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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

PDP AND THE NATIONAL MOSQUE

You can describe the events I relate here as inauguration drama at the National Mosque, Abuja. It was Friday 27th May, 2011, a day designated by the Presidential Inauguration Ceremonies Committee for a Special Inauguration Juma’at Prayers (whatever that means) at the National Mosque.
Battle-ready and stern-looking security forces (a combined team of military, police and SSS) blocked all access roads to the National Mosque; it looked like a mosque under siege. Cars conveying worshipers to observe their weekly religious devotions were turned back; they were told to park miles away from the mosque and trek. That was not all; Muslim faithful were subjected to thorough, humiliating searches with metal detectors. They were asked to remove their caps, empty their pockets and leave their bags outside the mosque. It was quite reminiscent of the Abacha years in the same mosque. Not since military rule have we witnessed the use of state organs of coercion in such a brazen manner; not even when the president (Yar’Adua) was to be inaugurated. Many left in anger and observed the prayers in other mosques vowing never to pray henceforth at the National Mosque. No one was spared as the instruction, according to these men in full military and police fatigue, was that ‘no car should be allowed into the mosque premises.’ Thus, unless your vehicle was preceded by a police escort jeep to indicate the importance of the occupant, you were turned back; whoever you might be. Only top government functionaries, ministers, etc. could have access to the mosque. Only two ambassadors – that of Malaysia and that of Indonesia (if I’m not mistaken) – made it to the mosque on that day from the diplomatic community in Abuja. Even the Chief Imam who was to lead the prayers did not find it easy passing through the invincible barricade created around the mosque. Remember this is the largest mosque in Abuja and that it serves the entire central business district of the FCT on a day when all civil servants were at work.
In Islam self-effacement is the norm especially in your way to the mosque where all worshipers – from heads of state to ordinary people – stand before their Lord in the same row and declare Allaahu Akbar, Allah is the Greatest! Quite a number of honoured people, former this and that, who the unthinking may deem very ordinary because of their humility; such worshippers quietly left and saw no point in identifying themselves to security personnel whose demeanour was of combatants in a militarized zone.
The result of the presence of these assault troops was conspicuous inside the mosque as it was half full; or shall I say half empty. It was the first time in its close-to-three decades of existence that the National Mosque, Abuja was half full during Friday prayers. The beginning of a new era indeed!
During my turn to discharge my weekly function of translating the Khutbah, sermon from Arabic to English, by which time the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, the then Secretary of the Federation, Yayale Ahmed, the IGP, Ringim and all (Muslim) ministers were already seated; I urged the privileged worshippers who made it to the mosque to kindly turn and see the scantiness of people in this hallowed place of worship. ‘You’ve made people park their cars miles away from the mosque;’ I said, ‘when they are used to parking them close to the mosque, thus providing further security of such vehicle due to the presence of other worshipers around. Now, with the cars far removed from the mosque premises their security is not guaranteed. Remember that among these worshipers are the aged, children and women who had to trek this long to come in here.’
I drew their attention to what was going on outside the mosque of excessive and humiliating search on people who were just approaching the mosque to observe the Friday prayers. I concluded my saying: ‘Whoever gave this order of harassing Muslims, subjecting them to demeaning search and scaring them away from the mosque should ask himself if this will make people to love their leaders or it will make them hate such leaders.’ I let the dignitaries know the implications of their actions and I reiterated that if we, the clergy, did not let them know these, Allah would ask us and that we would not be helping them that way.
After the Special Prayers for the inauguration of the new government of Jonathan and Sambo, the Chief Imam had to make the following remarks: ‘I wish to draw the attention of our brethren,’ said the Imam, ‘to the fact that the tight security around the mosque is a temporary operation. The officers have exceeded their bounds; nobody instructed them to drive away worshipers from the mosque. Let those who are present convey the message to those who could not come in today that next week there will not be any hindrance to access the mosque by anybody.’

