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On the Controversy in Kano and the Planned Public Debate

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Muhammad Shakir Balogun

Hausa-speaking Muslims are looking forward to a debate coming up in Kano later this month. This ‘debate’ appears to be the latest iteration of the historical encounter that has pitched those who have raised objections to the validity of Sunni Prophetic traditions and the narrative integrity of the Companions of the Prophet against those who have upheld same.

The former includes orientalists, Shi’ites, Mu’tazilites and reformist/modernist Sunni Muslims while the latter are Orthodox Sunni scholars from both Salafi/Athari/Izala and Ash’ari/Sufi persuasions.

The trustworthiness of the ultimate transmitters of hadiths and the validity of the recorded traditions of the Prophet constitute the bone of contention. In Sunni Islam, since al-Shafi’i, authentic hadiths have been regarded as revealed truth just like the Qur’an, and with similar legislative powers. They are unimpeachable.

“There is absolutely nothing new about what Shaikh AbdulJabaar Nasir Kabara, the outspoken scion of the famous Kabara scholarly and Sufi dynasty of Kano, has been saying. He has articulated them in his books to which rebuttals have been penned by local scholars.”

The same arguments have been more eloquently articulated by orientalists like David Samuel Margoliouth, Ignaz Goldziher, Joseph Schacht, and GHA Joynboll; the Egyptians like Muhammad Taufiq Sidqi (of the ‘Qur’an only’ school), Mahmud Abu Rayyah, Ahmed Subhy Mansour, and Muhammad Abu Zayd; the Indians like Chiragh Ali, Aslam Jairajpuri, Abdullah Chakralawi who were mostly of the ‘Qur’an only’ school, and numerous scholars from the Shi’ite camp.

Muhammad Tawfiq Sidqi was engaged by Taha al-Bishri and Salih al-Yafi’i in a series of exchanges on the pages of al-Manar which culminated with his recanting. Prominent among those who have passionately written to defend the Sunnah, as enshrined in recorded hadiths, in modern times are the Syrian Mustafa Siba’i (he specifically incorporated a rebuttal to Abu Rayyah in his book) and Muhammad Ali Sabuni, and the Indian Muhammad Mustafa Azmi. These books are there for those who want to independently follow the arguments.

But can arguments, rebuttals and counter-rebuttals extensively articulated in numerous books be satisfactorily covered in public debates? How many hours or days have been earmarked for the debate? What is the possible outcome of an exchange in which the interlocutors differ fundamentally in methodology and hate each other’s guts?

Can a debate already poisoned by hot polemics and ad hominem attacks really lead anywhere?

Shaikh AbdulJabbaar has impugned the characters of people considered by Sunnis to be beyond reproach like the Companions of the Prophet such as Umar (the second caliph), Anas (the personal attendant of the Prophet), Abu Hurairah (the most prolific transmitter of Prophetic traditions). He has also attacked hadith luminaries like az-Zuhri, al-Bukhari, and Muslim.

He has pummeled Mu’awiyah, the first Omayyad caliph, whose historical legacy is mixed even by Orthodox Sunni accounts, but who is nonetheless counted among the Companions and given a pass.

These are people held in high regard by Sunni Muslims. He has described them as deceivers, hypocrites, and liars. He has also castigated the illustrious exponents of the Salafi methodology such as ibn Taimiyyah, ibnul Qayyim, adh-Dhahabi, ibn Kathir. This is a frontal attack. Ibn Hajar, the great exegete of al-Bukhari’s collection has also not been spared.

AbdulJabbaar has thrown spears at the very heart of Orthodox Islam. He has been boastful and confrontational, and frequently accuses his contemporary adversaries of insincerity, mendacity and ignorance.

“I have personally observed that his translations from Arabic texts are sometimes tendentious, less than faithful to the original. He even interpolates words in translation in order to make his point. This is probably part of what has infuriated the other scholars and made them to impugn his motives.”

Meanwhile, the other scholars have also gratuitously labelled AbdulJabbaar with negative terms like zindiqi (unbelieving heretic), mulhidi (atheist), kafiri (unbeliever), jahili (ignorant), mahaukaci (lunatic), wawa (stupid, foolish), dan iska (worthless), la’ananne/tsinanne (accursed). He has been discursively kicked out of the fold of Islam.

He has also been accused of plagiarizing the work of Mahmud Abu Rayyah in writing his own book while deceptively letting on that he has been conducting independent research. I have Abu Rayyah’s book, but alas I don’t have AbdulJabbaar’s text to compare.

He has been charged with insulting the Prophet, which to me seems a stretch, a long stretch, a part of the polemics borne out of mutual suspicion of evil motives. And he has stated several times that his object is to defend the sanctity of the Prophet that has, in his understanding, been subverted by some narrations. There seems to be an impasse here. They have indirectly instigated Muslims to attack him – many preachers and scholars have said that they would not stop the people from taking action against him.

Pious sentiments got whipped up. Some people even say that Kano was on the verge of exploding. They finally got the State Government to ban him from further public preaching and close his centre.

Because of his actual attack on some revered Companions and the perceived attack on the inviolate personality of the Prophet himself, his condemnation has been near universal. Even the former Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II has lent his voice to the condemnation. I recall that he also chastised the Shi’ites in the aftermath of the 2015 Zaria Massacre.

Notably, it has been mainly, but by no means solely, Shi’ite preachers and scholars who have been bold enough to speak in his support. Many sympathisers have self-censured and kept mum.

AbdulJabbaar and his supporters feel that he has been unjustly treated and has not been given a fair hearing. I also think that he shouldn’t have been gagged. I think this public debate being organized by the government is an attempt to address this perception of unfairness.

