Thursday, August 13, 2020

HAGIA SOPHIA SHOULD HAVE MAINTAINED ITS CHURCH STATUS




I did not get carried away when, on July 10, the Turkish Council of State revoked the Turkish Government's 1934 decree on assigning museum status to the Hagia Sophia, and how within the hour, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the famous monument shall be a mosque for the second time with the first prayers to be held on July 24. I felt utterly despondent seeing how politicians could disguise shameless self-aggrandisement in religious garb. Many got carried away. I refused to bite the bait!


A Tale of Two Cities

Two cities, Jerusalem and Constantinopole,  were under the Byzantine rule, and both were conquered, at different times in history, by Muslim caliphs. Jerusalem fell during the caliphate of Umar ibn al-Khattaab when he sent a host at the head of which were some of the ablest Muslim generals, the likes of Khalid ibn al-Waleed and Amr ibn al-Aas to route the Byzantines. Jerusalem was taken by 637 but Patriarch Sophronius, a representative of the Byzantine government, as well as a leader in the Christian Church, insisted that he would only surrender the city to Umar personally.


When this information reached the Commander of the Faithful, Umar ibn al-Khattaab left Madeenah and arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey and assisted by one servant. Sophronius received and marvelled at the leader of the Muslims who was dressed indistinguishably from his servant.  

During a tour of the city which included the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the time for prayer was due and Umar asked Sophronius to guide him to a place where he could offer his Sallah. Sophronius invited Umar to pray inside the Church, but Umar demurred. He insisted that if he offered his prayers there, later Muslims would use it as an excuse to convert the Church into a mosque. Umar, instead, prayed outside the Church, where a mosque - Masjid Umar (Umar's Mosque) was later built.


Umar's Treaty

Wherever the Muslims went in their expeditions the conquered cities witnessed the drafting and ratification of a treaty, detailing their rights and privileges, and the people of Jerusalem were not an exception. There was a treaty which was signed by both Umar and Patriarch Sophronius, along with of the generals of the Muslim armies. The text of the treaty read in part:

In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate. This is the assurance of safety which the servant of Allah, Umar, the Commander of the Faithful, has given to the people of Jerusalem.

He has given them an assurance of safety for themselves, for their property, their churches, their crosses, the sick and healthy of the city and for all the rituals which belong to their religion.

Their churches will not be inhabited by Muslims and will not be destroyed. Neither they, nor the land on which they stand, nor their cross, nor their property will be damaged. They will not be forcibly converted.


Other sublime examples existed even before the above where, for instance, the Prophet, Sallallaahu Alaihi wa Sallam conveyed his unambiguous position on such matters, like his authorised letter of protection for the Sinai Monastery, (otherwise known as the Saint Catherine's Monastery or the Sacred Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount Sinai) in Egypt. This letter of protection, known as the Ahtiname of Muhammad, or the Covenant or Testament of Muhammad upheld the principles of peace and tolerance between communities. The Ahtiname from the Prophet of Islam (to the Sinai Monastery) stated that “No one is allowed to plunder these Christians, or destroy or spoil any of their churches, or houses of worship, or take any of the things contained within these houses and bring it to the houses of Islam


Aside from the above, the Prophet, Sallallaahu Alaihi wa Sallam was reported to have written to the Bishop of Bani Harith bin Ka'ab and the bishops of Najraan, their priests, monks and followers that they "keep all that is in their hands whether little or much, including their property, prayers, or monks, all under the protection of Allah Almighty and his Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi was Sallam; no bishop is to be removed from his post, or monk from his monastery, or priest from his church."


When Khalid bin al-Waleed conquered Damascus, he wrote to its inhabitants: "In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. This is given by Khalid bin al-Waleed to the people of Damascus. When the Muslims enter any territory, the people shall have safety for themselves, their property, their temples and the walls of their city, of which nothing shall be destroyed. They have this guarantee on behalf of Allah, the Messenger of Allah, the Caliph and the Muslims." 


The Prophet of Islam, Sallallaahu Alaihi wa Sallam and his followers were the proponents of tolerance, mutual respect and peaceful co-existence with members of other religions in the society. They practised this in every sense of the word as expounded in the above examples. Any action that could cause dissension and unrest in the society was forsaken for the greater good, that is, peace.


The second of the Two Cities was Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey), the home of Hagia Sophia which was "commissioned by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I and designed by architects Anthemius of Tralles and Isidore of Miletus, was inaugurated in 537 and for centuries stood as the largest church in the Christian world, with a dome that soared more than 160 feet off the floor. 


'It was converted into a mosque in 1453, when the Ottomans conquered Istanbul, with minarets placed around its perimeter, its Byzantine mosaics covered in whitewash. Mustafa Kemal Ata­turk, the founder of the modern Turkish republic, transformed it into a museum in 1934.' 


Sultan Mehmet II, if the purported Waqf (endowment) documents were not forged, was not advised righty in converting the Church into a mosque in the absence of a precedent in the matter. 



Erdogan's Earlier Position on Hagia Sophia

Friday, March 15th 2020 cannot be easily forgotten, a day in which a lone gunman entered two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand and killed a total of 51 people and injured 49 others. 

That terrorist was Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old man who had live-streamed the first shooting on Facebook, and prior to the attack, had published an online manifesto in which he said among other 'nonsense': 'we will kill you if you cross west of the [Bosporous] Strait, we will come to Istanbul and destroy all the mosques and minarets'. 

Shortly after the New Zealand incident, President Erdogan spoke at an election rally where the crowd, angered by the terrorist's manifesto, chanted "open Hagia Sophia" for prayers. In his response, Erdogan said people shouldn't be deceived by Brenton's manifesto that contained references to Turkey and Hagia Sophia museum as it was then known. "We don't take action," he said, "because the despicable [terrorist Brenton Tarrant] said so," Erdogan told the crowd that there was no need to "open Hagia Sophia for prayers" since worshippers can scarcely fill the nearby Sultan Ahmet Mosque (or the Blue Mosque), "how can you fill the Hagia Sophia?" Referring to Turkey's largest Camilica Mosque which was then opened for prayers, he said, "It is four or five times bigger than Hagia Sophia. Sixty-thousand people can pray in it at the same time." 

