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Imam Musa Al–Kazem (As): In Remembrance Of Our Great Martyrs!

By Sheikh Muhammad Turi
In the name of Allah who states “And say not of those slain in the way of Allah; they are dead, Nay, they are living, though ye perceive (it) not” Q2: 154

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

Twenty fifth Rajab is commemorated as the day of Imam Musa’s martyrdom -one of the twelve pure leaders of the Ummah from the prophet’s descendents. The Islamic movement in Nigeria uses the same occasion to mark its martyrs’ day. This year’s event was the 24th in twenty two years.

To greatly suffer and die for religious belief is commonly regarded as Martyrdom. A martyr therefore is a person who has made a great sacrifice in the interest of his or her religion and made to greatly suffer or die in protecting the religion and society on the principle of justice.

Generally speaking, various religions and nations have their respected martyrs over history. In Islam, we have different categories of martyrs which include those killed in defense of their persons, family and wealth. So also, the innocently killed out of tyranny and oppression for their ambition to ensure social justice and societal reform.

Martyrdom is an honor that Allah gives to whom He likes. Many prophets and rightly predecessors were honored in that way and remain indelible in the hearts of all believers. The same is evident in the struggles of Shehu Danfodio and Imam Khomeini (may Allah have mercy on them) in the recent past.

Martyrdom of Imam Musa Al – Kazem (as):                                                                                                             “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  

Of the commemorated events in this sacred month was martyrdom of Imam Musa al – Kazem (as) who was born in Abwa on the 7th of Safar, 128 years after hegira to Imam Jaafar al – Saadiq and Hamidah al – Barbariyyah (as).

Like his parents, he was brought up under the spiritual guidance of his father Imam Jaafar al – Saadiq for twenty years. In addition to the high insight and unique brilliance he was endowed, the Imam received an excellent training and education which made him to excel in spiritual leadership. Thus, he lived embodiment of great piety, chivalry and generosity.

Like his parent, the Imam has faced great enmity and hostility from the ruling class under Harun, whom they called Rasheed and was finally assassinated through poisoning on the 25th of Shawwal, 148 AH.

Thus, he attained martyrdom by refusal to join the oppressive regime. 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” Qur’an: 2:154

Ever since, millions of Muslims from all nooks and crannies of the world visit his tomb in Kazimiyyah, Iraq. A total of seven million people visitors were recorded according to last year’s statistics. “Say o Muhammad, unto mankind); I do not ask of you a wage for this except love of my kinsfolk” Qur’an: 42:23

Martyrs of the Islamic Movement

Conceptually, the Islamic movement in Nigeria under the charismatic leadership of sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky (H) started in the late 1970’s when he was a student at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. The movement was greatly influenced by the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria, which was founded in Lagos in 1954.

The sheikh was the society’s secretary – general of the Ahmadu Bello University main campus branch in the 1970’s 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 as the students were apparently yearning for change, they mostly appealed to communism as it talked of social justice but was highly discouraged due to the negative perception of religion from the communist ideology. However, as the communism was gaining more ground, the victory of the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran changed the thinking of many people in 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 any group that means good for this country and its future than this. Yes, it does not officially participate in the country’s partisan politics due to the fact that votes do not count in Nigeria as election and registration of political parties are generally decided by caucus!

The contribution of this movement to the development of our nation cannot be overemphasized especially on humanitarian grounds, community development projects, educational sector and promotion of peaceful co existence among others. The movement has received countless awards in this direction through its various fora across the country and abroad. To its credit, such awards came from people and organizations of different backgrounds such as traditional rulers, highly recognized government agencies, educational institutions, non – governmental organizations, orphanages, and past military administrators.

“And they ill – treated them For no other reason than That they believed in Allah, Exalted in power, Worthy of all praise! Q85: 8

Despite the fact that the movement has been very peaceful from inception, as evidently ascertained by even the non – Muslims, but some in the ruling class considered it a threat especially during the military administrations. So it relatively, suffered series of attacks by the successive Nigerian governments from Khaki to Babbar – riga!

The magnitude of such persecution differed and led to the killing of many of its members beside those innocently incarcerated on various jail terms and released later. The first attack leading to the arrest of the movement’s leader was since Obasanjo in Khaki at Samaru when the sheikh was writing his final examinations! Generally speaking, the sheikh served the longest jail term in various prisons such as Portharcourt, Sokoto, Kaduna and Kiri – kiri among others.

The first historic event in which the movement lost its member was in 1982 at Bauchi during the popular Islamic vocational conference (IVC) when mysteriously the police attacked the participants killing Brother Muhammad Bello.

The second popular event that led to the martyrdom of the second brother was the Katsina 19th April, where police brutally clamped down on the movement as it staged a peaceful procession to protest the blasphemy against the prophet and his wife mother of believers sayyidah Khadijah by the fun times magazine in the days of colonel John Madaki! There Malam Abubakar Shehu Madomawa from Sokoto was martyred in 1991.

Immediately after this brutal murder, the insightful sheikh established Mu’assasatus shuhada – martyrs foundation – precisely on 1st January, 1992 at Babban – dodo, Zaria shouldered with the responsibility of seeing to the general welfare of all families of the martyrs of the movement, moral upbringing, education and other related activities. The foundation has steadily risen to a fully registered non – governmental organization which collects contribution from members and other well meaning individuals for its humanitarian activities.

Generally speaking, based on this year’s statistics, 145 members were killed in about the forty years of the movement’s existence. And thanks to Allah, their record is intact, that of their families including the circumstances leading to their martyrdom as well as culprits responsible. Even though the foundation needs to work harder but its performance is above average in the areas of education, research promotion, investments and general welfare of the martyrs’ families including the living ones. In fact their activities are worthy of societal commendation.

“If Allah helps you, None can overcome you; If He forsakes you, Who is there, after that, that can help you? In Allah then, Let Believers put their trust. Q3: 160

At this juncture we can conclude with the following points:

Firstly, on the martyrs, we greatly commend your actions as you have left behind a great legacy and therefore owe a great debt to the entire society. We assure you that we will remain on your cause on the struggle for justice and fairness. “They rejoice in the Grace And the Bounty from Allah, And in the fact that Allah suffereth not The reward of the faithful To be lost (in the least). Q3: 171

Secondly, on our side, we must remain steadfast in the quest for social justice as our great martyr lost their lives in the process. As such we must continue to pray for them, promptly pay the Shuhada dues, respect their family, occasionally visit their graves and keep them in mind always. “O you who believe! Seek help with patient perseverance And prayer; for Allah is with those who patiently persevere” Q2:153 and;

Thirdly, for those killing the innocent messiahs of the society wishing to establish a judicious order for social justice should know that history will remain an everlasting witness against them. And they should know that no matter how long they live, they are also going to die and account for their actions inevitably. “Deem not that Allah is heedless of what the iniquitous do; He is only deferring them to a day when eyes shall stare” Q14:42

We are proudly thankful to Allah that the children of our martyrs relatively fared above average. Interestingly, they are all in schools at various levels. Some are already in the universities within and outside Nigeria running various courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels! This goes in line with what the sheikh maintains that as far as education is concerned sky is the limit.