By 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” Q12:111
May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His noble servant, our master Muhammad and his purified progeny.
The sacred months of Zulqaada, Zulhajj, Muharram anare very eventful. Ten days of honour refer to the interval observed between the birthday of Imam Ali al-Ridha (AS), the eighth Imam and his sister who were born on the 1st and 11th days of Zulqaadah respectively. Imamate is a an aspect of our faith linked to prophethood as the Imams carried on the duties of the prophets. As clearly indicated by the famous tradition of twelve successors, the Imams were heirs of the great prophet that continued with the propagation of his mission to the end of time. Although other Muslims view the doctrine from a different angle, it is an integral aspect of faith.
As usual, the Asatana Quds or Ridhawy shrine colourfully commemorated the event extolling the lessons in the blessed lives of the Imam and his sister at Masshad. Simultaneously, the event was impressively observed by IMN in Kano where the blessed flag of his mausoleum honourably sent to Shaikh el-Zakzaky was hoisted in a well attended ceremony. Same event was organised at different places across the country. A little glance at their blessed lives could be given as.
SAYYIDAH FATIMA MA’SUMAH (AS)
Sayyidah Fatimah Ma’sumah was the sister of Imam Ali al-Ridha (AS), from the purified descendents of the noble prophet. She was born in Medina in 789 CE. Of her sterling qualities were piety, modesty, knowledge and humility. After her brother’s imposed migration to Tus, she left Medina in order to meet him. In the course of her journey, she fell ill in Saveh, a city near Qom. Owing to the illness, she passed away, 17 days later and was accorded an honourable funeral rite and buried were her shrine stands today. Her tomb witnessed various developments to its present position after capacity expansion when it was decorated with mosaic tiles and gold plated in 1803 with final restoration in 2005. The shrine comprises of 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 which receives millions of visitors from all nooks and crannies of the world. The role of the city in the Imam Khomeini-led Islamic revolution cannot be overemphasized especially with Feyziyyah school in its vicinity, where the Imam taught and received support to ultimate success. The seminary’s role in educational pursuit is paramount in theology, jurisprudence and mysticism to mention just a few.
IMAM ALI BN MUSA AL – RIDHA (AS)
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 spiritual guidance of his father. He was uniquely identified with exceptional qualities of his grandfather -the noble prophet. His father was sadly murdered on 25th of Rajab, 183 AH, through poisoning by the Harun-led Abbasid regime after imprisonment. Even his corpse, was not spared humiliation after martyrdom, but for his devotees who managed to get it laid down at the popular Kazimiyyah area. Imam Musa has declared the Imam as his heir and successor much earlier before his followers, family and lieutenants. so the Imam assumed leadership his martyred father.
Based on what Ibn Athir al-Jaza’iry authoritatively penned, 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 tyrannical Harun regime 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 suffered from the ruling class leading to his assassination by poisoning on 25th of Shawwal, 148 AH. The Imam attained martyrdom for refusal to submit to the oppressive regime losing nothing, rather greater position before the creator as 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 over the world.
THE MARTYRS OF THE ISLAMIC MOVEMENT
The movement, started in the late 1970’s, when its leader Sheikh Ibraheem el-Zakzaky was on study at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. It was largely influenced by the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria, founded in Lagos in 1954. The shaikh was the society’s secretary-general in the University’s main campus branch and later became the vice-president in charge of international affairs of the main MSS. Then, there was a fierce ideological conflict between communism and capitalism, and the students apparently yearning for change, appealed to communism which talked of social justice, though discouraged with its negative perception of religion. However, as the communism gained more ground, the victory of the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran drastically changed the thinking of many people, as religion proved a successful platform for dislodgement of tyranny and establishment of social justice.
Being much concerned on the future of the country, the movement, then mainly in campuses engaged in intellectual exercises through lectures and symposia in tertiary institutions of higher learning on Islam and politics. The movement steadily spread to towns, cities, villages and beyond the country. Its historic dynamism manifested well despite the sheikh’s unjust imprisonments by successive Nigerian governments. Obviously, there is no group that means good for this country and its future better than this movement. Yes, it does not officially participate in the country’s partisan politics due to the fact that votes do not judiciously count in Nigeria, as election and control of political parties were decided by caucus! The movement’s contribution to the development of the nation is incalculable especially on humanitarian grounds, community development, education and promotion of peaceful co existence. The magnitude of the ethno-religious understanding and tolerance has gone to the extent that some knowledgeable Christians seeks the permission of the shaikh to establish a Christian forum in the Islamic movement!.
Over the decades of its existence, the movement has received countless awards in the country and abroad from varied organizations and individuals -traditional, recognized government agencies, educational institutions, non-governmental organizations, orphanages and past military administrators. Despite its peaceful nature, the movement was considered a threat by the ruling class. As such, it suffered series of attacks by the successive Nigerian governments. The historic persecution differed from unjustified incarceration on various jail terms to killings at different times in the past 35 years. Three undergraduate children of the sheikh were part of the 34 people murdered in 2014 in broad day light including a Christian, Julius Anyawu by the army in Zaria on the International Quds day. The sad event is annually commemorated in Abuja.
This year’s was the third, and has featured Femi Falana, SAN on key challenges in enforcing and protecting minority rights in Nigeria among other speakers. Using this medium, I wish to reecho the need for the shaikh’s unconditional release along with all his disciples.