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RABITAH @55: Imams, scholars celebrate Al-Ilory’s legacy



RABITAH @55: Imams, scholars celebrate Al-Ilory’s legacy
  • Install ex-minister as Baba Adinni of Yorubaland



No fewer than 700 prominent Muslim leaders and distinguished Islamic scholars gathered in Abeokuta, last week, for a historic two-day conference. It was in commemoration of the 55th anniversary of the League of Imams and Alfas of Yorubaland, Edo and Delta states, which also featured the installation of a former Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Alhaji Sarafa Tunji Isola, as the new Baba Adinni of Yorubaland. Inside the expansive auditorium of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, the group deliberated and mapped out action plan on several issues pertaining to Islam and the challenges facing adherents of the religion within the Nigerian context.

The convergence inevitably brought back memories of the pioneering efforts of Sheikh Adam Al-Ilory and some of his contemporaries who in December 1962 founded Raabitat-ul-Aima wal Ulamaau (RABITAH) that later metamorphosed into the League of Imams and Alfas. It was the highly revered Sheikh Adam Al-Ilory that was inspired to put the body together after consultation with some Islamic scholars in the then Western Region. Among those consulted were Imam Abdullah Muhalli Baasunu, late Chief Imam of Ibadanland; Imam Jafaru, late Chief Imam of Abeokuta; Imam Tijani, late Chief Imam of Osogboland; Imam Aladesawe, late Chief Imam of Owoland; and Imam Jimoh Ayeni, late Chief Imam of Ado-Ekiti.

“They envisioned this great association and their dream became a reality. They nurtured the great minds of Muslims in Southwestern Nigeria and united the Ummah,” said the current President-General of the League, Sheikh Jamiu Bello Kewulere. In his address, Kewulere noted that the conference was significant because “it resonates our struggle and challenges in the spread of unity and understanding.” The scholar, who quoted from the Qur’an to justify his stance, admonished the participants to keep up the vision of “peace, unity and harmony” of the founding fathers. According to him, RABITAH has made some achievements with the uniformity in the observance of Eid celebrations and quelling of Imamship tussle wherever it rears its ugly head.

He added: “Our mentor’s (Sheikh Adam Al-Ilory) leadership role in the translation of the Glorious Qur’an from Arabic to Yoruba language and participation in the meetings of Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and conferences of the Muslim World League in Makkah and Cairo are among our modest achievements.”

The conference was jointly declared open by Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State and Senator Babafemi Ojudu, Special Adviser on Political Affairs to President Muhammadu Buhari. Other dignitaries in attendance included former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, represented by the NSCIA Secretary- General, Prof Ishaq Oloyede, and representatives of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi; President of Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN), Alhaji S.O.B. Babalola; and proprietor of Crescent University, Abeokuta, Prince Bola Ajibola (SAN). Also at the meeting were the Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Dauda Makanjuola Akinola; Asiwaju Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Tunde Badmus; Dr Wale Babalakin (SAN), Iya Adinni of Yorubaland, Alhaja Sekinat Adekola, National President of National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations (NACOMYO), Alhaji Kamal’deen Akintunde, and President, Nawairudeen Grammar School, Abeokuta, Alhaji Najimdeen Awodele. In his goodwill message delivered by Ojudu, President Buhari charged Muslim clerics and Islamic scholars to use their mosques and sermons to fight corruption in Nigeria. The president noted that Muslims constitute an important bloc in the national fabric.

He, therefore, urged them to continue to pray for the survival of the nation, just as they prayed for his recovery when he was seriously ill. Buhari observed that corruption remained the biggest problem confronting the country which, according to him, requires concerted efforts to fight.

He declared that whoever engages in corrupt practices and deprive other citizens from enjoying collective benefits would not make Paradise. He said, “You should use your mosques and your preachings to disclaim corruption in our national life. That the best way to preach Islam is to let each and every citizen of this country know that corruption does not pay. “Whoever engages and embarks on corruption and deprives others of the benefits of this nation will not find Al-Jannah (Paradise).”

The president explained that prayers had played crucial role in keeping Nigeria together, urging members of the League to continue to pray for the nation’s survival and also denounce corruption at every given opportunity. “Your faith has put you in a position of privilege. The fact that everyday, you debate the unity of this country, put you in a position to give advice regularly to assist the government in solving all of the problems facing the country,” he said. Buhari urged the League not to shy away from passing suggestions, recommendations and advice capable of assisting the country in overcoming its challenges. He used the occasion to extol the virtues of the Registrar of Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB), Professor Ishaq Oloyede whom, he described as an ideal Muslim and good example of anticorruption.

He remarked that it was during the historic tenure of Oloyede, a Muslim scholar and secretary of the NSCIA, that JAMB remitted about N7billion into the nation’s coffers. On his part, Governor Amosun urged Muslim leaders to continue to emphasise on the unity and peace of the country. Amosun, who noted that the gathering demonstrated the oneness and unity espoused by Islam, asked the League to always offer prayers for Nigeria’s progress. He congratulated the League on its anniversary and expressed delight in the membership of both Edo and Delta states, adding that he would wish Kwara and Kogi states to also join the prestigious body.

Two lectures were delivered on the first day of the conference by erudite scholars, including Prof Kamil Koyejo Oloso, and Prof Oloyede, who respectively spoke on “The Yoruba Muslim elites and the practice of Islam in Yorubaland” and “The practice of Islam in a multi-religious society.” On the second day, the Mudeerul Markaz, Agege, Lagos, Sheikh Habeebullah Adam Abdullah Al- Ilory delivered a lecture on “League of Imams and Alfas as promoters of unity among Muslim Ummah in Yorubaland, Edo and Delta States.”

Another lecture “Unifying the practice of Islam in Yorubaland” was delivered by Prof Kamaldeen Balogun of the Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye. Isola, while responding on his new appointment as Baba Adinni of Yorubaland, promised to live up to the expectations by uniting all Muslims and ensuring peaceful co-existence with people of other faiths. The former minister expressed appreciation to all that contributed towards the success of the unprecedented event. At the end of the conference, the League issued a communiqué which resolved that both elite and traditional Islamic scholars must synergise for the common benefit of the Ummah. The communiqué was signed by the Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Daud Makanjuola, and Sheikh Habeebullah Adam Abdullah Al- Ilory.

By subscribing to the philosophy of inclusiveness, the body resolved that Muslims must deepen their tolerance to cohabit peacefully with one another as well as with people of other faiths. It said: “Since Nigeria supposedly operates a democracy, it is incumbent on all Muslims to have a functional understanding of this. This is to enable us to make consistent case for full observance of democratic values across all facets of life of the citizens especially as they conform to the nation’s constitution.

“The conference therefore condemns uninformed official intolerance of primary religious values like women’s use of hijab as recently exemplified by otherwise civilised Nigerian Law School. “As a good strategy for growth and development, the Ummah must make conscious efforts to make Islamic education attractive to enable us to replicate many more people with knowledge and exemplary behaviour in line with the Quranic assertion that Muslims are the best among humans.

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