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Leadership question and the issue of Nigeria’s national unity

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Tanko Yakasai

Tanko Yakasai OFR

In December 2016, a lecture was organised in Kano to celebrate my 90th birthday. By then, it was a practice to celebrate the annual events of my birthday with public lectures. But since 2016, due to the cumbersome nature of organising such events, the annual celebration was suspended.

Instructively, however, at the celebration of my 90th birthday, my namesake Salihu, whom I mentioned in my autobiography, pointed out a mistake regarding the year we were born. Salihu is older than me by 40 days. He said we were born during the reign of Emir of Kano, Usman Dan Majekarofi in 1925 and not during the reign of Emir Abdullahi Bayero. He revealed that not only his parents told him so but also his school record in Shahuchi elementary school, confirmed that. This revelation encouraged me to investigate further in order to find out how the mistake regarding my date of birth came about.

My actual date of birth

To this end, the year of my first marriage served as the starting point. As I recorded in my autobiography, I first got married in 1945 which was the year the Second World War ended. I know for a fact that I had my first marriage at the age of 20. Furthermore, I also know that l married on the same day with Sabo Dan Galadiman Tanagar. He was blessed with a child in early 1946 and his personal records corroborated my account regarding the day of our marriage. These facts confirmed to me that the year of my birth was 1925 and not 1926. With this confirmation, my birthday records have been corrected accordingly.

I am very thankful to Almighty Allah for giving me a rare opportunity to once again witness another circle of celebrating my birthday anniversary. Previously, guest speakers were invited to speak at the anniversary. This year, it is very difficult to organize such gatherings mainly due to the global pandemic of Covid-19, and the laid down protocols of social distancing. Therefore, I decided to use this year’s occasion to address burning national issues. Accordingly, I picked what I consider important national issues that kept eluding the country for decades. These issues have over the years generated endless and often misleading debates; two of which are constitutional amendments and national population census.

Yoruba’s claim of inadequacy of 1999 constitution is inaccurate

It may be recalled that on the 11th of September, 2020, the Yoruba Summit Group held a meeting in Lagos and undertook an in-depth review of the State of Nigeria in relation to the interests and aspirations of the Yoruba Nation. At the end of that meeting, they issued a communique in which they stated their positions on some national issues, such as Constitutional Amendment, Census, and the National Waterways Bill (the latter being currently debated at the National Assembly), among others. It is in the light of this that I wish to use this occasion to highlight several key facts which could shed some light on the issues raised in the communique, starting with the constitutional review, which is also currently ongoing at the National Assembly.

The Yoruba Summit Group called for the jettisoning of the 1999 Constitution which they called “fatally flawed” on the excuse that the Constitution was a product of a military decree with imbalances that can stunt the aspirations of many ethnic groups, especially the Southwest zone.

To address this issue, let’s delve briefly into our recent history, especially how the General Abdulsalam Abubakar’s regime came up with the 1999 constitution. We can recall that on coming to power, he set up a Constitutional Review Committee headed by late Honorable Justice Niki Tobi of the Supreme Court, who hailed from the South-South. The Committee, after touring the country stated in its report that based on the memorandums received, the majority of people in Nigeria were not in support of a full scale constitutional conference.The Committee, therefore, decided to limit its recommendation to matters relating to updating the 1979 Constitution in the following key areas:
a. Additional number of states which were 19 in 1979 to 36 in 1999;
b. The Federal Character, including the creation of Federal Character Commission; and
c. Matters related to increase in population, among other issues

However, after concluding its work, nothing major was amended, removed or added to the 1979 Constitution by the committee. After the promulgation of the amended constitution, Thisday Newspaper commissioned its 3 senior editorial staff to undertake a comparison between the two constitutions. At the end of the exercise, Simon Kolawale who was among the 3 editors, published a report which he tagged “This Thing Called 1999 Constitution.” He observed that his team conducted a page by page analysis of the two constitutions and concluded that, except for the items updated above, the 1979 and 1999 Constitutions are the same, almost line by line.