President Erdogan, however, stored opening of Hagia Sophia for prayers as the joker in the pack when he ended his address by saying, "We know how to take the step and we know the political language for it."


Now is the Time 

With the economy deteriorating, inflation rising to some 20%, a weaker Turkish lira and unemployment reaching about 15%, now is the time to play the joker - open Hagia Sophia for prayers!


Waning Popularity


President Erdogan's AK Party won the 31 March local elections nationally but lost in the three biggest cities - Istanbul, the capital Ankara and Izmir.


Losing the Istanbul mayorship narrowly to the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) was a bitter blow to Erdogan, who was the city's mayor in the 1990s.


The AKP (Justice and Development Party) alleged voting irregularities in Istanbul, and controversially that result was annulled.


But a re-run of the city's election on 23 June delivered a bigger victory for CHP candidate Ekrem Imamoglu, who was 9% ahead of his AKP rival. Thus, now is the time to manipulate people's emotions and inveigle them into accepting this fa├žade of love for Islam when in reality Ankara pursues sordid fraternalism with Tel Aviv and commits human rights violations at home against its own people. 

  

Why will I be impressed with the recitation of the Qur'an from a president who closed down a Qur'an publishing company in his own country that used to produce millions of copies of the Glorious Qur'an for free distribution around the world? Erdogan falsely imputed the blame for an alleged coup attempt against his government to the Hizmet movement, the owners of the Qur'an publishing company. 


The Phantom Coup 

The dramatisation of the '2016 coup claimed at least 240 lives and, according to his officials, also came close to killing Mr Erdogan, who had been staying at the Aegean holiday resort of Marmaris.' The design behind this well-orchestrated drama was the detention and sacking of hundreds of thousands of people especially those with any links with the Hizmet movement of Sheikh Fethullah Gulen - soldiers, journalists, academics, public servants and opposition politicians. Erdogan said the plot was engineered by Sheikh Gulen, a US-based Muslim scholar who denied the charge. Nevertheless, the Turkish government has declared the Hizmet movement a terrorist organisation and sought for Sheikh Fethullah's extradition from the US to face trial but the US has said it will need to see evidence of Sheikh Gulen's involvement first. 


There were no answers! 


Conversion of Mosques into Churches


Some Muslims got excited and exalted by the news of opening Hagia Sophia for prayers because there are numberless mosques around the world, (not least the Mosque of Cordoba in Spain), that non-Muslims converted to churches. When has the behaviour of non-Muslims become a beacon light to Muslims' interaction with others? Whatever is the feeling of Muslims concerning mosques like Cordoba, vile as that conversion is, the Christians view Hagia Sophia in like manner. Hagia Sophia should have maintained its church status! 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

THE KHUTBAH OF IMAM MUHAMMAD KABIR ADAM PhD ON RAPE




Praise be to Allah Almighty; I am grateful to Him, I repent to Him and I ask for His forgiveness:  Thy Lord bringeth to pass what He willeth and chooseth. They have never any choice. Glorified be Allah and exalted above all that they associate (with Him)! (Qasas, 68).  He created you from one being, then from that (being) He made its mate; and He hath provided for you of cattle eight kinds. He created you in the wombs of your mothers, creation after creation, in a threefold gloom. Such is Allah, your Lord. His is the Sovereignty. There is no God save Him. How then are ye turned away? (az-Zumar, 6) I testify that none deserves to be worshipped except Allah alone, without any partner. I further testify that Muhammad is Allah's worshipping servant and chosen Messenger who said, "So act kindly towards women.." May Allah grant commendation to His Messenger, as well as to the Messenger's immaculate family, esteemed Companions, and all who continue following their path until the Day of Recompense.

Dear people, I adjure you and myself to observe Taqwaa of Allah Almighty; it is the shelter and the haven: "And whosoever keepeth his duty to Allah, Allah will appoint a way out for him,... And will provide for him from (a quarter) whence he hath no expectation... And whosoever putteth his trust in Allah, He will suffice him. ...And whosoever keepeth his duty to Allah, He maketh his course easy for him... And whoso keepeth his duty to Allah, He will remit from him his evil deeds and magnify reward for him on the Day of Recompense". (Talaaq, 2-5)

O people, servants of Allah! Obey Allah and obey His Messenger and those among you who are in authority. Whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger has gained a signal victory. 

O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in Whom ye claim ( your rights ) of one another, and toward the wombs (that bare you ). Lo! Allah hath been a Watcher over you. (an-Nisaa, 1)

Know, O servants of Allah, that Islam abhors and vehemently opposes rape; Islam affirms the humanity of the woman as it does that of the man. For man is part of  Allah's creatures and enjoys grace and honour from Allah Almighty, as expressed by the Qur'anic text: 

Verily We have honoured the children of Adam. We carry them on the land and the sea, and have made provision of good things for them, and have preferred them above many of those whom We created with a marked preferment.  (al-Israa, 70)

Yes, brothers (and sisters) in faith! Overpowering a woman into doing something under duress is viewed as an aggression against the woman and defilement of her honour which Islam seeks to guard. 

Dear brethren, mating is a natural interaction, regulated by the Shari'ah, between a male and a female. Intercourse is sanctioned only by legal marriage based on mutual consent of the parties involved, the availability of Waliy, the Sadaaq and the presence of witnesses, according to the saying of the Almighty: 

so wed them by permission of their folk, and give unto them their portions in kindness, they being honest, not debauched nor of loose conduct.  (an-Nisaa, 25)


The girlchild, brothers and sisters in faith, should be respected and protected under the custody of her parents or guardians until she attains the marriageable age where whoever desires to have her as a wife will approach her parents with Sadaaq and witnesses. But the rape of especially a minor is a bestial act not befitting a human being that is honoured by Allah with the Shari'ah and whom He distinguished with intellect, discernment and guidance. Islam prohibits cohabitation as seen in Suratul Mu'minuun

And who guard their modesty. Save from their wives or the (slaves) that their right hands possess, for then they are not blameworthy, But whoso craveth beyond that, such are transgressors, (al-Mu'minuun, 5-7)

On the authority of the above verse, touching a woman illegally is an assault and grave injustice against outside the realm of what constitutes obedience to Allah Almighty. No wonder the scholars equate rape with trampling on the rights of the woman, oppression, murder, looting and terrorism; they view it as corruption on earth, because a woman who is raped may be killed during this horrendous operation, or be left with an unhealing wound in her heart. 

