IZALA IN PERSPECTIVE: BALA LAU, KABIR GOMBE AND HOW NOT TO LEAD THE Uma

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Tukur Mamu

It is important to emphasise at the beginning of this piece that the idea behind my decision to write on the above subject matter is not to ridicule, embarrass or to unduly criticise anybody, but to admonish all of us to reflect on the conduct of particularly those of us that carry the huge burden of managing the affairs of Islam and Muslims of the Sunni school of thought for the purpose of correcting ourselves before it is too late. I know that the content of this piece may steer debate, responses or rejoinders either for or against my position by minority elements. Whatever it may attract, it should be directed to me as a person because I take full responsibility of whatever I wrote. I say so because I know the typical diversionary antics of some of our religious leaders. For being very close to Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Gumi, those in the habit of mischief or those that want to live in a perpetual life of self deception may advance reason that my opinion is the opinion of Sheikh Gumi or that by extension I am writing his opinion or being motivated by him. But those that know me very well in the field of journalism and for nearly two decades, I always maintain my independence on whatever I want to write and that nobody can influence my decision to write. So what you are about to read is 100 percent my opinion and views.

As Muslims, we all believe that leadership is not something we will struggle to get not to talk of fighting to remain relevant, on top or in the position we selfishly desire. We are also aware that Allah has directed us to come together, unite and remain as one, and that He specifically instructed us not to separate. The factionalization of Izala into two groups of Kaduna and Jos has remained embarrassing to the Sunni world. Their inability to unite as Allah commanded us and to come together as one is a clear message to all of us that some of our ulama are in reality not practising what they are preaching. Their insatiable quest for leadership, even when Islam forbids so, and ability to reach out to those in position of power and authority particularly at the government level at every given opportunity has left us in no doubt but to conclude that their struggle to always be at the helm is for material and worldly benefits and not as true ambassadors of Islam. They know what they are benefiting as leaders of Izala if not they will not disobey the commands of Allah to unite for the purpose of retaining such leadership by all means. In my opinion as a student of Islam, Wa’azin Kasa which has become a source of soliciting money from governors and as a conduit pipe for diverting millions of naira meant for the Da’awa should either be restructured to make the leaders accountable or to be abolished at all. What we desperately need at this time when Muslims particularly fulani herdsmen are being converted into Christianity by the rich and determined Christian missionaries due to lack of proper Islamic education and teaching, is not a gathering of show, flamboyance and demonstration of affluence mostly in towns and cities which is what we always see during the so called Wa’azin Kasa. What they should do that will favour Islam and earn them reward hereafter with the money they are getting from the state governors etc is to organise themselves and use such money to recruit and support willing and determined Islamic teachers, to concentrate themselves in the bushes and the villages to spread the message of Islam, to teach and to target those that are being converted into Christianity. We don’t need Wa’azin Kasa that largely concentrates in towns and cities in a nation where the rate of those that are being converted into Christianity in remote villages is becoming dangerously alarming. What they mostly achieved during such Wa’azin Kasa is to intimidate and to show to their poor and ignorant followers the number of cars in their convoys, the latest models of cars they have, the quality of clothes they wear or the number of private security in their escorts. The poor Yan’agajis that are truly determined to contribute to their religion are being treated as slaves by such ulama. Even when they got millions for such Wa’azin Kasa, Yan’agajis are usually left without a penny, without even  transport money not to talk of a decent feeding allowance. There is no accountability at all by the top leadership of Izala. I have conducted and recorded several interviews with many Yan’agajis from both sides on these issues. Their experiences to say the least is lamentable. Several respected sunni/Izala Ulama that avioded themselves from such money making venture called Wa’azin Kasa because they most have realised the ill motive behind such gatherings are already impacting sufficient knowledge silently to Muslims in mosques, markas and other centres in several towns and cities without the usual noise and abuses associated with the politicised Wa’azin Kasa. No one is sponsoring them to spread the message of Allah. They are the likes of Sheikh Algarkawy, Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Gumi, Dr. Sani Umar Rigiyan Lemo etc. So the Izala leaderships at all levels if they are truly committed and sincere should channel the millions they are getting to Da’awa to remote villages, and since they are the custodians of such millions they should be in the forefront of those that will concentrate in villages for the Da’awa.

