Double shots in honour of Professor Noibi
The nearly nine decades life of Professor Dawud Olatokunbo Shittu Noibi, OBE, has, no doubt, become a book on lessons in determination, perseverance, dignity and humility in accomplishments.
Indeed, Prof Noibi’s transformation from an apprentice tailor and cabinet-maker in the early 1950s to a university teacher, which culminated in his appointment as Professor of Islamic Studies in 1990 will continue to serve as an inspiration to the young generation of Nigerians.
It is in light of his dedication to service, human capital development and promotion of enduring virtues that guarantee global peace and security, that the Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN) will, on Saturday, November 26, 2022, unveil a book in honour of Prof. Noibi, who incidentally served the body for more than a decade as its pioneer executive secretary.
Titled: Islamo-Nigeriana – On Being Muslim in Contemporary Nigeria, the festschrift parades Professors Ishaq Olanrewaju Oloyede, Muibi Omolayo Opeloye, and Afis Ayinde Oladosu as editors.
In a statement, the Chairman of, the Planning Committee, Prof. Muibi Opeloye, said that the formal book presentation would equally serve as a send-forth for the revered Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies.
The occasion slated for the Conference and Event Centre, University of Ibadan, Muslim Community from 11 am, will be chaired by Alhaji Rasaki Oladejo, President of MUSWEN.
Opeloye said the book, which has contributions from scholars around the world, will be reviewed by Prof. Shehu Luqman Jimoh, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics) Kwara State University, Malete, while Alhaji Sa’eed Alao, Managing Director, Blue Prints Technologies, will present the book to the public.
And in what appears as double shots for the renowned scholar, a complementary book of tributes entitled: Professor Noibi, an icon in the eyes of the people will also be unveiled.
Honouring Noibi with a festschrift started in 2018, with a call for papers sent out to scholars and experts in the field of Arabic and Islamic Studies and the humanities in general to contribute perspectives in line with the title, Islamo-Nigeriana – On Being Muslim in Contemporary Nigeria.
According to the promoters of the project, the volume was meant to serve two purposes: to honour the world-renowned scholar and Professor of Islamic Studies, Dawud Olatokunbo Shittu Noibi, OBE, and subject some of the issues confronting Muslims in Nigeria, or rather Nigerian Muslims, to critical analyses.
“The responses that we received from the call signposted the high reverence with which Professor Noibi is held by a vast majority of scholars in Arab-Islamics in and outside the country. The abstracts submitted by scholars also mirrored the fissures, the contradictions and the multiple challenges facing Islam and Muslims in Nigeria today.
“This volume could not therefore have engaged or explored all the subjects of relevance to the overarching theme of being Muslim in Nigeria in the contemporary period. Nor could it have accommodated all the papers submitted for consideration.
“A careful choice had to be made in regard to the essays to be considered for inclusion in this volume. Eventually, a total of 21 papers (19 in English and two in Arabic), that engaged disparate issues of concern to Muslims in Nigeria were included in this book.”
To make it readable, the editors said entries were thematised into six main sections, with section one, containing contributions from Afis Ayinde Oladosu, Musa Adesina Abdulraheem, Azeezat Omotoyosi Amoloye-Adebayo, and Saheed Afolabi Ashafa attempting to theorise the otherwise fetishised constructs of Islam, Muslims and the nation from a multiplex of perspectives that are jurisprudential, philosophical, literary-critical, legal and historical.
“This served as the premise for the interrogation of current challenges facing Nigeria as well as aspects of the contributions of Muslims to the development of the nation.”
In Section Two, works from Muhib Opeloye, Is-haq Oloyede, Najimdeen Bakare, Mikail Folorunsho and Kahar, discussed hate speech and religious propagation, Markaz in Nigeria’s Public Sphere, Muslim-Christian Relations in Nigeria, the Critique of Spiteful Perspectives of Arabic Scholarship and the representation of Religious Tolerance and Prejudice in poetry respectfully are all insightful and highly informative.
In Section Three, three essays engaged the never-ending controversy over the necessity or otherwise of the application of Islamic law in the nation. Whereas Dawood Hamzah and Abdul Fattah Makinde opted for the historical-existential approach, the essay by Habibah Oladosu-Uthman explored the inherent challenges and contradictions in the application of Islamic law, particularly in regard to rape in northern Nigeria.
