Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky’s address at a Sallah feast organized by the Resource Forum of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria..
As was rightly mentioned, this is not a speech making gathering but a feast and all praise be to Allah we have enjoyed it and it is worth the gathering. This is because most of the religious activities embarked upon by people today are speech dominated, most especially during the cold season when some people continue to talk in the early morning using public address systems in the mosques. I personally feel they should have been organizing tea feasts for the people instead of all that talk because it is not all about talking alone. There should be variety of activities for the people.
Being that the Resource Forum, the organizer of this feast has not formally introduced itself let me introduce it. The Islamic Movement activities started during the late seventies and the early eighties, especially during the seventies when we were students at the Ahmadu Bello University. There were a lot of activities then and we were all together.
After graduation and many have picked up jobs in different places around the country, meeting one another became difficult as people only meet coincidentally probably at the airports when travelling and exchange complements and addresses. You will see one probably working in Portharcourt at the Nigerian Ports Authority or some where in Calabar while the other is some where near and yet it is difficult to meet.
With this situation we decided to create a platform that will bring all those people back together from there various places for continued interactions as a result, the Resource Forum was founded. Resource in this case does not necessarily mean financial but intellectual where ideas would be utilized. All these people are gifted with various talents that will be of immense use to the struggle and so, they are called upon under the Forum to contribute. But, the Resource Forum is for those that have graduated from the tertiary institutions and are engaged in various fields of endeavors.
There is its sister forum, the Academic Forum which brings together those within the enclave of the tertiary institutions made up of both lecturers and students. Since there are those who have graduated and are working in the tertiary institutions, there is an overlapping platform that makes one a member of the Academic Forum as well as a member of the Resource Forum. Being a worker in the tertiary institution makes him a member of the Academic and also being a graduate worker he is a member of the Resource Forum. For example the national coordinator of the Resource Forum, Dr Abdullahi Danladi is a member of both the two forums. He is a lecture in the university and a graduate worker as well hence; he belongs to both the Academic as well as the Resource Forum. The Resource Forum is the organizer of this feast. If we were to only meet, exchange pleasantries and disperse, there is a lot of good in it, talk less of delivering a brief speech. I recall a certain professor that said he benefited a lot from the private discussions that took place during the last year’s feast.
One thing every one of us is aware of is that this life is an opportunity given us by the creator. It is an opportunity to choose how his hereafter would be. Even if one fails to understand this there is one reality he cannot forget and that is death. Everyone is aware that life is not permanent and that he is one day going to die. If today we see ourselves living tomorrow we will not be there and there is no other chance after that. You will not see another person and ask when last he was alive and he would say some few centuries ago, I just got reincarnated. There is only one life. The past generations who have died are gone forever and subsequently we are all also going to die as well. Therefore it is while one is alive that he is given the opportunity to determine his hereafter.
It is a normal phenomenon that people find themselves in an age and in an environment. Just as the age differs the environment also differs. In whichever age and environment one finds him, he benefits from what is available in that age and environment. There are people that are described as heroes in histories around the world who when their environment is placed on a scale with the present, theirs would be described as village like. But yet they are described as heroes of their ages and environments respectively. More so, a person described in that age as a rich person might be a poor person in this age. If he used his wealth to save his people, may be by supplying them with food and he is described as a hero for that, all what he has given out in that age might not constitute anything in this age.
For example the Prophet’s grandfather Hashim is seen as a hero. The actual word Hashim is derived from ‘Ha-sha-ma’ meaning ‘he has shared’. During that age there was a time they had draught and he was rich enough to own food that could be described as bread which they used to eat in soup. He used to cut the bread into peaces and share it to the people who were hungry. His actual name was Amr but they called him Hashim for sharing his food among them to save them from hunger. He became a hero in Mecca for that sacrifice and selflessness. The Arabs afterwards decided that their leaders should come from his offspring despite challenges. Those that posed the challenge were asked to say who has done more than he that saved their ancestors with bread to which they all said it was Hashim. They said it was Hashim that shared bread to our ancestors therefore there is no one better than Abu Talib that lead Mecca, and they all submitted to him as a result of the sacrifice of Hashim.
I brought this example to stress the point that one can be a hero at any age and in any environment, be it the ages in which people ride on donkeys, horses or camels or in the age in which people ride in cars and aircrafts. You are at will to express your own capacity. Despite the changes in ages and environment and the rise in the level of civilization and technology we still remain humans.
