When Muslims Converge For Solutions


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When Muslims Converge For Solutions




Uthman Abubakar




March 29, 2005



The Muslim Community in Nigeria is used to converging on a chosen location within the country every year under the auspices of the National Islamic Centre, Zaria to discuss a wide range of issues, beginning from those concerning itself and its component parts as a single brethren to those concerning it as a component part of the federation and those concerning the entire federation as a nation in the pursuit of prosperity as an indivisible entity. The convergence, called National Muslim Ummah Convention, which discusses issues along the lines of a relevantly coined theme, provides the forum for self searching, stocktaking, broad appraisals and recommendations on the way forward in the light of prevailing circumstances.

The 2005 convention held at the conference hall of the National Mosque, Abuja on Saturday, 26th March, with the theme: Islamic Ideals and the Problems of the Nigerian Nation, drawing over 1000 delegates from all states of the federation. Presentations made along the theme by scholars during the convention covered seven sub-themes which were Good Governance, Resource development and allocation, Co-existence in a multi-religious and multi-ethnic Nigeria, Economic reforms and empowerment, equity and fairness for the deprived, Islamic guidance towards establishing an ideal society, and the Child Rights Act.

The National Amir, Mallam Salihu Abubakar, dwelt heavily on the current political, social and economic issues in the country, including the political reform conference.

“Nigerians do appear to have woken up to the realization that, we, as a nation need to stake stock of the state of affairs in this country. Accordingly, even though the focus of the conference initiated and organized by the Federal Government is supposed to be on political reforms, virtually all aspects of life as they affect the future of the country are likely to be discussed.” According to Mallam Salihu, “ The Nigerian nation is in dire need for a way out of its multitude of problems at the top of which is corruption, nepotism, insecurity and total disregard for the rule of law. Nigeria and Nigerians are crucially in need of guidance to show them the way forward.”

He admonished muslims on the right steps they should take on the way forward.


“The clear teachings of our religion that demands from us to stand firm on truth and justice also requires from us to struggle against mischief, corruption and injustice. In the confusion that most people appear to be in, with respect to the political direction of our country, we as believers should not stand equally bewildered or confused,” saying that the Muslim community had a guidance to lead it to that which is right and noble. He cursed all moves towards all ethnic and regional inclinations, positing, “It is a pity that at this stage of our development as a nation some people in this country see the future of the country as lying in the entrenchment of ethnic or regional supremacy. Our religion has always rejected ethnic bigotry and insisted on establishing the human society on the basis of fear of Allah, respect for human dignity, equity, fairness and justice to all.”

The Amir expressed sadness over his observation that while millions of Nigerians suffered from social and economic deprivation in terms of basic necessities of life such as food, water, healthcare and education as well as the infrastructural facilities that enhance transportation, electricity, communications and water supply “ a large proportion of this country’s leadership is ferociously engaged in self aggrandizement, covetously enriching itself from public funds and shamelessly betraying the trust that the people have put in its hands.”

Mallam Salihu also expressed grief over what he observed as mischievous and hypocritical way of avoiding the addressing of issues in the country. “We say in the strongest of terms that all Nigerians, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, demand that the political affairs of our country be run in accordance with the rule of law, ensure that all resources are prudently managed in the most transparent way for the benefit of the people, and guarantee freedom, fairness, equity and justice in all public and private affairs, and these are some of the fundamental requirements of Islam in politics and governance.”

He drew the attention of the community to what he described as the campaign of defamation and distortion mounted against Islam and Muslims to undermine Islam, saying, “ We are also aware of the other side of the conspiracy which seeks to use Muslims to repackage Islam in line with the thinking of its adversaries so that it will be re-presented to the Muslims as the authentic Islam. All these should neither provoke us nor intimidate, frustrate or distract us, because we are absolutely sure that in the final analysis Islam offers the best hope not only for Nigeria but for the entire humanity.”

The Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau, Justice Muhammad Bashir Sambo, was the chairman of the occasion. He admonished the Muslim community to wake up from its slumber. “The time of slumber is over. We have to speak out on issues concerning us and the entire country, explain and be understood; otherwise we will lose our constitutional rights. We must not sit down. We have to consider everything affecting us.” He went further, “we should kick against the trend that our constitution has nothing to do with God. Whatever our number is we want unity as Muslims and stand firm on our rights and we should take politics seriously and how our affairs are going to be run as Muslims.”

He described the convention as coming at a very crucial time in the history of the nation, advising the delegates to “look at all our national problems, some of which are even international.”

