By Ibrahim Usman
Following the recent promulgation of law banning commercial motorcycling in Kaduna State, popularly known as “Achaba”, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky made the following comment at the end of the weekly Tafsir, at Hussainiyyah Baqiyyatullah, Zaria, Wednesday:
“It is reported that, the law banning commercial motorcycling and carrying passengers in Kaduna State has become effective. Before the effective date of the law, I heard rumours that Shi’ites will flout the law; some people also pledged to follow suit and defy it. From what I know, the issue has no correlation with Islam or Christianity; neither Shi’a nor Sunnah. This is a state law, a senseless law. It has no link whatsoever with Shi’a or Sunnah, I therefore cannot see how it can linked to religion that one can say Shi’ites do not obey the law.
I am aware that some people have pledged to join forces and assist others to break the law. This is a silly idea. If one intends to break the law, he should not hide under the guise of Shi’a. If you do that, you should not be referred to as “Shi’ite”, but rather a “law-breaker” who has broken a senseless law made by silly peole. Your name is never “Shi’ite” at that particular time (and should not be called so).
Those who promulgated the law exhibited high level foolishness. People were pushed to ride on motorcycles as a commercial venture out of intense poverty and necessity; no law was made to make them do it. This came about as a result of severe poverty. Because it was not a law that was used to make them ride on motorcycles in the first place, no law is needed to stop them. Alternative situation should have been made for them, which will make them not in need of the motorcycles.
What makes the people take to commercial motorcycling? They do it out of necessity. Before this time, people were not using motorcycles for commercial purposes; nobody ever thought motorcycles could be used for commercial purposes. If only you could provide a suitable situation which people would not have needed motorcycles, we will not have experienced the situation whereby people use it for commercial purposes.
They worsened the situation by not only banning usage of motorcycles for commercial purposes, but went a step further to also ban carrying passengers of all kinds! How senseless! It means, with your personal motorcycle, you cannot carry anybody as a passenger. A commissioner was reported to have said, no one is even allowed to carry his wife to the hospital, even when she is sick! In other words, the law stands even if ones’s wife has to die! Mr. Commissioner, do you know the number of one-time commissioners who presently roam the streets aimlessly? How many thousands of such past commissioners do you know? You will soon join them, to roam the streets aimlessly. Where are those who instituted seemingly stable kingdoms based on inheritance, have they not passed? Compare them with the transient Nigerian leadership that do not stand the test of time.
Therefore, this people need not have promulgated a law; they should have provided a situation by which the people would not have had need for motorcycles as a commercial venture. If that had been in place, motorcycles will not have been used for commercial venture. Period! Promulgation of a law banning it is therefore meaningless!
Mark my word, set this down, this issue wii not stand the test of time. As long as poverty persists among people, they will engage in an endeavor more than commercial motorcycling. In some places, bicycles and donkeys are used for commercial purposes. In other places, carts pulled by humanbeigns are used to carry people on commercial basis. They should have considered the situation.
My concern here is branding as “Shi’ite” anyone who breaks or disobeys the law. Whoever does that, his name should not be “Shi’ite”, but rather one who breaks government’s law. His name is not “Shi’ite”. I am saying this because of what I heard taking place in Kano, where the law had been effective for some time. People break the law by dressing in what they refer to as Shi’a dress code or carry black cloth, in order to break the law.
I was told of a man stopped on a motorcycle at a check point, while carrying his wife wearing black Niqab. The police officer told him that, he would not stop him, but he will be stopped at the next check point because his dress code was different from those people allowed to pass unhindered. He was told that, those people allowed to pass carried black cloth. The man asked his wife to untie the Niqab, which he tied on the motorcycle and was allowed unhindered passage. By that singular action, he automatically became Shi’ite!
Prior to the ban on carrying passengers, people were not allowed to pass the checkpoint while riding motorcycles. Some people asked why Shi’ites were not stopped at checkpoints, they were told that these Shi’ites carry flags with the inscription “YA HUSAIN”. People began to carry with them inscriptions, “YA HUSAIN” and “LABBAIKA YA RASULALLAH” to gain unhindered passage at checkpoints; and people said it was the Shi’ites!
In Kano, a man was stopped at a checkpoint and he complained, when another motorcyclist wearing dirty mechanic clothes was allowed unhindered passage. He was told that, he was stopped because he was wearing short trousers, while the other man was wearing black attire. A dirty looking man was allowed uhindered passage just because he wore black attire!
Shi’ism is not all about black attire. It is not also about passing through checkpoints unhindered. Shi’ism is a creed (I’itikadi), based on strict allegiance to the Holy Prophet’s Infallible Progeny (Ahlul Bayt) and good conduct. Let no one carry black clothe and pass through checkpoints as “Shi’ite”.
There was a time when people pasted posters on vehicles and wore red caps to get easy passage; that had come to pass. At a point, some Brothers (drivers), complained to me about it, and i told them not to worry as it would come to pass. Shortly, there was the attempted clamdown on the Movement. People who pasted or carried the posters were hunted, to be shot; and the posters were gone.
I emphasize that Shi’ism is a belief abd good conduct, and not carrying black clothe or attire, passing checkpoints without being stopped, or even carrying passengers on motorcycles. This should be well understood.
During the Ashura mourning days (in Zaria), it coincided with the ban on riding motorcycles beyond 9 pm. We observed the mourning days throughout beyond 9 pm, even up to 10 pm. There was clear understanding between us and them that we will stay up to that time, and made them kow that we would pass in groups. This we requested; they agreed. We made announcement that people should go in groups, not individually. This gave other people the opportunity to mix with us and passed through, there was no problem as it was our request that was granted. With their checkpoint inplace, we passed through with our escort, with full knowledge that we were not passing through as “Shi’ites”. To this end, let no one call himself “Shi’ite” and use that as that as an excuse to break the law, as this is not the meaning of Shi’a.
To those who promulgated the law, you should know that you have demonstrated extreme foolishness. There is no need for a law banning the use of motorcycles for commercial purposes. Instead, you should have provided the needed atmosphere where people would not have had need for the motorcycles. More so, you should not have banned people carrying personal passengers. If you must ban the use of motorcycles as a commercial venture that you feel is a crime, what is the crime of he who wants to take his wife to hospital, or any other place? What about he who wants to take his child to school? So senseless is their law, that it bans even carrying personal passengers. Whatever the senseless nature of their law, what will be the name of he who breaks it? His name should be law-breaker, not Shi’ite! This should be noted.