Considered one of the most controversial Muslim scholars in Kano, Sheikh Abduljabbar Sheikh Nasir Kabara is loved and hated almost in equal measure.
Loved by his followers and vilified and considered a heretic by faithful from other Muslim sects for what they term his “blasphemous statements against the Prophet and his way of life”, he is a rebel of sorts.
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His teaching is flourishing and his followers, who call him “Amirul wa’izina” (leader of the preachers), have been on the increase in recent times.
He is often seen in ancient war attire, brandishing swords – along with his followers.
Some people consider him combative and a threat to society’s peace and harmony.
At one time, his supporters clashed with those of Sheikh Qaribullah, who has been leading the Qadiriyya Movement since the demise of their father, Sheikh Nasir Kabara, in 1996.
Perhaps as an alternative to the “Darul Qadiriyyah” (the spiritual headqarters of the Qadiriyya Movement) headed by his brother, Sheikh Abduljabbar established his own centre, which he named “As’habul Kahf” (the Companions of the Cave).
Recently, the Muslim scholar has come under intense criticism from fellow scholars who accuse him of attacking the companions of the Prophet of Islam, a stance attributed to Shiites.
By harbouring these views, particularly on the status of some companions of the Prophet, he is espousing a position that is in direct opposition to what the Qadiriyyah Movement has always stood for.
But arriving at such a conclusion may be a no-brainer.
In a recent interview with BBC, Abduljabbar said with time he has come to understand that the Shiites have stronger proofs to back their arguments than followers of the Sunni branch of Islam.
“I used to say I wasn’t a Shiite; but after indepth reaserach, I discovered that Shi’a has more scriptural evidence than Sunni and so I can’t be intimidated by that any longer.
“Whoever asks me whether I’m Shiite I will ask him what Shia means to them and their answer will determine my response to them”.
Swimming against the tide
In a society dominated by Sunni Muslims, publicly dismissing the most authentic books of hadith (records of sayings and actions of the Prophet) in the world of Sunni Islam may be foolhardy.
Not only does he find fault with the six authentic books of hadith, he also questions the honesty and even the existence of some of the narrators.
In one of his lectures, for example, he not only dismissed a hadith narrated by one of the companions considered to be close to the Prophet, but also challenged anyone who could to prove that the latter actually knew the Prphet.
Irked by his preaching, some scholars in Kano have since been calling on the government to call Abduljabbar to order before something happens.
But, in his interview with the BBC, he appeared unfazed.
“I follow the sayings of the Prophet directly not other scholars’ interpretations and let me tell you, research has shown that Shiites have superior arguments in all these controversies between them and Sunnis.
“I don’t bother if you call me Shiite, but I’ll be concerned if you say I’m Sunni”, he said.
‘My major problem’
On accusations that he denigrates all past Muslim scholars, Abduljabbar said: “I will say that those saying thiese not fair to me but quoting my words out of context.
“I only asked our present scholars to come up with better points than my own.
“Some of the companions that I talked about, if this is what they term as killing the religion then I say they are not fair to me.
“I ask them to correct and make me understand, but no one will.”
The Sheikh has often challenged other scholars in Kano to debate issues on which they differ.
“My major problem,” he declared in the BBC interview, “is when I come up with a genuine argument on religious questions but my scholar colleagues fail to understand me simply because of material interests.
“They should just let me be but they will intentionally be bringing out unnecessary issues which they know are all lies to want to shut me down.
“I usually challenge them to come with superior arguments to enable me change my views on issues”.
Some of the scholars who challenge Sheikh Abduljabbar say they do not care if he chooses to leave Islam, but he should stop damaging the religion while pretending to preach it.
But, in his view, he said, “I’m only making the religion better – all these blasphemous cartoons and articles are deduced from such ahadith.
“I want our scholars to understand that such hadiths are weak and should be discarded but they won’t agree with me….
“There are issues they don’t want to take and I’m working to address and make the religion better and addressing its challenges”, he added.
At long last, Kano State Government has taken action against the scholar, contrary to what he has been asking.
In one of his lectures, he had asked that the Kano State Governor should bring him and those who have been calling for his head together to debate all the issues he has been raising.