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[Friday Sermon] Russia-Ukraine Crisis In The Muslim’s Mirror

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By Imam Murtadha Gusau

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy

All praise is for Allah, we praise Him, we seek His help, we ask for His forgiveness, and we seek refuge with Allah from the evils of our own souls and the wickedness of our actions, whoever Allah guides, there is none that can lead him astray, and whoever Allah allows to go astray, there is none that can lead him to the right path.

I testify and bare witness that there is no deity worthy of worship in truth but Allah, alone, without any partners. And I testify and bare witness that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is His Servant and Messenger.

As for what’s after:

Dear brothers and sisters! This is the Islamic position, from my perspective and understanding, that non-Ukrainian Muslims or Muslims Ummah should have regarding the Russian war against Ukraine:

1. Any global event is relevant to Muslims

Successful people are those who are constantly looking for opportunities to advance their success or to transform their situation into success. Muslims should be wise enough to analyse this situation in order to find any opportunity for their benefits—which are indeed also the benefits of humanity at large—whilst recognising and avoiding any harm for them and for humanity at large. Islam is the way of life that secures maximum benefit and deters maximum harm.

Muslims should feel sad and disturbed when seeing innocent people—Muslim or non-Muslim—killed or driven out of their homes anywhere in the world. Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an:

“Indeed, those who disbelieve and commit wrong [or injustice] – never will Allah forgive them, nor will He guide them to a path.” [Qur’an, 4: 168]

Indeed injustice is one of the major—if not the major—crimes in the sight of Allah the Most High.

2. Muslims are responsible for justice and injustice

Whilst watching these atrocities, Muslims should acknowledge that they are responsible towards any injustice that takes place in the world, as they are appointed by Allah Almighty to ensure that justice prevails on the planet.

Being the best of nations places a huge responsibility on their shoulders to ensure that justice, according to Divine guidance, is established anywhere in the world. Allah the Most High says:

“Thus, have We made of you an Ummah (nation) justly balanced that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you…” [Qur’an, 2: 143]

“You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah. If only the People of the Scripture had believed, it would have been better for them. Among them are believers, but most of them are defiantly disobedient.” [Qur’an, 3: 110]

In the last century or so, increasingly horrific injustices have been taking place as there is no Muslim superpower that has kept order in the world, acting as a bulwark against major injustices anywhere in the world.

3. A key doctrine in Islamic political philosophy

Only those who follow Divine guidance can form a powerful but humble and just nation, thus they are the only qualified nation to be a superpower. This is because they are the only people who believe that, regardless of whatever power they have, they are still controlled and accountable before another power that is superior to them: Allah.

As we are witnessing, any powerful nation that disbelieves in Allah will become arrogant, unjust, and bent on securing its own interests in spite of the damage done to others in the process. This is why western non-Muslims say that power breeds arrogance. Allah, the creator of everyone, knows this nature of human beings. He Almighty says:

“No! [But] indeed, man transgresses, because he sees himself self-sufficient.” [Qur’an, 96:6-7]

4. Everyone else has an agenda

Although scenes of war, bloodshed and destruction are horrifying, and we should certainly feel disturbed about innocent victims of such aggression, it is not our emotions but our thinking that should dictate long-term and holistic understanding, analysis and solutions for the situation.

It is highly unlikely that the duplicitous and murderous regimes in the West sympathise genuinely with Ukrainians from a purely humanitarian (or even values) perspective. If they did not gain more than they stood to lose then they would simply ignore Ukraine altogether—like the long list of countries suffering in the world, not to mention at the hands of their own allies.

Ukraine has been described as a back yard for many sordid activities by corrupted westerners, but the biggest gain for those pushing for western hegemony is to further weaken and eventually destroy their historical competitor, Russia.

5. What are the outcomes for Muslims?

There are three major powers in the world today: USA, China and Russia. Whilst Russia uses mainly its military power to influence other regions, and China mainly its economic power, the US uses both, but adds a third type of power which is more dangerous: ideological power.

If Russia wins this war, its power and influence would likely advance to more and more countries, including Muslim states formerly in the Soviet Union. This would likely be a threat against many Muslims in Central Asia and Turkey, not to mention being very bad for Muslims in Syria. On the other hand, it may also dent US and western hegemony, slackening the noose around the necks of hundreds of millions of others.

