Re: Abuja National Mosque Has Appointed Imams

I acknowledge with great esteem the wonderful piece in response to my personal opinion on the need to appoint a Chief Imam from amongst the three deputy Imams presiding over the Friday prayers in rotation at the national Mosque Abuja. I must assert that I wrote from my own view point, not representing any sect, group or individual interest. I have no personal relationship with any of the three Imams and should not have been drafted by any of them to write on his behalf.

I had written with the thought that, even if I am no body to influence any decision by the Apex Islamic organization, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), I could add a voice to finding a lasting solution to the lingering national issue. The trio: Dr. Ahmad Onilewura, Dr. Muhammad Adam and Dr. Ibrahim Maqari are all lovely, amiable and able. I have said it that each of them is qualified to be the Chief Imam.

Frankly, the renowned writer, Sheikh Abubakar Siddeeq Muhammad did very well in his response which he wrote in two parts, having additional information as a member of the circle in the management of the Mosque. He is the translator of the Friday sermons into English and Hausa languages. In both write-ups, he was able to provide far deeper insights into why the three deputy Imams should remain so. He was able to smartly corroborate my stand that the issue has been somehow politicized by some Islamic leaders. He sought for a balance in appointing an Imam from the Igbo extraction.

Notwithstanding, I am worried that my point was somewhat misconstrued. I am not talking of having Imams for the national Mosque; I mean a Chief Imam. Three deputy Imams cannot be Chief Imams, even if they are called deputy chief Imams? Under whatever guise we may want to subject the matter, the Mosque needs one Chief Imam. The Sultan, the Secretary-General of NSCIA, the Secretary-General of Jama’atu Nasril-Islam (JNI), President of the Muslim Ummah of South West of Nigeria (MUSWEN) with few other prominent Muslim leaders should consider the way out of this.

As a member of the Ummah, I have utmost trust in and loyalty to the leader of Muslims in Nigeria, the Sultan of Sokoto and the President General of NSCIA and JNI, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’adu Abubakar III. His confidence in me had made the JNI invite me to several media parleys chaired by the Sultan himself. I have had several occasions to meet and talk with him. My high esteem for him made me wrote: The simplicity in a Sultan. I abhor praise-singing and self gratification. But as a Muslim, the spirit of acceptance of reality is there.

I am also confident in the leaderships of our erudite secretary generals of NSCIA, Professor Ishaq Oloyede, of JNI, Dr. Khalid Abubakar Aliyu and of MUSWEN President, Alh. (Dr.) S.O Babalola. All of them also have confidence in my ability to defend Islam and Muslims as well humanity in my capacity as a journalist and a strong advocate of humanity, rule of law and good governance. That is why they appointed me as a member of NSCIA and JNI media teams. I pray for the Sultan and the leaderships of NSCIA, JNI and MUSWEN and wish them Allah’s guidance and protection at all times. I equally pray for the unity and progress of the Ummah. There is one leadership and there is no 99 percent loyalty. Nothing can be more appalling than attempting to hide the truth that we are humans with diverse ways of thinking and inclinations to choice. So I am sure that there in the hearts of our leaders and every created human, someone special occupies a specious space.

Why not? Allah Who created everything in existence had preferences in all He created: angels, prophets, months, days and times. The preferences were for specific reason(s) known to Him. It is therefore a height of deception that three persons can be considered equal in all ramifications. The trinity conundrum in Christianity remains a contentious quagmire – that three existences are equal. Hypocrisy is a deadly threat. And unfortunately, with the hard truth always veiled and accepted in guise that peace may reign, many things go wrong while treating critical matters with attempt to please every member of the Ummah.

As humans, leadership is enticing. Three people cannot be made to lead a place without latent rivalry. It is a hard truth. It is a human characteristic that can hardly be subdued by a human. Except for pretenders, there cannot be two chairmen or presidents. And there, deep inside each of the heart of our able three deputy Imams, there is the urge to be, one day, the Chief Imam. If this remains a concern, then it is incumbent on the leadership of the Ummah to relieve them of the burden by confirming one of them. No one can imagine the type of heart worries manifested in prayers, supplications and sacrifices each of them is offering on this. Let the reality be faced squarely and let the case be rested as soon as possible for the Muslims of Nigeria.

Who is afraid of having a Chief Imam for our national Mosque? Who can defeat what Allah has destined for any of the three or for any Muslim? We all believe in destiny, so we should not shy away from it. The episode of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and Ibn Abbas on the overpowering hands of destiny is stark. Destiny can only be delayed but it cannot be denied.

Additional information gathered revealed that there had been a chosen from amongst the three deputy Imams by the leadership. But it is clear that something is wrong somewhere. The refusal to announce the chosen created more complications to the matter. There would have been reactions, assuredly, but I am sure it would have been gradually contained. By this, any attempt to unilaterally choose from the trio may generate more controversies than before. But the leadership of the Ummah must not act to please everybody. There are hard decisions that are good directly or in disguise. A clear case is the present government that is implementing hard policies for the overall betterment of the nation.

More so, leadership as we Muslims strongly believe, is from Allah (SWT) and one toils in vain who Allah has not destined to be a leader. So the Sultan, NSCIA and JNI should take the best decisions that will be in the interest of the entire Ummah and not for any few individuals or groups. No single individual or group can hold the nation to ransom. President Muhammadu Buhari has made that solemn promise to Nigerians who are happy with him for demystifying the security of our dear nation.

Yet, I still believe that there is a way out. For every difficult situation, Allah has made a solution. It is left for the leadership to explore the Qur’an and the lives of our guided salaf. However,I would like to suggest that a full month be set aside for the re-screening of the three Imams to select one. A day from each week of the selected month should be used for specific area of tests to be conducted by a team of ulamafrom home and abroad. The team should constitute a powerful shura to ease this quagmire.

The first week could be used to interview them on all aspects of family and social life: the concept of marriage, child upbringing and peer pressure management. The second week could dwell on leadership charisma and wisdom about life. The third could be used to screen them on Nigerian and world politics as well as the (mis)conception on terrorism and gang-ups against Islam. Sects in Islam should also be questioned. Finally, the fourth week could be used to test on Holy Qur’an recitation, memorization, Arabic and local languages, Hadith, Islamic knowledge and jurisprudence. One hour for each of the four weeks could be dedicated for each of the three so that there will be no rush or intimidation.

By the end of these four week intensive screening, if three of them remain equal by scoring equal marks, then destiny would be imposed by using balloting (Qur’a). Three papers with different inscriptions could be placed before them to choose one each. One should read: The Chief Imam. The second should read: The First Deputy Chief Imam. And the third should read: The Second Deputy Chief Imam. When this option is to be used, for the sake of Allah and Islam, transparency must be observed. By this, no one or group except trouble makers will blame the leadership of the Ummah or anybody of bias or injustice against any preferred candidate. May Allah be our Guide always. Ameen.

Muhammad Ajah is an advocate of humanity, peace and good governance in Abuja. E-mail [email protected].

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Articles by Muhammad Ajah