Dear brethren! Will the rapist like the same treatment on his daughter, or his sister, or his mother or even his wife? 

The answer will undoubtedly be no. Based on this, brothers of Imaan, the rapist should think twice before he inflicts harm on other women as the same treatment could be meted out to his daughter, sister, mother, or wife because what goes around, comes around! 

Oh Allah, preserve the dignity and honour of women and save us from the evils of aggressors who work corruption on the earth.

May Allah bless you and me with the great Qur’an and benefit me and you with what is in it of Aayaat and the wise Dhikr. Servants of Allah, seek pardon of your Lord. He was ever ForgivingHe will let loose the sky for you in plenteous rain, and will help you with wealth and sons, and will assign unto you Gardens and will assign unto you rivers.

THE SITTING 

Praise be to Allah, the Creator; glory be to Him, and may blessings and peace be upon the best man who cares about humanity; may Allah's commendation and peace be upon him, his immaculate family, and esteemed Companions.

Brothers in Imaan, it is the duty of every member of the society to abhor rape and let his abhorrence of it lead and represent him to those in authority with a view to stalling this heinous crime in the society. In a Hadeeth of Jaabir bin Abdillaah al-Bajali, Radiyallaahu Anhu, who said that: 

The Prophet, Sallallaahu Alaihi wa Sallam said: "If any man is among a people in whose midst he does acts of disobedience and though they are able to make him change (his acts), they do nothing to effect the change, Allah will smite them with punishment before they die". (Abu Dawud). In another Hadeeth which Hudhaifa ibn al-Yamaan reported, the Prophet, Sallallaahu Alaihi wa Sallam said, "By Him in Whose hand my life is, you either enjoin good and forbid evil, or Allah will certainly send His punishment on you, then you will make supplication and it will not be accepted." (at-Tirmidhi)

And by the authority of these Ahaadeeth, brothers in faith, we all must, as members of society, abhor all iniquities especially that of rape which is a grievous sin; it also violates the sanctity of the woman and forces her into unlawful intercourse. Rape is great disobedience and awful calumny which Allah Almighty has made Haraam

And whoso disobeyeth Allah and His messenger and transgresseth His limits, He will make him enter Fire, where such will dwell forever; his will be a shameful doom. (an-Nisaa, 14) 

Allah also ordered, in respect of one who approaches a woman unlawfully, that the law should take its due course: 

And as for the two of you who are guilty thereof, punish them both. And if they repent and improve, then let them be. Lo! Allah is Relenting, Merciful. (an-Nisaa, 16)

In the Hadeeth, on the authority of Waa'il ibn Hujr, Radiyallaahu AnhuWhen a woman went out during the time of the Prophet, Sallallaahu Alaihi wa Sallam for prayer, a man attacked and overpowered (raped) her. She shouted and he ran away and disappeared.  Then someone came by and she (in a daze) said: 'That man did such and such to me'. And when a company of the Ansaar (Emigrants) came by, she still said: 'That man did such and such to me'. They went and seized whom they (wrongly) thought had raped her and brought him to her. She affirmed that he was the one. They arraigned him before the Messenger of Allah, Sallallaahu Alaihi wa Sallam on charges of assault and rape. But before the Messenger of Allah, Sallallaahu Alaihi wa Sallam passed the Rajm sentence on him, the real rapist who had assaulted the woman stood up and said: 'O Messenger of Allah!  I am the man who did it to her'.  The Messenger of Allah said to the woman: 'Go away, for Allah has forgiven you'. He also offered some palliative words to the one that was wrongly arrested. Then he, Sallallaahu Alaihi wa Sallam turned to the rapist and ordered: 'Stone him to death'. And let face the full wrath of the law! 

Dear brethren in faith! Observe Taqwaa of Allah in your dealings with women for they are fragile; Allah created them that you may find succour through them in your life. Allah said: 

And of His signs is this: He created for you helpmeets from yourselves that ye might find rest in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy. Lo, herein indeed are portents for folk who reflect. (ar-Rum, 21)

The issue of preserving and protecting women so they do not fall victims of vile members of the community is necessary and the responsibility of every member of society, because a woman is a mother of children, she is a daughter, a sister and a wife that partners her husband in the journey of life. Therefore, dear brethren, protect the dignity of the woman and give her all the protection she needs to be worthy of noble life in society. The Almighty said: 

And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them. Allah is Mighty, Wise. (al-Baqarah, 228)

Thursday, July 23, 2020

PROF. IMAM IBRAHIM MAQARY'S KHUTBAH ON SECURITY






Allah made it experience the garb of dearth and fear because of what they used to do. (an-Nahl 112)




Allah has encompassed His servants with myriad, countless bounties, and if ye would count the favour of Allah ye cannot reckon it. (an-Nahl: 18)

One of the greatest favours of Allah on us is the Ni'mah of Imaan.  Many (people) may not realise that Imaan is a derivative of Amn (security); or in another sense, belief is part and parcel of security. Aside from that, one of Allah's attributes is al-Mu'min - the source of peace and security. He guarantees the safety of His bondsmen, securing them from fear in the world and chastisement in the hereafter. 


Allah Almighty designates His servants as Mu'mineen but the apparent likeness in the appellations merits no basis for comparison between the Designator and the designee. 