This could open doors for da’awah and other activities for Muslims in many places around the world, other than those under Russian hegemony. In fact, the US will likely repeat the Afghan-Soviet Union model from the cold war, by facilitating more space for Islamic da’awah to progress in certain areas as they know that this is the strongest and most effective way to control the advancement of Russia. It is unlikely that Muslims would face major ideological threats in such a case, since Russia is very weak in that regard.

However, if the US wins this war, then it may tighten its grip on the rest of the world, ramping up its ideological domination. Furthermore, it will also be ready to invade other countries in the world, reinforcing the uni-polar model of the globe. It will increase its support for Israel and other despotic regimes and we will see more injustice against many Muslims, besides the Palestinians.

In the case of a decisive victory for either side, the challenges for the Muslim Ummah are countless, and the da’awah will be very much controlled and limited almost all over the world; by Russian in areas under its hegemony, and by the US and the West in areas under their control.

6. Do not be a pawn in someone else’s chess game

I strongly advise all Muslims around the world not to take part in this war and to be careful not to be used by any side. As history has shown us again and again, Muslims will be used as cannon fodder and once they have served their purpose, they will be imprisoned or have their countries invaded, decimated, and bled dry.

Whilst we work diligently to strategically elevate our Ummah according to our context, time and place, we need to ask Allah, the Almighty and Majestic, to provide for this Ummah solutions for its problems, and to make the outcome of this war goodness for the Ummah of Muhammad (Peace be upon him), and the entirety of humanity.

Respected servants of Allah! It is said that someone’s true nature and beliefs come out when they are in crisis. During this ongoing Ukraine-Russia crisis, the political and media establishments in the UK, Europe and the West have been implicitly sharing what they believe about the collective status and worth of Muslims.

Your blood, lives, and honour is worth less to us than that of “civilised Europeans”, with “blonde hair and blue eyes.” Muslim resistance to foreign occupation and oppression (NATO/India/Israel/Russia) is deemed as “terrorism”, while the resistance of Ukrainians is lionised. The BBC celebrates the “brave” Ukrainian women making Molotov cocktail bombs, and the “heroic” Ukrainian soldier who blew himself up. Some may be perplexed why we didn’t see this lionising of the Kashmiris, Palestinians or Syrians, whose women and children continue to bravely resist with rocks and stones.

Your safety, security and salvation when escaping war and famine is important, but you will be treated worse than (some) animals.

While Ukrainian refugees are “welcomed with open arms”, in the same countries that water-hosed, beat and sniper-shot Syrian and Iraqi refugees, black West African students, workers and their families, as well as other “foreign” Muslims are now being blocked from leaving Ukraine, and being turned away at the Polish border. The Ukrainian police have literally threatened them at gunpoint telling them Ukrainians have first priority (many of these West Africans are Christians). Poland, Slovakia and other European countries made it clear in 2015 that they would only accept Christian refugees or migrants.

7. Your Jihad might be fashionable again (if it is saving non-Muslim lives)

There has been a lot of talk on LBC radio about “sending in the mujahidin” to Ukraine to fight Russia. Of course, the West loves the “mujahidin” as cannon fodder for their foreign policy and hegemonic geopolitical interests. But it will hunt down the same mujahidin like animals, along with their families and neighbourhoods, with drones and air strikes when they have served their purpose.

8. Your politics are not welcome in mainstream sports

Should you raise awareness about the plight of the Palestinians (Celtic FC, Moeen Ali) or the Uyghurs (Mesut Ozil) in mainstream sports, be prepared to be penalised or lose sponsorship deals, because we have to “keep politics out of sports.” Unless, of course, it’s a white, non-Muslim European country involved, in which case you’ll have entire teams dabbling in politics by boycotting (Poland, Sweden and Czech Republic have refused to play against Russia). In fact, the sports authorities will even get involved in politics (UEFA Champions League final is being moved to Paris), and an owner of a team (Roman Abramovich) is effectively being kicked out of the country. Showing solidarity with Ukraine is of course a minimum, with Man City and Everton players waving and wearing flags before kick-off.

9. Helping your oppressed could cost you your citizenship

We are often criminalised when we travel to help the oppressed in places like Syria, Palestine and Libya. Whether it is taking up arms to protect people or even simply delivering life-saving aid, countless Muslims have lost their citizenship for having the audacity to empathise with the wrong type of people. But just recently the UK’s foreign minister, Liz Truss, said she “absolutely supports individual Brits travelling to fight in Ukraine.”