We are now living in an environment called Nigeria and in an age which name I do not know. We have been colonized in the past for about a hundred or sixty years before independence. We have now been independent for the past fifty years. It is during this period that people have been given the opportunity to express their heroism. Unfortunately we have found ourselves in an age where a system I personally describe as ‘Ninanci’ (in Hausa or individualism in English) is the order of the day. This is a system whereby everyone is after his personal whims and caprice, always struggling for me, myself and I. No one cares for others but himself alone. There are no Hashims in the society. If there were to be any thing like draught there would be no one to share bread, whosoever cuts it, it will go to his mouth alone. It is such that the Hausas are even saying that ‘when the beard of your brother is on fire you should rub water on yours’. This is the unfortunate thing happening. It is such that when one sees an emergency he would only be struggling to escape and not to help others out.
If there is any better way of describing the ideology running the current system, there is nothing better than ‘Ninanci’ (individualism). You just go after your greed and selfish aggrandizements. On the other hand, if we are view the past heroes we will realize that they were not individualistic and selfish. They were heroes because of their sacrifice and selflessness to the people.
This reminds me of a real life story of a Chinese man whose name I cannot recall at the moment. His community was living near a hill at a bank. He had a rice farm at the hill top. His farm was the biggest of all farms in his community at that time. His house was located on the hill top while the others lived by the bank in the valleys. One day they saw a mysterious incident when the entire sea pulled back and there was only sand. They all gathered watching and wondering. This happened in the night. The entire community was there, men and women, old and young.
When the old Chinese man came out and saw almost all the people of his community gathered at the sea bank he asked what was happening and was informed that the sea had pulled back mysteriously all that was remaining was sand. He sent his grandson to bring a torch for him. He used the torch to set his entire farm ablaze.
All of a sudden the people saw the old man’s farm on fire and they all left the sea bank for the farm. On getting there they asked the grandson what was happening and he said it was the old man that set the whole farm ablaze. Just as they were standing they heard a windy noise and the sea had returned to the bank and beyond. They realized that they had just escaped being killed by the heavy tides when they left the bank for the farm. The old man deliberately set his farm ablaze to save them from the tides because he knew the sea was coming back with a heavy tide. The only way he could make them leave the sea bank was to set his farm ablaze so that they would rush to the farm and leave the bank. This is a real life story that happened a very long time ago. His sacrifice to his people made him a hero that we are even talking about him today.
You can never hear of a hero that is selfish and individualistic. Except maybe in concocted stories like that of Shakespeare where Shylock became a hero or the Hausa tales, where Zumbuli, who is described as the founder of greed became a hero. If you are a Zumbuli or a Shylock then you are definitely not a hero.
It is such that today people are self-centered, they only care for themselves and no one cares for the people. You should understand that whosoever does not care about the people does not care about himself as well. You are part of the people. You are like fish in the water where the water is the people. It is the people that made you who you are. You were given birth to by a parent that is made up of paternal and maternal relations. You were taught what you know by the people. You lived with your schoolmates who you competed with in school to enhance your ability. Even the market you go to buy a pin is made up of the people without whom there would not be any market. So you see it is all these people and more that have come together to make you what you are. If for any reason you don’t care about their plight then you equally do not care about your own plight as well. So the best for you is to care for them in caring for yourself. The only way out is for you to be selfless and committed to the cause of the people and not yourself alone.
As I have earlier mentioned, heroes of the past are made up of those who sacrificed for their people but unfortunately in our society today it is not like that. People are rather selfish and greedy. What about the future? Are you actually concerned about the future of your children? Because some people claim that they only care for themselves and their children.
The so-called advanced countries care about the plight of their people. That was why it was possible for them to make heaps of our fore-fathers’ corpses, steal our resources and used them in building their nations. That was all that mattered for them. As a result of this, even America claims that it has no permanent friends but permanent interests. Hence you can see that they only care about their interest and have no friends in reality. That is even why they turn their back on those who are carried away by greed and individualism that go to support the American interest and become their agents and stooges. You can all see the end of Saddam who they used and dumped. Look at the current case with Ghaddafi. There are secret files that have revealed that he was an American stooge. Some of those that were tortured for the crime of terrorism by the Americans were taken to Ghaddafi to execute it for them. There was even a secrete American prison in Libya under Ghaddafi. It was just this morning that I watched a program on TV where a South African was saying that he is never surprised at this. Because he knew for long that Europe and America are only deceiving the world about democracy. They only mention it and not actually implement it. He said that they were the ones that empowered the apartheid regime in the past. It was after it was forcefully overthrown that they are coming to show otherwise. He said that he is never surprised about the revelations on Ghaddafi.
It is only individualism that pushes people to turn their backs on their people and squeeze out their resources for others to build their own nations. They will tell such a person that they were the ones that made him a leader. What kind of leadership is this? You are supposed to be the representative of the interest of the people as a leader and not your selfish greed. But thing are not like that today. They have even corrupted the children with this kind of mentality such that even little kids are after what they will personally gain; small children in primary schools.