(Also), Allah Almighty repeatedly reminds us of (security) and makes it a great favour on us:  O ye who believe! Remember Allah's favour unto you, how a people were minded to stretch out their hands against you but He withheld their hands from you; and keep your duty to Allah. In Allah let believers put their trust. (al-Maa'idah: 11) He also said:  So let them worship the Lord of this House, Who hath fed them against hunger and hath made them safe from fear. (Quraish: 3-4)




No one measures the essence of security with the right measure except those that fall into insecurity. The stout of heart (Ulul Azm) among the messengers (of Allah) have always asked Allah the provision of security. When Ibrahim finished the construction of the House in Makkah he turned to Allah and prayed:

 My Lord! Make this a region of security and bestow upon its people fruits, such of them as believe in Allah and the Last Day, ... (al-Baqarah:126)

He mentioned security first before sustenance because in a state of insecurity sustenance loses its taste and man is unable to work for his daily bread. But in a state of security man feels tranquil and able to perceive the taste of food and drink. 


And thus Allah answered the prayer of His Khaleel (friend) and, as a favour upon the people of this purified spot, grant beauty of life and security to the territories, regarding which Allah said: 
So let them worship the Lord of this House, Who hath fed them against hunger and hath made them safe from fear. (Quraish: 3-4)

The importance of this Ni'mah (security) is depicted in a Hadeeth reported by at-Tirmidhi and others, that at the sight of a new moon the Messenger of Allah, Sallallaahu Alaihi wa Sallam used to supplicate: 

"O Allah, let this moon appear on us with security and Imaan; with safety and Islam and in line with what You love and are pleased with. (O moon), our Rabb (Lord) and yours is one."



The mention of security appears numberlessly in the Glorious Qur'an and the Noble Prophet's Sunnah to draw attention to (the need for ) peace and psychological reassurance. This security embodies life itself, the establishment of discipline and guarding same against anyone that attempts to corrupt it. Verity, the Kitaab and Sunnah encourage the doing of any act that engenders security to the Muslims, nay, to the entirely of Allah's creatures including trees and hills! What is plainer in this regard than his words, Sallallaahu Alaihi wa Sallam in what Ibn Mas'ud, Radiyallaahu Anhu, reported? He said: 'We were in the company of Allah's Messenger, Sallallaahu Alaihi wa Sallam during a journey when he drew apart to relieve himself.  In his absence, we saw a red bird which had two young ones with it. We caught them and the red mother bird came beating the earth with its wings. In the meantime, the Prophet, Sallallaahu Alaihi wa Sallam returned and said, "Who has put this bird to distress on account of its young? Return them to her." He, Sallallaahu Alaihi wa Sallam also noticed a mound of ants which we had burnt up. He asked, "Who set fire to this?" We replied: "We have done so." He, Sallallaahu Alaihi wa Sallam said, "None can chastise with fire except the Rabb of the fire."

The Messenger of Allah, Sallallaahu Alaihi wa Sallam warns against and prohibits the commission of any act that threatens the peace and security of any person. In the Hadeeth: "The Mu'min is he from whom people's lives and wealth are safe." And in another (Hadeeth): The Muslim is he from whose tongue and hand other Muslims, (in Muslim's version of the Hadeeth), the people are safe." It is also reported: "By Allah, he does not believe! By Allah, he does not believe! By Allah, he does not believe!" It was said, "Who is that, O Allah's Apostle?" He said, "That person whose neighbour does not feel safe from his evil."  


Indeed, we have to broaden the scope of our understanding to appreciate the deeper meaning of neighbour in the above noble prophetic text. 

Security legislation in Islam is not confined exclusively to protecting the Muslims; it extends to the non-Muslims in that it proscribes killing them or any form of transgression against their wealth or honour; it threatens whoever distresses (non-Muslims) with grievous chastisement. Verily, Islam legislates the Hudud (punishment) and retribution to serve as a dire warning and a deterrent against crimes that afflict members of the society in their person, honour or property. 

Where there is security, hearts are filled with tranquillity,  calm reigns and felicity pervades (the place). He, Sallallaahu Alaihi wa Sallam said:


"If anyone of you reaches the morning with his family and dwelling safe, with his health intact, and possessing his provision for that day, it is as though everything in the world was gathered and given to him." 
(Reported by at-Tirmidhi)


Dear beloved! If security is disrupted, the situation changes whereby innocents are murdered, women are widowed, children are orphaned, ignorance goes viral, wrongdoing spreads and fear descends: so Allah made it experience the garb of dearth and fear because of what they used to do. (an-Nahl 112)



THE SECOND KHUTBAH



One of the ways of ensuring security is by recognising the essence of our security forces who spare no effort in guarding our country. We have to laud the sacrifices they are making in giving battle to the enemy in the trenches; they sacrifice their comfort so we may be comfortable; they sacrifice their security so we may be secure; they even pay the ultimate price by dying in the frontlines so we may live. They deserve our encouragement and prayers. If lapses are noticed in their modus operandi there are better ways of reaching those in authority for advice and good counsel, not the improprieties we hear from the Mimbar or the social media. Solutions to security problems must be proffered with tact and secrecy. 

Finally, we have to also search ourselves, it may be that our handiworks plunge us into our current situation so we revert and make amends: Allah coineth a similitude: a township that dwelt secure and well content, its provision coming to it in abundance from every side, but it disbelieved in Allah's favours, so Allah made it experience the garb of dearth and fear because of what they used to do(an-Nahl 112)

Praise be to Allah!








Thursday, April 23, 2020

NEITHER UMRAH NOR HAJJ


"We are living through a difficult period in the history of the world, but we are fully aware that it will pass despite its cruelty, bitterness and difficulty,..”

                  King Salman bin Abdelaziz Al Sa’ud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.


By this day in the past, many would have been in the vicinity of the Haramayn in either Makkah or Madeenah to commence the fasting of Ramadan. Others would have, by now, been preparing to join them in the Two Holy Mosques for the Last Ten Days of Ramadan as is their custom annually. There are people who had not celebrated Eid in Nigeria for more than twenty years. What most of such people know of Eid is to take a bath after the Subhi Salaah, don their Jallabiyyah and saunter into the Haram for the two Raka’aat prayers followed by the Khutbah. With the Salatul Eid over it is usually time for Umrah pilgrims to start making arrangements for their return after spending days and nights on end, forsaking their beds, standing, bowing, prostrating themselves before their Sustainer, full of contrition in their hearts and seeking His pardon. 



