From ISMAIL OMIPIDAN and AKEEB ALARAPE, in Saudi Arabia
Prominent Muslim clerics under the auspices of the Council of Ulamas of Nigeria (CUN), who are part of Federal Government delegation to this year’s hajj, yesterday held a special prayer at Mount Arafat for the continued peaceful co-existence of Nigeria. The delegation, led by the Sultan of Sokoto and Amirul-ul-Hajj of Nigeria, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, also asked God to bring to an end soonest, the atmosphere of insecurity in Nigeria.
This is even as the Sultan also seized the occasion to admonish Nigerians to eschew tribal and religious differences in their dealings with each other. The clerics were drawn from the three major tribes in Nigeria. Sheik Dahiru Bauchi, prayed in Hausa, Baba Adini of Lagos, Sheik Abu, prayed in Yoruba, while Sheik Dauda Onyeagocha, the chief imam of Imo State, prayed in Igbo. Others who offered prayers were Imam Abdulrahman Ahmad, chief missioner of Ansar-ud-Deen Society and Sheik Aminudeen Abubakar from Kano.
In his Sallah message to Nigerians on the occasion, the Sultan appealed to Nigerians to see themselves as God’s creatures, saying it was not by accident that God created Nigerians differently. He further enjoined Muslims to use the occasion to reflect on their lives and rededicate themselves to serving God and promoting peace and love among humanity in Nigeria and wherever they found themselves. The national prayer session also brought together leaders of the various Islamic sects in Nigeria, as they all prayed in one voice.
The Islamic sects’ leaders present were Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, a prominent leader of the Tijjaniyyah sect, Sheikh Aminudeen Abubabar and Sheikh Bala Lau, both of the Izalatul Bid’a Wa’Ikamatu Sunnah sect and Sheikh Tijjani Bala Kalarawi, also a leader in the Tijjaniyah sect. Speaking on the significance of their coming together, Senator Abdul Ningi, deputy Senate leader and member of the Federal Government’s delegation, said it was going to send a strong signal to a few vocal people, back in Nigeria, parading themselves as Muslim leaders but who had succeeded in recent time in painting Islam black in the eyes of none Muslims.
He added that the unification of the two major sects would provide a platform for majority of the Muslims to find a strong voice to preach the message of peace, which according to him, was the hallmark of Islam. Ningi commended the Sultan for the great task of ensuring the unity of Muslims across Nigeria, saying that what happened yesterday in Saudi Arabia would subsequently translate into peaceful coexistence among Muslims and between Muslims and people of other religions, especially Christians.
On his part, the Sultan also expressed happiness that the sects’ leaders had resolved to de-emphasise their sects and embrace one another as Muslims under one umbrella. He enjoined them to take the message down to their flocks to deepen the understanding.