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Celebrating Imam Ali bn Musa’s (as) Birthday and a Mark of Honour to a Unique Islamic Scholar

Yusuf Abdullahi
In the name of Allah who states “There is, in their stories, instruction for men endued with understanding. It is not an invented tale, but confirmation of what went before it, a detailed exposition of all things and a guide and mercy to any such as believe”  Q

Peace and blessings of Allah be upon His noble servant, our master Muhammad and his purified progeny.

The sacred months of Zulqaadah, Zilhijjah and Muharram are very eventful. With the brief discussion on hajj last week, the piece for this week is on the TEN DAYS OF HONOUR which refer to celebratory interval in the birthday celebrations of the Eighth Imam and his sister who were born on the 1st and 11th days of Zulqaadah respectively.

Imams are undoubtedly leaders of the Ummah, although other Muslims view the doctrine from a different angle. However, Imamate is a an aspect of our faith linked to prophethood as the Imams carried on the duties of the prophets. Though not prophets, the Imams were heirs of the great prophet that continued with the propagation of his mission to the end of time as clearly indicated by the famous tradition of twelve successors.

In the colourful commemoration organised by the Ridhawy shrine, lessons in the blessed lives of the Imam and his sister were extolled at Masshad. Simultaneously, strong delegations of the shrine carrying its blessed flag  successfully visited all the earthed habitable continents including Americas and Australia, with the exception of Nigeria in Africa where the two University professors and a reknown custodian intended were denied visa for reasons not clearly identified.

 The programme, was also used to honour 16 International personalities from scholars, thinkers, writers and poets among the custodians of the great Imam! Sheikh Ibraheem el – Zakzaky, leader of the Islamic movement in Nigeria was among the respected honourees. The martyred children of the sheikh were also honoured by Dr. Zahrah Mustafawy, daughter of Imam Khomeini, the architect of the globally observed International Quds day in the interest of the Muslim Ummah.

Among other activities of the sheikh in the Islamic republic were visits to the Vice – chancellor of the Al – Mustapha International University, Ayatollah Arafi, management and African students of the University at Qom, and the country’s National Assembly where he met the honourable speaker, Ali Larijani.      

Here in Nigeria, THE TEN DAYS OF HONOUR were commemorated through the birthdays celebration of Sayyidah Ma’sumah, organised by the Sisters of the Islamic movement in Kano where sheikh Muhammad Turi delivered a comprehensive talk extolling the virtues and lessons in her blessed life on the 1st Zulqaadah at Markaz and similar talk was delivered on her elder brother, Imam  Ali al – Ridha on the 11th by sheikh Mustapha Lawal Potiskum at Dawrawa respectively. Same occasion was organised at different places across the country.

We may take a glance at the blessed lives of the two great personalities from the progeny of the noble messenger:


Sayyidah Fatimah Ma’sumah was the sister of Imam Ali al – Ridha, the eighth Imam from the purified descendents of the noble prophets. She was born in Medina in the year 789 CE. She was generally identified with piety, modesty, knowledge and humility. After her brother was forced to migrate to Iran, she left Medina for Mashhad to see him. In the course of her journey, she fell ill in the city of Saveh and decided to go to Qom, a nearby town known for adoration of prophet’s progeny.

However, she passed away 17 days later and was accorded an honourable funeral rite and was buried were her shrine stands today. Her tomb has undergone various developmental processes to its present position built after great capacity expansion decorated with mosaic tiles and gold plated in 1803. It was finally restored in 2005.

The shrine comprises of various courtyards and the four walled Grand mosque built in 1964 and a great dome. Dated back to the tenth century, the seminary was one of the most historic spiritual centres in Islam. Generally speaking, the city has drastically developed to its present state as a result of the great lady and receives millions of visitors from all nooks and corners of the world.

In the Imam Khomeini – led  Islamic revolution, the city has played significant role with Feyziyyah school in the vicinity, where the Imam taught and received support to its ultimate success. The seminary’s role in educational pursuit cannot be overemphasized in theology, jurisprudence and general Islamic propagation across the world.


Born to the blessed family of Imam Musa al – Kazem on Thursday, 11th Zulqaadah, 148 AH, Imam Ali was nicknamed Al – Ridha . His mother was Sayyidah Najmah – Ummul Banin.

The Imam was brought up through the fatherly and spiritual guidance of his father, Imam Musa for thirty five years. He was uniquely identified with wisdom, knowledge, piety, humbleness and leadership style of his grandfather, the holy prophet.

