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[Friday Sermon] A Strong Message To The Nigerian Muslims And Non-Muslims

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By Imam Murtadha Gusau

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

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all creation—may He extol the Messenger in the highest company of Angels and send His peace and blessings upon him—likewise upon his family, Companions, and true followers.

Fellow Nigerians! I urge the Nigerian clerics, scholars, Imams, Pastors, and all religious leaders to fear Allah/God and avoid inciting comments in the name of politics, and to devise strategies on how to ensure peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians in the country.

Religious leaders had a duty to promote mutual understanding and tolerance among adherents of different religious beliefs.

Today in our dear country Nigeria, some Christian leaders and organisations are heating the polity, are making inciting comments in order to divide the people and cause dangerous religious crises and bloodshed in the name of politics.

Also some Muslims leaders and organisations are doing the same thing. They are quoting Qur’anic verses and misinterprete them. They said Allah Almighty says:

“Let not believers take disbelievers as allies, rather than believers. And whoever [of you] does that has nothing with Allah, except when taking precaution against them in prudence. And Allah warns you of Himself, and to Allah is the [final] destination.” [Qur’an, 3:28]

At one glance, it is as if the above verse categorically prohibits Muslims to have social relations with those who do not share the same belief. This verse, together with some other verses, have often been quoted by isolationist groups to justify claims that Muslims should not be friends with non-Muslims, or to curb social relationships with religious others.

However, this narrative is not only problematic but it is also at odds with the universal message of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him)’s revelation to humanity. Here are the factors how we can challenge the myth of religious exclusivism:

1. There is no blanket prohibition in the Qur’an against befriending non-Muslims

Upon a critical look at the exegesis (Tafsir of Qur’an) of these verses, we will realise that they are in fact making a specific reference to forming an alliance with non-Muslims who seek to harm the Muslim community. Furthermore, these verses were revealed against a backdrop of political hostility and not during a peaceful era.

In understanding these ‘hostile’ verses, the scholar of Tafsir, Imam Tahir Ibn Ashur commented that the prohibition in the verse [Qur’an, 3:28] is conditional and not absolute. The rulings for this matter differs according to the different circumstances of allegiance. According to Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, only one circumstance would lead to disbelief (kufr) and it is to have an inward allegiance to disbelief and hostility towards those who believe in Islam.

This was in reference to the hypocrites (munafiqun) during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). They lived amongst the Prophet and his companions with an outward allegiance to Islam, but in reality they rejected Islam and plotted against the Muslims by causing instability and committing treacherous acts.

2. The Qur’an does not say Muslims cannot take disbelievers as friends

Our reality today is vastly different from the hostile environment that set the context of this verse. According to Contemporary Irshad Series published by Office of The Mufti:

“Interpretations of Qur’anic verses to justify hatred towards anyone is both incorrect and not suited for our multi-religious society.”

The irshad (religious guidance) emphasised that this verse does not indicate a blanket prohibition for Muslims from dealing with religious others.

3. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) established social relations with other faith communities

The perception that Islam prohibits Muslims from befriending and establishing social relations with other people is completely flawed. It contradicts the reality of today and that of our Islamic history. It is also a dangerous worldview as some have claimed that befriending the non-believers is an act that may render one to become an infidel (kafir). This line of thought is highly problematic.

Historically, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) had co-existed peacefully with people of various faith communities. He lived alongside the Christians and Jews both in Makkah and Madinah. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) did not cut off ties with the entire Jewish community even when there were some apparent disputes with some of the Jewish tribes in Madinah. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) recognised the Jews as a single community with the Muslims in Madinah.

4. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) respected other religions

Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) had also entrusted several non-Muslims in the pivotal moments of Islamic history. For example, in the event of the Hijrah, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) had relied on Abdullah Bin Uraiqit, who was not a Muslim, to guide and navigate him and his companion Abu Bakar (RA) as they left Makkah for Madinah. In a Hadith recorded in Sahih Bukhari, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) visited a Jewish boy who used to serve him until he was sick. The Prophet’s kind manners demonstrate the beauty of his teachings which ultimately inspired the boy to accept the Prophetic message. These are examples of exemplary social interactions between Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and people of other faiths. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) did not disassociate from the religious other in social interactions.

Beyond his social relations with people of other faiths, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) also emphasised that ties of kinship should not be severed as a result of differences in faith. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) advised his companion, Sa’ad Bin Abi Waqqas, to continue maintaining a good relationship with his mother, even though they did not share the same faith. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) emphasised that ties of kinship should not be affected by one’s faith and belief. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) himself was close to his uncle Abu Talib and he was his close confidant. Abu Talib was instrumental in the success of the Prophetic message. He provided the Prophet (Peace be upon him) with protection against adversaries that had tried to stop the Prophet (Peace be upon him) from pursuing his mission. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) also showered his uncle with endearing love and respect. His demise left an empty space in the Prophet’s heart.

5. The noble Qur’an encourages friendships with non-Muslims

In Islam, there is nothing wrong for us to be close to and befriend those who do not share our belief system. We can always extend our friendships with anyone we wish to be our friends and to accept friends, regardless of what they believe in. A friend in need is a friend indeed. And indeed, some of our friends are those who do share our beliefs, but what we all have in common are our ties of humanity, and more personally, our strong bonds of sincere friendship.

Beyond friendship, at the family level, Muslims are still obligated to maintain good ties with family, kin, and relatives, regardless of their religious orientations. A Muslim son or daughter still needs to take care of their non-Muslim parents. Muslims can continue to maintain familial ties with relatives who do not share the same beliefs. Muslims can visit them, attend family events, join them in celebrating happy occasions and in grieving for their losses, such as attending funerals. This is the beauty of the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him).

6. Islam promotes peaceful co-existence

A careful examination of the overarching message of the Qur’an, together with various practices of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) would provide sufficient reason for us to reject any narrow or exclusivist interpretations of these verses. There have been several verses in the Qur’an that call us to do good to people of other faiths and encourage us to establish good relations with them. Allah Almighty mentioned:

“And He (Allah) does not forbid you to deal kindly and justly with anyone who has not fought you for your faith or driven you out of your homes; Allah loves the Just.” [Qur’an, 60:8]

Muslims have also been living as minorities in states that are not under Muslim governance, under non-Muslim leader (Negus/Najjashi). The early Muslims have lived in Abyssinia (Habasha/Ethiopia), where they sought refuge from the just ruler, Negus/Najjashi. Even after the Hijrah (migration) to Madinah and subsequently the liberation of Makkah, there were some companions who continued to reside in Abyssinia (Habasha/Ethiopia). The early Muslims had recognised the authority of Negus/Najjashi as a ruler/leader of the land. Negus/Najjashi also did not impose Islamic law on governed land, even after his conversion. He respected the local law and the will of the majority. The Muslims who lived in Abyssinia (Habasha/Ethiopia) had participated in the development of the state they were living in, contributing to its economic growth and prosperity.

