Pages

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A BRIEF ENCOUNTER WITH HIS EMINENCE


If you have been following the intrigues leading to my removal as the English Translator of the Khutbah at the National Mosque, a function I’ve been exercising pro bono for seventeen years, this piece will interest you.
More than any other piece in this column, PDP AND THE NATIONAL MOSQUE has proved to be an article of unsurpassed currency and incalculable feedback. I’ve heard of people who bought many copies of LEADERSHIP of Friday, 10th June, 2011 for free distribution; others made photocopies of the column and gave it to any that could not lay their hands on the paper. On my blog (www.abubakrsiddeeq.blogspot.com) where it was also published, the article recorded an all-time high page view of over 12, 000 readers from around the world, with the United Kingdom topping the list by over 8, 000 visitors, followed by about 2000 from Nigeria; the remaining 2000 or so came from the United States, Malaysia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Others were Qatar, Canada, Egypt, China, etc. Many brothers and sisters copied the piece, pasted it as e-mail and forwarded to all their contacts, urging them to also forward to as many people as possible; the coverage was so extensive that I, the author, got a forwarded message of my  own article from a hitherto unknown contact!
The responses from readers showed that the Ummah is alive in allegiance to its Maker and His Deen; that it is grieved when the sanctity of any masjid is defiled or Allah’s votaries are maligned in any way. Text-messages kept coming in relating the authors’ anguish at what happened, beseeching Allah to make firm my foothold, and admonishing me to be patient until Allah’s decree comes to pass. Many brethren obliged me with copies of people’s comments from the forwarded messages they sent them on the write-up depicting similar concerns as those expressed in the SMS-messages.
The phone calls I received on the same piece were equally massive, and unlike text-massaging which restricts one to expressing their thoughts in words, callers were able to speak with me directly and even proffer solution to the issues contained in the piece. Quite a number of them would prefer the preservation of their anonymity in this column but I’ll relate the purport of their counsel. The telephone calls were so many that I have chosen to confine myself to only a few. In Abuja, my family and I have a father (the meaning of whose name is The Servant of Allah) to whom we run first before any other person on anything that has to do with us. We actually visited him at the peak of this debacle but we did not discuss the issue as it was something that has to do with the Ummah as a whole and not a personal or family matter. Were we to raise the issue during that visit he would have contacted the protagonists or whomsoever can influence any decision no matter how highly placed they may be.
After reading the interview I granted the Daily Trust of Friday, 17th June, 2011, The Servant of Allah called at a time when I was in the presence of His Eminence, Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar III; (I’ll return to this later). I could not respond to the call, obviously. At the time of Asr prayer I returned the call, informing him why I could not answer the call earlier. ‘Since you are still with His Eminence,’ he said, ‘we shall speak later. But quickly, why didn’t you mention this when you and your wife came to me three days ago?’
Sir, I deemed that out of the purview of family matters’; I answered, ‘I’ve reported what happened to Allah and then to the entire Muslim Ummah for their information. I’ll send the address of my blog sir, in a text-message, so you can read the article that brought about this Daily Trust interview.’
Okay, do send the text, but before then, since His Eminence is now involved, do not insist on getting any formal correspondence before you go back to your job as you stated in this interview. Please just go and continue; your written document is with Allah, and only He can reward you for what you’ve been doing for all these years.’
The Servant of Allah called after two days; ‘Only now have I been able to read the article from your blog;’ he commenced, ‘you are absolutely right in what you stated, but I take exception to three points: 1) when you mentioned the special prayers at the National Mosque you said whatever that means. You know very well that was not the first time such prayers were offered in the mosque and you were part of it. 2) Saying that people were made to park their cars miles away from the mosque was an exaggeration. 3) If elections were flawed, allow the courts to say so.
‘However, you have taught me a lesson in this write-up. Throughout my stay at the State House, Abuja, we’ve organised and sent security personnel to the National Mosque, and whenever anybody took exception to that we’ve always cited the presence of the military and the police within the precincts of the two holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah for security purposes. It is only today that you drew my attention to the fact that the forces are there to protect the multitude of worshipers and not leaders….
I responded by saying that was the first time somebody dissected the whole piece in the manner in which he did, stating what they take exception to and what they accept; and that I was humbled by his analyses, fatherly advice and kind words.
Muslim members of the Diplomatic Community in Abuja have shown a lot of concern after reading PDP AND THE NATIONAL MOSQUE. They called my phone several times to affirm that the content of the article was a true reflection of what happened in and around the mosque on that day, and encouraged dialogue as the best way of resolving the issue. Also, they advised that I return to my duties at the mosque should I be called upon to do so. Since both the Chief Imam and the Executive Secretary of the mosque have separately called me to meetings after the unfortunate incident of my removal, the diplomats opined that I should have responded to the summon.

