’s either man is depressed because of his own sins or because he doubts his Allaah.  Man must be strong against the provocations of his desires because they release the sexual appetite from its leash.

Every day some people sleep and wake up with hearts pounding simply because they went to sleep after signing.

Sometimes man needs to ask himself, what has Allaah not given him yet he commits sins to deny knowing fully well that they could deny him the joys of Allaah’s Bounty.

When whims and lustful desires are nailed down through an unsettling fear of Allaah’s punishment and through an active and persistent yearning for Allaah’s pleasure, man’s happiness can be assured.

He who restrains his eyes from looking at forbidden things will be repaid with knowledge, belief and true understanding of Islam.

Strive not to fritter away the intellectual ability given by Allaah just by satisfying the lower appetites and whims and caprices.

Remember that, only he who fears Allaah will resist the impulses of desires. The question is, ‘Do we really fear Allaah as He should be?’

Allaah Exalted be He, asks:

“But who could be further astray than someone who follows his own whims and desires without any guidance from Allaah? Qur’an 28:50

In all created existence there is nothing nobler than the human intellect and for this reason Allaah honours it as it deserves.

Use the intellect to evaluate the consequences of any sin, its effect on the human psychological, spiritual and social well-being in this world and the Hereafter.

There is no religion which fulfills all the aspirations of the intellect and answers its questions as Islam does.

Man, when he polishes his intellect then his perception of the world gets polished from a vantage point. The human intellect is the supreme instrument of human perception. It makes him identify sins and righteous deeds. If a man’s intellect does not prevent him from sins, then he lacks it.

Ask yourself these questions…

When I die and leave this world, will I die with belief or not?

When I am put into the grave and Munkar and Nakir (the two visiting angels for questioning) question me, will I be able to answer them or not?

When people are gathered together on the day of rising and the books are distributed, will I be given my book in my right hand or my left hand?

When people are called: ‘One group in the Garden (Paradise) and one group in the Blaze (Hell)’ which group will I be in?

The pinnacle of the entire discuss is the fear of Allaah.

Allaah says: “Fear Allaah and Allaah will teach you.” Qur’an2:282

Ya Allaah, put our affairs in order and the destinies of our relatives and those we love…

Ya Allaah, slake the thirst of our hearts with Your pleasure.

Ya Allaah, prescribe your protection for us. Ya Allaah, pour out mercy on us from the sea of Your Ihsan and mend us with your forgiveness.

The author can be contcated via twitter: @Penabdull, and  instagram: @Penabdul

 

Corruption has neither kinsmen nor friends

By Professor Salisu Shehu

It is a well-known fact that our country is blessed with abundant natural and human resources of all kinds. Without any fear of contradiction it can be asserted that there is hardly any country that is as endowed as Nigeria.

There is no doubt that if these resources were properly explored, exploited, harnessed and utilized judiciously and appropriately, the country would have registered itself, a long time ago, in the list of developed nations.

Unfortunately for us, we are still wallowing not only in underdevelopment but struggling to survive certain avoidable sub-human conditions of life and challenges of state failure.

While industrialization has remained elusive, albeit perpetually, poverty has been the most conspicuous trademark of especially our rural and even urban communities and consequently, we have not been able to overcome the basic problem of insufficiency of food and hunger in the land. None of our cities, including the Federal Capital has reliable, dependable, adequate and effectively functional municipal services.

All these sufferings came to be aggravated by insecurity. The country fell into a very bleak, sordid and disastrous condition of violence and bloodbath occasioned by the insurgency in the Northeast, the militancy in the Niger-Delta and the intermittent farmer/herdsmen clashes, and rampant armed banditry and kidnaps. The indices of our underdevelopment and the manifestations of our systemic and societal failures are too numerous to recount and too heart rending to rehearse.

What may actually not be in doubt in explaining the factors responsible for the horrible condition of our backwardness as a nation and the chaotic nature of our life and polity is the problem of perpetual failure in leadership. There is almost a consensus that the one and only serious problem of our country has always been the lack of responsible leadership.

At the center of this leadership crisis is the endemic problem of corruption. This evil called corruption is not, however, only associated with the leaders. It has permeated and also penetrated all sectors and all strata of the country. It influences all aspects of our life including our practice of our respective religions and faiths.

In terms of its destructive effects on leadership and governance, on public service and work, on trade, commerce and all other forms of business transactions, on corporate services and deliveries, craft works and artisanship, on learning and academic pursuits, on interpersonal and intergroup relations and associations, including our family lives, corruption can be succinctly described as a cankerworm in our country or still appropriately, a weapon of mass destruction.