There were also examples of early Muslims who had embraced Islam and continued to reside in their non-Muslim countries. A companion by the name of Fudaik (RA) had asked the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) if it was possible for him to continue staying in his hometown, where he was the only Muslim. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) replied:

“O Fudaik! Establish prayers, pay Zakat, avoid evil-doing, and stay wherever you like with your people.” Fudaik said, “I assume that Prophet Muhammad also said ‘(Then) you are as those who migrated.’” [Narrated by Ibn Hibban and Al-Baihaqi]

It is important to note that a sense of belonging or an allegiance to a country does not negate one’s allegiance to Islam, as seen in the Abyssinia (Habasha/Ethiopia) model. These mentioned historical accounts of the companions co-existing with people of other religions show us how faith can still be resolute even in a Muslim-minority environment.

Throughout the Islamic history, Muslims have continued to live as minorities and majorities, and in both instances, Muslims have been living alongside other faith communities. In the eighth century Andalusia (Spain), Muslim and nonk-Muslims co-existed harmoniously. The La Convivencia or religious tolerance framework defined the relationships between Muslims, Jews and Christians in the ninth and 10th century Cordoba. Christians and Jews were recognised as members of the Andalusian community; they were appointed at the Royal Court and contributed to the intellectual and cultural development of the society.

In today’s globalizing world, Muslims continue to live in plural societies. In fact, a third of Muslims today live as minorities around the world. The majority of Muslims also do not live in homogenous societies. Therefore, living as a member of diverse societies, we need to ensure that peace and harmony can be harnessed and maintained. Islam is about peace-building and establishing good relations with humanity.

As Muslims, it is our religious duty to challenge interpretations that seek to cause crisis, discord and promote hatred between Muslims and their neighbours in our societies, either from Muslims or from non-Muslims side. It is our obligation to project the positive image of our faith and categorically reject the exclusivist interpretation of our scriptures. We extend Rahmah (mercy) to all, as taught by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). We need to be confident that our faith does not prescribe us to be distant from other communities, and it clearly does not promote hatred in our relations with others in the name of politics or leadership. In order for us to establish social cohesion, it is important for us to make efforts to know and integrate with others. So yes, we can befriend our non-Muslim friends. And yes, we should! Because, in diversity, lies the beauty of human relationships!

Fellow Nigerians! Anyone can say or claim anything, be it true or false. What distinguishes the truth from falsehood is one’s practice, actions and deeds. If one’s speech conforms to his/her deeds, one is considered truthful and vice versa. To be truthful, you have to walk the talk!

In the case of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), it was not him who talked about or described himself. Rather, it was Allah the Almighty Who described him saying:

“And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.” [Al-Anbiya’, 107]

Therefore Prophet’s mercy was not, in any way, restricted to Muslims. It encompassed all, Muslims and non-Muslims, humans and the Jinn, and even animals and non-living things.

He (Peace be upon him) even showed mercy to those who wronged him or attempted to kill him. Below are some prime examples of the mercy shown to his non-Muslim neighbours, relatives, and fellow countrymen.

If you are a new Muslim facing difficulties dealing with your relatives or a young student who has non-Muslim colleagues or perhaps you are a professional wondering how to interact with your coworkers of different faiths, these Prophetic Hadiths are for you:

• Be kind to your non-Muslim relatives

Asma’u Bint Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (May Allah be pleased with her) said:

“My mother came to me while she was still a polytheist, so I asked the Messenger of Allah, ‘My mother, has come to visit me and she is hoping for (my favour). Shall I maintain good relations with her?’ He (Peace be upon him) replied, ‘Yes, maintain good relations with your mother.’” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

• Is your non-Muslim family hostile? Pray for them

Narrated by Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him):

At-Tufail Ibn Amr came to the Prophet and said, ‘The Daws (tribe) have perished as they disobeyed and refused to accept Islam. So invoke Allah against them.’ But the Prophet said, ‘O Allah! Give guidance to the [the tribe of] Daws and bring them [as Muslims]!’” [Al-Bukhari]

• Exchanging gifts with non-Muslims

Narrated by Ibn Umar: Umar saw a silken cloak for sale draped over a man and requested the Prophet (Peace be upon him) to buy it in order to wear it on Fridays and while meeting delegates. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, ‘This is worn by the one who will have no share in the Hereafter.’ Later on, Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) got some silken cloaks similar to that one, and he sent one to Umar. Umar said to the Prophet (Peace be upon him), ‘How can I wear it, while you said about it what you said?’ The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said, ‘I have not given it to you to wear but to sell or to give to someone else.’ So, Umar sent it to his non-Muslim brother at Makkah before he embraced Islam.” And the Prophet (Peace be upon him) did not blame him for his deed.” [Al-Bukhari]

• Receiving gifts from non-Muslims

The Prophet (Peace be upon him) accepted gifts from non-Muslims too.

Al-Bukhari narrated that a Jewish woman brought him a sheep which was proved later to be poisoned after he ate some of it. The Prophet pardoned her.

However, later on, when Bishr Ibn Al-Bara’, who had also eaten from it, died, the Jewish woman was killed for him.

• Protect non-Muslims rights

A number of the Prophet’s Companions narrated that the Messenger of Allah said:

“Beware, if anyone wrongs a mu’ahid [i.e. a non-Muslim enjoying the protection of Muslims], or diminishes his right, or forces him to work beyond his capacity, or takes from him anything without his consent, I shall be his adversary on the Day of Judgment.” [Abu Dawud]

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Amr, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:

“Whoever killed a mu’ahid shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance can be smelt at a distance of forty years (of traveling).” [Al-Bukhari]

• Visit the sick

Narrated Anas (RA):

“A young Jewish boy used to serve the Prophet and he became sick. So the Prophet went to visit him. He sat near his head and asked him to embrace Islam. The boy looked at his father, who was sitting there. The latter told him to obey the Prophet and the boy embraced Islam. The Prophet came out saying: “Praise be to Allah Who saved the boy from the Hell-fire.” [Al-Bukhari]

• Joining hands in doing business or politics with non-Muslims? Why not?