Contributors in Section Four explored issues that circumscribe living Islam in contemporary Nigeria. The authors are Rafiu Adebayo looking at the Reenactment of the category of Zakat in Islamic jurisprudence; AbdulGafar Fahm and Aliy Adebisi analysed the category of good governance in Islam; Ibrahim Uthman’s discussion of the history and politics of the Boko Haram insurgency, while Ismail Musa’s intervention on developing suitable textbooks for Muslim schools in the country.
Section Five highlighted the inner contradictions and challenges in Islamic practices in Southwest Nigeria. These are evident in Taofeeq Salahudeen and Ibrahim Toyyib’s analyses of the categories of Sufism and Salafism, Mubarak Noibi and Mohiyat’s essay on crisis management in Islam and Mustapha Bello’s critique of the activities of Shamsu-d-dini-l-Islamiyyah’s activities in Ogun State of Nigeria.
The last section with two essays is about the challenges confronting learning and teaching Arabic in Southwest Nigeria, while the second, by Sulaymon Algamawi analysed the poem by Shaykh Adam al-Ilūri titled “al-Ajbarūk?”
In his forward to the complementary book of tributes – Professor Noibi, an icon in the eyes of the people, National President, Nigeria Association of Teachers of Arabic and Islamic Studies (NATAIS), Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, Professor Musa Adesina Abdu-Raheem, who said the publication is significant for many reasons, disclosed that when he was asked to write the foreword, he thought it would prove an arduous task.
“The list of eminent and distinguished personalities whose tributes make up this publication is intimidating. It later dawned on me that this is not the publication of any of them but an anthology of their testimonies. That was a great relief because no logic would support the fact that an ordinary pupil should foreword the work of former and serving vice-chancellors, provosts, captains of industry, technocrats of international repute, eminent Imams, distinguished clerics and close associates of such a colossus. In the end, the job turned out to be a unique opportunity to benefit from the vast experiences of the accomplished scholars and moguls.”
He recommended the book to the general public because of the invaluable contributions and positive impact it promises to have on their worldview.
“The public space in contemporary Nigeria poses a lot of temptations and misguidance. One needs constant reminders and conscientious role models to keep the bearing. Good parenting, formal training and membership in religious groups help but do not solve the problem in its entirety. Concrete models such as those presented in this book will greatly dissuade the untoward practices which the society appears to have accepted but are diametrically opposed to the express teachings of Islam.”
According to the promoters of the book, it was conceptualised to contest the narrative in Yoruba culture and cosmogony that, “Eniyan o sunwon laaye, ijo ti a baku laa dere” –Human beings are usually of little value when they are alive; it is at their transition people get to know their worth”.
This book, therefore, x-rayed Baba Noibi’s worth not at his death, but while he is still alive. Its contents provide excellent and invaluable data on his memorable life.
Noibi, a decorated Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), by the late Queen Elizabeth II of England, pioneered the formation as Executive Secretary of MUSWEN for more than 10 years.
He was born in Sapele in the present Delta State of Nigeria, though his parents hailed from Ijebu-Imusin in Ogun State, Nigeria. Noibi was the name by which his grandfather was popularly known though his first name was Subayr. That was because, officially, he happened to be the first to hold the position of Naa’ibu l-Imam (Deputy Imam) of the whole of Ijebu-Imusin, a cluster of more than 50 settlements in what is now the Ijebu East Local Council of Ogun State.
Consequently, his family was and continues to be identified, as the Noibi family. Dawud’s father, Chief Shittu Noibi, was the Imam of the “Ijebu Mosque” of Sapele and, at the same time, also himself the Noibi (Naa’ibu l-Imam) of the entire Muslim community of the port town.
He bore the title “Chief” because he was one of the judges at the native court of the town. Following his primary school education, Noibi spent two years (Forms Two and Three) at a secondary commercial school where he had been admitted straight to Form Two.
Subsequently, he underwent a five-year dressmaking apprenticeship with a brief intervening encounter with an apprenticeship in cabinet making. Despite the challenges, he managed to embark on further studies and eventually became a professor at the University of Ibadan.
Some Muslim personalities and groups across Nigeria are expected to grace the occasion.