By Bashir Bello
Umar Labdo is a professor of Islamic political thought at Maitama Sule University, Kano. In this interview, Labdo speaks on the banning of an Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abduljabbar Nasir Kabara, by Kano State government on account of preaching inciting messages.
The state government had, a fortnight ago, banned the cleric for alleged inciting preaching. Muhammad Garba, the state Commissioner for Information, who announced the order in a statement, said government considered the cleric’s mode of teachings as incendiary.
Kano State government has banned an Islamic cleric, Sheikh Abduljabbar, from preaching and other religious activities for what it termed as incitement…
I think the decision of Kano State government to ban Abduljabbar from preaching and other religious activities is long overdue. It should have been done a long time ago. This man claims to be an Islamic scholar but his ways are divisive. He is working to divide Muslims in Kano and other places in Nigeria. His method is that he quotes non-text from authentic sources but gives them interpretations that are entirely his own. Islam is 1, 500 years old. This young man is now coming out with new interpretations that are unheard of. I am an expert in Islamic Studies, although my field is Islamic political thought. I did my Islamic studies in Arabic not in English as others do.
I can tell you authoritatively that Abduljabbar is a charlatan. I can’t even call him a scholar because he doesn’t understand the Qur’an. Everybody will tell you that whenever he quotes from the Qur’an, he makes grave mistakes. And an Islamic scholar is supposed to commit the Qur’an to memory which is the basic requirement of Islamic scholarship. In the past, committing the Qur’an to memory used to be the elementary stage of studying Islam. The Qur’an is a fountain while other knowledge of Islam emanate from the Qur’an. How can somebody who doesn’t know Qur’an claim that he is an Islamic scholar?
Second, if you listened to his sermons and lessons, you will be surprised that some people regard him as a scholar. This is somebody who will be uttering unguarded utterances. This is somebody who will tell his followers to slaughter anyone who differs or goes contrary to their teachings. He was openly calling for violence. This is the kind of person that, if left unchecked, could grow to be another Maitasine, another Muhammad Yusuf (leader of Boko Haram). First, he told young people not to go to Western school like Zakzaky did in the 1980s.
We were in the university and so we knew what happened. Now, Abduljabbar is trying to take the place of Zakzaky because he is also a Shiite. Now, because Zakzaky is old and devastated because six of his children were killed and he has been in detention for five years, Abduljabbar is trying to take his place. He said that publicly.
That is why I said what government did was right. It came a little late because the young man has led a lot of people astray. Many young people now listen to him as if he is significant. He is zero in the world of knowledge and not a religious man. He is exploiting our bad situation because we have a lot of Almajiri children and unemployed youths roaming the streets that need to be entertained. And he is providing entertainment.
Go to social media, you will see him sometimes with a sword, marching on the streets of Kano and hundreds follow him. And he would threaten that whoever dares him would be dealt with. If not because we are not serious, how could we tolerate this man all these years? He should have been dealt with long ago.
What the Kano State government did is in order and they are equally fair to him for even agreeing to organise an open debate. It is also in line with Islamic tradition and culture to organise an open debate between opposing camps. For hundreds of years, traditional rulers have been organising this. In history, here in Kano, Emir Sanusi I, organised such an open debate. It is to convince the populace that what the government did is in order. Let this man come out and air his views and scholars will be there.
Don’t you think a lot of people might also be derailed during the debate?
No, he would air his views and scholars would be there to reply him. It would also be an opportunity to examine his evidence and show that it is faulty. Once this is done, even if he is not convinced, people would be convinced. That is why it is for government to organise this open debate.
What about his followers?
I think his followers should be rehabilitated because most of them are jobless. They are idle people. They just sit around and some are drug addicts. Government should empower them by using scholars to salvage them from the situation he led them into.
Vanguard News Nigeria