The Prophet (Peace be upon him) used to do business and enter into dealings with non-Muslims. It was narrated that Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said:

“The Messenger of Allah bought some food on credit from a Jew, and he gave him a shield of his as collateral (rahn).” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

• Respect for deceased persons

Jabir Ibn Hayyan said:

“The Prophet and his Companions stood up for the funeral of a Jew until it disappeared.” [Sunan An-Nasa’i]

The Prophet (Peace be upon him) treated all people well, including non-Muslims. Allah enjoined fairness, kindness, good treatment and rendering back trusts for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The Qur’an says:

“Allah does not forbid you from dealing kindly and fairly with those who have neither fought nor driven you out of your homes. Surely Allah loves those who are fair.” [Qur’an, 60:8]

From this Qur’anic verse we understand that Muslims should be kind to all peaceful people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

As charity begins at home, a Muslim, be it a born Muslim or a new Muslim should deal fairly and nicely with his peers especially when they are family or neighbours.

Fellow Nigerians! Allah Almighty has described Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) as a “Mercy for all the Worlds,” as He said in the Qur’an:

“We have sent you as a mercy for all the worlds.” [Qur’an, 21:107]

This means that the Prophet’s characteristic of being merciful was not just limited to the Muslim Ummah or nation, but it also extended to non-Muslims, despite the fact that some of them (non-Muslims) made every effort to harm the Prophet and his mission. This mercy and forgiveness are clearly demonstrated in several instances when the Prophet (Peace be upon him), despite having opportunities to take revenge, never did so and always forgave even his staunch enemies.

Aisha said that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) never took revenge on his own behalf on anyone. She also said that he never returned evil for evil, but he would forgive and pardon. This will, Allah willing, become clear after a deep analysis of the accounts of his life.

In the earlier portion of his mission, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) traveled to the city of Ta’if, a city located in the mountains nearby to Makkah, in order to invite them to accept Islam. The leaders of Ta’if, however, were rude and discourteous in their treatment of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). Not being content with their insolent attitude toward him (Peace be upon him), they even encouraged unruly urchins of the town to abuse and harass the Prophet (Peace be upon him). The riffraff followed the Prophet shouting at and abusing him, and throwing stones at him, until he was compelled to take refuge in an orchard. Thus the Prophet (Peace be upon him) had to endure even more obstacles in Ta’if than he had had to face in Makkah. These ruffians, stationed either side of the path, threw stones at him until he was deeply injured with his shoes smeared with blood. These oppressions so grievously dejected the Prophet and plunged him into in such a state of depression that a prayer, citing his helplessness and pitiable condition and seeking the aid of Allah, spontaneously came from his lips:

“O Allah, to You I complain of my weakness, lack of resources and humiliation before these people. You are the Most Merciful, the Lord of the weak and my Master. To whom will You consign me? To one estranged, bearing ill will, or an enemy given power over me? If You do not assign me any worth, I care not, for Your favour is abundant upon me. I seek refuge in the light of Your countenance by which all darkness is dispelled and every affair of this world and the next is set right, lest your anger should descend upon me or Your displeasure light upon me. I need only Your pleasure and satisfaction for only You enable me to do good and evade the evil. There is no power and no might but You.”

The Lord then sent the angel of mountains, seeking the permission of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) to join together the two hills and crush the city of Ta’if, between which it was located. Out of his great tolerance and mercy, the Messenger of Allah replied:

“No! For, I hope that Allah will bring forth from their loins people who will worship Allah alone, associating nothing with Him.” [Muslim]

His mercy and compassion was so great that on more than one occasion, Allah, Himself, reprimanded him for it. One of the greatest opponents of Islam and a personal enemy, was Abdullah Bin Ubay, the leader of the hypocrites of Madinah. Outwardly proclaiming Islam, he surreptitiously inflicted great harm to the Muslims and the mission of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). Knowing his state of affairs, the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) still offered the funeral prayer for him and prayed to Allah for his forgiveness. The Qur’an mentions this incident in these words:

“And never (O Muhammad) pray for one of them who dies, nor stand by his grave. Lo! They disbelieve in Allah and His Messenger, and they died while they were evil doers.” [Qur’an, 9:84]

Abdullah Bin Ubay worked all his life against the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and Islam and left no stone unturned so as to bring him into disrepute and try to defeat his mission. He withdrew his three hundred supporters in the battle of Uhud and thus almost broke the backbone of the Muslims at one stroke. He engaged in intrigues and acts of hostility against the Prophet of Islam and the Muslims. It was he who tried to bring shame to the Prophet by inciting his allies to falsely accuse the Prophet’s wife, Aisha, of adultery in order to discredit him and his message.

Fellow Nigerians! The general policy in Islam is to guarantee full rights to non-Muslim populations and therefore people subscribing to other religions were granted full civic rights by the virtue of the Qur’an and through the application of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). Non-Muslim populations living within Muslim communities were granted peaceful and prosperous life through guaranteeing security for both their lives and properties and were given the appellation of “ahlul-Dhimmah” which denotes those people with whom Muslims have an agreement or the responsibility of their personal safety and security of their property are undertaken by the Muslim state.

The basic guidelines which were laid by the Prophet in the early stage in Madinah where he established a city-state formed a blue print of how Muslims should deal with Christians and Jews among many other adherents to different religions. Granting minority rights to different religious groups through pledges, documents and mutual agreements succeeded in creating a healthy atmosphere for the development of both spiritual and material growth of the different religious groups living under the Islamic rule.

In order to achieve and grant full rights for different religious minorities living in Madinah, the Prophet initiated a historical charter which was later known as “the Charter of the Madinah.” By the virtue of this charter, preventive measures were in place to avoid blood feuds and crimes among different Arabian tribes composed of all creeds. The universality of the Islamic creed was meant for the totality of human beings and this necessitated fair treatment and full equality to those who chose not to subscribe to the Islamic view on life. Prophet Muhammad made a historical move of abolishing religious and social inequality. The sixth year of the Hijrah was considered a year of emancipation for Christians as the Prophet granted the Charter to the Fathers of the Monastery of St. Catherine; an act which secured Christians with privileges and amenities.

Muslims were prohibited under severe penalties from violating and abusing the provisions of the Charter. Prophet Muhammad was adamant to ensure religious freedom to non-Muslims across the Islamic state and for this reason he sent instructions to distant Muslims governors not to tax them unfairly or enforce them to abandon their faith. Their churches and sanctuaries could not be pulled down and replaced by mosques or houses for Muslims. Moreover, Muslims were asked to cooperate with Christians should they need an assistance for the repair of their churches or monasteries or any other matter related to their religion.