We are all suffering because of the ubiquity of fraud and malpractices in almost all that we do in our country. Everybody were worried, and subconsciously mobilized on the need to stand up to the challenge of corruption. This was what gave fame and credibility to the CHANGE SLOGAN of the opposition party in the campaigns towards the last general elections.

Given his pedigree and disposition and his acclaimed and untainted personal integrity, credibility and zero tolerance to corruption, the whole nation rallied around General Muhammadu Buhari and elected him into the presidential office. During his campaigns he left no one in doubt that fighting corruption would be one of the foremost areas of priority in his government. Everybody trusted him, and on that note, with high expectations people voted for him massively.

Since the time he took up the mantle of leadership, President Muhammadu Buhari has been struggling to prove to the country and to the world that, indeed he is committed to fighting this national anathema. Although there are certain loopholes in the fight against corruption, which are themselves explainable by the depth of rot in the system and the fact that, he the President, is a Lone Ranger in the crusade, typical Nigerians still have confidence in his commitment to this important campaign promise of his. We here, at the Islamic Forum of Nigeria, wish to restate and reaffirm our confidence in Mr. President on this particular struggle to put the nation on the right track.

At the inception of the anti-corruption crusade of this government, the whole country, alas the whole world was startled by the fact that a colossal amount of money to the tune of $2.1b meant for procuring arms to fight the Boko Haram insurgency was fraudulently diverted to private pockets/accounts.

People were astounded and bewildered at the level of wickedness that would make people to be sharing money meant for saving lives and preventing bloodbath. People were not only feeding but also feasting and indulging on the blood of helpless citizens. This is why, except for the ranting’s of a few name-seeking, self-styled human right activists, the entire country has never shown any sympathy for Dasuki and his ilk.

While the government has been enjoying relatively massive support in the fight against Corruption, what has now suddenly appeared to be a serious setback, or better still, a test of credibility in that regard, are the allegations against the Secretary to the Federal Government, Engineer Babachir Lawal. Beginning as mere rumours, the accusations of fraud against the SFG in his handling of the funds disbursed for the care and rehabilitation of the IDPs in the Northeast have bulged out in a manner that cannot be swept under the carpet.

The Senate has not only come out to accuse the SFG of illegally  awarding contract to his own personal company to whose account he was the sole signatory but has also gone ahead to institute an investigation into the matter. It was astonishingly discovered that it was not only the Dasukis that were wickedly  dinning on the blood of the victims of Boko Haram, some people, very close to the President are also guilty of the same vice and cruelty.

The whole country has set eyes on this issue and is waiting on what its outcome will be. The SFG has brazenly denied the allegations and has also gone ahead to accuse the Senate of trying to pull him down unjustifiably. We are glad that Mr. President has directed the Attorney General of the Federation to carry out investigation on it and other related matters.

While we support this move by the President, we wish to state unequivocally that this, obviously would be one of the most critical tests of his will, commitment and sincerity of purpose in his proclaimed fight against corruption and the entire change mantra of the government. Consequently, at the risk of being mistaken for attempting to pass verdict against some persons, we hereby call on Mr. President to stand by the outcome of the investigation, however it turns out to be, and should in the spirit of the supremacy of the rule of law, do the needful and the rightful in that regard based on the due process of law.

While all the talks about the alleged fraud by the SFG were going on, we wish to observe how some people are desperately trying to politicise the issue or introduce religious prejudices and sentiments into it. In Nigeria, one unfortunate tradition is that, if a person commits an offence he or she quickly runs to his kinsmen or faith community and takes refuge or seek for protection.

He would whip their sentiments, and shamelessly they would come out to rally around the culprit and defend him with fictions and lies, and indeed with chauvinistic sentiments. In that manner, very serious and important issues would be trivialized. This is what we have witnessed in this case of the SFG’s alleged fraud. One Northern Christian Politicians (NNCP) were reported on p.10 of the Daily Trust on Sunday (18/12/2016) desperately and also fruitlessly trying to defend Babachir Lawal.

It claimed that the Senate’s accusations against him were “ill-timed, incongruous and a chase after shadows.”, and that the Senate was only attempting “to malign the person of the SGF”. The NNCP when ahead to claim that it was “worried by the skewed manner in which the call was made”.

