I write this piece from the Qiblah of the Muslims, from the Mother of all Cities, from Makkah where the Muslim World League convened an ‘International Conference on Islamic Unity – The Perils of Labelling and Exclusion’ under the aegis of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Sa’ud. The conference which held between December 12th to 13th, 2018, at Jabal Umar Hilton Makkah & Convention Centre, brought together participants from about one hundred and thirty (130) countries around the world – government functionaries, academics, Muslim scholars, journalists, and leaders of Islamic movements.
Before I comment on the Conference and its aims, I would like to acknowledge the fact that His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), and Jamaatu Nasril Islam (JNI), Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar was invited. He was unable to attend. It is heartening to know that the Conference has recognised the elevated position that His Eminence occupies and that of the Muslims that he leads. The presence of the Sultan and Ameerul Mu’mineen of the Nigerian Muslims here would have added much to the event’s glamour.
The Muslim World League, whenever it is mentioned, makes me call to mind my Malam, the late Sheikh Abubakar Mahmoud Gumi, (may Allah forgive and bestow mercy on him), who was the first Nigerian to serve in the League as a founding member.
His Excellency, Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko is at the Conference, being a member of the High Council of the Muslim World League.
Sheikh Abdullahi Bala Lau, the leader of Jamaa’atu Izaalatil Bid’ah wa Iqaamatis Sunnah (JIBWIS) is part of the attendees here. In the spirit of the aims of the Conference, I think it is pertinent to advise the inclusion of Sheikh Sharif Saleh Al Husaini in future engagements. He is preeminently qualified intellectually and as the Chairman of the Fatwah Committee of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) to serve as one of the voices representing Nigeria in the Muslim World League. Sheikh Sharif’s inclusion balances the Darika-Izala scale.
Sheikh (Dr) Abdulkadir Salman Sologberu, the founder of Darul Kitab Wassunnah and the promoter of the proposed Darul Kitab University, Ilorin is here, while Dr Sani Umar Rijiyar Lemu was invited, but could not attend.
I am pleased to be with another attendee of the Conference, a member of a WhatsApp group I belong to, Nahnu Muslimun, Prof. Isa Maishanu, an illustrious academic and Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Islamic Studies, Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto.
Sheikh Ahmad Lemu, despite his frailty, is here with us; that avuncular personality attracts the respect of all. I think it is high time brother Nuru took over such long distance da’wah trips in order to give the Sheikh some respite. Travelling for hours on end, even in First Class, is still part of azaab, as described by the Messenger of Allah, Sallallahu alaihi wa Sallam, to all of us. It is more so to people in Sheikh Lemu’s age.
The Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) is here together with other television stations from around the world. I can see two reporters from the NTA: Abdullahi Musa Suleja and Musbahu Dan Wahab, while Hassan Duhu handles the cameras. Abdur-Rahman Adekunle Balogun is the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the News Agency of Nigeria, as well as the National President, Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria. And if Abbas Olasunkami Jimoh is reporting for Daily Trust, yours sincerely can proudly say, as a columnist, that I write for LEADERSHIP NEWSPAPERS.
This Conference is timely; the level of attendance shows that even the scholars here are not unaware of the dangers of disunity among the Ummah and the imperative of blunting the edges of extremism in our dealings with one another as well as our interactions with people who are not Muslims.
The aim of the Conference is not to have an Ummah with complete unanimity on all spiritual and mundane issues. That is impossible, for that is not Allah’s design; there will always be disagreements (Hud 11:118). But the Conference desires that we see whatever positions we hold has with the possibility of being right or wrong and thus able to listen to the other person’s views, so we can have the good of both worlds. Since we accept that only the Prophet’s words can be accepted without question, we should not allow rancour to lurk in our hearts against those that reject our deductions or inferences from the text. The best course of action for a Muslim, for all of us, will be, except on those matters where the Law Giver draws a red line, the assumption that the dissenter of our stand on some issues may be right after all.
It is only an assemblage of these kinds of Muslim authorities, as seen in Makkah for this Conference, that can proffer solutions to the menace of ‘Labelling and Exclusion’ which, oftentimes, restricts what is enlarged by Allah, expelling people from the religion that encourages taking the middling position as its adherents are witnesses to followers of other faiths (Al-Baqarah 2:143), as if Al-Jannah is too constricted to accommodate all…
Extremists do not represent the Muslims or their religion when they preach hatred, commit acts of violence against non-Muslims or kill themselves under the illusion of pleasing Allah and receiving in return a recompense of the martyred.
The task of those present here is to disseminate whatever transpires in this Conference to those who are absent. we have to propagate the true message of Islam in a world that is awash with misrepresentations and deliberate misconceptions about a religion that embraces the other and extols the virtues of dialogue through mutual respect and understanding.
I will attempt making a precis of some of the papers presented at the Conference, in a piece or two, bearing in mind, my insignificance as compared to erudite scholars that presented them. I am not a Faqeeh; I am only a carrier. Many of those who will read these lines are much more educated than I could ever be, and will, thus, understand the import better than I do. The Prophet, Sallallahu alaihi wa Sallam, said ‘May Allah make radiant the countenance of the one who hears a hadeeth from us and conveys it to others. Perhaps, he carries Fiqh to one who is more brilliant than him, and perhaps the one who carries the Fiqh, is not a Faqeeh.’
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