Stop the Axe: Kano Zoological and Botanical Garden next on line of destruction
Prof. Yusuf M. Adamu PhD, MNAL
Kano city, now metropolis is an important chapter in the history of world urbanization and if we describe Kano as the queen of Hausaland and the princess of western Sudan, we wouldn’t be mistaken. History makes a place and it is not just the passage of time that makes history but the different layers of cultural attributes that creates the landscape which people are associated with. What makes Kano tick like all great cities, is its ability to absorb its residents into its citizenship thereby getting their loyalty and trust.
History of Kano Zoological Garden
In July 1971, the military governor of Kano State, Audu Bako laid the foundation stone for the Kano Zoo and by November 1972, it was completed. The late visionary Governor in his opening speech on November 14 said to the gathering “I am surprised to hear from a lot of people, including those who call themselves elites criticizing my idea of establishing a zoo or game reserve and not only that but also making it an item of mockery. I am openly condemning such people as people without foresight and wisdom. I am glad to say that there are not many of them in Nigeria for otherwise, general progress would have been retarded.” In concluding his speech, he said “In the name of God, I declare the Kano Zoological Garden open for the general public of Nigeria and anybody from outside the country, and I pray that it will serve mankind forever. To the people of Kano State, I hand to you this zoo as an object of pride. Please hold it as an egg. May God help us?”
When Police Commissioner Audu Bako the Governor of Kano State commissioned the zoological garden he informed the gathering that the Zoo was the only one of its kind in West Africa and it was the intention of his government ‘to develop this zoo into one of the best in Africa’ The late Audu Bako made the statement above not knowing what we will be discussing 48 years after. This is an historical preamble to contextualize the issue at hand. I am talking about the perhaps largest protected ecosystem in one of the largest indigenous cities of Africa: the Audu Bako Zoological and Botanical garden located in Kano, Nigeria. The satellite image shows the current status of the area. Note the contrast between the green area and the settled area. The proposed relocation will make the green zone bare too.
Like other important landmarks of this great city, the Kano Zoo is next on the destruction list by Kano State Government. In the last 21 years, we have witnessed the systematic erasure of Kano’s historical and cultural signatures that gave the city its identity. Its planning system have been debased, the reserved low-density areas are downgraded to high density areas, the lands of public institutions like the Kano State Polytechnic Daula Hotel and Triumph Publishing Company, have been sold, all the open spaces and green spaces have been converted to largely commercial land uses. All the parks and gardens in the metropolis have been sold. . So much mismanagement of land resources is taking place in Kano all in the name of development. One question we wish the State Government will answer is who the buyers of the sold public lands are. It will be great to have a list.
Kano is a dual city where two cities (Indigenous and township) living side by side. With an estimated population of 4-5 million, the city is in utmost need of more green areas.The zoo is perhaps the largest existing green area in the metropolis with a 53 hactre land devoted to plants and animals. It is amazing that other large city of the word such as New York which is the world’s commercial centre with a population roughly twice as that of Kano metropolis sees the need to maintain a green area despite the need for business premises and the billions they will generate as tax. The Central park which is the largest and most important public park in Manhattan occupies a whooping 340 hectares of land (6.4 times the size of Kano Zoo) covering about 4km. It was established in 1857 and opened in 1876, it is still there standing and serving mankind. The green spaces in London occupy over 142 hectares. Take some parks for example Central park is 3.41km2, English garden is 3.75km2, Regent’s park occupies 166 hectares, in fact London is 40% public green space including 3000 parks. These two cities are commercial centres, yet they understand the importance of vegetation to their survival.
Kano state Government plans to relocate the Garden
Three weeks ago, the Kano State Commissioner for Culture and Tourism Ibrahim Ahmed announced that the Governor of Kano State has ordered the relocation of Kano Zoological gardens from its current location to Tiga town, Bebeji Local Government because, according to the Governor the present location is inconvenient due to the high population density of the area This, according to him disturbs the animals. On a soft note, Malam Musa Tanko of Geography Department BUK has asked ‘Who did the animals at Kano Zoo told they’re not comfortable there? What about the Trees? Did they also complain?’ He further explained that ‘There is no place in the whole of Kano city that has high density of vegetation as the Kano Zoological garden. One of the numerous beauties the nature has blessed us with is vegetal cover, comprising of trees, shrubs and grasses which are very much important and necessary for life. Vegetation, especially trees are important to man and his environment in a variety of ways’.
