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I didn’t endorse burying of Muslims in caskets – Imam Adeyemi

Sheik Imam Fuad Adeyemi: What you may not know is that there is no Sheik in my name. I’m just an ordinary person who has…

Sheik Imam Fuad Adeyemi: What you may not know is that there is no Sheik in my name. I’m just an ordinary person who has decided to do what Allah asked him to do. I was born in June, 1966, in Odeomu, Osun State. I actually come from a family of scholars. My father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all Islamic scholars and imams. The last three successive chief imams of my town came from my family. We have Al-Majiri system in my family compound. As I am talking to you now, there are more than 500 Almajiri students who are learning in my family compound. Most of what I learnt and do today is the product of the experience I gained from my family compound.

My father was an itinerant scholar like his own father. I used to follow him where he went to preach and do Tafsir (commentary on the Qur’an) in towns and villages around the South-West from 1969-1979. Sometimes, we did not come back home until after three or four months.

I can remember some of the towns like Bembe, not far from Gbangan,  Ajegede, Ogudu, not far from Ife, where my father met my mother who was then a christian. We were also at Abe, Aba-Oba, Abiri and Ayinrin among others. During this mission with my father, he usually spent our nights in mosques, houses of imams in the town or people’s houses.

WT: Can you tell us how your mother became a Muslim?

Adeyemi: I was the one who converted my mother. I am a fortunate child. Everybody from my mother’s side are pastors while everybody from my father’s side are Muslims. So, I became a bridge between the two. My mother used to have a sickness which Allah used me to cure her. When I completed my secondary school education in 1983, my father who fondly calls me Ade, told me to go ahead and treat my mother. He guided me on what to do and with the assistance of Allah, she was healed. This was a sickness that had disturbed her for a long time. She was surprised that Allah used her son to heal her. And on the basis of that, she reverted to Islam.   

WT: Is it true that your great grandfather migrated from Gwandu in present day Kebbi State to Osun?

Adeyemi: As far as I am concerned, where I come from is not important.  What is important is the question of being a Muslim. That my grandfather came from Gwandu or that I am a Yorubaman is immaterial. The issue is what I can contribute to Islam and humanity.

WT: Do you see any of your children taking after you?

Adeyemi: Alhamdulillah (Glory be to God) I have three boys and two girls and I am grateful to Allah. The eldest boy was ten years on May 30. As I am talking to you now, he is about to complete memorising the Qur’an and if you ask them what they want to become, they would tell you they want to become scientists, engineers or Islamic scholars.

The happiest day of my life was when my son was asked to be leading his mates in prayers in a Christian school. So I can say my son is now an Imam at the age of six.   

WT: Coming from a large family, do you practise polygamy?

Adeyemi: I married my second wife a month ago.

WT: Can you tell us about your famous Sahur Live programme on NTA which you co–anchor during the month of Ramadan every year?

Adeyemi: The idea was conceived by the then General Manager of NTA, Mr.Mode Coker and Aunty Rashida Bola Oyeyemi. She was the pioneer presenter and I was the guest. Most of the things we do on the programme were actually her idea.

I became part of the Sahur Live by happenstance. It was Ustaz Abubakar Sadeeq who was supposed to do it.

I went to his office two days before the commencement of fasting and he informed me and took me to the NTA and asked them to replace his name with mine and that was how we began. Whenever we have a programme, we usually leave our houses around 3:30 a.m. The programme starts by 4:00 a.m. and when we finish, we go back home.

But other segments including that of Ustaz Abu-Bakr Sadeeq, Hajia Maryam Tahan, Hajia Hauwa Abu-Bakr and the children’s programme were recorded not live.

WT: One thing that people are actually curious about is this concept of four months executive Qur’an studies that you have pioneered for busy executives and the working class in Abuja. How does it work?

Adeyemi: I have been watching people coming to our family to learn and would be there for a long time without mastering the Qur’an and I used to think that we can devise a way to make the learning faster. That was really my inspiration. I really wanted to change things from the way my father used to do it.

Secondly, there was a time I went to Umrah and I was reciting the Quran with a 14-year-old Indian and one big man from Nigeria was sitting close to us doing his supplication. The Indian boy asked the big man to recite the Quran and he said he can’t recite the Qur’an. So, from that day, I took it upon myself to start my Qur’an programme.  I decided that my audience are the elites who are lacking in Islamic education. When we started, we made the tuition fee to be very expensive. We started like that because we did not want people to be too many, because the moment they are many, there would be distractions, but even if they are two and if the two can know it in four months, then people will know we can do it. And now we are having our 13th set. Today, we have up to 150 students at Al-Habeebiya. The amazing thing is the seriousness and discipline of the student. Inspite of the fact that they are highly placed members of the society, we maintained strict discipline. We even have some form of punishment if you violate the school rules.

WT: You have been accused of sanctioning the burying of Muslims in caskets ever since you appeared at the burial of late Ladi Lawal of Daar Communications. How true is that?

Adeyemi: I didn’t endorse the burying of Muslims in caskets. The late Ladi Lawal, as we know him, was a Muslim, who contributed his own quota to the journalism profession and to some extent, Islam. He also helped the cause of Al-Habeebiyya. I was called one Saturday morning by one of their staff who is actually one of our members, that Ladi Lawal is dead and that we should come to the National Hospital. When we got to the National Hospital, we were told that they were waiting for his wife. Then a man came. I believe he is a Malam; I and Imam Nura Khaleel of the National Assembly were the two Imams present and some other Malams. When these people came from Lagos, they did not even allow us to enter, to see the body or to do anything. The way we were even treated by one of those men who came from Lagos was shocking. Thereafter, he was taken to Lagos.

It was when I watched the TV in the night that I discovered that he was an Ahmadiyya and I know that Ahmadi bury their corpses like that. I’ve never entered an Ahmadi mosque.  He was buried in Lagos. We were not in Lagos, we only paid condolence visit to AIT in Abuja.

The books of Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) are very clear on how we are to do our Janazah (Islamic burial). So, who am I to create my own and say people should be buried like Britons? The man had died, may Allah forgive him. So, that was what happened.