          Dr Mohammed Halliru Bello, PDP Acting National Chairman


Dr Mohammed Halliru Bello, PDP Acting National Chairman, was visibly upset, came to me when worshipers started dispersing and said: ‘Ustaz Siddeeq, why are you inciting the people against the government?’
This was a simple question that required an equally polite answer. At least in print it looks so, but the belligerence with which it was uttered, impossible to be reproduced in a prose, made me answer in like manner. ‘On the contrary sir,’ I said, ‘what I’ve said today is right in every letter. What I did was to call attention to what actually happened and to which everybody here is a witness.’
But what is wrong in having security around the mosque,’ retorted Dr Bello, ‘when you see security forces around the Holy Mosques of Makkah and Madinah? Imam’s remarks were better than yours; he was mild, not mischievous.’
Many people restrained me from further angry exchanges with the PDP Acting Chairman within the precincts of the mosque. I obeyed. But Dr Bello kept talking, went to the Chief Imam and made the same complaint, threatening to deal with me in the sense that the word is used in Nigeria when you desire to visit your vengeance upon someone, especially if you occupy a lofty position. As you shall see later, it seems he carried through his useless threat. Useless because only those who feed off people like him would hesitate to tell the truth where it concerned their principal. Those who collect gratification for selling Allah’s Words and their conscience are the only ones on whom threats like the one Bello made would make any impact.
The presence of security forces around the Two Holy Mosques, Dr Bello should’ve known, was for the safety of the multitude observing their devotions; they are not there to guard any froward potentate and product of flawed elections. There is no reason why people who claim to have been voted into power by the majority of Nigerians would be afraid of the electorate who gave them the mandate!
Outside the mosque I met the Executive Secretary of the National Mosque, Alhaji Abubakar Ibrahim Jega who said to me: ‘Ustaz, you’ve acted righty. You’ve exculpated us by this intervention otherwise people would’ve blamed us for allowing this build-up around the mosque. The Imam was also right in what he did; he acted like Abubakar, the first caliph; while you acted like Umar, the second………..’
It is indeed ironic that, just a day after the incident at the National Mosque, during the Special Inauguration Inter-denominational Service, the National Christian Centre did not witness the heavy security presence visited upon the National Mosque in a similar ceremony. The Christian Centre was full to the brim; no vehicular hindrance; no worshiper was denied access. This is indeed the beginning of a new era!
Wallahi, by Allah, if what happened at the National Mosque that day were to be in a church the government would have formally apologised to the Christian community in Nigeria for the embarrassment meted on its faithful by security agencies around their places of worship. But with the Muslims, anything goes; and who cares?
The mosque has its aegis and sanctity which must be respected by all who come in to offer prayers. It is a place where truth is told to all regardless of status or rank. If leaders err they should be guided to their error so that they can amend such mistakes. The mosque should not be a place where those in authority come only to be placated, aggrandised and prayers are offered for their wellbeing and protection.
The corollary to the above threat by Dr Bello was stopping me from rendering the weekly khutbah from Arabic to English. The same Executive Secretary of the National Mosque who made the conscientious and fatherly statement as quoted above wrote an internal memo addressed to the Chief Imam to the effect that my services are no longer needed in translations of the khutbah because I went out of my way to discuss an issue that was not the object of the sermon. They are now looking for a replacement. There was an awkward interregnum in the mosque last Friday as I sat with other worshippers waiting for an English khutbah that never was. This disenfranchised all that do not speak Hausa and Igbo, let alone Arabic that day from getting the message of the khutbah.
Dr Bello and the PDP have more to do: instruct the LEADERSHIP Newspapers to close this column, stop my weekly radio and television programmes, or better still, arrest and lock me up for good. In that way this ‘little upstart’ will be silenced for most of the time the Power to the People has vowed to vote on our behalf! That is easy for PDP. Be whatever you want to be; a corrupt government official; be implicated in kickbacks and bribery scandals within Nigeria and beyond; do whatever you like, you will remain a saint and even occupy high position in the land provided you do not do what is displeasing to the largest party in Africa, otherwise, EFCC is there to do the dirty job!
To his credit, after the scene he made just a week earlier, Dr Bello Halliru Mohammed, PDP Acting National Chairman was the first to say salaam, Muslim greeting to me when he came into the mosque last Friday, 3rd June, 2011. He has proved to be better than me in line with a tradition of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. But some people who saw this salaam-rapprochement said it meant: Now that you are ‘fired’, how are you enjoying my requital? I did not see it from that angle. In my own defence, I did not see him enter the mosque as I was reading the Quran. I felt a tap on my shoulder and I looked up to see Dr. Bello gesturing a greeting with his arm poised in ‘ranka ya dade’ fashion. I returned the greeting, by the way.
I bear no grudge against anyone, for I know the origin of this decision. I was expecting it. My prayer is for Allah to recompense the services I have rendered as a volunteer, not receiving any wages in translating the khutbah for the past seventeen years. I trust Allah will keep rewarding me every Friday for I did not forsake that task on my own volition; I was hindered by the powers that be.
This reminds me to advise the new translator, whoever he may be, to discard any personal agenda or agenda by proxy to gain from translating the khutbah or to suppress telling the truth; damning the blame of any blamer. It is a new era like I said, a sad, dark and gloomy era!