10. Invading your countries is justified

When Muslim countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Mali, Somalia, Yemen (the list goes on) are transgressed upon by the West, Russia or their regional proxies, it is either to “bring democracy”, “fight terrorism”, or to “bring peace.” It is never an “invasion” or “occupation.” Even an excuse as outrageous as “because God gave us this land” is still effectively accepted in public discourse about Palestine.

11. Your global political ambitions are extreme

This entire Ukraine-Russia saga has much to do with the former being pushed to become more integrated into the West (NATO, and to a lesser degree the EU). All of the punditry in the western mainstream media, be it from politicians, academics, activists, journalists, or ordinary folks interviewed in the streets, has been about a “unified West” that has “shared beliefs, values and culture” of “freedom and democracy.” We have seen how NATO mobilised its armoury and troops in Poland, Latvia and elsewhere to protect this European/Western bloc.

However, Islamic activists and revivalist movements are labelled “non-violent extremists” and criminalised by western states for wanting a similar type of political unity, based on “shared beliefs, values and culture” of their respective regions. That is because it would be too much of a risk for the West’s geopolitical and hegemonic interests in the Muslim-majority world, and their puppet despots in those countries will ensure such aspirations will be met with brutal persecution. So we are only permitted to make do with useless puppets like the OIC and the Arab League.

12. Where do we go from here?

The disproportionate and selective outpouring of (rightful) sympathy, outrage and solidarity with Ukrainians shown by the entire Western world makes you wonder: what is our actual worth and status as religious or ethnic minorities in a hemisphere whose elites send us the above messages whilst consistently claiming to champion “equality”, “liberty” and “freedom” at home and abroad?

Despite the hypocrisy and double standards towards our people, plight and values, we are not depressed but empowered to make change. Muslims, by their nature and values, build and produce civilisations. Our role is to contribute and make positive change wherever we are. As such, we will continue to convey the message of Islam, and continue to highlight and speak out against injustices and oppression that we see—whoever commits it, unlike those who only do so when it suits their interests.

At the same time, our beloved Prophet (Peace be upon him) warned us that we are not bitten from the same hole twice. We are not sleepwalking; we are wary of the double standards and hypocrisy of some of our elites. But we are also wary of our immense latent power to make change and steer society towards a better direction, and we will continue to do so even if we face challenges and hatred, by the permission of Allah.

May Allah Almighty rectify the Muslims and make them proud and pleased with what Allah and his Messenger legislated for them in all aspects of live.

Allah surely knows best and he is the Lords of the universe and May his peace and blessing be on his Messenger, his family, his companions and those who follow them.

I ask Allah, the Most High to grant us success and enable us to be correct in what we say and write, ameen.

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: gusauimam@gmail.com or +2348038289761.

This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Sha’aban 15, 1443 A.H. (March 18, 2022).

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Opinion

Hajiya Rakiya: The Predicament of ICT Guru at CBN

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By Yushau A. Shuaib

Upon completing the routine security check, we ascended to the impressive Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) complex in Abuja. Led to a spacious yet modest hall where an event was unfolding, we found seats beside a woman modestly dressed in a Muslim Hijab. She greeted us warmly and invited us to sit beside her. Her humility and warmth immediately put us at ease.

We initially assumed she was a guest or another participant at the briefing. However, as we discussed the media industry, she listened intently, nodding in agreement. When she finally spoke, her insightful comments on disruptive technologies and their impact on the communication industry left us in awe. Her deep knowledge spanned online streaming services, virtual events, and redefining audience engagement through innovation, leaving us with a profound respect for her expertise.

She elaborated on how blockchain, 5G networks, and artificial intelligence facilitate secure, faster connectivity and interactive experiences with enhanced royalty management. Beyond aiding in content generation and personalisation, she noted media production is becoming increasingly democratised. Moreover, she ‘schooled’ us on the latest technological tools for fact-checking, cybersecurity, and digital journalism—all without a trace of arrogance or pomposity.

As the event concluded, we offered our printed business cards. In response, she shared her digital business card. Scanning the QR code revealed her identity: Hajia Rakiya Shuaibu Mohammed, the Director of Information Technology at the Central Bank of Nigeria. This position speaks volumes about her expertise and influence in the field.

