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Murja Ibrahim Kunya, a TikToker, in the Curriculum? Why the heck not?

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Abdalla Uba Adamu

 

I was tagged in a FB thread lamenting the perceptions of Hausa popular culture studies by Muhsin Ibrahim on how such course of action is looked down upon. Indeed, he related personal bad experiences on his encounter with what one might call ‘culture purists’ who do not see anything worthwhile studying about contemporary popular culture. I feel that my response should be enlarged beyond the one I gave in order to reach wider audiences and stimulate debate.

‘So, what exactly is ‘popular culture’? Without being bogged down by technicalities, it is simply what people like. Often referred to also ‘mass culture’. Which differentiates from ‘elite culture’ preferences of the high order of the society. Elite culture is often favored because it is seen as cultural representative due to its historical purity. For instance, Shata is elite culture, while Rarara is popular culture. Both were singers. But while Shata was a griot whose lyrics represents the historical antecedents of his society and culture, Rarara was a singer whose lyrics represent his pocket.

Thus, everything people do can come under the purview of popular culture – fashion, food, literature, cyberculture, sports, architecture, theatre, drama, films, music, art, you name it, it is popular culture. It is the dominant culture. Some of the universities that teach popular culture in the world include Harvard, Cambridge, MIT, Stanford, to name some of the top ones, plus thousands of others.

So, why study popular culture? There are many reasons, but one of the most compelling is social awareness. Such study makes us aware about important social issues. You may not follow Hausa TV show operas, but they illuminate critical tensions within communities and some reflect the ideals of the political culture; Ado Ahmad Gidan Dabino’s “Kwana Casa’in” is a case in point. Mediated popular culture gives creators opportunities to be creative.

Thus, popular culture can raise awareness about important social issues. TV shows, films, and music often address topics like discrimination, environmental concerns and mental health, sparking discussions and encouraging positive change. For instance, in Kano in early 2023, AA Rufai Bullgates [sic] an individual with mental health issues became a popular culture media celebrity due to his delusions of grandeur; at one stage he bought Kano State for ‘gangaliyan’ naira – his coinage. It took the social media to make people aware of the extent of his illness – and stop exploiting his guile.

The contempt with which we approach studies of Hausa popular culture – or, let me modify, modern/contemporary culture – allowed a big room for others to be experts on us. In this way, researchers such as Mathias Krings, Carmen McCain, Novian Whitsitt, Brian Larkin and Graham Furniss came to dominate the documentation of Hausa popular culture.

In 2007 I was a visitor in Graham Furniss’s house in London for lunch, and I was blown away by a bookshelf covering a whole wall devoted to his documentation of Hausa romantic (soyayya) fiction containing over one thousand volumes. In Kano we refused to even acknowledge such novels existed, and at one conference, I heard a University Librarian describing them as ‘trash’. Now, if you want to study the earlier novels in the genre, you can only find them in the Library of the School of Oriental and African Studies, courtesy of Graham Furniss – while they are not available in Bayero University Kano.

Novian Whitsitt, an American, became an expert on the feminist ideologies of Bilkisu Salisu Ahmed Funtuwa and Balaraba Ramat Yakubu – two wonderful and brilliant female writers we ignored. He made a name out of researching their novels – and he had to learn the Hausa language first before he could even read the novels. In Kano, where we speak Hausa, we looked down on these writers. Now, if you want any reference to the works of these ladies, you have to go to Amazon for his books, for he is considered expert on Hausa feminist writers.

Matthias Krings collected more Hausa cinema tapes than any European researcher and established a vibrant Hausa film reference library in Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany, where he is based. In Kano we refuse to even acknowledge that Hausa film is worth studying – until we gave the study a shove and held an international conference on Hausa films in 2003 – the first of its kind in the whole of Africa in studying an indigenous African language film industry. Even the practitioners – filmmakers, producers, directors – don’t see the value in studying their works, believing that such is done to denigrate them, rather than a critical analysis of their art. When I established Yahoo! Groups social network in 2001 – long before Facebook – those who entered the group were constantly fighting us for studying their art.

