In the name of Allah who states “Among the believers are men who have been true to the covenant they made with Allah. There are some of them who have fulfilled their vow, and some who still wait and they have not changed their condition in the least” Q33:23.
Peace and blessings of Allah be upon His noble servant, our master Muhammad (S) and his purified progeny.
Soon, the Shuhada Foundation of the Islamic Movement would observe the annual Martyrs’ day. Saddled with the responsibility of seeing to the general welfare of martyrs’ families in pursuance of moral and academic excellence, and hitherto victims of oppressive attacks, the fully registered foundation collects and manages contribution from disciples of the Sheikh and other well meaning individuals for its humanitarian activities. No doubt, its task is very challenging. With the statistics available, there are about four thousand dependents consequent to historic state aggressions on the peaceful citizens, most notably, the 2015, Zaria massacre where about a thousand were murdered by the army in cold blood.
The foundation was established by the insightful Sheikh on the martyrdom of Shahid Abubakar Madomawa in 1991 in Katsina. On periodic basis, programmes are organised in honour of the martyrs with a grand annual tagged “Day of the martyrs” in Rajab, the seventh month of Islamic calendar. Using this medium, I wish to reiterate the need for strict observance of the monthly Shuhada dues and generous contribution from all well wishers. Undeniably, the martyr as a human being deserves commendation for discarding all human desires preferring the pleasure of Allah the most High. As such, in a hadith al-Qudsy, Allah says “I am the successor of a martyr in his family”. Imam Ali (AS) said “Allah will bring forward the martyrs on the day of judgment with such pomp and splendour, that even the prophets if mounted, will dismount to show their respect for them. With such grandeur will a martyr appear on the Day of Judgment”.
When the Imam was struck by Ibn Muljim, the terrorist assassin in the early hours of 19th Ramadan, he said: “I have succeeded by the Lord of the Kaaba!” Imam Husain said: “my grandfather told me that I was destined to attain a very high spiritual position but that could not be attained except through martyrdom”. Thus, martyrdom is an honourable position that Allah gives to whom He likes. As an inevitable milestone, many prophets and rightly guided predecessors were honoured in that way as they treaded the path of Allah. Evidently, the struggles of Shehu Danfodio and Imam Khomeini (may Allah have mercy on them) were proven examples, just as it happens in the Sheikh el-Zakzaky’s Islamic Movement!
Nigeria with its diverse nature suffers unending ethno-religious crises triggered by unscrupulous elements to achieve economic and political ends, regardless of huge loss of lives and property. The crises of that dimension owe their origins to socio-economic problems which steadily and violently explode. Interestingly, the movement was never found wanting in such unfortunate crises of vandalism and bloodshed. In the 2014 military attack where 34 including three undergraduate sons of the Sheikh were brutally murdered in cold blood, a Christian elder, Julius Anyawu inclusive. The Sheikh sent a high powered delegation to his burial sympathizing with his family and community. On his instruction, the movement took care of the Christian sister that sustained injuries until she sufficiently recovered. The sympathetic remark of the Sheikh during the national disaster when tens of Nigerian soldiers lost their lives in a ghastly motor accident as they returned from Niger Republic is still enlightening. Given the volatile nature of the country and his wise role, he is widely credited for promotion of peaceful coexistence and ethno-religious tolerance.
Undoubtedly, his teachings make tremendous impact in the Muslim/Christian relations not only in Zaria where his house is considered safe abode to ethno-religious crises victims, but throughout the country. In the 2011 post presidential violence, the medical wing of the movement provided first aid and medical care to innocent victims irrespective of tribal and religious inclinations in a number of northern states. He is really worthy of emulation, as no development is possible under a situation of chaos and bloodshed.
Since the unfortunate Zaria massacre, the Islamic Movement demands unconditional release of the Sheikh, his wife and other disciples in custody, bodies of those slaughtered and mass graved for proper Islamic burial, compensation for the destructions made and bringing the mass murderers to book. More important was the verdict in favour of the ailing Sheikh and his wife, by Justice Kolawale of the Federal High Court (FHC), Court 6, Abuja, yet to be complied with. In the unfortunate pogrom Sheikh and his wife after sustaining several gunshot injuries were detained on the orders from above in what they described as protective custody. With the unfortunate incidence, the most important thing in the citizen’s mind was the Sheikh’s attitude of embracing all Nigerians. Based on this, martyrs actions must be greatly appreciated as they left a big legacy and therefore owe a great debt to entire society. We need to assure them that we will remain on their cause of struggle for justice and fairness. “They rejoice in the grace and the bounty from Allah, And in the fact that Allah suffereth not the reward of the faithful to be lost (in the least). Q3:171. And we must remain steadfast in the quest for social justice in which the great martyrs lost their lives. So, we must always pray for them, promptly pay their dues, respect their families, visit their graves and keep them in mind.
In the traditional Sallah feast annually organised by the Sheikh with other participants drawn from various fields of human endeavours.
In the last event, before the genocide, the Sheikh spoke on societal reform as a collective responsibility. Important dignitaries attended the occasion including Islamic scholars, traditional rulers, pastors and educationists. The feast observed the need for people to play their moral role, not fold their hands waiting for saviour without emphasis on the proportionate deeds in reforming the nation. It is known to all that the movement was never found wanting in anyway. Another good approach towards understanding and peaceful co-existence of Nigerians was the commemoration of the birthday of Prophet Isah, peace be upon him, observed on 25th of Zulqaadah according to the narration of Ahlul-bait. In the event, annually organised by the youth forum of the movement where his virtues are extolled for emulation and Christians invited to share the Islamic view on the Messiah. On many occasions, prominent Nigerians have described the movement as the most organised Muslim group in the country. The Sheikh’s continued detention is no doubt a gross violation of his fundamental human right and a clear oppression strictly prohibited by Allah, the Most High. As such, the incessant calls for his freedom cannot be overemphasised. No doubt, everyone will account for his/her deed here and hereafter. No doubt, millions of the Sheikh’s followers and other well meaning Nigerians deserve to be listened to long before now.
Opening the chapter 6 of his book titled the faithful, Karl Maier, the American journalist and author of This house has fallen; Nigeria in crises, put a prominent quote from Sheikh Usman bn Fodio “a kingdom can endure unbelief, but it cannot endure injustice.” Unarguably, justice is the key to peace and stability of all nations. A popular adage says “justice delayed is justice denied and injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” The seven lettered word is the central philosophy behind the establishment of all authorities. Allah states: “Verily, we sent Our Messengers with manifest signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance that people may act with justice….” Q2:247
Despite the continued illegal detention of the ailing Sheikh, his wife and other disciples, and the prosecution in Kaduna, no doubt, millions of his disciples and justice seeking groups and individuals across the world, will not relent incessant calls for his unconditional release and justice for the innocent citizens.