Perhaps that is why the news was received with bad feelings. Some important points worthy of noting include the following:
The proposed area is far away from the metropolis and this will reduce the level of patronage especially by primary schools pupils.
With the increasing insecurity, it might be difficult for pupils to visit it.
The government did not give concrete reason other than the street-like reason that zoo animals do not like human noise.
No timetable was given.
Most importantly the public were not told what will happen to place when the animals are transferred.
Noting the antecedents of the Government of selling public parks and gardens, prayer grounds, parking spaces, historical sites and other open and green spaces, every environmentally aware person in Kano will be alarmed. Not only the citizens of Kano, even professional bodies like the Nigerian Association of Zoological Gardens and Wildlife Park were quick to write to the governor alerting him of the dangers of the proposed relocation. Many individuals have written essays trying to persuade the state Government from the project, people have spoken in the radio and other outlets all in an attempt to draw the attention of the State Government to let the Zoo be. Forestry Association also pleaded with the Government. As at now, we have not heard anything from government other than its hawks who attack responsible citizens who spoke against the proposed relocation.
The Destruction of Zoo Garden is one of the greatest planticide of the century
At this point it is good to ask the State Government what it intends to do with the Kano Zoo after relocating it. The most likely thing that will happen is that they will clear the place and create a commercial layout. In doing that, the government will claim that it is doing so to make Kano more commercially viable by building modern malls and creating jobs. As expected, I had the opportunity to hear a government officer saying that the zoo will be converted to a residential-cum commercial area and that not all the trees will be cut off. That the company that will take over the zoo will build the new one at Tiga and will decide what it will do with the old zoo. Anyway, whatever it is, it is destruction. The world will witness one of the greatest planticide (ecocide) of the century. The implications of this to Nigeria will be enormous. Many environmental groups around the world will mark Kano State red and we will lose good will that will last long and probably face sanctions.
It is sad that whenever you talk about ecology and environment or even cultural heritage, the government and its official and unofficial spoke persons will say they are bringing development to Kano thinking that building flyovers or structures is what development is all about as argued by Dr. Mahmud Abba of Geography Department, Bayero University Kano ‘Part of the genesis of this problem is our narrow perception of the concept of physical development. The authorities believe that to achieve physical development every available open space must be converted to building. Do they forget that every city in the world is made up of three major physical components namely; structures, networks and open spaces? Are they turning a blind eye on the numerous social and ecological services being provided by the zoo?’ In addition, the fallacy that building shops is development: Kano used to be the second major centre of industries and manufacturing in Nigeria, not any more. Without manufacturing Kano has become a dumping ground for manufactured goods from elsewhere. Building shops and malls will not develop the economy rather gradually weakens it. The emergence of malls, so-called plazas and super markets is in reality killing the local businessmen. Kwari market will in some years come become history. All the thousands of people employed there will lose their jobs. The malls owned by multi-nationals, politicians and big businessmen will takeover. As it has always been to the best of my knowledge, the State Government has no business with Kano business men except to collect taxes. So there will be no plan for the thousands that will lose their jobs.
The implications of relocation
The relocation of the Kano Zoo and Botanical Gardens is uncalled for as many people have argued because if we measure the costs and the benefits we will rather let it be. There are serious implications for the relocation. The implications include among others:
Reduced access: moving the zoo to about 75 kilometres away from Kano to Tiga, Bebeji Local Government, many prospective visitors will miss out. Majority of the visitors are school children and taking pupils to a 75 kilometres journey will not only be expensive to parents but also put the lives of our children in danger. This will deny millions of people the opportunity created by Audu Bako to see, learn and enjoy nature. No matter how much money the government will generate from the sale of the land, it can’t be compared to the damage it will cause and the lives of children that will be exposed to risk. The school children are the future of Kano not the new shops that will be constructed.