This action by the said NNCP is, to say the least, quite unfortunate. What is expected by the group was to call on the Senate to be objective, impartial, just and honourable in its investigation, as well as in its judgement on the matter eventually. It is this kind of prejudice and chauvinism that has aided and abated corruption in the country. While this Christian group was trying to dismiss the allegations cheaply, it forgot that the Senate was a collection of both Christians and Muslims almost in equal proportions.

We therefore, call on our fellow Nigerian citizens to always rise above religious and ethnic or tribal sentiments and prejudices on critical national and accept the fact that corruption an evil, it should have no kinsmen, nor friends and patrons that should either shield it or anoint its perpetrators. It is only when we look at offences and crimes objectively and treat them for what they, for the sake of our collective survival as a nation shall we prosper and progress.

While reiterating our sincere support for the fight against corruption by the government, we wish to advise that there is an urgent need to institute a machinery for broadening its scope and ensuring that it trickles down to the grassroots, thereby sensitizing the entire polity and engaging and involving and touching every layer, segment and sectors of the economy and the society.

Shehu is Assistant Secretary General, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, and  Executive Secretary for Islamic Forum of Nigeria.

Systematic Corruption in Nigeria (2)

By Abubakr Siddeeq Muhammad

I mentioned something concerning elections and the political process last week concerning, which I promised to revert later. Our electoral commission will do well to find ways of enforcing the limit of expenditure for parties and their candidates. Why are some candidates sparing no expense in making sure that some electoral officers are posted to some states during the election? What is the essence of these nocturnal meetings at, especially the state level, with electoral and party officials and ample ‘Ghana must go’ following their trail? Am I speaking in allegories? Maybe not. Even on this, I am not inventing stories.

Business prospers on bribes. You give and get, or you don’t get anything!  Whatever will bring money to your business, a certain percentage must be set aside as tip, in a great many cases, a euphemism for a bribe. Task officials, for example, must be appeased or you close shop because what you will pay is beyond multiple taxation. Your business crumbles.

Lo! Allah changeth not the condition of a folk until they (first) change that which is in their hearts; (Ar-Ra’d, 13:11).

Being a leader or a public servant is a great responsibility. Nobody is spared, the leader and the led.

  1. NarratedAbdullah ibn `Umar(may Allah be pleased with him):

I heard Allah’s Messenger (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) saying:

Everyone of you is a guardian, and responsible for what is in his custody. The ruler is a guardian of his subjects and responsible for them; a husband is a guardian of his family and is responsible for it; a lady is a guardian of her husband’s house and is responsible for it, and a servant is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible for it.”

And in another version of the Hadeeth, the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) concluded by saying: “So all of you are guardians and responsible for what is under your care.” (Al- Bukhari)

Therefore, everybody, from the president right down to ordinary people like me, must discharge their responsibility towards whatever is placed under our care assiduously and faithfully

  1. Ma`qil ibn Yasar(may Allah be pleased with him) reported from the Prophet that paradise is forbidden for any person in authority who dies in such a state that he is dishonest in his dealings with those under his rule. (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

Nigeria does not need a weak leader. There have to be consequences for betrayers of public trust. The leader must be flexible without breaking. Reward people who have done well. As for looters and squanderers of our commonwealth, let them be prosecuted, be made to refund what they stole and afterward be consigned to, banged up where they will have enough time to reflect on their dishonesty at a maximum security prison.

  1. Abu Dharr(may Allah be pleased with him) narrated:

I said to the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him): O Messenger of Allah, will you not appoint me to a public office? He stroked my shoulder with his hand and said:

Abu Dharr, you are weak and authority is a trust. And on the Day of Judgment, it is a cause of humiliation and regrets except for one who fulfills its obligations and (properly) discharges the duties.” (Muslim)

We all have to help our leaders in fighting corruption. Everybody must do their part.

  1. Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri(may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said:

Whosoever of you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then let him hate it in his heart, and that is the weakest of faith.” (Authenticated by Al-Albani)

Each one of us will do the needful in his area of control or sphere of influence. Some of them can speak out without mincing words and stall the corrupt practices. Some can write and petition the EFCC with proof, beyond reasonable doubt against public office holders. Keeping silent and abominating corruption in your heart without any action is the bottom of the range, the weakest form of faith. We should do something.

  1. An-Nu`man ibn Basheer narrated that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him):

The example of the person abiding by Allah’s order and restrictions in comparison to those who violate them is the example of those persons who drew lots for their seats in a boat. Some of them got seats in the upper part and the others in the lower. “

“When the latter needed water, they had to go up to bring water (and that troubled the others), so they said, ‘Let us make a hole in our share of the ship (and get water) saving those who are above us from troubling them.” 

