‘How Islamic values can revamp socio-political lives of Nigerians’
Notwithstanding that Muslims in the country suffer much discriminatory afflictions across various sectors, it has been established that Islamic values are still the best option for the nation to achieve its socio-economic development aspirations.
Scores of Muslim faithful, who converged on this year’s Islamic Vacation Course (IVC) of B-zone of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), bemoaned the series of intimidation and discrimination against Muslims in various spheres of the polity in recent times.
IVC is a yearly event where millions of Muslims youths gather to interact and learn religious values and supplicate to Allah.
Registrar, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, (JAMB) and Secretary General, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, was the guest speaker at this year’s event, held at the IVC Permanent Site, Ibadan-Lagos Express Way, Imolisa Village, Ogunmakin, Ogun State.
Oloyede said the Muslim Ummah, across generations, has been described by Allah (SWT) as the best community evolved for mankind because they are mandated to enjoin what is good, forbid what is evil, and believe in Allah.
He applauded the MSSN for the conference, saying it has remained the pivot of Islamic culture and awareness to the teeming Muslim youths in Nigeria for the past sixty-seven years.
“Can we really imagine what would have been our fate without the MSSN, particularly in the southern parts of Nigeria? The society has provided a platform to learn more about Islam; to propagate and defend its values and to foster cooperation and understanding within the Ummah, and with non-Muslim faith communities in Nigeria,” he said.
Oloyede acknowledged the role played by its founding members including, “brothers” Abdul Lateef Adegbite (First President), Saheed Alade, Sunmola Laguda, Fatai Mabadeje; and “sisters” Zaidat Anibaba and Mabadeje. He said all these personalities became accomplished individuals in their respective fields of endeavour, including the academia, public service, legal profession, judiciary as well as other acknowledged professions.
Commenting on the theme of the conference: “How Could This be? he said the leadership of the MSSN, B-Zone have thoughtfully captured the mood of the Ummah and the state of affairs in Nigeria.
Oloyede said it is a general consensus today that the contemporary world is immersed in corruption, mischief and disorderliness, citing the glorious Quran where Allah said: “Corruption prevails in the land and the sea because of all the evil that the hands of humanity have earned-so that HE may cause them to taste something of that which they have done-so that they may return in penitence to God”(30:41).
He said Muslims are one united community of a just, balanced and the best nation, and they must play their unique role as advocates for good and the suppression of evil.
Tracing the history to early colonial days, he said Muslim elites in Yorubaland maintained a solid foothold on the socio-economic and political affairs of their society, despite the unfolding suffocating anti-Muslim socio-political and legal policies of the colonial government.
By the middle of the 19th century, he said Muslims had started feeling the negative impact of the unfolding colonial rule and the attendant cultural influence on their lives.
Today, he said the nation is beset with a number of challenges which are directly traceable to poor social engineering as a result of breakdown of family values; coercive secularization and its corrosive effects on music and entertainment industry; drug addiction, immorality, poor education culture, social vices and insecurity.
Oloyede enumerated some of the challenges faced by Muslims today as poor attitude to education, which has resulted in low technical skills among the population; low income and diminishing access to formal sector employment in the public service and in corporations as well as other big business entities.
He said: “There has not been any commensurate improvement in the number of Muslim academics in our universities and other tertiary institutions despite the fact that year in year out, we produce a good number of best graduates every year!”
According to him, the Muslim Ummah has been disadvantaged by other self inflicted woes in addition to institutionalised and structural discrimination which they are routinely subjected to since the colonial era.
In the traditional Islammiyyah schools, he bemoaned a situation whereby the traditional Muslim scholars are now embroiled in undue rivalry couched in ideological debates.
“They have distracted the Ummah from the pursuit of noble and lofty goals. We really have to address the embarrassing verbal exchanges between some Muslim scholars and preachers,” he said.
On the elites, Oloyede said, “most of them do not make any conscious plan to provide quality Islamic education for their children. As many practice inter -faith marriages, many of the children, without knowledge and consciousness of Allah, get derailed along the line and this has rendered desolate many elite Muslim homes, who may unfortunately end up as the last set of the Muslims in their lineages.”
He expressed displeasure over the hostile treatment of Hijabi Muslimah in the past few months.