Prophet Muhammad was keen to grant religious minorities sufficient judicial autonomy which was a basic characteristic of the Islamic legal system. Through granting religious freedom to different religious groups, the Prophet meant to set guidelines on how we should treat each other fairly which leads to the prevention of blood shed and wars among nations. The Prophet throughout his life had a tenacity of the purpose of establishing peace among nations through signing different pacts, and treaties to ensure peaceful coexistence and security to all people. This is proven through pacts like the Peace of Hudaibiyyah and the Treaty of Ta’if. Another famous example is the treaty of Najran which was delivered to Christians of Najran and it surrounding area. The document reads:

“To the Christians of Najran and its surrounding territories, the security of Allah and the pledge of His Prophet is extended for their lives, religion and their property- to the present as well as the absent, and others besides, there shall be no interference within the practice of their faith or their observance nor any change in their rights and privileges, no bishop shall be removed from his bishopric, nor any priest from his priesthood, nor any monk from his monastery, and they shall continue to enjoy everything great and small as heretofore no image or cross hall be destroyed, they shall not oppress or be oppressed; they shall not practice the rights of blood-vengeance as in the Days of Ignorance (Jahiliyyah), nor shall they be required to furnish provisions for the troops.”

The treaty of Najran is an illuminating proof of how Islam unreservedly conferred upon the Scripturalists not only social and religious freedom but also granted them the power to decide their own civil matters through establishing judicial autonomy which was not only pertinent to personal status but also covers civil, penal and all life affairs. Religious freedom and independent judicial system laid the foundation of a true confederacy which had a constitution through which different religious groups became an integral part of a political arrangement by means of a social contract. The integration of non-Muslims in the political life through becoming real contributing players marked a milestone in the history of human rights. For instance, Jews and Christians had the right to join the services of the state. They had the privilege of being consulted on important matters. They were sometimes deputed to embassies in foreign countries. They exercised the right to vote. Their opinions were thought on the administrative affairs of the state. Above all, non-Muslims continued to live in both Makkah and Madinah and there are reports of Christians being buried by their Muslim children in Madinah.

Eradicating injustice and ill treatment to different social and religious groups was not meant as a bait to lure new converts into Islam but actually was meant to rectify the crooked way of looking and thinking of other human beings who do not happen to share the same social status or religious affiliation. Once some Christian Fathers came to visit the Prophet in his mosque at Madinah to discuss the merits of a true religion, but during their stay they couldn’t find a church to offer their prayers so the Prophet offered them his mosque to pray in it. On another occasion there was a delegation from the tribe of Thaqif visiting the Prophet so a tent was fixed up for them within the premises of the Prophet’s mosque. When it was pointed that the visitors were polytheists, the Prophet said in reply that no one was such but he made himself one.

The pinnacle of religious tolerance and clemency was provided by the Prophet upon his victorious entry to Makkah after long years of suffering and persecution by the non- Muslim Makkans. The Prophet and his companions endured ridicule and scorn poured on them by the Makkans who had implacable hatred and enmity against Muslims. The long years of bitter, cruel and sustained persecution, all the fighting, the hardship and suffering and the loss of a lot of dear and devoted companions; all these were laid aside at the moment of triumph, banished from mind and forgiven in the name of the Lord. The clemency of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was unparalleled in the history of mankind for the accused were told that they were free. Giving a pledge to this effect, the Prophet informed the Makkans they were free and there was no reproof against them. The glorious act of unconditional forgiving has no similar act available on record. There occurred no retaliation, no dispossession, no enslavement, no execution, no looting and no kidnapping and dishonouring of women by the conquerors.

What Prophet Muhammad achieved was not less than opening a new chapter of tolerance and justice in world history. Establishing an independent judiciary system free from external influences guaranteed the protection of the interests of the citizens and securing justice for all regardless of their colour or creed. The scrupulous observation and literal adherence of the Muslims to the terms of the pacts, treaties, alliances and agreements with non-Muslims was a foundational step into establishing an effective system of international law.

By setting clear rules for war engagements and prohibiting Muslims soldiers from excesses in war fares, Prophet Muhammad left indelible imprint on the annals of humanity. In his endeavour to establish rules of justice and freedom for different religious groups, Prophet Muhammad emphasised in different occasions that:

“Whoever oppresses a Dhimmi, shall find me to be their advocate on the Day of Judgment (against the oppressing Muslim).”

The Prophet also warned the Muslims against abusing Dhimmis as he stated:

“Remember, one who is unjust to a Dhimmi, breaks his word with him, overburdens him or dispossesses him, I shall plead against him on the Day of Judgment.”

Prophet Muhammad was sent as a mercy to the world to establish the true meaning of brotherhood among humans as they should all stand united regardless of their skin colour or theological belief. He succeeded in liberating man from the bondage of man. He gave the dynamic conception of an undivided humanity, the family of Man, the children of Adam. He managed to raise the ambitions of people from the limited confinements of national identity to the liberal wide-open meaning of humanity.

The world is passing through a dark phase of moral bankruptcy, social disintegration and parochial loyalties which helped in inciting wars and increasing the weight of the roaring voices calling for enmity and hatred. Prophet Muhammad’s message sanctified the life of all human beings irrespective of their racial origin or religious affiliation. He taught us the true meaning of mercy to all and came to confirm the essence of the three Abrahamic faiths; an essence based on dispassionate love for humanity regardless of colour, culture or creed.

Fellow Nigerians! Clashes that repeatedly occurred between Arab tribes during the forbidden months were referred to in general as the Fijar Battles. There are four such battles known to have taken place during the Age of Ignorance (Jahiliyyah), the last one being between the tribes of Quraish and Kinanah, in which the future Prophet–upon him blessings and peace-, still twenty years of age at the time, also took part but without shedding any blood; he merely collected the stray arrows shot by the enemy and handed them to his uncles. [See Sirah of Ibn Hisham]

The battle came to an end in the month of Dhul-qa’adah, one of the months deemed holy by Arabs. Not long after, a Yemenite tradesman from the tribe of Zubaid arrived in Makkah to sell his goods. The Makkan, Ass Ibn Wa’il, one of the richest tradesmen of the town, purchased the goods brought by the man but did not pay the price he had promised. Helpless, the poor man asked the help of the strong clans Abdud-Dar, Mahzum, Jumah, Sahm and Adiy Ibn Ka’ab tribes, but to no avail. They even scolded him for seeking his rights.

Unable to find help in resolving the problem, the embittered Yemenite trader climbed the hill of Abu Qubais near the Ka’abah and recited a poem, which began with the words ‘O Sons of Fihr’, referring to the reputed forefather of the Makkans, explaining the injustice he had suffered at the hands of Ass Ibn Wa’il, calling out for the help of Makkans who had gathered around the Ka’abah at that time. The first man making a move to help was Zubair, the Prophet’s uncle, who organised a meeting at the house of Abdullah Ibn Jud’an, attended by many notables of Makkah.

