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Abduljabbar to be ‘arraigned’ as debate with Kano scholars end in controversy

The much-awaited debate between controversial Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abduljabbar Nasiru Kabara and other scholars of Islam ended with much more controversy, as no consensus could…

The much-awaited debate between controversial Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abduljabbar Nasiru Kabara and other scholars of Islam ended with much more controversy, as no consensus could be reached.

In the aftermath of the debate, Daily Trust learnt that the cleric is set to be charged to court for blasphemy, incitement, and sundry offences. The police have already issued him with a letter to appear at the state’s police headquarters on Monday.

A source close to the cleric told one of our reporters that charges were already prepared against Abduljabbar who, according to the source, was to be picked up from the venue of the debate which held at the Kano State Shari’a Commission offices.

Police spokesperson in the state, DSP Abdullahi Kiyawa, confirmed the police invitation last night but insisted that the invitation had nothing to do with the Saturday’s debate.

“It is part of an ongoing case for which he is on bail. There was a petition from some scholars which the police had been working on and he routinely comes around as part of the investigation. He was to come on Friday but because of the preparation for the debate the day was shifted to allow him participate in the debate,” Kiyawa said.

The longstanding controversy

Sheikh Kabara is a factional leader of the Qadiriyya sect in Kano state, and he is famous for his controversial religious commentaries and statements that are seen and regarded as statements of insult and degrading the companions of Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W)

The debate, Daily Trust on Sunday reports, followed several agitations by various Islamic scholars in Kano state and across the nation on the manner and ways in which Sheikh Abduljabbar Nasiru Kabara went about his preaching.

Following the agitations, the Kano state government sanctioned the scholar over his alleged controversial preaching and statements.

Later agreeing to the demand of the scholar for a debate with other scholars to thrash out the contentious issues in his preaching, the state government fixed Saturday for the debate after a scheduled debate was cancelled 48 hours to the date.

The announcement of Saturday as the new date for the debate earlier this week had generated a lot of tension in the state as many were of the view that the debate will not solve the issue at hand.

However, as early as 7:00 am, the state Sharia Commission, which was given as the venue for the debate was filled up by supporters of both parties and it took security agencies at the venue extra effort to control the crowd that had started to cause serious concern.

Similarly, the state government had already taken measures in the conduct of the debate where it categorically stated that the debate will not be broadcast live as contained in the earlier arrangement before the suspension and only selected media organizations were allowed to cover the debate proceedings.

The scholars chosen to debate against Sheikh Kabara were: Dr Rabiu  Umar Rijiyar Lemo, Malam Masud Hotoro, Malam Abubakar Mai Madattai, and Malam Kabir Bashir Kofar Wambai.

Professor Salisu Shehu, the presiding judge of the debate and Sheikh Abduljabbar Nasiru Kabara
Professor Salisu Shehu, the presiding judge of the debate and Sheikh Abduljabbar Nasiru Kabara

The jury’s verdict

At the end of the debate, the presiding Judge who is also the director of Centre for Islamic Civilization and Interfaith dialogue, Bayero University Kano Professor Salisu Shehu declared that after hearing from both sides Malam Kabara had failed to respond appropriately to questions raised on claims he had made during his preaching sessions.

The judge in his final address revealed that all questions raised and directed to Abduljabbar were not answered and that the sheikh had kept derailing from what he claimed to have been an agreed pattern.

“Mallam Abdujabbar kept dodging all the questions raised without giving an answer to them and he also claimed that there is a need for each question to be given enough time to deliberate on while in actual sense he was the one jumping from one issue to another.”

“However, when a question is raised and he is requested to provide references from his books, he would complain that there is not enough time for that,” said the judge.

But, Sheikh Abduljabbar insisted that the guidelines for the debate were not properly explained to him before the debate, adding that he demanded another debate as he faulted the already conducted one.

“The problem is that they did not give me the guidelines in advance. I advised that the topics should be debated a piece and that enough time be given to us. Our aim is not just to win an argument, but to find the truth. Our hope is to have a successful debate, and my hope is for us to be on the righteous path in our religion,” he said.

Meanwhile, a communiqué signed by the presiding judge advised the Kano state government to take necessary action to ensure peace, law and order in the state.

Highlights of the dialogue

According to the communique, the dialogue was between Abduljabbar Nasir Kabara and Coalition of Ulama.

It said the dialogue followed; “persistent public outcry and written complaints from concerned majority segment of the Ulama in the state on the manner exhibited and statements being made by Abduljabbar Nasir Kabara in his preaching, lectures and writings regarding Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), his companions and some notable Islamic scholars of high repute, which are considered disrespectful, sacrilegious and inciting.”

It said a total of six question-and-answer sessions were held with an equal allocation of time to both sides.

“The main question by the representatives of the Ulama revolved around the use of vulgar, inappropriate and defamatory language which Abduljabbar Nasir Kabara was accused of in his teachings, summons and preaching.”

“Audio recordings were played quoting him using those wordings after which he was asked to respond by way of showing where he sourced them from authentic books.”

“In each case, he complained that the time allotted for response was inadequate for him, thereby avoiding the questions or issues raised, and end up introducing unrelated issues.”

The communique noted that the debate was conducted in a peaceful atmosphere.

“Each question was allotted 5 minutes at first instance, 10 minutes for explanation and 10 minutes for response and 5 minutes each for a conclusion. This was the case in each round of the six sessions.

“All the hadith Abduljabbar Nasir Kabara quoted were found to be wrongly translated and interpreted while some were weak.”

“None of the representatives of the Coalition of the Ulama was satisfied with the responses by Abduljabbar Nasir Kabara,” it said.

“Instead, he (Abduljabbar) mixed up the issues, going off track and introducing irrelevant topics,” it added.

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