“A number of cases have been recorded in several parts of Nigeria, particularly in the South West. Fundamental rights of Muslims to religious observances, freedom of association and right to non-discrimination are routinely violated.
“This discriminatory policy has technically shut out Muslim girls and women from most public sector employment, including the security services- the Police, the Armed Forces, Customs Services, Immigration, Civil Defence and the Road Safety Corps.
“This is also largely the case in our banking and financial industry; the media industry and several other important sectors of the economy. Even in Muslim minority countries, women are allowed to use hijab in the police and the armed forces, for instance.
“These secularization programmes have significantly altered the course of our history and way of life, so much so that many Muslims today only reckon Islam to be just a marginal aspect of their lives rather than being the cardinal point of reference. The non-Muslims assume the role of guardians and custodians of western values which admit no room for Islamic way of life even in independent Nigeria,”
Besides, he said the media industry in Nigeria is largely unfriendly to Islam. “Their agenda, particularly, the private electronic and print media, has consistently been to portray Islam in bad light and are thus not receptive to Islamic perspectives on most national issues.
“The narrative is to perpetuate a consolidated cultural hegemony that will keep Islam at the periphery of our national life; and to deny Muslims a fair share of attention and public acknowledgement.
“Their obsession with Islamophobic sentiments is deplorable. The entertainment industry and the advertisement firms have almost generally mischievously used Muslim names to denote failure, hopelessness, backwardness and unseriousness in the public domain.
“Muslims in government and in other leadership positions are always very unforthcoming in advocating equal space for the Muslims, notwithstanding the fact that our inherited system is skewed against Muslims already, by design. They are too skeptical to speak for Islam and Muslims. Notwithstanding, the leadership of the Ummah in Nigeria have always maintained a moral high ground in dealing with other groups, by advocating for equity and fairness for all-Muslims and non-Muslims,” he stated.
Oloyede however rolled out the way forward and key obligations of Muslims in line with the holy Quran, in a bid to change the narrative.
He urged Muslims to be devoted to worshipping Allah, and supplicate unto HIM in all situations and in all circumstances, while charging the Ummah to remain humble and not be arrogant, and be kind to parents in every circumstances.
“We are enjoined to be dutiful to our parents (17:23) and to be kind to the close relatives and the indigent, but not to squander our wealth on frivolities (17:26). A Muslim is enjoined in the Quran not to keep his hands yoked to his neck out of stinginess nor extend it to the utmost extent in extravagance so that one does not become blameworthy and regretful. (17:29)
“If we are unable to give charity, we are advised to say pleasing words. We should avoid major sins, including imbibing alcohol and Zina, murder; unlawful usurpation of rights and wealth of the orphans and arrogant posturing – to walk on earth exultantly,” he stated.
He continued on the obligations to the generality of the Ummah and humanity, saying: “As most of us here form the nucleus of the Muslim elites, Allah has endowed us with the intellect, knowledge, resources and wealth to fix our challenges and propel the Ummah to greater heights.”
He charged Muslims to pay urgent attention to prioritisation of education; strengthen capacity for managing ideological differences; and pay attention to public schools and institutions.
“To prioritise establishment of technical and vocational schools from which our young Muslims stand to benefit greatly. Muslims patronise public schools more due to their economic circumstances,” he said.
He also urged those in government and public service at both the centre and sub-national levels to re-dedicate themselves to the plight of the masses, majority of whom are Muslims.
He called for investment in Islamic schools, academies and mosques among others. Oloyede said Muslims should be involved in scientific engagement with Nigerian system to generate acknowledgement and acceptance for Islamic values into the national pool.
He also underscored the need for Muslims to address other issues such as poverty and social exclusion of Muslims; visibility in Islamic circles and serving as confident communicators and advocates of Islam.
He urged the Ummah to deploy their God-given emotional intelligence to assert Muslim rights on equal footings in Nigeria, saying: “Those in Banking, Insurance and Telecommunication sectors for instance, should get to work to ensure that Hijab is institutionalized in the their respective industry. We cannot deal with poverty in Muslim families if Muslims girls and women constituting more than a quarter of Nigerian population are at the risk of perpetual instituionalised discrimination which denies them jobs and other opportunities to earn livelihood in formal sectors.”