A journey to Umrah is a year-round, all-season pilgrimage, in or outside Ramadan, to the Haramayn; it also means the multiplication of rewards for obligatory prayers - observing Zuhr prayer in Al-Masjidun Nabawy, for instance, is better than observing a thousand prayers elsewhere, and performing Zuhr in Al-Masjidul Haraam, for example, is better than performing one hundred thousand prayers elsewhere. The same applies to the remaining obligatory prayers as well as the Jumu’ah prayer. Umrah is Du’aa at the Raudah and a visit to Muhammad, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, asking blessings on him and saluting him with a worthy salutation (al-Ahzaab 33:56). Undertaking a trip to Madeenah and praying at the Quba Mosque entails reward garnered for Umrah before the Umrah at the Ka’bah. COVID 19 forces us to feel nostalgic about all that. “And we know not whether harm is boded unto all who are in the earth, or whether their Lord intends guidance for them.” (Al-Jinn 72:10)


The Saudi Arabian government, in an effort to support calls by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and based on the recommendation of the committee concerned with monitoring developments about COVID 19, suspended Umrah temporarily and subsequently closed all mosques including the Haramayn to curb the spread of the virus. This preventive and precautionary measure was taken to secure the lives of a multitudinous number of pilgrims that come for devotions from all over the world during these seasons as well as Saudi nationals and residents. However, alarmists around the world who are waiting for any chance to show that the Saudi authorities are mismanaging the affairs of the Haramayn are now using this temporary suspension of Umrah to accuse the House of Saud of debarring Muslims from the House of Allah. Some of them feigned Islamic scholarship and quoted texts out of context claiming that a plague will not affect the Ka’bah or the Masjidun Nabawy; why then will the Haramayn be closed or even be spread with disinfectants; that Allah shall protect His bondsmen; that Ramadan is the best period for people to converge in the holy territories and supplicate their Maker to rout the forces of the invisible enemy COVID 19. This reasoning is fallacious, farcical, and fatuous! 



Yes, COVID 19 will not affect the Haramayn since it does not move from place to place but people are the wheels on which the virus moves. Disinfecting the Haramayn does not contradict any text; suspending Umrah temporarily is not un-Islamic, it is rather textually supported by the Prophet’s order, ‘“Let there be no harm nor reciprocal harm.” 


Abu Hurairah narrates that the Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam says: “A man with sick camels should not let them graze or drink alongside healthy ones.” Reported by Al- Bukhari and Muslim. It is established by health authorities that asymptomatic carriers of COVID 19 unknowingly transfer the infection to everyone they meet for a long time. Only total shutdown and cessation of mingling with others could save lives. 


Abdul-Rahman Ibn ‘Auf narrates that the Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, says: "If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague breaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place." Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim.



Saudi Arabia would not impede pilgrims performing their devotions except if their lives will be exposed to danger. The inflow of pilgrims into the Kingdom has economic advantages not least now when Saudi Arabia has announced a steep US$13.3 billion cut in its budget for 2020, amid falling oil prices and weakening growth expectations. But the wellbeing of its citizens and safety of the pilgrims are more important to the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud than any economic consideration. 


The suspension of Umrah is a temporary measure that will be lifted as soon as practicable. Muslims around the world are in support of the decision which is in line with clear prophetic instructions during a plague like the virus pandemic we are witnessing today. 


We understand that King Salman has not taken any decision yet on the issue of Hajj. Allah will guide the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to what is best for the Ummah. If COVID 19 affects Hajj, may it not be so, we know and accept that that is Allah’s making; the decision of King Salman in that regard is to avoid putting pilgrims’ lives in peril. COVID 19 will pass as did many other plagues before it. 


To Allah we belong, and to Him will we return. O Allah reward us for our affliction and replace it for us with that which is better. 







Thursday, April 16, 2020

REFLECTIONS ON FROM SEED TO CEDAR















From Seed to Cedar is a book written by M. Fethullah Gulen who is also the inspiration behind NUSRET Educational and Cultural organisation with branches in about 130 countries including Nigeria. 



This is not a review of the book but as the topic implies, these are just my reflections on one of the books written by this great mind M. Fethullah Gulen. My purpose is not to criticise or bring out what I take exception to in the book. I have a lot of respect for a man who inspired this movement, the Nusret that aims at offering myriad forms of khidmah (services) to humanity - feeding indigent Muslims in Ramadan Iftar, interfaith dialogue, hospitals, schools, humanitarian assistance to those in need and whatnot. I am still studying this wonderful organisation and its charitable activities around the world, and shall soon write what my findings are. 


From Seed to Cedar is a guide for Muslim families towards nurturing the spiritual needs in children. As COVID 19 lockdown has brought parents closer to their offspring more than any other time in past, we shall derive immense benefit from the 130 or so pages of the book, though some of the admonitions like going to the Masjid for the observance of Salaah may not be practicable now that we are staying at home. The book, nevertheless, addresses all aspects of marital consortium - from the choice of a partner to procreation and spiritual training of the next generation. 










CEDAR TREE





MORALITY

‘Every nation has a rise and fall’ occasioned either by giving ‘this world and the next’ ‘their due values’ (al-Qasas 28:77) or by ‘moral decay’. A Muslim is not dazzled by the advancement in some ‘developed’ societies as they are bereft of real happiness as evidenced by the high rate of suicide cases among their inhabitants. Science and the Church were in constant strife until the former eclipsed the latter and with it the ‘moral values’ of the society. Real happiness resides in interrogating ‘progress in science’, the obedience of ‘Devine commands’ and ‘the awe of God’. 


‘How would we like our children to be brought up?’ From all we see around of children’s activities within and outside the home, ‘what is considered moral or immoral for us?’ Who are the friends of our children? We should have answers to these queries and ‘plans’ on how to address them otherwise we are planning to fall ‘into the same pitfalls’ as did those before us. 




