By; ABDULL-AZEEZ AHMED KADIR.
Except immediate and drastic action is taken via decisive intervention of revered individuals, Sultan Bello Mosque, Kaduna is set for implosion. The imminent and impending implosion is a result of leadership tussle on-going between the varied power blocks. But most prominent is the Gumis.
Before going far, its good we know that for Alhaji Abdulwahab Folawiyo, the Sultan Bello Mosque as we know it today would not have been; at least in structure. Though established by Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardaunan Sokoto and the Premier of the old Northern Region, the mosque has become a learning centre and a symbol of religious ideological influence. And politics defined in another term, is nothing but ideological influence.
The Sultan Bello Mosque is synonymous with Sheikh Abubakar Mahmud Gumi. For those who know, that was the platform used by the late Grand Khadi among others to propagate Islam, scholarly educating many, taking on even the authorities and carved a global niche for his works. Sheikh Gumi held sway there for more than three decades before his demise, but not before receiving the King Fahd award in Saudi Arabia for his enormous contribution to the propagation of Islam.
Today his son Sheikh Ahmad occupies that enviable seat. But here is where the problem started. Sheikh Ahmad wants to play Sheikh Abubakar but forgetting that he does not have the clout, influence, network nor patience, tact of his late father. Again, Sheikh Ahmad is seeing Sultan Bello Mosque as an extension of Gumi estate and wants to do all within his power to ensure it remains within the fold of the Gumis or his disciples. And this is what is precipitating the impending implosion.
There are various video and audio recordings of Dr Gumi in circulation with certain pronouncement that ordinarily should not be coming from a scholar of his calibre. Following that, is a long opinion he penned following the selection of Sheikh Khalid as the Acting Imam by the Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris. This also followed the suspension and eventual removal of the Chief Imam, Sheikh Balele Wali. Many are accusing Sheikh Ahmad Gumi as the brain behind the removal of Sheikh Balele Wale, an allegation he denied but tacitly endorsed by some of his actions and pronouncement.
There are remote causes of the crisis, but the immediate was the suspension of Sheikh Balele Wali. This follows the fracas that occurred on Eid-El-Kabir day. Wali was said to have been late for the two raka’at prayers and the congregation was inpatient due to the rainy stormy weather. All push for the Deputy Imam to lead the prayer met a dead wall and Gumi took the rein.
Before the sermon (hutbah), Wali was said to have arrived and was completing his prayers when Gumi made to deliver the sermon. Infuriated, Wali was said to have made the move to stop Gumi, but met resistance. The question here is why didn’t Gumi allow Wali to deliver the sermon having made his way into the Mosque and rounding up his missed prayers.
After that, the Mosque Committee issued a statement suspending Sheikh Balele Wali as the Chief Imam of the Mosque. Gumi in one of his write ups said the committee does not have the power to remove the Imam. Yet, he never opposed it, but tacitly supported the illegal act.
In fact, to buttress this point, Kaduna State Council of Ulamas and Imams under the leadership of Sheikh Usman Abubakar Babantuni addressed the media stressing that the committee has no such power to remove the Imam. The body opposed the act but was quick to accuse Dr Gumi of being responsible for the decision.
In the said audio, video and writing, Dr Gumi had accused some members of the Mosque committee of certain misdemeanors; prominent among them was Sheikh Balele Wali, Alhaji Saidu Kakangi, Alhaji Ismail Mijinyawa and Dr Khalid. At a point, they had to appear before the Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris. After the Emirs’ peacemaking effort, Gumi said he swore never to forgive the tripartite of Wali, Kakangi and Khalid.
Gumi was so bitter that he threw caution to the wind, demeaning his position as the Mufti of the Mosque that he referred to the three as “shaitanu” (Satan’s) and asserting that they are not worshiping Allah. He also made reference to confrontational posture of some towards him during a Ramadan preaching session.
Here I think Gumi isn’t a good student of history as far as occupying that seat in Sultan Bello Mosque is concerned. As young as some of us were then, the older Gumi got all sorts of hostile confrontations in his days on that seat. Often, some people attempted taking the laws into their hands by smacking those concerned. But the older Gumi was always quick to order never touching such people and tactfully managed the situations.
In fact, such assumed act, power play and manoeuvre was what denied Sheikh Sanusi Gumbi the opportunity of succeeding the older Gumi and eventually drove him away from the Mosque.
