Urhobo Historical Society
Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s Narcissism and Self Glorification
By Muhammad Jameel Yusha’u
Sanusi lamido Sanusi doesn’t have to be abusive before his voice is heard, one wonders what he is after, but the article on Sheikh Ja’afar Mahmoud Adam has finally exposed the larger portion of his character which he is trying to hide under the guise of “Islamic Scholarship”. People can now distinguish between true Islamic scholars who adhere to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) and tried to abide by it and societal chameleons who could be bankers today, political analysts tomorrow, economist the day after tomorrow and the next morning appear as malikis with a dose of shi’a doctrines in their cupboard.
One is glad that Sanusi has clearly told us his models in the persons of Kwame Anthony Appiah, Majid Fakhry, Sohail Hashmi, Segun Gbadegesin and Anthony Kirk-Green which clearly depicts the kind of mindset the combination of this people can produce. The question of identity which Sanusi takes on by trying to brand himself as non-tribalist is clearly recognised by Islam in a clear terms so that people can use their differences to understand one another. Allah says in the Qur’an “O mankind! We have created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into Nations and tribes, that you may know each other ( not that ye may despise each other). The most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well-acquainted with all things” 49:13.
As such the kind of identity given to us by our Creator has a purpose; it is a bargaining asset which we can use to live in harmony with others. If Ahmadu Bello, Tafawa Balewa, Sa’adu Zungur, Aminu Kano, Kashim Ibrahim and the rest of the first republic politicians did not recognise their identity as Muslims and then Hausa or Fulani, Kanuri or Igala, how can they compete and succeed over the more advantaged southern counterparts who were then holding doctorate degrees while those from the north were school certificate holders? Simple logic should make us understand this arithmetic.
Most recently if the question of identity is not important, how can Olusegun Obasanjo be brought to Aso Rock assuming he hails from Borno or Nassarawa state? It was clear that the arrangement of the Nigerian elite was to bring somebody from a particular location belonging to a specified tribe as the new commander-in-chief in order to appease that section of the country over the annulment of June 12 presidential election, it wasn’t surprising that both the candidates in the 1999 election were having the same identity.
Sanusi argued that “The problem we have with some of our scholars is their presumption that every Muslim must rely on them for mediation not just in understanding religious texts, in which they may or may not have achieved a standard of competence, but also in matters beyond their competence, such as the question of negotiating the difficult terrain of politics and developing true concepts of citizenship in plural societies. There is nothing wrong with an Imam participating in political discourse, but he must understand that memorizing thirteenth century texts written by Ibn Taimiya will not make him an authority in contemporary political thought, nor provide him with immunity from ridicule, the just recompense for pretentious posturing” well, I wonder who the Muslims should rely on for the understanding of religious texts if they don’t ask the Ulama, should they ask M arxists or those who think they can become scholars by simply having a collection of books in their library or trying to undertand Islam based on the interpretation of orientalists. Even a person suffering from insanity cannot ridicule a person in the calibre of Ibn Taimiyya. I can recall clearly while as a student in CAS, Kano during a books exhibition organised by the Muslim Students’ Society, one of the principal officers of the college then, saw the collection of Majmu’ul fatawa of Ibn Taimiyya, he became amazed by such wonderful work, and if somebody can treat Kirk-Green and Anthony Apia with respect, the ability to “memorise” the 13th century text by Ibn Taimiyya should equally be respected even from a person practicing a different faith. I don’t have to think twice before stating that the works of those stated by Sunusi combined together can not equal the works of Ibn Taimiyya.
Sheikh Uthman Ibn Fodio (Yarhamuhullah) made it clear that a scholar should understand his religion and his time altogether. So what is wrong with a Scholar who understands the works of his predecessors and comment on contemporary issues? It isn’t new for scholars to comment on socio-political issues. Imam Malik was a good example when the people of Madina were forced to make oath of allegiance to Khalifa Al Mansur, Imam Malik said it was not binding because it was done under coercion.
According to Sanusi’s understanding Sheikh Ja’afar doesn’t have the depth of English language to understand his writings; perhaps Ja’afar was relying on interpreters. One hopes that Sanusi’s Arabic is deep enough without heavy reliance on Arabic-English dictionary to understand the 13th century texts of Ibn Taimiyya which Sheikh Ja’afar explains with ease. It is surprising that people can be so brain washed to think that you can only be learned when you can read in the roman script.
One of the hot arguments in Nigeria in recent years is the issue of indigenes and settlers as signified in the Plateau State crisis. Unknown to many, even the so called intellectuals subscribe to that idea. Listen to Sanusi Lamido Sanusi “The truth is that, by virtue of Divine providence and the circumstances of my birth, up-bringing and education, I have no need to announce my ethnic, religious, racial or family background, nor seek recognition on that basis. I take them for granted and I am more interested in who I am, in the sense of how do I become an exemplar of what I am? This is something Ja’far can never understand, and that is as it should be, because that is the difference between an exile without roots a nd his opposite” emphasis mine.
Well scholars of history will explain better whether it is possible to find a nation where all the inhabitants traced their roots in the place of their birth. As somebody who was born and brought up in Kano, I knew one of the things that made Kano great is its hospitality to accommodate people and treat them with all sense of respect without discrimination. That is why people elected Sabo Bakin Zuwo without caring about his Nupe roots, stood firmly behind Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau without thinking that his grand parents might not be born in Kano, troop to Listen to Sheikh Ja’afar in Gadon Kaya, Dr Ahmad Bamba in BUK, never cared to look at the ancestry of late Sheikh Nasiru Kabara, and ready to stand even against “their own” as the case of Abiola vs. Tofa in the 1993 presidential election.
Let us learn to respect one another and use the little knowledge Allah (SWT) endowed us with in building bridges of understanding rather than engaging ourselves in self glorification and the destruction of others. As for humble background, it’s more of a virtue than an act of ridicule , read the history of the Prophets, the Companions and other noble individuals, how many of them, to use the words of late Mallam Aminu Kano are “the sons and daughters of Mr Somebody”?.
I conclude with a hadith of the prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) “…A Muslim is the brother of another Muslim, do not hurt him, or look down upon him or bring shame on him. Piety is a matter of heart (the prophet repeated that thrice). It is enough evil for a person to look down upon him, Muslim brother. The blood, property and honour of a Muslim is inviolable to a Muslim”-Muslim