MARRIAGE

The couple in a marriage, after satisfying all conditions, aim at increasing the number of children for the Ummah the numerousness of which the Prophet would be proud of. He, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam would not be proud of an evil and murderous generation of vagabonds ‘that is involved in terrorism and corruption..’ Marriage is a great step into life; the more attention paid to, and consideration made before it, the more are the chances of success and avoidance of discord after it. Children raised by a warring couple ‘will grow up insensible and hostile to their community, perhaps even towards their own parents.’


If both parents go to work and entrust their children ‘to the care of a nanny or a baby-sitter’, they have consigned their children to abandonment and loneliness. The presence of parents in relation to their progeny is not comparable to anything. ’Tenderness is the most natural and innate closeness, a closeness that a child can read on the face of the mother, or find in her heart, or feel sitting snuggled up next to his or her father. Other people cannot give this tenderness to a child; they can never satisfy the child with substitutes.’ 




FAMILY

The home is a classroom for the children; whatever they observe from the parents is imprinted in their hearts to adulthood. If the parents are benevolent the children will not be niggardly; they would ‘give freely to charity and be willing to do favours for others.’ Even what the children are fed with plays a role in their lives. If their nourishment, food, drink and clothing are from unlawful sources, we unwittingly ‘wipe-out the possibility of happiness for our’ children. A dishevelled and dusty person, whose clothing is unlawful, and who has been nourished unlawfully will not be answered by Allah when he calls upon Him. How can you go round the Baytul Haraam while your stomach is filled with Haraam

The children must be raised ‘according to our cultural and spiritual values’ otherwise ‘they will inevitably end up developing a personality that is alien to ours. You may become a father of an apostate, without even being aware of it.’ Therefore, nobody ‘should ever forget how important it is to nurture a great being, a being with the potential to move between the lowest and the highest stations of spirituality, a being that has the ability to elevate itself to the level of humanity.’

The story of Prophet Yusuf in the Qur’an teaches us to treat our children equally and not to prefer one to the other, and ‘demonstrating the extent of corruption that jealousy can cause, even in the household of a Prophet.’ 




AWARENESS IN EDUCATION

Even before marriage, you must not spare any effort in the choice of the mother of your children because she is ultimately the supervisor, the teacher and instructor in your household. 


Your children learn subliminally from your devotions at the middle of the night (tahajjud), your bowing and prostration, your weeping before Allah asking for His pardon. These images and their import would be locked deep into their subconscious even when they do not ask you any questions concerning these spiritual scenes. There should be harmony, therefore, between ‘our behaviour and words’ otherwise we will be guilty of ‘behavioural hypocrisy’. ‘Differences between our inner world and our external conduct will lead a child to hypocrisy, paradoxes, and dual perceptions.’


Let us respect the presence of the child in whatever we do or say. ‘All our thoughts, behaviour and even our discussions with our spouse should constantly be centred on issues that we think will enter the unconscious thoughts of the child.


‘Naturally, you will talk and discuss other matters in the home. But when you discuss matters in the presence of your child, you should pay special attention to the fact that he or she is there. If possible, issues which do not concern children and which are not constructive for them should not be discussed in their presence. Discussions of problems that would be depressing to children should be avoided. Children should not be exposed to problems which are beyond their capacity to bear and issues that may make an impression, negative or otherwise, on their minds and hearts should be carefully considered. When children are around, conversations, debates and discussions, either at home or in the office, should be conducted with their presence being taken into account.’


Education of the child should not be limited ‘to present information and learning’; it would be more beneficial to follow an educational course that moves beyond the present age and takes the future into account.’ 


We should, in educating the child, always look for something suitable and ‘a little advanced: If performing prayers is compulsory for a child at the age of fifteen, you should then teach him or her to pray at the age of ten. Similarly, you should teach children to fast before this duty becomes compulsory, allowing time for them to become accustomed to it. This principle can be extended to all the issues which mould the child according to his age.’




RELIGIOUS EDUCATION OF THE CHILD

‘Marriage is a very serious affair in Islam and it must be dealt with due sensitivity. Couples planning to marry are not only future parents but also future educators. Therefore, marriage should not be considered until a suitable age is reached for fulfilling this important mission.’ It is only through this that ‘homes turn into an institution of education.’ 

Religious education dictates that when going to the mosque we take children along. ‘It is a pity that nowadays we think that we will violate the sanctity of a mosque by taking children along. Likewise, it is such a pity that in many mosques we see elderly people shooing children away, frightening them.


‘Unfortunately, these narrow-minded people think that they are preserving the dignity of the mosque by frowning on the children’s actions. In fact, what they are doing merely contradicts the tradition of God’s Messenger. He counselled Muslims that while standing in prayers in a mosque that the men should stand in front, then small boys, and then women and girls.’

We must avoid exceeding the due limit in our practice of faith so as not to make children hate religion. ‘The most meritorious kind of worship is the one that is performed steadily, even if it is of little amount.’ Allow them time for play, for learning and for worship without excesses. ‘If your primary topic of conversation is the celebrities who appear on TV, then these people will naturally dominate the imagination of your child. He will tell you the names of various movie stars, sportsmen, musicians and other celebrities easily, but he will be unable to memorise even a few of the names of the Companions of our Prophet. His memory and subconscious will be occupied by useless things.’

‘It is of utmost significance that the Qur’an, the life story of our Prophet and other books on the life of his Companions have a place of honour at home; our children’s heart will be saturated with and illuminated by our historical figures.’




DIMENSIONS OF EDUCATION

The company that the child keeps will help her in staying on or straying from the right path. Parents will do well to pay attention to who the friends of the child are. We can attend social functions and public lectures with children as that also exposes them to great minds among scholars and instructors in right conduct. That is another form of education.

‘I would like to take this opportunity to focus on a particular point. Accepting an invitation and attending its call is seen to be a religious duty. The Messenger of God is reported to have said, “If someone invites you to a wedding or engagement ceremony, you should attend it.” It is obvious that one cannot oppose this order, which comes directly from God’s Messenger. Facing such an order, every believer should say “I obey with submission” and comply with it. However, turning down an invitation to a wedding ceremony where sinful and prohibited evil acts are to be performed and where transgression occurs is also a reflection of a religious attitude. Children should not be taken to places that will corrupt their thoughts or confuse them by what they see.’