The main take home is that the current 1999 Constitution was an updated version of the 1979 constitution, which was drafted with the full participation of elected and nominated individuals representing different segments of the country. It also benefitted from the endorsement of our known national leaders of the major ethnic groups, regions and political opinions of the country, including:
a. Dr Nnamdi Azikwe of the NCNC in the First Republic and NPP leader in 1979;
b. Chief Obafemi Awolowo of the Action Group (AG) in the First Republic and UPN during Second Republic;
c. Malam Aminu Kano of the Northern Elements Progressive Union (NEPU) during the First Republic and PRP in 1979;
d. Comrade Waziri Ibrahim of NPC and Great Nigerian People Party (GNPP) in 1979.
e. Chief Joseph Tarka of UMBC of First Republic and NPN in 1979.
f. Chief Harold Dappa Bitiye and Chief Milford Okilo of Nigeria Delta Congress (NDC) of First Republic and NPN in 1979.

It is also interesting to note that these leaders who represented different geopolitical zones of the country endorsed the Constitution and virtually all of them contested elections under the 1979 Constitutions which was a product of military decree. Among our founding political fathers only Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Sir Ahmadu Bello the Sardauna of Sokoto who were not alive in 1979. Therefore, it is inaccurate for the Yoruba Summit Group to claim that the 1999 Constitution is “fatally flawed” on the ground that the Constitution was the product of military decree.

Politics of population

The second important issue of concern is the national population census. The Yoruba Summit Group and other people mainly from Southern Nigeria have disputed Nigeria’s national census figures. They obtrusively argued that the North was unduly favoured by the British in the conduct of national population census. On this too, let’s go down the memory lane, beginning with the first population census that was conducted in 1911, which predated the 1914 amalgamation. The first census conducted in Nigeria was in 1911. In that exercise, the British could not carry out the exercise across the two protectorates simultaneously due to lack of funds and logistical challenges. Therefore, they used the number of tax payers to determine the populations of the protectorates. The same method was applied in the 1921, and 1931 census exercises. In 1941 the census was not conducted due to the Second World War until 1952 and 1953. All these censuses conducted before the Independence, on the average, showed the North had 54% and the South had 46% of the total population.

For example, the total estimated population in 1911 was 18.72 million where the northern and Southern Provinces having 10 million and 8.16 million respectively. Futhermore, the 1921 census indicated a total of 10.26m for the North, which is 55.10%, while 8.37m for the South which represent 44.90% with a total figure of 18.63m. Similarly, in 1931 the total figure was 19.9 million; the North had 11.43 million and the South had 8.4 Million. In 1952 and 1953 when the first actual enumeration across the country was conducted, the total population was 31.1million. The North had 16.8million (54%) and the South 14.3million (46%) of the total population. It is important to note that the pre-independence censuses during the colonial era were initially for reasons of tax collection. The issues of revenue allocation and representation based on population was only introduced after independence. As such, the North had no basis or influence to tilt the percentage of their population in its favour. The colonial powers did not equally have any basis to favour the North in the census because in 1911 there was no entity called Nigeria.

After Independence, censuses were carried out in 1963, 1973, 1991 and then 2006. It is worth noting that the 1963 was eventually cancelled because of the dispute between the Eastern region and the Western regions, largely due to claim of irregularities made by the government of the eastern region in the discovery of some villages in the east which were not counted. This was objected to by the government of the western region. Eventually, the matter was resolved and another headcount was conducted in 1963 which was generally accepted and adopted.

Table 1: Summary of Population Census in Nigeria: 1911-2006
YEAR NORTH SOUTH
1911 55.00% 45.00%
1921 55.10% 44.90%
1931. 57.40 % 42.60%
1952 54.55% 45.45%
1962 56.77% 43.23%
1963 53.51% 46.49%
1973 64.99% 35.01%
1991 51.85% 48.15%
2006 53.59% 46.41%

Source: National Population Commission

Worthy of emphasis here is that during the pre-independence period, women in the North were not counted in the census exercises. This was because the headcount, at that time, was based on taxation, and northern women were not eligible tax payers, unlike their counterpart in the South who paid taxes and were therefore enumerated accordingly. Women taxation from the South led to the Onitsha women riot during 1953 census who felt that their numbers were unjustly increased as an excuse to pay more tax. It is therefore logical that the population of North, which consistently remain over 50% of the population prior to independence, would naturally increase when women were included in the post-independence censuses.

From the 1951 general election up to 1959, representation in government was introduced. The appointment of ministers were based on regional representation. At that period, the entire North had only 4 ministers, whereas the South had a total of 9; 4 from the west, 4 from the east and 1 from Southern Cameroons. It could therefore be argued that due to the non-inclusion of women in the census, the North was shortchanged on the appointment of ministers at the national level throughout the period of colonial administration.

Based on the above reality, it is clear that any claim by any group or individual that the North was being unduly favoured by the British on the issue of population is not supported by facts or history.

