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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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KAROTA succumb to Tricyclists’ protest, accepts POS payment

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Nasiru Yusuf

 

The Kano Road Traffic Agency (KAROTA) has succumb to protesting tricyclists and agreed to accept payment of one hundred Naira tax via POS or mobile banking.

Kano Focus reports that the tricyclists have earlier agreed to pay the one hundred Naira tax daily, but protested against making payments via REMITA platform.

The tricyclists requested for cash payment, mobile banking or via POS, a request KAROTA leadership rejected outrightly.

However, at a negotiation facilitated by Kano state leadership of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Kano Civil Society Forum Ibrahim Waiya, KAROTA agreed to accept payment via POS mobile transfer after initial payment through REMITA.

A copy of the resolutions reached by leadership of tricyclists and Managing Director of KAROTA Bappa Babba Dan’agundi on Tuesday in the presence of NLC chairman Kabiru Ado Minjibir and that of  directed all tricycle operators to call off their protest and resume operation.

The resolutions obtained by Kano Focus reads in part “After extensive and fruitful deliberations which lasted for over two hours. The following resolutions were reached.

“That all tricycle riders in the state are to pay a token of N 100 daily as provided by the Kano state revenue administration law, schedule 2 item 9 congestion charges amendment law 2017.

“That the first payment of N100 should be through REMITA to enable data capture in Kano state Board of Internal Revenue/KAROTA which should be done within two weeks effective from today 23 February, 2021, after which KAROTA will commence enforcement and the server shutdown, so that nobody will access it to enable control.

“That the subsequent payment of N100 daily tax should follow by the tricycle operators which can be done through their Android phones or P. O. S (Point of Sale) with an option of daily, monthly, quarterly or annual payment at the cafe (which is not compulsory).

“That the hire purchase owners will assist the tricycle riders in the provision of additional REMITA points to enable members to make payment with ease.

“That the leadership of organised labour and Kano Civil Society Forum will continue to engage the leadership of tricycle riders/owners association in the state for smooth conduct of their business through public enlightenment, awareness activities and training on professional conduct to ensure peaceful coexistence in the state and hitch business atmosphere.

“That a joint Press briefing should be conducted at KAROTA office and emergency meeting of all units of tricycle association should be summon immediately to enable striking riders go back to their business and suspend the strike.

“That all tricycle riders in the state should write their number boldly at the back of each tricycle for easy identification and security purposes.”

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Emir tasks Karaye council on good governance

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Nasiru Yusuf

The Emir of Karaye Ibrahim Abubakar II has tasked the new administration of Karaye local government Council on good governance and accountability.

Kano Focus reports that the Emir made the remarks while receiving the new Chairman of Karaye local government Council Balarabe Isyaku Yusuf, Council’s Leader and local other councillors in his palace.

The Emir maintained that, good governance and accountability is the bedrock of any successful government and means of earning public trust.

The monarch thanked the chairman for the visit and assured Emirate’s support and guidance.

In his address the chairman of Karaye local government Council Balarabe Isyaku Yusuf said, the visit was to introduce the new leadership to the Emir and seeks his blessings.

Yusuf revealed that, the new administration would remain open for fatherly advice from the Emir.

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Kano plans to revive public health lab

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Nasiru Yusuf

Kano state government said plan is in pipeline to revive public health laboratory domiciled at Infectious Diseases Hospital.

The commissioner of health Aminu Ibrahim Tsanyawa announced this at a one day roundtable meeting on strengthening domestic financing for health security in Kano state.

The commissioner represented by the permanent secretary in the ministry, Amina Musa said the laboratory would complement five others managed by private organisations and National Centre for Diseases and Control NCDC in analysing COVID-19 samples in the state.

Mr Tsanyawa noted that the state government has attached priority attention to health security financing, hence the establishment of Kano State Contributory Healthcare Management Agency KSCHMA and Kano Health Trust Fund KHETFund among others.

In his address the representative of ministry of local government Garba Bello said each of the forty four local government councils in the state has earmarked not less than two million Naira for EPR in 2021 budget.

According to him this would go a long way in ensuring Emergency Preparedness Response at local government level.

In his welcome address the convener of the meeting Muhammad Shu’aib said the event was to appraise efforts towards increasing EPR financing in Kano State

According to him part of the meeting is to ensure the sustained increase in EPR budget allocation, releases and execution as well as raise the accountability bar for EPR financing in Kano State.

Mr Shu’aib who is the State Coordinator LISDEL and Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), added that “what we seek to do is to ensure that funding for EPR is increased, and we now have an approved budget for EPR in the state which is commendable.

“What we have done is to engage officials from the ministry of planning and budget, finance and others, to see that there is an ease in the accessibility of funds for EPR in Kano”.

According to him timely releases of funds for EPR will ensure implementation of activities as planned.

He observed that accessing releases is as important as creating a budget line in state appropriation.

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