So, if the people in the upper part left the others to do what they had suggested, all the people of the ship would be destroyed, but if they prevented them, both parties would be safe.” (Al-Bukhari)

This hadeeth depicts another miracle of the Messenger of Allah (SAW), because when he narrated this similitude of a double-deck ship the world had not seen anything like it. It was not invented. The world then knew only a one-deck vessel, not double-deck. Another amazing fact was that the Prophet lived and died in the dessert. So, who taught him this parable of a double-deck vessel?

He said people were about to embark on a voyage in a double-deck vessel. The upper deck is the open level with the sun, access to water and fresh air. The lower level is submerged into the water. Anytime its inhabitants needed water, they had to ascend to the upper deck in order to get it. They now contrived to make a whole in their own part of the ship which is the lower deck. Allowing them to exercise this right will certainly cause the ship to sink and kill all the travelers. Stopping them from making the whole will save them and the people aboard the ship.

And that is our case in this country. Some people want to make a whole in their part of the national ship so they can siphon our commonwealth for their personal use. They should be helped against themselves and  must be stopped by all means necessary otherwise the ship is certain to sink because of their selfishness and recklessness.

  1. Anas ibn Malik(may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

Help your brother whether he is the doer of wrong or wrong is done to him.”

The Companions asked,

“O Messenger of Allah! We can help a man to whom wrong is done, but how could we help him when he is the doer of wrong?”

The Prophet replied, “Hold him back from doing wrong.” (Al-Bukhari)

Yes, corrupt public office holders must be restrained from devouring what does not rightly belong to them.

  1. Abu Humaid ibn Sa`d As-Sa`idi(May Allah be pleased with him) reported:

The Prophet employed a man from the tribe of Al-Azd named Ibn Al-Lutabiyyahh to collect the Zakah. When he returned (to the Prophet with the collections), he said: “This is for you while this (other wealth) is a gift presented to me. (So, it is mine).”

So, the Messenger of Allah stood on the pulpit, praised Allah, extolled Him and then he said,

“Why does an official whom I send (in a mission) say: ‘This is for you and this has been presented to me as a gift’?

“Why did he not stay in the house of his father and mother to see whether gifts will be given to him or not?

“By (Allah) in Whose Hand is the life of Muhammad, if any one of you takes anything (wrongfully,) he will bring it on the Day of Resurrection, carrying it on his neck…”

Then he raised his hands till we could see the whiteness of his armpits and repeated twice, “O Allah! Have I conveyed (Your Commandments)?” (Muslim)

In another Hadeeth, we learn that “Gifts offered to public servants are ill-gotten gains (ghulul)”

Just think about the cattle, ram, and goat you receive during Sallah and Christmas. The drinks, bottled water, clothing materials, hamper packs that people bring to you, doubtless, it is because you are what you are today; retire tomorrow and see what happens. Nothing! Nobody!

They bring all these items to you because of the position you occupy today. When you retire or are removed, you will never see some of them in your life again. So, what comes to you as a gift must be evaluated critically as to the intention behind it. Is it really a gift based on friendship, or it is something giving in order to have something back? The latter is a bribe.

  1. `Adi ibn `Umairah(May Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah said,

Whosoever among you is appointed by me to a position and he conceals from us (even) a needle or more, he is acting unfaithfully and will bring it on the Day of Resurrection”.

Upon hearing this, a black man from Al-Ansar stood up and said:

“O Messenger of Allah, take back from me your assignment.”

The Prophet asked, “What happened to you?”

The man replied: “I have heard you saying such and such.”

The Prophet said,

I say that (again) now: Whosoever from you is appointed by me to a position, he should bring everything (of its revenues), big or small. (Then,) what he is given therefrom, he may take. What he is disallowed to take, he should avoid.” (Muslim)

  1. Buraidah ibn Al-Husaib(may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

When we appoint someone to a (public) post and provide him with an allowance, anything he takes beyond that is an ill-gotten gain.” (Abu Dawud and authenticated by Al-Albani)

  1. Khaulah bint `Amir(May Allah be pleased with her) reported that the Messenger of Allah said,

Some men abuse Allah’s Property (that is, public money and funds). They will go to Hell on the Day of Resurrection”. (Al- Bukhari)

Contatc Muhammad: deedat@gmail.com