Friday, August 17, 2012

MUJAHID ASARI DOKUBO, MY NEIGHBOUR



                                         Mujahid Asari Dokubo


Peace to all who follow guidance, (Ta Ha 20:47)

Mujahid conjures up the image of a warrior against the repudiators of faith, who desire to blight the Light of Islam. The recent tirades on the issue of insecurity in Nigeria put me in doubt as to what meaning I may attach to the Mujahid in your name. Will I be wrong to reverse the definition of Mujahid in your case to be a warrior against Muslims?

Your residence at Wuse 2, Abuja, as you know, was the next to mine. One of your wives, a Muslim from the North, is a friend of my wife’s; her namesake, actually; that is neighbourhood in every meaning of the word. This correspondence, therefore, is not a rejoinder to anything you said, for you do not merit one, given the level of your knowledge and intellect. This is just a counsel from one neighbour to another. Believers always benefit from counsels.

What will be the fate of your wife, her friends, her kindred, your in-laws and neighbours when the ‘tanks will roll out’ heading towards Maiduguri and Yobe and you start to “shoot and shoot till they say what kind of a man is this?” So the killing will be indiscriminate, mowing down the guilty and the innocent? What a Mujahid! But this position is at variance with that taken by your President who said recently that “members of the dreaded Boko Haram sect are our siblings and you cannot set the army to wipe out your family”. By no means! It is but a word he says (Mu’minun, 23:100); I have no kinship with Boko Haram whatsoever.

The Qur’an exhorts us not to punish the innocent for the sins of the guilty (Israa 17:15), and you know that as a Muslim. If Boko Haram, though siblings of your benefactor gave condition that Jonathan should be a Muslim before they accept him as President or he resigns; a condition that you flawed as being against the ways of the Prophet, peace be upon him, why will the innocent be punished?-Especially as that would also be against the teachings of the same Prophet (PBUH). And if as a Muslim you concede that Boko Haram is going against the teachings of the Prophet (SAW) in the issue of coercive conversion to Islam (Al Baqarah, 2:256) and other matters, why do you assume that Boko Haram is the creation of Northern leaders, who are mainly Muslims? You even said: “The prophet (SAW) did not attack innocent people in the church or synagogue, or idol worshippers.” Who is that Muslim, then, who will knowingly support a sect with doctrines contrary to those of the Prophet (SAW)? But you said: “To me Boko Haram is the dumbest product the North has produced and it is not in their interest as it will destroy the North.” You are absolutely right in one sense; it IS destroying the North. What I cannot fathom is the rest of the charge; why would anyone cut his leg merely to spite his shoe? Why would the Northern leaders bring their towns and cities to utter destruction and infamy just to spite President Jonathan? Surely the fact the he was dishonourable to renege on an agreement is not worth even a tenth of the carnage and destruction - any idiot can understand that! Forgive my German.

My grandparents’ generation had a word to describe reverts into Islam: tubabbe. To them tubabbe will hardly understand Islam and its teachings very well; tubabbe lives a quasi-Muslim life while carrying part of the baggage of his pre-Islamic ways. Therefore, my grandparents’ generation was not surprised by any uncalled-for modes of behaviour from tubabbe because it expected that from him. I reject this notion of that past generation. I believe that whoever professes Islam is indeed a Muslim. Reverts around the world are doing wonderful work in the field of da’wah, writing books, propagating Islam using their substance and person, in ways more effective than what I and people like me are doing. I was counting you among this honoured class of reverts, but your disposition since your freedom from detention is urging me to look more closely at the definition of tubabbe as held by my grandparents’ generation. Now that’s a pity!

Rather than insult and accuse Northern leaders like IBB and accuse them of creating Boko Haram; albeit without any proof, you should rather thank them for starting by cancelling the June 12 elections up until when they brought Nigeria under the grip of shoeless leaders and their foolish kinsmen! But for annulling June 12 we would not have seen the eight nightmarish years of Obasanjo or the wonderfully rigged elections of late ‘Yar Adua, and, the worst or best-depends on who is talking, of course Nigeria would not have ended up with an inexperienced, ill-equipped, incompetent and ill-informed President. So, you see, your tribesmen should rather be grateful to Northern leaders who worked hard to bring us this far, including the Northern governors who betrayed their people and supported your kinsman to the throne; the evil that these governors did is now living with them.

It is even too late to regret. Thanks, you must give, also to Jega’s INEC for everything! But praise be to Allah, we are all in it together, breathing the Fresh Air and enjoying the Transformation together. Change is the only constant thing in life; I never thought that in my lifetime people would steal trillions of naira. The wildest my imagination could muster was billion naira thieves. There has been a transformation and behold, people now steal in trillions! That’s some fresh air, isn’t it?