23 comments :

  1. If only more scholars can be like you, then things may not be as bad as it is within this Ummah. Most of them have become hostage to Naira. May Allah guide our scholars aright, and give then the courage to tell our leaders the truth.

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  2. Ustaz, I share in ur tribulations. May Allah strengthen ur resolve and shame the power mongers. Amin

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  3. The Nigerian Muslims should not take this from the PDP Acting National Chariman or whoever called himself Executive Sect of the National mosque, they should not import PDP's dangerous behaviour to the management of our beloved mosque never..... we sholud not accept this. This same people are the very ones that mismanaged the mosque and thrown it to a hourable situation....An for you Ustaz keep the good work tell them the bitter truth it will be an evidence against them on the day when they cant use this kind of power,,, may Allah reward you and give you more courage to protect our deen Ameen

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  4. أحسنت، ليثب أقدامك الله. أيام كثير يا أخي. أخوك مسلم

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  5. This is sad, indeed. It is more of using a gun to kill a fly, an innocent fly at that. If for this simple observation coming from you will attract such an ill-advised reaction from Dr Bello, then it is very unfortunate. It shows how much degenerated we Muslims have become. Muslims are such cowards now more than ever before. Muslims at the top (like Dr. Bello) cannot stand for Islam even on the most basic issue such as this. This tells us how much more work the defenders of Islam have in Nigeria. More disdainful is the attitude of the National Mosque authorities. They, according to this write-up, on the day of the incident, showed no objection to Mallam Abubakr's observations. Indeed, they even in a way commended him. But see how they swiftly turned their back against him,by allowing his sacking from the job. Well, it is not difficult to explain this. It is clear that their pre-occupation is not to serve and defend Islam, but to maintain some worldly positions, forgetting that these positions are frail and transient in themselves. Mall. Abubakr, take heart. Perhaps, your sacking strengthens your Iman.

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  6. Alhamdulillahi for what ever that has happened and for what ever they will still do.....One thing that is clear is that Allah is above them. We should just continue to pray for this country for good leadership.
    Ustaz, may Allah continue to reward you (ameen).

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  7. Brother Sadeeq, please accept my warmest wishes and prayers for Allah's continuous protection, guidance, good health, and more service to Islam and humanity. A toast to your health, ability and sincerity. Clergymen like you are hard to come by. May Allah (SWT) protect you from the enemies of Islam and Muslims. Sadeeq, your services to humanity and the Book of Allah (SWT) set you free from this world, and would indeed set you free in the hereafter.

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  8. Slm. May Allah reward ur actions and protect u. Go the way of the Ibn Taimiyyas & Ibn Qayyums, be locked up in a prison within a prison; shout the truth from the smallest enclosures; it will still be the truth. Pls note: "National" in the name of the mosque gives it no standing better than the one in my village square in the sight of Allah (SWT).

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  9. The oficer that signed the memo to stop Ustaz is a disappointment to leadership. You know he did right and with respect but you granted the power to stop a good work. How will he explain this to the Ummah?

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  10. Only a few years ago a leader proclaimed that the prayer of the masses is invalid. two years after that he watched power sleep away from him. He was only trying to please his master. today history is repeating itself. The masses are denied access into the Masjid. The few that managed to gain entrance have been denied english translation. May Allah provide us with leaders who feel mercy towards us and who fear Him.

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  11. I cant remember the exact date but what I remember is that ADAMU ADAMU once devoted his column on dailytrist to this distasteful presence of security in the National Mosque. He said it portrayed us the muslim as trouble makers. He wondered why same 'gesture' was, and is still, not extended to people of other faiths. Your travail is as a result of long absence of truthfulness, but which just appeared from the blues without being instructed to do us. One thing u fail to realize is that Islam in Nigeria is an appendage of the PDP. But as one commentator said here, we should not allow this to stand. Let the Muslim community we feel they are gaining from ur translation takes this case to either jamatul Nasir Islam or NSCIA (Another 2 organs of the Govt to surpressing Islam and Muslims in Nigeria!).