                            His Eminence, Sultan Sa'ad Abubakar III

And now, never mind the cliché, the last straw that broke the camel’s back. His Eminence, Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar III was in Abuja for the Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs meeting and the Hajj Seminar organised by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON). And we met. His words will forever resonate in my ears; they were coated with tenderness, Islamic brotherhood and military precision; succinct, decisive and straight to the point: ‘Ustaz Siddeeq,’ said His Eminence, ‘I’ve read your article. Your removal, the reversal of which I’ve already ordered, was wide of the mark. Revert to your English translations of the Khutbah at the National Mosque, and seek Allah’s countenance in whatever you do. May Allah bless you!’
His Eminence and the impression his words leave when he utters them make you call to mind Dawud, may Allah be please with him, who was a Messenger, a leader of his people and a military commander concerning whom Allah said: ‘We made his kingdom strong and gave him wisdom and decisive utterance.’ (Saad 38:20)
Your Eminence! Since you’ve spoken, your words are the end of discussion. We hear, and we obey! This is the type of leadership that has been eluding the Ummah for some time now. I deeply regret the wrong perception I had before this brief encounter. I did not imagine the Sultan conversing freely with people around him, smiling at what amuses him and even laughing. He answers all his calls by himself whether he recognises the number or not, reads and responds to text-messages. Humbleness in elegance; humility in royalty!
Let me conclude with these:
I am not disrespectful of my leaders by bringing to their notice what was likely to stir up ill-feelings of people towards them. The mosque should not be a place for sycophants to ply their wares or for politicians to exhibit party supremacy or other sentiments. I am not a politician; I don’t know how to speak like one. I do not represent the interest of anybody other than that of Islam and the Muslims. If I spoke the way I did the other day was purely out of concern for what the people were made to go through because they came to offer the Friday prayers, which, incidentally, is the most important religious obligation of the week. I apologise if my tone suggested rudeness or my choice of words was not diplomatic enough for the personalities I addressed. I ask for the pardon of everyone and anyone who might feel some aversion at my words; I only beg you to examine the message and not the messenger.
I believe that Vice President Namadi would never have ordered the expulsion of people from observing Jumu’ah in the mosque (only a mad man would do that); but somebody was over-stepping their bounds under the pretext of protecting the VP. I have not regretted what I said on that day because it was not out hatred or disrespect but out of love to the person of His Excellency, the Vice President. I will continue to draw his attention to anything that will hamper his relationship with the Muslim community and the entire citizens of this country.
See you at the National Mosque, insha Allah!

6 comments :

  1. Salam,you have spoken nicely and as decreed by ALLAH SWT but but if we are to follow the dictates of the mind you should not have apologized to anybody.ALLAH alone is the giver and taker of every thing but because His Eminence the Sultan has intervened are we to say any thing.May ALLAH increase us in IMAN

    ReplyDelete
  2. Barakallahu fihi Your Eminence. May you continue to enjoy good health, wealth of wisdom and long life. We are happy that someone can recognise the truth and stand by it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. There is a bit of grandstanding both in response and comments during and the aftermath of the incident. We learn from each other's experiences and I found the comment of the Imam
    quite matured and balanced.

    I expect the security to be as tight as it was, which was sequel to the wanton destruction of lives and the impasse that greeted the announcement of the winner of the last election. Moreso the violent reaction was from the North for which the National mosque is situated. The tight security was expected

    Haliru was right by his comment but I feel it was disproportionate by him going further to say that he will deal with Ustaz Sideeq, which I believe infuriated him giving rise to the chain
    of uncontrolled "not too healthy" comments/events that followed. I must admit that Ustaz spoke the truth on the issue but a little more tact would have helped

    On the whole, I must say that I note with interest Ustaz's boldness to address the truth, the imam's tactful comment and Sultan's balanced judgement. Allaah knows best

    ReplyDelete
  4. Alhamdu-liLah to know that Ustaz is going back to the sadaqah he has being offerring for over 17 years which some greedy politicians wanted to deprive him of thinking he is like them.

    I totally support Ustaz's tone and response right form the start of this unfortunate incidence upto the time it was resolved.

    I will in my own little capacity continue to maintain that the heavy security presence at the national mosque is un-called for if at all our leaders are just and sincere in their deals.
    We pray that Allah SWT continue to guard you and protect you. May Allah SWT continue to give you more boldness to challenge what is wrong and enjoin what is right (amin).

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a brother. May Allah be with you.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It's certainly a great virtue to utter the word 'sorry' or any other word of apology especially when in the absolute sense of the matter, you are not in the wrong. More precisely, you have spoken the truth and at the same time, subtle and respectful in addressing the people of authority (in this write-up)while being steadfast on the truth. After all, Allah instructed Moosaa and Haaroon(AS)to address Fir`awn softly while at the same time speaking nothing but the truth. On the whole,I agree with your utterances in the heat of the matter as much as i admire your wordings and style in this very piece. May Allah continue to guide and guard you (aaameeen).

    ReplyDelete