In any event, it was Brian Larkin from New York who even opened up the doors in 1997 with his brilliant paper, “Indian Films and Nigerian Lovers: Media and the Creation of Parallel Modernities.” Soon enough he became the only reference point on the emergence of modern mediated Hausa popular culture. I could go on, but you get the point.

As for music, no one cared – until the Talibanic censorship regime from 2007 to 2013 in Kano, favorably enabled the separation of Nanaye soundtrack music from Hausa films, creating independent Hausa Afropop music genre. It also led to the emergence of Rap music among young Hausa lyricists from 2013 – the year of creative freedom for Hausa popular culture. Billy-O produced the biggest hit Hausa Afropop hit of the year with ‘Rainy Season’, producing a brilliant Enghausa song accompanied by Maryam Fantimoti.

No attempt was made to internationalize the study of the emergent music genres by anyone. They were all obsessed with studies of the songs of griot acoustic musicians, believing that the Afropop genre is a passing fad. Seeing a room for documentation, I entered into the field. In any event, I was considered a loose cannon in the whole Hausa ‘adabi’ canon. Luckily for me, my foray into Hausa popular culture, or ’Adabin Hausa’ as they often call it (while I prefer ‘Nishaɗin Hululu as the Hausa term for popular culture) was from the prisms of Stuart Hall (Birmingham School) and Frankfurt School critical theory perspectives. Most importantly, I was analyzing popular culture as a mass-mediated communication, rooting myself firmly in communication theories. I was not interested in etymology, morphology, syntax, grammar, pragmatics, stylistics or other branches of the study of literature in my analysis (I profess ignorance of these branches). My focus was that something was happening, it was providing a stethoscope on the social awareness pulse. We need to document it. It was no longer acceptable to let others become experts on us.

Thus, studying or even debating mediated popular culture was definitely frowned upon in northern Nigeria. I believe I am one of the few flying the flag of the discipline – such that it has now crept its way into a university curriculum. Next semester (December 2022/23), I will be teaching M.Sc. Popular Culture in the Department of Mass Communication – one of the very few Departments in the country courageous and bold enough to do so. It’d be a fully interactive class, touching all aspects of what gives us social awareness through mediated popular culture.

Now, to the question of Murja Ibrahim Kunya, a TikTok influencer who speaks at more than 100 km per second. She is important enough to have a Wikipedia page. Dr. Muazu Hassan Muazu was one of the lecturers teaching EEP 4201 – Venture Creation and Growth course in the School of General and Entrepreneurship Studies (SGES), Bayero University Kano. We once taught the course together. In the first semester (2022/2023) examination, question #5 went like this: “Murja Kunya and Me Wushirya are bloggers who trend by causing scandalous contents on their social media handles, for that reason, they are given advertisement jobs. If they do that they become – (a) influencer marketers, (b) brand ambassadors, (c), trading agents, (d) marketing managers.” Students are to choose one which they believe was the correct answer.

What drew attention was the focus on the activities of TikTokers – activities not taken seriously, especially those of Murja Kunya who elicited different reactions from different people. One posting on Facebook even labeled her a mental health patient. And yet, here a university is asking academic questions on their activities. The entire 70-item question paper included references to various brands – KEDCO, Rufaidah, Salima Cake, A.A. Rano, L&Z Yoghourt, Sahad Stores, MTN, Chicken Republic, and so on. All these are marketing HUBS. Why not TikTokers? Marketers are looking for audiences – notice how those silly and irritating videos pop up on news sites on your device to attract your attention? Dr. Mu’azu’s inclusion of cyber popular culture in his course – and Chicken Republic, dealing with food, IS part of popular culture – to me, is a brilliant acknowledgement of the popular culture and its social relevance. Crazy, drugged, attention-seeker or not, people follow Murja Kunya. That means audiences, that means market – making her a perfect vehicle to advertise products. So, what’s wrong with that? If a woman frying ƙosai by the roadside has the same level of audience attraction, we should also acknowledge her as a marketing potential. That does not mean we endorse what they do – it means we are interested in reaching out to their audiences to buy our products.

Without pop culture, we wouldn’t be able to understand generations, so knowing gives us all a better understanding. Overall, a critical analysis of pop culture and media can help to shed light on the ways in which media interacts with the society and can help to promote more informed and nuanced understanding of media’s role in shaping our world.

