Thursday, October 10, 2019


A “SPECIAL INVITATION” dated September 16th 2019, from Sheikh Dahiru Usman Bauchi Foundation was extended to the Murshid of the National Mosque, Abuja, Prof. Shehu Galadanchi, to “an annual celebration of new (Islamic Calendar) year, Zikir and Special Prayer 14441 AH.” 

In a normal setting, when an organisation wants to hold a function in any place, the first thing to do is to seek permission from the authorities of that establishment. Not so the Sheikh Dahiru Usman Bauchi Foundation. “On behalf of the above named foundation,” said the letter, “its well-wishers and the entire adherence (sic) of Dariqah Tijjaniyya, we hereby invite you to the above mentioned event which is organised under the leadership of Maulana Sheikh Dahiru Usman Bauchi (OFR)”. The date (September 27th), venue (National Mosque) and time (4:00 pm to 8:00 pm) of the “Zikir” celebration were mentioned. 

What made this Foundation to be so blatantly and disdainfully arrogant in its correspondence to the Murshid? The Foundation was just passing the information on its function to (and without permission of) the leader of the National Mosque and has the impudence to invite him to attend if he cared to. 

In his reply (on September 19th 2019) to the invite of the Foundation, the Murshid administratively treated their letter as if it were a formal request for permission to hold the event in the precincts of the National Mosque. He expressed his “regret to inform” the organisers “that the proposed date of” Friday, September 27th “2019 for the event will not be feasible” as (i) it is the same “date the Federal Government is conducting a Special Juma’at Prayer and Public Lecture” to mark Nigeria’s 59th Independence Day Celebrations; (ii) past gatherings by the Foundation have left a trail of damage to the Mosque’s facilities “such as carpets, toilets, landscaping, etc. (iii) “the Management of the Mosque”, given the “security  situation in the country,” will not “allow any uncontrollable crowd to” converge in its premises.

The Murshid then drew the attention of the Foundation to a saying of the Prophet, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam that was reported in almost all Hadeeth collections which established that the National Mosque, Abuja has no superiority over any other mosque in Nigeria in terms of acts of worship. Thus, whoever wants to serve Allah, they do not need to travel to Abuja as they could as well garner reward through their devotions in mosques that are close to them. A Muslim could travel for spiritual purposes to only three mosques in as much as the Prophet, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam has said:    “No (religious) journey is to be undertaken except to (pray in) the three mosques: The Sacred Mosque (Makkah), the Aqsa Mosque (Jerusalem), and this Mosque of mine (al-Madeenah).” 

The Murshid ended his letter by advising the Foundation, due to the multitudinous number of Dariqah devotees that gather for such event, to “contact Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) to provide, if necessary, for an alternative venue such as Eagle Square or International Conference Centre.”

The above reply only reached the addressees by the use of a bait. Past experience has shown that the organisers of the “annual Zikir” will not care to receive the National Mosque’s response to their correspondence. So, they were invited to come and collect invitation cards to the 59th Independence Day Celebrations which will feature a lecture and special prayers at the National Mosque. That bait caught the fish since this kind of ceremony attracts the presence of top government officials and people of means, (even President Muhammadu Buhari would have attended but for the coincidence of the event with his function at the United Nations General Assembly); it will, doubtless, provide opportunity for importunity in seeking for appointments and asking for largesse. After all, their patriarch sees no difference between Islam and begging; according to him, the two are inseparable. So, they took the bait. 

When they came for the invitation cards, the above reply of the Murshid was included in the envelope and given to the emissaries of the Sheikh Dahiru Usman Bauchi Foundation who wasted no time in reading the contents. One of them said to the Murshid’s retinue: “We have not sought for anybody’s opinion on the possibility or otherwise of our programme. It was just for your information. We are not asking for  your permission…” 

It was after the 59th Independence Day Celebrations at the National Mosque that one of the scions of Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi approached the Sultan at the facade of the Mosque to intercede (actually, overrule would be a better word) with the Murshid, who was standing within earshot, on their behalf. The Sultan advised the litigant to refer his case to the Murshid. “But you are the one that appointed him.” Said Dahiru Bauchi’s son. His Eminence, the Sultan, with surprising equanimity, answered: “On the issue of the Mosque, the Murshid is our leader”.   

“You will not have the event here. Not in this mosque.” Said the Murshid.

“But sir,” retorted Dahiru Bauchi’s son, “we have been gathering here for the past 30 years for the same event”; (which is not true. They started in 1998). “The consequences of the event not taking place at the National Mosque will be calamitous for Nigeria as a whole.” roared Dahiru Bauchi’s son.

“Let there be such calamity, but you will not have the event here.” Said the Murshid.

Amidst this scene of utter disregard to the sanctity of the place and discourtesy to our leaders, some adherents of Dariqah Tijjaniya were disdainfully asking “who can stop the mention of Allah in the house of Allah” and “who is Galadanchi…?”; jeering crowds of Ahlul Zikir devoid of decorum and discipline. If this is not extremism, I don’t know what it is!  

The only assuagement here will be the words of the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam where he warned that those who do “not respect our elders” are not of us. 