There, they joined hands, they formed a group, they made a solemn pledge to defend and restore the rights of anyone, beginning with the Yemenite, who suffers any injustice within the borders of Makkah, and to struggle against tyrants on behalf of the weak, “as long as mounts Hirah and Sabir stood in their places and until there was enough water left in seas to moist a single strand of hair.”

The newly founded society remained strong even after they successfully regained the rights of the Yemenite from Ass Ibn Wa’il and remained on its feet to help the victims of injustice thereafter, trying its utmost to restore justice among people. [Ibn Kathir, in Al-bidayah wan-nihaya]

Being entrenched in justice and based on helping the weak, the Hilful-Fudul was the first group that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) supported and joined (himself and non-Muslims) during the Age of Ignorance (Jahiliyyah), remembering the society with sympathy long after his Prophethood, he said:

“I was present with my uncles at the house of Abdullah Ibn Jud’an when the Hilful-Fudul was established. So satisfied was I with it that being given red camels (the most prized Arab commodity at the time) in its place could not have satisfied me more. If I were invited to participate in such a group even today, I would certainly accept the offer without hesitation.” [Ibn Kathir, in al-Bidayah wan-nihaya]

Fellow Nigerians! What I want you to understand is, today in our dear country, we are looking and praying for a vibrant, just, healthy, powerful, knowledgeable and sincere leader, whom Allah Almighty will use to unite the people of the country, whom Allah will use rectify the economy of the country, whom Allah will use to bring an end to the problems of insecurity bedeviling the country, and whom Allah will use to make all Nigerians happy, irrespective of his region, tribe, creed and religion.

Please, we should not listing to those people, from both sides of Muslims and Christians, trying to divide us and make us be killing each other in the name of politics!

Nigeria belongs to all of us Nigerians. Muslims and non-Muslims. We are not fighting for Muslim president or non-Muslim president, we are fighting for a good president who everyone will be happy with!

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 22, 1443 A.H. (March 25, 2022).

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Opinion

A tribute to Professor Jibril Isa Diso: A symbol of resilience and wisdom

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Ibraheem Ladi Amosa

 

In the hallowed halls of academia, rare souls leave ineradicable marks on the hearts and minds of those they touch. Today, with full submission to the will of Allah, we mourn the loss of such a luminary, *Professor Jibril Isa Diso, the first blind professor in Nigeria.* A symbol of hope, resilience, and wisdom, Professor Jibril’s journey from Tudun Maliki School for Special Needs to the esteemed Department of Special Education at Bayero University Kano epitomizes the triumph of the human spirit.

Born in Gwale, Kano State, Professor Jibril’s life was a testament to the power of determination and the boundless potential that lies within each of us, regardless of our physical limitations. His early years at Tudun Maliki School for Special Needs were marked by an unwavering pursuit of knowledge, a journey that saw him rise above challenges with an indomitable will and an insatiable thirst for learning.

Joining Bayero University Kano in 1994, Jibril’s academic voyage was nothing short of extraordinary. In 2019, he shattered the glass ceiling to become Nigeria’s first visually impaired professor, a milestone that echoed far beyond the walls of the university. His ascent was not merely a personal triumph but a symbol of hope and inspiration for countless individuals living with special needs. His rich profile served as a roadmap for others, illustrating that disability is not a barrier but a unique facet of one’s identity that can be embraced and celebrated.

Professor Jibril Isa Diso’s legacy is marked by perseverance, intellectual brilliance, and dedication to societal betterment. As a role model to all, he demonstrated that true sight lies in the heart and mind. His journey inspires us to break barriers, seek knowledge, and champion inclusivity. Though he has passed, his enduring light and wisdom continue to guide and inspire countless others in Nigerian academia and beyond.

O Allah, forgive him and have mercy on him and give him strength and pardon him. 

Ibraheem Ladi Amosa
markazihyaahisunnah@gmail.com

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Opinion

Kano Games Of The Throne: A Fight To Finish

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By Sanusi Bature Dawakin Tofa

“If you pursue evil with pleasure, the pleasure passes away and the evil remains; If you pursue good with labor, the labor passes away but the good remains.”— Cicero

At the first instance, the division of the Kano Emirate and elevation of the District Heads of Bichi, Rano, Karaye and Gaya to First Class Emirs was one to spite Emir Sanusi, who after all, did not give a wink.

Unsatisfied that dividing the Kano Emirate did not distract the popular Emir Sanusi from speaking truth to power, Ganduje and his co-travellers concocted allegations of insubordination that led to the unjust dethronement and banishment of Emir Sanusi, an action, which was widely condemned by men of good conscience.

Emir Sanusi fought and secured his freedom and fundamental human rights of freedom of movement through the Court; and moved on with his life, going about doing good and offering valuable advise to administrators and leaders across the world for a better world.

During his electioneering campaigns, part of the promises made to the people of Kano by Governor Yusuf was that his administration will not only restore the battered traditional institution of Kano, but will also reinstate Emir Sanusi who was maliciously removed by ex-Governor Ganduje.

Based on this promise, among others, the good people of Kano state overwhelmingly voted for Abba Gida-Gida. Today, the Governor has no choice, than to implement and execute the wishes of the people.

It is a social contract he signed with the people of Kano, which must be fulfilled, no matter, whose, Ox is gored.

In any case, Governor Yusuf’s populist action is not new to Kano political cum traditional landscape.

Adequate legal steps were taken to repeal the Kano Emirate Council Law (2019).

The enactment of the Emirate Council Law (2024) ensured the death and burial of Kano Emirate Law (2019), maliciously created by Ganduje as a weapon to humiliate and ridicule Emir Sanusi.

Indeed, Emir Sanusi’s return as the 16th Emir of Kano rekindled important aspect of Kano history which played out in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Recall that during the administration of ex-Governor Abubakar Rimi of blessed memory, there was an attempt to create five emirates in Kano State by splitting the Kano Emirate into five.

Some members of the royal family and other traditional rulers, who saw it as an attempt to weaken the Kano Emirate’s influence opposed this move.

However, Rimi went ahead with the plan and created the new emirates of Gaya, Karaye, Dutse, Rano, and Kano in April 1981.

The Kano Emirate was reduced in size and given a more ceremonial role, while the new emirates were granted more administrative and political powers.

The Emir of Kano at the time was not deposed. But was queried for his movements in July 1981 after returning from a journey.

The move led to riots in Kano and Rimi never recovered politically and resigned in 1983 after falling out with Aminu Kano.

