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THE DECLARATION OF THE ISLAMIC MOVEMENT IN NIGERIA: A PROSPEROUS SILVER JUBILEE.

The movement is exactly a quarter century old from when its leader Shaikh Ibraheem Yaqub Zakzaky openly proclaimed and invited people to join the struggle to 10th April 2005. It is in this spirit of momentous and colourful occasion of celebrations I intended to make some microscopic assessment of the inner part of the movement to at least illustrate the glimpses of it successes but not to really measure its valuable achievements. For the reason that the strengths and successes of an Islamic movement is not measured by the amount of its followers, authority or material possessions, but by the persistence and dedication of its members even if they are few. At least the world has witnessed the endurance, determination, perseverance, sacrifices and the stand-fastness attained - no surrender no retreat. Since the movement is concern with the transformation of the mind of people, development of such concepts are gradual and difficult to appraise. Hence, this is the reason why it may be difficult to evaluate and comprehend. No wander, prophet Nuhu (AS) preached for 950 but had only a hand full of followers yet His objects were hundred percent achieved. However, the movement operates in diverse manners, we can still measure the little intangible portions of it no less than to our conveniences, by revisiting its original foundations (aims), important events, difficult incidences encountered and prime activities.

Before we go further, I would like to cast our minds back to the personality of Shaikh Ibraheem Yaqub Zakzaky, whose leadership does not end with the movement but covers a verse area of the sub-African Sahara west of the Atlantic Ocean or even beyond. Like every leader of a divine movement, his stateliness and personality is synonymous to that of the movement. Such that, he is looked upon as the movement, and his achievements are those of the movement and vice versa. His birthday is that of the movement; the movement does not have a separate date of birth except his birthday, because 2 years preceding the declaration, his commitments and ambitions were ripped enough to draw international attentions and be imprisoned. It was after the declaration that he started mobilizing the ‘intellectuals’ in the academic institutions. At that time, the ‘intellectual’ circles were full of ideological confusions and disarrays, bombarded with philosophical jargons considered as axioms of those yesteryears. Among the most prominent contender ideologies were Communism and Capitalism to which most people believed were the only orders of the days. It was within these circumstances that an oasis of an alternative genuine philosophy awakening what seemed to have been killed and buried emerged to hold up the great force in the East. To cut long story short, it then rose from an individual to an extended population of millions and most influential in this geographical region and beyond.

‘You can do your worst, if you have option between life imprisonment and firing squad’.

This is the response of Shaikh Ibraheem Yaqoub Zakzaky to a judge, after been counseled to plea for leniency of judgment. With this in mind, I would assume that we know the Shaikh better, so that we can progress.

The main aim of this movement is barely calling for the establishment of an Islamic system and state, no more no less. And this particular aim alone makes the distinction between this movement and others and its objectives remain uncontestable to any organization.

For the fact that the movement has survived to witness the silver jubilee of its placement before the public at a crucial and most delicate circumstances, it is it self enough an in quantifiable achievement to recon with. We will appreciate this fact only if we are able to visualize the critical and fragile state of affair of the country at the time of the declaration. It is then we would agree that it was extremely difficult for the intellectual communities and the communities at the receiving ends to conceive such a mountain-heavy message, even though it was their best bet. Nobody other than Shaikh Ibraheem Yaqoub Zakzaky in the recent centuries (on this continent) had the guts and the mandate from Almighty Allah to venture into this risky and difficult task. Yes, it is tedious and risky but has a good price.

Only few sectors or none could discern the true magnitude and the complicity of the problems involved, because to everybody’s imaginations, the scenario was more than a grand tsunami. Even the profound dissuaders of that days did what they did in context of what they could weigh for selfish and material ends, but not really because they could vividly guesstimate its future potential influences as we have it today.  On the other extreme, there were some whom from experience could have identified the future threats, but fortunately, they were blindfolded and subsequently under rated it and abandon it to flourish, thinking that it will spontaneously rotten away. Eventually, they yet remain to remark on their ever-silly mistakes with regret and humiliation.

Over the years, this movement has developed from stage-to-stage, status-to-status and from horizon-to-horizon of brighter to brightest perfections. These positions have affected everybody in the society, including those who could not perceive it and those who are vehemently in opposition. The movement has succeeded in reforming them and members of their families and their reformations are achievements of the movement. We are hopeful in active participations of their children and grandchildren in the movement.