So far, this exchange between AbdulJabbaar and his interlocutors, as seen in countless videos on Facebook and YouTube, has been acrimonious, polemical, and full of invectives in which the substantial arguments are often difficult to extricate.

Will this public debate change anything? Will he even cooperate to have a real debate? Who will be the judge? How will the ‘winner’ be decided? Will it matter to the followers of the two sides?

“AbdulJabbaar’s frequently expressed desire for a debate comes across as half-hearted. If his ‘debate’ with Alkassim Hotoro is anything to go by, I doubt if anything will come out of this one.”

In that much publicized debate, he surprisingly kept hedging and putting up caveats. He shirked from defending a book written with his own hand. He was less than brave. However, after the ban, he has reiterated his readiness for his views to be challenged and even disproved.

So, let’s wait and see.

This piece was first published on Mr Balogun Facebook timeline

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2021 Museum Day: Danbatta Harps on Innovative Museums for Sustainable Development 

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Nasiru Yusuf

 

The Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (EVC/CEO) of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Umar Garba Danbatta has called for ingenious ways of collecting antiquities relevant to operations of various organizations in the country in order to preserve the relics that can bridge the knowledge gap needed for sustainable development of Nigeria.

KANO FOCUS reports that Danbatta, who was represented by the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholders Management (ECSM), NCC, Adewolu Adeleke, made the call recently in Abuja when the Commission joined in the celebration of the 2021 international museum day with the theme, “the future of museums: recover and reimagine”.

While speaking on the theme, Danbatta said it appropriately captures the reason the commission established a special museum for the telecommunications industry in the country, as it is intended to bridge the historical knowledge gap in the evolution of communication as well as   meeting the need for information by future generations.

”The NCC communications museum was established in November, 2006 for documentation of historical collections on the evolution of communications in Nigeria. Communication artifacts were identified in various locations across the Country where postal and telecommunication offices were established in order to retrieve relics for exhibition”.

Danbatta explained further that the museum should be seen as an important resourceful centre that can stimulate critical thinking and creative ideas for expanding the frontiers of knowledge and advancement of development in relevant sectors of the economy.

“Our museum is designed and reinvented to conserve the history of the Nigerian telecommunications industry and we see it as very important to collect, exhibit and preserve telecommunications items to enlighten and educate stakeholders on the evolution of communications with a view to nudging our minds towards critical thinking that will bring about new innovations to assist in building a better future for our industry and the nation.

“The NCC Museum plays valuable roles in supporting the Commission’s agenda by providing unique information resources to cater for historical needs of the future generations, while building capacity and stimulating innovations to assist in fashioning out a better future for the Nigerian communications industry,” Danbatta added.

Speaking further at the event, Danbatta said the NCC Museum Day is a demonstration of the Commission’s commitment to facilitating learning and collaboration with relevant Museum professional bodies, in order to conserve antiquities used to develop the industry, in the best possible manner for socio-economic impact of the nation.”

The Museum generally plays important roles in the society by conserving the past and helping to shape the future through providing needed insight into history, while educating future generations and equipping them with the requisite information and knowledge for sustainable development.

The Director General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), Abba Isa Tijani was represented at the event by the Assistant Director, Museums, Kilba Zainab Uche, who presented a brief on the ‘Role of Museum in the Digital Era’.

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Kano records highest number of sickle cell patients in Nigeria

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Nasiru Yusuf

Kano state has the highest sickle cell patients in Nigeria, a consultant haematologist at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital said.

KANO FOCUS reports that Dalha Halliru Gwarzo disclosed this in an interview with Hospital’s newsletter as part of the 2021 World Sickle Cell day.

He added that Lagos is the second state with highest number of sickle cell cases in the country.

Mr Gwarzo said India, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria constituted 90% of the sickle cell patients worldwide.

On the causes of sickle cell disease, Mr Gwarzo said it is a genetic inherited disease from parents who are either SS, or AS genotype as a result of genetic condition or mutation of abnormal form of red blood cell.

He advocated for compulsory screening of infants after birth and school children, pre-marital counseling/tests, subsidising cost of medication/treatment and mass sensitisation campaign on dangers of the disease.

Mr Gwarzo noted that, although there is no known cure for sickle cell disease, but developed countries are using a high technology for manipulation of the genetic cells by bone marrow and stem cells transplant, which cost about fifteen million Naira in countries like United States, Germany, United Kingdom and Canada.

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Kano missing children: Court convicts Paul Owne 104 Years

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Nasiru Yusuf

Kano State High Court has sentenced Paul Owne to 104 years without option of fine for abducting under five children and sold them in Onitsha, Anambra state.

KANO FOCUS reports that Mr Owne was reported to have conspired with six others in committing the crime.

Delivering the judgement on Friday Justice Zuwaira Yusuf sentenced the convict after pleaded guilty to all his 38 count charge against him by Kano State Government.

The court upheld that the convict was found guilty in count 2, 8, 9, 2, 27 and 34 therefore convicted him to 7 years each without option of fine in addition with the sum of N100,000 fine.

Similarly, the court found Owne guilty in count 3, 5, 10, 11, 22, 28 and 38 head count he was sentenced to 7 years.

Mrs Yusuf said the action of Owne was in contravention of count 4, 12, 13, 29 and 38, she convicted him to 4 years on each count without option of fine.

She ordered that all the count shall run Consecutively.

The 5 other defendants who pleaded not guilty to all the charges read over to them namely: Ogbono, Emanuel Igwe, Loise Duru, Monica Oracha and Chinelo Ifedigwe.

Kano Focus reports that the Kano Police Command had rescued nine missing children and paraded six Igbo persons who have confessed to abducting the kids, renaming and forcefully converting them to Christianity before selling them in Onitsha, Anambra state.

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