The third issue raised by the Yoruba Summit Group and others is the claim that Lagos and Kano have almost the same population but Lagos has 20 local governments while Kano has 44. Therefore they insisted that Kano was unduly favoured in the creation of local governments. In this regard, it is important to appreciate that local government creation was not based on population alone but it is also based on landmass as well. This is the reason why Kano with a landmass of 20,131 square kilometers has more local governments than Lagos which has just 3,345 square kilometers.

Arising from the above issues which continued to generate heated debates and ill-feeling, I’m very much concerned as an elder. What I found very disturbing is that such utterances are directed against the unity of our country. Such narratives resembled that of some political leaders way back in 1953 when a member of the defunct Action Group Party introduced a motion in the House of Representatives, asking Britain to grant independence to Nigeria by 1956. Another Northern member of the House proposed an amendment to the motion by changing 1956 to as soon as practicable. This was because as at 1953, the entire Northern Region, which had 75% of Nigeria’s landmass and about 55% of the country’s population, had only one graduate, Dr R.A.B Dikko. At the same time, the South had thousands of graduates from different fields of expertise including law, engineering, medicine, administration, social sciences, etc. with about 90% of the public services manpower in the North were made up of expatriates or Nigerians from the southern part of the country. Action Group leaders rejected the compromise proposed by the northern legislator in order to enable the north prepare itself for independence. This is because if Nigeria was granted independence by 1956, the North would be under the control of the civil servants from the South, a situation that will put the North under perpetual domination of the South, particularly people from the Western Region, which had the preponderance of the public servants at the time. Such a scenario would have been a perpetual source of tension which would not auger well for the future stability of the nation. That seems to be the origin of the hostility of some Action Group supporters against the North till date. It is my humble submission that the remnant of such predispositions should discouraged.

Recently, I read an online post of the number of billionaires in Nigeria with about 80% of them from the southern part of the country. Similarly, it is on record that the level of poverty index and unemployment are negligible in the South compared to the North which has over 65% of the Nigerian poor people. This has clearly demonstrated that our compatriots from the South benefited more from the Nigerian State than the north. Yet, the north never complains against this disparity even though many of the national endowments are located in the north.

Perhaps, the reason why northerners do not bother about the skewness in the national prosperity is their awareness that human resources and land are key important factors that make a nation great. So, with better education, social re-orientation, effective leadership and good governance, it is only a matter of time before they will catch up with their compatriots from the South. I recall that sixty years ago, when I visited the People’s Republic of China, the country was almost at the same level of development as Nigeria today. However, today China is next to the United States of America in terms of economic development and other areas of human endeavours.

Therefore, there is no gainsaying that Nigeria is endowed with human and material resources that can effectively be harnessed to bring faster growth and development for the benefit of all. Limited opportunity for growth and shrinking opportunities naturally fuel tension and decent. What we need are committed, competence and effective leaders to take the country to the Promised Land. To this end, only a strong political party equipped with vision, agenda for national development and effective process can provide the required leadership. It is therefore necessary to have credible and focused political parties that will be guided by their manifestos and will be willing to implement people’s oriented developmental programmes.

The Action Group was one of the parties that could have provided such a platform if it were able to convince Nigerians that it was for the welfare of every segment of the country. Unfortunately, the leaders of both Action Group and its successor, UPN mainly committed themselves to the interest of the Yoruba people, to the exclusion of the rest of the country. Prominent Northerners who joined the Action Group and UPN were given senior positions in the leadership of those parties but were shabbily treated and eventually they silently abandoned the parties. Such prominent northerners with such experiences include, Abba Maikwaru, Malam Ibrahim Imam, Hon. Muhammadu Basharu, Malam Jamo Funtua, J. S. Tarka, Chia Surma, Patrick Dokotri, Sen. Ibrahim Dimis, Jonah Assadugu, Malam Yabagi Bidda, Alh Maito of Ilorin, Sen Abaagu from Benue, Malam Maiyaqi from Southern Zaria, Malam Haruna Wakilin Doka from Sokoto, Mr Philip Maken from Ganye, Peter Gawon, senior brother of our former head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon and Malama Ladi ‘Yartakarda.

It is gladdening to note that today the remnant of Action Group and UPN leadership from Yoruba land are now part of our endangered species. There were many south westerners with total commitment to unity and progress of Nigeria in other political grouping such as the NCNC, NPN, and alike. Today, such southerners with national orientation are gradually evolving and must be encouraged.

