AT 40, I'M FULFILLED, BUT…â€“ CHIEF IMAM
Ansar-Ud-Deen Mosque, Abuja, is one of the very few mosques in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), where English is used to deliver the Friday sermon. This perhaps may probably explain why most top shots in the business and political circle troop in there to pray every Friday.
The man, Imam Musa Olaofe, who presides over the mosque as the spiritual head, was 40 yesterday. He spoke briefly with Daily Sun on the journey so far.
How do you feel at 40?
'I feel fulfilled, and I give thanks to Allah for making things easy for me. He has been assisting me since I came to this world. And whatever I asked Him to do for me, He has always done it for me. I had the intention of studying Islamic Studies in the university, Allah made it easy for me, and some other things in life that I did not even plan for, He did for me.'
What are those things?
'Well, like the issue of Imam. I only came to Abuja for a greener pasture from Kano in 2001. I got a teaching job with the Federal Government Girls College, Bwari. It was in 2007, when I joined the University of Abuja as a lecturer, and I have remained there till date. I thank God for giving me the opportunity to serve as Imam of the Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria (ADS), Abuja branch. I became Imam on January 19, 2003, and by last year by the Grace of God I was turbaned as Imam of ADS, Abuja, branch.
'There are lots of challenges, but I thank God that He has been helpful since inception. I pray that Allah will continue to guide us and continue to be with us.'
'When I became the Imam, well many thanks to the executive of ADS, for the confidence they had in me. When it was time for interview, they asked all interested candidates to apply, and for almost three months, nobody could submit application apart from the one I submitted. I went to Kano to meet with the Northern States Council Missioner, Sheik Muideen Ajani Bello, for the training, then I was sent to Lagos to see the National Missioner. The national Missioner conducted the interview for me, and by 2004 I was confirmed as Imam of ADS, Abuja branch. Since then we have been doing our best in terms of membership drive and some other good things have been coming the way of the society'
'Coming from a modest background, it was not easy. I just believe that, God is able, and He did wonders through many Muslim ummah especially Alhaji Abdul Lateef in Kano. They all tried for us, especially when I was in school. Since then I have been moving gradually, not even knowing that I could ever rise to where I am today.
'The major challenge I faced was how to go to the university, because the man who had promised me scholarship, could not make it, though not due to his own fault, but Allah knows best. I eventually went to school because He says whatever He has destined for anybody, no one can change it. At the same time I am equally grateful to ADS executive because I heard that when my name was mentioned at that time, it was the chairman of the branch that said he wanted Alhaji Musa to be serving as the acting Missioner, pending the appointment of a substantive one then.'
How did that happen?
'According to what they said at the meeting, they said when the Mission Board was dissolved, they asked who would be the Imam. They appointed the late Alhaji Shehu Sani, but he said he could not be coming all the way from Ilorin to Abuja every Friday. He now said that they should think of another person to take up the challenge. The chairman now said Alhaji Musa just came in, let him be the acting missioner.
'I remember that day when I was invited after their meeting, Sani said something that 'we are appointing you today as an acting Missioner, but if God wishes we may even make you the Missioner or branch Imam of Abuja ADS.' He said jokingly that very day, but today it has become a reality. The women wing was also very supportive of my candidature. I remain grateful to them, and I thank Almighty Allah for them.
'Since I became the Imam, there are so many good things that came my way. I was invited to the Villa several times to do the breaking of fast with former President Olusegun Obasanjo. From there, former Kano State governor Musa Rabiu Kwankwaso nominated me to be a member of the Federal Government's delegation to 2005/2006 Hajj operation. I thank Allah for His favours.'
Presiding over a big mosque without opposition
'Nobody said so openly. People may have said it, but I have not heard it. I know it myself that I was very young then. But I thank Allah for the wisdom. People knew whatever I was saying then, by way of Friday sermons were ordained by God. And because our sermons, majority of Muslims ummah in the FCT began trooping to the mosque, and it became so known to the whole FCT and environs, that many times, NTA network covers our Friday sermon.'
Managing difficult situations
'There is nobody in Dawa'ah (Islamic preaching) that will not face such challenge especially when you are talking to people and it has something to do with their lives or something they have been doing that is bad. Then they will say that 'it is like the Imam is directly talking to us.'
'Although nobody has ever come to me to say that what I am preaching is directed at him or her. They probably just keep quiet and grumble without necessarily coming out to say so. If they do I will refer them to the Holy Book, the Qur'an to show me where God mention their names. You know a times we talk in parable for those who can reason and reflect.'
2011 election: Your message to leaders and followers
'Nigerian leaders have a lot to do especially after the death of Umar Musa Yar'Adua. If we have a leader like Yar'Adua in this country, Nigeria would have gone far. He declared his assets publicly when he was the President, and he believed in the rule of law. He did not want anybody to be cheated. He always wanted things to move on very well, but his health failed him, and Allah returned him to Him (Allah), and the Vice President became President.
'He has been so loyal because when Yar'Adua was sick people wanted him to take the mantle of leadership immediately, but he declined. He said we should continue praying for some one who is sick, who is part of us. He said Yar'Adua was his mentor, brother and leader. He is very loyal, and if all of us can be so loyal to our bosses either directly or indirectly, things will move on fine in this country.
'2011 election should not be a do-or-die affair. The name of the person who will be the President is already written by Allah. So they should not start fighting and quarrelling here and there. Like what happened in Jos recently whereby many innocent lives were lost, we don't need all that in this country. We have to be very careful, we should promote unity, stability and progress at all the times so that we can live in peace.
'Our youth should not involve themselves in thuggery or any act of violence. They should not allow themselves to be used. If anybody wants to use them for campaign or for anything, they should tell the person to bring his children. Even if they are in abroad, let them come to Nigeria if they can do what they want other children to do for them.'