But worse was Sheikh Lawal Abubakar who succeeded the older Gumi. The hostile confrontations late Lawal Abubakar suffered was unprecedented especially in his first year Ramadan tafsir. He bore it all, sometimes giving back to some in doses unprecedented too. But at no point did Lawal Abubakar muted removing anyone.
So, the younger Gumi need to know that hostile confrontations in Sultan Bello Mosque like any fire brand progressive scholarly centre, is a must and he is not the first victim of such. And this is why I said he lacks the influence, patience, tact and control of his father.
Lest we forget, after the demise of Imam Girei, the same manipulative act saw the emergence of Balele Wali despite opposition from some quarters.
In rubbishing the selection of Dr Khalid as the Acting Imam of the Mosque by the Emir of Zazzau, Gumi made reference to the killing of Sir Ahmadu Bello, alluding that he was killed because of his acts in the Mosque. He claimed only nine people performed the funeral prayers for Sardauna led by his father. Just as he alleged connivance of some traditional rulers who he said celebrated the killing. Again, this contradicted an account of the funeral prayers as told this writer by Sardauna’s Orderly who is still alive.
Again, Gumi referred to these people as Nzeogwus because they are opposing him today. This is in bad taste coming from a revered Scholar of his repute.
Astonishing is his narrative of same people framing him as Boko Haram, linking him to Mutalib the underpants bomber. Astonishing because there is no correlation between the battle for the imamship of this historical mosque and those incidents, especially the Mutalib saga. It is on record the roles played by late Sir Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa as the then Governor of Kaduna State and Vice President Muhammed Namadi Sambo to extricate Gumi from the incident diplomatically.
The bone of contention now is Gumi’s claim that neither Jama’atul Nasril Islam (JNI) nor the Sultanate has the power to select an Imam for the Mosque. The question on many lips is; since when does the power to select an imam for the mosque rest with one man, and in this case sheikh Ahmad Gumi? Why is Dr Gumi now opposed to the old order which was responsible for his current position? Remember, many then preferred Sheikh Bala Lau as successor to late Sheikh Lawal Abubakar, but the same powers that Gumi is opposing today selected him and placed him on the seat.
But Gumi’s opposition to the old order brings to the fore some salient but silent issues that many have overlooked for sometimes. First is the fact that mainstream Izala/Sahalafiya group sees JNI more as a Dharika umbrella body than for the whole Nigerian Muslims. JIBWIS would rather not take any leadership instructions from JNI but forget that even the Mosque is under the custody of JNI.
Another point is the fact that as enunciated by some elders, Gumi sees Khalid as less a scholar, as less a JIBWIS/Sahalafiya than he or those within his immediate disciple.
And most potent which always bolster Gumi to oppose others, is the fact that he sees the Mosque as an extension of the Gumi estate and would rather it remains under the control of any of the Gumi biological or scholarly heirs.
Otherwise if he is opposed to the selection of Khalid on the grounds he often enumerated of late, in line with the tradition of the Prophet (SAW), why is he the one leading prayers and not the Deputy Imam who is officially number two?
Why is he insistent on mobilising “almajirai Mallam” to always be in the first five rows of the Mosque every Friday to protect him when he leads the prayers?
Please Sheikh Ahmad Gumi should remember that he has always preached to us to respect constituted authorities and revere leadership. It is time for him to practice what he preaches and lead by example.
No one can argue or demeans the contribution of Late Sheikh Abubakar Mahmud Gumi scholarly to the growth and expansion of Islam, but this is not the way and manner to honour his memory. The scenario in the last two Fridays in Sultan Bello Mosque was appalling. Kaduna and the Muslim community has more than suffered certain dents in the recent past, implosion in Sultan Bello Mosque can be ill afford now or ever.
For Sheikh Ahmad Gumi and his disciples, as well as well wishers of the Gumi dynasty, to sustain the good memory of the Gumi matriarch, Sheikh Ahmad either allow the status quo be, or mobilise to have a new Mosque constructed somewhere else, named after Sheikh Abubakar Mahmud Gumi and ensure that the Gumi dynasty and disciples holds and runs the Mosque from generation to generation.
That way we can avert the imminent implosion rearing its ugly head at the historical Sultan Bello Mosque in Kaduna.
By; ABDULL-AZEEZ AHMED KADIR.