While thanking Almighty God for his gift of life to us, it is incumbent on leaders and opinion holders to avoid engaging in divisive tendencies and explore avenues to ensure a peaceful, united and prosperous country. The North can and should encourage movement towards creating a better united Nigeria by reaching out to other regions and also demonstrating good governance and better capacity for managing the multiplicity and often conflicting national and regional interests. Indeed, the North must continue to search for people with the right vision, capacity and predisposition to represent the region in the national space while making concerted efforts to reduce the self-inflicted poverty and unemployment currently ravaging the region. By so doing, the South would clearly appreciate the strategic contribution of the North to national growth, stability and prosperity.

Thank you and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

Tanko Yakasai OFR, is Nigeria’s elder statesman based in Kano.

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Opinion

Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Cities: It’s housing and more

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By Abdulaziz Abdulaziz

 

Penultimate Thursday at Karsana, a suburb of Abuja, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu performed the groundbreaking ceremony of the pilot phase of his ambitious housing project tagged Renewed Hope Cities and Estates Development Programme. Under the first phase of the scheme, 50,000 units of houses are planned to be delivered to Nigerians across the 36 states and the FCT by the end of 2024. Aside the site for the 3,112 which is opened, similar construction sites are active in 12 states around the nation. Subsequently more sites will be activated for the simultaneous mass housing project across the country.

The intention, as the President himself said at the groundbreaking ceremony, is to turn Nigeria into a large construction site with the attendant massive job creation and wealth redistribution. This ambitious project would certainly place the Tinubu administration in a prime spot when the history of mass housing in Nigeria is written.

Formal intervention in the housing sector in Nigeria has a long history dating back to the outbreak of the bubonic plaque in Lagos in 1928.Moving forward, the entire official development plan documents in Nigeria, including the four National Development Plans (1962-1984), had recognized the need for increasing the housing stock in Nigeria, as well as, the need for affordable houses. Despite the work at the policy level, Nigeria has continued to face a significant housing deficit, with millions of its citizens lacking adequate and affordable housing. By 2018 the housing deficit was estimated to be about 17-20 million units. While this deficit poses serious social problem, it also hampers economic development and gets complicated with every passing day (read, every birth!).

It is with this realisation that the then APC candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu laid out his vision for the mortgage and housing sector in his elaborate campaign manifesto. The concept is hinged on his longstanding understanding of the economic development and social justice nexus of housing development.

President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope City housing projects offers a tangible step at building dynamic, integrated, and self-sustaining communities, equipped with amenities to enhance the quality of living for residents, especially the targeted low-income earners.

Speaking on the determination of his administration to ensure that Nigeria’s housing deficit is bridged, the President said he is determined to face the housing challenge bedeviling the nation with the boldness and urgency that it requires.

“We aim to promote Public Private Partnership (PPP) collaborations that attract domestic, foreign, and diaspora investments. We also aim to design and implement incentive schemes, boost our capital market while enhancing the governance and risk management frameworks to ensure their stability, transparency and integrity.

“We are resolved to facing the housing challenge with the clarity of purpose and determination that is required to break all the barriers that stand in our way of success. That is why I took the historic decision of separating the Federal Ministry of Housing and Urban Development from Works so it can be fully aligned towards tackling the nation’s massive housing problem. That is also why I have appointed experienced professionals with proven track records of delivering in the housing sector to lead the Ministry,” President Tinubu had said.

These low-cost urban housing projects offer a promising solution to address both the housing shortage and stimulate economic growth. While providing affordable housing options, these projects are creating jobs, enhancing living standards, and hold the potential to catalyze economic activities nationwide.

Development economists say low-cost urban housing projects have the potential to stimulate economic growth through multiple channels. Firstly, by increasing access to affordable housing, these projects enhance household welfare and disposable income. When families spend less on housing, they have more resources to allocate towards education, healthcare, and other essential needs, thereby contributing to poverty reduction and human capital development. Moreover, improved housing conditions lead to better health outcomes, reducing healthcare costs and boosting productivity.

One of the significant benefits of low-cost urban housing projects is their potential to generate employment opportunities. The construction sector is a major driver of employment and economic growth in many countries. By investing in housing projects, Nigeria can create jobs across various stages of the construction value chain, including design, engineering, manufacturing, and site management. Moreover, these projects require skilled and unskilled labor, offering employment opportunities to a diverse workforce. The multiplier effect of job creation in the construction sector extends to other industries, such

as manufacturing, transportation, and retail, further stimulating economic activity. The project designers estimated that every single house will provide 25 direct and indirect jobs. So, the 20,000 housing units planned for the Federal Capital Territory alone will create 500,000 jobs.