His Eminence, in his conscientiousness, benign temperament and style of leadership, desires the embarkation of all Muslims in Nigeria, as it were, on the Ark of  Nuh (Noah), Alaihis Salaam. But, honestly, he, sometimes needs the Umarness in the Murshid to suffer the waves to drown those members of his flock who foolishly assume a mountain that they perceive from afar will save them from the flood. 

One lesson that should not be missed in this sad incident is the unquestioning deference that His Eminence, the Sultan accorded the Murshid. He has established the Murshid’s evident authority on the affairs of the National Mosque: “On the issue of the Mosque, the Murshid is our leader”. Even when His Royal Highness, Alh Yahaya Abubakar, Etsu Nupe approached the Sultan on the possibility of a concession on the matter, His Eminence urged him to “go to the Murshid and plead with him..”. In a telephone conversation with a prominent Muslim leader who called on the same issue, the Sultan politely referred him to the Murshid. These efforts succeeded in the reversal of the Murshid’s position and the Zikir Foundation held the event, but the greatest winner is “our leader” on matters affecting the National Mosque.    

Now Facebook-warriors of Dariqah Tijjaniya have got another pastime in propagating lies about the National Mosque and its Murshid, calling for his removal, that he is an Izala agent working for the obliteration of all traces of Dariqah in the mosque.  

Prof. Shehu Ahmad Sa’id Galadanchi, CON, Murshid of the National Mosque has a clearer vision, more than any other person, on maintaining neutrality in running the affairs of the National Mosque even before it was built. In a meeting with late General Shehu Musa ‘Yar Adua, Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters in 1978 (when the leader of this Zikir Foundation was nothing to be mentioned in Nigeria), Shehu Galadanchi it was that countered the subtle suggestion by late Sheikh Abubakar Mahmoud Gumi that since Izala has no discernible ritual in its practice of Islam, it could have more influence in running the affairs of the then yet-to-be-built National Mosque. Sheikh Sharif Ibrahim Saleh was also at the meeting.

Only the mischievous will see leanings towards Izala in the leadership of Prof. Shehu Galadanchi as Murshid of the National Mosque. There was a time that the Izala group sought for permission to hold a function at the mosque which was denied. Heavens did not fall then. On another occasion, he granted such request with the proviso that they will pray behind the imam of the National Mosque and not appoint one of them to lead the prayers. When the time for prayer came, Sheikh Ahmad Onilewura, one of the imams, led the prayers and everybody prayed behind him. Even with the resolution of the Zikir Foundation crisis, its members did not obey this condition. Before the Mu’azzin made the call to prayer, they instructed one of their own to do so and another led the prayers. That has been their custom. 

Moreover, adherents of Dariqah Tijjaniya have Wazifa sessions daily at the National Mosque aside the special weekly Juma’a Zikir. The National Mosque is the de facto headquarters of Dariqah activities in Nigeria.  Dariqah Tijjaniya is the only group with an office at the National Mosque.

There is a need for an urgent meeting of Dariqah Tijjaniya, Kadiriya and Izala adherents to address these imbalances to avert an impending crisis when other groups will attempt to establish their presence and seek for equal treatment.  

Sheikh Ibrahim Ahmad Makari, a quintessential adherent of Dariqah,  handles quite a number of important assignments at the behest of the Murshid, not because Prof. Makari is Dariqah but for the fact that he is competent and thus the Murshid reposed no small measure of confidence in him. In Sheikh Makari I was able to educe a variant of Dariqah Tijjaniya that hinges on self-effacement, refinement and observance of the rules of scholastic etiquette. His tutelage, I later deciphered, was not under a sheikh whose slanders, curses, taunts and abuses did not spare the Majesty of the Sokoto Caliphate.      

Two days after the display of unruly behaviour by members of the Zikir Foundation, the Shiekh Sharif Ibrahim Saleh Foundation, presented to the public the proposed SHEIKH SHARIF IBRAHIM SALEH ISLAMIC CENTRE (SHISIC), on Sunday, September 29th 2019 at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.

The centre shall be domiciled at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria, and will, among other uses, (1) serve the interest of those “concerned with the promotion of research and studies in various aspects of Islamic jurisprudence”, (2) promote “unity amongst Muslim Ummah”, and (3) it “will not limit itself to education in its conservative sense only, but rather, serves as all-encompassing centre, concerned with the affairs of Muslim culture   and civilisation, by promoting better understanding of contemporary challenges and facing such challenges through knowledge and research.”
The Sheikh Sharif Ibrahim Saleh Islamic Centre (SHISIC) is neither a one-man-show ersatz project that will not outlive its founder nor a jamboree contrived to attract donatives while the real intention - personal enrichment - is cloaked in secrecy. 
The SHISIC envisions itself becoming “the highest Islamic reference centre in Sub-Saharan Africa”, dedicated “for research and learning with a view to promoting Islamic scholarship and peaceful coexistence amongst citizens.”

It is the likes of SHISIC  that Islam needs to confront the challenges facing Muslims today. Instead of intra-conflict on what group gets control of the National Mosque, let each group come up with its own edifice of Islamic centre where Islam and humanity will be served. 

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