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16 Sep 2017

Islamic scholars speak on Fayose’s conduct during the Eid el Kabir

More than two weeks after the Eid el Kabir celebration in Nigeria, the conduct of the Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, during an Eid prayer in Ado-Ekiti, seems to have gathered a sudden storm following a condemnation by the President of the Muslim Rights Concern, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, who described his action as “highly sacrilegious and unduly provocative.”
Fayose donned a turban and Muslim tunic and held a prayer bead, an action that he took a step further when he was handed a microphone and gave a speech while surrounded by Imams at the September 1 event. One of the Imams echoed his words in the manner followed by preachers in some mosques. Some prominent Islamic scholars lend their voice to this issue

Fayose abused turban, violated Islamic wardrobe…but blame religious leaders too
Dr. Saheed Ahmad Rufai, Dean, Faculty of Education, Sokoto State University

The governor’s conduct reflected the politicisation of religion or, better, religionisation of politics in Nigeria. The uproar generated by it is not justified as it has become a custom among vote- or support-seeking politicians to go above and beyond to romance religious houses.

Politicians with no regard for religion are often given access to the pulpits in mosques and churches, during electioneering to pursue their political interests through religious platforms.

What Fayose did has been done elsewhere too. When Islamic scholars should really speak out, you find out that they keep quiet probably due to what they are benefitting from the politicians. Even outside electioneering, politicians are given front seats and special treatment in places of worship. There have always been special seats for them.

Many Imams and pastors can hardly operate without the patronage of politicians and possessors of ill-gotten wealth. We have read of several instances of the Fayose question, in this regard. Rauf Aregbesola is a Muslim but romances notable pastors like Pastor Enoch Adeboye (of the Redeemed Christian Church of God) probably for political reasons, though he has not been reported to have gone as far as Fayose did. Yet, that does not make him a “sinner” as Fayose was tagged.

Religious leaders like Pastor Adeboye and his Muslim counterparts have large following. The numerical strength of the memberships of their churches or mosques, is actually what the politicians are interested in. I see what Fayose did in the same light. Muslim politicians too cannot be exonerated.

Religious leaders too are complicit in actions such as the one exhibited by Fayose. For instance, the Imam in the gathering where Fayose made an appearance even complained that the governor sent him just one ram and the governor promised that he would send five more. But Fayose has abused the turban and arrogantly violated Islamic wardrobe etiquette. It is an insult for him to have so boldly dressed himself up like an Imam on eid ground.

Fayose’s action is a mockery of Islam
Dr. AbdulRahman Ahmad, Chief Missioner of the Ansarudeen Society of Nigeria

Other than the Imam, nobody has any role to play in an Eid prayer. So, it is not acceptable in Islam for a governor or whoever to make a speech after the sermon. If a governor goes to a church, the highest regard that he could be given is to be assigned to read from the Bible. He cannot take over the pulpit because that would be sacrilegious. I do believe in peaceful coexistence and religious harmony. We have common humanity and it does not differentiate between tribe or religion. But this is not to be abused by not respecting one another’s sensibilities. I have a great respect for Christians, but it would be an insult for me to go to a church putting on a turban and refusing to remove it when it is time for prayers. The question would be, why did I have to go to the church in the first place?

It speaks to something sinister. It is more so when a Muslim politician for instance goes to a church. It is a gimmick and vote-catcher.

A governor or any other individual would normally not visit a Church dressed as a priest or a Catholic church dressed as a bishop.Christians and Muslims must have respect for one another’s sensibilities. In the case of Ekiti, I think there are more practical ways for the governor to show accommodation for Muslims and Islam or show his brotherhood.

Look at the composition of the Ekiti State cabinet. It does not reflect the demographic reality of the state. As an Imam, should that (Fayose’s action) happen in my mosque, I would insist on doing what is right, I would not send the governor away but the mosque is not a campaign ground.

Fayose’s dressing wrong because he’s not a Muslim
Ustaz Sirnucy Lafiagi, Lecturer, Dept. of Islamic Studies, Al – Hikmah University, Ilorin.

Let me first say that there is no law in Islam that says we should be hostile to others because of their religion. According to the injunctions of the Holy Quran, Muslims are supposed to be tolerant to others. However, there is a limit to the concept of tolerance in Islam and there is a fine line between social activities and religion. At this juncture, it behoves the Muslim community to tell the governor that it wasn’t normal for him to have dressed like a Muslim cleric when he had not accepted the Islamic faith. It was very wrong. He even held a rosary and sat at the front row meant for the clerics. What was he chanting with the rosary? The governor’s action was not an act of solidarity, but merely to score cheap political points. He is someone who would quickly issue statements against the Hausa-Fulani Muslims, so what was he trying to prove? He should know we have a way of worship, which he violated when he dressed like an Imam. In summary, he shouldn’t have dressed that way when he had not accepted the Islamic faith.

What he did was an insult to Islam
Sheikh Dhirullah Shafii, Chief Missioner, The Muslim Congress

What the Muslim Rights Concern said about the issue is the stand of Islam. Islam does not allow non-Muslims to come into the Mosque or any Muslim praying ground. It’s indeed an insult to Islam. Both his going to the Mosque and the way he dressed were wrong. It was an abuse. The way he was dressed was an insult. The fact that he’s not a Muslim makes it entirely wrong. There are other ways he could have celebrated with Muslims without abusing our belief. The prayer is a service and it has conditions before you could go ahead. Even as Muslims, if we are in a state of impurity, Islam does not allow us to come to Mosque. So, what he did was wrong.

His action disrespected Islam
Dr. AbdulRazaq Abdulmajeed Alaro, Islamic scholar/Lecturer, Faculty of Law, UNILORIN

In Islam, what he did was condemnable, outright. There are many ways he could have expressed his love for Muslims and identify with them, but you don’t make a jest of their belief. Imagine, he was even holding the prayer bead. What he did amounts to disrespect and it was totally unacceptable. In Islam, we don’t allow that. Islam encourages Muslims to interact with people of other faith and relate with them respectfully but not to the detriment of our own faith or theirs. It’s condemnable, really. For example, as a governor of that state, he is the leader of every citizen, he could play host to them after the Sallah; they could visit him at the Government House and that could be a better way of doing things. But you know, sometimes, politicians want to achieve their aim with whatever means. He only wanted to score a political goal. He should be advised that what he did was disrespectful to Islam.

Governor’s dressing was a mockery of Islam and Muslims
Dr. Lukman Abdurraheem, President, The Muslim Congress

The dressing of the governor was a mockery of Islam and Muslims. You need not dress like an Islamic scholar to identify and felicitate with Muslims. He could host the clerics and other Muslims in the Government House and respect their rights to build mosques and appointing deserving Muslims into positions in Ekiti State. Presently, the Muslims in the state are marginalised and their real leaders are not patronised politically.

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