These Renewed Hope Cities initiative present a viable strategy to address Nigeria’s housing deficit. These projects focus on providing affordable housing solutions that cater to the needs of low-income earners. By leveraging innovative construction techniques, cost-effective materials, and sustainable designs, these projects aim to deliver quality housing at affordable prices. Moreover, they will foster inclusive development, ensuring that those in the lower wrung of the social cadre, especially workers across Nigeria have access to decent housing options.

The initiative is also attracting private investment and will spur real estate development. As the demand for housing grows, developers and investors are incentivized to participate in the market, leading to increased construction activity and property transactions. This influx of investment not only creates jobs but also stimulates demand for ancillary goods and services, such as furniture, appliances, and utilities. Additionally, improved infrastructure associated with housing projects, such as roads, water supply, and sanitation facilities, enhances the overall urban environment and attracts further investment.

Closing the housing deficit in Nigeria and stimulating economic growth through the Renewed Hope City housing project is a major tick in President Tinubu’s wish list and campaign promises. But like all big ticket projects, filling the gaping hole in our housing need is a multifaceted endeavor that requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders, especially mortgage institutions and developers

President Tinubu has taken a big leap in this regard and with innovation, collaboration, sustained commitment, right policies and investments, Nigeria will unlock the full potential of low-cost urban housing projects to build a more prosperous and inclusive society.

 

Abdulaziz, Senior Special Assistant to President Tinubu on Print Media, writes from Abuja.

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Opinion

N24 billion Hajj subsidy: The facts behind the twisted story

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Hajj

By Ibrahim Muhammed

 

“Just because something isn’t a lie does not mean that it isn’t deceptive. A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction.”
― Criss Jami

Curiosity got a better part of me after reading a story published by Punch Newspaper titled “NAHCON Denies 24 billion Naira Hajj Subsidy”

I immediately began to make inquiries to know the facts behind the obvious sentiment-induced headlines. First, the newspapers deliberately take advantage of people’s malaise by reading full stories with such a screaming headline about the Federal Government approving N24 Billion to Nigeria Muslim Pilgrims for Hajj.

First and as buried inside the Punch Story, the approval is a payment meant to settle 2023 Hajj Airlifts liabilities. It is not a Hajj subsidy but rather an outstanding payment to 2023 Hajj Air carriers due to differentials in the exchange rate approved when the airlift contract was signed and when the last trench of payment was due.

Before the 2023 Hajj, The Federal Government had approved an exchange rate of N460 to a dollar for Nigerian pilgrims. The 2023 Hajj fare including the Air ticket was then computed based on the approved exchange rate. When it was time for payment of airfare to airliners, the exchange rate rose to N750 to a dollar after the Government floated the forex. The then CBN Governor refused to pay the airliners because the dollar had increased to N750 to a dollar as against the N460 to a dollar earlier approved before the 2023 hajj.

The question is this: who is to settle the airliner’s differences because the 2023 hajj pilgrims had paid their Hajj fare based on a government-approved exchange rate and had returned home after performing the hajj?

The then NAHCON board had insisted that CBN should honor the discount and fill in the gaps. It is an issue that has been in the public domain. The airlines’ money kept hanging for long. After a series of arguments and reconciliation, this present administration accepts to pay the airliners the dollar equivalent of what is obtained in their contractual agreement with NAHCON before 2023 hajj.

It is important to understand that Nigerian Hajj Pilgrims have paid for the naira equivalent then. So, what is the underlying motive behind the screaming headline that the Government of President Ahmed Tinubu has approved the sum of N24 Billion naira for Nigeria’s Hajj pilgrims? The said N24 Billion is the differential between the approved dollar rate then and the current dollar rates.

Commendably, Tinubu’s government was magnanimous in settling the former agreement that was entered before the commencement of the 2023 Hajj. Leaking Government documents to activate religious sentiments and biases will serve no one good.

The newspaper reports also said NAHCON denied the approval which is another issue of twisted story. It reported that the Deputy Director said he was not aware of such information and that the Chairman of NAHCON will address the press on the issue. That is not a denial by NAHCON.

We should be wary of half-truths and twisted stories.

Muhammed is the
National Coordinator
Independent Hajj Reporters
08037024356.