As a journalist with a paper that earned public confidence in investigative journalism, I have well documented evidences to support my claims that on several occasions the two Izala leaderships have received cash contributions running into millions from for instance the government of Zamfara, Sokoto, Kano, Kaduna, Borno, Bauchi etc over the years for the Wa’azin Kasa that usually turn out to be a nuisance and unhelpful to Islam. Such millions will have made impact in educating many in villages and in bringing back to Islam those that were converted into Christianity. That could be the reason for the struggle of leadership in Izala and why the leaders shamelessly refuse to obey Allah’s command of coming together and uniting as one. Are they deceiving themselves that Allah will not judge them or that their deliberate and selfish failure to unite is helpful to Islam? Anybody that spends a single Kobo in the name of Islam or money belonging to Muslims without lawful justification to do so will definitely meet Allah’s wrath.

In my assessment and during an indept investigation, the Izala leadership under Mallam Abdullahi Bala Lau and Mallam Kabir Gombe are the worse in terms of conduct that is not consistent with Islam. Under their leadership, the Izala has become a multi million naira organisation without checks and balances, without prudence, transparency and accountability. The only visible progress one can notice in Izala under their leadership is the growing nature of their flamboyance and intimidating show of affluence. They have politicized the Izala and transformed themselves to dictators. No one knows how much they actually spent in establishing the now moribund Manara Television. And even though the money they used in establishing Manara belongs to the Muslim umma, Bala Lau and Kabiru Gombe decide and select who among the Izala ulama will be aired on the television as if the station is their personal property. Any Islamic preacher and no matter how important his teachings might be as long as he is not in their good books or not loyal to them the television will not feature him or his teachings. Worse of all and as if they are not Muslims, preachers of the other faction of the Izala are completely barred from featuring on Manara Television because of the rivalry between the two Izala camps. I am sure the other side will have done the same to the Bala Lau faction if they are in same position. What manner of religion are our ulama practising?

I will insist from next year after the Eid-el-Kabir if I am alive that the Izala leadership under Bala Lau must be accountable if not I as a stakeholder that has been contributing I will sue them to demand for justice for Islam. The Bala Lau leadership has never been transparent and accountable to us since they started collecting and selling hides and skins contributed by all after their sacrifices during Eids. The opinion and advise of the Muslim umma particularly Izala ulama on how best to use the proceeds of the sales of our hides and skins, which is in millions, was never sorted since Muslims started the voluntary donations. That was why they arrived at a bogus,  misplaced and highly inflated project of a hotel in Abuja which is not a priority to Islam at the moment. The two of them have constituted a team and manipulating almost everybody. They dictate and decide what to do with the resources being contributed by the umma and with donations they are collecting on behalf of Islam and Muslims without consultation. The hotel which only Bala Lau and Kabir Gombe know how much it actually costs is now virtually running at a loss because there are many decent hotels in Abuja with very few people patronising the hotels due to the economic crunch. Even the maintenance of the hotel is now a huge burden. Credible sources have revealed that through the annual sales of hides and skin alone, the Izala under Bala Lau has generated over N500 million over the years. This huge sum would have made significant impact in Da’awa and would have saved thousands from ignorance and shirk. It would have been used in training and retraining teachers to spread the message of Islam and in buying vehicles for them for easy movement to remote villages. I have strong evidence to believe that the Izala leadership under Bala Lau is enmeshed in unprecedented corruption that needs to be investigated by the EFCC. And certainly, I will pursue that line as soon as all the evidences we need are available.

