The simplicity in a Sultan

May Allah (SWT) continue to grant leadership to who deserves it. Amen.

When I was young in my primary school, we came across the word 'sultan' in the class and I can remember that my teacher explained it as 'the king of Muslims'. Decades after, I now think my former non-Muslim teacher was referring to 'Amirul Mu'minin', which literally means 'the leader of believers'.

An English dictionary explained Sultan as a ruler of a Muslim country, especially of the former Ottoman Empire. Originally, according to the Qur'an, sultan represents moral or spiritual authority although it was later used for political or governmental power. According to some historians, Mahmud of Ghazna who reigned between 998 AD and 1030 AD was the first Muslim ruler to be called sultan by his contemporaries.

The Sultan in the Nigerian context, I can prefigure, is the custodian of the Islamic faith in the country.

The institutionalization of the Sultanate in Nigeria has not only been a fruitful effort in uniting the Muslim Ummah of the country but it has also been an institution which cares for the socio-economic and political excellence of the nation. Successive leaderships of the Sultanate seated at Sokoto State, have in their individual efforts made meaningful contributions to the development of the Muslim Ummah in particular and the Nigerian nation at large.

Recently, an important thing took me to Sokoto to see the Sultan, Alhaji Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar. I have had the opportunity of seeing him in some occasions in Abuja. But this was the first time I could speak to a sultan in my life. With the former thought of how highly placed and sophisticated a sultan is, I went to Sokoto ever prepared to brace up to any circumstance I could find myself.

But alas! I met the shock of my life. At the gate, I did not find heavily armed and curious security operatives. Although I was in the company of my friend with whom we studied abroad in the same university and faculty, I tried to curb my anxiety. Instead of questioning us, the very few and jovial security men directed us to the persons in charge. The greatest news is that no one is harassed or embarrassed at the sultan's gate.

At the waiting room, I looked round and saw the simplicity of the sultan in every angle and d├ęcor of the palace. We were asked to wait as the sultan was meeting with the Igbo Community in Sokoto. After about one hour, the visitors came out from the meeting and one could not but believe that they have been attended to in the most honourable and patriotic manner. Smiles glittered on their faces as they walked out of the palace apparently satisfied with their visit.

After the night prayers, it was the time for dinner and I had wondered what the crowd that gathered in the waiting room was all for. I later discovered they had come to have dinner with the sultan. This, as I was later informed, is so every day. I was ushered into the dining room like others. But as I approached the hall, I saw a man simply sitting on the floor like other visitors, collecting food by himself from a wide plate from which every other participant fed. I would have asked my colleague who was the sultan if I had not seen him before. This is quite uncommon in our society.

After the dinner, the sultan made little jokes with some known participants and immediately recognized that there were strangers within. He spoke directly to us and after our explanations, he assured that our request would be attended to accordingly after consultations.

This is the Sultan of our time. This is the Sultan of dynamic, detribalized, committed, inspiriting, sincere and above all God-fearing leadership. This is the Sultan under whose reign intermittent religious crises that used to characterize the Nigerian polity have been minimized. This is the Sultan who has made Muslims united more than ever before. It is under his leadership that Muslims from the Nigerian Islamic Minority are carried much more along in the socio-political scenes of this country. And he has shown commitment to the development of the Nigerian youths.

He is the Abubakar Assiddiq of our time. May the Almighty Allah continue to protect, guide and fill his heart with the love of the underlings. Amen. May Allah (SWT) crown his efforts for His Cause and the development of Nigerians and the nation. Amen.

Muhammad Ajah, an author and advocate of humanity writes from Abuja ([email protected])

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Articles by Muhammad Ajah