What was the aim of setting up the AMF in the first instance?
The major aim the forum set out to achieve from the beginning was unity among Muslims. And this I can say we have achieved, at least to some extent because the forum is acting as an umbrella organization of all notable Islamic organizations in Abuja. Not only that, we have been able to reach out to some non-Muslims and we can say to that we are able to relate together peacefully in the city.
Also, we have been going about helping indigent Nigerians be they Muslims or non-Muslims; we have been giving Sadaqah (charity) in cash and kind to prisoners and those in motherless homes among others. We are also the first Islamic organization to hold a public enlightenment programme and this has continued to be one of our cardinal activities in the last twenty years.
What’s the hardest part of what you do?
In January 1991, a group of brothers and sisters came together in the only Friday Mosque then, in Area 1 and decided that after every Friday prayer, they will stay behind for thirty to forty minutes to teach themselves book of Hadith and admonish one another. That was the modest beginning of the forum under the leadership of my predecessor, Mallam Idrisu A. Usman. It was from that humble beginning that the seed of the forum was sown and today, praise be to Allah the Most High, we can modestly say that AMF has grown into a full tree and is indeed a household name in the FCT, Nigeria and beyond.
As an organization we have our challenges. One of the greatest challenges is the attitude of past leaders and founding members to the activities of the forum. This is a problem to us because we still need some of them as they have experience than most of us and we think we should be tapping from their experiences. We identified this and we have started talking to them and Alhamdullilah some of them have started coming and participating actively in the activities of the group.
How does the forum fund its activities?
Through donations and dues from members. Also, we engage in buying and selling because we have resolved not to beg; we have set up business unit.
What do you think can be done stop the crises in Jos and other parts of the country?
We need societal reorientation because Nigerians who should be their brothers’ keepers are now turning to their brothers’ killers. I think adherents of the two divine religions need to go back and learn their religion very well. Muslims should know that the Holy Prophet in his lifetime tolerated people of other religions and Christians should also know that tolerance is seriously emphasised in their religion. We should purge ourselves of ethnicity and work together as one.
If we look deeply we find out that most of the crises, whether the ones happening now or before have ethnic coloration rather than religious. Government is also contributing to it in some instances by not meting out appropriate punishment to those found guilty.
It does seem the National Mosque is not playing the associated roles of a mosque…
A mosque has roles it should play in the society. It is not only for five daily prayers. Mosques should be an all-encompassing place for Muslims and even non-Muslims alike. It should be a centre of learning, a court, etc. It should be a place of empowerment.
Looking back now, how well do feel Muslims have fared in Nigeria?
I think today Muslims in Nigeria are economically behind. Politically, we have not done credibly well. Muslims should now brace up for the challenges in the country; they should see themselves as ones that contribute positively to the development of the country; they should not see leadership position as something of heritage.