‘Imam Akinola left a big vacuum’
For the Lagos State Muslim Community, the guidance from the Almighty Allah in the quest to select the Chief Imam of Lagos was the order of the day considering the big vacuum left by the former Imam, Sheikh Garuba Ibrahim Akinola.
Akinola, the ninth Imam of Lagos Central Mosque died at the age of 80, on Sunday 24th and buried according to Islamic rites on Monday 25th, 2017.
Muslims from far and wide have showered encomiums on the Islamic Icon, but the fact remains that Akinola has left a big vacuum difficult to be filled by his successor.
At the Fidau prayer held at the central mosque in Idumota, Lagos, the stakeholder described the decease as a very peaceful man who was passionate about Islam and unity of the entire Ummah.
The widow of the Chief Imam of Lagos, Sheikh Garuba Akinola Ibrahim, Alhaja Islamiyah, described her late husband as a caring husband.
Alhaja Ibrahim said, that Sheikh Ibrahim was a man any woman could wish to have as husband.
“I have been married to him for over 17 years. Baba was a kind man; lovely and caring. He was kind to all his children. Baba loved rice, especially fried rice. He was humane even to people he didn’t know. When those who do not know him want to see him, he will ask us to let them in. Baba would listen to them. If he has what that person came for, he would do it and if not he would direct them to the Central Mosque. Nobody came to him crying without leaving smiling.” He said the late Chief Imam was very prayerful.
“Before I married baba, my prayer life was not very sound but when I met him, he taught me how to pray well. He said he did not rely on anything except his prayers and the Quran,” she said.
The deceased’s son, Luqman Ibrahim, said: “He is the best of all fathers I can think of. My father was an epitome love and humility. The love he has for the nation can never be quantified. It gone beyond the love he has for himself, let alone his children. So, in fact we lost a rare gem. I will forever love and miss him. I am short of words. I don’t want to cry,” he said.
Former Lagos State Deputy Governor, Alhaja Lateefah Okunnu, described him a gentle, God-fearing, and amiable father.
Okunnu said: “He was father to all; women and men and we really enjoyed his company and his guidance throughout his lifetime. We will miss his prayer, his advice for those who are in predicament; we will miss his advice as an elder.”
National President of Anwar-Ul-Islam Movement in Nigeria Alhaji Mudashiru Adekunle Ojelade, said the late chief Imam was very knowledgeable, exceedingly humble and a strong leader for the Lagos Muslim community.
Ojelade said: “We will miss Baba’s sense of purpose. The lesson to learn from his death is humility, intervening at crucial moments to make peace when crisis is looming. He is a good example on how to make peace with fellow human beings. He is the kind of person you call into situation when there is tension, when there is need to unify and bring people together.”
Nasrul Lahi Fatih Society of Nigeria (NASFAT) President Alhaji Kameel Yomi Bolarinwa, described the late Sheikh Ibrahim as a quintessential cleric whose life was exemplary.
Bolarinwa said, he was a sincere and truthful man of God who lived all his life upholding the truth as well as striving for love and peaceful existence among various people irrespective of their ethnic and religious backgrounds
“Sheikh Ibrahim will be missed especially by the Ummah for his uprightness and his efforts in peaceful coexistence as well as his contributions to the national development “However we are consoled by his great ethical and religious legacies which will continue to benefit the mankind.”
Bashorun of Lagos and Vice-Chairman, Lagos Central Mosque Executive Council Alhaji Sikiru Alabi Macfoy, said the crowd witnessed at the ceremony was expected going by the personality of the late Chief Imam.
“He was a pleasant personality, very dedicated and always rendering assistance to the people. You will think that he was extremely rich which is not true but he was extremely rich in contentment; as he collects, he gives not minding spending all he has to assist the people. He was loved by many. He lived a fulfilled life,” Alhaji Macfoy said.
President, Muslim Community of Lagos State (MCLS) Prof Tajudeen Gbadamosi, described Sheikh Ibrahim as a good leader, father to all and highly dedicated to the course of Islam and development of Lagos state.
An elder stateman Senator HAB Fasinro said Sheikh Ibrahim surprised many who didn’t expect him to hold sway after his installation as the ninth Chief Imam of Lagos.
“He was devoted to unity of the ummah and progress of the nation,” he said.
Deputy President-General, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and President-General, Muslim Ummah of Southwest Nigeria (MUSWEN) Alhaji Sakariyau Babalola described him as a reliable leader and worked for peaceful co-existence among the Muslims and non-Muslims.
“We have lost a good person; we have lost a great leader in the Islamic world. I pray Allah be with the family and the ummah he left behind,” he said.
President of The Companion and MUSWEN Central Working Committee member, Alhaji Musibau Oyefeso, described the late Chief Imam as an embodiment of humility.
“He was very passionate about Islam and unity of the ummah. Despite his health challenges, he honoured the invitation of Aiyepe Muslim Community, Ijebu, Ogun State to decorated the community Chief Imam with turban. He does not turned down invitation irrespective of the person’s personality or organisation concerned. We’ll miss him dearly,” Oyefeso said.
A member of the Lagos community, Alhaji Hakeem Fahm, a United States- based IT expert said the Chief Imam’s demise has created a vacuum too big to be filled.
He described the deceased as a scholar who was versed in the knowledge of Qur’an.
He tasked the mosque committee to be meticulous in the selection of a new Chief Imam by ensuring that the next Chief Imam is person of impeccable characters and attributes with vast knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence.
Sheikh Abdur Rahman Ahmad said the deceased was a man of peace who tried to bring everybody together.
“He was in the forefront of promoting religious harmony and peaceful coexistence. We would miss him,” he said.
Mufti, Conference of Islamic Organisations (CIO) Sheikh Dhikrullahi Shafi’I, prayed for the deceased, his family members, and the ummah.
Sheikh Shafi’I said the late Chief Imam was a lover of peace and dedicated his life to preach peaceful co-existence.