Now, print Ale Rufa’is Bullgates gangaliyan note and purchase your village.

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

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Opinion

Friday Sermon: The day of Arafah and fasting it if falls on a Saturday, and rulings of cutting nails, hair

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Imam Murtadha Gusau

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

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds, and peace and blessings be upon the noblest of Prophets and Messengers, our Prophet Muhammad, and upon his family and companions, and those who follow their guidance until the Day of Judgment.

Respected brothers and sisters! Know that in the Islamic calendar, the 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah (12th month in the calendar) is called the Day of Arafah. This day is the culminating event of the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Makkah, Saudi Arabia. Because the Day of Arafah, like other Islamic Days, is based on a lunar calendar, rather than the Gregorian solar calendar, and its date changes from year to year.

The Day of Arafah falls on the second day of pilgrimage rituals, which will In Shaa Allah going to be on Saturday, June 15, 2024. At dawn on this day, over two million Muslim pilgrims will make their way from the town of Minah to a nearby hillside and plain called Mount Arafah and the Plain of Arafah, which is located about 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) from Makkah, the final destination for the pilgrimage. Muslims believe that it was from this site that the ​Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) gave his famous Farewell Sermon in his final year of life, which I read to you in the previous Khutbah.

Dear brothers and sisters! Every Muslim is expected to make the pilgrimage to Makkah once during his or her lifetime; the pilgrimage itself is not considered complete unless the stop at Mount Arafah is also made. Thus, the visit to Mount Arafah is synonymous with the Hajj itself. Completion involves arriving at Mount Arafah before noon and spending the afternoon upon the mountain, remaining until sunset. However, individuals who are physically unable to complete this portion of the pilgrimage are allowed to observe it by fasting, which is not practiced by those making the physical visit to Arafah.

During the afternoon, from about noon until sunset, Muslim pilgrims stand in earnest supplication and devotion, praying for peace and Allah’s abundant forgiveness, and listening to Islamic scholars speak on issues of religious and moral importance. Tears are shed readily as those who gather make repentance and seek Allah’s mercy, recite words of prayer and remembrance and gather together as equals before their Lord. The day closes upon the recitation of the evening prayer of Al-Maghrib.

For many Muslims, the Day of Arafah proves to be the most memorable part of the Hajj pilgrimage, and one that stays with them forever.

For the Muslims around the world who are not participating in the pilgrimage often spend this day in fasting and devotion. Both government offices and private businesses in Islamic nations are generally closed on the Day of Arafah to allow employees to observe it due to it’s importance. The Day of Arafah is, therefore, one of the most important Days in the entire Islamic year. It is said to offer expiation for all sins of the prior year, as well as all sins for the upcoming year.

Dear brothers and sisters! As mentioned earlier, the ninth Day of Dhul-Hijjah is the day of Arafah. It is the day when pilgrims stand on the plain of Arafah to pray. On this day, Muslims all over the world who do not witness the annual Hajj should spend the day in fasting, in preparation for the three days festivity following Eid-ul-Adha (the celebration marking the end of the Hajj, commemorating the Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness of sacrifice).

Abu Hafsah reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:

“Fasting on the day of Arafah absolves the sins for two years: the previous year and the coming year, and fasting on Ashurah, (the tenth day of Muharram) atones for the sins of previous years.” [Reported by all except Bukhari and Tirmidhi]

In another saying the Prophet’s wife Hafsah said:

“There are four things which the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) never neglected: Observing fast on the day of Ashurah, Arafah, three days every month, and offering fajr Sunnah prayers early in the morning.” [Muslim]

These statements are proof that fasting on the ninth of Dhul-Hijjah, the day before Eid-ul-Adha was a lifelong practice of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) as his wife reported.