Their recent visit to the United Kingdom has done more harm than good to them. It exposes how some capitalist religious leaders that are suppose to promote their religion and culture through their conduct, dress code and appearances engage in unbridled class struggle, show of affluence and the desire to imbibe and imitate western values and practice. Ordinarily, there is nothing wrong in Islam for one to wear the type of dresses Bala Lau and Kabir Gombe bombarded the social media with during their UK visit. But in reality, it is an appearance that doesn’t show decency (kamala) at all. It is like seeing late Sheikh Abubakar Mahmud Gumi whom the Bala Lau’s of this world always wants to associate themselves with in those manner of dresses during some of his visits to the western world or seeing leaders like Sir Ahmadu Bello, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa etc appearing in UK, United States, at the United Nations etc in suits and cowboy hats to demonstrate to the followers of other faith that they are social or that ‘we are one and the same.’ For Bala Lau and Kabir Gombe it is probably a demonstration to the Saudis that they are practising ‘moderate Islam’. Even former President Goodluck Jonathan, who as a Christian should have emulated the dress code of the western world, always appeared in his native Niger Delta dress in virtually all his visits to the West. I have not seen another Christian, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, wearing the type of dresses Bala Lau and Kabir Gombe wore even on the pretext of hamattan during any of his numerous visits to the West during and after his presidency. As Muslims, late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari have visited several western countries that Bala Lau and Kabir Gombe never visited in their lives during snow and winter periods but they always chose to appear as decent and as Islamic as they used to be. I can understand that Bala Lau and Gombe are not exposed to the western world and are probably visiting the UK for the first time in their lives and hence they feel so proud to appear in such dresses, taking pictures in different parts of the UK and proudly sharing such pictures to the whole world. They should have reserved such pictures exclusively for their families instead of embarrassing themselves and the Izala as a whole. If the use of such dress code during foreign visits has any significance or important message to send as far as Islam is concerned, we will have seen such practice from the undisputed father of Izala in Nigeria, late Sheikh Gumi or the likes of late Sheikh Ahmed Deedat during his numerous foreign trips. Deedat always maintained his normal traditional dressing wherever he goes. Deedat has visited countries that Bala Lau and Kabir Gombe will never visit in their lives. He is always original and maintains his usual self. Through such dresses that symbolise Islam and decency, Deedat has converted hundreds if not thousands to Islam. There is nothing to admire, there is nothing that will attract followers of other religions in the kinds of western oriented dresses Bala Lau and Kabir Gombe wore. In any case, it is by implication an endorsement or an appreciation of what the West stands for. Even me as a student of Islam that seeks knowledge and guidance from the likes of Bala Lau, I believe I have visited many western countries that they have not yet visited but I always remained who I am and very proud to appear Islamic as far as my appearance and dress code are concerned. I have twice declined a Canadian visa when I was advised to remove or reduce my beards before going for the interview. I also rejected several offers from a friend who has dual citizenship to go to France for medicals because he also offered same advise of having trim or shave my beards to facilitate easy approval of my visa and also to aviod unnecessary security surveillance on me while in Paris.

What Islam needs in Nigeria today is not a useless jamboree foreign trips by our leaders and with our money. The increased rates of kidnappings mainly being perpetrated by the Fulanis, insecurity associated with Boko Haram’s misguided ideology and beliefs, are largely due to ignorance and inability to use the millions the two Izala faction are getting into proper Da’awa (NOT Wa’azin Kasa). The money Bala Lau and Kabir Gombe spent in UK would have been very useful for such purpose. But as religious leaders they don’t even want to be criticised. They have become conceited with so much pride believing they have monopoly of knowledge and understanding of Islam. Whenever any respected Mallam sincerely advises them to come together and to resign from their lucrative positions for the unity of Islam and peace, they will rush to the munbar and abuse everybody. The munbar of our beloved prophet of Islam which he used during his time to spread the message of Islam has today been converted by the likes of Bala Lau, Kabir Gombe etc to a place where they attack, offer rejoinders, abuse and threaten those they consider are holding dissenting opinions against them. The munbar is today being used to attack and criticise politicians not because such ulama are interested in sanitizing the society or care about the downtrodden but because they want to be patronized by way of getting money from those they criticised so as to keep quite. Contrary to the way the prophet teaches us, the munbar is today being used by such categories of ulama as a weapon to attack supposed enemies and as a means of getting attraction to get money. This an open secret.

In whatever we do we will never succeed in deceiving or manipulating Allah. Allah did not care and will not be carried away by our ability to talk, our ability to manipulate the conscience of fellow muslim faithful but He judges us from our conduct and from what we think we hide. Those of us that become carried away with the temporary pleasures of this world to the detriment of others are certainly living in a life they will certainly regret. And Allah will never allow them or their families to enjoy real peace with such money. For those that can reason, there are a lot of lessons to be learned from the sudden death of Sheikh Alhassan Sa’ed Jos (may Allah forgive his sins). If that is not enough as a lesson for the two leaders of Izala to unite as Allah commands, then sincerely fear and have pity for them.

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