Loss of Biodiversity: hundred thousands of plants and animals species living in the area will be lost forever. Come to think of the thousands of trees, shrubs, grasses and insects that will be displaced just because someone wants to get money. Kano Zoo according to Dr. Mahmud Abba said is ‘a biodiversity hot spot, a repository of endangered plants and animals; the last biological sanctuary in the desert of humans and buildings.
Stress relief destruction: Many people used the park to release themselves from the daily stress they are experiencing as Dr Mahmud captures ‘The garden provides an avenue for relaxation to thousands of residents of the city. It is also a centre of social interaction amongst the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society thereby promoting cultural integration and social inclusion in the city’
Exposing people to new diseases: the destruction of the zoo may expose us to new zoonotic diseases that are thriving in the zoo. One way humans are exposed to new disease causing microbes is through the destruction natural habitats Diseases such as COVID-19 might have originated from the destruction of natural habitats.
Loss of clean air: the thousands of trees in the zoo cleans the air, consume all the industrial air emissions from Sharada Industrial Estate and gives a healthy atmosphere in that high density area thus reducing the risk of respiratory tract infections among the residents around the zoo area. Once the trees are gone, we will see rise in respiratory tract infections and other pollution-induced conditions. This will not only make the people sick but also add the cost of health care on the people and the government.
Flood control: the area also provides storm-water ecological service at the interface of the surrounding residential area for many years. Converting the area to other land uses will trigger incessant flood events which may lead to loss of lives and property in the surrounding area.
Exposing Kano to the dangers of Climate Change: A Biogeographer from Bayero University Kano, Dr. Muhammad Nuraddeen Danjuma has captured this implication aptly when he said ‘The Zoological Garden has been a major carbon sink in the Kano Metropolis. Interestingly, this characteristic green space constitutes about 24 genera and 14 families of various plants which primarily sink the terrestrial carbon generated by human activity free of charge. In absolute carbon terms, the protection of green space and specifically the avoidance of deforestation deliver the highest carbon saving tasks. Therefore rather than spending huge billions on carbon sequestration and addressing climate change, it is imperative to keep the protected area intact. In the era of ‘donor fatigue, dwindling revenues and nature fighting back, I am sure the Governor will think twice and save Kano from everlasting implications and risks associated with defamation of this iconic landscape. According to the 2018 World Air Quality Report, air quality in Kano contains an average mean PM 2.5 concentration of 53.4μg/m3 which is more than 5 times above the maximum limits recommended by the World Health Organization. I am sure should there be the likes of the Garden in the metropolis to play vital role is air purification; the widespread apparent rates of respiratory tract diseases might be decimated.’ This is a long term effect that will cost the people long after the incumbent government has gone.
Displacement of local traders: As earlier noted, the new shops that will be built there will displace other local shops that have thrived for years. This means, the new structures will be detrimental to the people living in the area.
Now, when you advise a government not to do one thing, it is only fair to give it options. For this reason, we wish to provide options to the State Government if indeed; it is after developing Kano State.
Let the Kano Zoo remain where it is, upgrade it to international standard since there is already plans for that.
If you must move the zoo, please let the place remain Kano Central Park, make another history by giving Kano what it deserves.
Leave the zoo in Kano emirate and let other emirates have its world class zoos, the proposed zoo at Tiga can serve Rano Emirate. We can have one each in Kano, Bichi and Gaya emirates.
I am calling on the head of the government in Kano to please let the zoo remain. I will refer to the prayers made by Dr. Danjuma who in his article wrote ‘Kano State is lucky to have such a religious man as their Governor. Sir, for being outstanding in success stories of Abuja City and most importantly an embodiment of Islam, this destruction to the ecosystem must not take place under your watch. Such misapplication of force to isolate and devastate the garden will only lead to large-scale environmental perturbations and crises’ This is on behalf of the 15 million inhabitants of Kano metropolis and the citizens of Kano yet unborn..
