Today, I share with readers a speech delivered by the President of the Supreme Council for Shari’ah in Nigeria at an event in Abuja attended by many Muslim scholars and representatives of Islamic Organisations. Enjoy:
Welcome speech by the President of the Supreme Council for Shari’ah in Nigeria (SCSN), at the Pre-Ramadan meeting of the Majlis ash Shurah and Congregation of Representatives of Islamic Organizations, held at Ajuji Meridian Hotel, Abuja on Monday, 20th Sha’aban 1444 AH (13th March, 2023)
1.1) In the name of Allah (SWT), The most Beneficent and the most Merciful. All thanks and praises be upon Him for His bounties and mercies. May the peace and blessings of Allah be showered upon our beloved Prophet and final Messenger, Muhammad Ibn Abdullah, his household, his companions and all those that followed them till the last day.
Assalamu Alaikum, distinguished Ulamah, your excellencies, brothers and sisters in Islam. I welcome you all to this essential pre-Ramadan meeting and pray to Allah (SWT) that our deliberations will be fruitful and beneficial to the Ummah, in this life and the hereafter, in Nigeria and beyond.
1.2) As is the tradition in all our previous pre-Ramadan meetings, the issues I will raise in this welcome address will set the tone for a more focused and productive discussion. For clarity, this meeting is intended to focus on the 2023 elections, the need for greater unity of the Ummah and the challenges ahead for Islam and Muslims in Nigeria. To start with, the successful victorious outcome of the Presidential election, and a hopeful replication in the next round of Gubernatorial/ House of Assembly elections, a few days away, will in Shaa Allah, and with His help and guidance, make it much easier for us to address the other myriad of problems and challenges confronting the Ummah and the Nigerian state at large.
1.3) Brothers and sisters in Islam, we all owe a profound gratitude to Allah (SWT), the most Exalted, for His great favour in blessing our collective resolve and effort that culminated in the victory of Islam, the Muslim Ummah and the democratic process that led to the emergence of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as President-Elect and Alhaji Kashim Shettima as Vice President-Elect.
Subhanallah, how time flies; it seems as if the last pre-Ramadan meeting held almost a year ago, in the last week of Sha’aban, was just like a few months ago. It will be recalled that at the end of the Oshogbo meeting, a strong resolution was reached to actively and collectively work towards the success of the Muslim/Muslim ticket; for many reasons. First, democracy is a game of numbers, and despite the incontrovertible numerical superiority of Muslims and their majority in the North and the Southwest, our complacency and complicit indifference have resulted in the insulting marginalization of Muslims and daily arrogant challenges to our constitutional rights to lead our lives as Muslims, by a small but powerful and dominant Christian and Atheist groups.
1.4) Secondly, a successful outcome of the Muslim/Muslim ticket in the 2023 Presidential election will be and has indeed resulted in an emphatic defeat of the longstanding propaganda on the population of Muslims vis-a-vis the Christians, as it confirmed without any doubt, the indisputable overwhelming numerical strength of Muslims. In the beginning, there was an unreasonably high expectation by the Christians in the South, together with the Northern Christian minority, that the primaries of the two major parties, APC and PDP, will both be given to or won by Christians in the South. Alhamdulillah, all their sermons and the prophecies of the prophets of doom, the threats, lies, abuses and propaganda fell flat because they were not based on actual realities and accurate historical facts but on mere delusion, selfish interest and manifest intent for injustice.
2.0) Thus, even after the defeat of all the Christian aspirants in the two major parties and the failure of the unfortunate high-level plot to skew the APC zoning agreement, which made the vision of Muslim/Muslim ticket to remain alive, suddenly, a relatively unknown platform, the Labour Party (LP) which had only won a single gubernatorial election in the southwest, emerged and took to the social media, successfully creating a false impression of “Emi Lokan”, that the 2023 Presidential election is their right, and that it was just a matter of time for their candidate, campaigning as a champion of Christianity, to be the next president. Part of their social media propaganda was the dangerous impression that if their ‘anointed candidate of Christ’ and CAN was not declared the winner, then whoever was eventually so declared would be regarded as taking a stolen mandate.
3.0) The 2023 Presidential election has clarified many real issues Muslims, especially our political elites, have ignored or avoided. The first is the powerful resort openly, to religious bigotry by Christians, with a Machiavellian touch. Even though faith or religion has always been a factor in all Nigerian elections, the Labour Party (LP) raised the stakes to a dangerous level in their demagoguery and propaganda in reaction to APC’s Muslim/Muslim ticket. Christians were told in churches to vote in defence of their faith and to overlook all their differences of geography, denomination and tribe by rallying behind a single Christian candidate. The second issue is the fallacy of allegiance to political party platforms, a constitutional prerequisite for seeking an elective office. It is now clear to all that in the democratic process we operate; political parties are mere alphabetical appellations, changeable at any time. They can be swapped at will by politicians in the pursuit of their narrow selfish political interests. Thirdly, the disdain with which politicians treat the undertaking to fulfil political promises resulted in an unbelievable level of voter apathy, especially in the North among Muslims, with only about 27% of the registered voters participating in the elections.
A cursory review of the events that preceded the election and the outcome of the actual presidential election has raised many important issues from which we should learn valuable lessons:-
(i) The profound power of, and the imperative need to obey Allah’s command on the unity of the Ummah, if we want to succeed in every endeavour; for as Allah commands us— “wa’atasimuw bi hablil lahi jami’an, wa laa tafarraquw”. As the famous saying goes, “united we stand, divided we fall”. Our effort to unite behind a noble cause paved the way to success in spite of the disappointingly low turnout because of understandable voter apathy. We should therefore resolve, individually and collectively, to make the unity of the Ummah in the North, Southwest and Muslims all over the country our priority. A few here may recall that after the 2015 elections, the Council’s primary request and agenda was to have a pivotal role in strengthening the unity of Muslims, particularly the North and the Muslim majority in the Southwest, through deliberate affirmative steps with support from the then newly elected government. The rest is now in the footnotes of history, as absolutely nothing was done to actualise it. Henceforth, we should, as an obligation, nurture and consolidate the unity of the Ummah.
(ii) We should not allow disagreements or misunderstandings, political or otherwise, tribal, linguistic or other persuasions to separate the Ummah. This election victory should therefore be seen in its proper perspective, underscoring the utmost need for sober reflection and introspection, devoid of subordinate, personal, sectional or worldly considerations in guiding a united Ummah, seeking the pleasure of Allah (SWT), and fear none but Him, in the task of al-amr bil ma’aruf wan’nahyi anil munkar, which encapsulates the message and mission of all the Prophets of Allah.
(iii) We should take more seriously the need to teach our Muslim brethren to eschew tribalism or regionalism and embrace the correct spirit of Ukhuwwah Islamiyyah (Muslim brotherhood), as the Prophet (SAW) reprimanded some of the companions after the Battle of Khaybar— “da’uwhaa, fa innaha muntinah”.
(iv) Espouse the principle of unity of common purpose among our Muslim brothers and sisters to correct our collective mistakes in the politics of the past. And this will require a commitment to Islamic deals, resilience and deliberate effort to sustain it for a brighter future for Islam and Muslims.