Scholars harps on Islamic perspective on unity


In an attempt to build a more rewarding future for the Ummah. Muslims have been urged to shun ethnicity and tribalism, as Islam frowns against conflicts and clashes, which affect unity.

At the inaugural launch of Magodo Phase Two Muslims Association, themed, ‘Unity of Muslim Ummah in a Community, Its Need, Importance and relevance‘ speakers at the event said it is imperative on Muslim organisations to unite, as the strength of the Ummah lies in its unity.

The guest speaker, Registrar of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, while delivering lecture on ‘Romanticising or Surpassing the Past: The Dilemma of Contemporary Yoruba Muslims’, said the first major issue or challenge that confront Yoruba Muslims is the deliberate policy of systematic roll back of Islamic legal culture by the British colonial powers, noting that the introduction of English Legal System and the incorporation of repugnancy doctrine is another policy, which is contemptuous of Islamic culture and jurisprudence.

“ The Islamic legal culture, it would be recalled, had started to blossom in places such as Ede, Ikirun, Iwo, Epe and other surrounding areas long before the British came into West Africa.

“The doctrine stipulates that courts shall not enforce any provision of the customary law that is repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience or if it is contrary to public policy. This clause was regularly invoked to strike down rules of Islamic jurisprudence that were deemed incompatible with English law or notion of justice. This state of affairs made the Muslim elite of Lagos, led by Mohammed Shitta Bey, to present a petition to the Governor. They requested for a Sharia Court to administer Islamic personal law, just as was approved for Indian Muslims by the British Colonial Government. The petition concluded with a prayer to the Governor.”

He added that the present generation of Yoruba Muslims has a rich and proud history behind them. “ Our forebears proudly surmounted the challenges they faced to bequeath to us what we refer to today as Islam. They faced harassment. They were intimidated and ridiculed. Yet, they remained firm and constant in defense of the truth.”

Oloyede said the period following the Independence brought to the fore, effects of disparity in access to Western education between Muslims and Christians and this led to various societies in establishing Muslim Primary and Secondary Schools in our region

“Increasingly, Yoruba Muslims began to experience lack of equal access to political and economic opportunities in the Southwestern region. Notwithstanding the efforts made by notable Muslim societies to establish schools, many western educated Muslims still experienced coercive secularisation and indoctrination in the course of their academic and professional journeys. This has greatly diminished their allegiance and commitment to Islam. A good number of them have been involved in interfaith marriages and could not, unfortunately, pass Islam on to their children. These are children who have come under a second wave of secularisation and de-islamisation championed by westernised institutions, including print and electronic media.

“ The number of Muslim teachers in our schools and colleges is still low. This is equally the case with reference to number of Muslim Lecturers in our Universities and other tertiary institutions. The question that constantly bothers my mind is this – where are our graduates? Is it a case of misplaced priority by the Ummah or a case of institutionalised discrimination against them? Are Yoruba Muslims victims of cultural and political hegemony?

He also stated that some self-inflicted, self marginalisation practices affecting the growth and development of some Muslim youth associations, particularly, in many tertiary institutions.

“Some of our promising young ladies have had to abandon their studies in the field of medicine and nursing, especially over attitudes of some institutions to Niqab. Some Muslim leaders have suggested a pragmatic approach in dealing with the situation as it is considered more important. As far as they are concerned, it is now more urgent than ever before for us to produce female medical personnel. This, in their opinion, would put a stop to the current situation, where Muslim women are being subjected to the indignity of exposing their anatomy to male medical personnel, particularly, in gynecology. The challenge for us relates not only to how prepared we are to correct this anomaly based on Islamic jurisprudence, but equally that of how we can convince some groups within the Ummah who would not allow their women to venture into the public sphere no matter the necessity.”

Oloyede said that another related Fitna confronting the Yoruba Muslims today is the seemingly intractable rivalries and controversies among Muslim clerics in yorubaland. “The time honoured principle of Adab-l-Ikhitilaaf appears to have been forgotten or out rightly jettisoned. Ideological differences have torn them far apart to the extent that Muslims now engage in declaring one another Kaafir, apart from other contemptible derogations.