When Governor Sabo Bakin Zuwo took over in 1983, he reversed the decision and restored the Kano Emirate to its original size and status, with the other emirates abolished.

His decision was seen as an attempt to restore the traditional balance of power and to address the concerns of those who opposed the creation of the new emirates.

Sabo Bakin Zuwo’s action was viewed by many as reflecting the wishes of the people, just the same way the good people of Kano state are hailing the People’s Governor, Alhaji Abba Kabir Yusuf for restoring the integrity of Kano Emirate.

I can vividly recall that many northern leaders and elite condemned the decision of Ganduje to balkanize the Kano Emirate into five in 2019.

They criticized the decision. They questioned the motive. They foresaw the consequences. They advised Ganduje against it, but all their overtures fell into deaf ears.

A renowned historian at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Prof. Nadir Nasidi, is among the experts who opposed the creation of the new emirates in Kano. According to him: “Kano is the only Emirate in the country with one unifying king. The creation of unnecessary kings is not palatable.

Many people, including myself, told the Ganduje administration that what he was doing wasn’t a good one.”

It is also pertinent to note that nobody agitated for the creation of four other Emirates in Kano.

It was entirely the sole decision of Ganduje and his gang to create problem in Kano’s traditional institution simply because they do not like the face and patriotic stance of Emir Sanusi.

The people of Kano never asked to be divided. We are one people. Nobody asked for new emirates.

So, what we are dealing with is a situation where somebody divided us. Kano Emirate is a kingdom that has existed for over 1000 years.

If you go to the king’s list in Kano, the king’s list from Baguada starts in 999 AD. We have a list of kings from Baguada up to the 16th Emir of Kano, Khalifa Muhammad Sanusi II.

Last Thursday, a Federal High Court, sitting in Kano, presided over by Justice A.M. Liman affirmed Aminu Bayero’s deposition as Emir of Kano. The Court also held the validity of Kano Emirate Law (2024).

Indeed, Justice Liman’s ruling, brought to an end, the argument on the deposition of former Emir Aminu Ado Bayero as the court ruled that the new Kano Emirate Repeal Law 2024 remains valid.

According to the ruling, all five Emirates of Gaya, Rano, Karaye, Kano and Bichi remained abolished.

While delivering the ruling, Justice A.M. Liman held that the Kano Emirate Repeal Law 2024 remains the law and its validity is intact but actions taken after assenting the law when an order from the court was issued are voided.

Recall that Governor Yusuf had assented to the new law and reinstated the 14th Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II as the 16th Emir of one united Kano at the same time.

The Liman, however, declared that: “Law is still the law, but actions carried out in the execution of the law are set aside.”

Justice Liman also granted a stay of proceeding and transfered the case to his learned brother of court three, Justice Amobeda.

This bars all parties from taking any step to enforce the ruling till after determination of the appeal. By this decision of the Federal High Court, the five former Emirs including that of Kano with eight Local Government Areas remain deposed and the defunct Emirates remained abolished.

It is therefore, ascertained that the 16th Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II remains on throne and Aminu Ado Bayero remains deposed while the legal tussle continues.

There is no gainsaying the fact that forces from outside the state are hanging up with the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) to destabilize security in Kano, all in a bid to distract and discredit the administration of Governor Yusuf.

They are intentionally fueling the Kano Emirate crises to achieve their evil ambition.

The National Leader of our great party, the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, saw the handwriting on the wall when during the flag-off of 82-kilometer rural road construction in his Madobi country home declared that the people of Kano will resist any attempt to undermine the constituted authority in the state. The Grand Commander of the Kwankwasiyya Movement reminded them that: “We have mass followership because people believe in us. We are pro-people and the NNPP administration is determined to serve them anywhere they voted for it.

We will not fold our arms and watch enemies of the state destroying the peaceful co-existence of our dear state, as we shall do everything possible to support the governor to succeed.

I am happy that he is not distracted and is focused on achieving his goals.

“There are people from Kano, enemies of the state, who also suffer mental illness and are the ones advising the Federal Government on how to take over Kano through a State of Emergency.

This is madness of the highest order that the good, peace loving and committed people Kano will resist.

In the build up to 2027, some desperate politicians are already on a mission of disruption, but we will rather prefer the two of us to loose than to allow them crush us.

We dare anybody, who thinks he can victimise us politically, to go and be rest assured that we are ready for the fight.

We are not afraid to be out of power because we will remain politicians in or out of government.

We cannot run away from our destiny, we are humans, we know what is good for us and we will pursue it vigorously.

The Federal Government is listening to some unpatriotic politicians from Kano, who will only contribute to its failure because the people of Kano will resist any attempt to undermine the constitutional responsibility of the Governor by any individual or group.

We are open to dialogue, truce and reconciliation, but we will not accept intimidation and political harassment of any sort.

We know how to play politics and we have all it takes to protect ourselves from any evil.”

More so, during the 6th edition of Shagalin Bikin Sallah, organized by the Kwankwasiyya Development Foundation (KDF) in honour of Senator Kwankwaso, held at his Miller Road residence last Tuesday, the former Defence Minister and Presidential candidate of NNPP in the 2023 general elections, reminded the audience that the Kwankwassiya members, where ever they are, remain peaceful people! And we will keep on being peaceful.

Our leader recalled that, “in 2019, we won election in this state (Kano), but the enemies of the State worked against us through INEC, through the Court, and so on, but what happened is now history.

The same thing! This time around, in 2023, we won election, overwhelmingly, and there was a lot of efforts by the enemies of the State, who are the minority here-mm, they worked so hard to take it; but by the grace of God, Allah in his own wisdom, decided to ensure justice is done; and I am sure that has gone a long way in maintaining peace and order in the State.

Now, it looks like the enemies are at it again! You know what is happening on the issue of the Emirate Council. We thank all those who are supporting the position of the government. We are one and we will continue to be one.”

Indeed, it amuses me when some people question the choice of Emir Muhammad Sanusi II! Ours is a government determined not to fail the people of Kano state.

Governor Yusuf craves to getting the best of team capable of giving Kano the best it deserves in terms of leadership and dispensation of democratic dividends.

In Emir Sanusi II we have an invaluable adviser that can help take Kano to greater heights. People from across the globe seek for his advice on economy and other divergent issues.

They tap from his wealth of experience in building community and nations.

Why then should we not make adequate and proper use of the asset God has bestowed on the people of Kano? Emir Sanusi II is an asset that we cannot afford to wish away.

An accomplished administrator, banker, financial risk manager, former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), motivational speaker, and above all, leader with unflinching love, charity to humanity and fear of God.

