“Beyond the Suit: a Handshake with Reality
The (northern) Nigerian cyberspace is yet filled with another triviality. But this time around, a triviality with some differences- deeper implications. What is more trivial than a picture of 2 men wearing suits in London? Nothing- except that the men are figureheads of a powerful sect (oh they say it’s association) and there is more to the suits than meets the eye.
Triviality! Yes! But this is a society that prioritizes them. And the literalist-prone Izala/Salafi organization in Nigeria has over the 3 decades of its existence made trivialities their tool of trade, at high cost and consequences paid and faced by us all! With their long (often unkempt) beards, routine Arabian Jallabiyya and somewhat forced Arabic accent (when speaking their mother tongue-Hausa ?), the Izala clerics/leaders have over the years torn this society I apart over trivialities as trivial as clothe, food and how it’s taken, language and so on.
But that’s not all! Izala is one of the most intolerant and inconsiderate movements in the Muslim north, often appearing to be completely oblivious of our social and geographical realities. Stories abound on how children “disowned” their parents and called them heretics courtesy of literalist and inconsiderate teachings promoted by the sect. There are even uglier stories.
So when Sheikh Kabiru Gombe (known to be among the most viral mouthpieces of the sect and popular for his unguarded and unintelligent utterances) and his principal, Sheikh Bala Lau (though more matured and realistic) were seen in London (remember some members of same sect consider pictures Haram) wearing suits (not the religious jallabiyya/alkebba), many are shocked by this “triviality”.
With the London trip, should we expect more moderate and realistic positions from Izala henceforth? I hope so! Yes! When I met a popular Kano-based cleric in England last year, I learnt so much from him in 2 weeks that we lived under same roof and more importantly understood why he will be forever called Starcomms (after a defunct Telecom brand that offered several freebies and bonanza)- the man travelled around the world, surrounds himself with intellectuals from several fields and learn from everybody he meets (including my humble young self). I hope Gombe and Lau will see London beyond the skyscrapers and famous underground. I hope they will see churches-turned into mosques; the Muslim mayor in the most important European city; the sincerity in people without religion; the harmony of people from poles apart and so on so on and so on.
What do we expect from adherents of Izala? To be more realistic and considerate; to know there is religion and there is culture! There is Arabic imperialism as much as there is western imperialism…, and there are realities based on geography, sociology and economy!”
Dr. Marzuq Abubakar Ungogo

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