By Yusuf AbdulLahi
In the name of Allah Who states "And think not that Allah is unaware of what the wrongdoers do. He only gives them respite till the day on which the eyes will fixedly stare" Q14:42 Peace and blessings of Allah be upon His noble servant, our master Muhammad and his purified progeny.
The piece for this week is on the 1000 days of Sheikh el-Zakzaky’s illegal detention along with his wife and other disciples since the unfortunate Zaria pogrom where about 1000 innocent Nigerians were killed by those constitutionally mandated to protect them. The programme will be marked across the world irrespective of tribal, religious or geographical differences from Friday 7th to Sunday 9th September. Individuals and organizations from all walks of life will unanimously cry out in quest of justice with regard to the Sheikh, his wife and other oppressed fellows. The fundamental rights of speech and expression among others will be used to draw the attention of the Nigerian authority and its masters on the repercussion of the tyranny meted against the Islamic Movement especially in acclaimed democratic setting mandated to respond to the needs and yearnings of the citizenry.
The London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission, an august umbrella of about 30 Islamic and other collaborating nongovernmental organizations as part of Global network for justice at the forefront, calls for international protests to mark the unfortunate event. Among other countries to commemorate are UK, USA, India, Iran, Australia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Switzerland Malaysia, Ghana, Sudan and Nigeria. Allah states “And they ill-treated them For no other reason than That they believed in Allah, Exalted in power, Worthy of all praise! Q85:8. The seven lettered word is the central philosophy behind the establishment of all authorities. According to a popular adage, justice delay is justice denial and injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. So justice is the key to peace and stability of all nations.
No doubt the unanimous sympathy to the unique scholar, notwithstanding humanitarian nature owes a lot to his responsible and insightful leadership widely known and hailed in the unity, peaceful coexistence and ethno-religious tolerance of Nigeria. Since the unfortunate massacre, the demands of Islamic Movement apparently remain unchanged: unconditional release of the Sheikh, his wife and other detainees; handing over the bodies of the slaughtered and mass graved to the Movement for proper Islamic burial; compensation of the destructions made, and of course the urgent need to bring the mass murderers of peaceful and innocent citizens to book.
Rallies and peaceful protests were incessantly organized by the Movement and all justice loving people across the world. Even though the calls fall flat to the ears of intended authorities, no matter how long, hope is never lost in the struggle for justice and there is always limit to oppressions. Despite the contemptuous nature of the government, the Movement is optimistic on the undecided cases (issues) with the Federal High Court Kaduna, and the International Criminal Court, ICC. The dismay is consequent to the total disregard on the Justice Kolawale Abuja Court 6 verdict to release the ailing Sheikh and his wife unconditionally, provide a befitting house and security for them with a compensation of fifty million Naira which is a blatant disrespect to the rule of law. To the concerned individuals in the country and beyond, Sheikh el-Zakzaky’s situation is proportionate to the Nigeria’s security and socio-economic well being.
Among other endless questions are; on what ground was the Sheikh initially arrested? In whose interest is the detention of the elderly and ailing Sheikh and his wife? What is the government’s stand on the Federal High Court verdict? Why shouldn’t government respond to the need of millions of Nigerians on the need to take him abroad for medication? And to what extent should the detention continue? What is the stand of the government on the over one thousand Nigerians killed in the Zaria pogrom and related incidences? If peace, unity and progress of this country were the uncompromising yardsticks to assess significant relevance of the citizenry, who can dare to compare his eminence, the indefatigable leader of the Islamic Movement, Shaikh Ibraheem el-Zakzaky with any scholar, politician or else in the history of Nigeria? Using my constitutional right as a concerned citizen that contributes his best to the progress of the nation in a multi-faceted dimension, I draw the attention of those in authority on the above subject as the unique Sheikh and his patient wife clock 1000 days in detention, and in defiance of the federal high court order on their unconditional release. The indifference on the side of the government cannot help the country at all. No doubt, justice is the key to the much needed peace and stability of our nation which the Sheikh symbolizes.
In its forty years of existence, the Movement was never found wanting in vandalism or bloodshed. The Shaikh is widely credited for unequalled role in the promotion of peaceful coexistence and ethno-religious tolerance. He is deeply concerned on the well being of the country and its citizens as his Movement was described as the most organized Muslim group in Nigeria. Allah states “O you who believe! Stand out firmly For Allah, as witnesses To fair dealing, and let not The hatred of others To you make you swerve To wrong and depart from Justice. Be just: that is Next to piety: and fear Allah, For Allah is well – acquainted With all ye do” Q5:8
The Sheikh is well known for sincerity, broad mindedness, theoretical and practical teachings of Islam. He is particularly known for cordial relations and ethno-religious tolerance. Basing his teachings on the Ahlul-bait perspectives, the Sheikh has drawn the attention on the saying of Ameerul mumineen that "a man is either brother to you in religion or a partner in creation among others". As such, he is the champion of Muslim unity evident in his annual Unity week and other related programmes. He is generally known in the face of fighting tyranny and oppression, for which he suffers untold hardship for the past eour decades. He is apparently a sincere, honest and indefatigable Islamic scholar per excellence worthy of the world respect. In the compendium of thirteen speeches delivered at Najaf in 1970, Imam Khomeini stated; "The scholars of Islam have a duty to struggle against all attempts by oppressors to establish a monopoly over the sources of wealth or to make illicit use of them. They must not allow the masses to remain hungry and deprived while plundering oppressors usurp the sources of wealth and live in opulence". He also said "A clergyman should be such that when the people see him, they should remember the messenger of Allah (S). You have accepted this heavy responsibility and it is you that should guide this people to the end".
The well known concept of Wilayatul faqih -governance of the jurist- was built on this basis. Sheikh el-Zakzaky has been rightly on that track enduring oppression on himself and creating public awareness. It is imperative to commend those putting hands for justice to prevail across the globe. That was the rationale behind all prophetic mission. Allah states "Verily, We sent Our Messengers with manifest signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance that people may act with justice ……" Q2:247. In an oft repeated quote, Sheikh Usman Bn Fodio – the great revivalist of Islam in West Africa – said "a kingdom can endure with unbelief, but it cannot endure with injustice.
As Muslims most importantly, we believe that Allah has prohibited oppression and injustice, and every one will account for his/her deed here and hereafter. No doubt, millions of the Sheikh’s followers and other justice seeking people across the world deserve to be listened immediately!