This write up is one of the many that have been published and one of the many concerns expressed privately and in public. Many feel that we are just wasting our precious time as the government will not listen. We have written a strong petition to the Kano State Government when they allocated the land near the city wall along BUK road, we have over 100 signatures (over 10 Professors) from the Universities in Kano but the government ignored us and continued. But this will not discourage us from admonishing the government. What we want to tell every citizen of Kano is that we as scholars have done our part. History will not be unfair to us and lump us with the onlookers. Allah will not hold us accountable for being silent. As for those who because of the meagre amount they will receive and those who are intoxicated with power, their legacy will haunt them and their lines for eternity and Allah will judge them. Finally, I want to draw the attention of all those in the helm of Kano affairs that in the end they will account to Allah for their actions.
Prof. Adamu PhD, teaches at Department of Geography, Bayero University, Kano.
Gov. Abba Kabir Walk the Talk
By Abdulmalik Suleiman
The ongoing rebuilding and remodeling of Kano metropolis have triggered a positive and interesting reactions among the residents and Nigerians.
Immediately the governor was swore-in few days ago, he didn’t waste time in formulating policies to adopt, he immediately commenced work by hitting the ground running, he made some key and vital appointment that very day, Secretary to the State Government, Chief of Staff, Chief Protocol, Chief Press Secretary and others.
Gov. Abba didn’t leave anybody in doubt about his readiness and preparedness to govern and once again to put Kano state on the track of development and growth after eight years of kleptomaniac, corrupt and disingenuous administration of former governor, Abdullahi Ganduge, a man of many controversy and frauds.
Already, the new governor has started fulfilling some of his campaign promises especially in area of education, which is one of the core values of Kwankwassiyya movement.
He has opened the over twenty (20) technical and vocational institutions of higher learning in the state that were shutdown by Gov. Ganduge for no other reason than pettiness just because they was established by former governor Kwankwaso.
Those institutions were established by Sen. Kwankwaso administration to train the youths for self reliance, create wealth and to reduce unemployment in the state in order to bring about sanity and security in the commercial city.
Another area that the governor hasn’t disappoint is the area of illegal structures on public areas. The new action pack governor has commence reclaiming and remodeling of the city, demolition is ongoing in this public area places that were sold or illegally taken and distributed to former governor Ganduge’s cronies.
The once beautiful and sprouling commercial city became an eyesour of itself, reserved area spaces including schools, prayer grounds, cemetery, even one time FIFA accredited Sani Abacha world stadium were all converted to plazas and shops.
Other areas he has touched or shown interest are hospitals, Water work, Transportation etc.
The claims by opposition that the humble and gentle governor is on a revenge mission is untrue but total false. The governor is only doing what the people of Kano state voted him to do, take back the public properties, reform education, creat job opportunities and reconstruct the entire state is in comatose.
One can simply say “No time to waste”: Abba ‘gets right to work’ After Inauguration. He has walk the talk in less than a week.
Kwankwaso has now proved many wrong especially the opposition of the choice of Abba as governor to lead the state at this material time.
History: List of dethroned, reinstated Kings/Emirs in Kano
Jamilu Uba Adamu
“History is an echo of the past in the future; a reflex from the future on the past” -Victor Hugo (1802-1885).
George Hegel adds, “we learn from history that we do not learn from history.”
Meanwhile, it was Karl Marx who said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. You don’t have to be a historian to be a student of history. Just Listen, observe and reflect.
Recently, I exactly did that with an elderly friend, an aristocrat, history buff and an author, Malam Adnan Bawa Bello.
Between Kano’s kingdoms indeed sultanate and now emirate there have been various vicissitudes, turbulent and uncertain moments, from the first-ever dethronement of Sarki Guguwa Dan Gijimasu in 1247-1290, down to Kano civil war (Yakin Basasa) from 1893-1895 and the British Conquest in 1903 and up to the recent dethronement of the Emir Sunusi II on 9th March, 2020 by the outgoing Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
The second Sarki to be deposed in Kano after the one literally named as “The Storm” was, Dakauta Dan Abdullahi Barja in 1452. He held sway over Kano for just a day.