“ Scholars and pseudo-scholars from across all divides (Sufis, Ahlus sunnah, Salafi,Tabligh, Mekondoro, Shia) are locked in unnecessary doctrinal debates. Some of them engage in the practice of syncretism, sorcery and magic thereby misrepresenting Islam to their gullible clients who patronise them for quick solution to their problems.

“This ugly trend is understandable. In other words, existing socio-economic systems, as well as the impacts of modernity, have led the products of our Madrassahs in the cold. The organisation of schools for Islamic education has remained largely in private hands with its attendant incoherence and chaos. The curricula in the traditional Islamiyah schools are, in some parts, outdated and unsuitable. The products of these schools are generally not recognised by the system and are not employable. Some of them engage in the practice of syncretism, sorcery, and magic to earn their livelihood. They resort to these unwholesome and abhorrent social practices partly as a result of a lack of legitimate opportunities for a decent and sustainable economic lifestyle. Rather than being ambassadors of Islam, they have become a burden to the Deen. Traditional Muslim scholars are currently embroiled in undue rivalry and supremacy struggles. They have distracted the Ummah from the pursuit of noble and lofty goals. We really have to address the embarrassing verbal exchanges between some Muslim scholars and preachers and also their resort to social media for ignoble purposes.”

The National Missioner and Chief Imam of Ansar-Ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Sheikh Abdulrahman Ahmad, while delivering lecture on the theme of the event, said ethnic or tribe is a subset of identity that pronounce Allah’s creativity. “The fact that I am a Yoruba, Hausa, Fulani or Nupe does not really define who I am, it is just a means by which at some level I could be sorted. Not a means by which I can be evaluated in the affairs of this world or hereafter.

“ Allah (SWT) is a creator, he is a fashioner and He is not a mass producer. He paid attention to individuals in their makeup, in their psychology, emotions, physique, appearance. No two individuals are the same, you can only find that in the creation of Almighty Allah. No matter how masterful a craft man can be, if you pay individual attention to a craft man’s products, you will still find his imprint in it because there is a thread.”

He said the purpose of Allah making us into nations and tribes is not to create a discrimination of profiling, it is just a means by which human should appreciate the sign of Allah. “Part of the signs of Allah is that he has created you and given you different complexions, skin pigments and different languages. This are signs of the greatness of Allah’s creation ingenuity. Allah (SWT) is the best of those who are endowed, best of those who fashion.

Ahmad urged the Ummah to unite as one as decreed by Allah (SWT), as going against the wills of Allah has numerous consequences.

“ If we look at the universe Allah as created, you will see unity of purpose. He created synergy between the heaven and the earth. The planetary bodies are well coordinated, they work in unison. The sky the moon, the galaxy, sun, air even the vegetation that grow from the earth, in them you will see synergy, cooperation. Every single thing feels a particular purpose in the whole chain. If you take one thing away the chain will break.”

He averred that ethnicity and tribalism could not be the basis of bringing people together as history debunks common ancestry.

“ The Yoruba’s fought one of the longest inter ethic wars known to history, the kiriji war. In fact it is still enshrine in the Yoruba language. There are some Yoruba adages that use to remind us who we are as Yoruba’s. Allah tells us that he has united our heart on the basis of Islam.

“As for us who have been blessed by faith, Allah is urging us by means of that faith to be united between our hearts. We should priorities faith as the basis of our relationship not blood. As far as Islam is concern, faith is stronger even than blood.”

He said Allah commanded Muslims to unite due to the numerous benefits enshrined in unity.

“There is strength in unity. Allah expects us to be united and cooperate together. If we refuse to unite, we will continue to fall into disagreement, which will lead to deviation into groups, diminishing our power.

“Today in Nigeria, it is a sad commentary that in spite of our numbers, position of preeminent, we are about the weakest sect of the socio cultural, sociological groups in this country, we are about the most disunited and we are example of people whose population are not benefiting at all.

By Shakirah Adunola

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