A COMPARISON BETWEEN QUR’ANIC AND NON-QUR’ANIC EDUCATION

What is important here is a blend of both the Qur’anic and non-Qur’anic education to avoid pharaoh-like tendencies, but have the best of both worlds, the mundane and the spiritual. 



Thursday, April 2, 2020

The National Mosque Still Stands










I write to rebut the averment made in an article with the caption: “The rise and fall of the National Mosque” by one Alhaji Mutiu Adebola Adenola and published on page 13 of the Daily Trust of March 19th, 2020. 


Alhaji Mutiu said that the National Mosque “was losing its standards”, (whatever that meant); that President Obasanjo it was that came to the rescue of “the Mosque from its first fall”, “spearheaded the donation for the renovation…”; that from being a “ “Mecca” of sort for all who is who in Nigeria”, a “meeting point of great Muslims”, the Mosque is now deserted by those that matter whose attention is turned to the an-Nur Mosque; President Buhari has his own Jumu’ah mosque within the Villa and thus, the worshippers in the National Mosque today “hardly fill the inside to capacity”; that it “has now become a funeral place for big personalities”; that the appearance of the “clerics at the National Mosque” is the personification of destitution and wretchedness. Alhaji Mutiu ended his article by calling on “all relevant stakeholders, especially the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs headed by the Amirul Muslim, His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, to please do something fast” so as “not to allow this national Islamic heritage become a national funeral mosque.” 


The National Mosque, Abuja was never in need of rescue from President Olusegun Obasanjo. It was His Royal Highness, Alhaji Mustapha Jokolo, the then Emir of Gwandu that confronted Obasanjo over the government’s clandestine move to complete the building of the National Ecumenical Centre that had remained under construction for more than 20 years after the National Mosque was designed, built and commissioned during President Ibrahim Babangida’s era. As the then Chairman of the National Mosque Management Board, Jokolo drew the attention of Obasanjo to the impropriety of government’s plan on the National Ecumenical Centre. It was then that the government conceded and offered to assist both Muslims and Christians through fundraising (public functions). Thus, the National Mosque held its fundraising meeting at the Eagles Square, Abuja where Obasanjo’s government pledged two hundred million naira only (N200,000,000) the payment of which was staggered, incomplete and lingered to the time of President Jonathan before it was finally redeemed.


Alhaji Mutiu entertained doubt as to “(w)hether the money spent for the renovation commensurated (sic) with the level of work done”. The total money realised during the fundraising was 2.5 billion naira only. Many of the state governors and people of means chose to tread in Obasanjo’s footsteps: they refused to redeem their pledges to Allah totalling more than a billion naira. Most of them had transformed into lawmakers in the Senate. If their successors in the states had done what President Goodluck Jonathan did with what remained of Obasanjo’s pledge, the National Mosque would have been more than one billion naira richer!


On the renovation work, about seven hundred million naira only (N700,000,000) was spent, and the balance is held in trust for the Mosque by the committee set up at the behest of His Excellency, President Olusegun Obasanjo - The National Mosque Board of Trustees with His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, CFR, mni as Chairman. 


And by the way, Alhaji Mutiu, His Eminence is not “the Amirul Muslim”. He is the Ameerul Mu’mineen of Muslims in Nigeria.


My brother Mutiu, what you consider as a desertion of the National Mosque by influential personalities and top government functionaries does not depict any blemish on the Mosque or the way it is run. The Capital City is expanding with new Jumu’ah mosques springing up in quick succession in many locations. This is not a malign development. People prefer to pray in mosques that are near to them. 


I agree with you, Alhaji Mutiu, that President Muhammadu Buhari’s absence in the National Mosque has dwindled the attendance of some worshipers. Worshippers’ worth in any Masjid is not measured by affluence and power. By the time everyone removes their shoes at the entrance of the mosque (Ta-ha 20:12), we are all equal before our Maker and we say Allaahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest!). And since the places of worship are only for Allah, we do not invoke the name of anyone other than Him (Jinn 72:18).


Actually, we are not missing the President at the National Mosque for a number of reasons but we pray for him wherever he may be: (a) In his wisdom, he has elevated the mosque in the Villa to a Jumu’ah Masjid to lighten the burden that presidential movement causes people around the National Mosque every Friday. Those who were praying at the National Mosque for a presidential handshake and seeking the allurement of this world have stopped coming and followed the President to the Villa mosque; many influential people, however, have not altered in the least their constancy in praying at the National Mosque; their reward rests with Allah. (b) Security agencies do not differentiate between the measures to take when the President attends a public function, and when he goes to the National Mosque to pray with other Muslims. They close all entrances and roads leading to the Mosque and divert all traffic as if it is only the President and his entourage will be performing the prayers. Any Imam of the National Mosque that goes out of the Mosque premises on a Friday that the President would attend, that Imam will be extremely lucky to be allowed to drive into the Mosque for the prayers. Many people stopped coming to the National Mosque because of this stiff security arrangement. (c) The Sai-Baba throng creates a constriction around the President and thus straining his security details in protecting him while inconveniencing other worshippers. But I kept wondering, recently, amidst the current realities, if the “Sai Baba” chorus would be heard or the security personnel around him would be under any strain should the President decide to pray at the National Mosque!


It “saddens” Alhaji Mutiu that the “National Mosque has now become a funeral place for big personalities.” Honestly, I do not understand why the National Mosque is derogated by Alhaji Mutiu because of Janaazah. It is a garland for the National Mosque to be the transit terminal where people, regardless of their status in society, are adorned for their final flight at a time when the Mosque needs nothing from them, when they cannot do anything either for themselves or for anyone. Every mosque should have a Janaazah unit as does the National Mosque where, with a phone call, the family of a deceased person could access complete funeral rites for the body - Ghusl (washing), Kafan (shroud), prayer and burial. During epidemic like COVID 19, however, the entire process changes and surrenders to the advice of medical officials on how to handle bodies and protect people from being infected. 