Third, Sarki Atuma Dan Dakauta was also deposed. He reigned for only 2 days in the year 1452;
Sarki Yakubu Dan Kisoke was dethroned in 1565 after ruling over Kano for four months and 29 days. He was reinstated later but declined the offer.
Dauda Abasama was also dethroned in 1565 after ruling Kano for only 50 days.
The pious Sarki Abubakar Kado (1565-1773) to the legendary Sultan Muhammadu Rumfa was dethroned after ruling Kano for 8 years and five months only.
Sarki Alhaji Dan Kutumbi (1643-1649) was deposed and settled in exile at Danzaki village in Gezawa. Sarki Soyaki Dan Shekarau ruled for only three months and was sacked from the throne of his ancestors in 1652. Muhammad Kukuna who reigned from 1651-1652 (ruled for only one year) and dethroned, he was reinstated after one year, and ruled from 1653 to 1660.
After the dethronement in 1653, there was a relief and interval of 250 years of the dethronement of Sarki’s in Kano until 1903, when Sarkin Kano Alu Mai Sango was deposed by the British, consigned to Yola and later Lokoja where he died in the 1920s.
Again, in 1963 Sarkin Kano Sunusi I (1953-1962) was deposed. He was taken to Azare and later relocated to Wudil where he died in 1991.
With the current political trend in Kano and the swinging of the electoral pendulum there are expectedly a fundamental question: would the Sarki Yakubu Dan Kisoke or the Sarki Kukuna Dan Alhaji scenario repeat itself in Kano?
Both were dethroned, the former was later was offered and asked to return he declined, while the latter was returned and reinstated.
Lest we forget as pundits of American politics would say, “Roosevelt proved that a man could be president forever. Truman proved that any man could be president. Eisenhower proved that we didn’t need a president at all.”
Heads or tail, no doubt one of the above scenarios may likely repeat itself in Kano.
Listen, observe and reflect.
Jamilu Uba Adamu
can be reached via 0803 320 8489
Salat: The Distinction Between Muslim And Non-Muslim
By Imam Murtadha Gusau
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
All praise be to Allah and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him). I bear witness that there is no god but Allah alone who has no partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger.
Dear brothers and sisters, know that Islam dignified Salat (Prayer) and raised its status as the greatest pillar of Islam after the Kalimatush Shahadah (Testimony of Faith). Ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Islam is based on (the following) five (principles): 1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger. 2. To perform the (compulsory congregational) Salat dutifully and perfectly. 3. To pay Zakah (i.e. obligatory charity). 4. To perform Hajj. (i.e. Pilgrimage to Makkah) 5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
Dear servants of Allah, Salat (Prayer) is the major form of worship that a Muslim offers five times a day regularly. It is an obligation upon a Muslim and a Muslim is to offer no excuse when it comes to offering Salat. The offering of Salat in addition to representing the submission of Muslims to their Lord also has other benefits as well which are highly cherished by every Muslim.
The establishment of Salat is one of the major topics upon which Qur’an has emphasised more than anything else. In the Noble Qur’an Allah Almighty has stressed upon Muslims to learn to offer Salat regularly and with mentions of offering Salat Allah has also mentioned its benefits with it as well.
Although there is no constraint upon a Muslim on how to invoke Allah Almighty, however, Salat (prayer) is the preferred means of doing so as when a person worships Allah he or she develops a connection with Allah and any invocation within that or after that connection is bound to be accepted by Allah more compared to invocation done in any other circumstance. In the Noble Qur’an, Allah Almighty says:
“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and Salat (prayer). Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” [Qur’an, 2:153]
Therefore, a Muslim must use Salats (prayers) as a means of invocation and ask Allah Almighty for help and assistance in any difficulty or worry.