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Opinion

Friday Sermon: Islam, Christianity strongly denounced same-sex relationship, bisexuality!

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Imam Murtadha Gusau

 

In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

 

All Praise is due to Allah, We praise Him and we seek help from Him. We ask forgiveness from Him. We repent to Him; and we seek refuge in Him from our own evils and our own bad deeds. Anyone who is guided by Allah is indeed guided; and anyone who has been left astray, will find no one to guide him. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, the Only One without any partner; and I bear witness that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is His servant and His Messenger.

 

Dear brothers and sisters! Islam’s teaching about homosexuality is referred to in a story found in the Qur’an. This is the story of the Prophet Lut (may Allah’s peace be upon him), who criticised the men of his town for their homosexual practices. Allah the Almighty stated:

 

“And remember Lot (Lut) when he said to his people: ‘Do you commit the worst sin such as none before you have committed among creation? Indeed, you practise your lusts on men instead of women. Nay, but you are a people transgressing beyond bounds.’” [Qur’an, 7:80-81]

 

Some people today (who engage in, or justify same-sex relationships) have tried to claim that the prohibition (in the Qur’anic verse above) refers to non-consensual sex between homosexuals. Others assert it refers to homosexual relationships outside of marriage. Both of these views clearly contradict this Qur’anic verse because Allah the Almighty stated:

 

“Indeed, you practise your lusts on men instead of women.”

 

If the Qur’anic verse was referring to homosexual rape (or non-consensual sex), then that is equally forbidden against women. However, Allah the Almighty (in this Qur’anic verse) allowed sex between heterosexuals (and within marriage). Also, if the verse was only forbidding homosexuality outside of marriage, then sex between a man and woman before marriage is forbidden so why would Allah the Almighty say:

 

“instead of women”?

 

Therefore, the only authentic and correct conclusion that can be drawn from this Qur’anic verse is that sexual relationships between people of the same sex are prohibited.

 

Furthermore, arbitrarily changing one’s gender from male to female (or vice-versa) does not alter the reality of the prohibition because there is a principle in Islam that states:

 

“Changing the name of something does not change its reality.”

 

So changing the name of alcohol to milk does not alter its reality nor the ruling of prohibition.

 

Allah the Most High also said:

 

“You come to the men of creation and you leave those wives whom Allah has created for you? Nay! You are a transgressing people.” [Qur’an, 26: 165-166]

 

Abdullah Ibn Abbas narrated that Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) stated:

 

“The curse of Allah is upon the one who engages in the act of the People of Lut (sodomy). The curse of Allah is upon the one who engages in the act of the People of Lut. The curse of Allah is upon the one who engages in the act of the People of Lut.” [Reported by Ahmad and graded sahih by Ahmad Shakir; see As-Silsilatus-Sahihah of Sheikh Al-Albani, who graded it authentic]

 

Jabir Ibn Abdullah narrated that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:

 

“What I fear most for my followers (my ummah) is the act of the People of Lut (i.e., sodomy).” [At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah, and graded as hasan by Sheikh Al-Albani]

 

When the people ignored the Prophet Lut’s message, Allah destroyed the town and every transgressor in it, and He saved Prophet Lut (Peace be upon him) and his daughters. This event is a sign for the people who reflect. This story is also mentioned in the scriptures of the Jews and Christians.

 

Respected brothers and sisters! Muslim scholars throughout the history have taken this story to mean that Allah has prohibited homosexuality absolutely, i.e. courtship and sexual relationships between men. Muslims see homosexuality as an unnatural condition, an immoral inclination, even a mental illness which is dangerous for the individual and society in terms of its goodness and morality. Islam teaches that a Muslim cannot be pious and obedient to Allah and be a practising homosexual; the two states are incompatible. However, Muslim doctrine (Aqidah) does not remove from the fold of Islam the one who practices the major sin of homosexuality.

 

Imam Shaikh Ibn Baz (may Allah have mercy on him) was informed that some youth display signs of feminine behaviour. He advised that they should spend time with men until they learn (to be masculine) and they benefit from that, and the feminine inclination passes. He was also asked concerning the man who becomes a Muslim but before he embraced Islam he was a practising homosexual. Once he became a Muslim, he repented from that sinful un-Islamic behaviour. However, his soul desires homosexuality. Shaikh Ibn Baz answered by saying:

 

“He should cling to his repentance and all praise is for Allah.” [See Sharh Bulugh Al-Maram, Kitab Al-Hudud]

 

Clinging to repentance means: to give up the sin, feel remorse for disobeying Allah, seek Allah’s forgiveness and be resolute in not returning back to the sin.