There are some reports that fasting is prohibited on the day of Arafah. However, it must be understood that this refers to a person performing the Hajj. If a person is on the Hajj, there is no fast for him or her on the day of Arafah. That is undoubtedly a blessing for him because of the hardships of the pilgrimage. In a saying reported by Ummul Fadl, may Allah be pleased with her, she said:

“The Companions doubted whether the Prophet (Peace be upon him) was fasting on Arafah or not. She decided to prove to them that he was not, so she said, ‘I sent to him milk, which he drank while he was delivering the Khutbah (Sermon) on Arafah.” [Bukhari]

Prohibiting the pilgrims from fasting on these days is a great mercy for them, for fasting will exert undue hardship on the person performing the Hajj, while they are primarily concerned with their pilgrimage. Above all, the pilgrim would not be fasting anyway because he is travelling.

Some Virtues of Fasting on Arafah Day:

1. It is the day on which the religion was perfected and Allah’s Favour was completed.

In Bukhari and Muslim it was reported from Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (RA) that a Jewish man said to him, “O Amir Al-Mu’minin, there is an Ayah (Qur’anic verse) in your Book which you recite; if it had come to us Jews, we would have taken that day as an Eid (festival).” Umar said, “Which Ayah (verse)?” He said: “This day I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” [Al-Ma’idah, 5:3] Umar (RA) said: “We know on which day and in which place that was revealed to the Prophet (Peace be upon him). It was when he was standing in Arafah on a Friday.”

2. It is a day of Eid for the people who are in that place.

The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:

“Yawm Arafah (the day of Arafah), Yawm al-Nahr (the Day of Sacrifice) and Ayyam al-Tashriq (the three days following Yawm al-Nahr) are Eid (festival) for us, the people of Islam. These are days of eating and drinking.” [This was narrated by the authors of Al-Sunan]

It was reported that Umar Ibn al-Khattab (RA) said:

“It – i.e., the Ayah (verse) ‘This day I have perfected…’ was revealed on a Friday, the Day of Arafah, both of which – praise be to Allah – are Eids for us.”

3. It is a day by which Allah swore an oath.

Allah the Almighty cannot swear by anything except that which is mighty. Yawm Arafah is the “witnessed day” mentioned in the verse:

“By the witnessing day [Friday] and by the witnessed day [the Day of Arafah].” [Al-Buruj, 85:3]

It was reported from Abu Hurairah (RA) that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:

“The promised day is the Day of Resurrection, the witnessed day is the Day of Arafah, and the witnessing day is Friday.” [At-Tirmidhi – classed as Sahih by Shaykh Al-Albani]

It is the “odd” [i.e., odd-numbered, Witr] by which Allah swore in the verse:

“And by the even and the odd.” [Al-Fajr, 89:3]

Ibn Abbas said:

“The even is the Day of Al-Adha [i.e., 10th Dhul-Hijjah] and the odd is the Day of Arafah [i.e., 9th Dhul-Hijjah] This is also the view of Ikrimah and Al-Dahhak.

4. Fasting on this day is an expiation for two years.

It was reported from Abu Qatadah (RA) that the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) was asked about fasting on the Day of Arafah. He said:

“It expiates for the sins of the previous year and of the coming year.” [Muslim]

This (fasting) is mustahabb for those who are not on Hajj. In the case of the one who is on Hajj, it is not Sunnah for him to fast on the Day of Arafah, because the Prophet (Peace be upon him) did not fast on this day in Arafah. It was narrated that he forbade fasting on the Day of Arafah in Arafah (i.e the one making Hajj who is in Arafah).

5. It is the day on which Allah took the covenant from the progeny of Adam.

It was reported that Ibn Abbas (RA) said: the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:

“Allah took the covenant from the loins of Adam in Na’man, i.e., Arafah. He brought forth from his loins all his offspring and spread them before Him, then He addressed them, and said: ‘Am I not your Lord? They said, ‘Yes, we testify,’ let you should say on the Day of Resurrection: ‘Verily, we have been unaware of this.’ Or lest you should say: ‘It was only our fathers aforetime who took others as partners in worship along with Allah, and we were (merely their) descendants after them; will You then destroy us because of the deeds of men who practised Al-Batil (i.e., polytheism and committing crimes and sins, invoking and worshipping others besides Allah)?’ [Al-A’raf, 7:172-173].” [Ahmad, and classed as Sahih by Shaykh Al-Albani]

Therefore there is no greater day than this and no greater covenant than this.