There was the case of my son Humaid and his classmates who are within the range of eight years. They were asking him whether his father is a rich man. Humaid said to them that it does not bother him whether his father was rich or poor. They said he was foolish for thinking like that. They then had a test and he scored higher marks than them. He then called them and said what then. They replied that it does not bother if you score more than us but is your father rich or poor? He insisted that it doesn’t bother him. He then said to them that they said he was a fool not to bother whether his father was rich or poor, how come he scored higher marks than them? They said that if they desire to score high marks they would. He then replied that they should desire to and prove themselves right. They then had another test and he scored higher marks than them and he confronted them and asked why they did not score higher than him and they said its all rubbish. If he does not desire his father to be rich then he is mad. This is only as a result of the training they were given on the importance of who their fathers are. Imagine children thinking like this. It is indeed very annoying.
Everybody is now struggling to acquire wealth by all means. Even the parents encourage these derailments psychologically. You will see parents visiting their children in school with big containers filled with chicken parts to off. We are not interested in the future of our children nor are we interested in the society we are going to leave behind. Are we leaving behind those who are only interested in looting our resources and enriching themselves? More over we know they have a written agenda. Some part of the agenda is hidden to us but from what we have seen on internet, they are planning to turn Nigeria into another Somalia. There has not been a government in Somalia for the past 17 years and it is shattered by tribal wars. They have the same plan for Nigeria. All they are interested in is disrupting the nation and looting its resources.
But from what I am seeing from the people, they don’t care about all these they are only interested in how much wealth they make; their selfish greed. That is why the enemies are identifying them and their greedy interests and using them as their stooges. They will say ‘all he is interested in is such and such, give him and we will use him to get what we want in return. They will give him what he wants and in the end after getting what they are after they will treat him like Saddam or Ghaddafi or Mubarak that is now being ridden to court on a wheel chair. In fact his ailment is that of surprise and wonder. He is wondering how this is all happening to him as a president and commander-in-chief he is today being charged to court. They have finished using him. When they finish using you they will simply dump you.
Do not waste your life for nothing serving as an agent or a stooge. You should know that this world is not a permanent place. You should be thinking of the best thing to do to rescue your people from their predicaments. This is what the Prophets did. They struggled to save their people from their plights. None of the Prophets came to build himself or acquire wealth but to emancipate the people from a predicament. It is better for you to be mentioned as a hero that helped his people than to be referred to as a person with millions in the bank. One wonders what those gathering the millions will do with all that money. If it is because of food, there is a limit to what they can eat. If they continue to build mansions around, they will live in only one house, in a room and on a bed at a time. That is all. Also, your days on earth are numbered and as soon as it is time you will die and that is all and all the houses and millions you have gathered will not follow you anywhere.
Yes they will follow you some how. Amir-al-Mumineen (AS) has mentioned that in the hereafter knowledge is the light that will save the person crossing the ‘Sirat’ and wealth is the weight that will delay him on it. There are three things that usually escort a person to the grave when he dies. Two will return and one will remain with him. These include his people (his family, friends and relations), his wealth (his funeral dress and maybe his vehicles) and his deeds. The two that will come back and leave him behind are his wealth and his people. They will leave him behind with his deeds. Therefore it is what he did while alive that he will be left with. Even if there is any thing from his wealth that will be left with him, it will only be the white cloth with which he is buried. As it was rightly mentioned in the Prophet’s tradition that the dead person’s wealth and family will be made to appear to him like one body. The dead person will demand for something from the body and it will say it is only the white cloth you are to be buried with that I can give you. The dead will say but I struggled and suffered to put you together. The body will say yes I am aware but your share from all that is the piece of white cloth with which you are buried.
How much is that white cloth worth that one will waste a whole life time striving to raise? People are being deceived into engaging in worldly pursuits against the deeds that will save them in the hereafter. It is the good deeds that are ever-lasting whereas those that have made worldly fortunes have all been forgotten.
It is so unfortunate that even the Arabs of the days of ignorance are better than our people of today. They respect a person because of his dignity and not because of his wealth. Unlike our people of today who respect a person because of his wealth. It is better to respect people because of their moral ethics.
It is high time people begin to relieve themselves of individualism and selfish greed. It is high time we reason that those who are striving to destroy us are already around and busy doing what they know best. I have mentioned at the closing of this year’s Ramadan Tafseer how the security of this nation has bee handed over to them and how they are using it to destabilize the nation and cause insecurity while we all remain silent and watching.
As I have earlier mentioned we are not here to talk, we are here to eat and feast. But I know I have given us a food for taught. It is not the solution that I have mentioned but the problem. I have done this to mobilize our minds into a positive ponder for a way out. We should seek for a way out for ourselves and our children. We are very grateful for your presence and also pray for you journey mercies to your various destinations. Peace and blessing s of God Almighty be showered on the Prophet and his holy household.
Translated from Hausa by Abdul Mumin Giwa