Curiosity drove me to search for her profile upon leaving. What I uncovered was astounding. Despite not being a celebrity tech expert paraded on social media or television, she is an extraordinary IT specialist. Former CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele described her as such, having promoted her from Head of Information Security Management after a rigorous selection process.

In his remarks at the eNaira Hackathon Grand Finale in Abuja in 2022, Emefiele, the then CBN Governor, credited the success of Africa’s first central bank digital currency partly to Hajiya Rakiya. He admitted to underestimating her suitability for the Director of Information Technology position, initially preferring a male candidate. He said, “I must single her out. When she was considered for the director role, I initially doubted. I was thinking.. I’m Sorry, ladies, please forgive me. I said a lady IT Director. I went back and began to read her CV. She is a First-Class computer science graduate, a brilliant erudite lady from Northern Nigeria, and a chartered accountant. I said you could not have a better person as head of IT for Central Bank of Nigeria.”

Her academic and professional accolades are extensive. Rakiya was the Head Girl of the Federal Government Girl College, Bakori, and the Best Graduating Student in 1982. She obtained a First-Class degree in Computer Science from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University in 1987, followed by a Master’s degree in Information Systems Engineering from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) in 1994. She has also attended executive education programs at Harvard University and Oxford University.

Rakiya’s professional journey spans over 25 years across the financial, telecommunications, and technology sectors. Before her promotion to IT Director at the CBN, where she spearheaded and implemented the Industry Security Operation Centre (NFICERT) and Africa’s first Digital Currency, Rakiya had headed the System Services and Information Security Management (CISO) Division of the bank, where she modernised the IT infrastructure and introduced innovative solutions like video conferencing. She had developed and implemented robust information security strategies, maintaining ISO 27001 certification and ensuring zero major security incidents.
Previously, she was Head of Strategy and IT at Galaxy Backbone Plc (2009-2011), CIO at Premium Pension Limited (2005-2008), Deputy General Manager (IT) and CIO of NITEL (2003-2005), and Head of Branch Banking Systems in the Northern Region of Continental Merchant Bank (1988-1995).

She holds numerous certifications, including Lean Process Practitioner, Certified IT Business Manager, Certified Chief Information Security Officer (CCISO), Certified Enterprise and Solution Architect, Certified IT Governance Professional (COBIT, CGEIT), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Chartered Accountant (ICAN) and Honorary member of the Certified Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

On May 16, 2024, she made an outstanding presentation to the CBN board on maximising the utility of current IT facilities. However, a week later, despite her impressive background, certifications, and contributions to the bank, Rakiya has become one of the victims of an inexplicable spate of officers retrenched by the current CBN Governor, Yemi Cardoso.

Here is a woman who has contributed immensely by ensuring increased revenue, reduced costs, and improved security in various organisations she had worked for and could just be retired due to political exigency.

It is perplexing to understand the rationale behind retrenching such highly qualified and integral personnel among several others in that bank, especially considering the ongoing appointments of external consultants. If retaining and promoting the best within the service is not prioritised, what justifies these replacements with outsiders?

Yushau A. Shuaib is the author of “Award Winning Crisis Communication Strategies.” yashuaib@yashuaib.com

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Opinion

Prioritizing skills acquisition and entrepreneurship: Why Nigerians must shift from white collar jobs

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Yusha’u Hamza Kafinchiri

 

As Nigeria continues to grapple with the challenges of unemployment, poverty and economic stagnation, it is imperative that citizens shift their focus towards a proven model of success – skills acquisition and entrepreneurship.
China’s remarkable economic transformation serves as a shining example of what can be achieved through a concerted effort to develop vocational skills and encourage entrepreneurial spirit. With a population of over 200 million Nigeria is a thriving market to accommodate it’s talent’s productivity.

For too long, Nigeria has been plagued by a culture of white-collar job seekers, relying on government employment and certificates rather than skills and innovation. This mindset has perpetuated laziness, mediocrity and a lack of innovation. It is time for an active paradigm shift. Governments at all levels must work truthfully on this model leveraging on the power of education and training in producing producers of good and services.

By prioritizing skills acquisition and entrepreneurship, Nigerians can:

-Develop practical skills in various trades, such as technology, manufacturing, and services to remain independent
-Create jobs and stimulate economic growth through innovation and entrepreneurship
-Reduce reliance on government employment and break free from the shackles of white-collar mentality currently wrecking havoc on government efforts to hold to it’s services.
-Increase productivity and competitiveness, driving economic progress at all levels of learning.

