12th December, 2018
AWUJALE SHOULD LEAVE MUSLIMS ALONE
Crisis is presently brewing in Ijebu-Ode as the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has warned the Awujale to steer clear of the Itun-Mefa Muslim community.
Sounding the warning note on Wednesday, 12th December, 2018, the Islamic human rights organization in a press statement said it was in possession of a petition written by the Itun-Mefa Muslim Community Youth Forum (IMCYF) in which the youths complained that the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona, was meddling in the affairs of the Itun-Mefa Muslim community.
According to Professor Ishaq Akintola, the director and founder of MURIC who signed the press statement, contrary to Section 5 (3) (c) of the Constitution of the Ijebu-Ode Muslim Community which confers the power to appoint the Eketa Adinni on the ward, the Awujale is trying to impose another person on the Itun-Mefa Muslim community after the ward had chosen Shaykh Abdul Rasheed Mayaleeke as the Eketa Adinni of Itun-Mefa Quarters.
“This is unacceptable. The Awujale is a royal father who deserves the respect of the adherents of all faiths. It is not advisable for him to interfere in the affairs of any group, talk less of imposing a candidate after one has been picked. It is ultra vires. No king in Yorubaland or anywhere in Nigeria has the authority to overturn the decision of the Muslim community. It is undue interference. The king may be invited to the turbanning of the holder of an Islamic title as a matter of protocol, but it is absolutely unacceptable for him to impose any candidate.
“MURIC frowns on the alleged attempt by the Awujale to rob Shaykh Mayaleeke of his Allah-given fundamental right. Shaykh Mayaleeke is a renowned Islamic scholar. He is deeply knowledgeable. Mayaleeke is not an armchair Islamic scholar. He has travelled far and wide and he is well known in the circle of Islamic scholars not only in Yorubaland but throughout Nigeria. He is therefore highly qualified for the position.
“We can guess why the Awujale is allergic to the appointment of Mayaleeke. The Islamic scholar is fearless and he has defended the cause of Islam in Ijebuland on several occasions. The Awujale probably prefers a crony and a dummy who can easily be twisted round his fingers and who will easily compromise Islamic principles. His royal highness probably craves someone who will tremble and crumble at the mere mention of his name.
“MURIC implores the Awujale to let the Muslims go. We stand to be corrected, but the last time we checked, the Awujale had converted from Islam to Christianity. That is not necessarily important because the king’s religion does not really matter. He is still the king over all religious, cultural and political groups. But he is expected to remain neutral in order to continue to enjoy the respect of all.
“This is an area where MURIC must send a very strong message to all Yoruba kings. The appointment of Imams and Islamic title holders is solely the prerogative of Muslim communities. No king, whether Muslim, Christian or traditionalist, has the right to interfere in the internal affairs of the Muslims. By the way, can any king appoint or reject a bishop in his domain? Have kings ever been allowed to control affairs of churches around them? Then why do they pick on Muslim communities? Why do they use policemen to harass Muslims inside the mosque?
“This is not about the Awujale alone. We are addressing a common phenomenon in Yorubaland where the kings assume a priori that they are the final authority in Muslim communities. For example, the former Ooni of Ife, the late Oba Okunade Sijuwade had the temerity to order the closure of the Ansar-Ud-Deen Mosque for several months simply because the Ansar-Ud-Deen appointed a non-indigene as the Imam.
“It was a serious infraction and Sijuwade’s action was unlawful, illegal and unconstitutional but nobody told him so and nobody was bold enough to challenge him. The mosque therefore remained locked up for months until an indigene was produced and the Imam-elect was removed.
“We cannot, in good conscience and as an Islamic human rights organization, fold our hands while this abuse of power continues. The Ooni of Ife was not even a Muslim. So why should such a matter go to him in the first place? Ditto for the Awujale. MURIC has a duty to speak out. It is high time Muslims liberated themselves from the shackles of tyrannical tradition. The days of l’etat cest moi are gone. We tell the Obas in Yorubaland to leave the Muslims alone. Let the Muslims go! Give us equal treatment with Christians in your domain.
“We charge Muslims in Nigeria to stand up for the liberation of Islam. Islamic organizations, particularly the League of Imams and Alfas, must mobilize their entire membership as well as their followers for special enlightenment programmes. Muslims must know their rights. With the exception of the Sultan of Sokoto who is the traditional head of all Muslims in the country, no other king has the right to change the position taken by Imams and Islamic scholars anywhere in Nigeria, so long as such a position concerns an Islamic issue. Any such command is illegal and should be firmly rejected and resisted though without resorting to violence.
“On the other hand, we encourage Muslims to give due respect and high regard to their royal highnesses like all other subjects so long as the kings do not attempt to usurp the role of the Imams and Islamic scholars. Muslim communities should desist from taking their internal matters to the kings for resolution. They should also avoid going to conventional courts because the latter hardly understand Islamic issues. Internal disputes should be taken to local Shari’ah panels. Communities where Shari’ah panels are yet to be established should enpanel one as soon as possible.
We advise kings who are Muslims to submit themselves to Imams who are the recognized spiritual authorities. The king wields royal power over the entire city but he should resist the temptation to usurp spiritual power. Imams are representatives of Allah, the King of Kings. It is Allah who enthrones earthly kings in the first place (Qur’an 3:26) and any earthly king who attempts to vie with Allah or to challenge Him will be accountable to Allah yawm al-Qiyamah (on the Day of Judgement). We remind us that all earthly kings will leave their thrones one day no matter how long. But Allah the King of Kings will remain forever (Qur’an 55:27)
We appeal to the Nigeria Police to respect the institution of Islam. They should not allow themselves to be used by kings. The rule of law should be their guideline. They should know the limitations of the power of kings. There is nowhere in the statutes that kings are empowered to order the closure of mosques or to harass Imams and Islamic scholars. It is unethical for police officers to allow themselves to be used when a king abuses his power. The police also have a duty to enlighten kings regarding separation of powers and their limitations. We do not wish to embarrass police officers by involving them in legal tangles in the near future.
“On a final note, we affirm our highest esteem for the office of the Awujale and all traditional rulers. Nonetheless, we assert the inalienable right of Nigerian Muslim communities to decide their destinies according to the tenets of Islam. We therefore advise traditional rulers to stop interfering in Muslim affairs. We stand by the decision of the Itun-Mefa Muslim community to elect Shaykh Abdul Rasheed Mayaleeke as the Eketa-Adinni of Itun-Mefa”.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)