Abduljabbar Vs Kano Scholars: After the debate, what next?


By Muhammad Sagir Bauchi

During my days as an undergraduate student in the University, I, alongside some colleagues were given a group assignment, a deadline of two weeks was given to submit our findings and depend the findings in the coming week. Fortunately, we were able to do our best and meet up the deadline. On the presentation day, each group was allocated with twenty minutes to present their findings in that twenty minutes, they had questions to answer from their colleagues and the course lecturer as well. Imagine an assignment that took about two weeks to execute to be defended within twenty minutes? But alas, we were able to present it and answer the questions to the best of our ability. But one thing I noticed was that, the assignment was done by us, we dedicated our time trying to do the assignment and answer questions that might arise from our findings just to earn the twenty marks. That was why we didn’t complain on the 20mins time allocated to us. That’s an assignment for an undergraduate student.

Around February of this year, a reknown Islamic Scholar of the Qadiriya, Riyadul Jannah by name Sheikh Abduljabbar Nasir Kabara, was stopped by the Kano State Government from preaching and sessions on both mass media, new media outlets and his center in the State, following a complaint by the coalition of Kano Scholars against him on the choice of his words to translate some Hadith he considered defaming the status of the Holy Prophet of Islam. Some days after the ban decision by the Kano State Government, the scholar made an appeal to the government that, a fair hearing should be given to him to defend himself before these scholars. According to him, his intention was not to defame the Prophet and the words he used was not to tarnish the status of the Prophet, but to discard all the Hadith attributed to him that are capable of degrading Him. He also opined that, orientalists and other heretic cliques are using such ahadith to revert Muslim youth from the fold of Islam. So, his efforts was to give Islam a beautiful color other than the bad image he believed that those ahadith gave the religion.

The Sheikh was surrounded by a group of ‘yan boko that were filled with a lot of religious skepticism and questions in their minds, and to them, his lectures are answers to their questions. On the other hand, there are some Shi’a adherents in group or individuals capacity that believe going contrary to the view of the mainstream Sunni Muslims is synonymous to Shi’ism, or using derogatory words on the people Sunnis held respectful is synonymous to Shi’ism. But among the Shi’a followers, there’s an exceptional scholar that, since the beginning of the uproar, he dissociated himself from the path of Sheikh Abuljabbar, where he described him as someone that knows no direction of where he is heading to. He described him as someone that lacked a spiritual leader to guide him intellectually and in basics of religious knowledge! Therefore, Sheikh Hamza Lawal and his followers had a lone perspective of the uproar from the other so-called Shi’a followers.

Looking at Abduljabbar on his difference with his opponents, it comprises of those he differed with on the matter of creed. He was the son of a reknown authorty of the order of Qadiriyya Sufi sect and an Ash’ariya follower, therefore, he spent most of his time writing against the people that hold different beliefs with his late father, that’s the followers of SALAFIYYA path or Izala. Also, there are those he differed with on matters of Tariqa, as he came from Tariqa of Qadiriya, they believed in the Tariqa of Tidjaniyya order, which is different from Qadiriyya. He also differed with them on how they viewed their Sheikhs, he openly disagreed with them on how they positioned Sheikh Ibrahim Nyass on the position of God. On the other way, he disagreed with followers of his Tariqa due to matters of leadership. For he is against the leadership of his elder brother.Therefore, these are the forces that the Sheikh is in war with. But one certain thing about all his three opponents is that, they have one or two common ground to unite in, for they all belong to the Sunni School of thought. So, they can unite and fight their common enemy in whatsoever form.

After his ban from holding preaching and study sessions, he made an appeal to the government to grant him a fair hearing in order to defend his utterances, for according to him, the words are not his; rather, a translation of those ahadith he found in the Sunni books.Before 7th July of this year, his request of fair hearing was granted, but a court order was served to the government in which it prevented them from organizing the debate as scheduled. After that, an audio recording of the Sheikh went viral with some of his opponents, in which he was pleading on them to intervene so that the debate could be rescheduled, for according to him, he was deprived of right to continue giving knowledge to his disciples.

On 7th July, 2021, a letter of invitation was served to the Sheikh and his opponents, a date was fixed for the debate to take place in Kano Shari’a Commission Complex. Rules and regulations of the debate and the topics of the debate were informally discussed with him. Afterward, his picture before some books amounted to over five hundred according to him and his followers were sighted with him for that debate, that was to show how prepared the Sheikh was for the debate! Therefore, he was ready to defend his cause and his utterances.