Piety (Taqwah) or righteousness is the prime objective which a Muslim has to achieve in this life. All the instructions, constraints, freedom, rights and education provided by Islam are with the objective that a Muslim becomes pious and moves on the righteous path. In this regard, Salat (prayer) has a great role to play as it promotes Taqwah or piety in the follower. In the Noble Qur’an, Allah Almighty says:
“This is the Book in which there is no doubt, a guidance for those who have Taqwah: who believe in the unseen, and who establish Salat, and spend out of what we have provided for them.” [Qur’an, 2:2-3]
Therefore, in addition to giving charity and believing in the unseen, a Muslim must also establish Salat in order to move towards Taqwah (piety).
Every deed, whether good or bad that a Muslim undertakes in this life, he or she will have to be answerable for it in the afterlife. Although all the deeds get rewarded in the afterlife, however, the actual reward of Salat will truly be realised in the afterlife when Allah Almighty will shower special blessings on that person. In the Noble Qur’an, Allah Almighty says:
“Indeed, those who believe and do righteous deeds and establish Salat (prayer) and give Zakah will have their reward with their Lord, and there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.” [Qur’an, 2:277]
Therefore, Salat (prayer) is not something that ends in this world, rather the real reward of it will come to surface in the afterlife.
Muslims who realise that Allah Almighty is their Lord and the Giver of everything, they try to develop a relation with Him and wish to stay connected with Him as much as possible so that their relation grows strong. Salat (prayer) can effectively help in achieving so, as Allah says in Qur’an:
“And when you have completed the Salat (prayer), remember Allah standing, sitting, or [lying] on your sides. But when you become secure, re-establish [regular] prayer. Indeed, prayer has been decreed upon the believers a decree of specified times.” [Qur’an, 4:103]
Therefore, performing Salats (prayers) is a means of developing a connection with Allah Almighty and when a Muslim does so five times a day, then the consequent relationship is to naturally grow strong.
Respected Muslim brothers and sisters, shaitan (satan) is an open enemy of believers and all what he tries is to make people go stray from the path of righteousness and go down in the path of oblivion and darkness. Shaitan (Satan) tries to tempt a person in all the possible ways and when a person once listens to him, he gradually lures him or her down further into the pit of darkness. Therefore, seeking protection from shaitan (satan) is also imperative for a Muslim. In the Noble Qur’an Allah Almighty says:
“Shaitan (Satan) only wants to cause between you animosity and hatred through intoxicants and gambling and to avert you from the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. So will you not desist?” [Qur’an, 5:91]
Therefore, not offering prayer is actually falling into the prey of shaitan (satan), whereas those who try to offer and establish prayer are actually resisting his temptation and when these temptations are resisted for long the result is one not falling prey to shaitan (satan) ever again on any forefront.
In life, a Muslim gets exposed to all sorts of environments and people, all of which have a direct impact on the personality of the person. There is no denying the fact that the current plight of the people of the world is miserable where they are more prone towards ills and lewdness compared to goodness, thus if a Muslim starts being like other people, he or she goes down the road of darkness. Thus, in order to prevent one’s self from all the lewdness that is common in the world of today, a Muslim must find refuge in Salat (prayer) as it will help in combating lewdness, as Allah Almighty says in the Noble Qur’an:
“Recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish Salat (prayer). Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, and the remembrance of Allah is greater. And Allah knows that which you do.” [Qur’an, 29:45]
Therefore, a Muslim must consider Salat (prayer) as an effective weapon when it comes to fighting lewdness and evils of all sorts.
Respected brothers and sisters, Salat (prayer) is an act of worship. It is not a custom. It is not a ritual. It is very special. It has no equal. It has no alternative. There are no excuses, even when you are ill, on a journey or even in a war.
Salat (prayer) is the second and most important pillar of Islam. Salat is a practical sign of obedience to the commands of Allah Almighty. It is the practical proof of our faith (Iman) in Allah and Islam.
Salat is the only distinction between a Muslim and a non-Muslim. Salat reminds you of Allah Almighty, when you get up in the morning, it reminds you three more times when you are busy during the day, and once again before you go to bed.
Salat (prayer) is a direct contact or link between the worshipper and Allah Almighty with no earthly intermediaries. It is the Mi’raj of a believer.