However, on the 25th of Rajab, 183 AH, his father, Imam Musa al – Kazem was martyred through poisoning by the tyrannical Harun – led Abbasid regime after four years of imprisonment. Even his corpse was not spared humiliation after martyrdom, as was left over Bagdad bridge, but for his devotees who managed to get it laid down at the popular Kazimiyyah area. Imam Musa has declared his son Imam Ali al – Ridha as his heir and successor much earlier before his last breath, in a situation witnessed by his family and many followers.

Imam Ridha assumed leadership of the followers of Ahlul – bait after his martyred father with great qualities of head and heart inherited from ancestors. Based on what Ibn Athir al – Jaza’iry authoritatively penned down, the Imam was the greatest saint and scholar of the second century. Coming with the correct interpretation of the holy Qur’an and related aspects were the most significant  issues faced by the Imam under the unfavorable government of Harun in which many that belonged to the faith were either imprisoned or afflicted with untold atrocities. Consequent to his effort and uncompromising stand, the Imam faced great enmity and hostility from the ruling class from Harun to Ma’mun leading to his assassination through poisoning on the 25th of Shawwal, 148 AH.

The Imam attained martyrdom for refusal to submit to the oppressive regime. With martyrdom, he lost nothing and remained a greatly respected Islamic personality of the first order. Allah says “And do not speak of those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead; nay they are alive but you do not perceive” Q2:154

His shrine in Masshad, the second largest city and famous spiritual centre in Iran is an attraction to millions of Muslims and other visitors from all nooks and crannies of the world.


Taking a brief look at the Islamic movement in Nigeria reveals that it started in the late 1970’s  when its leader sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky was a student at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. The movement was greatly influenced by the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria, founded in Lagos in 1954. Then, the sheikh was the society’s Secretary – general of the Ahmadu Bello University Main campus branch and later became the Vice – president in charge of international affairs of the main MSS body.

At that time, there was great ideological conflict between communism and capitalism and when the students were apparently yearning for change, they appealed to communism as it talked of social justice, but highly discouraged due to the negative perception of religion from the communist ideology. However, as the communism gained more ground, the victory of the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran changed the thinking of many people in the struggle as religion was proved a very successful platform for dislodgement of tyranny and establishment of social justice on earth.

Being very much concerned on the future of the country, the movement, then mainly in the campuses was engaged in intellectual exercises through lectures and symposia in tertiary institutions of higher learning on Islam and political development.

The movement later spread to towns, cities, villages and beyond the country, with people from different strata and walks of life. The dynamic growth of the movement kept great momentum despite the sheikh’s unjust imprisonments by successive Nigerian governments of about ten years in different times.

Obviously, we believe there is no group that means good for this country and its future than this movement. Yes, it does not officially participate in the country’s partisan politics due to the fact that votes do not judiciously counted in Nigeria as election and registration of political parties were  generally decided by caucus!

The contribution of this movement to the development of our nation cannot be overemphasized on humanitarian grounds, community development, educational sector and promotion of peaceful co existence among others. To justify the magnitude of ethno – religious understanding and tolerance, plans have reached advanced stage by Christians to establish a Christian forum in the Islamic movement!

Through its fora, the movement has received countless awards in the country and abroad. Such awards came from people and organizations of different backgrounds such as traditional rulers, recognized government agencies, educational institutions, non – governmental organizations, orphanages, and past military administrators.

Despite the peaceful nature of the movement from inception, as evidently ascertained by people, some in the ruling class considered it a threat especially in the past military administrations. As such, it has suffered series of attacks by the successive Nigerian governments! 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 historic persecution differed from unjustified incarceration on various jail terms on its members and killing of many at different times in about fourty years of the movement’s existence. The three undergraduate children of the sheikh honoured were part of the 34 people murdered last year in broad day light  including a Christian, Julius Anyawu by the Jonathan – led administration on the International Quds day. We use this medium to reecho the need  for justice as did Amnesty International and indeed the international community. The blessed flag given to his eminence was already hoisted to the dome of Husainiyyatu Baqiyyatullah in a colourful ceremony at Zaria last week. 

While praying for more Allah’s favours and better health to the pious, indefatigable and steadfast sheikh, we congratulate him, family and the entire movement on the honour well deserved.

Wassalamu alaikum!