In which ways does the movement affect the lives of everybody in the society? Let’s look at some practical cases of this phenomenon. The Shaikh was imprisoned for a period of a decade by seven Nigerian Presidents for simple statements like ‘Islam only’, and  ‘there is no authority except that of Allah’ and so on. Gradually today, we are at a new horizon at which saying those things are not longer attracting punishments. Utterances that your Muslim brother would have frown at it in the past, nowadays, any Tom, Dick and Harry can chant it and go untouched. This is how the movement softened courses for the rebelling preachers, the tough right fighters and the opportunist Northern Governors and their Cohorts who dreamt of implementing deceptive political sharia. They sing ‘sharia only’, ‘no going back’, etc with no fair of harassment. Whereas, we can vibrantly remember in the seventies, a minister was sacked on account of starting a speech with basmala and later, a Nigerian soldier who was tortured, court marshaled and sentenced to prison, sequel to his refusal to partake in unislamic acts. Presently, this may not longer be case.

In addition, the movement introduced ta’alimat, pre-khutuba and ijtima ever since its early days to teach and enlighten its members. It gradually became a common endeavour amongst religious groups and societies who tested and saw the benefits. Other issues like brotherhood in which we associated ourselves with other Muslims (in Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Bosnia Kosovo Banda Aceh, Afghanistan and so on), Tahajjud I’tikaf and seclusions were also observed with great dismay for the first time among the members of the movement. Another one is the formation of formal Islamic institutions and the uses of accurate veils (hijabs) for female were among what were first established in the movement. After the initiation, they are slowly absorbed by the society. Some that are getting disseminated are unity, defying oppressions and tyrants, use of demonstrations to express feelings, allegiance and defense for leaders, etc and soon after these will be self-reliance, and militancy. Whatever the case, the groups or individuals cannot emulate all things, unless they restructure, amend their policies, regroup and form coalitions with one another.

Upon all achievements, most members of the movement will like to mention the introduction to the path of the Ahlul Bait(AS) of the Holy prophet (AS), which is indistinguishable to soul rebirth and a beginning of original life as the greatest triumph so far. On this course, the feelings and the experiences are original such that one can easily discover self and the worlds around. If not for the Shaikh we couldn’t have known the wills of the Holy prophet (SAW). Our gratitude goes to him, who showed us the way and went further to teach us the original, living and energetic version. It activities are blissful and bountiful for every non-satiatiable souls. There are hourly, daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, annually, and periodic activities of assorted natures for individual and or group to observe. 

In the day, apart from the obligatory prayers we are engaged with other supererogatory ones together with ta’akibat, tawasils, ziyarat, du’a, recitations, laylatut tarbiya and talimat.  Du’aul khumail, du’aul jumat, du’aul Nutba, munajaat, tafsirul Qur’an are observed on their days and time together with birthday of the holy prophet (SAW), Imams (AS), and devoted servants of Allah, commemorations of Ashura and Qud, Palestinian solidarity days, Eids and other memorable events as well as the prescribed activities for each month of the year.

Compared to the rest of the society, the movement is confirmed to be the most enlightened and organized group of people with superior ideas, foresights and powers of analysis on religious, political, social, or cultural issues. It takes decisions and stands on behalf of the entire members of the community through its influences. During the first gulf war for example, within a short moment, the leadership of the movement was able to scrutinize the whole situation on both sides-Saddam Hussein on one side and America and her allies on the other side and took a permanent stand, regardless of their hidden agendas and propaganda while remained confused regarding.  A position that has been maintains up to date. Another instance was when some so called leaders called for jihad following the killing of some Muslims by the Christians, at the beginning, almost everyone believed it was a true jihad and had wanted to come out and fight; but Shaikh Ibraheem Ya’qub Zakzaky vehemently denounced and refuted the call, saying that it was tribal and not religious. And eventually that was that. There are so many such examples. Perhaps because of these among other things, the influence of the movement is felt all over the world, in dissimilar manners.