Salat builds a strong defense against evils which exist around us. It is said in the Noble Qur’an that, surely, Salat keeps you away from indecency and evil. This is why the prayer is described as “remembrance” to Allah Almighty.
Salat (prayer) wipes out our sins. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) once asked his companions: “Tell me if there was a river at the door step of one of you in which you washed 5 times a day would any of your dirt remain?” When he received the reply that none of it would remain he then said “That is like the 5 times Salat, with which Allah Almighty wipes out sins.
Salat (prayer) was the last will of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). As his soul departed he said with his last breaths: As-Salah, As-Salah (Prayer, Prayer).
Salat is the first thing that a person is judged by on the Day of Judgement. If it was good, the rest of all his deeds will be good. But if it was poor, the rest of all his deeds will be poor.
This narration sets a clear declaration as to how we will be judged on the Day of Judgement. We are given a clear message: [get your Salat in good order, and it will take care of the rest… Lose your Salat, and you are in big trouble]; Very simple message, but very powerful, and very direct.
That is how important Salat (prayer) is. It was the first command in Islam, it was the last will of the Prophet (Peace be upon him), and it is the first act that we will be judged by on the Day of Judgement. Therefore, we need to know why it is so important, and how can we uplift our prayers and make our Salat in the manner that will give us the reward in this life and in the hereafter.
The knots “in the rope of Islam” will be undone one by one. Every time a knot is undone, people will adhere strongly to the next. (By undone, we understand that people no longer act by this aspect of Islam). The first knot to be undone is living by the law of Islam, and the last to be undone is Salat. What we take from this Hadith, is that when a Muslim community gives up Salat, it will be the last act in giving up their Islam. We have seen this happening across the world and across the generations. This is also why we see that when a Muslim community wants to hold on to Islam, and wants to be recognised as faithful, people make that extra effort to return to Salat.
In this society, we can look at Salat in Islam as our last line of defence. We hold on to it, we preserve ourselves as Muslims, and Allah willing, we preserve our children and their children and so on, as Muslims. If we lose Salat, Allah forbid, we lose everything, in this life and in the hereafter. That is truly a disaster.
This is what the Noble Qur’an says about those communities who gave up their Salat:
“[But after them there followed future generations who lost the Salats (prayers) and followed after lusts. Soon, then, will they face destruction].” [Qur’an, 19: 59]
The following are just a few more verses from the Noble Qur’an to cast away any further doubts about the rule of establishing Salat in Islam. Allah Almighty says:
“[And establish regular prayer and give Zakah and obey the Messenger, that you may receive mercy].” [Qur’an, 24: 56]
“[And be steadfast in prayer; give Zakah and bow down your heads with those who bow down ‘in worship].” [Qur’an, 2: 43]
“[They are those who, if We establish them in the land, establish regular prayer and give Zakah, enjoin the right and forbid the wrong. With Allah rests the end (and decision) of (all) affairs].” [Qur’an, 22: 41]
Dear brothers and sisters, there should be no doubt in our minds and hearts about the need to establish regular Salats (prayers). It is vital for our present community, and it is vital for our future generations.
We cannot instil in our children the need to establish regular prayers if we do not act as an example. We cannot understate this point. We have to act as an example to our children. We are asked to encourage our children by age seven, and we are asked to enforce prayers by age ten. There is no doubt as to what the instructions are. We are responsible for our children. We may feel happy that we have been able to establish regular prayers ourselves, and that we have preserved Islam in our community for this generation, but what about the next, and what about the one after. There is no room for leniency here, and we need to be very vigilant. Indeed, there is a Hadith that states that between the person and Kufr (wilfully renouncing Allah) is abandoning Salat (prayer) on purpose. This was narrated by Muslim and by Ahmad, and it is also agreed by the Sahabah (Prophet’s Companions).
Respected servants of Allah, Islam encourages the Congregational prayers (Jama’ah prayers). In an agreed Hadith, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) states that the Jama’ah prayers (Congregational prayers) is worth 27 times the prayers of a person by himself. There is always more reward when we pray together.
