Tuesday, December 21, 2010


It was Friday 5th March, 2010. As usual I drove to the National Mosque early in order to go through the day’s khutbah (sermon) before rendering it into the English Language. As the name denotes, the National Mosque is a ‘wazobia’ mosque for the weekly khutbah is translated into Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, and English languages. The Chief Imam, Sheikh Musa Muhammad was already seated in his chambers before I arrived. ‘Ustaz,’ he said, ‘no summary in today’s khutbah. Everything must be said as contained here.’ He handed to me the original Arabic text of his sermon. Normally, I prefer to give the summary of the import of the sermon after perusing over it. The President and other top government functionaries pray here, so time is of essence.
‘Yes akramakumullaah (Your Honour!),’ I answered, respectfully received the khutbah. And what a khutbah it was!
All the interpreters read the Arabic version, as is their custom, in group. Most of the time Malam Shehu, the Hausa interpreter, would volunteer to read while we listen but at the same time running our gaze on the written words, as he reads, in order to make corrections where necessary. At the end of this group perusal, the interpreters would take turns to address the assembly of worshipers in the mosque on the content of the day’s khutbah within the time allotted to each translation. On this day (Friday 5th March, 2010), Right Honourable Oladimeji Bankole, the Speaker, House of Representatives, ministers and other government officials were in attendance.
When it was my turn I collected the papers and headed to the pulpit. ‘Assalaamu alaikum.’ I began, ‘Indeed, all praise is due to Allah. We praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from our soul’s evils and our wrong doings. He whom Allah guides, no one can misguide; and he whom He misguides, no one can guide.
‘I bear witness that there is no (true) god except Allah – alone without any partners. And I bear witness that Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) is His Servant and Messenger. O you who believe! Revere Allah the right reverence, and do not die except as Muslims.
‘O people! Fear your Lord who has created you from a single soul, created from it its mate, and dispersed from both of them many men and women. Revere Allah through whom you demand things from one another, and (cherish the ties of) the wombs. Indeed, Allah is ever-watching over you.
‘O believers! Fear Allah and speak the truth. He will then rectify your deeds and forgive your sins. He who obeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly achieved a great victory.
‘Verily, the best speech is Allah’s speech; the best guidance is Muhammad’s guidance; and the worst matters (in creed or worship) are those innovated (by the people), for every innovated matter is a bid’ah, and every bid’ah is an act of misguidance that (whoever initiated it) will reside in the Fire.
‘Servants of Allah! Obey Allah’s commandment, and eschew His prohibitions; you will succeed in this world and the Hereafter.
‘Allah had honoured the early Muslims with Islaam. They were feeble on this earth but Allah made them masters of the then world. By Allah’s leave they brought the end of kufr, and routed the armies of disbelief; every froward potentate was reduced to nought.
‘Now there has succeeded them a later generation who have ruined worship and have followed lusts. Daily salaah is not observed. Zakkah is not paid. Usury is devoured. The youth of this latter generation have stupefied their intellects with intoxicants. Abominations, and even sodomy are committed; liquor is consumed, without recourse to the Law.
‘Servants of Allah! We have descended from the nation of masters to that of bondage; from an honoured Ummah to a despicable community. Muslims turn a blind eye over the iniquities they commit; their preoccupation is to discuss other people’s ills. When one of their own is blessed with wealth they despise, and envy him - ardently hoping would that he remained a pauper. But if a kaafir becomes affluent, they honour him with garlands at public functions; they desire to be given the like of what has been bestowed unto him. We are Allah’s; and unto Him we shall return!
‘Servants of Allah! During the reign of a Muslim leader his brethren would spare no effort to betray him. Hatred is revealed by the utterance of their tongue but that which their hearts concealed is greater. They join the confederates of faithlessness to hamper their Muslim brother. With their clandestine support he is undeservedly maligned; wild rumours are spread to undermine his kingdom; Muslims participate in secret conferences to dethrone their own. They fear evil turn of fortune, so they must preserve their portfolios by any means necessary.
‘When a kaafir ascends the throne, Muslims, who only but yesterday betrayed their own, would fall over each other to hail, congratulate and pledge allegiance to him. He is viewed by all as a lord of rare good fortune; one extremely lucky! They metamorphose from the blues into new creatures willing to support and give good counsel to the one at the helm. They throng and hover around the kaafir in order to assuage his fears, strengthen his handhold on power, and assure him of their succour to ensure his success. Evil suggestions are proffered on how to humiliate their brethren who did not show enough partisanship during the expedition.
‘Servants of Allah! The Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) commands you as follows: when you speak, speak the truth; when you are entrusted with anything, do not betray the trust; restrain yourselves from harming others; establish your regular prayers; preserve your chastity; keep your promises; and lower your gaze from the evil look.
‘May Allah empower Islaam and the Muslims; and may He debase hypocrites and hypocrisy!’
That was the khutbah I rendered into English on that day. After the Juma’ah prayers some worshipers including members of the diplomatic community in Abuja asked me if the sermon centred on the political intrigues around the man with the resource control fedora. I said for him whom the cap fits, let him wear it.

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