The Chairman of the National Shura Committee, Dr. Musa Borodo, described the lack of unity under a purposeful leadership as the central problem bedeviling the country. He lamented specifically, “The issue of corruption, insecurity and lack of purposeful leadership are the problems of Muslims in this country even in states practicing shari’a to some extent.” Governor Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano State was the Special Guest of Honour at the occasion. He dwelt on the observance of good conduct in the life of a Muslim, saying that Muslims at all times and wherever they find themselves must seriously face the challenge of observing good conduct whether they are the leaders or the led. “Being of good conduct and exemplary in your behaviour is shari’a,” he said.

Professor Auwalu Yadudu, a law scholar, was the guest speaker. In his keynote address, he examined the theme critically in the context of philosophical postulations and practical application by the contemporary Nigerian muslims and the extent to which it shapes the course of affairs of the nation, remarking that muslims must face the contemporary challenges in the observance of those ideals because they would no excuse whatsoever not to do so.

Those Islamic ideals, according to him, broadly include justice, accountability, fairness and kindness. He said those ideals belong to two groups: those ordained and those prohibited. Professor Yadudu said those ideals boarder on political behaviours as Muslims and to whom Muslims should give political leadership; choice of leadership which is by consultation; interpersonal relationships with Muslims and non-Muslims as well as accountability because Muslims know they are accountable for everything they do here in the world and in the hereafter. Professor Yadudu said the ideal of accountability implies that one checks the balance sheet of one self and what one has achieved in terms of one’s deeds, ordained by Allah or Prohibited at the end of the day when one is retiring to bed so that he gives his own verdict himself just as Khalifa Umar Ibn al-Khattab did.

He said Muslims should abide by such ideals without waiting for anybody to tell them. “We should not compromise these ideals but face the challenges of practicing them in the contemporary Nigerian situation. We should not see them as ideals that can not be practiced and attained.” He told Muslims not to see the practice of such ideals as difficult in the contemporary multi-ethnic and multi-religious Nigerian society. The law scholar said Muslims should have nothing to do with the so called “Nigerian factor” in the interpretation of the values and attitudes in the Nigerian nation as manifested in receiving bribe and coming late to work.

After the opening ceremony, presentations were made and the delegates were divided into syndicates to discuss the presentations. After exhaustive discussions, the convention produced a communiqué containing its observations, positions and recommendations on the issues so discussed. The delegates observed, among others, in the communiqué that the main problem pulling down the Nigerian nation to its knees is corruption and bad governance; too much dependence on oil to almost total neglect of agriculture and other potential revenue generating sectors of the economy; and there is deliberate outrageous scheme by the present administration since its inception in 1999 to edge out Muslims from the leadership of this country at all levels.

They also observed that the way Nigeria is presently run is not in line with the true characteristics of a federal system of government, which give rise to fear, insecurity and outright frustration by various groups in the nation; Nigerian government as it is now is without any vision for the future. The only important thing to the government is its survival and not the welfare of its citizens; the Almajirai system of education is not getting the attention it deserved from some of the state governments; the Muslim community has become so complacent to the extent that it has allowed corrupt leaders to sideline its interest while Nigeria drifts from bad to worse in corruption and other vices.

They also observed that there is need for Muslims to take the issue of politics more seriously especially at the federal level with the required patience and consistency and that Nigerians are in abject poverty and deprivation on a scale unprecedented in its history.

Their recommendations include calling on the government to be more serious and committed to fighting corruption by applying the same rule on all and sundry as selective fighting of corruption is another form of corruption; all efforts should be made to revive and develop the non-oil sector of the national economy especially agriculture which accounts for over 41 percent of the GDP; considering the orchestrated numerical weakness of the Muslims at the national political reform conference, Muslims must reject the outcome of the conference if it goes contrary to their values; while Muslims totally reject secularism as a philosophy of government, they insist on true federalism in all its ramifications, legal, fiscal and the police as the only guarantee for the survival of Nigeria as a single entity where citizens live in peace, security and dignity.

They called on all tiers of government in the northern states to embark on special intervention scheme to salvage the Almajiri system from disrepute, and that for Nigeria to take its place in the comity of nations, education must be funded adequately, especially in the educationally less developed states; and that the states implementing Shari’a must collectively look at the child rights act with a view to making sure that its provision are in line with the shari’a.

Time and the imperatives of the prevailing situation in the country will determine how many of these recommendations will be implemented by the grace of Allah most high.




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