Now, how are the movement and its leadership in the eyes of people? Since there is no direct relationship between the movement and the states, they tried to develop indirectly l means of liaising with the movement. The state, the federal governments and the international communities seek for the movement’s opinions on matters they intent to put into operation or at least to estimate their proximity to fairness. Most of the time, they use the press to get the opinions. That is why there is no state the Shaikh visits without confronting requests from the press operators (NTA, state TVs, etc) to have a chat with him. The majority of the topics they present are in relation to political maters that they couldn’t solve using the paid professionals over there, for which they come to search for better solutions. When the Northern Governor’s Forum invited him to lecture, they addressed him ‘the leader of thought’, from whom they wanted to benefit to solve pending problems. Some times, topics were posed only to assess the response of the movement if they should implement policies.

Even at the international level, the situation is the same in spite of their arrogance; they also come to seek for the opinions and reactions of the movement before they execute prorammes and operations that are of international interest. For instance, we witness the trooping in of the CNN, BBC World, World Reuters, France News Agency, and Associated Press (AP) in to Zaria town one after the other to hear Shaikh’s view and reactions should in case they launch attacks on Afghanistan. Shortly after that, they returned before invading Iraq. Another one was the American journalist who came purposely to inquire about his opinion on the coming of American war ships to Nigerian waters. He specifically asked if Shaikh would mind should America come and steal Nigerian petroleum. These are not mere stories, because they all came and interviewed at our presence. Each and every one of them became satisfied and convinced whenever Shaikh explains. I remembered some occurrences after the interview with the CNN when Shaikh made a certain comment in a casual discussion and the CNN correspondent requested that the statements be repeated for him to record and his request was granted. On another day, after a very long time discussions with the Associated press, Shaikh lightheartedly complained that much of his useful time was taken away and the journalist apologizing and said ‘Shaikh, you know you are educating us and I am more on your side than the American government’. Another one is the France News Agency journalist who had discussion with many people in Nigeria starting from Lagos Ibada, Abuja, Kaduna and Kano and finally after interviewing the Shaikh he said ‘you are the only viable thing in Nigeria’ as his last remark. This is in close reality to an earlier observation made by one Nigerian press operator who says ‘whatever is said about religion in this country without your contributions is incomplete’. Last year Al Arabiyya television station reported a discussion with As Sadiq Al-Mahdi, the former Sudanese prime minister commending and singling this movement to be the best in the world and defending all his claims with clear evidences. Once a former Nigerian head of state was opportune to speak with Shaikh in a ceremony, he seized the chance to demand for prayers from him and he there after expressed gratitude and luck for the opportunity met.  The Journalists or not, nobody had ever conversed with Shaikh and is not satisfactorily convinced, however controversial the situation may be. The visit paid to the Shaikh by the ambassador of the united nation and that of the delegations from the Vatican Island are other separate incidences that drew attentions.

Some times ago, the Nigeria Intelligent Agency (NIA) conducted researches, to asses the aims and the motives of the groups and organization in the country. To everybody’s shock, the results were that there were no group of people with good intention and hope for the Nigerian nation other than the member of this movement. We congratulate them for that fairness.

On the other side of the diversity, we face open hostilities from the enemies of the movement who are day-in-day-out engaged in plotting against the movement. They daydream that one day, they will eighty-six it, its followers and sympathizers. We are fully aware that the name of the leader of this movement has since been among the first ten that American fair most as is contained in her black book. In my opinion, it is too absurd and greatest cowardice to fair the armless. A similar plot manifested when Shaikh was in detention, once a conniving Mallam who knew the deadly plans they had against the Shaikh, confidently told his followers that if Shaikh Ibraheem Zakzaky get away of these traps they should rather support him, because it will confirm that he is a close associate of Allah (Waliyy). Eventually, the waliyy was liberated victorious. This is how far, broad and concentrated is the influence and weight of the Shaikh in the world.