6. It is the day of forgiveness of sins, freedom from the Fire and pride in the people who are there.

In Sahih Muslim it was narrated from Aisha (RA) that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:

“There is no day on which Allah frees more people from the Fire than the Day of Arafah. He comes close and expresses His pride to the angels, saying, ‘What do these people want?’”

It was reported from Ibn Umar that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:

“Allah expresses His pride to His angels at the time of Isha’ on the Day of Arafah, about the people of Arafah. He says, ‘Look at My servants who have come unkempt and dusty.’” [Ahmad, and classed as Sahih by Shaykh Al-Albani]

The Ruling of Fasting The Day of Arafah If It Happens To Fall on Saturday:

Narrated Abdullah Ibn Busr who said: The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:

“Do not fast on Saturday except that which is an obligation upon you. If anyone of you cannot find anything other than grape stalks or the bark of a tree, let him suck on it.” [At-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah]

Imam Abu Dawud (rahimahullah) said:

“This Hadith has been abrogated, the Hadith of Juwairiyyah abrograted it.”

Imam At-Tirmidhi said:

“This Hadith is Hasan. The meaning of forbiddance here applies to the man who singles out Saturday with fasting – due to the fact that the Jews revere this day.”

Imam Abu Dawud also said:

“The majority of Scholars hold that it is not forbidden.”

The Hadith of Juwairiyyah:

“The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said to Juwairiyyah (one of his wives) who was fasting on a Friday: “Did you fast yesterday?” She said: “No.” He said: “Are you going to fast tomorrow (i.e. Saturday)?” She said: “No.” So he said: “Then break your fast.” [A Sahih Hadith, Abu Dawud; also Bukhari] – thus proving the permissibility to fast on a Saturday so long as one fasts Friday with it.

Al-Athram (student of Imam Ahmad) said:

“The proof utilised by Abu Abdillah [Ahmad bin Hanbal] in allowing fasting on a Saturday is that all of the Hadiths oppose the Hadith of Ibn Busr (i.e. the Hadith above) – and from them is the Hadith of Umm Salamah (RA) when she was asked: On which days did the Prophet (Peace be upon him) predominantly fast? So she responded: Saturday and Sunday.” [Ahmad]

Umm Salamah (RA) said:

“The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) used to fast more often on Saturdays and Sundays than on the other days. He would say, “They are the Eids of the polytheists, and I love to act contrary to what they do.” [An-Nasa’i and was rendered authentic by Ibn Khuzaimah, and the wording is his]

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

“I heard the Prophet (Peace be upon him) saying, “None of you should fast on Friday unless he fasts a day before or after it.” [Bukhari]

This Hadith is a proof that Saturday can be fasted with the condition that Friday is fasted before it – so the Hadith forbidding the Saturday fast is not absolute in forbiddance.

Shaykh Ibn Uthaimin (rahimahullah) stated:

“It is known that fasting on a Saturday has different scenarios:

1. That which is obligatory like that of Ramadan, so he fasts – or it is making up of an obligatory fast or an expiation, or in replacement for the one who did not sacrifice whilst at Hajj (At-Tamattu). So in this there is no harm, so long as he does not single it out with fasting believing it to be [more] virtuous.

2. That he fasts the day before it, Friday, then there is no harm in that. This is because the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said to one of the Mothers of the Believers who fasted on a Friday: “Did you fast yesterday?” She said: “No.” He said: “Are you going to fast tomorrow (i.e. Saturday)?” She said: “No.” So he said: “Then break your fast.” [Bukhari] So his saying, “Are you going to fast tomorrow?” proves the permissibility of fasting Saturday along with Friday.

3. That the legislated fast happens to coincide with Saturday, such as the middle of month recommended fasts, or the day of Arafah, or the day of Ashurah, or the six days of Shawwal for the one who fasted Ramadan, or the nine days of Dhul-Hijjah, then there is no harm in fasting on Saturday because one is not fasting it because it is a Saturday, rather he fasts because it is legislated to fast on these occasions.