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  12. I cant remember the exact date but what I remember is that ADAMU ADAMU once devoted his column on dailytrust to this distasteful presence of security in the National Mosque. He said it portrayed us the muslim as trouble makers. He wondered why same 'gesture' was, and is still, not extended to people of other faiths. Your travail is as a result of long absence of truthfulness, but which just appeared from the blues without being instructed to do us. One thing u fail to realize is that Islam in Nigeria is an appendage of the PDP. It has long been mortgaged by those at the helm of affairs of Islam in Nigeria as demonstrated here by some ur colleagues. But as one commentator said here, we should not allow this to stand. Let the Muslim community gain from ur translation takes this case to either Jamatul Nasir Islam or NSCIA (Another 2 organs of the Govt to surpressing Islam and Muslims in Nigeria!).

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  13. Bro Sadeeq, pls take heart, these are some of the sacrifices honest people like u, Buhari etc have to make to overcome the ever encroaching, destructive and cancerous nature of our leaders, typified by the pdp. May Allah give u and all of us the strength to not only overcome the trial but also success over these evil-hearted men.

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  14. This is a true story.
    OBJ.Aah imam iv'e not been hearing your early morning call to prayer(Izan).
    IMAM. Sir did Madam (Stella)not tell you that she ordered us to stop cos we were disturbing her sleep.
    OBJ. Oti o.Any way don't mind the stupid idiot,in any case at what level was your amp.
    IMAM.At level 10,sir.
    OBJ.Shoo!! raise it to 20 and if any one asks you why? tell them that i said "if i the president would be awake at that time, who are they to still be sleeping.
    OBJ.Stella,did you order that the imam of the Villa mosque should stop the early morning call to prayer.
    STELLA. yes darling i did.
    OBJ.shut up,darling ko darling ni, you this Ewure(yoruba name for dwarf goat)don't you know that it is their prayer that is still keeping us in power.
    Even the Devilish OBJ knows where not to tread.
    Ustaz you have done the needful.He will protect his religion and it's followers.You spoke when others could not.You dared them.Soon others like you will begin to speak out.the dye is cast,the battle lines have been drawn.
    Soon the likes of Dr.H.Bello will begin to fall.Dr. Bello is an ingrate who was raised to be the CG of Customs by his Brother in law COL A.Umar Dangiwa RTD.when he was rotting away as Vet Dr. only to turn around and bite the finger that fed him.

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  15. hmm short of words Bello Halliru, fear Allah for One day we will all return to him. PDP isnt the end of the world. where is pharoh today talk less of one PDP chairman not even president. Allah knows best.

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  16. Ya Ustaz,
    Allah will judge you and Dr. Bello acording to your intentions.

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  17. You are only being disingenous with your arguement and it betrays your political leanings. You seem to ignore the reality on the ground with all the political bombings of koko haram and the riot s taking place in the nothern part of the country.
    The security operative are doing what they are suppose to do, it is only imperative for those brothers and sisters coming to the Jumat prayer to be understanding of the situation, and if you as a leader do not understand, but rather inflame the situation, you have abrogated your duties as a leader in the mosque.

    The christians are not fighting ove the election, it's our muslim brothers in the north that have a problem with the election, so its prudent that the security agency be more vigilant.

    You've done so much disservice to your congregation with this article.

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  18. Also, why do we need english translators of Jumat Khutbah in Nigeria, why cant the khutbah be in English? The language that binds all nigerian together is English and moreso at a national mosque, and i see no reason why the Khutbah should be in any other language. If the Imam can't give Khutbah in english, then he needs to be fired and one that can give a khutbah in english found.

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  19. Salam Ustaz, "after evry hardship dia's relieve".. Dat's y it doesnt bother me dat dis crop of pple r holdin forth as our leaders!

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  20. Ustaz Sadeeq and Mr. Bello, ALLAH (SWT)will judge you according to your intentions in regard to this issue.
    @ Akim Akima, it seems Mr. Bello and PDP pays your SALARY and you w'nt like that to stop. Even those that have effient security (Technology and man power) were been killed or found dead. Imagine a police head quarters been blasted with BOMB. ALLAH and your conscience is your security.

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  21. @Researcher, who pays my salaray has nothing to do with telling the truth and just as i expect this brother Siddeeq to be objective, so should you too. Islam teaches us to think, and may be if you dare to think, you'll see the slant in Bro. Siddeeq's statement. Ask yourself this question; would the authorities have done something different if Buhari was elected?

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  22. This unnecessary argument shouldn't be an issue pls. Allah knows best for He is the best judge of mankind. May He guide us all to the right path.

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