On hearing that the movement does not have mosques, one of the Pop’s delegations wandered and asked the Shaikh, ‘how then do you reach out to people? The answers to this question are simple.  First and foremost, Shaikh engages in intercontinental trips to attend meetings, conference, workshops and seminars; and visit holy places to widen our perspectives.  His expeditions have helped in linking the movement and the country with other countries and organizations abroad. Because of his potentials and the contributions, the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Grand Ayatollah, Sayyed Ali Khamenei nominated him a member of the International Assembly of Ahlul Bait(AS), which automatically lifted the movement. There he is involved in serious researches, analyses, lectures, and dealing with essential international concerns. Recently an international non-governmental organization, the ‘union of the NGOs supporting Palestinian courses’ was inaugurated with Dr Zahra Mustafawi (daughter of the late Imam Khomaini (H)) as its coordinator. This movement played a role in the formation and is a principal member. The organization consist of Muslim, Christian and communist NGOs whose common interest is to liberate Palestine. Our Quds solidarity activities are second to none, but that of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the whole world. Another organization is the International Assembly of ‘Takrib Baina Mazhahib’. Its functions include, working out modalities and implementations of unifications amongst Muslim madhahibs (including the unpopular ones) and improvising means of padding any negative repercussions where arises, to form a free unified global Muslim community that can set free the rest of the world from the draconian clutches of the oppressive so called super powers. Every member of this assembly has great roles to play at his own locality; but you can see how hard and complex (in our own case) it is to bring together Nigerian Darikas, Wahabis and above all Shi’a and Sunni.  Thanks to the able Shaikh, we have begun to see radiance of bright light along the tunnel. Shaikh also intensively participate in lecturing, conducting ta’alim and exegeses of the Holy Qur’an, attending occasions and so on.  He is just more than a busy man.

In another form, his messages reach people through the Almizan newspaper that mostly carries the opinion of the movement. It is the first independent Hausa newspaper and the most widely circulated too in the country. Is the only newspaper that addresses the problems relevant to the interest of all classes of people in the country, even to the interest of the peasant farmers in the most remote settlements.

All members of the movement have imbibed from the blessed knowledge of the Shaikh and from where he directs to seek for knowledge. Consequently, there are forms of graded awareness and believe among members who are true representative outside the movement more especially within the guards (hurras). The hurras is a multipurpose force whose role ranges from coordinating to traffic warding and from policing to militancy. Although without a well-defined specialization, they are competent enough to wad away any wicked force with the special but local trainings they acquire. Most of its members are wholehearted and manifest qualities replica of that of the movement.

The movement has units (Dairah) of followers in towns, hamlets, villages and regions. The units are as complete and self-contained as the movement and are led by a reliable representative of the members of the unit. There are thousands of such units in existence, through which the idea of the movement disseminates to the farthest towns and villages. The Dairahs outreach through different forms of evangelisms-use of the mass media, street preaching, visits, books and pamphlets, and songs.

The songs of the movement are coordinated by the Itihadush sha’arau. The Itihadush sha’ara is a union of evangelist singers that contribute immensely in relaying the messages of the movement to far and near audiences, using their artistic verbal communications. They also boost moral, motivate, energize and make occasions lively.

There are many important organs of the movement that carry out specific and vital duties. Among them is the resource forum of the Islamic movement. It another out let to wider world. It comprises of the elite, businesspersons, and so on. The key functions of this forum are many, but some few are: pulling together its working class members and bridging the gap between the movement and different classes of people, organising programmes, funding and documentations. It works hand in hand with the academic forum. This second forum operates in academic institutes. It is an umbrella for awareness of students and lecturers of higher leaning.

The medical team is another organ that renders health services to the movement and to the community in forms of resettling refugees, assisting in emergency works, running the public health centers and hospital during strikes, public enlightenment and carrying out communal sanitations in the cities, and villages all free of charge. It has highly proficient members and well equipped with branches scattered all over the nation.

The Shuhada'u Foundation ( muassasatush shuhada) is a formally established non governmental organization that carters for the dependents of both the living and the departed martyrs of the movement until they are economically and otherwise independent. At 25, the movement has only 120 departed martyrs who left behind hundreds of reliant that are being sustained and trained.  This figure will keep rising until we eventually reach our final goals – Islamic system or martyrdom.

Others like the working groups of Fudiya Shools, Foundations, Business; and Centers, Sisters, Drives, Marketers, etc merit to be analyzed, but should be spared for other discussions

I will conclude with the following quotation, which was one time BBC’s quote of the week:

I wish the case had continued so that the winner and the vanquish are determined, but since they decided to withdraw the case for eminent defeat I have no objection’ --- Shaikh Ibraheem Yaqub Zakzaky

I. H. Mshelgaru   Tel: 08034512589   E-mail: mshelgaru@yahoo.co.uk

 

 

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