In another Hadith, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) states that the prayer of the man in Jama’ah is worth 25 times his prayers alone. When he performs good ablution, and leaves his house for the sole purpose of prayers, with every step he takes his status is uplifted, and a sin is forgiven. As he prays, the angels will continue praying for him, saying, Allah bless him and Allah forgive him, until he finishes his Salat. This is the reward for establishing Congregational prayers (Jama’ah prayers).
In another Hadith, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) mentions that if three Muslims are present in a community, they need to establish Jama’ah prayers, or shaitan (satan) will get to them, as we are weakened by being separate, and strengthened by the Jama’ah.
In fact, establishing Congregational prayers (Jama’ah prayers) is a definite Sunnah, to the extent that we are informed in another Hadith, that if we leave the Jama’ah prayers, we are actually abandoning an established Sunnah of the Prophet (Peace be upon him).
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said who ever attends the Mosque and returns, Allah prepares for him paradise on every occasion he attends and leaves. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) also says when you witness a person that regularly attends to the Mosque for prayers it is a testimony of his faith (Iman). Allah Almighty says:
“[The Mosques of Allah shall be visited and maintained by those who believe in Allah and the Last day, and establish regular prayer].” [Qur’an, 9: 18]
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said; Shall I guide you to what wipes away the sins and lifts up your status.
The Mosque is the home of every pious person. Allah will look after this person with mercy and guides him along the straight path to paradise.
Dear brothers and sisters, we all know that Salat (prayer) is compulsory, but even with this pillar there are important issues that we need to address.
The most important for us, for the community in anywhere, is that we should encourage ourselves to attend the Mosque for Jama’ah prayers more and more. Not just the Juma’ah prayers, but for most Jama’ah prayers if we can.
There is a great reward when Salat is offered in Jama’ah.
Salat gives us both Worldly and Spiritual benefits. In the congregation, rich and poor, high and low, all stand shoulder to shoulder. It is the best scene of mankind’s equality.
In this Salat all have one intention (Niyyah), one language and identical actions. All kneel together, all go to Sajdah together.
This teaches us the lesson that we, as Muslims, should be united at all times.
People meet with one another in the Congregational prayer (Jama’ah Salah). They know the hardships and worries of one another and try to help each other. New things are known there. Mutual love develops. Circle of friendship is widened. We get an opportunity to perfect our life in the light of others experiences.
While offering Salat in Jama’ah we stand in rows, follow the Imam of Jama’ah and practice obedience to Allah, this forces discipline in us, which is the essential feature of a community’s life.
Our Mosques remain thriving – due to Salat in Jama’ah. It enhances the prestige of Muslims, and the Unity of Muslims affects greatly the enemies.
Allah has put a big reward for Congregational prayer (Jama’ah Salah). Our beloved Prophet (Peace be upon him) has laid great emphasis on Jama’ah Salah.
Therefore we should offer Jama’ah Salah as often as possible. We should also know that if there are more than 10 people in Jama’ah, then nobody can estimate its limitless reward except Allah.
My last point is that we must all strive to maintain and protect our Mosque, for it is this establishment that will hopefully look after our children and their children. Please invest in the Mosque, both financially and with your efforts. This is where our community starts, and this is where we maintain our faith (Iman).
In a nutshell, those who learn and read Qur’an on regular basis are familiar with the importance of Salat (prayer) and how strongly has Allah Almighty emphasised on it and explained its importance to the people in the Noble Qur’an. A Muslim must realise that above anything, Salat is an obligation and every Muslim has to fulfill his or her obligation.
Lastly, I ask Allah, the Most High to grant us success and enable us to be correct in what we say and write.
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all creation; may Allah extol the mention of our noble Prophet Muhammad in the highest company of Angels, bless him and give him peace and security―and his family, his Companions and all those who follow him correctly and sincerely until the establishment of the Hour.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: email@example.com or +2348038289761.
This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Shawwal 29, 1444 AH (May 19, 2023)
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