The Tripod of the National Mosque



The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has since moved the National Mosque, as an institution, to the next level with the appointment of Prof. Shehu A S Galadanchi, CON as the Murshid together with three other coequal Imams: Sheikh Ahmad Onilewura, Dr Muhammad Kabir Adam, and Prof. Ibrahim A Makari. These, together with some members of staff, form the Management of the Mosque, a departure from what obtained in times gone-by when Imams only obeyed orders. The help of another very important entrant was enlisted into this echelon: a seasoned administrator, Ambassador Haliru S Shuaibu who heads the Finance Department. 


The able leadership of Prof. Galadanchi has brought to an end the distressing phenomenon of begging inside the Mosque after prayers. Whoever has any challenges needing assistance they are to channel that to the Welfare Services Department superintended by Imam, Dr Muhammad Kabir Adam. Each case, after verification, is treated according to its merits and assistance dispensed in like manner. A separate account, and which will soon be allocated funds directly from the budget, deals with such matters.


The National Mosque Library is under the supervision of Imam, Prof Ibrahim Ahmad Makari. Every month the Library boasts no fewer than one million naira worth of books, not relying on donations; from one member of staff a few years ago, we now have about 7, and the librarianship is handled by a professional - just the right blend of academic concern and administration.


Prof. Makari also heads the National Mosque Academy with Sheikh, Dr Shehu Usman Muhammad as Principal; a semi-autonomous, self-financing body which, from its take-off, as unusual as it may sound, did not wait for the breakeven point before it started paying salaries to its staff - ample salaries, as and when due, comparable to those paid by institutions of a similar standard in the FCT.


All the Imams and scholars at the National Mosque conduct daily Ta’leem between Magrib and Ishaa prayers, treating the exposition of myriad books of Islam and of other sources of the Shari’ah. Additionally, there is a monthly Muhaadarah (lecture) where experts on various fields of the Shari’ah are invited singly for the presentation of papers in the area of their expertise. 


The National Mosque used to be one of the few mosques where Jumu’ah was offered around 2:30 to 3:00 pm. Not anymore! The Murshid’s order was unequivocal: Translations of the Khutbah should start by 1:00 pm, to finish by 1:30 pm, and Jumu’ah must commence by 1:45 pm at the latest.


There is also the National Mosque Properties Management that Ustaz Abubakr Siddeeq Muhammad oversees. This going concern, by the authority of the Murshid, holds in trust for, and manages properties of the National Mosque. Our aim is to make maximum use of all properties for the Mosque to be a self-sustaining, financially independent religious institution. We are starting with the National Mosque Mini-Shopping Mall which will be commissioned soon. The Mall will replace the “Open Market Space” that has turned the aesthetic and ambience of the Mosque into an eyesore with shanty shops and eateries. We had a one-on-one interview with, as well as screening and selection of all individuals and representatives of corporate bodies that applied for shops and office spaces for the Mall; but for COVID 19 we would have by now released allocation letters to successful applicants. It is no longer “free-sabeelillaah”; everything must be paid for fully!



The large expanse of land which is attached to the National Mosque overlooking the Yar’Adua Centre is Plot 63 which belongs to the Mosque. From the original plan, there is a flyover that passes through the land; whatever remains after the crossing of the flyover shall be used by the Mosque for chargeable parking, garden, event centre and shops for offices and other commercial activities.


There is in addition to the above the Eid Ground (Plot 514) along the Airport Road for the National Mosque. This mighty space of land spanning over 37 hectares, we demarcate to several segments, including another plot of about 4 hectares attached to the whole, so that aside from the annual Eid prayers that hold twice in a year, the place could be busied and further utilised toward swelling the coffers of the Mosque. This is an opportunity for investors in Nigeria and from abroad to come and partner with the National Mosque in the establishment and management of the following: (1) a hospital, (2) an international school, (3) a multi-purpose shopping mall, (4) estate development, and (5) an amusement park. 



My brother Alhaji Mutiu, you said: “The clerics at the National Mosque are not really looking as expected.” You even “wonder how we have clerics at the national level living below average.” I do not think that has to do with the institution itself to some extent. It is in the psyche of the individual and their sense of self-worth. Some scholars, (this is not confined to the “clerics at the National Mosque”) may choose to appear “dishevelled and dusty” or in “sackcloth and ashes” because they thought donning nice tunic may turn down the tap of alms that flows to them. Others among them are self-effacingly “really looking as expected”, that the unthinking accounts them wealthy because of their restraint; they do not beg of men with importunity (al-Baqarah, 2:273).


I agree with you wholly, Alhaji Mutiu, that miserable existence should not be the lot of “clerics”. Except if some people are jealous of them because of that which Allah of His bounty has bestowed upon them (an-Nisaa, 4:54). People of means, many of them, hardly come to the Mosque for Jumu’ah without an offering to the Imam. Whoever among the Imams happened to be on duty for that Friday shared such offerings with his brother-imams. But suddenly an edict was issued that whoever brought any offering they should take it to the Management office and get their receipt or deposit it in the Mosque’s account. This would have been a good idea if such offering were to be kept in a pool for distribution to the Imams, but it was not. Most of the Imams at the Mosque are academics with leadership positions in their universities, but these, or those among the Imams who are full-time and residents of the Mosque premises deserve extra care and to be given whatever comes in their favour. 


Moreover, it is high time we had endowments for Imams, their deputies and Mu’azzins for not only the National Mosque but for all mosques. An investment by the Mosque or for it the proceeds of which are designated for the various offices of Imams and those working with them. Imams come and go but their offices remain. Thus, the designation will be for whoever occupies the office for life, as well as for those that will come after them. This will be an extra income for them to be “really looking as expected” of the high offices they occupy.


Finally, Alhaji Mutiu, thank you for your article. Rest assured, that imposing structure, the admiration of beholders, the towering cynosure of the Capital City, the twenty-year senior of the National Ecumenical Centre in completion and commissioning has not fallen; The National Mosque Still Stands!