Let Nigerians learn from China’s example and strive to build on skills acquisition and entrepreneurship, as the drivers of their own destiny and the architects of a prosperous Nigeria.
Let the mindset of Nigerians change for good.

 

Kafinchiri,  is a Director monitoring and evaluation, Ministry of Education, Kano State. 

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Opinion

Emirs are not Kings!

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Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II

Sunusi Umar Sadiq

 

The drama surrounding the restoration of a single Kano Emirate, which has hitherto been balkanised, and the reinstatement of Muhammadu Sanusi II as its emir is still unfolding. Yet, as always, there are many issues of interest that may need to be discussed even before the events fold up completely. One such issue is the question of chronology, that is whether the reinstated emir will now be referred to as the 14th, 16th or even 59th emir of Kano, the last mentioned counting from Bagauda, the first of the kings of the Kano Kingdom.

I have little or no problem with MSII being referred to as the 14th or even the 16th emir. It will just be an additional confusion upon the existing one. It is, nonetheless, a matter for historians to decide though the semantics is clear that reinstatement is a carry-over from the past, not a fresh beginning. In other words, when a person is reinstated to the position he once occupied but for whatever reason got removed therefrom, the interregnum is considered as an aberration. Moreover, it is the individual ruler that counted, not the period he occupied as it is the ruler that defines the era not vice-versa. This is perhaps encapsulated in the well-known Hausa saying of Sarki goma, zamani goma. And the extant sources we have, as far as I know, never assign a new chronology to a reinstated ruler obviously due to the contradiction that will cause when a headcount is taken.

There is a problem, however, to reckon the reinstated emir as the 59th King of Kano for the simple reason that the Kano Kingdom ceased to exist in 1807 when the last King of Kano, Muhammadu Alwali, was overthrown by the Fulani. A kingdom is independent and the king is sovereign. An emir, however, is subordinate to a higher authority to which he owes allegiance and must remain loyal for him to retain his post. He is no more than a Military Administrator under a military junta.

The Fulani turned Kano into an emirate, as they did to other Hausa States, thereby making it an appendage of Sokoto with the emir being in his post at the pleasure of the Supreme Ruler in Sokoto. Late Dr. Yusufu Bala Usman did well in bringing out these distinctions between emirates and kingdoms in his seminal doctoral research published as The Transformation of Katsina (1400 – 1883): The Emergence and Overthrow of the Sarauta System and the Establishment of Emirate.

Late Bala identified at least five distinct epochs in the case of Katsina, which is very much the same as the rest of the Hausa States. The epochs as identified are the period of the autonomous garuruwa and birane, with no overall head, only the occupational heads or guild chiefs with the Sarkin Noma as the primus inter pares. The second period saw the emergence of the Sarauta System. Then the third period, which he called the Jama’a Period, by which he meant the period immediately after the Fulani Uprising. The fourth period is the emirate period in which the authority is centred around the emir as a lieutenant of the Caliph in Sokoto. The fifth is the Native Authority System ushered in by the British Colonialists.

The impropriety of adding a Fulani emir to the list of the Hausa Kings becomes more manifest when we call to mind that the successor Hausa States of Gobir in Tsibiri, of Katsina in Maradi and of Zazzau in Zuba/Abuja (now Suleja) continue with their king-lists as it is not seat of a kingdom that defines that kingdom but the historicity and historical consciousness of the people involved. Duk inda Shehu ya ke nan ne Borno.

If we take Zazzau Suleja as an example, the current king is the 68th on the list, a list in which all the Fulani Emirs of Zazzau from Mallam Musa to Amb. Ahmad Bamalli cannot justifiably be placed. The Fulani are therefore free to make up their own “emirlist” so as to ensure historical coherence.

The problem with Kano is that unlike its sister states or kingdoms, the overthrown Hausa ma su sarauta did not establish a successor state anywhere. Why that happened is borne out by a number of factors which will be a topic for another day. Nonetheless, the sanctity of history has to safeguarded and respected. The Sarakunan Hausa were absolute monarchs. They did not have to curry the favour of some other ruler for them to remain on the throne or to secure the position for their offspring in the event of their passing. Moreover, the Hausa Kings were the fountain of the law and justice. They did not need a court order to maintain them on the throne or ward off their contenders.

Sadiq writes from Kano. He is the President of the Hausa Historical Society. He can be reached via hausahistoricalsociety@gmail.com

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