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Understanding the Islamic Movement

By Yusuf Abdullahi
In the name of Allah Who states “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  Peace and blessings of Allah be upon His noble servant, our master Muhammad and his purified progeny.

The piece for this week is on the Islamic movement led by Sheikh Ibraheem el-Zakzaky (H) in this country. More than any other time, the movement draws global attention for the 2015th pogrom and deteriorating health of its illegally detained leader. As a mass movement and part of global Islamic movement, it is neither a political party, nor a registered non-governmental organization with a nomenclature. Even the IMN famously identified is not its official name.
According to Encarta Dictionaries, movement was defined as a collective effort by a large group of people trying to achieve something especially a political or social reform. Islamic movement based on Islamic ideologies is a global Islamic concept covering social and political aspects with a view to reforming society. The Sheikh el-Zakzaky-led Islamic movement is part of the global Islamic movement wishing to reform social values and improve socio-economic indices.

The aim of the Islamic movement is not any different from the rationale behind the mission of man on earth. Allah states “He who created death and life, that He may try which of you is best in deed; He is the exalted in might, Oft forgiving” Q14:42. Man is therefore on a trial. Based on this, life has three stages; our living on earth, the interim stay in the grave and the hereafter. All the three stages are important but most important is the present life as the determinant of the next. Therefore, people should work hard to live as vicegerents of Allah, so that we may acquire His pleasure and attain great abode of His righteous servants. Therefore, in the cause of his life, man must make sure that he properly understands and gives more attention to spiritual aspect of his being which has greater impact and determines his hereafter. Here and hereafter are accustomed expressions that refer to this life and the life after. Which of the two is more important? The earthly life of course. This is because, it is the seed for the life after. All messengers of Allah were sent on this motive and no nation was left.
From the verse above, Allah has created man to live as His vicegerent on earth. This means that he should run his life in accordance with the directives of Allah as contained in the noble Qur’an. In line with that, he should interact well with his fellows and avoid all sorts of tyranny and corruption. "We will give a pure and wholesome life to every one man or woman who acts righteously and has faith and we will reward them in accordance with the best of what they used to do" Q16:97. On whatever capacity one lives in this world, he shall be judged on his action. The trial of life covers the rich and the poor, the scholar and the ignorant, the civil servant and the farmer just as it affects all and sundry. And from the wisdom of Allah, the linking bridge is death that all souls must taste.
Conceptually, the movement started in the late 1970’s when the revered Sheikh 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 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 its 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 discourses 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 was paramount despite Sheikh’s unjust imprisonments by successive Nigerian governments of many years in different times.
Obviously, 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 truly count in Nigeria as election and registration of political parties are generally decided by caucus. The contribution of this movement to the development of the nation is vividly very enormous. 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 successive Nigerian governments. The magnitude of the persecution include killings beside innocent incarceration on various jail terms. The first attack leading to arrest of its leader was since Obasanjo in Khaki at Samaru when the Sheikh was writing his final examinations. Generally speaking, the Sheikh was innocently made to serve several jail terms in various prisons like Sokoto and Kaduna among others. The first historic event in which the movement lost its follower was in 1982 at Bauchi during the popular Islamic Vocational Conference (IVC) when mysteriously the police attacked killing Brother Muhammad Bello. The second popular event that led to the martyrdom of the second brother was the Katsina 19th April, 1991 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. Malam Abubakar Shehu Madomawa from Sokoto was martyred.
Immediately after the 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 adherents and other well meaning individuals for its humanitarian activities. Sizeable number of brothers was also lost in the Abacha oppressive regime before he was caught by the omnipotent. He is remembered forever for his atrocities. Such persecution continued at different times and places leading to additional loss of lives. The foundation organizes annual program for the remembrance of all the martyrs of the movement, cost benefit analysis and general assessment of its activities where prizes are distributed to individuals and circles based on annual performances featuring the leader of the movement as guest speaker.
In the Sokoto clampdown, no fewer than fourteen brothers were tyrannically killed by sponsored thugs and police in a deliberately designed attack under the Wamakko – led Administration. More than hundred others were remanded in custody on a baseless allegation. However, they were finally proved not guilty after six years and were released unconditionally. What a tyranny! Generally speaking, statistics of martyrs, casualties and incidences in the forty years of the movement’s existence are well kept. Even though the foundation needs to work harder but its performance is above average in the areas of education and general welfare of martyrs’ families including the living ones. In fact the activities are obviously worthy of societal commendation.
To be continued.