4. That fasting on a Saturday happens to coincide with one’s habit such as the one who fasts one day and leaves off fasting the next day [and so on] – so the day he is fasting happens to coincide with a Saturday – in this case there is no harm. This is like the saying of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) in forbidding fasting a day or two days just prior to Ramadan except for the one who is in the habit of fasting. [Bukhari] So here there is no forbiddance, so this case is similar.

5. That a person singles out Saturday alone for the optional fast, then this is forbidden, if it is assumed that the Hadith of forbiddance of fasting on a Saturday is authentic.”

[See Majmu’ Fatawa of Ibn Al-Uthaimin, Volume 20, page 57-58 – slightly adapted to assist ease of understanding]

Shaykh Ibn Uthaimin also stated:

“It is established from the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) in speech and action that fasting on a Saturday is not forbidden. The Scholars differ with respect to the Hadith that forbids fasting on Saturday as to whether it is acted upon. From them are those who say that it is not to be acted upon at all, and there is no harm in fasting on a Saturday, whether it be on its own or not on its own because the Hadith is not authentic. And a regulation cannot be established from a Hadith which is not authentic. From them are those who have said the Hadith is Sahih or Hasan, and they said: The reconciliation between this Hadith [that forbids fasting on a Saturday] and the other Hadiths [that allow fasting on a Saturday], is that it is forbidden to single out Saturday on its own – meaning that Saturday is singled out without Friday or Sunday. This was the position of Imam Ahmad (rahimahullah), wherein he said: “If one fasts alongside Saturday another day, then there is no harm, such as fasting with it Friday or Sunday.” We, likewise say: If Saturday coincides with a day upon which it is legislated to fast such as Arafah, or the 10th of Muharram (Ashurah), then it is not disliked (or forbidden) to fast it, because the dislike is when you fast it because it is a Saturday, i.e. that you have singled it out believing it is more special than other days. Indeed I have heard that when some of the people fast on the ninth and tenth of Muharram (Ashurah) or the Day of Arafah and one of those days happens to be a Saturday, some of the brothers forbid them and command them to break the fast – this is wrong and it is upon this brother to ask (the scholars) before issuing a verdict (Fatwa) without knowledge.”

[See also Majmu’ Fatawa of Ibn Al-Uthaimin, volume 20, page 37]

Respected servants of Allah! Concerning cutting the nails and trimming the hair, all the Hadiths which have been mentioned about this issue are all authentic, however, there are varying opinions held by the great Imams/Mujtahids regarding the ruling established from these Hadiths. Some Imams like Imam Ahmad and Ishaq have stated that it is prohibited (Haram) for a person who intends to do the sacrifice (Layyah) to trim the hair or pare the nails etc. when the month of Dhul-Hijjah begins. Other Imams of Fiqh like Imam Shafi’i and his companions have stated that it is Makruh (highly disliked) to do such, but it is not prohibited (Haram). Imam Abu Hanifah, and Imam Malik in one opinion, state that it is not Makruh to trim the hair, nails etc. during this time for the person who intends to do sacrifice (Layyah). Their proof for saying that it is not prohibited (Haram) or Makruh (disliked) to do this, is the Hadith of Aisha (RA) in which she states:

“I used to twist/plait the necklace of the sacrificial animal of the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him). He would then tie the necklace (around the neck of the animal) and send it to be sacrificed, and nothing would be Haram upon him which Allah has made Halal, until he slaughtered his animal.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Based on this Hadith, it is evident that it would not be prohibited (Haram) to pare the nails or trim the hair (for one who intends to do a Sacrifice). However, based on the Hadith narrated by Umm Salmah (RA), the majority of Scholars/Jurist experts (Fuqaha) have it to be Mustahab/Sunnah for one who intends to do a Sacrifice (Layyah) to refrain from trimming the hair, nails etc from the beginning of Dhul-Hijjah until he sacrifices his animal.

For more explanations check the Sharh of Sahih Muslim by Imam An-Nawawi and Al-Fiqh Al-Islami Wa Adillatahu, Volume 4 Page 2,735.

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

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

This Friday sermon (Jumu’ah Khutbah) was prepared for delivery today Friday, 08 Dhul-Hijjah, 1445 AH (June 14, 2024).

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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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