 

Dear servants of Allah! Today some people think that a person can be born homosexual – and through this, they justify their sexual leanings. However, Islam teaches that every child is born upon the fitrah, a natural inclination, which means that they were created with inclinations that Allah is pleased with for human beings and fulfil the natural functions of the body. With that in mind, Muslim scholars state that homosexuality comes about due to a corruption of the natural state which can be triggered by various events and environmental factors such as:

 

1. The way they are brought up with the idea that there is no difference between the two sexes.

 

2. Being exposed to homosexuality constantly so it becomes normalised.

 

3. Being nurtured on theories and ideas that oppose science, nature and the intellect (e.g. two people of the same sex were not physiologically “designed” to have sexual relations or produce offspring).

 

4. Being sexually abused as children can lead to confused ideas about sexuality and sexual preferences.

 

5. School indoctrination of children from an early age that goes against nature, health and wellbeing.

 

6. Relentlessly encouraged from a young age to explore same-sex relationships and “gay” role-play in schools.

 

7. Ostracising and seeking to criminalise all forms of dissent against the powerful LGBTQ movement in the West.

 

8. Muslim scholars state that just as people have ‘learned’ to be homosexual, they can also learn not to be if they choose to correct their behaviour and are helped in that process; and therefore, they return back to their natural state of being, or at least desist from homosexual activity if they are not able to be heterosexual.

 

The Qur’an does not say how homosexuality should be punished, but a saying of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) makes clear:

 

“Whoever you find engaging in the action of the people of Lut (sodomy), execute the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.” [Ibn Majah and Tirmidhi]

 

And mind you, this Hadith must not be used by individuals as an excuse to enact or incite violence against homosexuals and lesbians, or to take laws into their own hands.

 

Prescribed punishments for homosexuality and lesbianism can only be carried out by the legal authority in a country or state that practices shari’ah or Islamic Law; and there must be clear evidence that actual sex had taken place. The Muslim penal code carries out punishments on the basis of the unlawful act that is committed and not on the basis of a person’s inclinations where no illegal act has been committed.

 

This is the view of all of the famous Islamic scholars and jurists (Fuqaha) of Islam in line with the punishment dealt to the people of Lut (in the Qur’an) and the Hadith of the Prophet (Peace be upon him).

 

A Muslim, regardless of which state or country he lives in, is not allowed to physically harm those he regards to be sinners, nor incite others to do so. Vigilantism goes against Islamic teachings because it creates an anarchic, unjust and disorderly society.

 

Dear brothers and sisters! Today there are homosexuals and lesbians who consider themselves to be Muslims, and they know they are sinners in the sight of Allah just as there are some Muslims who fornicate, steal, lie and deal in usury. They recognise their sins. These sins are not considered unbelief (Kufr) that exit Muslims from the fold of Islam; but they are major sinners under the threat of Allah’s punishment as purification for their crimes.

 

Dear servants of Allah! Homosexuality and lesbianism is illegal in virtually every Muslim country in the world with punishments ranging from fines and prison to corporal punishment and execution. There are over 75 countries across the world, Muslim and non-Muslim, that consider homosexuality and lesbianism to be a criminal offence.

 

The Bible (Old Testament) is followed by millions of Jews and Christians in the world, and it too forbids men from having sexual relations with men. Chapters 18 and 20 of Leviticus list prohibited forms of intercourse:

 

“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” Chapter 18 verse 22 said:

 

“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.” Chapter 20 verse 13

 

Deuteronomy 22:5 states:

 

“A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord, your God, detests anyone who does this.”

 

This is a clear prohibition of cross-dressing.

 

The New Testament (Bible) also condemns homosexual practices. Romans 1:26-27 states:

 

“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

 

Paul wrote in the First Epistle to the Corinthians 6:9-11 states:

 

“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men; nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were.”

 

The words men who have sex with men translate two Greek words that refer to the passive and active participants in homosexual acts.

 

In recent times organisations and groups have been established to give support to lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender (etc) Muslims. These groups do not see their homosexuality as being wrong; they claim they were born gay, lesbian or trans etc. Furthermore, they do not believe that Allah’s prohibition in the Qur’an and Sunnah is applicable in these times; or they believe that these texts do not apply to people who “are in love.”

