Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, Sunday enjoined Muslims in the country to always demand for their rights, whenever they are being denied within the ambit of the law.
The Sultan gave the charge while speaking at the 4th General Assembly of the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN), with the theme: “Muslim Unity and Contemporary Political Challenges in Nigeria”, held at the University of Ibadan.
Muslim leaders present at the event included the Executive Secretary, MUSWEN, Prof. Daud Noibi; Chairman, Board of Trustees, MUSWEN Prince Bola Ajibola, whose speech was read by the Chairman, Muslim Community in Oyo State, Alhaji Kunle Sanni; a former Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu; a former INEC National Commissioner, Prof. Lai Olurode; former Director of Academic Planning at the University of Jos, Prof. Muslih Yahya; and Alhaji Femi Abass.
Others are the National Amir (President), Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN) Dr. Taofeeq Yekinni; a former Secretary to Oyo State Government, Alhaji Akin Olajide; a former Chief of Staff in Oyo State, Dr. Saka Balogun; Chief Imam, University of Ibadan, Prof. Abdulrahman Oloyede; and Chairman, Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN), Alhaji Abdulrahman Balogun, among others.
The Sultan, who doubles as the President General, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), while speaking on the recent Hijab crisis at the University of Ibadan International School, maintained that female Muslim students have the right under the constitution to use Hijab.
He however cautioned those advocating the use of Hijab and various organisations championing the welfare of Muslims in the country to demand for their rights within the ambit of the law, stating that Muslims should always seek redress in a peaceful manner instead of open confrontation.
According to him, “Muslims must be law abiding, the moment we are attacking each other, then there will be no peace. So we need peace. And we have been doing our own in silence. I urged all of you to be law abiding. The issue is at the court and since it is in the court, we can’t make further statement, so that we don’t commit contempt of the court.
“Demand for your rights within the ambit of the law. I urged all of you to be patient because Almighty Allah loved the patient ones. On the issue of Hijab at the university, there are some organizations that are advocating it, let them continue advocating, but at our own level we have been doing ours silently.
“In the constitution, we have freedom of religion. If my religion allows me to wear Hijab, nobody should stop me. So our politicians and leaders must know that. All these issues have been politicised.
“But, I want to assure you that people are free to do what their religion permits them to do. I want to thank the MUSWEN for inviting me here. And I want to charge MUSWEN that in 11 years what have you achieved in the area of education. Now, we have so many universities, how many of these are owned by Muslim organisations? Where are our Muslim brothers and sisters that Almighty Allah has blessed?”
Abubakar while speaking on the factors responsible for the array of social problems militating against the survival of Nigeria, identified unemployment, poverty and absence of small scale industries in the rural areas as some of the major problems in Nigeria.
“If people are engaged, they will be enjoying. We need employment opportunities for the youth. We need to create jobs. We need to establish more industries in the rural areas and villages. There are some people in the villages that need little capital. If is only our political leaders that will be thinking of mansions.
“Let us face our challenges as Muslims. I want you to do more. There are challenges. Do more. Our doors are opened. And don’t allow politicians to smear Islam. When we are not in unity, the politicians will be happy that we are not in unity,” he said.
The Chairman, MUSWEN Education Committee, Prof. Muibi Opeloye, while delivering a paper entitled, “Muslim Unity and Contemporary Political Challenges in Nigeria,” urged Muslims who are in the corridors of power not to mind their political differences but unite when issues of national importance are being discussed.
The Professor of Islamic Studies said: “Wealth should not be the criterion for eligibility for public office. Such factors such as qualities of head and heart, education, wisdom, mental and physical heath should be the criteria. In recognition of the Nigerian constitutional provisions, Shariah courts should be introduced in the South Western Nigeria to replace the Shariah panels functioning in the various states of the zone.
“The multi-party system that recognises 91 political parties is unwieldy. The number has to be drastically reduced. I consider seven to be manageable and it is so recommended. Muslims in the Parliament should regardless of their party affiliation always unite to support not only matters of Islamic concern, but also matters of national interest in furtherance of national development.”