Sheikh Albani: Legacy Beyond Dying - Nigeria Is Fast Becoming A 'Jungle Republic'

20 March 2014

By Mahmud Yabo

Nigeria is ironically a country presently not trapped in war but whose internal security situation has, largely due to institutional collapse and dearth of competent leadership, grossly deteriorated to the extent that criminals like kidnappers, armed robbers and murderers have turned its once serene and peaceful cities and towns in to a terror-stricken population. The recent proliferation of gunmen, attacking innocent people including women and children in broad day light, suggests that killers have become more grotesquely determined in carrying out their dastardly act of bloodletting. Some were killed in their sleep; some in mosques and churches while in communion with their Lord. More worrisome is the fact that most of the people killed were the poor who had already been denied of their own share in the nation's wealth by their own rulers.

With exactly one month in to the 2014, and in what appeared to be the killers' new year bloody ‘gift' to the Nigerian Muslims community, the gruesome murder, February1, of a renowned Islamic cleric, Sheikh Muhammad Auwal Albani along with his family by unknown gunmen in his hometown of Zaria was an indication that insecurity has continued to rear its ugly head at an alarming rate in the country. Before his death, the prominent Islamic scholar was a leader of the Salafiyya movement, an Islamic reformation movement advocating strict adherence to the teachings of the Qur'an and the Sunnah in accordance with the understanding of the pious predecessors (Salafus-Salih), the first three Islamic generations. Like all other Wahabbi-oriented movements, the Salafiyya movement seek to ‘clean' Islam of all the innovations that later generations of Muslims have introduced in to its doctrines, teachings and practices.

The word ‘Albani' was later added, by himself, to his original name (Muhammad Auwal) and used as a pseudonym out of respect for and admiration of one of the twentieth century leading Islamic thinkers and unarguably the number one authority in the science of Hadith (Musdalahul Hadith), the late Allama Muhammad Nasiruddeen Albani. In trying to follow in the footsteps of the first Albani, the late Sheikh Albani (the second) pursued Islamic scholarship with that great avidity to have been recognised as one of the best Nigerian Islamic scholars in the fields of Hadith, Tauheed and Aqeedah.

In addition to that, the late sheikh, also a renowned engineer, was no mediocre in the areas of western education. Before his demise, he was undergoing doctorate programme in engineering at the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. He was an ideal product of both Islamic and western education who, obviously, preferred education and intellectualism to militancy. He was also an embodiment of a needed balance between extremism and religious compromise. All his numerous lectures, discourses and symposiums, which have been recorded in audio and video formats, were mostly centred on religious purity, moderation, education and good leadership.

Not only that, his unwavering courage of telling truth to power, and of saying his beliefs and convictions even if they would not be entertained was the most exceptional quality that the sheikh possessed. And I believe that it was that ingrained courage, more than any other thing, which attracted him admirers and adversaries alike. Nonetheless, he was deeply loved by his disciples, colleagues and associates, and who ever had taken time to observe his radiating intelligence and to listen to his mesmerising eloquence.

Many people have been curious about his killers' identity and the motives behind the killing. More curiosity abounds on what must have warranted the swiping away of those souls in one blow like that. The sheikh was obviously the main target; but unless the timing was wrong and the gunmen were amateurs (which I think otherwise), his family could not have been killed accidently. People have already started speculating and insinuating which I consider premature, baseless and unfounded pending the conclusion of the police investigation.

But what his assailants need to know is that they only killed the sheikh but not his legacy, for his teachings will continue to be illuminating spiritual guide for millions of Muslims in Nigeria and beyond; let the culprits understand that the sheikh has bequeathed a sacred legacy beyond dying, by making his 54 years on earth beneficial to humanity. And after all, the sheikh died for what he had hoped dying for.

With this, there is no doubt that insecurity in Nigeria is the woeful failure of leadership because the first responsibility of the government as the custodian of the nation's security through its various institutional security apparatuses is protection of life and property of the citizenry. If the leadership in the land is incapable of performing this first-line function properly, then there is no justification for its continued being in place. Nigeria is fast becoming a ‘jungle republic' where the powerful and the rich command more than seventy percent security, while the poor and the majority having zero percent protection. It is therefore imperative that the government undertake holistic overhauling of security machinery for optimal performance, especially as we approach elections period. And also all cases of murders should be properly investigated and the perpetrators be dealt with accordingly, if Nigeria must continue being called a nation (not a jungle).

Mahmud contributed this piece from 40 Ali Akilu Road, Sokoto.


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