 

However, Muslims (almost as a whole) regard homosexuality and lesbianism to be sinful based upon the clear textual proofs of the Qur’an and Sunnah, the consensus (ijma’) of the first three generations after the Prophet, the agreement of the Four well-known Schools of Islamic Jurisprudence and in accordance with the view of the Sunni scholars spanning more than 1,445 years of Islamic history.

 

Islam teaches that Muslims must obey Allah by doing what he has commanded and by keeping away from what he has prohibited.

 

A Muslim who legalises (makes permissible) what is clearly forbidden in the Revealed Texts (Qur’an and Sunnah) such as making lawful fornication, drinking alcohol, gambling, homosexuality or lesbianism, then that person has left the fold of Islam. They are no longer Muslims.

 

However, Muslims who commit major sins (less than idolatry) such as fornication, robbery, homosexuality or lesbianism whilst affirming their transgression against Allah’s Law and affirming their sin, they remain within the Religion, albeit with weakness in their faith (Iman). These people are threatened by Allah’s punishment in the Hereafter unless they repent from their sins. And if they enter the Fire, they will not remain in it eternally.

 

Respected brothers and sisters! Muslims who find they are afflicted with temptations or unnatural desires must learn to resist, turn to Allah, supplicate to Him for strength and guidance (and get married). They must pray their five daily prayers, pay the Zakah and fast the month of Ramadan, etc. They should keep company with righteous people and keep their desires under control and eventually dominate over them.

 

Not every desire needs to be satisfied! A believer is commanded to keep his soul in check and his passions within the limits of Allah’s commands. We are living in difficult times where religiosity, morality, chastity and good conduct are actively discouraged, and immorality, foul behaviour, irreligious conduct, ill-manners, sexual depravity and lewdness are championed.

 

Nevertheless, a Muslim must remain pious, and remember that holding steadfastly to Islam, the Sunnah and Islamic morals and ethics in these times brings along with it a greater reward from Allah for the patient. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:

 

“Know that which has passed you by was never going to befall you, and whatever has befallen you was never going to miss you. And know that victory comes with patience, relief comes after affliction and ease comes after hardship.” [Reported by Ahmad and others]

 

In reference to the times of hardship that were to come the Prophet (Peace be upon him) stated that:

 

“Ahead of you are days of patience, when holding onto the religion will be like holding onto hot coals, and whomsoever holds onto his religion in that time, then his reward will be the reward of fifty men.” The Companions said, “O Messenger of Allah, fifty times the worth of their reward?” He said, “Rather fifty from you.” [Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Al-Hakim who declared it authentic, Adh-Dhahabi agreed and Al-Albani declared it sahih in As-Sahihah]

 

Examples of commands from Allah the Almighty: Worship Allah alone, pray, fast, give zakah (obligatory charity), perform Hajj, be dutiful and kind to parents, give in charity, wear hijab, etc.

 

Examples of prohibitions from Allah the Almighty: Idolatry, interest (Riba), adultery, drinking alcohol, murder, stealing, sex before marriage, homosexuality, lesbianism etc.

 

A Muslim is commanded to encourage people with doing good actions and to advise them against doing things that Allah has forbidden. In this way, he follows the way of the Prophets.

 

Lastly, I pray:

 

Ya Allah, guide us with those whom You have guided, grant us well-being among those You have granted well-being, be an ally to us along with those whom You are an ally to, and bless what You have bestowed upon us, and save us from the evil of what You have decreed. For verily You decree and none can decree over You. He whom You support can never be humiliated. Glory is to You, our Lord, You are Blessed and Exalted.

 

Ya Allah, We ask You for all that is good, in this world and in the Hereafter, what we know and what we do not know.

 

Ya Allah, we seek refuge with You from all evil, in this world and in the Hereafter, what we know and what we do not know.

 

Ya Allah, we ask You for the good that Your servant and Prophet (Muhammad) has asked You for, and we seek refuge with You from the evil from which Your servant and Prophet (Muhammad) sought refuge.

 

Ya Allah, we ask You for Paradise and for that which brings one closer to it, in word and deed, and we seek refuge in You from Hell and from that which brings one closer to it, in word and deed. And we ask You to make every decree that You decree concerning us good.

 

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad (Peace be upon him), and upon his family, his Companions and his true and sincere followers.

 

Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of: Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah Mosque; and Late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene Mosque, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: gusauimam@gmail.com; or +2348038289761.

 

This Friday sermon (Jumu’ah Khutbah) was delivered today Friday, 28 Rajab, 1445 AH (February 09, 2024).

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