Thursday, April 23, 2020


"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


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. 



‘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. 


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.’ 


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.’ 


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.’


‘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.’


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.’


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!