I cannot understand why you are upset because Nigerians attribute cluelessness to your tribesman. “This insult is too much.” You said, and further asked: “Did you do it to Abacha? Did you do it to IBB? You see, I see the arrogance as un-Islamic, the arrogance of Shekau and his followers“ The past leaders you deride – IBB, Abacha, Obasanjo, etc. – possessed the leadership traits of charisma, intelligence, coherent utterance and decisiveness in dealing with trouble makers. When Nigerians see a leader with the right qualifications they recognise him; your kinsman is not one. Even Boko Haram, it appears, knows whom to ask what, and during whose tenure. Also, it is only when Aso Rock is occupied by cluelessness that war mongers and secessionists can challenge the peace and still walk the streets as freemen. Whatever the flaws of Obasanjo, it is on record that he never brooked any nonsense- not that I think your principal would understand what that means.

And speaking about ‘un-Islamic’ arrogance in relation to Boko Haram’s pronouncements; so, you quite correctly labelled what ‘Shekau and his followers’ did as such, but you fail to see as un-Islamic the arrogance of pilfering Nigeria’s oil resources, what you euphemised as ‘to benefit from my resources’, questioning the rationale behind criminalising oil larceny if the culprits are from the region that produces the oil. This stupefied reasoning can only come from the ignorant! I want to believe you were misquoted because I do not think you would stoop that low to justify stealing and brigandage; even from your own state.



My people say: ‘A child does not know the fire until he touches it.’ Let this serve as an allegory against your declaration of war. ‘The North will suffer’ according to you, “what will happen is unimaginable in human history”, because of economic blockade and woe betide its people as destitution and famine shall be their lot; no food will reach it from any quarters. Food?! I did not think your obliviousness has reached this proportion. The North has not discovered oil yet, but it does not wait for nourishment from other parts of the country. The blockade, if anything, will make our rural farmers put their donkeys to better use as beasts of burden, rather than load the poor animals on trucks to those of your people who devour them. We don’t eat donkeys you know!

I pray Allah to grant you total control of your resources, your region’s self-determination and your presidency. Nobody is afraid of that. But one thing is clear: Nigeria is what it is in spite of ourselves and our differences; tribal strife and sectional dissention within each zone will hardly permit any region subsist independent of the rest of Nigeria. Let us see how the South-South will fare given the rivalry inherent among the various nationalities. I am sure you know the import of this verse:  “…thou wouldst think they were united, but their hearts are divided: that is because they are a people devoid of wisdom.” (Hashr, 59:14)

Let me educate you on VAT and ‘proceed from alcohol’ which formed basis for your conclusion that “everybody in the north have been eating haram.” This requires a separate article; suffice it to say that let the proceed be from something worse that alcohol, as far as the wage earner is paid with such money for legitimate work that he has done, that money is halal for him. The dictum, if you can fathom what this means, is that haram does not overlap to the remuneration of a legitimate recipient.

But I write as a Northerner thus far; let me write as a Nigerian. There are distinctions we should make when we categorize those who make comments on public discourse. There are those who speak for their pockets, there are those who speak for their people alone and there are those who speak for their conscience. This last category is the scantiest.

I do not want to say you belong to the first group even if your grandstanding and showboating is a characteristic of that group. I want to believe you know that ethnic jingoism is an abomination in Islam and abhorrent to common sense. I earnestly hope you know what it means to clean faeces with urine because that is what a lot of what you have said amounts to.

Consider that the North is the most affected by the tragedy of Shekau and his horde of mad men. Remember that this ideology they proclaim is alien to Islam. Think about the number of real Muslims who curse them daily across the country. Now recall the sceptre of non-Muslims disguised as Muslims who have been apprehended for attempts to bomb and maim lives; how many got away with it? Remember the numerous lies we have been fed so far by our security agents on issues like these. Think deeply about how easy it is for anyone to claim responsibility on behalf of another. Even your president became a lawyer for MEND in 2010- they claimed responsibility for a bombing and His Excellency begged to differ; he had his own set of culprits ready-made before the crime and MEND was getting too meddlesome, I guess. Add these up and see whether a picture forms in your head; an answer or strong guess.

Have you seen the efforts of Muslims and Christians trying to make order out this chaos? Have you seen the hands of government-manufactured poverty in all these? Only those who have no hope of a better future will take a measly amount of money and strap bombs on their person to blow up as many innocent people as possible. Have you not seen the incompetence of our leaders in general at the crux of this matter? If a president knows what he is doing, how do aliens flock in through the country’s borders? How do weapons find their way into a country with borders and men in charge of those borders? What happened to the so-called street cameras they installed at mind-boggling cost to us? Do they work? In what way have they helped us fish out the perpetrators? Who is stealing the money meant to properly equip the police? What was the amount they requested to do their job since Jonathan became president and how much has been released of that amount?

Brother Mujahid, I could ask these questions ad nauseum, ad infinitum and the president won’t even give a damn! After all, he has people like you to tell him what a wonder he is and how much he has brought salvation to this nation. You can even persuade him to rename Nigeria after his wife. We will show patience and hope for good luck come 2015, insha Allah.




