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Stopping AbdulJabbar before it gets worse

Sheikh AbdulJabbar, a popular and trending Islamic scholar from Kano State sought to negate highly valued and agreed upon traditions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be…

Sheikh AbdulJabbar, a popular and trending Islamic scholar from Kano State sought to negate highly valued and agreed upon traditions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) by discrediting the integrity of the scholars and even some of the companions of the prophet who relayed the traditions and practices of the prophet. The Islam we all grew up to know about is, according to him, not what it was. It was not long ago we saw such arrogant extremism and it is worrisome.

The swiftness with which the Kano State Government handled the case of the controversial scholar, however, is highly commendable. This is even more with the peaceful nature in which it was handled.

We live in a country where religion could be used to stir up emotions and fuel anarchy with the slightest provocation. The views and preaching by Sheikh AbdulJabbar were not only controversial, but also highly divisive. Several clips of him have enjoyed huge circulation across social media platforms, challenging conventional scholars and sects to come for debates and provide proof to refute his claims, which invalidated decades of widely held and practised beliefs associated with Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him). These views were countered by virtually all the major Islamic religious sects in Kano State, and perhaps this was the reason why the unanimity precipitated swift defeat in the concluded ‘debate’.

The decisiveness from the Kano State government, with the help of other Muslim leaders in the state, has humbled the Sheikh somewhat, but only just. There needs to be constant engagement and monitoring of his reaction, and indeed if he will walk his talk on renouncing his earlier claims as false. Of course, there is the possibility that he might be banned by the government all together. There should be no complacency from the government and other scholars. If history was to teach us a lesson, it is that merely having a debate is not enough to de-radicalise or ‘convert’ someone who holds dearly to an unorthodox ideology.

Underestimating the situation now that progress has been made could come with consequences with national implication. What had previously been a Maiduguri affair (Boko Haram) is now a Northern problem. God forbid we allow this to escalate more than necessary!

It also speaks of the need for religious sects to embrace dialogue and tolerance, as also canvassed for by former Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II. The manner in which the sects agreed to come together to achieve a common aim goes on to tell us how important recognising our similarities is, and also not letting our differences come in the way of our achieving the ultimate target; worshiping and earning the favour of our lord the most high.

 

Aliyu Sulaiman is a freelance writer and banker

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