Ibrahim Jose’s Reflections on Jumaat Greetings
Reflections on Jumaat Greetings is the compilation of a selection of Friday sermons by Ibrahim Babatunde Jose, the son of the late doyen of Nigerian journalism.
A contemporary of mine at both the University of Ibadan and the Daily Times, Tunde’s sermons spanned over five years, a labour of love and scholarship. It is a weekly message to friends and loved ones on the issues of daily living and admonitions on godliness. Jose’s Reflections touch on diverse issues from the Tafsr of the Quran’s suras to wider issues such as democracy, federalism, corruption and leadership.
As a political scientist and researcher in comparative religion, the author feels called to preach his weekly homily as a sense of duty to God and the enlightenment of humanity. In this 372-page volume, Jose reveals the emptiness in life and the good sense in obeying the words of Allah in the sacred texts available to man. In essence, these weekly sermons fulfill Jose’s goal of directing all humanity to follow the path of righteousness for; “Is there any reward for good other than good” Sura Ar Rahman (Quran 55:60).
This fairly voluminous paperback has 365 sermons on various topics such as failure of leadership, terrorism, charity, justice, equity and fairness and revolution. The Danmasanin Zazzau, Alhaji Falalu Bello, wrote its foreword. Reflections was first published in December 2019; designed by Sonia Graphics and Communication, Lagos, Nigeria and printed in Great Britain by Print2Demand, Westoning, Bedfordshire. The beautiful book carries three pages of index.
The review of this book of wisdom starts from Hope Betrayed, the title of chapter two. Since chapter one is just an explanation of Salat ul Jumuah: Friday Prayer; it is better to start the discourse from issues of Nigerian national concern. The sermon starts with the quotation: “O my sons! Go ye and enquire about Joseph and his brother, and never give up hope of Allah’s soothing Mercy: Truly no one despairs of Allah’s soothing Mercy, except those who have no faith.” Quran 12:87. The sermon is a discourse on the yawning gap between the haves and have-nots, that the gap is getting wider by the day.
In two pages, the author asks if there was hope for the wretched of the earth, the hewers of wood and drawers of water? “What hope for their children and their children’s children when the hope of the present generation is bleak and betrayed? Worrisome statistics are being churned out by local and international organizations on the unbridgeable gap and deplorable conditions of the poor in Africa. Are our leaders showing enough concern?”
An Oxfam report revealed that the four richest persons in Africa own 40 percent of the wealth in the entire continent. The report added that three of the richest African billionaires have more money than the bottom 50 percent of the population of Africa.
The report said that Africa was rapidly becoming the epicentre of global extreme poverty. While rapid reduction of those living on less than $1.90 a day has been achieved in Asia, the number was rising in Africa. Even after that report it has come to pass that Nigeria has replaced India as the country having the highest number of poor people in the world. “Nigeria is Africa’s biggest economy, yet the fruits of its economic growth are not shared equally. Poverty and destitution are high: around 10 million children are out of school, a quarter of the citizens lack access to safe drinking water and half are living below the $1.90 a day poverty line.”
“It is estimated that $24 billion would be needed to end poverty in the country, which is less than the combined wealth of the richest five Nigerians. Their $29.9 billion is more than the country’s entire 2017 budget.” According to the author, compounding the tribulations of the people is that wages are extremely low and are never paid as at when due. Jose isn’t surprised churches and mosques are filled to the brim with the poor supplicating to God for help from the pharaohs who rule over them; which brings him to the concept of hope.
“Hopefulness is an important characteristic of believers and an indication of their faith. And, since believers know that Allah will accept their prayers, they have come to regard the present terrible condition as a part of their test and that eventually it will work out for the best. Hope in Allah’s mercy greatly influences a person’s attitude towards life, sincerity of worship and resolve. Even if they lost everything, believers can start afresh without the slightest feeling of hopelessness and with patience and enthusiasm;” Jose’s appraisal of Quran 12:87 and Quran 15:56.
My second chapter for review is chapter 10: Jihad, Terrorism and Islam in Contemporary World. It is a discourse of five pages detailing the problems plaguing Nigeria and the modern world. The author discusses the activities of Boko Haram insurgents in North East Nigeria. It prompted him to revisit the concept of Jihad. This word Jihad “has been used in the western press for decades, directly, subtly to mean holy war. As a matter of fact, the term “Holy war” was coined in Europe during the Crusades, meaning the war against Muslims. It does not have a counterpart in Islamic glossary and Jihad is certainly not its translation. The concept, holy war, is a wholly western creation, coined by western historians.”
“The etymology of the Arabic word: Jihad, means struggling or striving and applies to any effort exerted by anyone…. Jihad can be done with speech, the pen, lobbying or picketing or the Quran by inviting people to the message of Islam.” Prophet Muhammed gave various guidelines on Jihad: “Do not dishonor a treaty. Do not mutilate the dead. Do not kill women. Do not kill children. Do not kill the old. Do not kill those without weapons. Do not kill those engaged in worship (priests, rabbis). Do not cut down trees. Do not burn crops. Do not poison wells of your enemies. Fight only those who come at you.” Jihad isn’t a declaration of war against other religions and certainly not against Christians and Jews…. considered as fellow co-inheritors of the Abrahamic traditions by Muslims worshipping the same God. The prophet said: “The best jihad is saying a word of truth in the court of a tyrant ruler.”
It is the opinion of the reviewer that the slaying and dismemberment of The Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, at the Saudi embassy in Istambul; the killing of Shiites in Nigeria and the revocation of the Iran Nuclear Treaty are a repudiation of the tenets of Islam. Imam Ibrahim Babatunde Jose, the author of this book is a graduate of political science of Nigeria’s premier university, the University of Ibadan. He also holds a master’s from the Graduate School of Government, University of Manchester, United Kingdom, where he specialized in communications and political development.
Jose was also a Michelle Jackson Fellow at Columbia University, New York, United States. He has been a staff writer, Investigation Editor, Editorial Board member and Editor, Times International at the Daily Times of Nigeria Group of newspapers. Chief Jose was a part-time lecturer in the Department of Political Science, University of Lagos. A researcher in comparative religion, Jose later went into publishing with the now rested Lagos Business Review. At 70 years, he just retired as the chief executive of his family’s commercial printing press.I recommend this book to all who believe in God and the kind care and perusal of the King Faisal Foundation.
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