Thursday, August 9, 2012

NON-MUSLIMS IN SAUDI MOSQUE











Well, do I need to state that today’s piece is from the City of the Prophet – Madeenah? But it is. Madeenah is brimming with worshippers who have come to witness the middle of the month of Ramadan, adorn it with devotion before they move to Makkah for the last 10 days of this holy month.


Riyadh-based Alanood Philanthropic Foundation (Saudi Arabia) has made it a tradition to organise series of lectures in Princess Alanood Mosque, Riyadh every Ramadan with Iftar Dinner for participants. What is most interesting in this year’s weeklong series is the invitation extended to Christians and other non-Muslims to come and be part of the programme. And they responded in large numbers. Muslims and non-Muslims sat in the mosque together to eat and listen to the topic of the day The History of Islamic Culture in Latin America delivered by Mustafa Gustavo Perez, the Guest Speaker.


The lecture dwelt on historical account of the Muslim presence in Latin America and the Caribbean covering a millennium starting from the year 996. Perez said that ‘we have numerous’ proofs from Muslim as well as western sources establishing the fact ‘that Muslims from Spain and West Africa arrived in the Americas at least five centuries before Christopher Columbus.’ He also added: “Columbus himself mentioned in his diary that while his ship was sailing near Gibara, on the northeast coast of Cuba, he spotted a mosque on top of a beautiful mountain. Ruins of mosques and minarets with inscriptions of Qur’anic verses had been later discovered in Cuba, Mexico, Tecas and Nevada.”



According to Perez ‘the introduction of monotheism by Spanish colonizers paved the way for the Latino mind to comprehend and embrace the Islamic belief in monotheism’; that “during the last 200 years the Muslim presence in Latin America and the Caribbean increased from just a few thousands to around 6 million, or 1 per cent of the total population of 591 million. A major factor contributing to this increase is the immigration of Muslims, mainly from the Middle East”.



Perez saw a bright future for Islam in Latin America because “most governments there are not Islamophobic and the religion is increasingly appealing to the people.
At the end of the lecture, Andrea Quattrocchi, an attaché at the Italian Embassy in Riyadh, said: “It was the first time for me to do so. I think it was very important to have such opportunity to know better the Islamic culture in both Latin America and Saudi Arabia.”







Rossmond Ramos, a Filipino accountant at Veolia Water Company, said: “I have entered mosques in Cairo and Abu Dhabi, but it is the first time here. I expected the lecture to take place in a function hall but not in a mosque. Letting us in here is more welcoming and it implies that Muslims are reaching out to non-Muslims.”
In another development, Al-Eqtisadiah Arabic newspaper reported (July 29th) that more than 3,000 non-Muslim expatriates watched a special video program on Islam, arranged as part of the Ramadan camp in the Eastern Province, during the first week of the holy month. A special “cinema center” at the camp draws a large number of foreigners who avail themselves of the opportunity to know more about Islam and its basic tenets and rituals.



You can call it a viewing centre or a cinema theatre with a huge screen and about 50 chairs; the facility is superintended by a preacher who is well known among all nationals in the region. Showing documentary films and videos that focus on various aspects of Islam and its rituals is the major highlight of this year’s Ramadan camp where non-Muslim expatriates are invited to Iftar as participants in the programme.




Seeing non-Muslim invitees sitting alongside Muslims inside the Princess Alanood Mosque, Riyadh, listening to the lecture and eating together; and the non-Muslim expatriates having iftar with Muslims as they watch Islamic videos in the viewing centre; all these made me think of our situation in Nigeria. If Saudi Arabia will open the doors of its Islamic centres and mosques to non-Muslims, its most sacred place during the holiest month, Ramadan, why can’t there be similar programmes to be spearheaded by Nigerian Islamic organisations for the purposes of educating non-Muslims, especially Christians, on Islam and its traditions? Nigeria is more in need of this type of activity than Saudia Arabia which has less non-Muslim population. Inviting non-Muslims to our mosques will familiarise them with what we do in the mosque, dispel misconceptions and enhance mutual respect and understanding.







Whenever I take visiting non-Muslims round the Abuja National Mosque I notice aversion in the eyes of some Muslims. I wonder what these people may say if I was not acting on the warrant of the Executive Secretary of the mosque or the Chief Imam’s approval. Why are we reluctant to admit non-Muslims into our mosques?


Authentic traditions have it that the Prophet (SAW) hosted non-Muslims in his mosque on various occasions: captives, refugees and Christian deputations. His mosque served as the seat of government, defence headquarters and a place of worship.



The church will do well to open its doors to non-Christians who desire to understand how Christians worship and have first-hand knowledge on the functions of the church. It is only by coming close to each other, understanding and respecting our differences that we shall overcome and shame the devils that purpose to set us against ourselves.