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JIGAWA'S QU'RANIC RECITATION COMPETITION WITH A DIFFERENCE

By NBF News
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Organized around the theme 'National Unity Among Nigerian Muslims and Enhancement of Global Brotherhood Through Quaranic Recitation Competition', the 25th National Quaranic Recitation Competition was bound to turn into a forum for high level intellectualism. More so in an identity conscious global village and with the galaxy of personalities in attendance.

This ranged from the Chairman of the occasion, Governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina; the Shehu of Borno and the representative of the Sultan of Sokoto at the opening ceremony, Umar Garbai ibn El-Kanemi; the Emir of Gwandu, Alhaji Muhammed Iliyasu Bashar, the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Umar Faruk; the Emir of Ningi, Alhaji Yunusa Danyaya; the Mai Bedde from Yobe State, Alhaji Abubakar Umar Suleiman and all the emirs of Jigawa State viz that of Hadejia, Kazaure, Gumel, Ringim and Dutse; the Vice-Chancellor of Usmanu Dan Fodio University, (UDU), Sokoto, Professor Riskuwa Shehu and the Head of Department of Arabic Studies of the university, Professor Sambo Junaidu. Others included Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi and the quintessential public intellectual and Dan Masanin Kano, Dr. Yusuf Maitama Sule whose intervention certainly activated the audience the more. Governor Sule Lamido closed this list as the Chief Host.

Right from 11. 11 am when the two governors arrived the Aminu Kano Triangle in Dutse, venue of the competition for the opening ceremony, everything was a discourse, including the mien of the twosome. For example, Ibrahim Shema turned out a personification of amity. It is not clear if that is how he always is. And when he climbed the podium, there was no falsity about him.

He called his Jigawa counterpart, 'my brother, Sule Lamido' and proceeded to recognize everyone instead of the escapism into the Nigerian lexicon, 'all protocols observed'. He expressed the hope that learning of the Qu'ran by heart would have a contagion effect and result in the expansion of the frontiers of Islam in Northern Nigeria. He then gave a good account of himself in terms of what his government has tried to do by way of foreign educational opportunities in the area of Arabic knowledge, stretching from Arabic Calligraphy to Computer to Medicine, Pharmacy and so on.

This appears to be a major trend in the essentially Islamic part of Northern Nigeria if the high points of Lamido's foray in Arabic and Islamic knowledge are anything to go by. The audience learnt about from the Jigawa Education Commissioner, Professor Haruna Wakili about the elaborate rehabilitation and restoration of the mega School of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Hadejia; the College of Islamic and Legal Studies; overseas scholarship for 30 students who excelled in the National Qu'ranic Competition , i.e. ten from each of the exercise in 2007, 2009 and 2010) who have been sent to the International University of Africa in Sudan, the University of Cairo in Egypt, the University of Malaysia and the University of Saudi Arabia in Mecca. Ten students from the current competition will be added to this list.

Expatiating on the competition in his speech, the Vice-Chancellor of UDU, Prof Shehu made the point about this being the first time the competition would be held in Jigawa State since 1986 when it was inaugurated with the aim of encouraging scholarship in the Qu'ranic Sciences as well as unity among Muslims. Nigeria, he said, had distinguished itself in international Qu'ranic recitation competitions.

The event, said he, has been sustained by the various kinds of support extended to the Centre for Islamic Studies of UDU. The names of the sources of support would remain confidential but not all of them. Some, he said, have to be mentioned so as for other Muslims to emulate them. It was here he disclosed that the Jigawa governor, Sule Lamido, had 'displayed good leadership style in all our dealings with him and has fulfilled all pledges and gave us all that was possible'. Prof Shehu added 'Governor Sule's choice of Professor Haruna Wakili, the Honourable Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology to chair the Local Organizing Committee of learned scholars, experienced technocrats and respectable traditional title holders is more than justified.

From this moment, recognition for Sule Lamido began to pour in. elder statesman and the Dan Masanin Kano, Dr. Yusuf Maitama Sule said, 'I thought I was only proud of you because of the new face of Dutse until I heard the VC of UDU'. Support for Islam, said Dan Masanin, is a cardinal contribution because, according to him, a good Muslim is everything good. Islam, he said, did not come to condemn or contradict any other religion but to corroborate and Muslims make no distinction between the Messengers or the Prophets of God. A Muslim who follows the Qu'ran is, in his words, civilized, sophisticated, honest, reliable, dependable, truthful and conscious.

Hence his thesis that a good Muslim is everything good and that if all Muslims followed the Qu'ran, the World would know peace 'because the good Muslim is a good nieghbour, is a just ruler, he has sense of fairness and justice and does not discriminate on grounds of color, creed, tribe or religion'.

It was Professor Sambo Junaid who actually launched into the theme of the identity of the Muslim within the context of unity and global brotherhood, not only of Muslims but of Muslims and its otherness. He started by expressing happiness that, in spite of the threat of materialism to the Glorious Qu'ran, Muslim governors had joined hands with the Centre for Islamic Studies of the UDU and hosted the Qu'ranic Recitation Competition in their states.

According to him, this has helped the centre in choosing the best reciters for participation in international competitions in Muslim countries. He would be happier if, in the spirit of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council co-chaired by the Sultan of Sokoto and President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, (CAN), the National Quranic Competition goes round the states. And, in his view, if CAN were to decide to organise a Holy Bible Recitation Competition, Muslim governors should be able to join hands with their counterparts to host such a long awaited competition.

He also made the point about participants garnering honours for Nigeria from recent international recitation competitions held, among others, in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Palestine, Libya and Malaysia, citing how 64 countries participated in the case of the competition in Saudi Arabia in 2010, among them countries and Islamic organisations from the Middle East, Africa, Europe and America. He would want live coverage for such occasions in future 'so that the teeming Muslim World population will watch the competition live'.

So satisfied that the Chief Host, Alhaji Sule Lamido refused to speak when he took the floor. He said in his usual frank manner that the issues had been so succinctly captured by the previous speakers that he would not want to dilute those speakers. He thereby reduced his task to simply declaring the competition open. Thirty states are participating in the 25th version of the week long competition which the Sultan of Sokoto will declare closed on February 16th, 2011 in Dutse.

Mallam Kyari is Special Assistant to on Media Affairs to Gov Lamido