During the course of the debate, five minute was allocated to his opponents to asked their questions, and they used those minutes to provide an audio record of him and asked him to directly point out and read evidence(s) from pages and books he claimed to support his controversial utterances out of those books. In a nutshell, if we could sum up their questions, we can summarized their questions as “show us within those books where did you find so so and so of your word(s)”. 

After the completion of the four hours debate, the chairman of the occasion concluded that; all the six questions the Sheikh was asked were not clearly answered by him, instead, he ended up mixing and twisting things, going out of questions/context and took his allocated time complaining of not given appropriate time to prepare for the answers! Based on this, he and his followers opined that, the debate was not fair due to the following;

1- The minutes allocated to him were not enough.

2- The occasion was not covered live, and that it was

3-  Four heads against one.

These are their ground of dissatisfaction with the debate. Now, let us analyze their points one after the other.

1- The minutes allocated to him were not enough:

Sheikh Abduljabbar, spent about two decades propagating his understanding of the religion. In several occasions, he used to bragged that even if Ibn Taimiyya, Nasiruddeen Al-Bani and some other notable scholars of the SALAFIYYA creed were to come back to life, he alone could faced them and beat them with unquestionable points! Not only that, he and his followers had the belief that, he is superior in knowledge over all the Nigeria’s scholars in terms of research and knowledge, according to them, he dedicated most of his time and energy in research. So, how could he failed to depend all those years spent propagating within ten minutes? After all, all the questions he was asked do not require much time to provide their answers, for, all he could simply do was to answer with “this is the book, chapter and page(s) that a so word or statement can be found” or “the statement were not as exactly as I uttered, but their literal or metaphorical meaning refers to that”. This is all that was required of him to do.Back to my position, how can an undergraduate student defend a work he spent two weeks doing within less than twenty minutes and a postgraduate student spent years of research, yet is able to depend his finding within a short period of time, but a scholar of that calibre cannot answer a simple question within ten minutes?

2- The occasion was not covered live:

As we all know, Kano is a state whose  inhabitants are naturally not playful to anything ISLAMIC. They can unite to fight anything that may endanger the religion and  can easily disassociate themselves with anything negativity that may affect the religion. So, don’t you think that decision was a result of government effort to provide security? What do you think could happen when overzealous followers of any of the debatable party heard something they found unpleasant from their opponents? Could you stop them from taking law into their hands? Probably, even if they could be controlled, that would be hard.

3- Four heads against One:

As stated above, both the heads that unite to fight the Sheikh had something that unite them and some among those points are;- All the parties belong to the Sunni School of thought.- Just of the Sahaba is one of their creed. According to their believe, all the Sahabas are just, even though they are not infallible and  immuned to commit sin, but they are all forgiven. But to him, Anas Ibn Malik, a companion and servant to the Prophet PBUH is a “Lier”!

-Apart from Qur’an, Hadith Books; Bukhari and Muslim are the most prestigious and source of Islamic Shari’a. Therefore, they take their religious doctrines from Qur’an, those two Hadith Books and others.

Therefore, are those not enough reasons for them to unite and fight who, according to them is trying to rubbish those books?

On this basis, both the Sheikh and his followers have no point to express their dissatisfaction with the conduct of the debate. But one certain point that they could have presented before the debate and be somehow acceptable is the appointment of the chairman of the sitting, for he was a reknown follower of other than their path, but to be frank, I see no point of complain after the conduct of the debate that, they accused him of being impartial or bias. To me, he did well as expected of him.

Now that the debate is over, it is time for Malam Abduljabbar, to sit down and reflect on the past and fact that, those that surrounded him could offer him nothing intellectually and sincerely, for most of them are not after truth, rather, to satisfy their ego. Therefore, they could provide him nothing but more reasons to regret on his actions. And no matter how knowledgeable you’re, there are others above you and you must bow before them to learn the religion in order to gain footing in knowledge, dont read by yourself and think that everyone is below you in knowledge and must follow your path or understanding. No path on this earth has people that knows all, but there are some that know more than others.

Finally, let me borrow the word of my friend on the debate; “no matter the extent of your love and loyalty to Sheikh Abduljabbar, no matter your hatred and animosity toward the coalition of Kano Ulama and no matter your neutrality, one thing is certain; you must in one way or the other admit that Abduljabbar couldn’t defend his positions after listening or watching that debate”. So, it is now left for him to decide either to allow ego to thrive and spoil his intention or reflect and change his approach in choice of words when addressing things he misunderstood.
May Allah show us the right path and grant us with the ability to follow.

Sagir writes from Bauchi State university, Gadau and can be reached via ibrahimsagir1227@gmail or 07019718681

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Sky Daily