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Al-Ilori University and the next centenary of Shaykh Adam al-Ilori (2018-2118)

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Vice Chancellor of Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin, Kwara State, Prof. Olalekan Ibrahim,

What is history? It is the story of what happened. What is literature? It is the story of what happened and what could have happened. What is religion?

It is the story of why it happened, what it meant while it happened; what, when, where and why it is happening. Religion is about the past in the present, the present in the past, the past in the future and the future in the past.

Even in that space where the mind is meant to cease functioning, where the brain could find an escape from the mill, thoughts about and thinking of the centenary celebrations of Shaykh Adam Abdullah al-Ilory continued to occupy my intellection.

I then turned the thoughts and thinking into questions. Following Mustafa Sadiq al-Rafi’i in his magnum opus, Wahy al-Qalam, I began to question the centenary: if indeed Shaykh Adam al-Ilory, is no more, who is the new al-Ilory?

Could there indeed be another al-Ilory? What other creative ways could the memory of Shaykh al-Ilory be interred in the sands of time? I ask the centenary (1917-2017): what would and should become of Markaz Agege in the next centenary, i.e 2018-2118?

I became aware and more conscious of the known. The new “Shaykh Adam Abdullah al-Ilory” is already here. Yes. He is the “Sweetheart” of the village, the city and the nation. He is the chip off the old block.

He is the eyes from the old eyes, the compassion from the old compassion, In his exegetical postures in relation to the Quran, knowledge interlace one another, civilizations interpellate.

Yes. The new “al-IIloris” are here already. They were born by the patriarch, Shaykh Adam Abdullah al-Ilory. They are all bearers of the light, of the seed that would become an oak.

Yes. The “new” Shaykh Adam Abdullah al-Ilory are all around the city. They are all “planting” new “trees” of Markaz. They are all striving to be the first al-Ilory of their generation, of their communities and towns.

Yes. Everybody wants to become the new “al-Ilory”.

But we all know how hard and difficult it always is for the son to be like the father. Except by His grace, the uncommon grace of the Almighty.

We all know how difficult it is for the great to bear the great, except by His grace. Then I solaced  myself in that reality- that we cannot all be like him. We cannot.

We cannot all be like Shaykh Adam Abdullah al-Ilori (rahimahullaah) who celebrated the poor who could be rich.

Not all of us can be like him- like the real al-Ilori who had a river of love in his heart that never went dry.

Perhaps I should turn it into a question: who is ready to be like him? A man who was imbued with an ocean of compassion in his eyes; a man whose eyes saw only beauty? Unlike today when some people prefer the ugly, when they celebrate infamy.

I know that Shaykh Adam Abdullah al-Ilory would rest in the certainty that the bearers of his torch of scholarly illumination are keeping the light aglow.

“Markaz is shining like before while you were alive”. Yes. Markaz is shining in governmental offices where its product are impacting life and living.

Markaz is shining in private business corporations where its product are excelling and dispelling ignorance in the season of ignorance and deceit.

Today, those who were hitherto pejoratively referred to as Ole nte le aafa (the lazy ones are those who follow the Muslim scholar) simply because they attended Markaz, Mahd and other Arabic schools are presently leaders and trail-blazers in governmental agencies and parastatals.

The first federal governmental parastatal to return billions of naira as internally generated revenue to the coffers of the federal government is headed by a graduate of Markaz.

Again as I mentioned during the last sermon, if you desire to know the contributions of Markaz to human capital development of this nation, do a census of Professors, doctorate degree holders, lawyers and reputable journalists who are gathered for this centenary celebrations.

These are the ornaments of the Nigerian: those whose intellectual horizon were first unlocked through their passage through Markaz.

For example, brethren, the nation would not read the “nation” on Friday unless space is yielded to the pen of a “Markazi”. The spiritual feast that Ramadan offers every year would not be complete unless and until the voice and the image of the “Sweetheart” is heard and seen on the television.

Whenever and wherever Shaykh Habeebullah holds the microphone, the old al-Ilory is birthed afresh in the persona of the new.

But we must begin the journey to the future, to the next centenary, to 2018-2118. I refer to that future, we are certain, we shall not miss.

The journey, we are sure, shall be completed by us, by them, by others. I thought the association of graduates of Markaz has already started the journey.

Markaz is presently being re-invented. Markaz is being repositioned for the future.


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