We cannot wish him away. Kano state cannot wish him away.

Therefore, emir Muhammadu Sanusi is here to stay as the Governor retains the exclusive right to depose or appoint emir in whatever circumstance.

The courageous leader and the Executive Governor of Kano His Excellency Alhaji Abba Kabir Yusuf is known for his determination to take any decision if he truly believe that decision will change the narrative of the state in a positive way.

Those thinking that Gov. Yusuf will have a rethink on his decision about reinstatement of Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II would certainly be disappointed, as a prince, a blood of the royal family and a political leader, the Governor is ready for the fight to finish on the ongoing emirate tussle.

“As it is today, the Governor retains the exclusive right to appoint or depose an emir in the state and to the layman’s understanding, matter of chieftancy is completely in the hands of state High Courts, there have been so many authority to it through various Supreme Court judgments.”

Former Emir of the Kano metro, Aminu Ado Bayero as simple as he used to be should have known that the Governor’s decision stands, it was the same executive power aided by the amendment of Emirate’s law by the State Assembly used by the former Ganduje to dethrone Emir Sanusi II and apointed him.

For the records, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero was never an emir of Kano, he was appointed an emir of eight metropolitant local government areas and from the look of things, he lacks all the qualities of an emir who is supposed to be patient and loyal to constituted authority.

By the new law which was accepted as valid by the latest judgement, Alhaji Aminu should resume to his former title of Wanban Kano and district head of Dala if he so wish.

My candid advise to him is and of course it’s coming from my sincire heart, staying in graveyard of late emirs at Nasarawa cemetery will not in anyway make the Governor revert his decision, the earlier Alhaji Aminu realise this the better for him to take a suit into the style of the 16th emir Sanusi II when he was dethroned, he should resigned to fate and accept his destiny by moving forward as a free man to once again enjoy his life as a private citizen.

No amount of pressure, harassments and intimidation from within and outside Kano will stop Kano state government from insisting on Khalifa Muhammad Sanusi II as the 16th Emir of one and indivisible Kano Emirate.

I conclude with the quotes of our leader, Senator Kwankwaso that: “The average Kano person does not want injustice; and that is the position of the Kwankwasiyya Movement. Our fathers and great grand-fathers fought injustice; and we will continue to do it as their sons and daughters here in Kano.”

Sanusi Bature Dawakin Tofa is the spokesperson to Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf/Director-General, Media and Publicity , Government House, Kano

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Opinion

What, Exactly, is Kannywood? – Kannywood and Hausa Visual Counterculture

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Prof. Abdalla Uba Adamu

 

I will begin with the end, and in the end, I will end with the beginning.

What is Kannywood?

A Wikipedian provided this perspective: “Kannywood is the sobriquet for Hausa-language cinema. It is a part of the larger Nigerian cinema, known as Nollywood, which includes other production centres producing films in many other Nigerian languages.”

The emphasis, according to this Wikipedian, is on language, and they provided this perspective to distinguish Kannywood from its ‘larger cousin’, Nollywood. This means, whether we like it or not, Kannywood will continuously be seen as part of Nollywood, until we change the narrative ourselves and stopped being awed by an industry that is definitely junior to our own. Let me share a personal experience.

I was privileged to be a Zuma Film Festival Jury in its 2010 edition, as well as the paper presenter. I was the only northerner in the Jury, but not the only Hausa. The team was led by Rahmatou Keïta a Nigeriène Hausa journalist and filmmaker based in Paris. Films were submitted from all over the world, including many from Kannywood, and of course, Nollywood. We sat down over croissants and coffee to decide the approach we should adopt in awarding categories to the films.

Right there and then it was decided that there was no way any Kannywood film will win the ‘Best’ of the categories – Picture, Actor, Actress, Script, Cinematography, etc. I argued that if we went by this reasoning—for which there was no rational basis—that would exclude indigenous language films from getting recognition, including those from Nollywood not in English language. A lot of arguments ensured about production values, storylines, meeting the Zuma Festival submission requirements, etc.

In the end, after two hours of back and forth, I was asked to suggest a category in which all local language films would fit in, even if from Nollywood. I suggested Indigenous Film category. This was accepted. If it was any consolation, foreign film entries were also lumped into “Best Foreign Film”. Meaning that ONLY Nollywood films will get all the glory of being the Best of the best in everything. Thus, for the Nigerian Film Corporation, Kannywood is just a subset of Nollywood. Begging the question, What is Kannywood?

The least NFC can do is to reimagine the festival according to film cultures. Let us say, for the sake of the argument, NFC recognizes Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo film cultures. A separate festival can be held for each of these cultures celebrating their ‘Best’ actors, actresses, cinematography, script, etc. As it is now, no matter how excellent, for instance, a Hausa actor is (or think he is), he will never be ‘Best Actor’ in the NFC festival. And good luck to him attempting to be the Best Actor in a ‘mainstream’ Nollywood film in which he merely appears as a token Aboki to attract audiences to a Nollywood film.

Now, let me address the other variable in this post. “Counterculture” refers to a cultural group whose values, norms, and practices are significantly different from and often in opposition to those of the mainstream society. These groups often challenge established societal norms and advocate for alternative lifestyles or beliefs. Counterculture is expressed in various forms, including popular culture.

Counterculture became critical in contemporary Hausa media anthropology because of the rapid rise and adoption of visual technologies through social media by Hausa youth of all shades—male, female and often transitioning or LGBT+. The visibility in social media provides Hausa youth with a paradoxical cloak of invisibility, in what I refer to as ‘invisible visibilities.’ They visually, boldly and unapologetically appear brash, aggressive, suggestive, sexual, assertive and insouciant. For the most part, we don’t know who they are, despite seeing them and applauding, hailing, hating or cursing them.

The rise and popularity of social media provided Hausa youth with a perfect visual counterculture template. Crude at the beginning, but getting sophisticated as time flies. Initially restricting themselves to the ‘big’ social media – YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat—the arrival of more flexible platforms, mainly TikTok, Reels, gave the freedom to let loose creative energies.

YouTube provided the first explicit platform. It led to the emergence of what I call ‘Hausa Adult Influencers’ They included Muneerat Abdulsalam, Yasmin Harka, Laure Jibiya, Ummi Zandar, Tani Harka 24, etc. They dispense raw explicit advice on heterosexual adult relationships; Laure Jibiya, possibly a pseudonym, was the only one who dispenses her advice from an Arabian face veil, making it difficult to identify her. Ummi Zinder uses a name that has possible connotation to nudity: Hausa zindir; but could also be a referent to Zinder, the Nigeriène city, locally called Damagaram. Falmati Chadi, again like others, without any other traceable history, would appear to come from Chad Republic.

