*They are proud, pompous and intemperate
From Mohammed Tunde Akanbi
Had I known the course of events during these intervening days, I probably would have saved my previous essay for today. During the past week, I stared into some streaming turbaning photographs of the Baba Adini of Ansarul-Islam Movement in Ilorin, Kwara state. Looking at the pictures I could not but measure how the recipient, sitting pretty, was feeling against the backdrop of the wide condemnation the title deemed to generate.
Also on his face and of those who conferred the title, I do not see that confident smile that radiates at such events. The recipient wore a weary look with a troubling mien while those hands that turbaned appeared unsettled.
Few things are indeed more pitiful and ruinous than a rich man who squandered his treasure by trying to increase it.
The larger scope of this historic event is that Ansarul-Islam’s decline inches gradually. This is tragic. For a movement whose founder was known and revered for his sterling qualities and shining example of piousness, it is difficult to understand how hard it has become at this time for its present leadership to articulate the essence of the Baba Adini title and distinguish the ideal from reality.
It is regrettable that religion which perhaps is our only bastion is gradually surrendering to the base. The bones of the dead surely will quake in their graves. If Fadilat Sheik Muhammad Kamaludeen Habibullahi Al-Adabiya were to be alive, certainly he would not do this.
Kwara indeed is unlucky in its own unique way. While the state is noted for its rich and renowned Islamic and Christian clerics, its people have continued to suffer religious leaders who wore divine robes only to think, speak and act in the spirit of what is common and worldly.
Kwara has since become a prey to these predatory groups and have in no small measure contributed to its present dismal state. My worry with them is not because they dare God Himself. They are proud, pompous and intemperate. In their homily, they take advantage to intimidate and deflate egos but lacked the capacity to absorb punches.
They stopped at nothing to recreate Kwara and its leaders in their own image thereby making the people believe that since they are men of God, their words cannot be challenged. This is not God’s way and it can never be.
We debase religion so much in Kwara even to the detriment of God forgetting that politics is also a sacred calling that needed to be pursued with principle, integrity and unconditional self-sacrifice. Mind you, I am not unequivocally admiring of all the various chieftaincy titles. I lost respect for them long ago not only because of their confused state and system that has no standard. The selection criteria are never clearly defined and responsibilities not also clearly identified with recipients. The evolution of Muslim chieftaincy titles was never accidental nor without some historical justification.
For instance, the Baba Adini title was not unconnected with the consideration that even the Holy Prophet Muhammad had thought it wise to fashion out ennobling titles in honouring some of his outstanding companions. Abubakar Sadiq who turned out to be the first orthodox and rightly guided caliph of the Prophet was reported to have practically been a chieftain among the companions.
That he deserved to be honoured and rewarded was demonstrated in various ways. He became the first man to embrace Islam, he was personally a close associate of the Holy Prophet and he devoted all his possessions to the cause of Islam. While he was reported to have taken life risk attempt by offering to accompany the Prophet in his migration to Medina, he was said not only to be morally enviable but also spiritually upright.
So the history of Muslim chieftaincy titles is not without some ennobling qualities and standard. Those that initiated this reward system back in Nigeria also argued that bestowing titles on individuals are aimed at recognising and appreciating the significant contributions of their recipient among Muslims and that such title are intended to hold them in the Islamic fold and further encourage them to do more. But the paradox in the face of modern challenges and the re-conceptualisation of these titles for a purposeful administration of Muslims still bothers on ‘quality, personality and character’.
Going by these positions therefore, the Baba Adini title can only be conferred on individuals with imposing personality and impressive bearing, who are wealthy and prosperous, scrupulous in his acquisition of wealth through hard work, devout and above all morally and spiritually upright.
In that case therefore, those so honoured are considered as fulfilling in their community as the same role as that fulfilled by Abubakar Sadiq in the Umma of the Prophet.
Which among these qualities qualified Senator Bukola Saraki for this title? Or is it the motivation for monetary gains and not religious excellence? I understand the organisation is planning to float its own university and is seeking for wealthy donors to actualise its dream. Nothing wrong with that. But the explanation for the chieftaincy title and why Senator Saraki was drafted to the cause of fulfilling their dreams was minimally illuminating but morally undignified. The organisation has lost its way and people who should know better have ceased acting like it. It is doubtful whether the leadership of body nationwide engaged in some serious soul searching. What can be deduced from all of these is that those who insisted on conferring the title on Senator Saraki are bothered less about what the organisation stood for but rather what their interest is.
This is not a weakness under pressure; it is a distorted patriotism leading to this morose and irrational state the organisation has found itself. This decision can only be backed by prurient logic of a base sort of religious movement.
Again, between the good and real reasons advanced by the organisation that the late Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki was the original title holder until his demise, cannot hold water and does not automatically mean that such title can be transferred to his scion who cannot be rightly adjudged as spiritually or morally upright or one with a history of keeping the flag of Islam afloat and its candle aflame.
If the organisation feigned ignorance of the many charges of corruption against him leading to his current prosecution at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), back home, it cannot shy away from other numerous allegations levelled against him by majority of the people on account of fleecing and running Kwara aground during his eight years as governor of the state.
How our memory fails us. Except the leadership of Ansarul-Islam wants us to believe that morality matter less in the affairs of men, then we can be safe to suggest that the drive to raise fund for the university can also be extended to robbers, drug pushers so long as the end justified the means.
From organisation’s message to the rest of us, can Senator Saraki’s title match those of late Alhaji Wahab Folowiyo and Bashorun M.K.O Abiola who both were conferred with the Baba Adini of Nigeria and Baba Adini of Yorubaland in terms of the respect and dignity it attracted? Late Folawiyo is a model of success and great entrepreneur. He is Vice-President, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and a recipient of three honorary doctorate degrees. Late Abiola himself in no small measure was charitable not only to the cause of Islam alone but also to humanity.
So what are Senator Saraki’s key contributions to the cause of Islam and even humanity or other sterling qualities that he possess? This is just a mockery that has reduced the Baba Adini title to a commodity any brigand can purchase at a price. What moral lessons can students of over 200 Ansarul-Islam primary and secondary schools in Ilorin, Lagos and elsewhere learn from all of these. Ansaru-Islam will achieve its objectives of having a university but the quality of its students will be in doubt. Plant honesty, you will reap trust, plant goodness, you will reap friends, plant humility and you will reap in greatness (S.A.W.).