Thursday, December 1, 2011


The second Caliph, Umar Ibn Al Khattaab, may Allah be pleased with him, once set out for Sham, whose people went out to receive him. They met a man riding a camel, sitting on a covering of coarse wool, hanging his feet through the two sides of the saddle, without a stirrup. They approached him and asked him: “Where is the Ameerul Mu’mineen, Commander of the Believers? Did you meet his procession on the way?” He answered them with a smile: “The Ameerul Mu’mineen is in front of you.”

They proceeded in search for him, but later they learnt that the Ameerul Mu’mineen had arrived in Ailah, where he alighted. They returned hurriedly and entered upon the Ameerul Mu’mineen, who was sitting with the people. But, they were nearly shocked by surprise, for the Ameerul Mu’mineen was no more than the same man who had been riding the camel, whom they met earlier and asked about the Ameerul Mu’mineen and he said to them that “The Ameerul Mu’mineen is in front of you.”

Reminiscent of the above narrative, our own Ameerul Mu’mineen, His Eminence, Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar III, was touring the tents at Minaa during 2010 hajj (as he did during 2011 hajj also), saying salaam to pilgrims and asking after their welfare. He came into our group’s tents (I was not there, unfortunately, but our media consultants have preserved what happened on video), greeted the hajjis who responded to him as you would respond to anybody who extends salaam to you. In the spirit of hajj, His Eminence was moving with just about two people; no retinue; he was simply dressed in two pairs of ihraam, not in royal tunic and without turban. Until he finished the session and left, nobody recognised His Eminence but a pilgrim military-comrade who said to his fellow hajjis: “It appears you did not know that the person who just left is (Ameerul Mu’mineen), His Eminence, Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar…”

                                                            His Eminence, Sultan Sa'ad Abubakar III

Instinctively, they all stood up, searched for and located the tent of His Eminence and paid homage. They expressed compunction for not recognising him when he came to them when, actually, they should be the ones to come and show their respect. “There is no blame on you;” Declared His Eminence, “I was just performing my duty. The essence of hajj, as you all know, is for us to view ourselves as equal as the teeth of a comb; we are all pilgrims. May Allah accept our hajj.”

Before the group dispersed, somebody suggested a brief personal introduction of members; His Eminence assented. The spiritual leader of our group, when it was his turn, said: ‘I am Sa’id Ishaq, Ameerul Hajj of Comerel….’

His Eminence interjected jokingly and said: “Ameerul Hajj? No, call yourself ‘leader of Comerel delegation’. There is only one Ameerul Hajj!”

Everybody laughed and left the presence of His Eminence well-pleased.

As the permanent Ameerul Hajj of the Nigerian hajj contingent, His Eminence does not content himself with receiving field reports from hajj inspection teams, or engage in ceaseless series of meetings far removed from the realities on ground; he desires physical assessment, to see things for himself and take appropriate action.

His Eminence has now introduced and inaugurated, unprecedented in the history of Islam in Nigeria, a 30 man National Council of Ulema on hajj activities and other matters affecting the Ummah. This council is not like anything we knew in the past about select-few committees that accompany the ameerul hajj or be part of the Federal Government delegation to hajj. His Eminence’s council is indeed unique; it is as if His Eminence got a special inspiration from Allah on this council; nothing of this nature has ever been seen in this country that is aimed at uniting the Muslim Ummah in Nigeria. Every group is represented: Tijjaniyyah, Kadiriyyah, Izala (Jos and that of Kaduna), Ansarudeen, Anwarudeen, Nawarudeen and Nasfat among others. No region or ethnic group was neglected; Muslim scholars, big Sheikhs and small Ustaz, the aged and the young, from the North, South and East were fully represented. No more cries of marginalization on Islamic activities from any Muslim group in this country.

Members of this council have now strengthened their bond as brethren in Faith. Their coming together under His Eminence’s council has wiped away any rancour lurking in their hearts and made them cast away hair-splitting argumentations that had stirred up unnecessary disunity among the Ummah. Now matters among these scholars are decided by consensus; fatwa on hajj and any other issues are based on agreed upon juristic authorities, researched and authenticated by all of them before it is given out as the position of the National Council of Ulama.

His Eminence should be supported by all in his peace and reconciliation initiative among the Muslims in Nigeria. Thanks to His Eminence’s council, I now see myself, not as a member of Izala, Darika or any group, but as a Muslim in Nigeria, a brother to all Muslims irrespective of their understanding or whatever emblem they attach to their original identity as Muslims.

If His Eminence smiles; that is a natural disposition of a persona full of tenderness for the mu’mineen Allah has placed under his care. If he laughs; that comes from a genuine feeling from a heart overflowing with love for all peoples – Christians and Muslims. I once tarried in the presence of His Eminence for about two hours; different classes of people coming and going - from royalties, ambassadors from foreign lands to everyday people, paying homage to the Ameerul Mu’mineen. He was jovial, full of life and cheerful. His mobile phone rang; he picked: “Hello” he said answering the call.  Suddenly he became more cheerful. We could not overhear the responses from the other side, but His Eminence kept responding to whoever called with jocundity the like of which I have not seen in him either during my long sojourn during that or earlier visits: “Well, I’m out of Sokoto, but you are there at the right time; just wait for me to come and give you the kalimah….” At this point His Eminence laughed heartily, and then ended by saying: “I’m sure you are posted to Sokoto so you can tread the right path…; as soon as I return, you shall pronounce the shahaadah…” This he said amidst more laughter and even blitheness. Everybody there was anxious to know who could excite such vivaciousness in His Eminence; and with whom could he converse so freely over the telephone. “That was Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto Diocese.” His Eminence announced to us.

This is the sublime example of interfaith harmony! Religious leaders, our Ameerul Mu’mineen has shown, are to set the tone, by words and deeds, for peaceful co-existence that followers might emulate. With the likes of the above telephone communication there will be no room for apprehension; no issue will be difficult to discuss, and solution could be proffered on how best to blight the embers of religious hatred.

On Sunday 4th December and the following day, Monday 5th December, the Muslims of this planet will observe the taasuu’aa and ‘aashuuraa voluntary fasts. Both days are two of the best days on earth. We are expected to shun any form of fighting or violence in the month of Muharram in which they fall. When we fast, please remember to supplicate to Allah for our various needs and our collective needs as Muslims and as a nation; remember to ask Allah to guide our Ameerul Mu’mineen, the Sultan, and to protect him.

There are only two celebrations in Islam, the Feast of Slaughter, Eidul Adhaa, and the Feast of Breaking the Fast, Eidul Fitr. I have noted with some trepidation that there are plans to celebrate the Sultan’s fifth year in office. I think the National Council of Ulema I mentioned earlier should take note of this and educate us all on the subject of anniversaries and celebrations in Islam generally. I have written this piece not as a congratulatory message on His Eminence’s fifth anniversary as Sultan; that would be acting against my beliefs and convictions, but as a way of expressing what I have always felt about the leadership style of our Ameerul Mu’mineen. Allah gives wisdom to whom He wills; the best of those who lead are those who earn your loyalty and respect not those who demand them. Indeed, Margaret Thatcher of Great Britain was spot on when she said “Being in power is like being a lady, if you have to tell people you are, you are not”.


  1. Thank you Brother for this timely observation. I hope the observation get to the hearing of the Ameer, who has so far exhibit the required listening ears. May Allah (swt) guide us aright.

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