Obviously, each approaches her broadcast—all in the Hausa language—with a script, a production schedule, and a series of technical and editing equipment, all put together by a person who acts as a director. The large numbers of views generated by these channels are completed by internet bots that rip the audios from the videos and make it easy for users to download the voices without having to log on to the video channel – which saves data, and at the same time, enable clandestine engagement with the contents of the channels without the videos.

Of course, they are countless other Hausa-centric YouTube uploads—ranging from music, to short films and comedy skits. Some audaciously affix ‘Kannywood’ to their channels—which is okay since no one owns ‘Kannywood’ as a label for anything. Are these YouTube uploads ‘films?’ Can they be referred to as Kannywood, even if they are NOT necessarily based in Kano or aimed specifically at the markets in Kano?

Enter TikTok and Reels. Millions of videos. Short attention-grabbing dialogues. Some with structured scripts and actors, shooting schedule, clear effective direction and editing, And messages; for it is not all pearls of fun and laughter.

Take Dan Bello. A professional cinematographer and scriptwriter. With world class video and editing equipment, storyline, excellent editing. With script no Hausa filmmaker dare to write or visualize: a critique of society and governance. A 30-second script unraveling over 30 years of spiral corruption and misgovernance. Are we still in Kannywood?

What of Yagamen? Or Murja Ibrahim Kunya. Love her. Hate her. You can’t ignore her. That’s for sure. Capable of evoking almost all emotional ranges: amusement, annoyance, irritation, exasperation, pity, adoration in virtual stand-up monologues. She expresses her thoughts explicitly and does not care whose ox is gored. She has made several allusions to being ‘Kannywood’. Cultural Kannywood will dispute this membership of their hallowed cult. So where do you put Eddie Murphy, Richard Prior, Tracy Morgan, Jamie Foxx, Whoopi Goldberg and other comedians who became some of the biggest names in Hollywood?

And G-Fresh Al-Amin. An excellent rapper whom I mentored once (listen to his ‘Kano to California Remix’). Can he lay claim to Kannywood? Or Hassan Makeup, Sadiqa (previously known as Sadiq) and other influencers with alternative sexualities. Daring to boldly go where no Kannywood producer will dare to go. I know. Purist will claim these are not Kannywood. These social media Hausa alterities lay claim to Kannywood – only that they provide a countercultural narrative. Each skit, monologue provides a story, completing with a marketing structure; for the money is made in the AdSense clicks some have activated. Bringing in few dollars. And no censorship.

If we debunk Hausa counterculture alterities as not being serious, not being ‘films’ in the accepted sense (whose accepted sense?) then how do we explain cinéma vérité? If you have a strong stance on a political or social issue, cinéma vérité is a vehicle to express and defend your opinions. All the Hausa counterculture videographers can be lumped as cinéma vérité—a perfectly valid form of cinematic expression. It combines improvisation with use of the camera to unveil truth or highlight subjects hidden behind reality.

This, of course, excluded religious or journalistic social media as these are focused on a particular topic often in a didactic and linear fashion. Counterculture social media is about rebellion to the established public culture, or teasing out things public culture would rather hide or gloss over in a ‘conventional’ cinematic expression.

TikTokers Khadijah Ibraheem and Anti Hussaina use this technique to criticize—as well as appreciate—boys (“kai, guy ɗin nan ya sha wanka”). And in case you label them something else for expression their frank views, they do so in full Muslim hijab, and all clean dialogue. Not a single swear or foul word. Contrast their dialogue with Murja Ibrahim Kunya – all about female sexuality, but in different delivery modes. Aminu J and Abis Fulani provide critical commentaries on news events. Bilal Villa is transnational in using local resident Lebanese in his dialogues, giving a unique dimension to commentary on Kano society. Still not Kannywood? How about this, then.

One of the craziest aspects of Kano is that even people with clearly mental health issues become celebrities in a process the literature refers to Celebrification. The last three years saw the emergence of Ale (a Kano specific corruption of the word, Alhaji) Rufa’i Bulgates (another corruption, of Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft), the man who created new virtual currencies, ‘Gangalion’ and ‘Americallion’. He uses this currency to buy whole countries. His relatives reported his skit makers to the police and an order was issued banning making any videos of him taking advantage of his gullibility. They started regretting it later, because….

…no sooner had he disappeared from the scene, than another one emerged. Ale Umar Bush. A load-carrier in the Kwanar Singer segment of the Kano Sabon Gari Market. In a short period of time, he became stupendously rich because the way he amuses people with incredibly horrible foul language. I guarantee you, no language provides the most disgusting foul abuses like the Hausa language. This guy knew them all and utters them with relish and stern face. Like a circus performer, he gets invited to meet important people and foreigners, including Arabs and Indians, to be feted for their amusement, with videos taken and sent to their countries: “hey, look, a crazy African.” I once flew in the same plane with him to Abuja where he was invited to provide amusement to people who are presumably mentally healthy, but enjoy teasing a mental patient. Like kids holding a hapless insect in their hands and getting amused at ripping off each of its wings.

Now, he is a film star. Yes, he has just starred in his first 12-minute film, “Sallah Ram Deal in Kano”. It was produced by Abdulgafar Ahmad Oluwatoyin, aka Cuteabiola, a Nollywood comedian, who starred in it. Someone has found a way of weaving a script around a foul-mouthed mental patient and creating amusement for non-mental health people. Cute Abiola himself posted the story on his Facebook timeline. It generated 471 comments, hugely appreciative of this new dimension of Northern Nollywood, and 272 shares. Are we still in Kannywood?

Over the last five years, social media has enabled the creation of Hausa countercultural microcinema—short films, often created with low budgets and minimal equipment, which is a good fit for the brief, often amateur or semi-professional nature of social media videos—and cinéma verité that provide a countercultural narrative to life in both urban and rural Hausa societies. Cinema is multifaceted medium that combines art, technology, and industry to create and share moving images, offering a powerful means of storytelling and cultural expression. Nothing says how long it has to be. Or how expert the cinema maker has to be.

The whole point of my argument is that Hausa social media counterculture skitters, shorties, documentaries, comedies, the whole ball of wax, are increasingly claiming they are also Kannywood. The non-counterculture Kannywood leadership on the other hand struggle hard to create a dividing line. They faced this with the Hiyana incidence in 2007 where virtually every actress is seen as a Hiyana, derailing the image of Kannywood.

 

I will end with the beginning.

What, exactly, is Kannywood?

 

Adamu is a Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at Bayero University, Kano. This was first published on his Facebook account. 

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